"Forget it," Mal growled, stepping back up the steps to meet her in the crew quarters hall. "I was going to ask your help to try to get rid of the Lassiter but suddenly I don't feel like doing business anymore."
Inara's eyes were confused as she looked Mal over. "I'm sorry if I didn't arrive fast enough, Mal," she stated plainly.
Mal pushed past her, heading down the corridor that opened into the passenger quarters. "Ain't your fault, for once," he called. "I shouldn't be tryin' t'involve you in our business anyway. It ain't respectable-like," he snarled.
Inara looked to the bridge where she could still see Zoe and Wash and then picked up her skirts and started after Mal. "You know I don't mind helping out, when I can."
"Can it," Mal growled. "I ain't in the mood for this anymore. I got a whole ship full of refugees and stowaways and feel more'n'more like I'm runnin' a circus than a starship." He turned on her on the stairwell. "Don't need some whore gettin' into my business."
Inara brought herself up short and stared down at him. The surprise faded quickly. "Well. If that's how you feel then. Good luck trying to unload that priceless heirloom on your own. Too bad you got rid of Saffron--sounds like you two would have been a match made in heaven."
Mal glowered at her and thought about recanting what he had just said. Before he could, though, she turned and stalked back up the stairs and into the galley. He let her go--there was no sense in chasing her.
Turning he continued the rest of the way into the passenger quarters, circumvented them and continued down into the cargo bay. He never worked out on Jayne's weights but right now he was feeling the need to burn a little steam. He adjusted the weights to a managable amount, pulled his suspenders down, slipped his shirt off, slid onto the bench and began to press.