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by Craig Rettig

Alex gulped. For the first time in several months, he was afraid. His father was using the same tone of voice--that low, calm tone he always used right before he layed in with the fists.

Rachel picked this up right away. She moved over to Alex and took his hand, squeezing firmly.

"Uh...Mom, Dad, I'd like you to meet Rachel. She's my...uh... girlfriend," Alex managed to stammer out. "I met her back home a few months ago."

Alex's dad crossed his arms. "I thought this was your home."

Alex swallowed hard yet again. "Um...right. Sorry. I guess I get used to calling Cincy my home now."

"Alex, is there a chance I can speak with you outside?" Ronald Cox finally asked his son. He then added, "Alone?"

"Sure, Dad." Alex faked a smile. "Rachel, why don't you talk to Mom a bit. Get acquainted or whatever it is you women do." Alex looked over to his mother, seeing the familiar look of fear on her face.

Rachel wasn't fooled a bit. "Are you sure?" she asked in a stern tone, waiting for an answer she knew wouldn't come.

Alex gripped Rachel on the shoulders. "Yeah, no problem. Me and Dad are just gonna talk about guy things. Ya know what I mean?" Alex was sure he wasn't making a confident impression.

Alex turned to face his father. Ronald nodded to him and walked out the door. Alex followed him, eventually catching up and walking abreast of him. The two of them walked outside, not saying much of anything. They turned a corner to a relatively obscured part of the hospital.

Alex finally stopped, the silence grating him to the point of no return. "All right, Dad, what happened? And I mean the real story, not the 'falling down the stairs' crap on the report!"

"What do you mean?" Ronald Cox turned to his son and gave him a stern look. "Are you calling me a liar?"

"Dammit, Dad! You and I both know what really happened! So what was the culprit this time, Jim Beam or Budweiser?"

Alex recoiled as his father's open hand caught him across the mouth. "Watch your mouth, boy! Don't you ever talk to me using that kind of filthy language!"

"This ain't about me, Dad. This is about you! Because of you, I had to get away, and work my butt off trying to stay alive and keep a roof over my head! If you could hold your booze like most people without going off on some sort of f*cking power play..."

Alex felt two impacts as his father hit him again, first with a closed fist, and then as he slammed against the wall of the hospital. "I thought I told you to watch your mouth! You ran away without even leaving a note! Do you realize how sick with worry your mother and I were? Do you have any idea what kind of thoughts were going through your mother's head? She thought you'd been killed or worse!" As an emphasis to his point, Ronald cuffed his firstborn against the side of the head. Alex went down.

Alex wondered why his father was so silent. Then he saw. When he had fallen, his cigarettes had fallen out of his jacket and landed directly in front of him. Ronald Cox was fuming.

"What are those doing in your jacket? Boy, I thought we raised you right! First you go away, then you come back looking like some Hell's Angel with that girl hair and earring, and now these?" Alex had to force himself to keep down his meager breakfast as his father's foot slammed into his abdomen.

Alex rolled up into a ball. His dad was going to kill him, and there was nothing he could do. He was helpless. The man who had beat him down as a child was starting in again. What could he do?

Then it hit him. A foul bile crept into his mouth, and he remembered the hell he had to go through to get down to Cincinnati, spending almost all his money just on travel expenses and apartment deposits. This man was not going to do this to him again. And that's when Alex got pissed.

Alex lashed out with his Omega, capping his father in the back of the knees with an energy rod. Ronald landed on his back hard.

Alex rolled over to his stomach, then got up on one leg. He saw his father roll to face him, confused as hell. Alex said nothing. He just held out his hand and formed another larger one over top. He grabbed his father by the torso and slammed him against the wall. As Ronald hit the wall, Alex saw something he had never seen before on his father's face--fear.

Ronald struggled for a moment against Alex's projection, suddenly realizing what was happening. He began to panic as he saw his son slowly rise to his feet, hate pouring from his eyes. Desperation began to sink in, and Ronald did the only thing he knew how to do, exert authority.

"Alex! What is this? Let me go! What in God's name happened to you?"

Alex grimaced, "I've changed, father. I've changed a lot. And if what I've heard and read is true, either you or mom gave me these abilities. I'm an Omega, pop. I'm no longer your little punching bag to take your aggressions out on. In fact, I think it's my turn now."

Ronald looked into his son's eyes. The fear he used to see was no longer there, replaced with a burning intensity. Three years had definitely changed him. His son was a man now. A powerful man who didn't have to take anything from anyone.

"Son, I'm warning you. Let me go, and we can forget this incident ever happened."

"Sorry, Dad, for the first time in my life, I'm standing up to you. You have no idea what I've been through in the last six months alone. You can't even comprehend what you drove me to in order for me to leave everything I knew just to get away from you." Alex laughed briefly. "And you know what the best part is? I think I've finally figured out who I am inside, and all it took was getting away from you! Let you go? Hah! I'm surprised you haven't wet yourself yet!"

Alex advanced to a distance of about four feet from his father. He then held out his other hand, extending the forefinger. A mass of energy outlined it, forming a point at the end.

"Ever see Terminator 2, Dad?"

"What? What's that got to do...What are you doing?!"

The pointed appendage streaked from Alex's finger into his father's soft flesh. The older man screamed for a second and then went silent. Alex dissipated the hand holding his father against the wall.

Ronald leaned forward slightly, recoiling quickly due to the finger spike plunged through his earlobe pinning him to the wall. "W-W-Why...?" he gasped.

Alex looked at this pitiful shell in disgust. "I'm not a killer, Dad. I never have been. No matter how much I want to rid the world of your miserable existence, I can't do it. Get help. I don't want to have to change my mind."

Alex retracted his spike, turned, and walked back into the hospital. He shivered slightly, not happy about what just transpired. As he walked into his mother's room, Sandra and Rachel looked up at him with fearful anticipation.

"Dad's outside, Mom," Alex finally said. "He'll be in shortly. Everything's cool."

Alex saw Rachel smile at him, relieved that he hadn't done anything drastic. Alex took both of their hands and smiled back. "I think I finally drove it through his head. Hopefully, things will get better now."

A soft knock came from behind them. The group turned to see Ronald Cox leaning against the door frame. "Alex, can I talk to your mother in private?"

"I suppose, Dad." He then turned to Rachel. "Rachel, let's go outside for a bit, I need some more air."

The two of them lingered outside the door for a minute, and while he wasn't sure, Alex thought he heard his father crying and apologizing to his mother. He motioned towards the entrance, "C'mon, I'm starved. Let's see if I can remember how to get to McDonald's from here."

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