Sometimes he doesn't feel like himself anymore, like he's just floating around in space not really of any use whatsoever. Today is one of those days. He feels worse than usual and he blinks rapidly to try and clear his vision, which seems to keep wandering to that of the autopilot button, inadvertently you realise. He wishes he had gone to bed when his wife had now, but he didn't 'cause he's stubborn, and on occasions intellectually challenged when it comes to what's best for him.
His mind drifts towards wife soup for a moment but he's unlikely to receive that anytime soon. He hasn't done good. He's done stupid and incredibly lucky but definitely not good. He suddenly realises he is no longer staring down through the atmosphere of Haven but the inside of his eyelids, opening them just in time to swerve round a mining ship. Wash is suddenly awake now, blinking rapidly trying to remember where he is and what he's supposed to be doing.
"Wash, as good a pilot I think you are, that was just a mite close for my liking." Mal is suddenly standing behind Wash and he almost jumps out of his seat at what appears to be an unexpected arrival.
"Gotta keep the excitement up." Wash jests as Mal comes to stand behind him, looking out at Haven.
"I think you've missed the point why we've come here Wash." Mal says, putting a hand on Wash's shoulder, "These next couple of days are gonna be as excitement free as I can make them."
Wash manages a shadow of a smile as he tries to stifle a yawn that was more obvious than if he had actually yawned. Mal turns to leave the bridge.
"Just make sure you stay awake long enough to get us on the ground in one piece."
"I'll try Mal."
Wash attempted to disguise another yawn, to no one but himself, trying to deny the fact he hadn't slept in what felt like forever.
Shepard Book found Wash in one of the tents out the way of the rest of the camp. The laughter round the campfire echoed across to them in the twilight as Book hovered by the door, watching Wash for a long moment. Wash was sat on the edge of one of the beds, staring at his boots of which he had managed to undo the laces of, but apparently had got no further.
"Not interrupting anything am I?" Wash looked up at the Shepard with some effort, taking even longer to focus on the man there.
"Are you alright son?" Book said as he stepped further into the tent, letting the flap drop closed behind him and crossing over to Wash, putting a hand on his shoulder. Up close the Shepard could now see how tired and ill Wash looked in the half-light.
"Maybe it's best you see the doctor." Wash seemed to register this.
"Thanks for worrying Shepard, but I'm just fine." Book nodded, sitting down on the opposite bed and regarding Wash.
"And yet something's troubling you." Wash reached down to his boots and managed to untangle them from his feet finally, a distraction long enough for Wash to pull himself together.
"No offence Shepard," Wash said, not looking up at Book as he carefully placed his boots beside his bed, "but I'm not in the mood for talking at the moment. Think I might catch up on my beauty sleep before my wife leaves me for a younger prettier man." Book smiled at Wash, the pilot returning the smile, but Book could see his heart was not in it. The young pilot had lost the sparkle in his eye that used to make him so full of life. Something had drained that life from the pilot, and Book could only hazard a guess at what.
Book paused outside the tent that Wash occupied listening for a moment as he heard springs creaking and Wash sighing as he settled down for what Book was sure would be a restless night.
He glanced over to the fire where the rest of the crew gathered together and he noticed Zoë, she was laughing as she glanced over to the tent he was stood outside. The laughter suddenly dispersed as she watched the Shepard watching her, a sad and mournful look on her face before Jayne dinted her in the leg and she joined in with the laughing again.
"I just don't think that it's our business Kaylee." Kaylee wheeled round on Simon, stopping dead on the track she had been walking down with Simon and River.
"You could hear 'em shouting the whole way down in the engine room. I've never heard 'em shout at each other so much. Even the Captain ain't that loud." Kaylee looked sadly at Simon before she continued walking on down the road, following River who had now gone ahead.
"I'm sure they'll sort it out in time Kaylee. My parents always used to argue, but by the next morning at breakfast they were back to being my parents again. It's only natural for couples to argue." Simon tried to reassure her, but Kaylee was having none of it.
"This is different though, you don't know what they were arguing about." Kaylee and Simon passed River and continued on walking down the road, River looking back up the track to the camp and seeing Zoë sat next to the fire with the Shepard, Captain and Jayne.
"Bun in the oven." River whispered to no one in particular.
"River?" Simon questioned as he entered the infirmary, surprised to be met by the pilot of Serenity rather than his little sister. Wash turned to face Simon, as if a cat caught in headlights. Simon frowned at Wash as he looked down at the bundle of drugs in Wash's hands.
"Something wrong?" Simon asked as Wash dropped the drugs he had been carrying back into the drawer.
"Sorry Doc, bit of a headache, just looking for some aspirin." Simon smiled uncertainly and walked round Wash, reaching into another cupboard and pulling out a bottle, handing two of the pills to Wash. Wash smiled in appreciation, moving to the sink to get a drink as Simon replaced the bottle, noticing that there was a severe lack of aspirin in the bottle.
"You sure there's nothing else, Wash?" Wash turned back to face Simon, wiping away the water from round his mouth.
"I'm good thanks Doc." Wash said before he beat a hasty retreat out of the infirmary. The fact was Wash looked so far from good that Simon was worried about him, not the only one of the ship that shared his concerns. It had been a week since Zoë and Wash had argued, showing no signs of making up anytime soon, causing each trip out in the black to be even more bumpy than usual. Simon needed to talk to the Captain as the missing caffeine became more apparent.
Jayne was sat at the table polishing his knife collection when Wash entered the dining room. He stopped in the middle of the room as he stared at his wife who was stood calmly behind the stove making what appeared to be soup. Jayne looked up at Wash, and registered where he was looking before he pulled himself abruptly to his feet, gathering up his knife collection hurriedly.
"Think I'll go finish this in my bunk." Jayne said before hurrying out the room, leaving Wash and Zoë alone.
Zoë was the first to break the awkward silence.
"Did you want something?"
Kaylee found Wash in the cockpit at dinnertime.
"Wash you coming down for dinner?" he didn't reply or even turn round. Kaylee stepped hesitantly into the cockpit and went to the pilot's chair, putting a hand on his shoulder.
"Wash?" Kaylee turned the chair round so Wash was facing her. His eyes were closed, and at first she almost mistook him for being asleep, relief almost washing over her for a second because she hadn't seen him sleep in over a week. But as she saw him twitch involuntary before leaning forward to throw up her heart jumped.
"Wash?" She questioned as he drew himself back up, looking at her with sorrowful eyes, reaching a hand up to cradle her cheek.
"I'm so sorry baby. I want to have this child with you." Wash whispered, slurring his words as Kaylee started to look panicked, moving to the coms link.
"Simon? Wash isn't, you need to come see him, he's on the bridge." Kaylee finished and hurried back to Wash's side as he continued to drift in and out of consciousness as a bottle rolled out his hands, distracting Kaylee for a moment as it rolled under the console and out of sight.
"Something wrong little Kaylee." Mal asked as he came up the stairs into the cockpit. Kaylee turned to face Mal, tears welling in her eyes now.
"Something's wrong with Wash." Kaylee sobbed as Mal moved to Wash's side, looking down at his pilot who had broken out in a fever.
"Fetch the doctor Kaylee." Mal said as he started to unzip the top of Wash's boiler suit to reveal his vest, which was stuck to his chest.
"I called for him. Captain don't you think we should tell Zoë?" Mal stopped feeling for a pulse on Wash's neck to look at his pilot and the glazed blue eyes looking up at him with remorse. Mal turned and left the room just as Simon entered, looking confused.
"What's going on?" Kaylee looked up at Simon, tears in her eyes.
"Zoë, I have made this not my business long enough but when it incapacitates my pilot, and hence my ship it becomes my business." A flicker of worry passed across Zoë's face for a moment before her mask was back in place.
"Don't you Sir me, Zoë Alleyne! I wanna know what you and that husband of yours argued about for so long that it has lead to my pilot damn near killing himself." Malcolm Reynolds was mad now, fed up of secrets on his ship and fed up of Zoë and Wash not talking and the rest of the crew tiptoeing round them.
"With all respect, Sir," said Zoë, as calm as ever, an edge on the way she said Sir, "I still don't think it's any of your business." Mal fumed inside as he started to pace up and down the Mess before turning on his second in command.
"Zoë please, for Wash's sake if not anyone else's." Mal said, suddenly calm again, "I never wanted you two to marry but I can see now Wash cares 'bout you. You've seen the mess he's become Zoë, so please. At least talk to the man." Mal turned and left the dining room, leaving Zoë behind. She slowly lowered herself into one of the chairs round the table where the plates full of food still sat, soup growing cold as Zoë silently wept in the room, alone.