UPDATE: See the end for details.
"Uncle Qrow?" The small voice croaked, Ruby suddenly feeling uneasy.
"Hey, kid...how are you feeling?" The man responded looking down at the girl who just woke up in the infirmary bed. He was the only one there while the rest of her family were in Patch. They were in Mistral.
"I'm...okay, I think…" She started, rubbing her face with her hand. Her head was pounding and her world was momentarily spinning. She took one look around the room and realized where she was. "Where is everyone else? Jaune? Nora and Ren?" Ruby asked, worry spilling out of her mouth.
"Your friends are okay, too. Well, kind of.." Qrow shook his head. "Nevermind that. You just had a nasty run in with….people.." Qrow sighed. He knew Salem was after them. The image of the woman with white hair, demonic eyes, and black lines across her skin suddenly appeared in his mind. Rage boiled his blood. The demon who had screwed his life over for years now.
As much as Qrow wished that Ruby had just stayed at home in Patch, he knew there was no way he could change anything, now. He was going to protect her. "...Well, let's just say, you're lucky to have me around!" He said with a grin. A small smile formed on her lips. It could have gone unnoticeable if it weren't for the gaze he had on her face. She looked just like her...
Qrow's eyes shot away from the girl, only to stare at his feet. He clenched his fists, feeling them begin to sweat. It's now or never, Qrow. Remnant is becoming more and more dangerous as we speak...and you might never have the chance...
"Qrow…..Thank you...for being there for me.." Ruby coughed, interrupting his thoughts. "I would be dead if you weren't there.."
Her words wrapped around him like a snake squeezing its prey. His breath came to a halt and his lips parted, as if to say something. Just the mere thought of death taking Ruby away made his heart rattle.
After failing to protect Summer, he would never allow such a thing to happen to Ruby. He will be there for her. He was there for her when she and Yang were attacked in the forest many years ago, he was there for Ruby and her new team for the past few weeks, and he is there for her now. He may have failed Summer, but he will be damned if he failed her daughter.
"Ruby..." Qrow's voice wavered. She looked back up at him. Wide silver eyes and a small smile like Summer's, accompanied with a pointed nose and stern eyebrows much like… himself.
"Yes?" Ruby asked, after Qrow hadn't continued with what he was going to say. He, instead, took upon gazing softy at the girl's face. The second-best scythe wielder with a red cape! He thought, smiling to himself. He was proud of her...but he also feared her, at times.
"I….there's something….." He inhaled a sharp breath. "What happened, two days ago...when you almost…..it made me realize.." Qrow exhaled that sharp breath. He couldn't possibly bear the thought. His words failed to form properly in his brain, and did an even worse job as escaping his lips. His seemingly steel-strong confidence that Ruby grew up watching, was deteriorating. Or did he ever have any to begin with?
"Qroowww…." Ruby said softly, turning her head a bit suspiciously. Her silver eyes never left him, however. "..What's this about?" His eyes did not tear away from her hand that was lying beside her on the bed. He couldn't bring himself to look at her any longer. Her brow, her ears, her jaw, her chin..
Everything, a perfect blend of himself and the woman he once loved. Ruby was the most beautiful child on the planet to him...but perhaps his opinion may be a bit bias..
"It made me realize I'm a piece of shit." Qrow admitted, defeated. His confidence was most definitely in the trash at that point.
"But? You just saved my life, again. How could you say that about yourself? Why would you- we...I.." Ruby started her argument off strong, only to end up at a loss for words. The more she thought about his statement, the less she understood him. The less she understood him, the less she knew what to say. The uncle she grew to love so much is standing before her looking more broken than ever, and she doesn't know what to do. He was one of the strongest people she knew.
"No, Rubes...It's because I'm a liar." He said. Ruby Rose. Like her mother. No Xiao Long or anything else...just... Rose.
"You.. what, why?" She raised her eyebrows. What could he possibly lie about? She already knew he drank a lot. He can't possibly think that's what it is? She already knew about his skirt incident when he once attended Beacon. So wha-
"I'm not your uncle, Ruby. I'm sorry." He said, his voice low and sharp. He sounded so serious that Ruby almost couldn't laugh. She did, however.
"Ha! Oh man.. Qrow, what the heck? That's what this is about?! I mean, duh! Of course you're not. I already know that!" Ruby exclaimed. Qrow shut his eyes and balled his fists even tighter. She didn't understand it. "You're not my uncle, you're really Yang's uncle because you're her mom's twin. Hey, I don't care! You're my family whether you like it or not!" She grinned once more.
"You're my daughter." His words sliced through the air like a knife going through soft butter. His eyes were still closed when he said these words, so he didn't see the way her grin dropped in a matter of seconds.
She thought she had heard wrong. But she didn't want to just respond with "What?" because that's just a stupid response: She had heard exactly what he said. No stutter, no mumble. It was clear as day. She heard the words, and knew what they meant. No tricks or games.
The pause felt like it lasted hours.
Qrow finally found the courage to open his eyes, just to look at her for the first time since she officially became his daughter to her knowledge. He was met with downcast silver eyes. She didn't know what to say, either.
The man pulled up a chair next to her bed and sat on it backwards, his chest leaning against the chair's back support. He needed to sit before he felt like falling over.
"How….." This was the only word Ruby managed to say.
"I...Um…" Qrow's mind spun. He wasn't sure if he was ready to talk about Summer. Just do it. She needs to know, Qrow. She's old enough. Tell her what you guys had. Tell her what happened. Tell her the tru- "I don't think you're ready for that talk, kid!" He joked, letting a false chuckle escape his lips. Damn it. Ruby glared up at him. For the first time in all his life, he saw her eyes actually look like his. Though they weren't red, they were sharp and serious, almost painful. A look he only ever found in his reflection. Hell, he even saw this look in Raven. But never in Summer.
"How." She only repeated. She didn't mean for it to come out as angry as it did. In fact, she wanted it to sound more like a question. But something in her took over... It demanded.
"Alright...Okay, well, Your mother...and I.. we kind of.." Qrow trailed off for a few moments. He stared at Ruby's hand again, praying that she would get tired of the subject and change it. Of course, that didn't happen. He put himself in this situation. "We…..loved each other…"
"But... What about…. you're lying…"
"Ruby….. I'm not." His eyes met with hers. She looked more desperate now. He wished more than anything that he was lying. That this was all a sick prank and that Taiyang was really her father.
"Is this just a joke?" Her voice strained. "I thought she loved dad..." The girl used a hand to wipe her face even though no tears were spilling. "I mean, uh… him...um… Yang's ...dad...i guess?"
A soft laugh escaped Qrow's lips. "You can still keep calling him your dad, kid. He is, anyway. He raised you and cared for you. He watched over you."
"But…" Ruby's soft voice no longer trembled. She looked up at him with a small smile. "So did you…"
"N-not like him."
"Probably...um...I don't understand..how you and my mom loved each other but then she went to dad? And why did you leave me with him? Why didn't you raise me? Why didn't you say something? Why…?..gah." Questions spilled from Ruby's mouth, her hand reaching up to her head to rub at her temple.
"Are you in pain?" Qrow asks, genuinely concerned. He rested a hand on Ruby's head to try and soothe her, only for him to pull away. He wasn't sure what to do with himself.
"Yeah, my headache is just throbbing.. A little. No big deal..." She paused. "..Answer me, please?" Ruby pleaded. More than anything, she wanted to know more about her mother.
"Your mother and I kind of liked each other since..well, way before you were even born. When we were 17 and attended Beacon. Of course, she liked me at first but I was too dense to realize it for some time. But when I finally did.. It was pretty great." Qrow smiled to himself. The memories came to him as if it all happened yesterday, but he did not want to get too far into details, otherwise he might just need to take up drinking again. He had stopped for a few days, ever since Ruby was attacked. But that's only because the infirmary didn't provide alcohol.. But hey, a record!
"Anyway... When we all graduated Beacon, Tai and Raven got together. Naturally, a life was made." Qrow let out a small smile when Ruby made a faux gag face. "That was Yang. Summer and I... we went on missions together. All kinds of missions, really." he paused. "We weren't ready to settle down or anything. We were adventurous."
"But what about dad...I mean, uh ..Taiyang?" Ruby said awkwardly. She felt extremely strange saying his real name. She had never called him anything aside from dad. 'Taiyang' felt so foreign to her.
"Ah, I'm getting there, I'm getting there.." He said, raising a hand. He poked her shoulder, jokingly. "Your mother and I came back and one day… I had to go." He frowned, not knowing how else to put it. He cursed his sober brain for letting his anxiety and emotions screw with his words.
"You had to go?" She was confused.
"Um.. I had this mission... It was really serious, actually. When Ozpin gave me the details, he originally wanted me and your mother to go... together." Qrow shook his head.
"That's a story for another time." He smiled.
"So .. did you leave mom?" Ruby raised her eyebrows. Qrow didn't understand what this expression meant. What she upset? Confused?
"I did, yes... " He sighed. "The mission was so bad.. I didn't even want her to go with me. It was too dangerous. I would rather risk losing her, than to risk her life like that. I told her to just... forget about me. To go be happy in life and forget everything about me. I had to save the fucking world." He spat.
"Why didn't you just decline the mission? Why couldn't you just stay with mom?" Ruby's voice went back to sounding nearly desperate. He could slowly feel her probably blaming him for Summer's death or his lies or their shitty lives. He ruined everything.
"It's a serious mission, Ruby... one that I am still on to this very day." Salem.
Silence. Ruby simply stared at him, her eyes were watery but no tears escaped.
"I left. As it turns out, my sister left Taiyang, too. She went on her own mission. Heh, the Branwen twins… we don't even have to be near each other to be in sync, huh?" Qrow chuckled. Ruby's face went back to resembling his... Or Raven's? Whatever was that sharp and serious look she had... he knew it wasn't Summer's.
It was a bad joke. Joking about leaving her mother? About Yang's mother bailing out on them? Great job, Qrow. You're an idiot.
"I mean," he cleared his voice, trying to go back to being serious. He was never serious with Ruby for such a long period of time, so this conversation felt alien to him. "I went around thinking I could save the world… while your mother went... saving Taiyang's family. Little Yang was barely a 1 year old. One thing led to another, and your mom and Taiyang were kind of a thing. They were both lonely, I get it.." Qrow shrugged off the jealousy and ignored Ruby's disgusted face again.
"I came back, one day... It was for her birthday the next year, actually.." The man smiled. He looked back at Ruby's hand, reliving the memory. He still couldn't bring himself to look into Ruby's eyes for too long.
"She punched me in the face."
"Heh, sorry." Ruby blushed. "You had it coming.."
"I know, I know... Anyway!" He shrugged it off. "It was her birthday, Taiyang and Yang were in Vale, shopping for her while she slept in that morning. I didn't know about that but I showed up at the house anyway. We went inside and had some coffee. Finally speaking, for the first time in so long... We forgot we missed each other. One thing lead to another, I guess…" Qrow smiled sheepishly, it now being his turn to blush.
"I'm sorry." He apologized, honestly.
"Unc-.. um…...Qrow?" Ruby asked, seriously.
"Does dad know about you being my dad?" Though that question may sound odd to a stranger, it felt more like a dagger to Qrow.
"No." He lied. Ruby glared. "Not yet, anyway…"
With everything he just told her, he truly didn't want to overwhelm Ruby with the knowledge that Taiyang knew all along. He knew Ruby wasn't his child, and didn't tell her all this time. That was for another day, perhaps.
"Will this change us? Will things be different?" She spoke up.
"Do you want them to?" He doesn't know why, but Qrow felt nervous. What if she wanted everything to be different?
"N-not really.. "
"Good. I like how things are right now." He smiled and ruffled her hair. For the first time, she sent him a genuine smile. Qrow wanted to cry and he couldn't understand why. Maybe because he wasn't drinking away his emotions right now?
"Am I gonna have to change my last name?!" She gasped in horror. With a small laugh, Qrow shook his head. He was happy to finally see her joking. She brought up one last question, "So..Yang is just..my cousin?"
"Nope." He responded simply.
"Nope. Well, technically, yes. But she will always be your older sister, no matter what anyone says."
"I love you." Was the last thing Ruby said.
"I love you too, kid.." Qrow responded with a smile. His eyes trailed back down to Ruby's hand, unable to look at her face again. Concerned red eyes met with black lines running along Ruby's wrist.
About the update: So I posted this up last night at like 2AM. I come back this morning and realize all the silly errors I made..haha! I really shouldn't post so late.
Anyway, I made minimal changes to the story itself. The biggest thing I changed what the fact that Qrow lied to Ruby about Taiyang not knowing the truth. I like it better that way, for some reason. It fits my personal view on Summer's personality a bit better...I don't think she would be one to lie about a pregnancy/child like that to Tai. And with Qrow, he probably would have hid it, but not for long.
About the ending...Hehehe.
~Thank you for reading!~