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WARNING: If you haven't read the warning on the index page, go back and read it. If you don't, and you don't like what you find here, don't come crying to me.
Title: Suspended

Author: Eleanor K.

Fandom: Firefly

Pairing: Mal/Wash

Rating: PG

Posted: 28 Oct 2002

Spoilers: for Out of Gas, minor for Our Mrs. Reynolds

Email: emungere@gmail.com

Disclaimer: Not mine. All hail Joss.

..___..


The infirmary is quiet now. I can hear the hum of the medical monitors and the faint, comforting rumble of Serenity's engine. I think I'm the only one left awake on the ship tonight. Even Simon is drooping in a chair in the corner.

I go over and shake his shoulder. "Hey, doc."

He blinks up at me, eyes unfocused. "Wash? Is everything okay?"

"Everything's shiny. Time for you to get some sleep."

He shakes his head, starting to get up to check on Mal again. "I can't. I have to stay with him. It was so close..." He looks back at me. "I have to stay."

"You have to sleep, Simon. I'll be here. I wouldn't leave Zoe in any case, and I can watch Mal, too. I'll call you if anything happens."

I watch him waver, looking between me and Mal. Finally he nods. "If *anything* happens. If anything seems odd or off, don't wait for the monitor to tell you there's something wrong. Call me right away. Don't hesitate."

"I won't. You go on now."

He looks back at Mal once more before he goes, and it's quite a look. I suddenly get the feeling that Kaylee might have a harder time getting together with the doc than we all assumed. I'm kind of glad to see that look. I figure if Mal actually kissed Saffron, feeling the way he did about taking advantage of her, he must be pretty hard up. I'll admit it was no mean feat to say no to her myself, but I love my wife. Never seriously been tempted by anyone else, even for a second. It'd be good for Mal to... well, work off some of that tension he carries around all the time.

I find myself looking at Mal, too, and rubbing my arm where a needle drained what felt like half my blood from my body to his. I don't grudge him it, or anything else.

Even if he didn't need someone to watch over him, even if Zoe wasn't curled up asleep over there, I think I would have stayed. He's so harsh when he feels he has to be. It makes it easy to forget how much he cares. It near to broke my heart when he asked if we'd all be there when he woke up. Like he was afraid we'd up and disappear on him again.

Thank god we came back for him. Thank god.

I drag my stool over to sit beside him and look down at his face. He's pale, his forehead shining with sweat. His head's twitching back and forth on the pillow. Bad dreams. From what Zoe's told me of his life, I'm surprised he ever has anything else. He looks scared, which he never does when he's awake.

Not even when we left him to die alone. I was about ready to cry when I was explaining how to call the shuttles back, knowing he'd never have a reason to use that button, but to look at his face you wouldn't have thought there was anything out of the ordinary happening. I resented it, resented him.

I thought about how he pulled me away from Zoe and was even a tiny bit glad that we were leaving him behind, just for a second, and I didn't really mean it, but... If he'd just... behave like a human being once in a while. If he didn't have to be so gorram perfect all the time. I guess the only time he gives that up is when he's asleep.

It's sort of a surprise to find my hand moving across his forehead, stroking his hair back, soothing his nightmares. I watch it like it's not attached to me, and I don't really know how to feel about it. He settles right down, turning his face into my touch and mumbling something I can't hear.

Now that's a hell of a weird feeling, him turning to me for comfort. I have to say, I kind of like it. I watch my hand as it slides down to cup his cheek, letting myself do this, not thinking about the look he'd give me if he woke up right now.

His eyes squeeze tight and then blink open. Just my luck.

"Wash... you still here?"

"Yeah, Mal. Still here."

"That's good," he slurs.

Well, now I know why he's not objecting. Still drugged to the gills.

He smiles up at me. Most of the time you could cut diamond with one of Mal's smiles, but this is soft. Almost sweet.

"Glad you're here, Wash. You sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine, Mal. Everything's fine. Including you. Go back to sleep."

"Mm. You're sure? Everything's okay? Serenity...?"

"Promise."

"Right." His eyes are closing already, and he still hasn't turned away from my hand. He looks up again, asks me something I can't hear.

I bend close, feeling his breath on my face, feeling his lips move where the corner of his mouth is pressed against my palm. I still can't make out any words, and I lean down until my head's on the pillow beside his. He smiles hazily at me, blue eyes blinking slowly.

I'm never going to forget the sight of him standing alone in the cargo bay as we sealed the shuttle doors. I kept waiting for him to stop me, even though I knew he wouldn't. Such a hard case. Such a gorram hero. I could almost hate him for that. I did hate myself for leaving.

And now he's looking at me, like... I don't even know. I can feel reality clamoring to be let back into my mind, but just for now I don't want to listen. It's terribly easy to close that last inch between us. When I kiss him he makes this little noise in his throat and closes his eyes, and his lips are so *soft*.

It's only for a second, and when I pull away his head rolls to the side. He's already asleep.

If he remembers in the morning, he'll never mention it. I sure as hell won't say anything. We'll be like we always are, and I'm glad. I love my wife. I couldn't live without her. Never been tempted to stray, even for a second.

All right. Maybe just for a second.

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..end..

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