Summertime (Part of the Shadowverse)
Friday, February 20, 2009

Malcolm helps Hoss deliver hay to a neighboring ranch. Thank you to soundingsea and mommanerd for their betas; all mistakes are mine. Mal and the 'verse belong to Joss.


The reins sat easy in Hoss’ hands. Beau and Peep knew the route as fair well as he, with temperaments as easy to boot, which was a kindness. The usual late summer rains in this part of Shadow was as scarce as an Alliance lawman; tempers was fraying for man and beast alike.

Hoss wiped the dust and sweat from his forehead, then snuck a look over at Malcolm. Usual, the boy was as wriggly as a puppy; full of a hundred and one questions. Nature of an eight year old. But today? Sitting still as could be, brow scrunched up like he was thinking something fierce. For once, Hoss could hear the soft jangle of the tack, the creak of the wagon. Smart thing’d be to leave well ‘nough alone, but that just wasn’t the way of anyone on the Reynolds’ ranch, hands included.

"Cat got your tongue, boy?"

Malcolm started, blinking and rubbing the heel of his hand across his forehead. "Nah, Hoss. Just thinking."

The boy sure took after his pa. "'Bout what?"

"How come we’re bringing hay to the Quilleran place?" asked Malcolm, serious as could be.

"They ain’t got any. Their barns burned down," Hoss explained, leaving out the part that it wasn’t no act of God, but likely the Weston boys. Damn shame 'bout their ma. Nothing but wilding since her death.

Malcolm’s mouth opened and closed once, twice, thrice, with nothing coming out.

"Gonna catch flies that way."

Coloring up, Malcolm blurted out, "But we ain’t got near enough for our cattle."

"Where’d you hear that?" Hoss asked, keeping his voice neutral.

"Heard Pete tell Jimmy. He said the summer’s been too dry. Crop’s all sickly."

"That so?" Hoss’d need to remind Pete that little pitchers have big ears.

"Yeah. It’s so." Malcolm’s arms crossed over his chest. "So why we bringing hay if we ain’t got enough for ourselves?"

Looking out to the horizon, where the haze shimmered bright, Hoss answered without hesitation. "Cuz it’s her way."

The boy’s face was a wash of confusion. Didn’t even need to ask why.

Hoss spoke slow, choosing his words careful-like, not sure how to explain what just was. "Malcolm, your ma, she lives by a higher law. One that says to take care of the least of these. Even iffen you ain’t got much yourself, you share it.

"I remember when you pa died. Most women, they’d hold on to everything and anything to remind 'em of their man. Not your ma. Before the mourning period was out, every stitch of clothes you pa had was on men who’d had nothing but threadbares. S’why I stay on, even when other ranches make an offer."

Glancing over, he could see the boy hanging on every word. Twasn't easy being a lad without a pa.

"Your ma, she’s a mighty good woman. Your pa was the same. Can’t do any better than to live up to being a Reynolds."

"Yes, sir."

That deep-thinking look was back on Malcolm’s face. Maybe it was time to introduce the boy to rig driving. Hoss unwound the reins from his fingers.

"Malcolm, how about you finish taking Beau and Peep on into the Quilleran place?"

The boy's smile danced like light on the water, only to disappear without warning, his face clouding up. "But you said—"

"I know well enough what I said before. Changed my mind. Don't happen often, but it do happen. Iffen facts change. Facts changed."

He'd said it gruff-like, boding no argument. Didn't take book learning to know Malcolm was at a loss for what had changed; but not pushing for an answer was a real good sign. Even if Malcolm's fingers were as thin as penny candy when Hoss handed over the reins. Next to them, his own looked like bursting sausage links.

The boy sat tall as could be, fingers gripping the leather so tight his knuckles were whitening. Hoss held in his mirth just as tight. There were times for laughing and times for being solemn – least on the outside. It was good to let him practice being a man, and better to choose the moments than let 'em be chosen. Soon enough, life would make his being a man a necessity.

"Hoss?" It was nearly a whisper.


"Thank you."

"You're welcome, Mal. You're sure welcome."


Saturday, February 21, 2009 4:49 AM


I really liked the way you wrote this. It makes it so easy to see how Mal got his ideas of a higher purpose, and the inner morality that was a part of him throughout the series and movie, and what makes him such a fascinating character. Great job!


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Summertime (Part of the Shadowverse)
Malcolm helps Hoss deliver hay to a neighboring ranch.

Thank you to soundingsea and mommanerd for their betas; all mistakes are mine. Mal and the 'verse belong to Joss.

Sunshine (Part of the Shadowverse)
Set four years after "Starlight", Sabrina, Aiden, and Malcolm set out for a visit to family, but an outside force interferes with that simple goal.

Starlight (Part of the Shadowverse)
My PG imaginings of what Mal's ma and pa might be like prior to Mal being on the scene.