Prompt: #31 Tattling
Type of Story: General
Author’s Website: Remisfriend26 LiveJournal
Author's Note: Warning - spanking of a minor.
A Birthday to Remember
“Daddy? What’s a birthday spanking?”
I blinked in surprise as the question registered, fighting a smirk. Sammy was nine now, nearly ten, and it was a rare pleasure to be referred to as Daddy by either of my boys these days. I looked across at my son as he sat at the kitchen table doing his homework.
“Why do you want to know, buddy?” Sam shrugged non-committally. The kid took after me more than his mom—in more ways than one. He has my dark hair, and my brown eyes, and – I fear— my damned stubborn streak. Fortunately, I was only seeing glimpses of his temper these days, but I had a feeling that by the time he hit his teenage years and took a growth spurt, his attitude would go shooting up alongside it.
Dean, on the other hand… Dean took after his Mom. Every time I looked at my eldest, I saw my wife. Mary had been gone for nine years now, and there wasn’t a day I didn’t miss her. It was both a blessing and a curse to see my wife every day in the bright green of Dean’s eyes, or the way the sunlight caught his hair. Dean was stubborn too, but he was quieter about it. Hell, if he didn’t agree with me, I soon knew about it, but he didn’t shout and drag his feet the way Sam did. Mary had always been like that too… She didn’t shout very often, but damn, she could be as stubborn as a rock when she wanted...
I tugged a hand through my hair by habit, oblivious to the way it was sticking out in all directions, and sighed to myself. “Uh… Well… In some families it’s kind of like a tradition, I guess.” I paused, a little lost for words. “You know how when you act out, I sometimes haul you over my knee and spank you?”
“Dad, you always spank us…”
“I don’t. Sometimes I ground you. Or give you PT or extra chores…”
“Sometimes. But usually you spank us. You spank us too hard…”
I grinned. “If I didn’t spank you hard, you wouldn’t learn from it, would you? Especially Dean. You know how much of a hard ass he can be…”
Sammy giggled across the room, and I felt a shoot of delight hit my stomach. Hell, I loved that sound. I didn’t hear it often enough these days. I actually never really had, our life being the way it was. It was one of the things I regretted most, raising my boys so seriously; where we moved so often they could barely settle, and they lived out of their suitcases.
I fought off my serious thoughts and offered Sam my own grin. He returned the smile then dropped his gaze, looking shy. “Sammy? What’s up, bud?”
“Uh… Do they hurt?”
“No, not usually. They’re meant to be a bit of fun to acknowledge your birthday, kid. Usually you get one to grow on, and that’s a little harder, but they’re not sore like if you’ve misbehaved. Does that make sense?”
Sam nodded thoughtfully. “Uh-uh…” He lapsed into silence for a while, so I turned back to my research. “Um, Dad?”
I looked up again, surprised to see Sam squirming in his seat.
“Yeah, champ?” I asked, cocking my eyebrow in the familiar way that always made him spill what was bugging him.
“Um… Could… Could you maybe show me?”
My mouth opened in surprise, then quickly clicked shut. I wasn’t really sure how to respond at first. I knew how curious he was though, and knew he’d no doubt ask Dean or google it otherwise.
“Uh… Sure, Sammy. Come here, then… Are you sure you want me to show you?”
Sam nodded. “Uh-hu…”
I lifted the ten slim body onto my lip, frowning slightly. Kid needed to eat more, he was on the skinny side these days… He’d always been a pretty slim kid, tall and skinny. I could tell he was going to grow up to be pushing 6”2 when he grew up, but I made a mental note to get him eating more in the meantime.
Sam squirmed over my lap for a minute in a bid to get comfortable, then waited quietly. I wrapped a reassuring arm around his waist, then took a minute to get my thoughts together. “Right. So, um… Let’s just pretend this is for your ninth birthday, sport. So that’s nine for your age and one to grow on. You ready?”
I nodded to myself, then went to work. At first Sam seemed quite nervous, but he soon settled when he realised it really wasn’t going to be like when I spanked him for acting up. By the time I’d finished, he was actually laughing again, and when I lifted him up into my arms to tickle him, he wriggled and giggled and tried to bat my hands away.
It was nice to just laugh together and enjoy a precious moment. It felt like those moments hardly ever came because I was always travelling with work. I guess I envied Dean a little the relationship he has with Sammy. Still, I didn’t have much choice. My only option to protect my boys was to hunt down Azazael and kill the son of a bitch who killed my wife and robbed my sons of their Mom.
When Sam’s laughter had died down a bit, I patted Sam’s backside affectionately and sent him back to finish his homework. He assured me he’d nearly finished his math, and only had a few more questions left on his English homework. He was always good at completing his homework ahead of time, and always made sure he did personal research in advance to a high standard (unlike his brother.)
I put my journal away then went to the kitchen to make dinner, checking my watch on the way. It was half five and I still saw no signs of Dean. He wasn’t unusual for him to play soccer at the local park with friends when I was home, and I knew he’d joined a couple extra-curricular teams at school, but usually he was home by dinner time.
I waited until ten to six, at which point the phone rang. I almost sighed in relief. That must be Dean now.
“Mr Winchester? It’s Richard Hanson from Midway.”
“Mr Hanson, hi. What can I do for you?”
“Well, there’s been an incident…”
I nearly groaned. “What’s Dean done, sir? Is he alright?”
“He’s waiting outside my office.”
“I see… What happened?”
“I was finishing up some paperwork this evening while basketball practice was on. Sometimes I like to pop in and see how the team is getting on, so I went along about an hour ago. I watched practice for a half hour, surprised that Dean didn’t seem to be there. I know he tries to be at practice whenever he can be, but unfortunately is unable to occasionally. I asked his Coach if everything was okay and he said he hadn’t seen Dean in a while. Your son had assured him he’d be there though… I like your son, Mr Winchester, he’s quite a character. So I went to check he wasn’t in any bother in the changing rooms etc., and the sight I found was a little… inappropriate. Your son was half naked with one of the female students of our school, a Miss Grace Watson. Ms Watson was also near naked, and was over your son’s knee partaking in some… interesting activities. I trust you understand how inappropriate this is at school, Mr Winchester….”
I dragged a hand through my hair in frustration, trying not to swear. Damn kid… He definitely got this from me, but shit… I was gonna kill him. It would have been funny if he wasn’t 14 and getting caught. “I can understand, that Mr Hanson. Do you need me to come and fetch him? I was just about to feed my youngest…”
“Well, I’m about to head home Mr Winchester. I could drop Dean home, if you didn’t mind my giving him a lift. Some parents aren’t happy to let teachers drop their children off at home, understandably.”
I frowned, thinking it through. I’d met Mr Hanson a few times before though, and had done in depth checks of the area before we moved here four months ago. “Actually, I’d really appreciate that, Mr Hanson. Do you have the address? If you don’t mind, it would be good to hear the story from you in person so I know how best to handle things.”
“I’d be more than happy to explain in greater detail. We’ll be there in about fifteen minutes, perhaps twenty. I’ll have to speak to Grace’s father first.”
“That’s great. Thank you. We’ll see you within the hour.”
“I’ll see you then.”
I hung up, feeling a headache coming on. A quick glance at Sam’s expression had the ache intensifying. “Sam?”
He looked like a rabbit in the headlights. “You knew where your brother was headed, son, didn’t you?”
“Come on, champ, spill. What happened?” I asked in resignation, recognising that my nine year old didn’t really have a clue what was going on, despite his knowledge of Dean’s plans.
I was surprised when, after I sat down at the table with him, he came over to sit on my lap. He seemed to be working out what to say, so I waited patiently for him to spill. I usually found that was one of my best tools of deduction with my boys. Waiting quietly and letting them sweat seemed to get a much more productive response than yelling at them. This evening was no exception…
“Uh, well… I asked Dean if he had practice tonight and he sorta just grinned, all cocky. I was hoping we could all hang out tonight, since you’re back from your business trip now… Dean said he’d be home a little late cause he had this hot date with some girl… I think she was called Grace. I asked what they were gonna do, and he said it was her birthday and that he was gonna give her the best birthday spanking she ever got, then…”
I cut him off, certain that a nine year old –not even mine— should be describing sex in vivid details. I clenched my jaw, trying to keep myself calm.
“I think I get the picture, buddy. Is that what made you ask me what they were?” I asked gently, tousling his hair when he nodded in embarrassment.
Sam idolised his big brother. If Dean spat something out, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Sammy ate it… I could understand his desperation to look like he understand his brother so Dean would respect him more, but I also knew Dean thought the absolute world of his baby brother.
I sighed to myself. “Sammy, Dean… Well… Birthday spankings aren’t always between boys and girls. I mean, sometimes they are. Sometimes grown up’s share them as a way to have fun on one or other’s birthdays. Usually though, it’s between family members, occasionally friends…” I huffed out a breath, struggling to find the right words. “What I’m trying to say is that birthday spankings aren’t normally… sexual. And your brother certainly shouldn’t have been pulling stunts like that. The only one here who doles them out is me until you’re both much older and have your own lives. Am I making sense?”
Sam nodded, looking relieved, and leaned into my chest. “Is Dean in big trouble?”
“I’ll have to have words with him about his choices tonight, champ.”
“Are you gonna spank him too?”
I sighed. Sometimes my baby boy was far too astute… “Probably. What he did was really naughty, champ. He lied to his coach and he broke the school’s rules, and he wasn’t respectful to Grace…”
“But she wanted him to…”
“I know, son. But that doesn’t necessarily make it acceptable or respectful towards her. Dean and Grace are both young. Too young to be trying out things like that just now… If Dean hadn’t been careful, he could have gotten Grace into a lot of problems.”
Sam nodded his understanding. “Oh… Is Dean gonna be really mad I tattled on him?”
I kissed his forehead. “No. He’s brought trouble on himself, son. Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong. I asked you a direct question about what you knew, and I’d have been pretty pissed if you’d have lied to me.” I gave him a quick squeeze. “It’ll be alright, Sammy. Maybe we could watch that video tonight, kid. Why don’t we eat dinner, then you can choose a movie before you go for a shower and I deal with Dean?”
Sam nodded again, perking up a little. “Really? Dad, that’s ace!”
I chuckled and ruffled his hair again, before prodding his side. “Alright then, Squirt. Scooch over and I’ll feed you. Need to get some meat on you before you waste away…”
Sam sniggered, but obligingly sat down. He’d polished off two plates of meatballs and pasta before I heard the doorbell go. Sam gulped down his pasta, looking worried. I squeezed his shoulder as I stood up, then went to answer. I opened the door to see my (suitably) shamefaced teenager and Mr Hanson. Hanson had one hand on Dean’s shoulder which I figured was probably wise, given that Dean looked torn between crying and bolting.
“Thanks for bringing him home, Mr Hanson. Dean, your dinner’s in the kitchen. Go and eat with your brother, please.”
Dean shot me an embarrassed glower but wisely scampered off, apparently realising I wasn’t going to give him any wriggle room tonight. I watched him go then turned back to his principal.
“Please, call me Richard.”
“Richard. Uh, John. Come on in. Would you like a coffee or anything to eat?”
“A coffee would be great, thanks. My wife’s expecting me home in about an hour, she put dinner by when I called, but my kids couldn’t wait that late to eat. Cream and one sugar please. Thanks.”
I led him through to the lounge, suddenly unspeakably grateful that we were living in a decent house at the moment that wasn’t too run down. I’d managed to hustle a lot of money at pool at the last place we were at, and when I wasn’t working hunts in this town, I’d managed to pick up some jobs as a handyman. The elderly folks in the town were especially grateful for the odd jobs I’d done for them.
“Please, make yourself comfortable, I’ll just go make that coffee.”
Dean studiously ignored me while I was getting drinks, which suited me fine. I wasn’t sure how pissed I was at him yet, but I had a feeling I’d soon find out.
# # #
By the time Dean’s teacher left, I felt tired and frustrated as hell. I figured that I still had time to deal with Dean’s nonsense without cancelling Sam’s movie promise. When I went into the kitchen, both boys fell silent. I could practically feel the tension in the room and raised my eyebrows. As I expected, Sam broke first.
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“Dad? Can I go choose my movie now? Dean sucks.”
“Sure, buddy, that sounds like a good idea. As for Dean, he’s not got a leg to stand on right now. What was he saying, Sam?”
Sam caught Dean’s eye and looked intently at the table, shrugging.
Sam gulped. He hated it when I used his full name. “He called me a bitch. Again! And he stole my ice cream…”
Dean huffed, giving his brother a shove. “Fuckin’ hell, Sammy, you’re such a snitch! You need to grow some balls.”
“And you need to stop thinking with yours.” I interrupted mildly, but with an underlying current of steel in my voice that had Sam freezing in his chair and Dean blushing furiously.
I cleared my throat meaningfully. “I’m going to eat my dinner, and then we’re going to discuss your behaviour at practice while Sam showers. Then I may let you watch a movie with us since I promised Sammy. In the meantime, the crap stops. Do you pair understand me?”
Two identical nods greeted my announcement and I nodded in satisfaction before setting to work heating up my own dinner. I heard a few nudges and scuffles but let them slide. I needed a couple minutes to myself to calm down before I killed Dean, so the boyish actions didn’t bother me. I knew it was just because Dean was nervous and Sam was worried about his brother’s fate; I had a bit of a reputation with the boys and their newfound friends for being a bit of a hardass when it came to discipline. That didn’t bother me; I took great pride in being the father that all the kids listened to. It was commonplace in the neighbourhood to land a few sturdy swats to the backside or thighs of the friends of your children. And boy, did those kids know I had no qualms doing that when it was deserved!
When I heard a clatter and a hissed curse at the table, I turned round in time to see Dean punch his brother while Sam grabbed a handful of Dean’s hair.
Okay, so maybe raising my voice did work sometimes…Both boys went stock still.
“That is enough! Cut the shit before I put you both to bed now with sore backsides. Sam, ignore your brother and stop reacting to him. He’s just huffing because he knows I’m pissed about what he did. Dean, stop swearing at your brother. He didn’t tattle unfairly. I asked him a question and he told me the truth.”
“No. You boys know I expect you not to lie to me about these things. Your brother was just doing as he was told. Stop snapping at him just because you know I’m about to kick your ass. You have two minutes to finish your dinner, then I want you to find a corner until I’m ready to deal with you. We clear?”
“What? But, Dad… I’m nearly fourteen!”
“Doesn’t make a difference to me, kid. You’re my boy, and you know damn well what happens in our family when you screw up. So cut the crap, because I’m this…” I held my fingers up an inch apart, “Far from hauling your ass over my knee and teaching you a lesson in respect before we even deal with this afternoon.”
That made Dean pause. He levelled me with a long look, then nodded slightly in acknowledgement of the warning. He’d tested me before when I’d made threats like that, and it hadn’t been fun for either of us. I sighed heavily, glad he seemed to have settled, then turned my attention to Sam.
“Alright, Sam, you done? Go and choose a film then grab a shower and get ready for bed, alright? That’s my boy. I’ll holler when the coast’s clear, make sure your homework’s finished.”
Sam nodded and gave me a quick hug, then scampered upstairs. I finished heating up my dinner, ignoring the silence that Dean was letting stretch out. We sat quietly for a while as we ate, but I could see how worried he was and decided not to make him wait. I usually tried not to leave things hanging over them. Hunting’s a dangerous business, and I was painfully aware that every time I left them could be the last time I saw them— I didn’t want to leave that kinda guilt hanging over them if anything happened to me. I watched Dean push his food around miserably on his plate, appetitite clearly gone.
I sighed to myself; I wasn’t feeling too hungry myself just now. “Alright, Dean?”
Dean coughed nervously. “Mm?”
“You wanna tell me what the hell you were playing at tonight, son? Cause I sure as hell know I’ve raised you better than that.”
Dean cringed under my strict gaze and stern tone. “uh… Dad, I… It was just some fun… It was her birthday, and…” He went quiet for a few minutes, huffing and squirming indignantly, but I could see he was trying to get his thoughts together so I waited quietly; my shoulders squared and my jaw set.
Eventually he spoke, sounding embarrassed. “Dad, I really like her… She’d mentioned, um, stuff, and I was just trying to make her birthday special. Her parents were both working late and she was pretty upset, so I just figured I’d give her something cute to remember. We’ve been on a few dates now, and it looks like we could be here a while, so maybe… Maybe I have a shot.”
I sat silently for a minute, totally flabbergasted. Shit. Dean was falling for a girl. Like, not just some conquest. He was 13, for Christ’s sake. I wasn’t really sure what to say to my son, but it looked like this was his first love…Or crush. Something. I cleared my throat and adjusted my position in my seat, leaning forward with my forearms on the table.
“Dean… I understand you wanted to cheer her up. And I realise that you’re not used to us staying in one place for a long period of time, but… This stuff isn’t appropriate for kids your age. You can’t just pull stunts like this because you think it’ll be fun. I’m always reminding you not to draw attention to us, because otherwise we’ll have to pack up and move, and then you won’t get to see her at all. Don’t you think that would suck for you both, pal?”
Dean looked at me in horror. “But Dad… She’s awesome! You can’t make us move! You’re such a…”
“Can it, buddy. If you finish that sentence you’ll end up with your tale bent over my lap. I didn’t say we were moving, I said that if you’re not careful we could run into problems. If the school gets concerned or suspicious, CPS could be onto me thinking I’m not looking after you.”
“…Oh. Dad, I didn’t mean to get you in trouble…”
“I’m not, kid, don’t worry. But listen to me, and listen good; from now on, the only person doling out spankings –birthday or otherwise- is me. Or Uncle Bobby, or Pastor Jim. Adults I trust. Not teenage boys getting their rocks off or trying to show off. D’you understand me?”
Dean nodded, avoiding my gaze and blushing.
“I can’t hear your head rattle, son.”
“Yes sir. Sorry…”
“I should hope so. I wasn’t impressed to get that call from your poor teacher. And now Grace’s in trouble too, not a very smart move. You’re grounded this week.”
“What?! But dad, I…”
“I can make it two if you want to keep up the crap.”
Dean huffed out a breath, glowering at the table with his fists clenched.
“What? I didn’t say anything!”
“You didn’t have to. This is your last warning; cram the attitude or I up your grounding. I can find you plenty of chores to fill your time if I have to.”
Dean groaned but wisely let his body language change so that it was less defensive. I nodded in approval, “Good choice, champ. Why you getting so antsy about it anyway? Usually you’re the one I can count on to not fight with me tooth and nail.”
Dean shrugged. I could see he was embarrassed so reached out to squeeze his shoulder. “Hey. Look at me, Dean… Better. You can tell me about anything, you know that?”
Dean nodded. “I know… It’s just that I kinda said I’d take Grace out, for her birthday. I know money’s tight and stuff, but… I thought maybe I could sneak some out the kitty and pay it back next week if I did some jobs round… Cause you’d never know… Shit, m’gonna shut up now…”
Dean trailed off when he saw my expression. “I think that would be a smart choice, son. So, what, you were going to steal from our family? Damn it, Dean, you know I leave that money in the fund for emergencies.”
Dean swallowed nervously. “I know. I was gonna…”
“Pay it back, I know. Not only were you going to take money that could be needed if things went to hell, you were going to lie to me about it! Did you even stop to think I might have let you have the money if you’d asked me and told me the truth?”
Dean blinked in surprise. Evidently he hadn’t even thought of asking me. I sighed heavily. “Son, you have no idea how disappointed I am. I need to be able to trust you when I’m away, and at home. Next time, you come and speak to me. Do you understand me, Dean?”
Dean nodded sincerely. “Yes sir,” He mumbled. “Dad, I’m sorry…”
“Not as sorry as you’re gonna be. Go get your Mom’s hairbrush for me.” Dean’s eyes widened and he blushed furiously. I hadn’t used the wooden backed hairbrush my wife had owned on him in a couple years or so. Generally I paddled him when he screwed up, now he was a teenager. But damn it, he’d acted like a little boy, so I was damn well gonna treat him like one. I forced myself to steel my resolve. “It’s in the drawer by my bed. Go on, Dean, I don’t want your brother listening to this.”
That got him moving. I waited until he scrambled for the stairs, then sighed heavily. What was I gonna do with him? I swear, one day these boys’ll be the death of me… I heard footsteps clattering down the stairs and downed the last of my soda before squaring my shoulders. Thankfully, the shower was running so I didn’t have to worry about Sam waltzing in at a bad moment. Kid could spend hours daydreaming in the shower, he and Dean racked up one hell of a water and electricity bill sometimes…
Dean reappeared a moment later, looking like he was marching to his death. I held out a hand for the brush, placing it on the table beside me after a moment. It felt good and solid in my hand, and for a few seconds I allowed myself to remember the feel of it in my hand as I brushed Mary’s hair when the kids were in bed. I sighed, recognising signs of Dean’s stubborn-as-a-mule body language.
“Spill it, kid.”
“How come you let Sammy tattle on me? You’re always telling us tattling’s bad, but you didn’t tell him off for…”
“He didn’t tattle on you, Dean. He made a smart choice to be honest with me when I asked him a question.”
Dean stared at the floor, shoulder’s tensed. “Dick…” He muttered to himself, forcing himself not to roll his eyes. I rolled mine.
“You wanna run that by me again, squirt?”
Dean squirmed visibly under my strict expression. “Not really…” He admitted eventually.
“Good. Drop it then. Because I have no intention of rehashing this debate. Your brother did nothing wrong, so stop trying to drop him in deep shit. Understood?”
“Yeah, I got it.”
I frowned at my son’s tone, but decided it wasn’t worth the hassle to haul him up for it. “I’m glad to hear it. Lose your jeans then and get over here.”
Dean looked at me suspiciously. I hadn’t put him over my knee since he was twelve and I doubted he was going to enjoy being reminded of the experience. “Here, Dean. Now.”
I swear I actually saw the usually calm, collected boy stamp his foot, but he wisely came over, the button on his jeans undone. He shot me what could only be described as a petulant glower, then shoved his jeans down to his knees. I reached out to grab his arm, fed up of the tantrum. “How many times have I told you to lose the attitude, Dean, huh? I’m tired of being spoken to like this, son. It stops now.”
“No, sport. What did I say would happen if you didn’t drop the attitude?”
Dean pulled a face, but he knew me well enough to know my patience was wearing seriously thin. “You said you’d ground me longer…” He muttered, suddenly finding his shoes interesting.
“Right. Consider yourself grounded for two weeks, kid.”
I hauled him over my lap before he could make any smart ass comebacks, pinning him against my chest before yanking his boxers down to join his jeans. “Dad!” I could hear the panic in his voice, but he was unable to pull himself off my lap. It wasn’t especially comfortable, but I knew it would make a sure-fire impression on him. Dean wriggled, embarrassed then stubbornly went stock still.
I sighed to myself but didn’t waste any more time with words. I started smacking methodically, landing a swat to his right cheek, then the left, working my way down his backside. Ever since I’d lost Mary, I’d found myself to be big on logics and methods. I think it’s because I needed to feel I was in control. I’d had no control the night I lost my wife and home, so now I made a point of being in control. It drove the boys insane half the time, but I had to do it. And hey, it had kept me alive so far…
Dean generally liked method and structure too, though he could improvise when he needed to. It seemed to soothe him though. I think, since his Mom died, he’s needed that; the reassurance of order. Deciding to hurry things along bit, I landed some randomly placed swats. The change brought him back to reality and set him squirming. I didn’t let up at all, just kept landing slow, sturdy swats that expressed my displeasure without doing much damage. His butt was turning a nice shade of pink, so I knew he had to be feeling it by now. I cleared my throat.
“Alright, son. Why are we here?”
Dean grunted; he hated this bit with a vengeance. “I skipped practice… And got caught with Grace doing, uh, stuff… Ow! Dad! And I was rude to you, and I tried to steal money for a date… And I lied. Shit… And… Ow, I hurt Sammy! Dad, I said I was sorry!”
“I know, Deano. But sometimes sorry isn’t quite enough. You screwed up, kid, and when you screw up, there are consequences. I better not catch you pulling stunts like this again, you hear me? I know I taught you better. You respect women, Dean. They’re not a toy. They’re one of the most wonderful damn things on the planet, and you better show any girl you meet respect. Same goes for your teachers. They may not be the best damned things on the planet, but they’re important and they deserve your respect. As for this new trust issue, we’ll see how things go there. I want to be able to trust you, Dean, but I can’t do that if you’re going around behind my back telling lies and taking money. This crap doesn’t happen again. We clear?”
“Ow! Yessir! Dad, I won’t…”
“Good. I expect better from you, Deano. You’re a good kid, and I know I put a lot of pressure on you, but it’s nothing misplaced. When I’m finished tanning your hide, you’re forgiven and we move past this. Sure, you’ll be grounded, but you’ll be forgiven. Alright?”
I went quiet then, turning my full attention to the task in front of me. I kept up the onslaught until Dean’s backside and thighs were a dark, uniform pink, then stopped. Dean relaxed a little as I shook out my hand, seemingly having forgotten we weren’t done yet. He protested weakly as I leaned over to pick the brush back up.
“Dad, please no! I learned my lesson… I won’t do that shit again…”
I ignored his pleas, despite the guilt it brought on. Instead, I wrapped my arm tighter around his waist and took aim. The brush landed solidly on his right cheek and a couple seconds later the pain registered and he just about jumped off my lap. I had a good hold on him though and didn’t let up. He knew the next swat was coming and tensed, whimpering when it landed. He was tearful by then so I knew it would take long to make sure the lesson stuck for a long time.
Steeling myself against the tears I knew were coming, I got down to the business end of things. I upped the tempo and changed my style to random swats, flicking my wrist to make it sting a little more. Dean hissed. His legs started scissoring of their own accord and before long I heard the tell-tale sign of truly repentant tears.
I kept going a minute longer, wincing to myself at the bright shade of what must be an incredible sore backside, then landed a final round to his sit spots with a little extra force. He’d given up on stoicism by then and howled as I finished up. I put the brush back on the table, then put a soothing hand on his back. “Okay, champ, we’re done.”
Dean lay quiet for a moment, crying as much from relief as from the burning in his rear. I waited patiently for them to quiet a little, then gently eased up his boxers before quickly and efficiently tugging his jeans off without hurting him more. I’d had a lot of experience with this routine, which soothed both myself and my boys whenever we found ourselves here. Dean took a shuddering breath then moved to stand up. I helped him up, then followed suit; perching on the edge of the table and silently opening my arms to him. I wasn’t really big on words; Mary had always been better at finding the right words to say, but my quiet solidarity seemed to be a comfort nonetheless.
Dean sniffled and leaned into my chest, shoulders slumping as a fresh wave of tears spilled over. Neither of us spoke, but I tightened my grip around him and held on patiently, smiling when his arms snaked up to return the hug. I never minded affection like this under these circumstances, I think I needed it as much as Dean did. We stayed that way for a few minutes until Dean settled and his tears slowed to occasional sniffles.
I eased him back a little so I could see him, then tilted his chin up to look at me. “Alright?”
I asked gently, trying not to sound too gruff.
Dean nodded, watching me with watery eyes. I hated making my boys cry. “Use your words, Deano…”
“Sorry… I’m fine. Just sore… You’re really good at that...” He mumbled petulantly after a moment.
I smiled, trying not to chuckle or let my fatigue reach my eyes. “Too much practice on you and your brother” I teased fondly. Dean grinned cheekily, a familiar twinkle in his eye.
“Alright, brat, scram… I want your homework at least half finished before we watch that movie. And you know how impatient Sammy can be…”
Dean rolled his eyes but obediently went to fetch his bag after giving me a final squeeze. He eyed the kitchen chairs miserably, one hand going back to rub his backside absent-mindedly. I raised an eyebrow.
Dean blushed, earning another quick grin from me. “Go fetch a pillow or something, kid. I want you where I can keep an eye on you, but if you’re quick I’ll turn a blind eye to a cushion…”
Dean nodded gratefully. “Thanks, dad!” He called, dumping his bag and turning for the stairs.
“Oh, and Dean?”
He turned back and shot me a suspicious look. “Yeah?” He asked, clearly expecting me to add some kind of consequence to his punishment.
I smiled and pulled out my wallet, handing him a twenty. “That should be enough to take Grace for a burger and to the movies this weekend. Will that do you?”
Dean looked at the note in his hand, dumbfounded. “But… I’m grounded…”
I cocked a brow at him. “I can always take it back…” I offered amiably, struggling not to chuckle at the horror on his face.
“No! It’s just… Mr Watson’s probably grounded Gracie too… He’s kinda strict…”
“Stricter than me?”
“Well, no sir… But… He probably won’t let me take her out, not after today…”
“He might surprise you, bud. Do you have a number for them? Or an address? I’ll have a word with him” I held up a hand to stop Dean’s confused protests. “If you really like this girl as much as I think you do, then I don’t want to put you off her. She deserves a special day for her birthday, Champ, so I’m going to cut you some slack. Give me a contact number for Mr Watson and I’ll see what I can do.”
Dean looked at me with such hope and admiration that I felt my stomach clench a little. “Thanks, Dad.” He said sincerely, pulling a crumpled up paper out his pocket. I took the paper, memorised the number quickly then nodded towards the door.
“Go get that pillow and get started on your homework. I’ll give them a call now.”
I waited until Dean was working diligently on his algebra, then phoned the Watson house. Her father was surprisingly friendly, given the circumstances, and chatted to me for a good twenty minutes or so. It turned out that he quite liked Dean and actually appreciated that he’d been trying to cheer his daughter up on her special day –though it was a shame how mislead they’d both been—and didn’t hold it against him. We compared parental strategies, both pleasantly surprised to know we’d handled things similarly. It didn’t take much convincing to get him to agree to my proposed birthday date and soon we had a plan together. I thanked him profusely for understanding, deciding I quite liked him. He and his wife invited us round for dinner too, once the groundings were over. Dean was, of course, grounded an extra week thanks to his bad attitude, but I figured since he was the instigator it was actually justified. The Watsons had a son near Sammy’s age and a younger daughter too, so I figured they’d get on okay and took them up on the offer gratefully. Any meal I didn’t have to cook was a blessing, and it would be nice to make some friends in the town that the boys could spend time with.
I hung up and went to tell Dean the verdict, amazed when he proudly told me his Math homework was finished. He never did school work that fast… Maybe I should try positive reinforcement on him after all. He shyly explained that Grace had been helping him with his schoolwork a bit –he insisted they’d actually studied—and explained he was trying to improve his grades a little since we’d be here a while.
I told him how proud I was that he was looking at things so responsibly, then told him the good news about his date. I wasn’t expecting the colossal bear hug he gave me, but I returned it nonetheless. He had some English homework that was due on the Monday, so I told him we could sit down and do it together at the weekend, since he’d be grounded anyway, then I sent him upstairs to find Sammy and assure him everything was okay now. Sammy could be a little bit sensitive to people being in trouble at our house…
I got out a couple cans of soda for the boys and a beer for myself, then dug out some popcorn from the cupboard and a bag of sweets. The boys clambered downstairs together laughing and joking, Dean’s arm companionably over Sam’s shoulders. I was pleased to see Dean already changed for bed, and gave him a subtle nod of approval. He smiled at me then turned his full attention to what his little brother was animatedly telling him.
I put the supplies on the table then sat down on the couch, making room when Sam opted to curl up beside me. Dean chose the other couch, stretching out on his stomach and trying to get comfy. Sam got up long enough to shove the VCR into the machine and I rolled my eyes fondly. Star Wars, again. Dean grinned, cheered up considerably at the thought of fighting, while Sam was already shifting into geek mode. I shook my head good naturedly and reached for my beer.
This was definitely a much better part of being a Dad than the smack-down I’d delivered half an hour ago.