A/N: This is a little scene I dreamed up while at work and scratched out during a free moment. Only edited in copying up onto my word processor. I wanted to explore Zoe's grief and River's new role.
River had been staring at her from the door way into the galley for the last three minutes. It had been disconcerting to say the least. Even though River had become quite the intelligent sounding young woman over the last month and a half since Miranda-oh god-sometimes…sometimes she would act oddly.
Apparently, it was time for another moment of incoherent oddity. Although one thing did indicate otherwise. River's voice had been steady and clear.
Zoe finally looked up from her guns which she had been attempting to clean. "Yes, River?"
The room went silent for a moment, but for the slight intake of air between the two. A heavy pall settled over them. Zoe felt her heart clench as she felt herself reminded of the days just after Wash had died. It had been so silent.
Finally, finally, River spoke, breaking through the heavy pall of grief with her soft-spoken voice. "Could I borrow Wash's Adeopapposaurus and his Camarasaurus?"
Zoe's throat closed up, thinking of the clutter of his dinosaurs sitting in the corner of their-her room. "Why?" she finally managed to choke out.
"Wash wants them on the controls," River's voice was certain, steady and clear.
"Wash is-" Zoe pinched her lips together, trying to contain the tidal wave of grief pouring over her. "Wash is dead. He can't want things anymore." Her hands found their way to her mare's leg, automatically cleaning it, taking it apart and setting the pieces on the old wooden table. She could almost hear Wash, laughing with her.
"He told me," River's voice held that note of steel it so occasionally bore.
"You mean-" Zoe paused, swallowed. "—Before?"
"No, he told me today. He wants them on the controls."
"What do you mean?" Zoe asked, finally resigned to going along with this-this charade of pain.
"His voice sounded in my head. Talked to me about his dinosaurs, when he played with them. Thought I should play with them, since I'm pilot now."
"You remembered a conversation?"
"No, today. We conversed today." River moved fluidly as she always did, seating herself across from Zoe.
Could she read the souls of the dead? It'd seemed so on Miranda, but Zoe found she couldn't believe it.
River continued, ignoring the silence from Zoe. "Can't you hear him? In here?" River took Zoe's hand and guided it to her heart. "He's right there, talking to you. You just have to listen."
Zoe stared down, perplexed by her dark hand on her heart, covered by River's tiny pale hand. Well. She talked to Wash everyday, never thinking of him as actually hearing. Sometimes, sometimes she could almost hear a response. Wash was living on. He was living in the hearts of all of her, of Mal. Of River and the rest of them.
She stood. "I'll go get those dinosaurs for you." She left River with the guns, something she had never done before. But it was alright, because, somehow, her world had gotten slightly lighter, the weight on her shoulders had lifted. Wash would always be with her.