A/N: I do not own the rights to any of the Firefly or Serenity characters; they would be the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy, unfortunately.

The stegosaur lie motionless, its frigid body dead and still. The destruction around it was immense, and without end; it sprawled as far as the eye could see. Everything was burnt and black and broken and shapeless, its world cracked and hollowed. The stegosaur of course couldn't comprehend any of this, being the dead plastic thing that it was, but an inkling of surprise shone in the eyes of its molded head. Its home was gone.

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Zoe limped toward the ship as best she could manage. She had been sliced up the back, and while that was sure to leave a scar of some kind, at this moment in time she didn't really care. She kept her feet shuffling at a somewhat steady pace, hoping she could keep them going and have them transport her to the boat before they gave out.

She glanced around, craning her neck with a grimace, to see if anyone was around. There was no one. The Reavers were all long dead, their twisted and deformed corpses littering the inside of the compound. Zoe was used to violence and bloodshed, and didn't worry fretting over the pools she had trudged through to get to the outside. She had told the captain to stay with his crew, to make sure they were all dandy.

"You, you're part of that crew," he had rasped, blood and spittle seeping out the corners of his mouth.

"I know, sir," she had answered hesitantly. "I'll be back right quick."

The captain had looked her in the eye, had noticed something a slight bit off. She had nodded off whatever suspicions he had harbored, and left him with his battered crew.

You, you're part of that crew.

Was she?

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Zoe reached the Serenity, and patted it gently. It was all a-shambles, thrashed and beaten and reduced to little more than a shell with an engine inside.

The door was still down, so she made her way up to the loading bay, cringing and wincing at every severe twinge of pain in her back. She stood at the entrance to the bay for some time, looking at what she had called her home. It was a disaster. She took one look back at the outside world, and moved up the stairs, slowly, taking them one by one. It hurt.

She took her time with the stairs, using every opportunity she had to look at what had become of this fine boat. What kind of hell had been rained down upon it. Then Zoe looked up, looked at what she was about to see. It was the cockpit. She had spent a lot of time in the cockpit during her travels with the captain. The time when she wasn't pointing a gun squarely at someone's temple or breaking some sort of bone, that was. It was a room where she had been happy and comfortable. The room where she had found herself tripping into love with the leaf that glided this crazy tree to wherever in the vast space of God's great big black it was going.

The room where that leaf had landed after soaring gracefully. The room where the leaf would never again stand up, or walk, or talk, or breathe, or make a joke, or laugh, or make her laugh, or make her cry, or love ever again. The room where the leaf would never smile, or wink, or eat, or pine, or lust, or cough, or frown. Never. Not ever again.

The room where the man she had loved, this funny little leaf she had so loved with every ounce of her being, would never again live.

Zoe sat down on the steps. She hadn't had time to mourn or to grieve. Everything had happened so quickly, the captain had needed her there, and then she went off to revenging before she realized what a gorram fool she had been. Nearly cost her her own life. Thank God for Simon.

What was she supposed to do? Zoe had known the captain for years, ever since the war, and she knew it would be hard to leave him behind. She had never left one of hers behind. But if she had to, she would. If she needed to. Serenity was no longer her lovely, cozy home. It was a burial ground, a graveyard where her husband would permanently be laid to rest. He was dead, but he would always be there. He would be in the walls, the floors, the ceilings. He would be in the heart of Serenity.

Zoe found it in her to stand up. She turned around, taking a hesitant moment of thought before again ascending the stairs.

The Reaver bellowed in rage.

Zoe turned back as quickly as she had forward, seeing its horribly mangled shape speeding toward her. Its eyes were mere slits in a face scarred beyond that of anything in the 'verse. Blood and sweat dripped down its craggy mouth, spilling down its shoulders and onto the soiled rags it called clothes. It looked at her with nothing but what could be called contempt, since that was all any facial expression a Reaver could make could be called.

She froze.

She stood there, watching the Reaver run at her, watching its deformed jaws open, baring its sharp teeth. She watched its face as its mind thought up an entertaining way to rape her, skin her, wear her, and then eat her. How could anything so unnatural be allowed to come into existence, no matter what beaurecratic meddling had made it?

She snapped back to reality, grabbed the solid handle of her gun, drew it, and shot it in the face.

It fell to the floor, a smattering of blood collecting under its head. That hwoon dahn.

Zoe started crying. The tears rolled in long beads from her bloodshot eyes. She didn't know how long it had been since she had really cried, had really let it all out. For the past few years, she didn't even know if her ducts were capable of doing anything of the like. She nearly let herself crumple on the stairs, but she composed herself, tears still making their journey down her flushed cheeks, and moved the cockpit.

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Her mighty little leaf was still there, still pinned to his station.

Zoe had seen a lot of bodies in the war for independence, had seen a lot of brave men and women taking a bullet to the cranium for a cause that was just, yet still to this day went unvindicated. But she had never seen the body of someone she had loved and cared for so much. He had been robbed even a dying word, the Reavers' crude wooden harpoon sticking him in the chest before he had but a moment to realize what had happened.

What had happened here was wrong, what had happened here would not go unavenged. But she couldn't let herself get carried away.

It was at this moment that Zoe decided she could never leave the Serenity. She would avenge the wrong that had been done here on this day, and for nearly the last decade, this killing of innocents, by staying with the ship that her husband had made live. His heart may have stopped beating, but she couldn't let the same happen to Serenity's. For all intents and purposes, this fair ship's heart was his heart. She was still bound to it by her vow to love and to care for and to honor this leaf.

How could she do that by leaving the tree?

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Zoe bent down on her knees, gave Wash a soft kiss on the cheek.

She commenced to cleaning his station.

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The leaf lie motionless, its frigid body dead and still. The destruction around it was immense, and without end; it sprawled as far as the eye could see. Everything was burnt and black and broken and shapeless, its world cracked and hollowed. The leaf of course couldn't comprehend any of this, being the dead soul that it was, but an inkling of surprise shone in the eyes of its unmoving head. Wash's life was gone, but his home and his heart were not.