With a Warmth I'll Not Forget

Summary: Zoe knows she's a strong woman, there ain't no denying that. Wash/Zoe. Pre-BDM.

A/N: I can't get enough of these two. This fic was partially inspired by the song Ever the Same by Rob Thomas, which I just recently decided is a total Wash and Zoe song, and which I also stole the title from.

Zoe's a strong woman. She knows she is, and she's damn proud of this fact.

She's seen all manner of war and death, fought her way out of scrapes that ended lesser soldiers, and has killed enemies without batting an eye. She ain't the needy or the queasy type. Point is, she can hold her own in the harshness of the 'verse.

With Mal, she's the perfect first mate. She'll take his orders any day of the week, but question them just enough to make sure he's thinking long and hard about decisions that affect the whole crew.

With Jayne, she can go toe-to-toe, punch for punch, shot for shot. She'll take devastating wounds and never utter a peep, never shed a tear, and he respects her for it. Might make an inappropriate remark or two, but one quelling look from Zoe shuts him up good and quick.

And with the rest of the crew, she knows she's seen as a source of protection. Kaylee, Simon, Book, Inara, and River will stand behind her in a firefight not because of cowardice, but because they know that she's capable. Give her a gun and a reason to fight, and she'll have the enemy dead or running within minutes.

For the most part, this kind of lifestyle don't allow time for weakness.

But when the nightmares come and she awakes in terror, tears in her eyes and memories stingin' like bees...memories of war and fear and loss, overwhelming loss, she'll nestle in against her husband's chest and fold herself into his strong arms. And if he wakes, she'll let him soothe her with reassuring words of love and protection. Her man, her bao bei.

Zoe's a strong woman. She knows she is, and is damn proud of this fact.

But on the rare occasion when it all becomes too much, it is the greatest comfort in the world to know that with Wash, she doesn't have to be.

A/N: I'm such a sucker for vulnerable Zoe and protective Wash. Reviews are greatly appreciated!