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[personal profile] jebbypal
Originally posted to [ profile] serenitysummer
To Honor and Obey
author: [ profile] jebbypal
Rated E.
A/N: Spoilers for Train Job. Thanks to [ profile] luridmuse and [ profile] mona1347 for feedback and beta.

"I still don't see why you have to go to THAT bar," Wash argued as they went about their nightly routine. He stumbled when Zoe threw a wad of clean laundry at him harder than necessary.

"We've been over this and over this, Wash. That's where the contact will be."

"Then just wait a day. One day. The lead won't go bad in that amount of time," he said. The argument was days old now. He was exasperated the first time they had it; repetition hadn't made it any better. Zoe was being entirely too pig-headed about this, he thought as he sorted and folded the clothes. Yet, convincing her was the only chance he had; Wash knew better than to try to talk any sense into her captain.

He rubbed his head when he heard her gun-belt hit the floor. His wife never did fight fair. "The meet is already set. If we don't show tomorrow, we won't get the job. And if you ever want to stop eating moldy protein, we really need this job."

"Fine, let the captain and Jayne go alone. There's no reason that I should have to bail all three of you out this time!" Her stunned look said it all. Yes, he'd just asked her to do the one thing he'd sworn never to do when they got married. Stay behind while Mal went off into dangerous territory. Choose. "They're big boys, Zoe. They can take care of themselves."

"You know I won't do that. It'll be fine. What happened last year, -."

"What? Last year was a fluke? How about the year before that? No one was arrested, but I still have a scar right here," he paused as he removed his shirt and turned so the knife wound could be clearly seen, "from that fight," he argued.

"Wash, you're being ridiculous. Now can we just go to bed? Please?"

He stared back at her as he fought to ignore the desperation in her voice. She didn't want to have this fight, ordinarily he humored her on that point. Guilt began to creep in behind his fear and indignation. It was just one little measly meeting. Any other day of the year, he wouldn't say a peep. But not this time.

This time Mal had found a business reason to be in an Alliance-friendly bar tomorrow of all days. With his wife. Again. There was only so much a husband could take.

Her desperation for him to just drop the argument filled the room, but under it, something else lurked. He can't be sure if he spots anticipation in her expression, or if it's just jealousy whispering in his ear. It doesn't matter though, he knows he's right.

"You actually want to go tomorrow. And if he doesn't manage to start it, you will. You enjoy this sick celebration the two of you have going, don't you?"

The accusation hurts her, but she doesn't deny it either. "We're meeting the contact tomorrow at the bar. As soon as we're done, we'll leave. No one will be arrested, there's not even an Alliance garrison stationed on the moon."

She lies down in the bed and turns off her light without even asking if he's done. He didn't miss what she omitted denying.

Gorramit, his wife is getting into a fight tomorrow and all he can do is wait to bail her out.

Book watched silently as husband and wife negotiated the galley without saying so much as a word to each other. Their body language was pained, but not cold. Whatever the disagreement was, it was familiar to both. One in which time would lessen their anger, but not the tone of what had transpired.

Kaylee remained silent when she entered the dining area. She gave Wash a sympathetic smile, but refrained from her normal early morning chatter. Apparently, she was familiar with this particular dance of the pair.

He waited until the others left to go about their days before broaching the subject. "Zoe and Wash…they seemed quiet this morning."

Kaylee shrugged. "Everyone quarrels. I'm sure it's nothing."

"Still, perhaps I should talk to Wash."

"I wouldn't bother. They'll make their peace as soon as today is over, Shepherd."


Kaylee sighed. "It's a sorta tradition almost. Wash knows what's going to happen today, but he doesn't have to like it. It'll all end up okay. Most likely."

"And this tradition involves an argument between the two? It doesn't sound very healthy for their marriage."

"Trust me, Shepherd, don't worry about it. If you try an intervention, Mal will probably hurt you if Zoe doesn't." Kaylee laughed at his expression. "Oh no, it ain't nothing like that. Zoe and Mal wouldn't ever…" She paused as she took a breath. "What day is today?"

"What day? I don't see how that is relevant."

"It's U-day. The past couple that Wash and I have spent on this boat have either ended with the Cap'n and Zoe bound by the law or with blood from a goodly number of people. He's just uneasy that they're going without him. Soon as the day is over, everyone will be right as rain."

Book nodded. Given the captain's evident antagonism with the Alliance and bitterness about the war, it was understandable. "Wait, this colony, it supported…"

Kaylee nodded sadly as she cleared the table. "Exactly."

Indeed. Book rose and headed toward the bridge. Right now, he was sure that Wash could do with the distraction of a friendly face.

What happened to your face?" Zoe asked. She was right, Mal thought. It was very unsettling to see that much of Jayne's face. Man almost looked respectable.

Jayne mumbled something and walked off the ship. "We got somewhere to be, ain't we?"

"What did he say?" Zoe asked.

"I believe he said that the water went cold unexpectedly. He ain't been fussing with Kaylee again, has he?"

Zoe's face tightened as she walked beside him. "No, sir."

"Well, I know for a fact that he hasn't quarreled with Wash. Speaking of your husband, care to explain why I found him sleeping in the cockpit this morning?" Zoe maintained a determined silence as they walked. "Trouble in paradise?"

"It's nothing, sir."

"It is. Hmm, seems like I noticed that you went to the showers shortly before Jayne joined us for breakfast. How was the water?"

"Just fine."

"Mm-hmm. I seem to recall saying that marriage was a mistake."

"Funny, I don't recall you saying that a year ago."

A year ago, a year ago, suddenly it clicked in his head. He winced as he remembered Zoe's fury while Wash's knife wound was patched up. A wound that he had taken protecting his captain. "He has his moments," Mal admitted. "Last year won't be repeated."

"Just don't make me break my promise to him, sir."

"Oh, what promise is that, just so I can help out."

"We can't get arrested this year."

Mal laughed out loud as they entered the bar. Not a fed in sight. "Not a problem, Zoe. Not a problem." They headed toward the corner booth that Jayne had already staked out. The other man had set up the game board that their contact would be looking for. "Just one question, you didn't promise that we wouldn't have fun, did you?"

Zoe grabbed a pitcher of alcohol from a passing waitress as she answered, "No, sir."

THE END...OR RATHER, the beginning of The Train Job


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