Zoë and Wash's first kiss was after the job on Paquin. Wash thought he was going to like being a pirate. The previous afternoon he'd jogged behind her for half a mile with the drugs, his eyes glued to the place where her legs met her tightly clad backside, watching it jiggle up and down. He'd twisted an ankle and stubbed four toes (or one toe four times?) on the uneven terrain, but it had been more than worth it. He'd gone to his bunk early--really early--and passed a sleepless night, but still he couldn't get her out of his…uh…mind.

Besides, there was nothing quite so hot as a woman who needed no taking care of allowing you to take care of her. Assuming she didn't kill him for trying to make the offer.

So the next morning Wash draped himself across a hatchway as she approached. He stretched an arm up and leaned on the casement puffing out his chest and filling the space to impress her with his relatively-manly body.

"Hi," he said with his best women-want-me grin. It was still a work in progress, but out in the black, a man makes do.

"The last man who blocked my path, I cut of one of his testicles and fed it to him."

Wash dropped his arm and tried a weak laugh. "You're kidding, right?" He felt the little fellas yoink themselves upwards just in case.

Zoë just stood there and stared him through.

Wash wondered if she was armed, then decided that it would only change the manner of his demise, not the speed or the surety of it. He backed away to the side of the passageway, and Zoë marched through.

Wash chased after her. "Look, Zoë, Serenity's a small ship. We're out here together for better for worse, and I keep getting this feeling we got off on the wrong foot."

"More like a mile 'n a foot," Zoë mumbled.

"Mal says you don't like me. He says you say I bother you. Is that it?"

"Must be. Capt'n's always right."

"See, I knew you had a sense of humor in there…somewhere. Deep down…somewhere. Maybe too deep down for other people to see, but I see it.  I'm good with humor--and I think we can get along. Why don't you tell me what it is about me that bothers you, and I'll see what I can do?"

Zoë looked him over from the straw zori, to the baggy cargo shorts, to the tropical camp shirt (in colors chosen for the most nauseous effect imaginable), to the plastic dinosaur sticking out of the floral breast pocket, to the shark tooth on a rope thong, to the cheesy moustache, to the goofy cowlick.

"Well?" he asked.

"Still making my list."

"Okay, since we make Newhall in less than four days--"

Suddenly she pushed him to the bulkhead, jammed her tongue down his throat and her hand down his pants, and he went from zero to hardwood faster than a fastburn rocket shuttle. She wrapped finger and thumb around the base of his dick, then stretched down on his balls with the rest of her hand.

It hurt. It terrified him. It felt amazing.

Real men don't faint, he told himself as his vision began to dim with every molecule of blood in his body congested below his navel.

Just in time to salvage his masculine pride, she pulled away leaving an ache in his crotch the size of a planetoid and glee that that women-want-me smile thing might be working after all.

She plucked the brontosaurus out of his pocket and tossed it to the deck. "Lose the moustache; it tickles."

"Sorry," said Wash. He smoothed it down. "Maybe if I twist my head--" He leaned in for her mouth with his head cocked at a bizarre angle to spare her nose.

She stopped him with a palm to his chest. "Nose tickling wasn't my concern."

Wash thought for a second, then his eyes widened. He stumbled as his foot (the one with the bad ankle, of course) landed on the brontosaurus, squishing it, then recovered and raced for his shaving kit.