So you've heard that I didn't love my husband at first sight. Well, much as I'd like to deny it. It's true. Well, now there's a bit of a lie. What you heard is actually false. I lied. I lied right then and there to Mal 'bout the pilot he jist hired. I said I didn't like him. But it was all a lie. Wanta know what was up behind the lying?
So Mal bought this ship, right? This dilapidated, crummy little ship. He said to me "This is it, Zoe. This is our new home. Now all we need is a pilot." "A pilot?" I said, "You mean to say you can't fly?" I said this in a way that the incredulity in my voice was also mocking. That is to say, it was a joke. I knew as well as any he was no pilot. Also I said this: "You sure that's all you need?" He kinda rolled his eyes at me. "I guess a mechanic wouldn't go amiss." Then he just walked off. Looking for a pilot and mechanic I guess. I turned back to the battered Firefly and took a better look around. It was as if Mal, when he showed me 'round her earlier, has done so in a way that hid all her worst flaws. But through it all, I found that she'd do. Just get the right set of folks to crew her.
It actuality happened several days after he'd brought the mechanic on board. I took little notice of the mechanic. He seemed to know his trade. But I wasn't prepared for what Mal brought back with him next.
The man was a mess. I mean, to a trained soldier, he was the lowest epitome of civilian. His hairs all stood up every-which-way and his damn mustache kinda fluttered about as he spoke. He was a little man, but not thin. Not that he was fat. Not at all. Anyhow, he was wearing an eyesore. It was this brightly colored shirt that kinda hung on him like a kite in water. But mebbe that's not the best way to describe it. Anyway, it seemed somehow too big. He was talkin' nonstop. To Mal. To me. He interjected neat little jokes every few sentences and Mal would smile. I never did though. Not because the man wasn't funny, but because I didn't want to laugh. I was tryin' to avoid him. Because, even as I noticed all this that I just described, I noticed the way his mouth curled up when he made those dry jokes and the way the skin around his eyes crinkled when he smiled full on. Oh, and the eyes themselves. I kinda drowned in them for a bit. They were clear blue and carefree. Looked like a lake does when the sun is just so and a breeze kinda ripples the water. This man had never been to war. He has surely undergone some hardships, but he had triumphed over them with his innocent spirit. In those eyes I saw everything that I was not. I was neither innocent nor carefree. I still don't know why Mal brought Hoban Washbourne to his newly acquired Firefly that day. However, no matter how much I told Mal I didn't like the man, Mal wouldn't send him away. He asked why I didn't like him once or twice, but when I couldn't give him an explanation, he just would grin. I had no real reason to want Wash gone. I really only wanted him away from me because his eyes haunted me so with their innocence. I knew it would never last if he remained. Course I turned out to be wrong. It was I who changed. To the very end, Wash never lost his innocence nor his carefree-ness. He was that way all his life.
In that moment, the moment after Kaylee asked where he was, I choked. I mean to say that, though my words and actions were precise, I was falling. Failing. Jayne saved the day then. He has a sort of knack for that. Instead of givin' me puppy eyes like the rest of 'em, he gave an order. The puppy eyes left and I could continue. I could share the burden with Jayne and Mal again. And the others. Kaylee held her own. And so did Inara. Fighting champs, both of em. And the doc too. Can't never forget him.
Standin' over his grave maker that day on that desolate world, I didn't cry. I really never did. It was all too quick and we had so much to do. But even after. After the ceremony for the three of 'em and after we boarded Serenity again, I still didn't cry. By that time it was all over. I was not exactly happy, but all seemed as it should be. I didn't pine after him. I didn't mope about. I carried out my duty. I still do. I'm tore up plenty, but I'll fly true. All the way to the end. Just like Wash.