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This story is No. 2 in the series "Crisis". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: River's heart is still heavy at the betrayal of the father she'd so trusted...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Firefly > Non-BtVS/AtS StoriesAngelfirenzeFR1811,139051,1711 Jul 091 Jul 09Yes
By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: If they were mine, a certain part of the Big Damned Movie would have ended with a spectacularly showy landing on Mr. Universe's hangar. Alas...

Summary: He resigns himself to the question and waits for her to speak again.

Timeline: About five years after said BDM, to give everyone room to grow and whatnot.

Rated T: for angst and serious talk but no bad language that I can see.

Pairings: Established Simon/Kaylee, River/Jayne, very slightly implied Zoe/Wash, etc. Ordinarily, River/Jayne makes my head unpleasantly, but it's perfect for this story and, anyway, leave it to writing about him being how I ended up tolerating Jayne in the end...*patently amazed*

Notes: Right, this series was originally meant to be a oner, but obviously the first part just was not finished. We all know what happened when they lost. Let's see what happened if they eventually won...

Gabriel receives a wave from River a month later, completely unexpectedly. He is not at work, but employment has been sporadic for so long now that it no longer phases him. He looks up from his wife placing the capture on his desk to see tears trailing down her cheeks as she exits his study.

All around him, the only current captures he has of his children are bulletins from the Cortex on their whereabouts over those years when he'd tried to pretend they no longer existed, clinging vainly as he was to his position at the time.

He remembers stories from ancient civilizations that covered the mirrors and captures of dead loved ones with cloth, that tore their clothes in their grief. That this culture is not actually dead is nothing he knows. The Alliance outlaws and dismisses religion as fairy tales concerned with the fallacy of the small conquering the mighty on the slightest of odds.

That they're obviously not fairy tales now (if they ever were) is nothing Gabriel has been able to contemplate for long without crying at his hubris, his ignorance.

Now he forces himself to meet her unseeing eyes and is floored by the darkness, wisdom, and...pain he sees in them replacing the light that suffused them in all his memories.

Hi, Daddy, she says quietly, and her face is blank but her eyes still shine with malice he's never been privy to before now. You've long missed me.

Gabriel hears a whimpering noise and it's a moment before he realizes he made it. She doesn't say anything about returning the feeling and it sits on his chest like a set of punishing rocks. His fingers come up and slide across her face, as though if he concentrated enough he could touch her, reach far enough he could give her all the hugs he should have and more.

But he fails like he did then and always will now.

River looks away and a fidgety quickness comes over her. Those passing through the capture, others he doesn't know, don't seem phased by it, but he wonders how long she has been this way.

He resigns himself to the question and waits for her to speak again.

I waited. Simon and I waited long and you never came. I never thought Mother would, but you, Daddy...I used to think you would.

Gabriel wants to close his eyes, but cannot. He forces himself to hear this list of sins. They are his to bear and no one else's.

River points to a tiny circular scar the middle of her forehead and doesn't blink. They pulled my soul out right here. It was months before Miranda put it all back.

Gabriel shudders, remembering the sudden broadcast over the Cortex that had brought his and everyone else's (there he was, thinking of only the Alliance as the only universe worth considering when whole lives went on without his knowledge or input. This now included those of his children) world to a standstill.

But it's alright now, Daddy. I'm out here in the Black, it's quiet, there's love and...

River trails away and turns the capture to face what seems to be a small window. There are scatterings of stars and planets as far as his eyes can see and Gabriel understands instantly that his little girl will never be coming home and her brother will be there to follow her wherever those streaks of light take her.

River turns the capture back on herself and she's smiling now and he's floored because he hadn't realized just how much he'd missed this, her happiness. Simon's was beautiful, but River's was breathtaking to behold. He realizes he's been waiting, too, but it's his own fault so he can blame no one but himself.

The capture slides downward and Gabriel suddenly registers the convexity of River's belly.

"You're pregnant," Gabriel whispers to no one and when the capture comes back to River's face she's crying now.

Gonna be a little sister for a big brother. Other cousin. More little feet.

Behind her a gruff voice sounds and a man with large arms and a gun slung over his back tosses something heavy aside and comes to wrap those arms around River's belly and Gabriel wants to tell him to stay the hell away from his daughter but he has no right.

You almost got shot, River says firmly by way of hello as she looks up at the man towering above her. He is very obviously his grandson, Raven's father.

Yeah, well, that's what happens when the captain decides that 'cause you're pregnant, no jobs for you -- we all almost get shot. But Mal damned well likes a fight so --

Ain't no one in the 'verse can stop me, River smiles, turning and kissing the large man's beard. He chuckles and tips his forehead toward hers.

I...tried once...

River answers this with a flippant expression. And I told you I'd kill you with my brain. Tit for tat. No one ever accused you of being smart --

River smiles at an unseen expression the big man makes. But you learned better. You're a good man now. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone -- 'specially not Simon.

...Promise? the big man whispers and Gabriel can barely hear it.

River smiles and the big man puts his hands on her belly. Little sister for our little boy to be a big brother. Protector and rival.

Now, River, I've heard you talk normal before...what's this 'bout being pregnant makes ya all moon-brained?

But River simply rolls her eyes and reaches up to give him another kiss. Soon, soon...

The big man makes an exasperated noise when another woman suddenly enters the picture and throws her arms around each his daughter and...son-in-law?

Well, iffen you think River's all moon-brained, then it's your fault for makin' her that way, ain't it, Jayne? And not even once, but twice.

Well, hell, fine then -- won't happen no more...

Liar, both River and the other woman interrupt and the capture turns off.

Gabriel blinks, feeling bereft at the abrupt end to this impromptu family reunion. Quite unexpectedly, he's thrown back in time to the exact moment he'd realized Simon wasn't coming back from that blackout zone.

He'd given Simon the ultimatum, thinking it was far too high a price to afford -- his home, his future -- but, in reality, it had been Gabriel who'd thrown everything away.

That night, he dreams of cutting out his heart and tongue, hefting them on a platter, and watching them turn their backs. He awakens in tears and cannot tell his wife what is wrong.

After all, it's all his fault.


The End

You have reached the end of "Faithless". This story is complete.

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