A/N: According to my sister, this isn't my best, but I really just wanted to get something out there. I'd love to know what you think though! Please review!
"Rex is cutting."
Michael Britten let the words fall out of his mouth, unable to contain the dark revelation inside his head any longer. He had to tell someone. He couldn't tell his wife in the other reality without it seeming nonsensical and he couldn't tell Tara without her getting emotional about the situation. But he had to tell someone -Someone that wasn't going to psychoanalyze the statement and make him feel like it was entirely his fault Rex was self-mutilating (because that was exactly what Michael thought was the case).
Vega's head snapped away from its focus on his deviled ham sandwich to peer quizzically at his partner. "Wha-what? Rex?"
Michael sat completely still in the driver's seat of the maroon sedan, his eyes solemn as he let the murky thought swirl in his head. "I found bloodied razors in his bathroom cabinet yesterday…"
"Why…?" Vega could only manage to ask
"Why does any kid do it? Because they're depressed? I have no clue. I'm not an expert on this thing." Michael's hands found their way to the top of the steering wheel and he was grasping it unnecessarily tight.
Vega's eyes watched Britten with concern. He honestly didn't know what Michael wanted him to say or why he would be telling him about it in the first place. He thought Michael wanted to continue their partnership at a twenty-foot arm's distance, which was fine by him because he was quite frankly scared of the man.
Still, he realized his partner was going through a lot. Although the death of his wife didn't seem to register with Britten on many levels, the news that his son was dealing with this much pain was certainly hitting close to home. Michael looked ready to scream, cry, or perform some freaky combination of the two. Vega knew he was expected to say something but nothing prolific was coming immediately to mind.
"It's his mother. Of course it is. He misses her so much. I just wish…" Michael wanted to finish that statement with "could see her the way I do" but knew that would make him seem completely delusional, which he apparently didn't need any more help in if his psychiatrists had anything to say about it.
"Are you going to talk with him?" Vega finally asked.
"And say what, 'Hey, I see you're cutting yourself. Knock it off'? He doesn't even listen when I tell him his music's too loud." Michael sighed, shutting his tired eyes for a brief second.
"Rex isn't doing this to spite you, Britten," Vega replied in his accented voice. "It clearly has a deeper meaning, and it's your responsibility to find it out from him. Tell him it's okay to be depressed, and get him to understand you're there."
"Thanks. Any bright ideas on how to do that?" Michael looked to his partner with sardonic expression, despite being deeply miserable.
"You'll figure it out, Britten. You're his dad," Vega told him, nodding encouragingly.
Michael sat, bracing himself as he drank his coffee in the next morning. His eyes carefully took in the pale blue long-sleeved shirt Rex wore that day as his son grabbed a yogurt from the refrigerator. Rex unpeeled the cap and went to toss it into the garbage, stopping still at what he saw on the inside of the metal container.
Rex's eyes were transfixed as he took the leaflets from the garbage into his hands. He scanned them briefly before looking to Michael for some kind of explanation.
"What are these doing here?" Rex asked, his voice quivering slightly with the anger that was about to boil over. "These are mom's old poems."
Michael sipped his coffee, trying to seem casual. He glanced up from his newspaper to take in the deepening frown on his son's face. "Oh, those were in a container I needed upstairs so I tossed them."
Rex's face reddened and he looked ready to crumple the precious papers in his hands. "You just 'tossed' them? These are mom's poems and you were just going to throw them away? What is wrong with you? What else have you thrown away, huh? Are you going to just toss out all the pictures I have of her, too!"
Rex's mood took a complete 360 and his voice escalated in volume as he stepped closer to his father. Rage boiled underneath the surface of his eyes. Michael had honestly never his son this incensed before.
"No, I would never do something like that-"
"You're a liar!" Rex screamed at his father, scathingly. "You say you would never do something like that and then you go and throw away one of the only memories of mom I have left. You won't be satisfied until I forget her completely! I can't believe you. I hate you! I hate all of this!"
Rex spun around to land the papers atop the countertop and bang his fists against the smooth granite.
It was now or never, Britten decided. "Hit me." Michael stated, staring at his son with genuine seriousness.
Almost instantly, the redness overtaking Rex's face and neck paled about three shades and his expression turned to one of pure anger to one of guarded uncertainty. He turned to face his father.
"What did you say?" Rex said, his voice still coated with animosity for his parent.
"If you're so angry, punch me. Right here." Michael pointed at his chin in direction.
Rex took a step back and shook his head, clearly thinking his dad insane. "No. I'm not going to hurt you. Dad-"
"Do it, Rex. I hurt you; I threw away your mother's poetry. You have every right to hurt me. Punch me!" Michael asserted, pointing again at his face.
"Stop it, Dad! I'm not going to hit you!" Rex yelled, his breath quickening in pace.
The two had a heated stare down before Michael finally spoke.
"So you won't think of hurting me, and yet you willingly harm yourself?" Michael asked with deliberation. Three seconds of silence passed as Michael's eyes brimmed with unshed tears at the statement and Rex paled of all color.
"...You know?" Rex whispered.
"Yes, I know," A beat. "Why would you do something like that, Rex?"
Rex was positively speechless. His dad knew? And this was how he planned on telling him? By trying to get him to punch him in the face? Rex was beginning to believe all of the rumors about his dad being mentally unstable were actually true.
"Don't overreact. It's not a big deal." Rex tried deflecting in an attempt to ignore the coldness that had washed over him, but his dad was quick to cut him off.
"It is a big deal!" Michael yelled, losing his composure at the comment. Rex flinched slightly at the outburst. Michael swallowed and closed his eyes tightly, sobering himself. "I just want to know why you would do it."
Michael opened his eyes again. With caution, Rex searched his father's orbs and found no judgment just concern and sadness in his matching blue irises. He took a deep breath, realizing someone that cared so much about his well-being deserved an explanation. "I did it on accident at first, but then I realized… I had all these feelings, and it helped me somehow to-to cope."
Rex's voice cracked on the word "cope" in unison with the breaking of Michael's heart. He hated seeing his son in this much pain, and he wanted nothing more but to protect him from it. Still, the words of Vega rung in his ears; there was a deeper meaning. He dared to ask in his least detective-sounding voice, "What kinds of things have you been feeling?"
Rex chewed on his lip, struggling to talk through his thoughts without outright crying. "Like a disappointment. Like I'm... weak for not being able to adjust to what happened."
Michael shook his head, his brow drawn up in worry at what his son was telling him. "No, don't think like that. No one is disappointed in you."
Rex avoided eye contact, turning his head away. "You are."
Michael ducked his head to try to catch his son's eye contact. "No I'm not. You are my greatest accomplishment, son, and you always will be." Rex finally glanced up to see if his dad was telling the truth. "And I know you're strong- Stronger than this. You just lost control- Everybody does it sometimes. But you just gotta come back. I can help you. We need to be strong for each other, especially now."
Tears welled in Rex eyes, and he tried to blink them away. "I can't be that strong."
"You can," Michael asserted. "Trust me, you may not be able to see it, but you can do anything you want to. And you can make it through this. Please, don't quit."
Rex sniffed, tear tracks tracing down his cheek. "I'm really sorry... About all of it. I didn't mean to do it."
"It's all right." Michael said, though both of them knew it was far from fine. He continued, "I just don't want to see you hurt. I can't bear to see anymore of my family's blood being spared because of what happened."
"I don't know how else to handle this." Rex pushed the palm of his hand into his wet eyelids. "I-I feel like anytime I think about- about her my insides are on fire. It's too hard." Rex was openly crying at this point, his voice thick with emotion.
Michael couldn't take it any longer. Damning the consequences or how awkward it would make Rex feel, he crashed into his son, embracing the boy fully into his arms. He breathed in the scent of his son's hair, letting the familiar smell calm his frayed nerves.
"I know you're hurting." Michael spoke quietly, his voice rumbling in Rex's ear through his chest. "I miss us being together, but the thought of you in pain is like reliving her death all over again: It's impossible for me to bear. I love you so much, Rex... I know that sometimes it doesn't count for much, but I am always here. And I'm not going anywhere."
Rex's arms found their way around his father's back, and he replied in sincerity. "It counts for everything… You're my dad."
A/N: Gay seal would probably making an appearance right about now, but I don't care. I love these two entirely too much. I want moar fanfic on them, guys. MOAR! You write now!