Title: Sock Thief
Date Posted: 10 January 2006
Author: Van Donovan
Rating: G
Pairing: Wash/Zoe
Word Count: 727
Notes: Inspired by the prompt to write Wash/Zoe and to involve "missing socks."


Zoe appeared on the bridge, her eyes dark as she found Mal standing between the two flight consoles, watching the stars beyond the observation window. She ignored the pilot sitting near him. “Sir?” she questioned to catch his attention.

Mal turned to her, his expression easy and open at first but his brow furrowed when he saw the look in Zoe’s eyes. “Something wrong?”

“Think we got bugs, sir,” she stated. Off his confused face she elaborated: “In the laundry machine.”

Mal arched an eyebrow. “Well, have Kaylee take a look at it?”

Zoe glanced to Wash, who was smiling beneath his little mustache but not interrupting the conversation. Her eyes returned to Mal. “Did, sir. She said there’s nothin’ wrong.”

Mal crossed his arms and cocked a hip. “Then why do you think there’s a problem?”

Zoe seemed to hesitate a moment, debating whether or not she wanted to speak about this with the pilot present, but then she nodded. “I’ve got no socks, sir.”

Mal broke into a grin. “What?” He laughed very lightly.

Zoe didn’t find this funny. “They’re missing. Every time I do a load they don’t turn up. Just lost my last pair.”

At that Mal looked down at her feet and noticed that, perhaps for the first time in his life, he could see Zoe’s toes. “Well, I’ll be.”

Wash turned in his chair, his eyes merry and drawn down to her feet. “Maybe the sock gnomes thought it was about time you took off your shoes and relaxed a bit,” he suggested jovially.

Zoe fixed him with a gaze that would have made other men turn tail and run away but he just smiled her off. She brought her gaze back to Mal. “Can’t function too well without socks, sir.”

Mal sighed, taking the problem for what it was. “Fine. I’ll go see if they aren’t gettin’ sucked into the machinery.” He headed out. “Though I’ve not lost any.” He glanced to Wash for a second and then shook his head and departed, tromping off to the engine room.

Zoe turned to go but Wash stopped her with a few words. “You know,” he called cheerfully at her back, “I sort of like you all barefoot and shoeless.”

She turned back to look at him, a slight scowl on her face.

Wash didn’t let her withering gaze affect him; he just smiled through it. “You’ve got adorable little lamby-toes.”

Zoe blinked once at him, which was the only reaction she could have to such a comment. She turned back to him, crossing her arms. “Don’t suppose you know anything’ ‘bout these missin’ socks, do you, Pilot?” she questioned.

Wash raised a hand and scratched absently at his neck with it. “Well, I might have accidentally pilfered a few pieces of laundry that weren’t mind when I was changing out the loads,” he said innocently but kept his crystal blue eyes on her. “You want to come down to my bunk later tonight and look around, see if anything there is yours?” He gave her a softer, more knowing grin.

Despite herself, Zoe found her lips curling into a little grin. “I think I catch you stealin’ my socks again, I’ll break both your arms.”

Wash’s smile turned large and toothy. “Can’t fly the ship with broken arms,” he noted without a trace of fear in his voice.

Zoe found herself almost laughing at his reluctance to frighten off. She shook her head. “I want my socks back,” she demanded, but her tone was fairly light. She turned to go and reached the door to the cabin before she looked back at him. Her eyes lingered on him a moment longer, appraisingly. “And you’d better have come up with a better pick up line than that when you drop them off tonight.” Her eyes twinkled just a little and then she was gone.

Wash’s eyes widened and he started to his feet. “Drop them off tonight? You mean, drop them off in your bunk?” he called, almost beside himself. She didn’t say anything although he could see her back as she walked away from him and into the galley.

He couldn’t say for sure but as he sank back down into his chair, he thought that maybe she was swaying her hips just a little more than usual, and that made him grin his goofiest grin yet.

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