Disclaimers: not mine
"Daedalus wept when Icarus fell, melting wax and feathers and blood and bone. 'Don't fly too close to the sun!' he had warned the boy. 'Stay in the middle, where it's safe. I don't want you to burn too bright or too fast. Only the good die young.' "
River is sitting in Wash's chair, running her fingers gently over the controls. Wash is there, embedded in the grips and the leather. "It's a gorram Greek tragedy," T-Rex whispers to the Stegasaurus. River nods in agreement.
Zoe cannot cry, even when she's alone in her room. Her tears are trapped behind the barrier of her eyelids, her sobs buried behind a cage of ribs. She doesn't think she'll be able to smile again without Wash there to show her how. She is so angry. If Wash were still here, she'd yell at him for dying. He wasn't supposed to do that – wasn't supposed to escape into the black without her. She hopes she'll be able to forgive him one day.
When Zoe is finished not crying, she will put the shirts away and come to the cockpit. She will look out the windows at the twinkling of the stars and run her hand across the leather of Wash's chair and remember the feel of his sandy hair sliding through her fingers. River closes her eyes and waits.
"What are you doing?" Zoe's voice is hard and controlled. "Get out of that chair."
River opens her eyes and blinks. "He's been waiting here for you. I've been keeping him company."
She doesn't mean to make Zoe flinch. "Thought Captain said you weren't crazy anymore."
"Not crazy," River agrees, "just me. I can feel him here, can't you?"
Zoe is absently stroking the top of the seat while River talks, but she pulls her hand away at her question. "He's dead," she states harshly.
River doesn't say anything.
"He's DEAD," Zoe repeats. Her voice is louder this time.
River reaches out and grabs Zoe's hand, placing it back on the leather. "Residual memory," she whispers, "spirit and love and laughter. He hasn't left you."
Zoe doesn't respond, but when River lets go of her hand her long brown fingers caress the seat. Neither woman speaks for a long time.
"He hasn't left you," River repeats after a while. She smiles gently at Zoe and leans forward, her hands reaching out. Her finger taps against Zoe's heart. "He's still here, and here…" she gently places her palm against Zoe's taut stomach, feeling the whisper of a heartbeat.
Zoe looks at her, incredulous, before her own hands flutter up to cover River's. Her eyes are bright and salty as the Aegean Sea, and when the tears finally start to fall, River smiles.
"Daedalus wept when Icarus fell," River repeats, and this time Zoe hears her.