A/N: I felt like I was writing too much Wash/Zoe angst, so I tried to make up for it with this fluffy, preseries piece. I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: Joss owns. I'm merely obsessed with Firefly and a Wash/Zoe fanatic.

"I love you."

The words are so soft she almost doesn't hear them as he whispers into her curls. He thinks she's asleep, and she's glad, because she's not sure what she'd say if he wanted a response.

Does she love him? She doesn't know. She's not even sure if she knows what love is.

Growing up vesselside, living with her parents on a ship out in the black, her only relationships (if you could even call them that) consisted of cheap meals from vendors at the docks and sneaking into her bunk after the lights were out, squeezing two bodies into a bed meant to hold one.

During the war, there was the occasional man, but only for a few hours and only when she needed to feel wanted. And even then, she made sure to choose someone who's name she wouldn't remember and who she wouldn't find herself wanting to run to ever again.

It was easier that way, without all the messy strings and disappointments.

But this…

Whether she likes it or not, she's going to remember this one. His name feels at home on her lips and she feels at home in his arms, and maybe that's all love really is, these little moments.

Maybe it's the stolen kisses on the bridge when no one's there to see. Maybe it's a warm body to hold her close at night and her hand on his shoulder when he's at the helm. Maybe it's meals eaten off the console when he misses dinner and jokes that make her smile when she needs it most. Maybe it's someone who knows exactly what words of comfort to whisper as he wipes away her tears.

She can tell he's still awake, nose still buried in her hair, and her voice is soft as well when she whispers a quiet, "I love you, too."

And she knows he heard, because his hold on her tightens just a little and she feels him press a gentle kiss to the back of her head.

She leans back into him just slightly and waits until his breathing steadies before falling asleep herself, letting the up and down rhythm of his chest against her back lull her into slumber, knowing that he'll still be right there when she wakes up.