Cries of the Dead

By PaBurke

Pairing Buffy Summers/ Wash (Firefly)

Disclaimer: Not mine

Spoiler: Just after the movie.

Word Count: 1200

"Is it drafty in here, or is it just me?" Mal asked the doctor idly.

Simon answered seriously. "Kaylee assures me that there's nothing wrong with Serenity. Her hull is secure and intact."

"So it's not just me?"

Simon shook his head. "Even River's mentioned it… in a River-like way."

Mal smirked. "So she might have been commenting on a leaf falling from some tree on the Core Planets?"

Simon couldn't argue. River still had her good and her bad days.

Wash nearly screamed in frustration. He took a swing at Mal, but his arm sailed through the man. He was so angry. They couldn't hear him. They couldn't see him. They could only barely feel him and that was only if he tried really hard. He had thought that River would be able to communicate with him and pass messages but she only seemed confused when he was near. Out of safety for the crew of Serenity, Wash stayed away from River as she was piloting.

"You're dead," the girl said again.

"Then why isn't Book here?" Wash argued.

"His job, his life was completed. He accepted the end."

"And mine wasn't. So let me go back!"

"I can't do that. Neither can you. We're dead."

Wash stomped over to the girl who had been by his side since he had woken up in the pilot's chair with a log through his chest. He towered over the blonde girl but she showed no fear… it wasn't as if he could kill her. "I wasn't done. My Lambkin wanted a baby and I kept putting her off. Zoë needs me."

"She'll grieve and move on."

"She's hurting! She's not eating! And her aim is off!" How many times had he sat by his wife's side and tried to hold her as she sobbed alone.

"You are dead. It's time to move on."

Wash finally realized something. "You haven't. And I know you don't belong with this ship."

"No I don't, but I belong no where else."

"You're talking in riddles. If you can't help me go back, than go away."

"I'm sorry," and she really did sound regretful. "I hated the riddles when I was alive too."

"Can you help me?"

"You are dead," Buffy insisted. "The cost of going back would be too great. Two people would die. It could be Zoë and then where would you be?"

Wash blanched at the horrible thought.

Buffy grinned. "And now you are white as a ghost."

"Very funny."

"Hey, I have to get my giggles somewhere."

Wash floated through the ship until his found his love. Zoë was in their bunk. She wasn't currently crying –someone might hear her now. She reached out and touched his pillow. Wash reached out to touch her.

Buffy sighed. "We can give her a memory. It's a one time deal."

"I'll take it!"

"It'll have to be while she's sleeping."

"Okay."

Buffy started to float away. Wash followed. "What are we going to do? Do we have to prepare or plan… or prepare? What's going to happen?"

"You'll get one last night together."

Mal noticed the difference immediately. Zoë had a half-smile on her face. Her shoulders were relaxed and she was humming very, very softly. The clincher was when Zoë actually sat down to eat. He watched her eat a full meal and then some. He exchanged a relieved glance with Simon; the doctor had been worried about how little food the woman had been consuming.

It couldn't last.

And it didn't. Zoë was overcome with grief often the next few days and weeks, but she stopped avoiding the cockpit. She ate most of her meals with the rest of the crew. She even cracked a couple jokes at Jayne's expense; wry, dry words like Wash used too. She didn't smile yet, but Mal was hopeful. He knew that she slept sometimes in the kitchen, but if she was really sleeping, Mal wasn't going to mention it to anyone.

But most of the crew knew. River knew; the girl knew most every secret. Simon knew and he relaxed a little with the knowledge that Zoë was sleeping some. The doctor had probably told Kaylee so that the mechanic would not worry as much. Jayne was oblivious.

With Zoë working her way through the grieving process, Mal was supremely surprised when she passed out in the middle of reporting a contact.

She just passed out. One moment she was standing there, the next she was on the floor.

"Simon!"

"SIMON!"

The doctor appeared almost immediately. He checked her pulse and did a couple other doctory things. Apparently satisfied, he ordered Mal to help him get Zoë to the infirmary. Once there, Simon checked Zoë's body top to bottom. The second time he tripped over Mal, he kicked the captain out. His argument that he would accomplish more without Mal's interference rang too true. So Mal hovered outside the closed door. Kaylee, Jayne and River hovered with him. Though Jayne would never admit it, he didn't want to lose another crew member any more than anyone else.

"Oh," River said suddenly. She smiled. "The memory was of more substance than he knew."

Kaylee smiled softly. If River said that it was good-ish, than she believed the crazy girl. Even the men relaxed slightly. Inside the infirmary, Simon broke something under Zoë's nose and she came to, swinging. She caught Simon in the jaw and the doc went flying.

"That's Zoë," Mal murmured. The rest of the crew snickered.

Zoë was upright and slightly confused about being in the infirmary. She was also apologetic about slugging the doctor.

Simon waved her off and made her sit down again. Then he took her by the shoulders and told her something. Zoë turned white again. Mal was already half-way into the infirmary (much to Simon's consternation) when Zoë started crying (which worried Mal even more).

"Zoë?" Mal asked carefully. "What's wrong?"

Zoë couldn't catch her breath to answer.

"Doctor?"

Simon shook his head. "Doctor-patient confidentiality."

"That means nothing when it concerns my crew," Mal argued.

"She's pregnant," River declared as Zoë said, "I'm pregnant, sir."

"Oh." Mal could think of nothing more to say.

Kaylee squealed in joy. Jayne was not pleased. "Oh hell, just what we need to make this a nursery ship. How are we going to complete missions with a baby?"

It was a serious and a good question but Mal had his eyes trained on Zoë. She positively glowed with the news.

"I can almost hear Wash shouting the news, can't you?"

Zoë touched her own belly in awe. "Yes sir, I can."

"Baby! Baby! Baby! My Lambkin's having a baby!" Wash was running around the ship yelling and screaming. He tried to dance with Kaylee, but he couldn't touch her, so he grabbed up his mysterious ghost helper and danced with her instead.

"Baby! Baby! Baby! My Lambkin's having a baby!"

Buffy laughed at him. "So now that that's done, we can go now."

Wash stepped back in horror. "Absolutely not!" He reached for the nearest part of Serenity and held on tight. "I can't leave now! I have to see what happens next!"