Title: A Whisper to the Living
Author: babies stole my dingo (agilebrit)
Fandom: Firefly
Rating: PG-13 (default)
Length: Short story (a little over a thousand words)
Disclaimer: Joss is the genius behind these characters; I am but a lowly follower. I make no money from any of this, so please don't sue me. Some dialogue from this fic cribbed directly from the "Serenity" novelization by Keith R. A. DeCandido.
Feedback: Concrit adored! If you see something that can be improved upon, please let me know.
Written for: LJ Community Two of us Fic, a Beatle lyric challenge.
Notes: Lyrics from the Beatles' "You Never Give Me Your Money": One sweet dream, pick up the bags and get in the limousine/ Soon we'll be away from here, step on the gas and wipe that tear away. The title is from a Russian proverb: The fall of a leaf is a whisper to the living. Many thanks to the Hubby for his excellent suggestions, without which this story would have been far less than it is.
Summary: "Always remember that I'll love you forever, Zoe. Always." He touched her cheek... Wash/Zoe. Heavy angst warning; spoilers for the BDM.
"I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I--shit!" Wash caught a motion out of the corner of his eye, slapped his seat belt open, and dove out of his chair. Less than a second later a harpoon smashed through the window and slammed into the seat, missing him by a hair's-breadth.

Zoe, leaping to her feet to stand beside him, felt a surge of fear, horror, and loss clutch at her chest. An instant of contemplating life in the lonely, endless black without her husband stole the breath from her lungs and turned her knees to water. "Wash? Baby, you okay?" Then Mal had to tackle her out of the way of another tree-trunk-sized harpoon.

"Daxiang baozhashi de laduzi! I'm good, yeah. Let's get out of here!"

They gathered with the others on the cargo deck, armed to the teeth and loaded for Reaver. Jayne gave Wash a none-too-gentle, but comradely, punch on the arm. "You call that flyin', little man?"

"Well, any landing you walk away from..."

River took one look at Zoe and inhaled sharply, a tear rolling down her cheek. Zoe wanted to ask her about it, but with the Reavers right behind them, she didn't have time. They moved into Mr. Universe's complex, and Mal left while they stayed behind to draw the enemy in and keep them busy until he could complete his mission.

As the Reavers broke through the door, Zoe felt an unreasoning cold rage, her normal dispassionate approach to warfare replaced by a need to kill. Maybe she was protecting Wash by going into Warrior Woman Mode, but she didn't stop to really analyze it, she just stepped out from behind the crates and shot them--blam, blam, blam--methodically taking down one with each shot. The hammer of her gun clicked on the empty chamber, and she reversed it and hit the next one that came in with the butt, right between its eyes, beating it down to the ground and smashing its head to a pulp before the next one entered. Was she screaming?

Jayne's voice cut through the red haze across her vision. "Zoe, get your ass back in the line!" Her head whipped up...and a Reaver blade sliced into her back. Wash cried out, and Inara shot the Reaver in the neck with her crossbow, giving Jayne a chance to drag Zoe back to the crates.

"Baby, you all right?" Wash's husbandly concern made her eyes prickle. Some part of her brain, detached, wondered why.

"Just gimme a bandage," she gritted out, and Simon went to work while Wash held her hand and stroked her hair.

Guns firing all around, ammunition and other things flying everywhere, a bullet slamming into Jayne's shoulder, Kaylee hit with some sort of dart things, her hand going to her neck where they stuck out like obscene flowers before she fell to the floor. Gibbering Reavers coming through ceiling panels, and they were fixin' to be overrun.

"Everybody fall back! Fall back!" Zoe shouted.

Jayne laid down some covering fire, and Simon and Wash dragged her, while Inara pulled Kaylee. River had her hands over her ears, chanting, "It isn't real, it isn't real," over and over, and they retreated to the corridor behind the blast doors. Inara hit the button, but the doors didn't close all the way. Shit.

"Some public relations wouldn't go amiss here," Wash remarked.

"Jayne, grenade," Zoe said.

"Very last one," the mercenary grunted, tossing it out.

The buzzing in her ears wasn't helping. They discussed their options, and then Simon discovered that his bag had been left in the other room. More bullets and other Reaver-stuff came flying through the partially-open door. Simon hit, falling, River screaming, Kaylee losing feeling, Jayne crippled--even Inara's face was marred where some-damn-thing had struck her cheek.

Wash was still unscathed, not a scratch on him anywhere, his unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt falling open to reveal a spotless t-shirt beneath. She had to protect him, couldn't lose him. He wasn't supposed to fight...was supposed to fly the ship and stay out of the line of fire. He'd never been good with guns; he'd been an enthusiastic but unexceptional marksman. He shouldn't be here, it wasn't right, she mentally protested.

River had been having some sort of conversation with Simon, then she was sprinting across the room and diving through the hole. Simon's bag bounced in through the opening, and the door closed the rest of the way as the Reavers dragged the girl away from it...

And all they could do was wait. Wait to live, or wait to die. Wash wrapped his arms around her, and she rested her head on his chest. Listening to his heartbeat, hearing him breathe.

:-:

Turned out that they lived, when all was said and done. Mal got the message out, and the Operative helped patch them up. The massive hole in the pilot's chair was a horrifying reminder of what might have been; they replaced that first, with Wash joking about whales and being harpooned, causing her to shudder. Days passed in a fuzzy blur of activity and recovery. The morning the repairs were done and they were taking off, Wash brought her breakfast in bed. She wondered where he'd found ham and eggs in this place, and decided that she didn't want to know. A red rose graced the tray, and he'd lit some candles. The muted lighting gave the room a surreal quality and softened the edges of everything.

He sat beside her while she ate, teasing her by pretending that one of his dinosaurs was stealing her meat. Laughing, she slapped at his hand and shoveled the food in.

Then one of her teeth fell out, clattering on the plate and bouncing to a stop among the eggshells. Eggshells? Had they been there before? "Wash? What's--"

"Shh, bao bei." He put his finger under her chin and tilted her head into a kiss.

Another tooth came loose, and she broke away from him and spit it into her hand. "I don't understand." She glanced at the rose. It had withered and turned black.

"Always remember that I'll love you forever, Zoe. Always." He touched her cheek...and faded away.

And she woke up, clutching her tear-soaked pillow. Again.

finis


A/N: I did some research on dream elements for this. Apparently, seeing cracked or broken eggs in a dream can denote that you will suffer disappointments and misfortunes; to eat ham in a dream signifies a great loss. Teeth falling out can signify a feeling of powerlessness, although there are many other interpretations as well. Dreammoods was quite useful.

Chinese translation:
Daxiang baozhashi de laduzi: The explosive diarrhea of an elephant!