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Sunday Night Bartending!
this is the captain speaking
bad_in_latin wrote in milliways_bar
Apparently, Mal has competition.

The specials sign?

Football is boring. Come to Happy Hour! Drinks half-off.


That should do it.

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"I could probably offer an opinion on football," Raguel says, pulling up a stool, "if I'd ever seen a game all the way through. So it's either boring or I've got no attention span."

Mal stiffens considerably, paying little to no attention to whatever it was Raguel just remarked as a conversation opener.

"Raguel."

Mal knows it's not him. Not from his time.

It's still...unsettling.

Mal looks... very strange, suddenly. Raguel's powers of observation do come to the forefront in the bar once in a while.

"You okay?"

"You, uh..."

A sudden thought, and a question. "You seen any o' my crew, lately?"

"Um. I saw Kaylee, about a month back. Otherwise I've been sort of scarce. Why, something wrong?"

He half-stands, as though if Mal says there is that he's going to take off and do something about it.

Does he tell? Would it make a difference?

Would it change things?

"You...do somethin'. In my 'verse, my time. Against Gabriel Tam."

Raguel stares at him.

"Why would..."

No.



"I saw Gabriel Tam a couple of weeks ago. He looked pretty bad, said it was, uh."

He trails off, frowning.

"He said it was what?"

Mal's not about to contradict him.

Even though he already has.

"He said it was demonic."

Raguel is looking paler by the second.



"I was away in a different 'verse," Mal explains -- partially that's why I don't have the details and that's why I can't explain everything.





"That's what I heard."

"I'm sorry," he says helplessly, but he's staring at a place just over Mal's shoulder.

He wouldn't even let me touch him.

"You're, uh." He gestures, blinking rapidly.

"The rest of you are okay?"

"Yes."

It's only now, at the question and concern apparent, that Mal matches Raguel's expression.

"I know it weren't you."

Raguel finally looks at him and seems to focus.

"I don't think that's how it works."

"It's how it works for me," and it's firm and strong as a response.

He seems to be trying to form a response of some kind, but it's too much to explain. And it's all too fast. His head is spinning. He clutches at the bar's edge to remind himself which way is down.




"Could I get a drink, please?"

It's almost inaudible.

"Yeah."

It's a nondescript brown bottle with a nondescript beer.

Stable.

He starts to reach for it automatically, but stable is not really what he's looking for.

"Whiskey, I think. Should've specified."

"Whiskey with a beer chaser, then."

Mal sets out two fingers in a tumbler.

"Try 'em both?"

Raguel's fingers are less than steady as he reaches for the tumbler and knocks it back. He looks around the bar like he's seeing it for the first time.

"Raguel..."

It's quiet.

Almost pathetic, really.

"Anythin' I can help with?"

Also like he's seeing it for the last time.

He pulls a mess of crumpled bills out of a pocket without looking and lays them on the bar. His tab goes to zero, then into credits as they vanish.

"I don't think so," he replies, with a wan attempt at a smile. It fails rather miserably.

"I'll have to think o' somethin', then," Mal replies firmly.

"Uh huh," he says, distracted, and stands up. He's still staring around the bar, but apparently doesn't find what he's looking for.

"Captain Reynolds," he says, still in that low tone. "It's been an honor knowing you."

He hesitates a moment longer, looking blankly at the beer bottle.

"Thanks for the drink," he concludes, and makes his way slowly to the door.

Oh this is very much not good.

Mal hops over the bar -- a trick ending in an abrupt groan when he lands ass-first on one of the barstools, and he cuts Raguel off.

"How do you know leavin' now won't be the reason why you are how you are in my time?"

There's a longish pause.

"I don't, I guess. But if I'm getting there anyway, I don't suppose it matters much. It's not like it's any great surprise."

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