Disclamier: Not mine. Don't own em, never will...if I owned them they wouldn't have been canceled. The song Wayward Son is by Kansas.

Author Notes: During the commentary for Firefly Alan Tudyk (Wash) mentioned twice that he thought perhaps his character spent the war in a prison camp. Well here's my twisted little take on it. I need a beta reader for my firefly stories, if any one is intrested, email me please.

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Wash sat quietly at the helm. Something was wrong, that much was for sure. Zoe had noticed, but when she pressed he had quietly said he didn't want to discuss it. She chose not to push it. Mal demanded an answer to his melancholy, to which he simply replied with just thinking. He would not state as to what he was thinking about. Kaylee was somewhat surprised to find him simply sitting, starring out at the stars.

"Wash?" She asked softly, not wanting to startle the pilot. She had always liked him, he reminded her a good deal of her daddy, who she missed. He was kind and funny, and he was always a reliable shoulder to cry on if the situation called for it. She liked Jayne just fine, and the Captain was great, but Wash was her rock. Whether he knew it or not, and now, he was hurting. No one knew what it was. He swiveled in his chair to meet her when she called his name. He eased a smile onto his face.

"What can I do ya for?" He asked. She suddenly chickened out of what she had planned to say.

"I found this in the kitchen." She blurted out, thrusting a dinosaur out towards him. He gave a short laugh, as he accepted it. Something about his laugh sounded false and it hurt to hear. She flinched, and he instantly stiffened.

"What's wrong?" He asked, his eyes portraying concern for her. Her eyes stung slightly. Yes, Wash was always looking out for her, babysitting River, helping Simon, in some way shape or form, he was always helping, being, listening, she knew first hand of those things…but who looked out for him? Zoe wasn't one to push, and he didn't like adding burdens to her already heavy load. He kept his problems to himself. He didn't know she knew he had nightmares about Niska. He asked what was wrong again, and she crossed over quickly, kneeling in front of him, he shifted slightly uncomfortable.

"That question applies to you Wash." She said softly. He looked surprised, then distinctly uncomfortable as he shifted again.


"Wash please." She was begging, she knew it was low, but it hurt her to see him like this, so upset over something no one knew. "Please Wash…what's wrong?" He didn't answer right away. She placed her hands on either side of the chair to keep her balance and tried to catch his gaze, which he kept averting.

"Do you ever get tired of hearing the stories? Of the war?" He asked suddenly. She blinked in surprise but shook her head nonetheless. "I do. I get so gorram sick of hearing those stories…of how it was to fight, to ration…to survive."

"What's your war story?" Kaylee asked in a small voice. "Did you fight?"

"Not really looking to talk on that subject." He replied.

"Please Wash?" Her eyes teared up, and he felt his resolve crumble around him.

"Briefly. I flew stolen fighter planes from the Alliance to the rebels.." Kaylee smiled a little, at least he had fought on the same side as the others. "It was a bit different for me though. I'm from the core." She was shocked for just a moment.

"Really?" She squeaked, her voice catching.

"Yeah…it's called treachery to bail ship." He shook his head. "Wouldn't fight for what they believed in, it was wrong. We were right."

"You have a heroic story too?" Kaylee asked, afraid of the answer.

"No. The Alliance caught wind of what I was doing. Shot me down." Her eyes grew wide in terror.

"How did they find out?!" She squealed.

"Someone knew what I was doing, they turned me in." Wash's hands were gripping the arms of his chair so tightly his knuckles were turning white.

"Who?" She asked softly, terrified at what he was telling her.

"My father." He replied, through grit teeth. "They shot me down, and I spent the rest of the war in a prison." Her voice was caught in her throat. She stood suddenly, and wrapped her arms around him in the biggest, warmest, and tightest hug she could manage. Unable to speak, she just held on tight. His arms lay limp at his sides, but it didn't matter, she pulled back and grabbed his face gently with both hands.

"You are the bravest man I know." Before he could reply, she ran out of the room.

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher
But I flew too high

Wash and Zoe had a fight that night. She was angry he wouldn't talk about what was going on, and after a few low blows, he had stormed out of the room. He was up at the helm when she came to him, more upset now it seemed then before. He tensed, waiting for her words. She could see the tenseness of his shoulders as she approached. Something about that bothered her more than what she had said to him. Harsh uncalled for words that had hit her husband hard. She gently strode up and put her hand on his shoulder, in a silent apology. He didn't take her hand in his as he normally would have. He didn't shrug her off either. She could feel the strain in his shoulders and she crossed over to him. She wanted to talk about something that had happened during their fight.

"Wash.. I'm sorry." She began uneasily. "I don't distrust you. And your not a coward." He didn't turn his eyes to her, which meant she had hurt him deeper than she thought.

"We both know it's true." Wash replied tightly. "Why tell a fay-fay d'pian. It's alright, I accept it."
"Kaylee told me what you told her." There was silence for a long time. A suffocating silence. She hadn't wanted to get Kaylee in trouble, but he didn't seem angry. Ashamed was more the word. "Baby.."

"You gonna tell me I get to be a big damn hero now too?" He asked, not bitterly, or angrily, but in a humiliated, tortured voice. "Tell me I'm not a coward since I got shot down? Tell me how you never thought to ask how I came to have the scars on my back?"

"Wash no!" She exclaimed, her voice horrified at the suggestion. "Baby, I love you. I'm so sorry I didn't know, but you didn't tell me!" As soon as she said it, she knew it was wrong.

"Just like you don't tell me? How I have to find out second hand?" She let a calm mask fall over her face, and tried to reign in the anger that had suddenly flared up. "It's not fun being left in the dark, having to find things out second hand. The war is a tough subject for everyone, but you and Mal have each other, you can talk about what wasn't so bad during the war." Her anger dropped fast and sudden and she felt venerable.

"Where were you? What camp?" Zoe asked. There was silence for a long time. She wondered if he was going to answer her at all before he started speaking again.

"Camp was on Penal Moon." Wash replied his voice flat and dull. "Special camp they reserved just for traitors." Zoe stiffened, they were heading there. No wonder he had gotten so worked up, this was stirring up all sorts of things for him.

"Wash…" He didn't speak anymore. He sat silently, and she hesitantly perched in his lap. When she was not shoved away, she twisted slightly, weaving her arms around his neck and placing her forehead against his own. He shut his eyes and he seemed to radiate pain. She stayed like that for a long time.

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreaming
I can hear them say

The ship was small, and Wash's secret didn't stay secret for long. River may have had something to do with it, but he wasn't sure. Mal was pacing in front of him now.

"You could have said something."

"It's a job Mal. We haven't had one in a while, and we're running low on supplies and money. We need this job."

"We need our pilot more!" Mal snapped. His voice gentled slightly. "Look, Wash, this job, we can back out.."

"Don't." Wash broke in. "Don't you dare.. Don't make this worse than it has to be." Mal studied the blond man. Wash was pale, almost as pale as that incident with Niska. He had dark bags under his eyes and looked like he could be violently ill at any moment.

"Wash, everyone would understand. We'd rather keep you emotionally intact. You've got Kaylee so upset, she's beside herself. Zoe ain't talking, even Jayne is getting worried!"

"It'll only get worse if we don't." Wash said so softly, Mal had to lean in to hear him. It was hard hearing the clown not joke. It was hard to hear him talk with so much pain behind his voice. The pain he had carefully concealed for so long.

"Alright, but you don't leave the ship. God knows if theirs anyone still left here. The last thing we need is for you to get spotted." Wash nodded his consent and turned back to the controls.

"We'll be there in about half an hour Captain." He said in a tight strained voice. A voice Mal never wanted to hear on his lighthearted pilot again. As much as he might argue with the man, Mal did not like seeing him suffer. Wash was the lighthearted one. The goodhearted one. It had never occurred to him he might have had some involvement in the war. He shouldn't have had to. Mal glanced at the blond out of the corner of his eye before straightening up.

"You are to stay put, and that is an order." Mal reiterated.

"Yes sir." Wash replied in a tone that obviously meant he fully agreed. Mal felt stupid for saying it. Of course Wash wouldn't want to get off, god only knows what they did to him at this place.

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Zoe, Jayne, and Mal had gone on the run, leaving the others to do as they liked. Book went to speak to some of the prisoners, while Inara, and Kaylee went to see about some items needed on serenity. Wash had agreed to look after River while Simon got some sleep, he had been up for far to long. Wash sat in the dinning hall, watching her dance around. She was graceful. He absently moved his dinosaurs around. She suddenly was at his elbow and he was startled by her presence.

"Hey there, the music stop?" He asked.

"They hurt you so badly." River said, her hand finding its way to the side of his face. "The scars still so fresh…" She looked at him with big wide eyes. "They hurt you."

"Uh, River, what…"

"You didn't go to shore. You stayed here, with me. It's because the people who hurt you are here." He didn't like this at all, and shifted uncomfortably. River suddenly, and unexpectedly switched gears. She picked up one of his dinosaurs.

"Would you like to play?" He asked, hoping the girl would say yes and forget the previous conversation, she had joined him in this game before, she seemed to enjoy it, and they often played when he was left in charge of her.


"Shiny." She smiled suddenly and toddled her dinosaur closer to his, and their game began. She quickly getting the upper hand.

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, well
It surely means that I don't know

His fear was irrational, he tried to tell himself. That he was on the ship and there was nothing to fear. And he was right, until he could hear angry arguments. He could hear Inara, and Kaylee arguing there was no reason for them to board the ship. He felt his stomach drop and quickly looked to River.

"River, honey, we have to get you to Simon…we have to hide you." He pulled her to her feet. She glanced towards the hatch, then back to him.

"They won't care for us…it's you." She looked at him in fear. He gently towed her along until they reached Simon, who was already stumbling out to meet them.

"We've been boarded." He slurred, obviously have been woken from slumber.

"I know, we have to hide you guys." Wash quickly took them to a crawl space and they huddled together. He offered them the best reassuring smile he could conjure, before shutting the door. River twisted a little hissing in her brother's ear.

"It's not us they want." He shushed her gently, and prepared to clamp a hand down over her mouth if the situation called for it.

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune
But I hear the voices say

As Wash crept down the hall, trying to find the girls, he was startled to come face to face with an officer from the prison, an officer he knew particularly well.

"What's your name?" He demanded.

"I'm just the pilot." He replied. The officer squinted at him before there was a flash of recognition.

"Traitor!" He hissed, slamming him against the wall. "There's a special layer of hell reserved for people like you!" A pain accelerated through is body and with stunning clarity, Wash felt the knife slide about his gut. Piercing through organs and intestines. Items he was sure he was going to need. He heard angry voices, sounded suspiciously like Mal…please god, let it be Mal. Next voice sounded a lot like Book. The knife withdrew from him, and that hurt more than it being stuck in. He couldn't contain the anguished cry as the unforgiving metal slid free of his stomach. His hands went somewhat instinctively to his stomach, and his hands pressed against the wound. It was like he was trying to keep his insides and blood in.

"Wash!" Kaylee cried, seeing the blood stain the man's body. He looked up surprised to hear her voice. He saw the officer come flying at him, landing with a thud next to him, and sliding down the wall. Jayne strode over and lifted the officer by his collar, hitting him again hard across the face. He and Mal tossed the man over and he caught the engines.

"Zoe, get us out of here!" Mal shouted, and before she could protest, he and Book had Wash between them. Zoe hurried up to the bridge. The sooner they got into the air, the sooner she could get to Wash. Mal and Book half dragged, half carried Wash to the infirmary.

"Where's Simon and River?" Book asked carefully easing Wash down on the table. Wash didn't reply, and for a brief fleeting moment Book was afraid the man had passed. Simon luckily had heard the commotion and had managed to work himself and River out of the crawl space. He stood over Wash and grimaced. The cut was jagged and raw, this wasn't going to be easy.

"I hope you don't like this shirt to much." He said as he cut it off. "I need one of you to keep River out of here." He addressed to Book and Mal.

"I'll go." Book said, hurrying towards the girl, who stood transfixed in the doorframe. He eased her away, but Mal heard her last words.

"They came for him, again, like always. He was the favorite play thing." The door slid shut and he turned to Simon who had a gauze pressed against the gaping wound.

"What do you need me to do?" Mal asked. Simon regarded the Captain.

"Keep him awake. Talk to him, ask him questions." Mal nodded at the young doctor and turned his attentions to the pilot.

"You sure have a knack for getting hurt." Mal said grabbing the man's attention. Wash laughed weakly.

"Your fault really. Keep putting me in these situations. Still haven't forgiven you for Tracey shooting me in the head."

"Okay, to be fair, that wasn't all my fault." Mal reasoned. "I never knew you were from the core. What planet?" Wash flinched at the question.

"Does it matter? If I had told you, I wouldn't be here now…thought at the moment, not such a bad thing.."

"No I guess it doesn't matter. Kaylee said you stole Fighter ships. That's pretty impressive. How'd you learn to hotwire those things?"

"Misspent child…childhood." Wash gasped as Simon prodded around the wound.

"Ai ya" Simon swore. "I'm going to have to operate. Mal, I'm sorry, but you really shouldn't be here for this." Mal stood and Wash saw him disappear from his vision. Simon was talking to him, but he couldn't understand a lot of what was said. All of a sudden the throbbing in his stomach subsided slightly, and a heavy exhaustion falling over him. He couldn't keep his eyes open. It took a few moments to realize he had been drugged. He let out a small sigh and let his eyes close and drifted into unconsciousness.

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

At the moment everyone was in a state of shock. Inara was pacing in her shuttle to the computer to her bed, and back. Book clutched his bible, reading the same passage over and over. Mal and Zoe sat in the helm, Mal at the controls now, and Zoe leaned against the consol, her expression blank. Jayne sat angrily in his room, cleaning Vera. He might not like the pilot but he deserved a better death than that. River silently lay all off Wash's dinosaurs on their sides. Kaylee sat in her hammock, tears threatening behind her eyes.

When Simon had finally emerged, everyone had been called together. Mal was the first to speak.

"Well, how is he?" He asked anxiously.

"Will he be ok?" Kaylee asked almost directly after.

"He made it through the surgery. They ripped him up pretty good, so he won't be doing any piloting for a while." He said, glancing at Mal, who nodded. "The good news is, it looks like the cut didn't do to harsh damage to his organs. The bad news is, it's hard to tell with these kind of wounds, he could develop a infection. He'll need to be monitored." The group seemed to nod in unison and he let Zoe in to see her husband.

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
The center lights around your vanity
But surely heaven waits for you

Time passed slowly, and Wash began to heal. He lay on the medical cot and watched Mal fiddle about with some medical supplies.

"Mal?" He asked suddenly, a question burning in his mind.


"When you found out about me being in a camp, what exactly did you hear?" Mal shifted uncomfortably before hesitantly answering.

"I was told you stole planes for us, and got turned in…told your father turned you in." There was a silence. Mal felt awful as he saw the pained look on Wash's face.

"He had me shot down." Wash replied. "I crashed and after slight medical care, I was sent to the camp. My shadow puppets where quite well liked there." He tried to joke. Mal didn't find it funny.

"How badly were you hurt?" He asked.

"Broke my wrist…concussion." Wash shrugged. "I don't think I was hurt to bad, it's kinda blurry."

"At the camp Wash, how badly were you hurt at the camp?" He was met with silence. Wash had this haunted far away look on his face.

"Depended on what I did. Sometimes nothing more than a punch to the gut or face…other times it earned me a flogging, sometimes they starved people. It all just depended." Wash said quietly, a harsh quality to his voice that Mal was totally unaccustomed too. He had heard Wash get angry and upset, but never had he sounded like this. Mal squeezed Wash's shoulder gently.

"Go back to sleep Wash." The blond man obliged.

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest

Time heals all wounds, and the same went for Wash. As his stab wound finally healed, he began to be able to move around. He limped a little and could only go short distances at a time, but he was getting better. He was also beginning to fall back into his old personality. The happy pilot they had all learned to love. They didn't care if it was a mask, they now knew it was there to protect them just as much as himself, and they easily fell back into the habit of listening to him crack wise. Each one however, remembered the incident on the moon. Each one remembered his story.

Things went on, slightly changed and slightly more serious than before. People treated him with a bit more respect than before. Slight changes were made, Zoe and Mal cut back on the war stories a little. Jayne eased up on the comments of him being a coward. Kaylee let some of the problems fall through her fingers instead of running to him. Everyone knew he was a man with his own crosses to bear now.

But some things never changed, and for that he was incredibly grateful. Oddly enough he was most grateful for one simple unchanging thing.

Wash and River still played Dinosaurs.

Don't you cry (don't you cry no more)

If you rememember my story Shadows and wanted to read the sequal, head on over to my website it's posted there.