Emma Discovers Wash
Tiny hands reached into the dark, blindly patting a path ahead. Under the bed that her mother and her shared, the dust and cold floor hardly bothered Emma; now five. Her hair was in kinks, tied back into separate ponytails, her coiled bangs in her eyes, but that didn’t stop her as she reached for an old Homalocephale she called “Hopa”. She had been playing with Hopa, and a few other friends; Zisa, the Zizhongosaurus, and Wapa, the Wannanosaurus. Wapa shoved Hopa, and now Hopa was stuck in a dark place, away from his friends who were starting to worry about him.
“Almost gotcha,” Emma hummed, squinting in the dark to find him as it was such a contrast to the bright light in her room. But, then, she felt it. The texture of the body could only belong to Hopa, and she grinned. She adjusted herself, turning completely on her side to get a better look, giggling as she saw him, and grabbed him by the tail. “Sorry,” she knew he didn’t like that. But, then, something caught her eye. It was a box, pushed a little further down, close to where the wall was where it met the headboard of the bed. She knew that box. That box had always been down there, but she always forgot until she saw it again, and now she could be able to reach it this time.
She pulled her friend back, licking her lips before falling onto her belly. Inching a bit to the underside of the bed, her hand stretched out, fingers straining, and she tapped it. She grinned. She was able to touch it! She reached once more, nudged it, and frowned. Then, she looked to her friend, Hopa, and picked him up thoughtfully, “Teamwork.” That was something Mama and Shūshu always talked about. She tried once more, using Hopa like an extension. Emma began to giggle in excitement, trying not to react to the bubbles inside of her as she retracted the dinosaur and pulled the box out from underneath.
It was covered in dustballs, thick coats of years gone by. She coughed, eyes watering, and sneezed after she wiped a bit of it away. She shook her head, looking to her three friends with a gleam in her eye. “Ready?” Of course, they said nothing, but to her it was all in anticipation. They were waiting with excitement, and she opened it. Taking the lid off of the old shoe box in her lap, she set aside as she looked at several discs, slabs, some paper, all sorts of things. Her eyes scanned it curiously. She didn’t know what to pick up first, so she just reached in and grabbbed whatever was first to touch her hazel-tinted palm.
And, that was a capture.
She studied it, vaguely familiar with them. She gently pressed one of the buttons and a light shined bright from the screen, pausing for a moment before a voice came through.
“Oh, come on, Bao Bei! It’s our wedding night! We gotta have something to remember it on.”
Emma rose a brow, intrigued, as she never heard that voice before.
The image was blurry at first, but it came into focus soon and there her mother sat – younger, but still very much her mother – at the foot of the bed. In a simple white ivory dress, no lace or anything of the sort, quarter-sleeved, her hair down and cheeks glowing like honey. Her eyes were bright and she was trying not to smile as she put a hand up to hide her face. “Y’know I don’t much care for captures, dear,” she tried not to chuckle, but something was getting her attention as her eyes were looking upwards. “Why don’t we celebrate in the traditional newlywed way?”
“Y’know, lamby toes, this is very traditional,” he spoke softly, a hand reaching out to swoop hair behind the woman’s ear. A pale hand, seeming large and rough, light hair on the arm reflecting the light in the room.
“Our room,” Emma whispered, eyes wide.
“If you’re so gorram-”
“-set on the capture, then,” her hand jerked up, and the man let out a yelp.
“No! Zoë! Baby!”
The screen was shaking, the images fuzzing and there were sounds of her mother’s giggling as the man kept yelling out sentiments to her in half-chuckled pleas. There were huffs of breath, panting, and then, with one final swish of the capture, the focus was now on a man. He was trying to regain his breath, looking into the capture as he now lain on the bed on his side, seeming a bit crippled as his wife was snickering in victory from behind the contraption she was trying to hide from earlier. He reached up, trying to retrieve it feebly, but Zoë yanked back, “No way, darlin’. You ain’t gettin’ this back so easily.”
Her breath was just as haggard as his. He gave a defeated sigh as he sat up on the edge of the bed, looking into the device with eyes just as bright as the woman’s were. His pants were khaki colored, and his button-up matched his wife’s dress. His hair was blonde with a tint of copper, eyes blue, and his face…it was so sincere.
Emma felt her heart skip. She smiled a little, not knowing just what the reason for doing so was. He was happy so…she felt happy, too.
“All right,” he peeked up momentarily before pointing dead center into the capture.
His eyes were looking straight into Emma’s.
“You, whoever is watching this, just know how lucky you are. It may be me in the future, and hopefully, I’m watching this for an amazing reason and not some sad mortifying depression.”
Emma’s ears tickled, chest tickled at the word. Or, was it a name?
“I’m bein’ serious here, Zo,” he murmured to her before back to the capture. “Anyway, you’re lucky, because you get to see what I see. A beautiful wonder woman who decided she was gonna put up with me for the rest of her life. A woman I would never trade for anything in this world. This whole ‘Verse. Hell, you can tell me I won’t be able to fly again. I’ll be fine so long as I got my gal.”
“He could fly?” Emma wondered aloud. River had told her about the memories of the Man Who Could Fly when they sat in the cockpit of Serenity. Was this the same man?
“My name is Hoban Washburne. Married to Zoë Washburne. And, we’re gonna hit the stars.”
There was a pause. A sound from her mother before she replied, in a gentle voice, “Y’done?”
He smirked, standing up and reaching his hand out. “Can I see that, please?”
“It’s a surprise,” he drawled. “Please?”
She was silent, but with the way the mood was going, she was only hesitant in giving back the capture. The images were moving once more, and the sounds of the capture hitting or being placed next to something hit the ears.
“Just - Just sit down here.”
“Hoban Washburne, I mean it, if you plan to do somethin’ outrageous-”
“Have faith, my Zhan Shi of love. Trust.”
And then, there he was, smiling into it before he pulled back to sit beside his wife. He looked to her, bouncing on the bed with a wide grin that took up half his face. “See? Nothin’ terrible.”
She looked to him with a raised brow, before she placed a kiss to his cheek. “You’re some kind of stupid, dear,” she whispered just loud enough for the capture to catch it. He wrapped his arms around her waist, placing his face in the crook of her neck and she squealed when he blew a raspberry just there. He held her tight to him as she tried to push away, laughing as he continued and she cried out with giggles flitting through her vocals, “Wash! Wash, baby! S-Stop!”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he hummed, running his fingers up and down her sides; he was teasing in his tone as he raised brows in feigned ignorance. “Are you ticklish?”
She smacked him on the arm and he laughed, turning his head to try to attack the other side of her neck. “Stop!” she howled, brows furrowed but lips arched pleasantly.
And, watching all of this laughter, made Emma giggle a little. They were happy. Her mother and this person. Hoban Washburne. His last name was like hers. She wondered why.
“Go turn off that gorram capture,” she cooed. As they began to cease their fun.
Giving in to the atmosphere, he briefly squeezed her tightly against him, placing a kiss to the top of her head before slipping off the bed, reaching forward, and then…blank.
“That’s an old one,” a voice hummed from the entryway, gaining Emma’s attention quickly. Zoë stood, leaning against the wall. Arms crossed with a soft expression on her face, eyes glistening as she smiled down at her daughter.
“Mama,” Emma wasn’t sure if she should feel caught or not. But, her mother was happy, so she smiled back. “Mama, who’s this?”
“That’s your daddy, Bǎobǎo,” she walked over before sitting down on the floor. Sliding next to the little girl and her dinosaurs before she scooped her up into her arms and into her lap, the box almost went belly-up as it softly hit the floor. “That’s ‘Wash’.”
“Wash,” the bright chocolate-eyed girl repeated.
“Daddy,” the soldier tapped her child’s nose with a finger. “You call him ‘Daddy’.”
“Can I meet Daddy?”
Zoë froze momentarily before she shook her head, “Not yet, Bǎobǎo. Not for a long while yet. Long after I go meet him.” She squeezed the girl tightly against her, kissing atop her head and resting her chin upon her crown. “Would you like to see him on the capture some more?”
“More?” she beamed, holding the capture she had in her hand up to her mother. “Can we?”
Zoë nodded, retrieving the one from her daughter, “Sure.” She placed it to the side, before pulling out another. Emma made herself comfortable in her mother’s lap, resting back against her chest as the woman’s arms encircled her, holding the capture and turning it on. The first thing Zoë and Emma were met with, were those very blue eyes Zoë would never forget.
He smiled, waving, “Hello!”
“What day is it, Wash?” was the giggle behind the camera.
That voice sounded familiar. Emma looked up, “Is that Kaylee?” Her mother nodded, putting a finger to her lips to signal silence, and Emma went back to the capture.
Suddenly, the picture panned out to show the mess was full of the Firefly crew.
This included one man Emma didn’t recognize. A dark skinned man with white hair.
Most were seated at the table, save for Malcolm who was leaning against the chair that Inara was sitting in. In front of Zoë was an odd looking cake, her hands surrounding her face with her head down as the candles burned. Wash was behind her chair, hands resting on the back of it as he sung out, “It’s my most dearest wife’s birthday!”
And then, came the song. Everyone was laughing, as they sang horribly off-key and out of sync.
There was clapping and joyful cries as it ended, and Wash placed a kiss to the woman’s cheek. She looked over her shoulder at him, one brow raised as she smirked before placing a kiss to his lips. He pressed his forehead against hers as their eyes fell shut in a moment of bliss.