jebbypal: (the muse)
[personal profile] jebbypal
Title: Apologies
author: [ profile] jebbypal
fandom: Firefly
Spoilers: War Stories
rating: Teen for language
Summary: Wash still has something to say to Mal after they return from Niska's station.
Thanks to [ profile] poisontaster for her incredibly insightful beta-services. Anything you don't like about the story is my fault, not hers.

Notes: Written for [ profile] ravenscanary's prompt for the [ profile] washathon. The prompt:
A post-'War Stories' fic about how Wash deals with the effects oftorture and his relationship with Mal. Wash is clever, but does herealize how much of what they said was "the torture talking" and howmuch was caculated on Mal's part to keep him from breaking? It can behurt/comfort, it can just be angst, it can be whatever, but I've seen too few stories really explore this well.. Sadly, my muse did not want to cooperate at all with me on the very long, plotty fic that I had planned out and instead bushwacked me with this. I hope it still fits what ravenscanary wanted to an extent.

Entering the cockpit with his mind occupied by Kaylee’s latest diagnostics of engines, Wash expected nothing more than a quiet night alone pondering how best to help her squeeze a few extra weeks out of a few abused parts. So his exclamation of “Holy mother of God” wasn’t so much girly as it was surprised when he saw Mal draped in the co-pilot’s chair with his feet resting on the control panel. Then again, Mal piloting any type of ship, or vehicle for that matter, tended to generate a lot of screaming.

Beyond that, Mal should be in bed resting at this time of night considering he’d almost been the walking dead not even a week ago, courtesy of Niska, the friendly neighborhood psychopath. Wash and Zoe had covered all the watches for the past week or so. The first few days, even Jayne pitched in so that Wash could have some time of his own to recuperate.

“Captain,” Wash said, calmly and in a manly manner, as he slid into his seat and began checking the dials. Mal shrugged at him and Wash took that as his cue to quietly go about his work. During his time on Serenity, he’d learned that Mal needed time to commune with the black now and again. Odd, for one who grew up planet side. Then again, Wash felt that same need and he grew up dirtside as well. ‘Course, unlike Shadow, Wash couldn’t see the stars on his home planet.

Maybe only those born to space like Zoe could take for granted the black calm they sailed through; maybe they could feel the black through the bulkheads and the peace it held. He and Mal had to look at it and feel the black looking back to absorb that calm into their souls.

During the late watch, Wash tended to be quieter (mostly because he tended to be alone, truth be told). The presence of another person dug at him, though, and made him want to fill in the silence with chatter. He had his own reasons for disliking the quiet. Everyone but Zoe assumed it was Wash being Wash and he never bothered to correct them. And Zoe, well…He’d never really told her the whole story, either; trading war stories was her and Mal’s thing. Wash preferred to stay in the moment. Better that way.

Still, it wasn’t long before Wash finished all his busy work and could only stare into the black surrounded by a silence that was eating away at him. Finally, he broke it. “Thanks, by the way.”

“Wha?” Mal jerked as if he’d been asleep. Wash knew better, though, had seen the whites of Mal’s eyes before he’d said anything.

“Thanks, for making sure I held it together back there. I –“ he faltered. He knew that Mal wasn’t too much for sentiment, least not from anyone other than Kaylee. “I just wanted to say thanks before we start fighting again and you decide I’m an ungrateful pilot.”

As Mal just stared at him in response, Wash couldn’t help but begin to fidget with his jumpsuit sleeves and then rearrange his dinosaurs just so he’d have a reason to look elsewhere. The way that Mal stared at him reminded Wash of the day that he and Zoe broke the news of their marriage to the captain. Disbelief, uncertainty, accompanied by something that was too light to be anger and probably was just straight indignation. It dragged on …and on, until Wash wondered if the pain meds had made it so that Mal couldn’t understand plain speech.

Mal shook his head lightly, just a tilt really before it straightened. Finally, Mal looked away as he mumbled something that Wash didn’t quite catch. Or rather, he was convinced he’d heard wrong because he was damn certain that he’d never heard those words from the captain before.

Wide-eyed in disbelief, Wash cupped a hand to his ear and leaned out of his chair slightly to get closer to Mal. “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.”

Mal pushed up straighter in his seat and then rubbed his face. “I’m sorry. Shoulda apologized to you sooner,” he said again as his hand passed directly over his mouth.

Wash’s heart almost stopped when he realized that he hadn’t heard wrong. Normally, he’d crow about it. Or flip the intercom switch so the whole ship could hear the impossible happen. But not this time.

This time, he simply couldn’t believe that the man across from him thought there was anything to apologize for. “O-kaaay. Just so I’m clear, what exactly are you apologizing for so I’ll know how mad to be. Is this a general, Hey, Wash, sorry I’m such a principled SOB that I chronically piss off every psychopath in the quadrant?. Or are we talking more, I’m sorry I disrespected your wife by implying that she’d actually have sex with me apology?”

Wash was just about ready to go and get Simon to inform him that space craziness must be spreading from his sister to the rest of the crew when Mal finally spoke up. “I’m sorry ‘cause the entire time I was glad it was you instead of her. I was glad that she was safe and that it was you getting carved up and cooked beside me.”

Wash felt his jaw drop even as he collapsed back into his seat. He was glad that he was sitting already because he was fairly certain that he’d be sitting on the ground right now if he’d been standing. As it stood, Mal’s confession rendered Wash speechless.

Then again, if he could speak, what was the appropriate response here? Think nothing of it, Cap’n, cause I’m glad too. Of course, maybe next time you could let Simon or Jayne be tortured in my stead? Or the comradely route of acknowledging equal blame - Well, I guess I should apologize again for bullying my way along. If Zoe’d been there, I’m sure you guys would have gotten out without a scratch.

What was the correct answer? What would prevent a fight with Zoe? God, how exactly did Wash end up in this overpopulated marriage with her and him? Wash was sure that even Jayne would make an easier spouse than Mal. Then again, at least Mal’s cleaner.

“Well, I can’t exactly forgive you for that, Captain,” Wash finally answered. Mal’s head dropped a little further down, but Wash continued. “I mean, there’s nothing to forgive if I was glad of the same thing, is there?”

“You’re still a part of my crew, Wash. I’d no more leave you behind than-“

“Captain, I know. You’d never leave one of us behind if there’s another choice. Probably not even then,. Unless it’s Jayne. If it’s Jayne, I insist we all take a vote,” Wash said with a smile. “Thing is, I know we’d both do whatever we could to keep Zoe from any amount of pain. If there’s ever one thing we’ll agree on, and I doubt there will be, I think that’s the one.”

Mal nodded. “So, we’re even then?”

Wash laughed. “No, not by a long shot. We’re even only after I get a vacation alone on a naked beach with my wife. And I won’t let you forget it, either.”

Mal laughed too. “Fair enough.”

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-14 12:28 pm (UTC)
ext_8855: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Well I love it although, you know, not mine. Uuuunleeeeess- no, no, still not mine. Woe. I adore your Wash (and your Mal but, you know, ~Wash~). Very lovely follow up and I really like the humour covering a kind of restrained gentleness ... thing. This is why I don't comment often. o_0. I'll go with, yay shiny!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-14 12:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hee;) Thank you, hon. I was very mad at the frog for not cooperating and then it went and actually made this one difficult to write just because I hadn't done firefly in so long.

And I never need coherent comments ;) It's nice to know I can reduce people to babbling on occassion.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-14 01:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Cute. I like how they both figure they need to apologize.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-14 01:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ooh, nice missing scene. I like how you have them both apologizing for the same thing at the same time, even though they don't know it.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-14 07:57 pm (UTC)
ext_30178: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
This was terrific. Wash was totally IC here, and that can be hard to do.

The way Wash felt he had to thank Mal, and Mal actually apologized about something? Loved it.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-15 08:40 am (UTC)
poisontaster: Screencap of Moana, leaning into the wind (Default)
From: [personal profile] poisontaster
Lovely, darlin'. Manly-man screams and all. *giggles*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-15 09:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
“I’m sorry ‘cause the entire time I was glad it was you instead of her. I was glad that she was safe and that it was you getting carved up and cooked beside me.”

yeah ... my jaw hit the floor as well. Wow. I love that line BTW. nice job.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-17 04:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like this a lot, with the Wash-voice, and the quietness and all. And the hint of back-story:

Wash preferred to stay in the moment. Better that way.

But especially:

What was the correct answer? What would prevent a fight with Zoe? God, how exactly did Wash end up in this overpopulated marriage with her and him? Wash was sure that even Jayne would make an easier spouse than Mal. Then again, at least Mal’s cleaner.

Which is so beautifully Wash - where "correct" = "prevents a fight with Zoe", and even his thoughts wander off into a digression.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-17 03:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for the lovely feedback ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 05:42 am (UTC)
captaintish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] captaintish
Excellent! You have a very good Wash voice!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 09:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
thanks, glad you liked it.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-09 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Fantastic! The world needs more Wash fic.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-09 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Glad you liked it :)


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