How He Dies
Sunday, October 1, 2006

How Mal Reynolds dies. Sorta.


Title: How He Dies Words: 922 Disclaimer: It’s all about Joss Summary: How Mal Reynolds dies. Sorta.

Mal met his uncle Joe when he was a sixteen year old tough living on his mother’s ranch. Joe said he was a brother of Mal’s daddy, and his mama said so too. Mal wasn’t convinced of it. Joe looked nothing like the pictures he’d seen of his pa, and Mal said so. Joe just smiled, said that blood don’t make brothers. Mal never enquired any further. Truth be told, he could care less about his father and any man attached to him.

Joe stayed with them for a week before taking his leave. The night before he left, he took Mal aside and asked him, “Son, how do you think you’re gonna die?”

He sent letters to Mal sometimes. He always asked the question. Mal never responded to the letters, but he always answered the question.

Sixteen: Mal Reynolds died an old man. His was tending to his land when his heart gave out. It wasn’t a big surprise. He’d been sick. His daughters had begged him to hire a few more hands so that he didn’t have to do the work himself, but Mal wouldn’t hear of it. He loved tending to the cows and chickens, loved working the horses, loved it all. A little less so, some said, since the death of his wife two years before, but it was love nonetheless. The whole town came to Mal’s funeral, all of them. He’d served as mayor for a while, some twenty years ago. He was beloved among them. After he was put in the earth, the old men got their whisky. They made a fire and told all stories to young boys gathered round, the stories of Malcolm Reynolds, Shadow’s Son.

Twenty-Two: Mal Reynolds died in the field with his men. The death itself was unremarkable in war time. Men were shot and killed everyday, and that day was Mal’s day. It’d been a hell of a fight. Mal and his men had been holding the temple for three days, an incredible feet. They should have all died, but they hadn’t. Well, Mal had. But his men were still alive, and that mattered. He died, but the war would go on, the war for independence. His men would see him through. They’d win.

Twenty-Seven: Mal Reynolds got drunk and careless, picked a fight with some folk he couldn’t handle, got shot and left for dead. Zoe found him the next morning, lying cold in a ditch not far from the bar. He still smelt like Ng Ka Py. She buried him alone, dug him a soldier’s grave just like she’d made for all his men in the War, shot off a simple rocket in his honor, and went on her way.

Thirty-One: He died in the black, on the drift. There wasn’t much to say about it. Folk ran out of coin, died like this all the time. Eventually, some alliance boat would find Serenity. They’d strip her of her furnishings and set her down for good, dispose of Mal’s body as they saw fit, and be done with it. Until then, he was alone, face pressed against metal, cold. He died alone.

Thirty-Five: He died on the job. Some bastard got lucky, and he got shot. It was quick. The doc tried to get him back, but there was no hope. No one knew what to do with the body. Kaylee wanted to bury it, but Zoe said no. There was no place Mal would like he body. The Valley, River whispered, but they pretended they couldn’t hear her. They weren’t going back there. Not to Serenity Valley. Simon said perhaps they should lay him to rest with Wash and the Shepherd, but coin kept them away. They didn’t have the fuel, nor the money to get there. Jayne didn’t see why it mattered. It was just a body. Inara, silent until that moment, screamed. It wasn’t a body. It was Mal. It was Mal. They couldn’t look at her.

She went to the infirmary and cleaned him off, then dressed him up. Selfishly, she put him in the red shirt. The blue was stained with blood. The brown she loved most, and kept for herself. The last thing she put on was the coat. They gathered in the cargo bay, said their goodbyes. Then, at Inara’s suggestion, they put the body in a casket and sent it out into the Black. It was where he lived, she said, his home. He would want to stay there.

Mal never got a letter again. While visiting Aberdeen he chance heard tell of an old fellow who went by the name of Joe Reynolds (there were rumors that weren’t his real name) who died a few months past, alone in his home. They’d found his body three days after it happened. The general consensus was that old age got him, but rumors that his death had been a hit, a murder by untraceable poison, kept people talking about it long after they would have shut up otherwise. He was liked, it seemed. Not loved, but appreciated.

That night, after he kissed the girls good night, he read through them all, his deaths, one at a time. He told Inara not to wait up for him. He had a few things to take care of.

Thirty-Nine: Mal Reynolds doesn’t die. The gun gets shot, the bullets coming for him, but he rolls away right in time and fires a shot of his own. He’s dodged the bullet. He’s still flying.


Sunday, October 1, 2006 9:15 PM


I like it, Thirty-Five was pretty sad. Good little fic. :)

Monday, October 2, 2006 12:57 AM


You have thought up a very original storyline here though I normally don't like stories where the whole thing is given away by the title. So glad all those possible deaths were wrong and I don't much like Joe either, Mal had the right of that. Why would a grown man keep sending letters to a boy asking him how he was going to die? That was one warped sumbitch. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, October 2, 2006 8:24 AM


Thanks for the reviews! I'm glad you like.

I actually like Uncle Joe. He's a little off, but he makes a good plot device. :-)

Monday, October 2, 2006 12:56 PM


Wow...definitely a fabulous plot device to get inside Mal's head at the various stages in his life, Arcadia!

Interesting how Mal dreamt his death would go 3 years after the movie (cuz 35 would make it approx. 2521 or 2522, since Mal is born in 2486;D). Also fascinating how he pictures his supposed immortality/lack of desire to think on his death by 39...


Thursday, October 5, 2006 2:40 AM


I like it. It shows a real big part of Mal, a man smart but not ignorant of his own mortality. I think he would be the man to have an up to date obituary waiting for his crew just in case. I like the end.... because it shows in a way that he realised he never really would die... he had his family to keep carring him on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 7:39 PM


Nitpick: you've got "feet" instead of "feat" somewhere in twenty-two.

Other than that, this is one of my favorites. I like that Mal knows early on that he wants daughters, and that one day he gets them. I like that the idealism suddenly disappears somewhere between twenty-two and twenty-seven (the latter of which was absolutely chilling).
But what really sticks with me is thirty-five, and Inara screaming that it's not a body, it's Mal. It's such a spot-on expression of grief, it stops me in my tracks whenever I think about it.
Excellent job.


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