It hurts so bad that it doesn't feel like much of anything anymore. I'm too hurt to cry and too tired to care, and all I really want to do is sleep. Which is what I would do if I could. I feel cold, constantly cold, and tears want to come, but they're locked up somewhere deep and everything feels tight, impossibly tight, and...oh my god Wash, why did this have to happen?
There's a hole in my heart as wide as the universe, and nothing will ever fill it again. I'm numb. I used to think I knew what that meant. I mean, after all Mal and I went through during the War, seeing friends die all around us, the relentless death and destruction, I felt sure I knew all about numb.
But that was before, before Serenity crashed, and for a split moment, trembling and afraid to turn around, I thought we were all dead. I just knew if I turned, called to him, his body would be broken and bloody. So I waited. And then, I heard his voice, clear and with a touch of that mock bravado I loved teasing him about.
"I am a leaf on the wind...watch h-" A crash, and that was all. It was so fast. One moment, my husband is babbling about leaves and wind, and I'm just relieved he's alive. The next, silence. Just gorram nothing. Almost as if the hand of some cruel deity reached out and grabbed his soul.
Slumped in his chair as if sleeping. My brain knew, but my heart wouldn't hear of it. I couldn't breathe.
I rushed to him, begging him to move, because we had to move, we had to get off of this ship, get inside and away from the god damn Reavers. I shook him, because I knew he was just passed out, just needed to rest, but he couldn't rest, not here, not like this. Stay here and he would surely die.
I willed him to move, to get up, god dammit, to breathe, please ohgodpleaselethimbreathe...
I felt Mal behind me, pulling me away, away from Wash. There was no time, we didn't even get a good bye.
And after that, nothing much mattered. Not a god damn thing...
Three weeks later, and we're all having dinner. I'm trying to be sociable, trying to be happy for them. Kaylee's got Simon, Mal's got Inara (if he'd wise up long enough to admit it), and even River seems more at ease. The crew, they're my family, and I love them all, even Jayne.
I look over at the empty seat next to mine, and imagine him there, making some idiotic joke, smiling that schoolboy grin. And suddenly, it's all too much.
"I think I'm just going to rest a bit," I announce, moving away from the table. Mal stares, long and hard. He's worried, wants to ask if I'm all right. I give him a look in return, and though no words have been spoken, he understands.
You think she'll hold together?
She's torn plenty, but she'll fly true.