He hadn't always been this way: cold, hard and emotionally distant. He had been stubborn, sure, but none of those first three things. The past ten or so years had changed him and made him that way. War could do that to a guy; he had seen it many times before and not just in himself.

He often thought back to how he was before the war. Easy going and ready for everything – or so he'd thought – he'd signed up, he'd volunteered, to fight on the side of the Browncoats. He'd seen more than enough to know that the Alliance was not in it for the best interests of his people and it had seemed like the thing to do at the time. He didn't regret his actions, he never had, but he knew that what he'd done, what he'd seen, had broken him.

No longer did the prospect of a higher being, of a God, seem plausible. In fact, by the time he'd signed up for the war, he'd began to doubt that the guy was really up there, looking down upon them from on high and lending a hand where need be. If he did exist, God had proved to him that he was siding with his opposition.

He'd severed all connections from his faith the day that realisation fully hit him and had, since then, hardened into the man he was now.

Mal. Malcolm Reynolds.

The knowledge stayed with him every day that he hadn't always been so cold. There had been days, better days, many years ago that he could never go back to. He had changed too much to go back.

He could only hope that maybe, just maybe, he'd one day be able to heal and if not find those days again, find something else, something better.