"I thought... maybe..." the pilot held up a bottle with one hand and kept his other hand on his towel as he edged toward the shore of the pond. Zoe looked at him and stood up, the water falling from her body, and immediately Wash had a bulge in his towel.
"You thought what?" Zoe asked.
"I... uh... thought maybe I'd offer to wash your back. Bester got this stuff last port. It's supposed to be able to get off the stink of riding with cows for near on three weeks straight." Wash held up the bottle a little higher and gave her a smile. That's when she noticed that he'd gotten rid of the mustache. She crossed her arms over her chest and considered him.
"Don't you think you're being a little forward?" she asked.
"I think if I was being too forward you could break me into about a hundred pieces and mail me back to Captain Reynolds, so I'm going to go for being as forward as I can get away with. Besides, Bester promises this stuff is great."
"Bester does?" Zoe asked. She had a whole lot less confidence in the mechanic the captain had hired than she did the pilot he'd hired. At least Wash knew his way around the bridge, and she wasn't so sure that was true of Bester and the engine room.
"So, what exactly was your plan here?" Zoe asked as she took a step forward. Her skin goose pimpled as a gentle breeze cooled her, and she could feel her nipples tighten. For a second, Wash just stood with his mouth slightly open as though he'd forgotten how to use his mouth.
"Wash!" Zoe said sharply, and that broke the man out of his trance. Zoe had to control an urge to smile. She had to admit that it felt good to leave a man so obviously in lust.
"Oh, I just thought I'd start with bribery with the soap and then offer to wash your back and ask if you'd wash mine and see if nature took its course," Wash offered with a smile. Zoe shook her head at the man's naiveté.
"We work the same ship. Wouldn't be right for nature to take a course with us," Zoe said firmly as she turned her back and sank into the water.
"Oh, okay," Wash said loudly behind her, nearly shouting. "That's totally okay, and you'd get some real fancy shampoo and a clean back for free because I'm not looking to push this somewhere that it isn't right for it to go. I'm just hoping that you'll give me a chance."
Zoe turned around and considered the pilot standing on the very edge of the shore, his feet in the water and his face all hopeful like an overgrown kid.
"You're going to use up your soap without getting anything in return," Zoe warned.
Wash was already nodding. He started wading into the water and it got to his knees before he hesitated, his hand on his towel. Zoe rolled her eyes. "I have seen an erection in my life. You're not going to scar me by throwing the towel on shore," she snorted. Wash still hesitated for a second before he pulled the towel off and threw it at the shore. It almost made it, but one corner floated in the water.
Zoe was woman enough to admit that Wash wasn't bad once you got him out of his mustache and god-awful shirts, but she wasn't fool enough to start something with crew. Besides, Mal would never let her hear the end of it after she went and made a big deal out of not liking the pilot when the captain had first hired him on.
"You touch anything other than my back, and that will be the last erection you ever have," Zoe warned as Wash opened the bottle. Instead of getting angry or scared, Wash just smiled.
"Ma'am, yes, ma'am," he said with a wiggle of his eyebrows as he poured some soap out onto his hand and brought it carefully up to her back. Rubbing slowly, he touched her gently and reverently, and Zoe kept waiting for him to make a grab for something more salacious, but that grab never came. Instead he traced the line of her backbone and smoothed soap over her shoulders until the pond smelled of roses. With one hand, he kneaded her shoulder and worked the tight muscles with gentle fingers.
Reaching up, Zoe gathered her hair and held it up and out of the way as Wash moved to her other shoulder, working the muscles until a month of wrestling cattle was forgotten. Her wash cloth dangled from her wrist by a cord, and she handed it back to him, and the slick, warm touch of skin against skin became the firm strokes of Wash's hand carefully covering her entire back and then stopping right at her waist as he stayed inside the limits she'd set. The sun wasn't the only heat Zoe had started to feel as need uncurled in her belly. How long had it been since she was touched with respect and reverence and not just raw lust? Too long.
"Wash my back?" he asked quietly.
"Mal and Bester will never let you live it down if you come back to the Serenity smelling of roses," Zoe warned.
Wash blinked fast. "You're right, if we both smell like the same soap, Bester is going to be a gorram ass about it. I'm sorry." Wash started backing away, and Zoe reached out and caught him by the elbow.
"I don't rightly care what Bester thinks. If he wants to believe we're having hot sex on the back of one of those cows, I couldn't care less. I just didn't want you to do something you weren't comfortable with just because you're trying to get my hands on you. I haven't changed my mind." And Zoe hadn't. She totally had not changed her mind. Sleeping with crew was stupid, and any lust she felt she could take care of herself when she got back to her bunk.
"Anything is better than smelling of cow. Have you thought of trying to get the captain to hire someone else because four people herding a hundred head of cow is just not helpful, not when none of them know one end of a cow from another," Wash pointed out as he turned around and presented Zoe with his back.
Zoe plucked the washcloth and soap out of his hand and started in washing with maximum efficiency. She was a soldier, and she was not going to notice the curve of his back or the way he kept his hands to himself even though he had an erection that had to hurt. She was not going to put any stock in how respectful he was being because it was probably just a ploy to get her into bed. She knew how men thought after serving with them for so long.
"So, were you in the war?" She asked. If anything killed ardor, talk of the war would be it.
"For about three days," Wash said with a shrug, and the back under Zoe's hands shifted with the motion. Zoe's fingers itched to just reach around and explore more skin. "I'm a gorram good pilot, but my judgment with people..." Wash shrugged again.
"What happened?" Zoe asked as she cleaned the same skin a second time.
"One of the crew was a traitor. He sabotaged the drive, we went down and the government picked us up. I spent the war making shadow puppet theatre for a few hundred cranky POW's."
Zoe let her fingers creep up and over his shoulder so that she traced his collarbone, and he held his breath. "It's just sex," she warned him.
"I'm okay with that," Wash whispered as he held himself still, only his cock moving as it bobbed almost comically. Zoe started for the shore, and it took Wash a second to follow her, and then he splashed wildly as he flailed in his attempts to run after her. Zoe laughed as she headed for a soft spot of ground.
"I told you that you'd like it, didn't I?" Wash crowed as Zoe sprawled on the sand of the desert dune and watched the pink-streaked sky.
"I didn't say I liked it," she pointed out dryly. Instead of taking offense, he just smiled wider and threw himself down next to her.
"You don't know what you missed growing up on ships."
"I missed sand in my pants," Zoe answered as she shifted. How in the world had this happened? Three worlds. Three worlds and she still hadn't scratched her itch with Wash. If anything, he was becoming an addiction because every time he turned to her with that love-sick expression, she could feel herself respond. The new mechanic had taken to making mooneyes at them and kept trying to tell Zoe how special it was that they had each other out in all that black. Zoe was fairly sure the new mechanic was on some sort of drugs that made the girl unnaturally happy, though, so Zoe wasn't taking her word for it.
"Want help getting sand out of your pants?" Wash asked with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
Zoe gave him a look that might have made a lesser man wither. "I'll help you with your sand if you help me with mine," Wash offered with his version of a leer. It wasn't very convincing.
"I thought you wanted to watch your sunset," Zoe said as she turned her eyes back to the brilliant streaks against the blue sky. She had to admit, it was real pretty.
"I'd rather watch you."
"Now that's coming mightily close to some cheap pick up lines I've heard," Zoe warned him, but she couldn't quite stop a smile from twitching the corners of her mouth.
"Just speaking the god's honest truth."
"So, you're comparing me to a sunset?" Zoe leaned back into the hot sand and considered Wash with a look that just challenged him to try and defend that statement.
"No, just saying I'd rather look at your beautiful face than a sunset," Wash said as he inched closer. He reached over and ran his hand over her stomach, fingers slipping into the space between the buttons so that he could touch her belly.
"Right." Zoe focused on the sunset and the warm sand that made her want to stretch out like a big cat and go to sleep. Fingers tugged at her buttons, and Zoe allowed Wash his bit of exploring. She wasn't having sex in all this sand, but that didn't mean that she couldn't let himself get worked up and then send him back to his own bunk. It would serve him right. Besides, they really had to stop having sex on every planet if she wanted to avoid this fling getting serious.
"If I were going to compare you to something, I'd compare you to piloting a Firefly class ship through a minefield," Wash finally said.
"Excuse me?" Zoe propped herself up on her elbows and pinned Wash with a look.
"Dangerous and exciting and when done just right, a complete work of art."
Zoe raised her eyebrows. "And something you're good at doing?" she finished for him. She knew him well enough to know that's exactly where his brain was going.
Wash smiled and reached over to give her a kiss. "I am, aren't I?" he asked with just a little smugness. Zoe didn't even bother to argue as Wash pulled her gunbelt's buckle loose and then started in on the pants underneath.
Well, there went the no-sex plan she realized as her whole body tightened in need. "I'm not laying here and getting sand in uncomfortable places," Zoe said firmly as she put her hand on Wash's shoulder and pushed him onto his back.
"Oh baby, I'm all yours," Wash happily agreed as he spread his arms wide in surrender. Zoe had him stripped in no time, and straddling him, she dropped down on to his hard erection and groaned at the delicious feeling of fullness as she started riding him. He was going to be picking sand out of his nether regions for a month by the time she was done with this annoying, wonderful man of hers.
"Come on, honey... sweety... please?"
Zoe crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow as she considered Wash's earnest expression. She knew how to say 'no' to a man who was demanding, but she was mighty hard-pressed to ever say no to Wash's pitiful expressions. "Honey, we don't need an aphrodisiac," she pointed out.
"Yeah, but I already went and spent money on it, and the lady at the market said we'd never come so hard in all our life. She promised it would be great." Wash stood in the door to Zoe's quarters with two tiny bottles in hand and Zoe frowned as she tried to think it through.
"You shouldn't be buying from open markets," she said.
"Took the captain with me, and he said Madam Hollis was one hundred percent safe, and that this is the best stuff ever." Wash smiled triumphantly, and Zoe tried to avoid groaning at the thought of the captain knowing that her beau was off buying aphrodisiacs. Mal was going to be a gorram ass over this one.
She must have paused too long because Wash was off and running. "I just want to give you something really special. We're in a quiet part of space, we're running empty so we don't have anything for anyone to steal, and with a new gunhand and the captain it's not like we're helpless if someone does run upside us. Kaylee's working a refitting, so she won't be looking to put Serenity through any barrel rolls for at least five or six hours. It's perfect," Wash said. But it was his expression more than his words the led Zoe to hold out her hand for the small vial of red liqueur.
"You told the captain?" Zoe asked, and she wasn't sure if she meant that she wanted Mal to know she was going to potentially be down for a while or if she was afraid of Mal knowing because that man had a nasty sense of humor and horrible timing.
"Um, that I'm giving it to you now? No. Should I?" Wash asked with a frown.
"No," Zoe said firmly as she reached out and pulled Wash into her quarters. He gave her a smile and downed his vial. With a sigh, Zoe considered her own vial for a second before drinking it. Mal wouldn't have okayed it if it wasn't basically safe, but that didn't mean that the captain's sense of humor hadn't been involved. Zoe was ready for everything from explosive diarrhea to visions of pink bunnies running through her head. Knowing Mal, she was putting the odds of the liquid being a mind-blowing aphrodisiac at about 60% with a laxative running a close second.
"Feel anything?" Wash asked as he moved forward, his hand finding her waist and sliding around to the small of her back.
"You," she pointed out as Wash's fingers slipped under her shirt and traced a figure across the small of her back.
"You are so beautiful." Wash moved in, pressing his body to hers, and Zoe caught the back of his head, pulling him in for a long kiss as Wash's fingers came around and started working the buttons on her shirt. He was always so warm. So very warm, and now she could feel that heat sinking into her as his hand ran across her stomach and over around to her back.
He pulled on her, and she followed him as they moved toward the bunk without breaking their kiss. Zoe's knee hit the bunk, and Wash pulled back, his eyes already dark and dilated, and the evidence of his desire was already straining the seam of his pants. Then again, Wash didn't need an aphrodisiac to lose control. Zoe couldn't say she felt different after drinking the stuff, but the raw need on Wash's face always did put her in the mood. The captain saw her as a soldier, that new gunhand saw her as competition, and Kaylee.... Kaylee kept trying to be best friends with Zoe and as much as she liked the girl, Zoe was not best friend material. It was Wash who saw her.
"You are incredibly beautiful," Wash said as he brought his hands up to push the shirt off her shoulders. Zoe reached out, and while Wash worked on unhooking her bra, she unbuttoned the horrible shirt and quickly pulled it off. Once Wash got her bra free, his fingers went to her nipples, stroking reverently before he leaned in and sucked at one. Throwing her head back and bracing herself on the wall with one hand, Zoe surrendered to the hot need that travelled through her.
Wash finished with one side and moved to the other, and he had one hand dipping into her waistband, slipping under the gunbelt to find the soft skin below.
The alarm made them both freeze, and then the captain's voice came on over the 'com. "Reavers, we got Reavers people. Wash, we need you right about now."
Wash traded looks with her for a second, and then he was bolting out of her quarters, not even bothering to put on a shirt as his footsteps pounded down the corridor. Zoe grabbed her shirt and shoved her arms through as she snatched a second gun off the wall and went running after him.
She hadn't gotten more than two buttons done up when she hit the bridge, and Mal was already there hovering over Wash's shoulder as the pilot focused on the instruments in front of him.
"I've got bridge, sir," Zoe offered. Mal gave her a strange look but Zoe returned it without emotion. If Reavers took the ship she would put a bullet in the back of Wash's head and know she was doing the right thing for him. And then she'd follow him to whatever came after. "You go look to Kaylee," she suggested firmly.
Mal looked from Zoe to Wash and then back. "Just be seeing you do right by him," Mal pointed out. "Compassion ain't compassion sometimes."
"I know that, sir," Zoe answered without emotion, and then they were both thrown into the wall as Wash executed a nasty turn and cursed colorfully.
"Ai-yah. Tyen-ah," Mal snarled and then he was running off the bridge toward the engine room.
Zoe looked, and Wash was focused all on the instruments, one hand gripping the yoke and the other quickly flipping through switches so fast that Zoe wasn't rightly sure what he was doing. All she knew was that Wash and Kaylee were both gorram good at their jobs and if anyone could get them clear of Reavers, those two could.
Bracing herself on the panel between the two pilot chairs, Zoe watched the screens to the rear cameras as the thing following them belched a cloud of radiation into space.
"Hun dan," Zoe breathed, and fear rolled through her harder than it had since the war. Wash gave her a strange look before turning back to the controls.
"It's okay, it's okay... we're near to the Corma shipyards, lots there to catch their attention. We just gotta... we gotta not get caught and eaten," Wash finished as he focused everything on the ship. Zoe moaned as fear ripped through her. Reavers were right out of a storybook nightmare... or a nightmare without a storybook. Didn't storybooks usually end well? And Reavers rarely ever ended well.
The ship did a complicated roll, and Zoe ended up falling to her knees and scrambling back up, one hand on her gun. "Zoe?" Wash asked, as he rested a hand on her shoulder, and Zoe could feel her whole body shift. That hand pushed away the fear and instead Zoe felt something else, a burning need that made her turn toward Wash.
"Aw, tee wuh duh pee-goo. Zoe, I need you to focus here," Wash said as he sent the ship through a series of tight turns. Zoe looked up and saw docks and ships to either side, but the Serenity was running full out, chasing through the maze with yards to spare on either side. She'd never thought much of poetry, being more about the practicalities of life, but this grace with Serenity, the hands guiding the ship in such tight turns... that was poety.
"Jing tsai," Zoe breathed. She meant it too. Wash was a brilliant pilot. She moved her hands over his bare torso.
"God, just let me get through this and I promise to never give Zoe any aphrodisiacs ever again," Wash said as he took another turn and headed down a deep tunnel of ships, all half-built. Zoe could see lights on the station flicker and then streaks flashed across the screen. "That's right. Shoot those gao yang jong duh goo yang," Wash shouted triumphantly. "Oh, hey, no shooting us you bastards."
Serenity went through another series of rolls and Zoe found herself pressed up against Wash, her face buried in the juncture of his shoulder and neck, and he smelled so good. Zoe let her hands slip down to his waist where she unbuttoned his pants.
"Oh merciful god," Wash prayed, and Zoe smiled at the power she held over him. "Okay, I should probably admit that I didn't drink the real aphrodisiac, but Zoe, you have to focus here. This is the drug making you like this. Wash leaned over and hit a switch. "Captain, Reavers are fighting with Corma shipyards and I'm getting us into the shadow of an asteroid until they're gone."
"Good work," Mal offered, his voice tinny through the intercom.
"Very good work," Zoe echoed.
"Captain," Wash hurried to say, "Um, I might need a little time up here. It's all secure, it's fine... or it will be fine."
"Lao tyen yeh, you gave her the stuff, didn't you?"
"I'm just going to need a little privacy here."
"You leave that bridge, and I'll hunt you down myself," Mal warned. Zoe frowned at the intercom. It was threatening Wash. Pulling out her knife, she sank it deep into the console, gratified by the crackle and hiss as the circuits cut out.
"Zoe," Wash objected, but Zoe moved to strip off her pants, straddle him, and kiss him at the same time. She got mostly out of her pants as they dangled one from one ankle, but she got tangled half way through the straddle maneuver so that ended up kissing his head. "Okay, I just need to lock out controls," Wash said as he reached around her and started flipping switches. Zoe used the time to open his pants, but she found him distressingly flabby.
God, she needed. She rubbed up and down, sliding her wet opening over his cock, and Wash trembled and grabbed the sides of his chair.
"Hun dan. If those Reavers come back, they're just going to have to wait some," he gasped as he hardened. Zoe arched his back and angled herself so that the head of his cock slipped into her.
"Reavers," Zoe echoed, and she thought maybe she shouldn't be between Wash and the ship controls. "I should go back to my bunk," she struggled to say. She didn't want to go back to her bunk. She stood up and Wash's hands landed on her hips.
"Let me," he offered as he slipped his thumbs into her and leaned down. Zoe arched her back in pleasure and grabbed at the console as Wash started with small licks over her lower stomach. As he moved south, her whole body started to shake. When he finally touched her clit, Zoe cried out and stiffened with pure need.
She moved forward, and then Wash was there sucking and pushing his thumbs farther into her, and the pleasure flooded her, making her twist and writhe. She braced her feet on the edge of Wash's chair and pushed herself higher up onto the console, and Wash's talented mouth followed. Zoe was gasping now, but needing more. Shoving Wash back down into his pilot seat, she straddled him and dropped down so that his hard cock drove up into her hard enough to feed the need that was consuming her.
"Hey, no breaking the pilot," Wash gasped, and Zoe opened her mouth to say something, only to find that she couldn't form words at all. However, when she rose up, that thick cock stretching her and making her gasp, she lowered herself more gentlelike. She didn't want to break her man.
"You are so going to kick my ass when you sober up," Wash said sadly as he shoved the yoke out of the way, and Zoe had more room to arch her back and brace herself to rise and fall. Groaning her approval, Zoe panted and grunted as her legs strained under the strange position, and still she didn't slow down. With a cry, she let all her weight fall on Wash so she was finally full, finally scratching that itch that had demanded all her attention.
Zoe struggled to get herself back up, but her legs trembled and she couldn't quite find the strength. The ship chirped, and Wash's poet hands worked the controls for a second, and then they were at her waist, lifting her and guiding her. When his strong pilot's thumb found her clit, teasing and pressing, Zoe screamed and clutched as his shoulders as her orgasm rolled through her, making everything white out for a second. She lay on Wash, feeling him soften inside her before slipping out, and she couldn't even remember him coming. She could only pant and blink as the sweat built up between them, their hot bodies radiating heat, sharing it between them.
"Zoe, are you okay?" Wash asked.
"So good," Zoe murmured as Wash pulled her into his lap and started playing with the controls again. Zoe captured one of his hands and brought it between her legs, and he obligingly rubbed her to a second orgasm as she squirmed in his lap. Wash did something with the controls, and Zoe just let her head rest against his shoulder.
"I should so kill you," Zoe finally muttered.
"I won't even stop you, but you might want to wait until the Reavers are gone," Wash answered as he steered the Serenity around the asteroid, his eyes on the displays. "And you might want to put your pants on. I'm sorry, Zoe. I just wanted you to have a good time."
"Oh, I had one," Zoe agreed.
"The captain said that it was good stuff that he'd used it himself."
"He probably has."
Zoe frowned and sat up long enough to look at Wash. "You didn't use it yourself."
"Mal said that I couldn't afford to be impaired. But he said you would really enjoy yourself like you never had before."
"Wash, we need to talk about this habit you have of trusting people. First, don't."
"You trust Mal."
Zoe sighed. How in the world had she fallen so completely in love with a man who had the survival instincts of a lemming? "I trust him in certain areas. If I knew that he vetoed you taking it, I would not have trusted him."
"Oh." Wash blushed. "I really.... Hey, did you enjoy yourself?" he asked hopefully.
"It was... it was mindblowing," Zoe admitted with a smile. She couldn't get too upset with Wash. Now Mal... she was going to kill him. "And we are never, ever doing that again."
"Absolutely. That was actually a little scary, so no problem there. No more aphrodisiacs."
"And no more blindly believing Mal."
"No more blindly believing Mal. I think I'll stick with blindly believing just you, if that's okay with you."
Zoe reached up and ran a hand along Wash's cheek. He was just so sweet that she wasn't sure how he survived on his own. Obviously he never had someone like Mal in his life.
"But Jayne could never do you that right while still steering the ship," Wash pointed out smugly.
"Jayne? You're bringing up a gorram merc after making me come so hard I lost brain cells?" Zoe asked incredulously. She swore, there were days that men as a whole just did not make a lick of sense.
"Well, I'm just bringing up how he couldn't do it," Wash said defensively, and that cleared some of the fuzz from Zoe's brain.
"I mean, I'm sure there are lots of things Jayne could do, but he couldn't do that."
"Wash," Zoe started with some amusement seeing as how she'd figured out where his brain was going.
"Captain couldn't either."
"Wash!" Zoe reached over and rested her fingertips against his mouth so he'd be quiet. He blinked up at her, and she did swear, she had never loved anyone as much as she loved this goof. She'd certainly never had a man so hellfire afraid of losing her and so gorram determined to prove himself worthy. "Jayne doesn't even interest me. Captain invited him on board to be a gun, that's all. I was about equally in favor of hiring him or shooting him, whichever was least likely to get the cap and me killed. I don't want Jayne Cobb. I want Hoban Washburne."
Wash flinched at the use of his real name, and even Zoe had to admit it was a mighty sad name for a man, and her Wash was all man. Insecure man, but then most were.
"Marry me," Wash blurted, and Zoe sat up in surprise. Immediately, Wash's hands were moving over the controls and his attention was back on Serenity. "Um, just ignore that. Lingering after effects of the drug or something." The drugs he hadn't taken, but Zoe didn't feel like pointing out that particular piece of stupidity right now, not when she had a man to reassure.
Zoe took Wash by the shoulders and forced him to swivel back in her direction before she straddled him and sat in his lap.
"Ask me again," she commanded quietly.
Wash swallowed. He licked his lips and fidgeted. He swallowed again. "Zoe Alleyne, Will you marry me?" he asked nervously.
Zoe leaned in and whispered in his ear. "Yes."