DISCLAIMER: I own nothing, not even the words - only the order in which they were placed.

That said, the idea is all mine, to the best of my knowledge. Earth: Final Conflict belongs to Tribune et all, and the song belongs to Staind and their associates. You can try suing me if you want, but due to my status as a poor University student who, aside from some archaeology texts, has less than nothing, you could very well end up owing me money! …Hmm, on second thought….

AUTHOR'S NOTES: I wrote this several months back, during the summer, and posted it to the LiRay e-mail group. However, while attempting to find reasons to procrastinate and not climb the mountain of work that needs to be done this week, I decided it might be a good idea to put it up here for everyone to read. And so, here we are.

This story is most definitely AU, having diverged sometime after Season 4's "Hearts and Minds" and before the season finale, and taking place many months in the future. It's a songfic, imagine that. I remember when I never thought I'd write one of these, and now here's another notch to add to the proverbial stick. The song is "Zoe Jane" by Staind - order of lyrics may have been altered to suit the story.

And for the record - I like angst, angst likes me, it's an amicable relationship we have going here.

I hope you all enjoy it, please let me know - whatever helps me to improve! Any and all mistakes are mine alone.


THE LOVE OF A FATHER


-o-

Well, I want you to notice

To notice when I'm not around

And I know that your eyes see straight through me

And speak to me without a sound

-o-

Liam Kincaid stood over the crib in the darkened room. The sun was just starting to light up the D.C. skyline, but blinds had been closed to prevent the press from trying to take shots of the inside of the apartment - they'd been going crazy over the last two days. But for the moment it was peaceful. Through the silence, he watched intently the sleeping form of his nine-month old daughter - sleeping peacefully, oblivious to the pain and sadness that permeated the spacious apartment.

Renee Palmer watched her husband from the doorway. Husband - in sentiment only, now that the truth was out. They had both known at the time that they could never truly be married, not while Liam was using another's identity. Neither had cared, and as far as the rest of the world was concerned, well, they didn't know the truth.

At least until now. Now, that deception had been revealed to the rest of the world, along with other, far worse truths.

They still weren't sure how the Taelons had found out. Street had sealed herself in the Lair along with Augur, who had rushed back from wherever he'd found himself this time, trying to find out what had happened, who had talked. Not that they could really do anything now, short of getting revenge - the damage had been done.

-o-

I want to hold you

Protect you from all of the things

I've already endured

-o-

She guessed that her child had woken up, because Liam leaned down and picked her up in his arms. Liam never disturbed his daughter in her sleep, always waiting until she woke up herself. Even now, as his time had been running low, he had waited for her to rouse.

And she was his daughter. The world believed otherwise, as they had insisted when it was revealed that Renee was pregnant. Having kept their relationship well-hidden for those first few months only provided more proof in the eyes of the public. To them, Liam had stepped up as a step-father for a child whose real father, a one Jeff Marlowe, had died before her mother had even known she was carrying her.

It was a lie, of course. Liam and Renee had finally found happiness together several months after the tragedy that took Marlowe, and believing she was sterile, they had made a mistake. But it was a mistake they would gladly have made again. Five months after the fact, they welcomed their daughter, already married - or, at least it was believed by the public. Her accelerated prenatal growth, while much slower than her father's had been, was what had helped proved their claim that Liam was not her natural father - as far as the world knew, their baby girl had followed a normal human timeframe in the womb.

She knew it hurt Liam deeply to be unable to acknowledge her as his own flesh and blood, but he had done it for her sake, in the event that this very circumstance, happening now, ever came to pass. He, as a Kimera-Human hybrid, would be taken to the mothership and held by the Taelons, quite possibly for the rest of his life…however long that would end up being was anyone's guess. But his daughter would be safe - or as safe as she could be.

It was Kimera ancestry that allowed for her accelerated growth in the womb, but her much more prominent human side took over once she had been born. Genetically, she resembled her human heritage, lacking her father's third strand; a scan of her own DNA would show a few oddities, but nothing overt, unless you knew what you were looking for. And her records had been heavily falsified to reflect their story; it was always a possibility that someone, somewhere, would attempt to compare her genetics with that of the late Jeff Marlowe, or Liam himself, but that was the risk they had to take.

And so Liam had to take comfort in the fact that his life as he knew it could very well be over, but his daughter would remain free.

All parties involved had denied ever knowing about Liam's hybrid heritage in order to protect themselves - it had been at his insistence. Renee had been against it, until she thought of her daughter and what acknowledging her informed status might bring about. And so she agreed, and had been denying her involvement in the secrecy ever since this whole mess started.

Two previous nights ago was when he was initially apprehended, and his life as Liam Kincaid had ended. Luckily, it had been a fairly public event, much to the chagrin of Zo'or. Liam had been the first to state that he had kept it hidden from his family. And thanks to the publicity, the Taelons knew that, even given their suspicions, to try and take the ignorant "wife" and infant step-daughter of a man that, despite the allegations and discoveries, had been seen as an upstanding citizen, would be to commit political suicide. "Major Liam Kincaid" had been deemed a public hero on many occasions, and things like that were not easily overlooked.

Publicity also helped allow him to be with his family in his final hours on Earth. After the impromptu negotiations late the night before between the Taelons and the ANA, it was agreed that Liam would be handed over to the Taelons, but would be given six hours to say goodbye to his family in their home. He'd arrived back at one o'clock that morning, and Renee had been wide awake, awaiting any news.

All exits were being guarded by an elite Volunteer squad, and the apartment had been thoroughly searched before he arrived. Their only consolation was that the Volunteers were guarding from the outside, allowed them some measure of privacy in their last hours as a family.

While he just stood there, silently, holding their child, Renee's mind flooded with troubling thoughts. Most prominent were those relating to her ability as a mother. How could she take care of this child herself? Liam had been - was - a wonderful father, more patient than Renee could ever hope to be. She knew single parents did it every day…she just didn't know how well she could do it. But she had promised him just hours ago that she would never give up - not that the thought would have ever crossed her mind, anyway.

Liam held the baby close, swaying slightly side-to-side. She was awake, but silent, as if knowing this was a special occasion. Making a decision, he turned to his wife - he didn't care what anyone thought about the technicalities - and silently asked her permission.

Renee knew what he was asking - permission to initiate a sharing with their child. She had experienced it only a handful of times herself, the last one - quite possibly her last ever - had taken place a mere hour ago. But she was surprised that he was asking permission - she was his daughter, too. Without hesitation, she nodded and noticed the relief in his eyes before he turned his attention back to the baby.

Sensing she was "trespassing" in a way, Renee quickly moved away from the door.

-o-

And I want to show you

Show you all the things

That this life has in store for you

-o-

Liam shifted the child so he could hold her with one arm. Ever since she was born, he had felt and fought the instinctual urge he'd had to initiate a sharing, afraid of what may happen. From the few he'd experienced in his short lifetime, he had learned to control the flow of information, what to leave out. But as he felt the urge to share with his daughter, he also knew instinctually that the bond between a parent and child of Kimera ancestry would make that flow harder to control. There were too many dark secrets and memories buried in his mind to risk subjecting his innocent daughter to before she was ready.

He had vowed to wait until she was older, ready, before trying this. But his time had run out. And he could not leave her without experiencing this, at least once. And perhaps it could help explain to her, when she grew older, why he wasn't there.

His worst fear, that he would be found out and torn from the people he loved, had come true. And out of this he had born a new fear - that his daughter would resent him for not being there for her, even if circumstances were beyond his control. It was possible - after all, he had once felt that resentment towards Ha'gel - still did, if he was being honest with himself.

He took a deep breath and held out his palm, inches from hers, and hesitated, getting ready to focus all of his energy on controlling what she received.

But before he could complete his concentration, we watched in amazement as her tiny palm reached up and made contact with his. Immediately, he felt the connection, and struggled to keep control. As he did, he felt his daughter's awareness, felt something familiar. There was a hint of Kimera awareness there! Not as much as he had, which wasn't much at all, but it was there.

Slowly, he began to open a channel from himself to her. He started with his life, wanting to share with her the events that had lead him from his birth until hers, and now this moment. As he went he attempted to conceal that which he didn't want her to experience. But try as he might, some things slipped through the cracks of his control, and he could only hope that they wouldn't cause too much damage.

They had always wondered, and doubted, whether she had received their memories, as Liam had from his parents. But Liam could now confirm that his daughter's DNA did not have enough of a Kimera influence to activate the genetic memory. That revelation only increased his determination to share his life with her.

-o-

I'll always love you

The way that a father

Should love his daughter

-o-

When he had finished sharing his experiences, he focused on love. The love he felt for his peoples, his friends, parents - all three of them - and for his wife - her mother - Renee. And finally, he let all barriers drop and showed the love he had for her, so immense he didn't even understand it himself.

Amazingly, he felt her reciprocating. It was hard to understand at first, unfocussed, chaotic, what he would have expected from an infant. But still, he figured it out - she was showing him how much he and Renee, her parents, meant to her. It was the best gift he could have ever received. He reveled in it, lingered longer than he had intended to.

Finally, he attempted to explain through the connection where he was going, why he might never return to her. It was one of the hardest things he had ever done.

All too soon he allowed the connection to dissolve, and felt the loss. He knew he was nearing the end of his allotted time. Sure enough, glancing at the clock, he found it was four minutes to seven.

He brought his daughter close once more and kissed her forehead. "I'll miss you so much, sweetheart. I love you too much." He placed her back in the crib on her back, and was once again amazed that she didn't cry or make any sound, she just looked up at him with big, green eyes.

Liam leaned against the side of the crib and screwed his eyes shut to steel himself against the pain. Slowly, he turned away and made his way to the door.

-o-

So I wanted to say this

Cause I wouldn't know where to begin

To explain to you what I've been through

To explain where your daddy has been

-o-

Once outside, he let out a shuddering breath and glanced toward the glass door that led to the deck, watching through the half-closed blinds as the Volunteer guard spoke into his mouthpiece, nodded, and removed a pair of handcuffs in preparation. He then glanced as his watch, and waited.

Renee had been sitting on the couch, staring at her opened global like it was a foreign object. When she heard him, she closed it and slipped it into a pocket before going over to him.

Immediately, he wrapped his arms around her, accepting his fate. Neither of them shed a tear - they would be strong for each other, like they always had been.

"I love you, so much," she whispered.

"I know," he whispered back. "I love you, too."

Liam took a deep breath and stepped away as he heard the glass door open and the Volunteer guard step in. He was followed by two others. Moments later, another two made their way into the apartment from the front entrance.

"Time to go," the gruff voice of the first Volunteer said.

There was a hint of remorse on his face - on all of their faces. They didn't want this man to be taken into custody, to be turned over to the Taelons. They all knew what happened to those who had committed crimes against the Companions. They didn't want to think about what would happen to the hybrid child of one of the Taelons' greatest enemies, one who had managed to become one of their highest-ranking servants…one who had secretly been working against them. Despite the Resistance's deal for Amnesty, Liam's betrayal would not be tolerated, and the Volunteers were all too aware of that. But they would not, could not, go against the Taelons' wishes.

Liam just nodded and held out his hands. A pair of magnetic cuffs were secured around his wrists. They then turned him to face the door and he was marched out into the hall, where another four Volunteers were waiting. The Taelons weren't taking any chances. They headed to the elevator that would take him to the roof, where a shuttle was waiting. Renee watched from the middle of the room as the last Volunteer closed the door behind him.

-o-

When I walked out this morning

I cried as I walked to the door

I cried about how long I'd be away for

I cried about leaving you all alone

-o-

She didn't know how long she stood there, looking at the closed door, before the baby's cries snapped her out of her reverie. She made her way to her daughter's room, not bothering to turn the light on as she entered. Picking her up, the child quieted almost immediately and Renee sat down in the antique rocking chair in the corner.

She shifted the girl around so she could free her right hand and used it to pull out her global from her pocket. It was awkward, but she'd long-since managed to get the hang of opening the global and manipulating the screen with just the one hand since she'd had her baby. The message playback was harsh on her eyes in the darkened room, but she slowly adjusted to the bright picture. Her daughter reached out a small hand to the Taelon face on the screen.

When she had left Liam with their daughter, Renee had checked her messages, wanting to take her mind off the situation at hand - probably not the most intelligent thing to do, since everyone who knew her number was calling to get answers, offer condolences…but she hadn't been thinking clearly, not by a long shot.

What she had found, however, had stunned her. She'd played the message back three more times, and now, watching for the fifth time, she was still shocked.

Just like everyone else, at Liam's insistence Da'an had denied ever knowing about the hybrid's heritage. He'd been met with suspicions from his fellow Taelons, namely Zo'or, but with no hard evidence they could not convict him of treason. He had been lucky.

Apparently that luck had led to guilt. In his message to her, he expressed his sorrow at what had befallen both of them, and that she could not fathom the regret he harbored at being unable to help Liam. The first time around, Renee had scoffed at that. But then….

But then, he had gone on to explain that he had secretly set up an anonymous account, set aside numerous portal passes to obscure locations (to be used at any time), and had developed new identities for both her and her daughter.

"Should the need ever arise, and I hope it never will, use this to keep his child safe."

She didn't know what shocked her most about his message - the fact that Da'an had thought to do this, the number of zeros contained within the sum of money he had deposited into the account, or the fact that he knew she was Liam's daughter.

They had agreed that , while he had kept Liam's secrets, they would not trust Da'an with the life of their child. He had been told the same story as the rest of the world. But they should have known - despite the loss of trust over the years, Liam and Da'an understood each other in a way that could not be easily explained, knew more about the each other than she believed anyone else did. She wondered if Liam had ever suspected.

For the time being, she would decline Da'an's offer. But she realized that no one could know for certain what the future held - the events of the last two days had shown her that. And so she made sure to memorize all the details of his offer, compartmentalizing the passwords, the locations, everything, into an accessible area of her brain, making sure she would never forget. And then she purged the message from her global's memory.

Da'an had protected Liam's secret, and now he was protecting her daughter's. The least she could do would be to protect his.

Renee closed the global and placed it on a nearby table, then held her baby girl close. She began to rock back and forth in the chair slowly, her eyes staring straight ahead but seeing nothing. She choked back a sob and spoke softly, her voice wavering ever to slightly, "Well, it's just you and me now, kiddo…."

-o-

So I want to hold you

Protect you from all of the things

I've already endured

And I want to show you

Show you all the things

That this life has in store for you

I'll always love you

The way that a father

Should love his daughter

-o-


THE END


END NOTE: And because a little self-promotion never hurt anyone, for a link to the LiRay mailing group, or to see my new Earth: Final Conflict music video, links can be found in my profile.