** Author’s foreword -- This is a missing scene from Redemption, the episode when Alex’s father first makes an appearance.
The Right Thing
by Gail R.
The house was quiet, even more quiet than the ride home from the bar had been. Walker had led Gordon to the guest bedroom, not caring too much that the man passed out on the bed still wearing his clothes, reeking of booze. Walker then turned his attention to Alex, who sat numbly on the couch. He didn’t attempt conversation -- she was too shell-shocked for that. Her tears were dried, her expression blank. He sat with her for a few minutes, feeling utterly helpless, then quietly suggested she get some rest. Nodding wordlessly, she headed off to her bedroom and closed the door.
Walker went out on the front porch, pulling in a deep gulp of the cleansing night air. He let the breath out, and with it surged up the anger and frustration Gordon Cahill had caused. His heart ached for Alex, his eyes burned with fiery tears. She was his daughter, for God’s sake. How could he have hit her?
The rage he felt now nearly rivaled what he’d held back in the parking lot. Why in the hell didn’t I smash his face, gone to her defense? My knuckles on his chin woulda felt damn good.
But he’d gone to Alex first, made certain she was all right physically, then he’d dared to glance at Gordon and he felt his muscles tense, felt his fists tighten, felt the blood pounding inside his skull. In that split second, as he turned enraged, ready to pound the shit out of the man, Alex’s sob stopped him, cut him to the core and his concern was immediately shifted back to her. He’d held her trembling arms, gazed into the anguished eyes. Then he’d turned away as father and daughter tearfully embraced, both trying to repair the damage that had been done. He moved aside to give them privacy, blowing out a breath to remain in control.
Walker sat down on the porch steps and ran a hand across his face. He saw it again in his mind -- Alex reaching out to her father, Gordon spinning around and slapping her so hard she fell against a parked car. He hadn’t hit her like a father disciplines a child, nor was it in the way a man abuses a woman. It was the impaired judgment of a pitiful drunk who struck her, and the horror of what he’d done was plainly evident in Gordon’s eyes.
Did I do the right thing? Will Alex think I failed her, that I didn’t care enough to intervene? Again Walker sighed. Slugging Gordon would have only made matters worse --- for Alex as well as her dad. The selfish pleasure he’d have derived wouldn’t have been worth the awful memory Alex would have to bear. One slap was enough. And what satisfaction would he have really gained from decking a drunk? With any luck, Gordon would be suffering at his own hands soon --- draped over the toilet, puking his guts up, coping with a blinding hangover in the morning.
He wondered what Alex was feeling tonight, sitting on the couch like a zombie. She had never been very close to her father, she’d told him that once, but he was still her father, and deep down Walker knew she wanted to please him, to make him proud of her. The hurt was blatant, the humiliation was right behind it. Did she feel betrayed by the man who was supposed to love her unconditionally? Did she feel pity for him? Walker shook his head. He only knew for sure what he felt --- anger, grief, and a rare instance of uncertainty. Did I do the right thing?
He glanced at his watch. It was nearly midnight but he knew he wouldn’t sleep tonight. Too much turmoil churned inside him. One thing might help. He stood up and headed for the basement.
Alex lay on the soft quilt, staring at the shadows on the ceiling. She didn’t know which emotion to address first -- the hurt, the anger, the embarrassment, even fear. Her father had a drinking problem, but that was no excuse. He’d never laid a hand on her before. She’d been too stunned, too dumbfounded to do anything except cry. The knowledge that Walker would probably lash out in her defense had blared in her head, but she couldn’t make words come out of her mouth, words to plead with him not to strike back. As Walker helped her up, she’d felt the biceps strain against his shirt, felt him inch toward Gordon with wrath in his eyes and she knew there was no stopping him. But suddenly, he’d faced her again and turned his back on the sobbing drunk man. And in an amazing display of restraint, Walker had stepped away and given them the few moments alone that they desperately needed. Alex took her father into her arms as he cried, and as she glanced at Walker, half turned away, silhouetted in the moonlight, she noticed wet streaks on his face. She wanted him in her arms too. His valiant display of self-control had probably saved what was left of the relationship between Gordon and herself.
Alex sat up. As terrible as she felt about tonight, she’d seen something in Walker that astounded her. He had railed against all his instincts for her well being. He’d kept himself in check so that she might salvage something with her father. And he was hurting for her, maybe as much as she herself was hurting.
She’d heard the front door open, then heard the creaky stairs that led to the basement. Quietly she slipped down the stairs, hearing the punches and grunts before she turned the corner and saw him pounding away on the punching bag. He was drenched in sweat, taking out his emotions with furious fists. With one final blast, he caught the bag in his arms as it bounced back toward him, panting as he stilled the target. He leaned his forehead down to rest on the bag, closing his eyes as his breathing regulated. Alex recognized the turbulence in his soul, knew how badly he had wanted to knock down her father tonight. She moved away from the stairs where he could see her. Walker straightened up and gazed at her silently, not knowing what to expect. She moved forward and embraced him, holding him tightly.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
He held her at arm’s length with a questioning look.
“You did the right thing.” Her eyes glistened.
He let out a relieved breath and smiled, pulling her close again. “We’ll get help for your father.”
She nodded. “I’m going to go sit with him for awhile.”
“Okay. I’ll look in on you both in a bit,” was his soft reply.
She smiled as she headed for the stairs, then turned back to him and shook her head. “Walker, I mean it.........what you didn’t do tonight.........” Tears welled up as she smiled again, then hurried up the stairs.
Walker stood still for a long moment, watching where she’d stood, mulling over all that had happened. The instincts of defense inherent to his being had been quelled tonight, and there was only one reason -- --Alex. Holding back against Gordon was the hardest thing he’d ever done, but it was the right thing. She knew the tremendous effort it had taken, she knew he cared enough not to react.
He looked at the punching bag and gave it a small, gentle jab, his anger now completely dissipated. The right thing had been with him for some time now, but he hadn’t always seen it. It brought out the best in him, gave him renewed purpose, kept him on his toes, warmed him like a sunny day. He bounded up the stairs toward a hot shower and toward the right thing --- a woman named Alex.
**Thank you, LeighPea. Why in the world don’t you work for Random House??????