While Zoe enjoyed her traditional Serenity birthday bash - laughter, something resembling a cake (in appearance, if not taste), and Kaylee’s special engine-wine - Wash slipped away a few minutes early.
She gave her husband a puzzled smile as she descended into their quarters to find him lighting the last of several candles.
“For your birthday,” he explained as he escorted her toward their bed.
She shook her head and started to speak, but he cut her off.
“I know, you don’t need anything. ‘You are woman; hear you roar.’” A quick grin crossed his face. “Roaring later, but first...”
With a concentrated effort, Wash was able to divest his wife of her clothing and settle her on their bed, indulging in only a minimum of pleasant distractions. Once she was prone, he grabbed the small bottle of scented oil he had cadged from Inara.
As he worked slowly over her skin and muscles, starting with her toes, the room filled with a wonderful, earthen, woody scent. Wash couldn’t contain a self-satisfied grin when Zoe inhaled deeply and he felt her begin to truly relax beneath his hands.
There wasn’t much he was able to give her, except for love... and time. Time to be something other than a hired gun, Mal’s right hand. Time to let her defences down and be vulnerable. They had been together for over a year before he had ever seen her like this. And opportunities to indulge were too few and far between.
So, he made the most of this moment. He traced onto her skin all his love, promises, and dreams of moments still to come. As his fingers finally smoothed across her brow, her cheeks, her smile, she looked up at him, eyes shining, before pulling him to her for a kiss.