A/N: It came to my attention that not a single Firefly fan on this site noticed that the episode Heart Of Gold set up a Wash/Kaylee pairing, and that is truly a shame. But hey, now there is, so it's all good.

That said, welcome to the dark recesses of my twisted imagination. Enjoy your stay.

Because You're Pretty

It had been only a few short weeks since Miranda and the Reavers. A month, maybe, since his whole world had circled the drain and finally slushed over the edge into the muck of an existence he was unwillingly forced to participate in.

It wasn't like he had gone into it wanting to die. Hell, he'd been more than happy with his life before he and his makeshift family had been drug into the twisted history of the Alliance. It's just… of all the people who could have died that day, he would have preferred it to be him. Course, if not for the doc, and a couple of not-asked-for miracles, he would have been numbered amongst the no-longer-living as well. He wasn't sure how it had even been possible; he was fairly certain he'd stopped living long before the trauma surgeon took the grappling hooks out of his chest, inflated his collapsed lung, pumped the captain's blood into him, and sewed him back up. At least, that's what it had felt like, like he'd been dead and forced to come back. Not sure why they bothered, given the one person the doc wasn't able to save that day.

Like life was worth living without her.

The pain in his chest worsened at the thought of his wife. He'd stopped asking the doc for more pain killers every time it flared; he knew now that the pain was purely metaphorical, and there was only one cure for that – his latest bottle now more than half empty as he took yet another swig. He didn't care if the captain wouldn't let him fly in his current state; the wind was gone, there was nothing to soar on now.

He just wished he'd been there, or had somehow found the strength to tell her not to die before the captain dragged her out so she wouldn't get kabobbed as well. Not that he blamed her for throwing herself into battle once she thought he was gone. It was very Romeo-and-Juliet-like. He smiled half-heartedly at that, realizing that he was Juliet in this scenario. She would have liked being Romeo, he thought. And better that she didn't have to live with the idea that she had caused his death, better that he be the one to suffer for his weakness. He had to hand it to Juliet, though; she had more balls than he ever would, taking that dagger like she did.

His thoughts drifted away from the fictional character and back to his better and missing half. He wasn't sure which was worse; the bad memories, or the good. They all seemed evil now that she wasn't there to laugh with him about them. He even missed her threats, masochistic as that seemed. It simply reminded him of their last big and on-going argument about having a child, and that made him feel all kinds of miserable and conflicted. Regret burned within him, wishing he'd been able to give her what she'd so desperately wanted, and nearly wishing that he could have a breathing piece of her still with him, although he wasn't sure if he could handle the constant walking reminder that she was gone for good.

For some unknown, drunken reason, his mind stayed on that day at the Heart of Gold, playing over the events in his mind, even those that didn't include his wife. It had almost been fun, tricking those men that ambushed him and the mechanic just as they were about to head back with the ship. He'd felt a great sense of pride that he'd been able to protect her without needing a gun like everyone else, even if their plan made it impossible for them to go back and help the others. At least he knew she was safe.

He frowned to himself, wondering for the first time how she was doing. Sure, he saw her every day when he surfaced for meals or when he was sober enough to work on the ship with her, but he couldn't remember the last time either of them had smiled, and that was saying something for them both. Were they all as miserable as he was, now that the joker and the optimist were out of commission? Did he care? Was he caring about that now?

No. No, he wasn't. He went back to reminiscing.

They'd lost a lot of people that day too, but at least none of their own. He wondered how he would have reacted back then, if it had been one or two of theirs that had fallen in the fight. Well, assuming one of them wasn't his wife. He'd be right where he was now, were that the case. Wouldn't be a lick of difference. But if they had lost someone, it wouldn't have been that bad. It wouldn't be something he couldn't get over. Death was an eventuality he'd thought he'd come to terms with, and he was sure that at the time he would have been fine after a month straight of mourning.

He forced the idea of death to the back of his mind. What else had happened that trip? He remembered their merc had been quite pleased to offer his services in exchange for some of theirs, but that had been no surprise. Even the mechanic seemed interested in the happenings of the whorehouse, eyeing the boys for a minute or two. What was it she had asked him? If he thought she was pretty?

A wry smirk lifted the corners of his mouth. He remembered what he had said back to her. Were I unwed, I would take you in a manly fashion.

Because I'm pretty?

Because you're pretty.

He lifted the bottle to his lips, but paused before tipping it back. Did she expect him to hold true to the promise now that he was…unwed? Surely not. Neither of them could have been able to foresee a future that he would survive and his wife wouldn't. He washed the thought down with more of his medicine.

Of course, the more medicine he tried to wash it down with, the more it seemed to float to the fore of his mind. He was sure he didn't want to sex her, sure she didn't want to sex him, but maybe…maybe having a body next to him at night would help him sleep? He deserved that much, right? And maybe she could use the warmth as well.

Determined now that he had a plan, he sloshed to his feet, leaning heavily on the control board before he caught hold of his balance and staggered his way down from the bridge. He had a mechanic to find.