Disobeying Orders
By Havenward

Disclaimer: It's Joss Whedon's 'verse, not mine.

Captain Malcolm Reynolds liked to think that the reason he got on so well with his first mate was because they thought alike. They didn't need a lot of unnecessary explaining, because they each already knew what the other was thinking. Well, most of the time anyway. Right now, he was none too sure, and was starting to suspect she was going moon-brained from being stuck in space for too long.

Normally Zoe was the intelligent one, and Mal was the reckless one. His plans were always half cocked, but she brought a sense of reason to them that kept everyone in one piece and got the job done. How many times had she saved his life in the heat of battle when one misplaced whoop of cynical amusement would have brought down certain doom?

And now? This was all kinds of craziness! Stupidity, even, but Mal wasn't sure he wanted to go that far. Something had to be done. But after only a few moments of arguing; he was down to a last ditch effort.

"Zoe, I forbid it. In fact, that's a direct order." It took all his courage to keep from backing up - Zoe was looking fearsome close to hitting him.

"Excuse me, sir?" The honorific dropped from her mouth like a curse.

"You heard me. Havin' a toss in your bunks now and then is one thing, but marriage?" The look on her face only intensified. "Zoe, you know as well as I do that shipboard romances complicate thi..."

"Yes, yes. Complicate things for everyone and split loyalties," she finished for him. "It's a little beyond that now, don't you think?"

Mal just looked at her for a moment, frustrated. She had a point, to be sure, but it was not in his nature to give in. "I thought you didn't even like him. That whole 'somethin' just bothers you' thing?"

"I don't like him," she said sternly and with little room for argument. "I love him."

Well wasn't that just shiny? Top of the list of things he never thought could happen, and here he was, listening to his first mate melt into a puddle of sappy goo. Well, as much as Zoe was capable of melting.

"And I will marry him sir..." she left the comment hanging, but the threat was clear.

It was either accept the marriage, or lose one of the best pilots in the 'verse along with his only real friend.

Mal sighed, running a hand through his hair and making a point of not looking happy. "Fine, but only on account of him bein' able to make you laugh and act a mite more personable." He grinned at that, though it was soon replaced by a look of complete seriousness. "You have to keep one thing clear - I am captain, and this is my ship. My orders must be followed. I'll not have your nuptials endangering the rest of my crew."

"I understand, sir.' The anger had faded from her features, replaced by her normal stoic neutrality; except, perhaps, for the little quirk of a smile at the corners of her mouth.

"Well then. Congratulations!"