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bad_in_latin wrote in milliways_bar
After the events of the day, Mal had pretty much made a beeline for the bottle of sake Inara had promised him.

This particular bottle happens to follow Mal into Milliways.

The quiet "Gorramit" one could overhear as he enters would be due to the fact that Mal hadn't exactly meant to come here. However, why pass up the chance for booze and artery-clogging food products?

Mal can't think of a reason either, and he slumps in a booth after ordering something called 'Disco Fries'.

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Once they're locked on a steady course, he's joined by his pilot and an additional glass of beer.

(For Wash. He figures Mal's not going to have any trouble finding alcohol tonight.)

Quietly: "Wei."

Mal looks up to his pilot, and actually manages something in the range of a genuine smile. "Wèi. We're set somewhere?"

A ridiculous question; Wash wouldn't be here otherwise.

Eyeing the beer, "What kind is that?"

"Yep." The handle of his cane clunks against the table. "'Somewhere' defined here as 'anywhere but Hera,' but ours becomes a non-detail-oriented society after certain points in the day."

He flicks a finger against his glass.

"I don't know, the alcoholic kind?"

A connoisseur he is not.

Mal raises his sake bottle to touch against Wash's glass in a mild toast. "Good enough for me."

Another swig, and accompanying grimace. "Ruttin' hate sake."

"You know, you could order something enjoyable," he points out, sipping his beer. "It doesn't completely defeat the purpose. Just tramples on it a little."

Pointing to the bottle: "This was free."

Mal feels this trumps taste. Just a little.

"Sell it. Use it to buy something tasty."

Does logic trump both of those?

It's almost empty, as Mal demonstrates by letting Wash look down the bottleneck toward its contents.

"I imagine I got the coin for my usual, anyway."

He stands easily enough, but leans far too heavily against the bar when he orders Ng Ka Pe.

Flouncing back into his previous seat, "Wonder why Bar don't charge more for this stuff."

"Mal, I say this with all due respect: a blind guy with no sense of hearing'd be able to tell you're having a bad day." This is delivered with far more kindness than sarcasm. He takes another gulp of beer. "Maybe it's a sympathy discount."

Mal holds up the Ng Ka Pe to let Wash smell it.

"Sympathy for the taste or sympathy for my bad day?"

Actually vaguely amused, now.

Wash recoils, half-jokingly.

"Did I ask for demonstrating? I was voting for your bad day, not the..."

He pinches his nose.

"Ew," he says, with dignity.

Mal laughs at the face Wash is making. "Well then - I got a question for you."

"What's worse - mudder's milk or Ng Ka Pe?"

This, says Wash's expression as he adopts a thinker's pose, is a Very Serious Question.

(Mal's laughing. Good. Maybe not much of a laugh, but it's a start.)

"See, I was actually able to stomach enough mudder's milk to get drunk off of it. I have never ever been able to say the same about Ng Ka Pe and kind of emphatically hope I never do."


"That is not an answer. You've tried 'em both?"

Mal's glass is scooting closer to Wash as Mal asks his question.

Wash eyes the scooting glass with deep, deep skepticism.

"Yes?" he hazards.

"Darn. I was just thinkin' that, so long as you've tried 'em both, there's no reason you can't pick one from 'tother in preference."

The glass retreats, and Mal takes a healthy gulp of it.

He tries to visibly relax without looking like he's visibly relaxing.

Of course, it doesn't work.

"No, I've tried 'em both and can get away with preference-picking," he says.

Mal rolls his eyes.

Wash has No Taste, apparently.

Moving on, "You and Naomi had a quiet afternoon? You bore 'er with the dinosaurs?"

By which Mal obviously means that Wash has far superior taste. Just look at the shirts!


Wash, as he swallows another mouthful of his own drink, nods. "Quiet day," he clarifies. "And I'll have you know that she appreciates my dinosaurs just fine. Wings's got the bite marks to prove it."


"Okay, drool marks."

"Drool marks...are allowed," Mal slurs accidentally.

"Not on silk sheets, however," he points out. "That will not stop me from falling all over 'Nara's shuttle tonight."

There's a long pause.

"Can I have it noted somewhere about my enormous powers of restraint in not saying that I'm sure her sheets've seen worse than drool marks?"

His hand might be starting to edge toward Mal's glass.

Mal had a pithy retort in mind. Really.

"Who knows? Might see 'em again in a couple weeks," referring to Inara's upcoming difficulties with the Companion Guild.

"Maybe." He stifles a wince. "Let's hope not."

How's the saying go? When it rains, it rutting pours.

Draining his glass, "You know, I asked the bar for a book on Companion etiquette."

"In case I need to do anythin'."

Well, there goes his plan to separate the captain from his alcohol. And keep him smiling.

Wash folds his arms atop the table and says, firmly, "You're not. Okay? It's gonna turn out fine."

Just don't ask him to define this 'fine.'

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