Author Note: I'm doing some organising, so this is a story that I posed on LJ a while back and never made it onto
Exaggeration and Fabrication
Wash doesn't have any war stories, or rather they're not what Zoe and Mal mean by war stories. Those two talk about heads being blown off, knives in the dark and mud baths in shallow trenches. Actual things that really happened.
Wash can't tell stories like that.
When he was a kid his mum would tell them all bedtime stories, about daring rescues by chivalrous princes and clever little princesses who found their own way out of trouble, but it was the stories about when she met their dad and life back when she was young that had young Hoban's mouth hanging open.
At flight school he spun tales of what they might do on a drunken night out or repeated stories he'd heard from retired pilots when he was trying (and failing) to cook fry-ups at a nearby eatery. The point of them was to take people's attention away from asking about his home life, which wasn't much but it was theirs, or to make them laugh, to make them like him.
During the war they became an escape. Shadowed shapes on the walls, dinosaurs and aliens in the night, keep them all laughing so it wasn't as dark.
Wash can talk, has always been able to talk, and he can spin a yarn as good as the next flyboy, but that's exaggeration at best and complete fabrication at the other end of the scale. He never tells true stories.
He doesn't know how to.
Mal and Zoe talk about blown off heads, knives in the dark and mud baths in shallow trenches. Those are the stories of their war.
He tries not to hear them, tries to alter the endings to happiness, or sarcasm, or something they can laugh at.
Wash remembers how the dinosaurs defeated the aliens and conquered Earth-That-Was for themselves. Those were the stories of his war.
The dying and the dead aren't stories, they're a truth, and those he keeps to himself.