Family Business

Title: Family Business

Disclaimer: We own nothing from American Assassin and are making nothing from this story.

Summary: Regaining lost family and forming new.

Warning(s): Mention of torture; spanking – for punishment and 'settling'. Immature behavior. AU

Authors: BlackFox12 and Hope1iz

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He was running purely on adrenaline, ignoring the advice that he at least get his wounds checked out. Hurley had no idea what sort of scene he was going to arrive to...but the guilt he'd forced down while Ghost had been torturing him had flared up. He wouldn't fault Rapp if he had to kill to protect himself, but he felt a sense of unfamiliar hope that his other kid had just knocked 'big brother' out.

There wasn't much time, but Hurley hid any sense of uncertainty as the helicopter reached the boat. He couldn't allow himself to consider he might fail. If he thought it was a possibility, it would become a certainty.

Rapp had known time was limited and the easiest way to get the bomb out of the way was to kill Ghost. That had been his plan, until the other man had called him 'little brother'. At that point, he had known that not only had Hurley formed a close relationship to the other assassin...but apparently, Ghost had seen something in the way he and the old man interacted to believe he had the same type of relationship with Hurley. After that, killing Ghost just wasn't on the table; although he didn't plan to examine his motives that closely enough to find out why.

Instead, he somehow (with a great deal of luck) managed to knock the older assassin out. He had just thrown the bomb overboard when the helicopter came in. He tied the pulley around Ghost and then held on tight as both of them were pulled up and into the chopper.

And then the bomb blew.

Hurley wasted no time in getting the chopper as far from the explosion as possible. There were still shockwaves that sent them veering chaotically off course and he quickly glanced at the two younger men as he struggled to keep his own seat, prepared to grab and hold if either of them were in danger of slipping.

Rapp held on tightly. He'd belted Ghost into the middle seat so the unconscious man was secure too. He glanced sideways to make sure the belt was holding, then gave Hurley the biggest, shit-eating grin he could muster. Completely cocky and certain he'd saved the day. He slanted his head toward Ghost while smirking at Hurley. "Brought Big Brother home for you...Dad."

"Are you hurt?" Hurley decided not to comment on either of the terms of address, not entirely sure how they made him feel. He'd warned both men not to expect him to come for them, but the regret of leaving Ghost behind was a sharp pain. Worse than the physical torture he'd endured at the hands of...yeah, okay. At the hands of his oldest kid. If the way he was looking over them was any indication, he'd already decided they were his. It had just taken him a while to catch up to his instincts.

"Nah...nothing a few days with a masseuse won't cure..." Rapp lied through his teeth, smirk still in place. Only someone who knew his tells would know he was lying. He was confident Hurley didn't know him that well.

Hurley arched his eyebrows at that response. "I'm too old and too observant for you to pull that bullshit with me, son," he stated.

Rapp blinked at having been called out on his lie, but before he could either protest his 'innocence' or tell the truth, Ghost began to stir. "Sleeping Beauty awakes!" he crowed, quickly deflecting in an attempt to not have to answer the question.

"If I'm Sleeping Beauty, one of you Yahoos better not have kissed me!" Ghost muttered before groaning.

"As soon as we get back to my base, I'll be checking both of you for wounds," Hurley stated, even as he made sure the chopper was going in that direction. He'd have to check in and make a report eventually; but right now, his boys were the priority.

"That's really not..." Rapp began, only to be interrupted by Ghost.

"Give it up, kid. All's arguing will get you is a few extra aches from arguing and he'll do what he wants anyway..." The agent looked at Hurley with a considering look. He'd done a lot of wrong so that he could get his revenge for being left behind; but this time, Hurley hadn't left him...and he'd had more reason to do so. He wasn't sure what to think. He'd done too much to just be forgiven.

"Listen to your brother," Hurley stated, falling right into that role. "I guarantee you won't like what happens if you don't."

The chopper came in to land just outside Hurley's safe house and he wasted no time in climbing out, checking the boys to see how stiffly they were moving and if either of them needed help.

Rapp blinked at that while Ghost snorted. Neither man said anything, though. Ghost just stared at Hurley like he was a puzzle missing an important piece, while Rapp stared at the approaching house.

As soon as the chopper had landed, Rapp was out and standing guard, so Hurley could get Ghost out. The oldest man seemed content to just forgive and forget the actions of the assassin who had tried to murder him, murder both of them. He wasn't quite as trusting.

Hurley wasted no time in unstrapping Ghost and then drawing him out of the chopper. He didn't let go of the kid once all three of them were on solid ground, though, motioning for Rapp to follow as he led Ghost into the safe house.

Ghost let himself be led, but his eyes were darting all around, taking in as much information as possible on possible exits, possible weapons, possible opponents/guards that he'd need to look for. He didn't have the burning desire to utterly destroy Hurley any longer, though and since the older man wasn't threatening him with jail or execution, he decided to wait it out and see what Hurley had in mind before making any decisions on his own action.

Rapp sighed, but cooperated. He'd at least make sure Ghost was secured and not a threat before he took off; and he had every intention of taking off as soon as he was able. He didn't feel like having to go through twenty-questions about his actions, since many of them had been disobeying orders. Actually… pretty much everything he'd done prior to throwing the bomb overboard had been against orders. Throwing the bomb overboard and then grabbing hold of the pulley so that Hurley could pull him and Ghost up into the chopper was the first time he'd obeyed an order in what felt like several days. He eyed Hurley as unobtrusively as possible to attempt to get a gauge on the man's temper and attitude. Considering how many times he'd disobeyed the man, he may want to leave sooner than later to let him calm down...

The safe house was set up already with a medical room and that was where Hurley led his two boys. When they were inside, he locked the door, simply because he didn't want to take any chances, pocketing the key and then retrieving one of the first aid kits. He'd left without getting proper treatment for his own wounds, but right now, he was still able to ignore those.

"Both of you. Strip," Hurley stated, clearly expecting to be obeyed.

"What the fu... Hurley!" Rapp protested, as he found himself locked in a room with the key to the only way out being held by the man who Rapp knew wouldn't let him out until he'd given in and let himself be examined.

Ghost laughed at the younger assassin's response. "Told you to just go along with it..." he muttered in dark amusement. Ghost then began to strip as ordered, obeying being easier than arguing. He snorted again when it became obvious Rapp wasn't going to be quite so obedient.

"I'm fine!" Rapp ground out unhappily. "And I have to pee! You could have at least let me go to the toilet before locking me in here!" he grumbled. Okay...it was a bit of a stretch. He could easily hold his bladder until Hurley had checked him over. But it was the principle of the thing, damn it!

"I told you what we were going to do. I'm not looking for an argument or a discussion. Strip," Hurley stated, his tone carrying a heavy note of 'or else'. As soon as Ghost was naked, he began checking the wounds on his older boy. Of course, that also meant he was eye-to-eye with the scars that had been left on Ghost's body. Yeah. He felt a tremendous amount of guilt for leaving his older kid behind. It was why he'd come for them with the chopper. Never again.

Ghost somehow managed to avoid looking his 'father' in the eye while Hurley examined him. After being rescued from certain death, at something he was responsible for, being checked over for wounds...being taken care of like he was important...just as Hurley had used to do before he went rogue made it difficult to reconcile the feelings of warmth and attachment that were beginning to rekindle with the hatred he'd nursed for so long. Not looking at the other man was easier, because then he couldn't see the damage he'd done to his old mentor.

Rapp got a stubborn look in his eye and set his mouth in what he thought was a firm line. (In reality, he looked like a pouting toddler). "I don't need any of your doctoring. I'm fine! I just want to go to the bathroom, find some food and maybe crash for a couple of hours on your sofa. Then I'm outta here!" he declared, in what could only be termed a defiant tone.

"You keep lying to me and fighting me, kid, you're not gonna like what happens." Although speaking to Rapp, the rest of Hurley's attention was on Ghost as he began to treat the wounds he could see. "I'm sorry." The words were spoken quietly enough that they'd only carry to his oldest's ears.

Ghost chuckled. "You best listen to him, kid. He don't mess around when it comes to wounds or your health..." he said, before he blinked and had to look at Hurley. He hadn't expected an apology. "What for?" he whispered skeptically. He'd been the one to capture and torture Hurley, not the other way around.

Rapp, realizing the sooner he cooperated, the sooner the door would be opened and he could leave, huffed and began to quickly strip. His movements were stiff and jerky, though; as he really wasn't as in good a shape as he was trying to claim and soreness was catching up to him rapidly. "Fine..." he muttered unhappily. "I'm stripped. What now, dad?" he asked with a sullen pout, standing naked with his arms crossed over his chest protectively, hoping to hide the more serious wound he had there with his crossed arms.

"For leaving you behind. It shouldn't have happened. It won't again." Hurley's words were simply uttered but sincerely meant. He finished treating Ghost's wounds, gently squeezing his shoulder, and then moved to Rapp's side. "Now I treat those wounds you're trying to hide from me." He gently pulled his other boy's arms away from his chest, having glimpsed what Rapp was trying to hide.

Ghost swallowed hard at the words. It was the first time Hurley had said that leaving him had been the wrong thing to do and to get an apology for it on top of everything, especially considering what Ghost had done to him... the first feelings of the wrongness of what he'd done began to slip in through his barriers. He didn't feel like he was in the right anymore; and was beginning to think maybe he'd made a terrible mistake. Vengeance wasn't a good thing; he'd believed that at one time. Now, the aftermath of his actions staring him in the face, literally? He was beginning to believe it again...too little too late.

Rapp grimaced, but didn't attempt to fight or get away. He may be stubborn, but he wasn't stupid, most of the time, and it was fairly obvious he'd been arguing a losing battle. Much better to just give in and accept Hurley's attention. Maybe it would put the older man at ease enough that he wouldn't notice when Rapp snuck away. He let his arms drop to his sides and held still while Hurley examined him. He had to admit to himself that he felt a lot more vulnerable than he wanted to admit to anyone else, standing naked while his mentor investigated his body and the man who'd tried to kill both of them stood mere feet away. "Obviously didn't hide them well enough..." he muttered, still sullen at being made to cooperate, seeming more and more like an over-tired toddler than a trained agent.

"You shouldn't have been hiding them at all." Hurley began to treat Rapp's wounds. "You don't hide injuries you've received. You get them treated straight away. If you don't, you'll be getting much more direct consequences from me."

"Like you got your injuries treated?" Rapp couldn't help but snark. He didn't attempt to get away from Hurley, though. He had to admit, if only to himself, that what the older man was doing was helping. He already felt less pain in some places than he'd felt before the wound was treated.

Ghost took in a quick breath and then snorted again. "Keep talkin', kid and he'll show you what consequences you've managed to avoid so far..." he said, just loudly enough for Rapp and Hurley to hear. He sounded more amused than anything; which didn't help Rapp's attitude. "May I get dressed, sir?" he asked Hurley, deciding that his current position as prisoner and being outnumbered called for a bit of deferential submission.

"Would have wasted precious time where I might not have got to you if I did," Hurley said bluntly. "And as soon as I've finished treating you, I'll be taking my own advice." He then nodded in response to Ghost's question. "Yeah. Get dressed. At least for now." The last sentence was uttered softly, but still loud enough that both boys would hear.

"I thought you never came after us?" Rapp said, in a little less sarcastic a tone. He hadn't expected Hurley to come after him. He'd fully expected to die on the boat when the bomb exploded.

Ghost quietly got dressed, ignoring the 'for now' part of the answer. He had an idea what that meant, but didn't feel like asking. He listened to Rapp's question, though and it was obvious by the way he glanced toward Hurley and Rapp that he wanted to know the answer as well. Hurley had apologized. Had he really changed his stance on agents that had got caught or were in situations where they were going to die?

Hurley finished treating the last of Rapp's wounds and stood back, indicating the younger man could get dressed. He began treating his own wounds as he answered Rapp's question. "Having just been faced with the consequences of ignoring my better instincts and not coming for my agents...I can't make up for past events, but it's no longer a factor. You'd better believe I'll be coming for you...both of you...from now on. If you head back into the field," he added; more to Ghost than to Rapp.

Rapp blinked at that, glancing at Ghost with apprehensive consideration. "You think they'll let him back in the field?" he asked quietly, managing to keep any of his own personal feeling out of the question. It wouldn't surprise him in the least that, if the CIA thought they had a leash on Ghost, that they'd decide to use the ex-agent/ex-terrorist in any way they could.

Ghost frowned, looking at his feet. "I don't think it's such a good idea; me going out in field. I'll be happy if they just let me live. Maybe help you train new agents..." he said, just as quietly, his own apprehension at his current situation clear in his voice.

"I'm not leaving it up to them," Hurley stated. "What happens to you, I mean. Going back out into the field or not...that's your decision. But I brought you here so that I can make sure the CIA knows only what I tell them. They don't need to know you're still alive."

Ghost blinked at that before asking hesitantly, "You aren't turning me over to them? After everything I did to you? After all the people I hurt?" If he sounded disbelieving, it was because he had a hard time understanding Hurley not wanting to take his own revenge on him.

Rapp blinked as well. "You're seriously going to just let him get away with it?!" His own voice was as angry as it was disbelieving. Ghost had killed his colleagues; and his actions had led to the death of one whom he'd grown close to.

"I never said I'd be letting him get away with it." Hurley addressed Rapp's comment before turning to Ghost. "Believe me, kid, we're going to be dealing with your actions. Towards me. Towards everyone else. But I'm dealing with you. Not them. You aren't theirs." Besides, he was fairly sure the CIA would execute Ghost...at the very least lock him away where Hurley would never see him again. Quite apart from no longer fighting the way he saw the younger agents, Hurley was aware of his own actions in forming what Ghost had become.

Ghost swallowed, then nodded at the older man. He knew exactly how Hurley addressed wrongs with those he considered his. While unconventional, and likely more merciful than most people would find acceptable, it would also pull Ghost firmly back into Hurley's control. A place that he found he'd be glad to be if the other option was being under the control of the CIA. "Tha...thank you, sir..." he whispered, not sure what else he could say. Rapp was right. He'd done a lot of wrong and to most people's way of thinking, even if Hurley dealt with it, he'd be getting away with things. Then again, no one else would know how Hurley dealt with it and how the older man had a way of making a child's punishment the most effective way of handling wayward agents.

Rapp, not entirely understanding what was going on, could only see what he thought as a free pass being given to the other man. "That's just great. You'll handle it. What? You gonna smack him on the butt, put him in the corner and tell him to be good?! He killed people that were our colleagues and allies!" His tone was entirely sarcastic and just over the line of being disrespectful.

Ghost's eyes widened at the younger man's tone.

Hurley had given Rapp one...okay, make that several...free passes already. But he wasn't going to let his youngest get away with continuing disrespect. He'd finished treating his own wounds and now he stepped over to the younger agent, delivering a single firm smack to his backside. "Can the attitude and disrespect. Disagree with me all you want, but keep a civil tongue."

Rapp yelped, the unexpected form of the correction making a reaction impossible to contain. His eyes wide, he stared at Hurley. "You...you just..."

"He smacked you. It's a milder form of a spanking. If you wanna find out what that is sooner than he has planned, you can just keep up the attitude..." Ghost offered helpfully, a hint of amusement in his tone.

Rapp's head swiveled to face Ghost. "I know what a spanking is! Just cuz my parents didn't believe in them doesn't mean I'm ignorant!" he protested. "And what do you mean sooner than planned?!"

"He means that you're due a spanking for the events of today anyway," Hurley stated. "You chose to disregard everything I told you to do today. Yeah, I came for you. I came for both of you. But if you'd listened to me, the danger you put yourself in would have been unnecessary."

"I fulfilled the mission! And I even managed to do it without killing Big Brother over there!" Rapp protested, pointing a finger at Ghost. "Not that he made that easy!" He glared at the older agent, who was doing a poor job of hiding his smirk or the chuckles that were trying to escape.

"At the cost of your own safety isn't acceptable," Hurley said. "Apart from tossing the bomb and letting me retrieve you both...how many of my orders did you actually obey?" He took a deep breath, calming down. If he didn't, he'd end up taking Rapp over his knee now...and his youngest wasn't in any condition for that.

"I...I..." Rapp had a sheepish, if mulish look on his face. "...I work better when I do things spur of the moment..." he claimed with a huff, although if the way his eyes darted toward Hurley were any indication, he didn't really believe that and was just throwing it out there in the hopes the older man would believe it. He just hoped Hurley didn't actually expect him to answer that question. He'd kinda begun tuning the older man out when things started going south, so he had no clue how many orders he'd been given that he didn't even hear. He knew he'd ignored quite a few that he did hear.

Ghost just watched with quiet interest as his Little Brother dug himself in deeper.

"If you weren't in such a bad shape, I'd be taking you over my knee right here and right now," Hurley said. "As it is, you're going to rest up and heal before we start dealing with what you didn't do and what you should have done."

Rapp opened his mouth, but seemed to finally realize he was pushing things maybe a bit further than he was able to handle or wanted, so he shut his mouth again and glared at the floor. "So...what? I've got to stay here till you tell me I can leave?" he asked peevishly, sounding more and more like a child instead of an adult agent. He didn't really do well with authority. It had amazed him when the CIA sought him out, skills or no. "...Not really good at following anyone's orders...have no clue why they thought this was a good idea..." he muttered to himself, some small part of him hoping Hurley didn't get offended by his declaration of independence.

"Because Hurley's the best at getting rebels to fall into line, probably..." Ghost answered him, even though it was obvious he was talking to himself. "He had a lot of practice..." He gave the older man a crooked, sad smile.

Hurley shifted that little bit nearer to Ghost, gently squeezing his shoulder in response to that sadness. He didn't say anything to draw attention to that, though, instead verbally answering Rapp. "I can tell, kid. It's something we're gonna work on."

Rapp just huffed at that and pouted, crossing his arms back over his chest and then absent-mindedly reaching back and rubbing his backside where Hurley had smacked...not because it still stung, but because he was still processing the fact he'd actually been swatted. Sighing, he decided to try and cooperate and see what that got him. "May I get dressed now, sir?" he asked softly.

Ghost couldn't help giving the kid an amused look. It had taken him longer than he'd expected for Rapp to want his clothes back; but then, the kid had been too focused on being contrary to pay attention to a measly little thing like being naked.

Hurley nodded. "As soon as you're dressed, I'll take you to the room you can use." He hadn't deliberately made a decision to arrange a safe house large enough for three people...but now, looking at the two younger men, he was starting to figure that maybe his subconscious had been at work.

Rapp was eager to be left alone. First, because he was entirely certain if he stayed near Hurley and Ghost much longer, he'd push his luck to the point he'd be experiencing a spanking and he had every intention of being gone before Ghost's 'sooner' became 'now'. But secondly, and more importantly, was because he was suddenly feeling all the wounds and the lack of food and sleep from the last couple of days and he was afraid if he stayed near them, he'd fall asleep on his feet and Hurley would become even more Papa Bearish. In an effort to speed up being taken to the room where he could be alone for a bit, he rushed getting dressed. Somehow, his t-shirt ended up inside out and backwards.

Ghost noticed the clothing issue, but didn't say anything; and even managed not to smile suspiciously at the kid, even though part of him wanted to tease a bit. Sometimes it was better to just let sleeping bears lie; or leave temperamental children alone. He moved closer to Hurley, knowing as soon as Rapp had his shoes on, the older man would take them to their quarters. He didn't know when Hurley wanted to start addressing his own behavior and actions, but figured it would be good to ask when Rapp wasn't standing there listening in.

Hurley didn't comment on Rapp's clothing either. He let his hand run gently down Ghost's arm before he moved over to unlock the door. "Each of the rooms has a small fridge, so even though we'll be eating later, there are snacks and bottles of water in case you get hungry or thirsty." He led the way out of the room, heading towards the three bedrooms grouped together.

Rapp kept his eyes open, looking at everything and the layout. He'd need the information later when he snuck out. He was grateful that there were snacks and water in his room. It would make it easier to get away since he could take some of it with him when he left.

"Keeping us close, Sir? You aren't afraid I'll turn on you again?" Ghost couldn't help but ask, even though he had no intention of turning on Hurley again. His need for vengeance had died when the bomb exploded, and he realized that Hurley had come and included him in the rescue.

"There's more than one reason to stay close," Hurley replied. He'd seen the scars. He knew what Ghost had told him had happened. He wasn't a stranger to nightmares...to PTSD...and if either of his boys suffered during the night, or any kind of rest, he wanted to be alert to it.

Ghost just nodded, a thoughtful look on his face.

"Are there set rooms, or can we just grab one?" Rapp asked, eyeing the room across from the other two. He figured if he snuck out the window, it would be easier to get away unseen if Hurley or Ghost wasn't facing the same direction. In case they were looking out their window when he ran.

"You two will be taking the rooms next to each other," Hurley answered. "Out of those two, you can figure out which you'd prefer."

Rapp managed to avoid sighing or scowling...barely. He'd have to try and time his exodus when the other two men were asleep. Otherwise, he knew he'd be seen. He moved to take the room closest to the end. At least that way, he might be able to veer toward that end of the house and get into the woods before moving in the direction Ghost might look.

"Thank you, sir..." Ghost said quietly.

Hurley didn't stop Rapp from moving to the room and instead turned to Ghost, gently squeezing his shoulder. "You need to sleep? Or are you ready to start talking?" he asked.

Ghost looked reluctant, but said, "Start talking..."

Rapp disappeared into his room.

Hurley used his hand on Ghost's shoulder to guide his oldest into his own bedroom. "I don't think I need to tell you what's about to happen," he said.

"No, sir. I have it coming. I have worse coming if you gave me what I deserved..." Ghost said quietly. He knew he'd killed many people. The other agents and terrorists, he didn't care about, but there had been innocents that he'd killed in his anger and vengeance fueled rage.

"I'm taking responsibility for you. I'm going to spank you, but you're not due only one," Hurley said. "It isn't about what you did to me...I probably had that coming for believing the reports and not making sure there was actually a body." He was walking to the bed as he spoke, leading Ghost with him.

Ghost blinked and stopped short. "Wait...what?" His voice was one of confusion bordering on dawning horror.

Hurley hadn't really planned on saying those words. It seemed he had less control over himself now...probably due to the events of the past few days. "You were right. I would have come for you. But the reports I had indicated you were dead. I shouldn't have believed them. I know I shouldn't have."

"Wait...wait..wait... You thought I was dead?! That's why you didn't come for me?" Ghost's voice was faint with a tinge of hysteria as he realized his whole reason for his actions was based on a faulty assumption that Hurley hadn't come because he cared more about the mission than him.

"Yeah." The response was simple. Honest. "I still failed you. I shouldn't have accepted that information without undeniable proof." Hurley's hand tightened a fraction on Ghost's shoulder. "I believed you were completely lost." For the first time in a long time, that sense of loss...that pain he'd pushed aside...crept into his voice. The physical pain of the torture had been nothing when compared to the pain of losing his boy.

"I thought...I thought you'd given up on me...decided to let me go..." Ghost whispered, guilt creeping into his own voice as he realized he'd so badly misjudged his father figure's actions. And then... "I let myself turn traitor...turn monster...because...because I didn't trust you had a good reason for leaving me... I... everything I did...!" He choked on the words, feeling sick to his stomach. He felt like he might throw up.

Hurley could never have been called a touchy-feely man...outside of his surrogate son, that was. So, there was no hesitation as he wrapped his arms around Ghost, pulling his boy tightly against his body. "What else could you have assumed? It wasn't as if I could tell you the truth."

"I should have trusted in your love...I should have trusted you...for weeks, I held out, positive you'd come for me...but when you didn't, I assumed the worst. I... I'm so sorry, Dad...I'm the worst son ever..." Ghost spoke softly, but his guilty anguish was clear.

Hurley winced at the reminder of what his son had gone through and tightened his embrace around Ghost. "You suffered too much for it not to affect you. I saw the physical scars. I can see how much you went through. I'm not going to let you go again, son. Before that mission, I planned to retire here...to bring you home with me. That's what this house was for."

"We'll stay here?" Ghost sounded lost, but he didn't pull away or argue. If anything, he slumped against Hurley. He seemed broken and defeated. Finding out everything he'd done had been based on something that wasn't true, that he'd hurt his father over an honest mistake, had torn down every defense he had.

He looked around the room they were now in before beginning to undress. Hurley normally only bared his backside for spankings, unless he'd been wounded. His father always wanted to be certain he could see all wounds, however minor, when punishing him in case his squirming reopened one or in case he was in a bad position and one became irritated. Ghost wasn't overly modest anyway, or bashful about his body, so he'd never questioned it. He just automatically got naked when he was wounded and had a spanking coming to him. That it made him vulnerable and more dependent on his father never occurred to him.

"This is home, son. We're home now." And Hurley didn't try to hide that sense of relief...that he could bring his son home finally. He waited until Ghost was completely naked and then led his son over to the bed, taking a seat and gently guiding him across his lap. "This isn't the only spanking you're due, son," he reiterated. "You're going to be going over my knee every day for the next week...perhaps more."

"Yes, sir..." Ghost's voice caught, but he didn't protest. After everything he'd done? He figured he deserved to die. He wouldn't complain if Hurley spanked him every day for the rest of his life if it helped him atone for all the innocents that had died because of his actions. He lay limp and pliant so Hurley could arrange him however he felt best. His father was very particular about making sure no undue stress would be placed on injuries, but since Ghost's entire body ached, he couldn't really tell on his own how to arrange himself.

Hurley shifted his son enough to make sure Ghost was as comfortable as possible, then lifted his hand and brought it down in a firm, hard smack. It had been a long time since his son had been in his life...even longer since the last time they'd been in this position. But the swats as Hurley settled into a pattern were among the hardest he'd ever given his son.

Ghost let out a tiny gasp as the first swat fell and then clenched his teeth against further gasps and reached down and held onto his father's leg tightly. It had been a long time since he'd been in this position, but he never remembered it being this hard before. Granted, his past misdemeanors had never reached the level of evil that his actions this time had. He didn't deserve anything but the harshest of punishments and while his father was being merciful by spanking him instead of any number of other things he could (and some would argue should) be doing, Ghost couldn't blame him from making the swats hard. He tried to hold still and accept them.

Hurley kept the swats at the same force, going down to Ghost's thighs and then starting over from the top again. It was hard to force himself to punish his son, but it was also true that Ghost had done a lot that was wrong...was responsible for a lot of pain and suffering. Even taking himself out of the equation, Hurley knew there was a huge number of people who had suffered. So, as he swatted, he began to speak. He named the agents Ghost had killed...he described them. Told his son the families they had left.

Ghost had already begun to feel guilty before the punishment, once his rage had cooled and wasn't goading him to bigger and worse action; and finding out he'd gone on his vendetta fueled rampage because of something that wasn't even true had hurt. But hearing the names of the agents he'd killed, for no reason other than they had got in his way of getting to Hurley? Hearing about those left behind to mourn them? It cut deep. All he could feel was guilty about his actions, regret what he'd done and know there was no way to undo it. And he knew that there were even more people that Hurley wasn't naming, simply because he didn't know about them or know their names. How many lives had he torn apart because of his anger? His tears, once they began to fall, weren't quiet in the least. But he forced himself to hold still and accept the punishment and listen. He'd never be able to pay for what he did...the only thing he could do was listen. Memorize the names and remember the faces of those he'd harmed.

Hearing the tears was like another wound dealt to Hurley. He had to force himself to continue, knowing his son was regretting his actions. Knowing how much Ghost had been suffering and knowing that he wouldn't have had to suffer if Hurley hadn't believed what he'd been told. His other hand rested on Ghost's back, careful to avoid the injuries, gently stroking and touching his son. "You can't bring them back, son. But you can do the right thing from now on."

"How?" Ghost's voice shook with the effort he was making to hold still and not squirm or try and throw himself off of Hurley's lap. He needed to be punished, even if his body was protesting him not trying to get away. He suspected that the pain of the spanking wouldn't do much to help ease the pain of his guilty conscience, though. He'd fallen so far. So, so far. "I can't make anything right for them or their families..." he said in a hopeless voice, completely broken.

Hurley wrapped his arm around Ghost's waist, drawing his son in tight against his stomach. "You can do what's right. Even if you don't go back in the field...and believe me, I won't be letting you out of my sight for a long time...you can do things. Like check in on the families. The kids. If they're struggling, help them out. It might not make things right...but it will help." He began focusing more swats to Ghost's sit spots and thighs, putting a fraction more force behind them.

"...Do that in yours or Rapp's name...they wouldn't want my help..." Ghost choked out, his body beginning to jerk despite his attempts to hold still, his legs beginning to twitch with each smack, as if they wanted to kick out and push him away from the pain. His hands were convulsively squeezing his father's leg by this point, each time a smack fell, as he attempted not to throw his hands back and cover his bottom.

"Give me your hands, kid," Hurley directed, noticing the trouble his son was having. He wanted to stop the spanking, but knew he couldn't. Not yet. Not while Ghost was fighting it, however unconsciously.

Ghost whimpered, but obediently released his grip on Hurley's legs and shifted his hands behind his back, just barely refraining from putting them over his bottom. "...Sorry, sir..." He apologized for needing to do so.

Hurley grasped Ghost's hands in a gentle but firm grip, even as he resumed swatting. "I know how much you're tearing up inside, kid. What happened broke you. But I'm going to put you back together again. No matter what it takes. You, me and your little brother. We're in this together now." Rapp might not have reached that point yet, but Hurley was determined he would.

"...'m no good for you...no good 'tall..." Ghost whimpered, beginning to pant softly as he tried not to start sobbing uncontrollably. His whole body was quivering with the effort to hold himself together and take the punishment without causing problems.

"Yeah. You are." Hurley gently squeezed his hands as he continued, "I planned for you to live here. With me. I had the paperwork to make it official...I've still got it. It doesn't matter what we have to deal with or continue dealing with, I'm still your dad. I still want to be your dad."

Ghost closed his eyes tightly and moaned at that information. If he hadn't let his rage consume him...if he'd attempted to find Hurley and talk after he'd escaped...so much lost time...so many lost lives...he could have been home long before he'd destroyed everything and nearly killed his father. "...Don't deserve you..." he cried.

"You might not think you do, but deserved or not, you've got me," Hurley said. "We'll work on everything we need to." He gently squeezed his son's hands as he added, "And we'll make it official. Like it should have been long before now."

Ghost had no idea how they'd make it official when he was going to have to remain in hiding, but he believed his father and he wanted what Hurley was offering more than anything he'd ever wanted. He squeezed his father's hands back and then, unable to fight anymore- his body was worn out from the strain of holding still- he just let himself go limp and begin to sob. "I'm sorry, Daddy...so sorry...can't ever make up for it...can't ever undo it...so sorry...Daddy...please...help me...please, Daddy..."

That, more than anything, made it clear that, no matter what other hurdles they needed to overcome, Ghost was back and secure with him. Hurley wasted no time in gathering his son into his arms and on his lap, hugging him as tightly as it was possible to do without causing him more pain. "I'm here, son. You're not alone. I've got you."

Ghost just clung to Hurley and sobbed, weakly clutching at his father. He was worn out. Strain from everything he'd been doing; his wounds; the poison of his anger draining from him made it impossible for him to do anything but sit limp on his father's lap, snuggling as close as Hurley would allow and just sobbing. "So sorry, Daddy..." he kept whispering. His guilt was still heavy on him, but he let his father see it in the only way he could. Hoping that because Hurley was there, because Hurley had him, eventually, he might find a way to live with himself.

Hurley didn't so much as loosen his hold on Ghost, gently squeezing his shoulder and the nape of his neck. "I know. I know you don't feel able to forgive yourself...that we've got a long way to go for you to start healing...but I forgive you."

Ghost continued to sob, but eventually, the sobs eased into gentle crying. His father's arms and care for him helped the most. He still felt heartsick, going over all the names and faces in his head, but his father had forgiven him. His father still loved him, despite everything he'd done. It helped a little. "...Love you, daddy..." he whispered softly, before he lost the battle against his body's needs and fell asleep in Hurley's arms.


Rapp had gone to the room he'd been assigned and wasted no time in emptying, then repacking his pack. He put in several bottles of water and several snacks from the tiny fridge. It didn't take long before he was ready to go, standing by the window and making sure that he had an idea of the terrain before he crawled out to make his escape. It came as a bit of a shock when he heard the first smack and then another and another, accompanied by some indistinct murmuring. Eyes widening, he stared at the bedroom door before shaking himself and quickly opening the window and climbing out. It looked like he wouldn't have to be worried about Hurley or Ghost hearing him, at least. It seemed that Big Brother was getting his butt roasted. If he didn't leave now, while he had the chance, he'd never get a better opportunity.

He'd quickly climbed down and then headed directly to the woods, not worried about being seen. Hurley and Ghost were too preoccupied for that to happen. It had taken him a bit more time to traverse the woods; by the time he'd cleared them and reached a road, he knew it had to have been a few hours, at least. The moon was bright overhead. Luckily, someone had been driving by and he'd been able to hitch a ride into town. It was at that point all his injuries decided to remind him of their presence. He was tired. More than tired. And he was hurt and bruised. Trying to continue on in his condition was asking for trouble, so he found a tiny little motel on the outskirt of the town and paid for a room on the end furthest from the reception desk. There didn't appear to be many customers, so he felt secure in his belief that no one would notice him. There was only one entrance to the room, which he wasn't happy about, but he didn't think any of his enemies would be looking for him in this location, so he wasn't too worried about it. Locking the door, he quickly stripped for the second time that day and climbed into the bed, not even bothering to dig out his pajamas. Within seconds, he was asleep.


Hurley held his sleeping son on his lap for a few minutes, just touching and stroking him, and then carefully moved Ghost so he was under the blankets, tucking his son in as if he was much younger. Lingering a moment or two to stroke Ghost's hair and to press a kiss to his forehead, he quietly left the room so he could check in on Rapp.

It really shouldn't have come as a surprise that his youngest had sneaked out. It was clear Rapp had gone out the bedroom window, as it was left ajar. Unwilling to just leave Ghost to wake up alone to go after his youngest, Hurley returned to his bedroom and gently stroked his oldest's cheek to wake him.

As tired as he was, it was only a few seconds of having his cheek stroked that Ghost woke. "...Daddy?" he murmured in slight confusion. "What's wrong?" He could tell immediately something was up; Hurley wouldn't have woken him otherwise.

Hurley leaned over and kissed his son's cheek, reluctant to leave his oldest, but not wanting to risk Rapp getting too far away. "Your brother sneaked out. I didn't want you to wake up without me here. I've got a radio on me...the other's next to the bed, so you can easily get hold of me."

Ghost smiled crookedly. "Okay, sir...if you need me..." He left it unsaid that the radio worked two ways. "Go bring baby brother home..." he whispered, before falling into sleep again.

Hurley lingered a tiny bit longer, just enough to reassure himself he had Ghost back and wouldn't lose his son again, and then quickly left, calling in a few contacts he had as he headed out into the terrain.


Tracking Rapp had been easy with the help of Hurley's circle of contacts. He wasn't surprised the kid had holed himself up in a motel room...and he easily got another key by claiming to be the kid's father who was arriving late.

When he got to the room, Hurley quietly let himself inside and then locked the door behind him. He then retrieved Rapp's key, so the kid would have to go through him to get out.

Rapp was extremely tired, and his instincts sensed that Hurley wasn't a danger to his life (although his instincts weren't picking up on the danger to other parts of him). As a result, it took a lot longer than it should have for him to begin stirring. Eventually, though, he was aware enough to realize he wasn't alone and he threw himself off the opposite side of the bed from Hurley.

Hurley raised his eyebrows. "After I treated you, I hope you didn't succeed in opening those wounds." He stood, blocking the door, even though he now carried both of the keys.

"What the fu...," Rapp shook his head and growled. "Dammit, Hurley! If I was sleeping with a gun instead of my knife, you'd be dead now!" He was holding said knife in front of him, but tossed it onto the bed after his protest. Realizing he was naked, he quickly grabbed his jeans from the chair and shoved his legs into them, then pulled his shirt on. He stayed far enough away that Hurley wouldn't insist on checking his wounds again.

"I'm not going to ask what you're doing here. I'm chalking this up to another decision to disobey my orders." Hurley stepped closer to Rapp. "You knew I expected you to stay at the house. Not sneak out."

"You treated my wounds. There wasn't any reason for me to have you stay...you have Ghost to worry about and I have a life..." Rapp waved randomly around on the last word, as if his life was anywhere but where he currently stood. "Besides. You know I'm not all that great with orders... You shouldn't be surprised." He shrugged and gave a big grin. Only his eyes gave away his uncertainty and slight guilt at disobeying.

"I have you to worry about too," Hurley said pointedly. "I know you think you were giving me attitude when you kept calling me 'dad', but you and I both know there's something there."

Rapp frowned uncomfortably. "I called you dad, sure. Cuz ghost called me his little brother. It amused me. I'm a grown up, though. Don't need a father anymore..." he denied.

"Really, kid? Where I'm standing, you've had no one," Hurley said bluntly. "You wouldn't have lived if I hadn't come for you and Ghost. I'm offering you a family. Unconventional? You bet. But I still want you."

"Why the fuck for?!" Rapp blurted. "You said yourself...I've only obeyed one order from you. The rest of the time, I disobey. Why would you want more of that?"

"I don't want you as a trained monkey," Hurley said, with a trace of amusement. "Yeah, we're gonna need to work on you obeying my orders and not getting yourself killed. In fact, we're going to start on that right here and right now." He walked over to the bed, moved the knife onto the small table, and sat down.

Rapp watched with a hint of confusion before he remembered what he'd overheard at the house and his eyebrows shot up into his hairline. "No way! I think it's time I just moved on..." he muttered, grabbing his shoes and heading toward the door before he realized his key was no longer on the dresser. "What...?"

"I have your key, son," Hurley said. "And to get out of this room, you've got two choices. You strip, let me check you over and then bend over my knee for a spanking. Or you successfully convince me you don't deserve a spanking."

"You can't be serious!" Rapp's scoff sounded more nervous than he would have liked. "Why would I strip and let you check me over, let alone put myself over your knee after so you can...can...?" He swallowed and looked away, not able to voice the word.

"So I can spank you?" Hurley finished. "It's not just about spanking you, though. You took off from a house you were safe and could rest in. You ran the risk of reopening wounds that had already been treated. Those are dangerously reckless actions. The actions of someone who thinks it doesn't matter if they live or die. But it does matter."

"I...I know that it matters if I live or die!" Rapp protested weakly, since he knew he didn't really tend to care about that. He was used to taking risks. "I don't need a...a..." He still couldn't say the word. Saying it would make the possibility if it actually happening more real. "I'm an adult. Adults don't get... that... "

"Your brother did." Hurley knew Rapp had more than likely overheard the spanking Ghost had been given. "It might be an unconventional punishment, but it works."

"Well...not like you could punish him more conventionally...you have to keep him hidden..." Rapp shrugged. "This is stupid. I don't want a... that... you may as well let me go and head home. We'll be here forever if you're waiting for me to come to you..."

"I'm not going home without you," Hurley said, without any hesitation. "And the point of a spanking is you don't want it. It wouldn't be a very good punishment if you did." Leaning back slightly, he continued, "I know you feel the same way about me as I do you, kid."

"How would you know that, old man?" Rapp threw back, not actually denying it.

"You saved Ghost," Hurley said. "You had every reason to kill him, to protect yourself, but you didn't. First thing you said to me? 'I brought you back big brother, Dad'."

"It was a joke..." Rapp protested, though his heart wasn't in it. Plus, even he knew making a joke about it didn't make it any less true. Sighing, he went to the wall across from Hurley and slid down it to sit on the floor. He had yet to come up with a reason that would convince the older man that spanking him was unnecessary...but he wasn't about to just give in either. Still...some of his wounds were sore from throwing himself out of bed and he was tired of standing.

"You disobeyed nearly every order I gave you, kid," Hurley pointed out. "You treated your life as if it doesn't matter. I'm not gonna walk away from you, but I know that if I cut you loose, the next time I'd see you would be when you're cold and dead."

"You can't know that..." Rapp blinked at the certainty in Hurley's voice. The older man wasn't budging, but Rapp didn't know how he could possibly give in and submit. To submit the way Hurley insisted would be to admit he needed the older man to step in and take charge of him. That he would accept that. His days of freedom to do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, would be over.

"Yeah, I can. I've seen it in other agents. Not just you," Hurley said. "The ones who lost hope. Who thought their lives didn't matter. It's why I started telling the agents I trained not to expect me to come to them. Because there were too many who didn't want me to save them; and they wouldn't even let me try."

Rapp winced at those words. To be honest, he'd believed the words himself and they hadn't bothered him because he was ready and willing to die. Maybe Hurley had a point. Swallowing, Rapp slumped back against the wall and just stared at Hurley as he thought about what had happened and what his options were.

Hurley held eye contact with the younger man as he said, "I'd lost Ghost. I didn't go after him. I didn't realise he was still alive. When the reports said he died, I decided to stop caring. It was less painful that way. And then you came along and it turned out I no longer had the option to stop caring."

Rapp blinked at the words, licking his lips and opening his mouth to protest...but then closed his mouth again. He could tell Hurley meant every word and he wouldn't cheapen the admittance with one of his typically smart-ass comments. He kept quiet and listened.

Adjusting his position slightly, Hurley continued, "I came after you...I came after both of you...but I would have come for you even if it had just been you on the boat. Losing you wasn't an option. And it isn't an option."

Swallowing hard, Rapp looked up into Hurley's eyes again. The man was sincere. Swallowing again, Rapp asked, in nearly a whisper, his voice rough, "So... you plan to keep following me until I finally come back home?" He winced as he realized he'd given away more than he meant to with the question. He hadn't said, 'until I go back to your home'. Maybe he wanted a father more than he'd wanted to admit, even to himself.

"Yeah. No matter what it takes," Hurley answered. "I want you to come home. To me. To your brother."

Swallowing again, Rapp looked down at his feet. He was tired. He was sore. And he was fairly certain he'd made one of his wounds worse when he'd thrown himself from the bed, if the damp spot on his t-shirt was anything to go by. On top of that, he couldn't come up with any reason that would convince Hurley spanking him wasn't necessary and the old man was more stubborn than Rapp, he knew. They'd be in this room for longer than Rapp would be able to handle with their standoff.

Swallowing yet another time, Rapp stiffly got off the floor and walked toward the bathroom. He left the bathroom door open, even as he removed his jeans again, folding them neatly to sit on the counter. He then turned on the shower and got in, with his shirt on. He'd been sitting on the floor with a sluggishly bleeding wound for over an hour. It'd had time to begin clotting and just yanking the t-shirt off would rip the wound a third time. Hopefully, wetting the shirt first would let him remove it without tearing, at least...even if it started bleeding again.

Hurley stood from the bed and walked to the bathroom, fairly certain he knew why the kid was heading in there. Standing in the doorway, he got out a pair of scissors from the first aid kit he'd had the foresight to bring with him and then spoke quietly. "If you come here, I'll cut the shirt off so it won't stick."

Taking a deep breath to gather the courage to submit to Hurley's care, after fighting him for so long, Rapp turned off the water and stepped over to the older man, turning so the wounded area could be seen and taken care of. He couldn't bring himself to say anything. He was beginning to feel stirrings of guilt and shame.

Hurley began to carefully cut the shirt off Rapp's body. It was wet, which made it easier to gently pull the material free while causing as little pain as possible. But he really wasn't pleased that it had begun bleeding. "Ignoring your wounds isn't acceptable, son." He motioned for Rapp to sit. "It needs stitches."

Rapp winced faintly and looked at the ground, not saying anything. He knew Hurley was right and part of him wanted to apologize for acting like a brat and taking foolish chances; but that would just give the other man a right to claim he'd been right and Rapp needed a spanking. By this point, Rapp was beginning to think maybe he was right; but he wasn't to the point of wanting to admit or accept it.

"Sit down," Hurley directed, not unkindly, as he opened up the first aid kit and removed what he needed. He'd checked the rest of Rapp's wounds, but it was only the one on his chest that had been reopened.

Rapp didn't argue and sat, not able to face the older man. After all the arguing and the sneaking out (which he now could and had to admit was ungrateful and churlish), the fact Hurley was still taking care of him amazed him. "You really are like a dad..." he whispered.

Hurley's hand was as steady and careful as possible as he began stitching the wound up. "It didn't come as a surprise to me that I want you. You're too much like your big brother for it not to speak to me."

"Big brother went off the rails. You gonna be watching me to make sure I don't?" he couldn't help but ask.

"He went off the rails because he was tortured and because I didn't come for him," Hurley replied. "I won't be letting either of you fall into a similar situation."

"So... that's a yes?" Rapp's smile was tiny, amused and, oddly enough, wistful. "...You will be watching me." He glanced up at Hurley through lowered lashes.

"It's a yes, son," Hurley confirmed. "I'll be watching you. Watching out for you. Taking care of you. Far as I'm concerned? You're my kid. You've just got to catch up to what I already realised."

Rapp swallowed and bit his lip. He'd caught up. He just hadn't yet figured out what to do about it. As much as he wanted to remain aloof and rely on no one (you didn't get hurt if you didn't let yourself care), his heart had pretty much already decided that he was going to belong to Hurley. To be his son.

It had occurred to him when he went to take the shower and Hurley had immediately stepped in to help. That's all the older man had been doing since rescuing his ass from blowing up, doing everything possible to help him. And he found he not only appreciated the help, he needed it. He wanted it. Still...

"You still wanna bust my butt..." he muttered under his breath.

Hurley didn't bother pointing out that he didn't 'want' to spank Rapp. He hadn't wanted to spank Ghost, either. Still didn't, even though he firmly believed his oldest needed to be held accountable. "A spanking is over quickly. It hurts, of course, but once it's done, that's it. You get forgiven. You learn from it...and you know how to avoid getting one again in the future."

Rapp hummed slightly. "So... remind me again why I deserve one? Since, ya know...I'm not a kid?" He swallowed and hoped Hurley's reasoning didn't make sense to him, because if it did, it'd be even harder to argue against it.

"You disobeyed every single one of my instructions over the last twenty-four hours," Hurley said. "Only time you listened to me was when I told you to drop the bomb and let me pull you up into the 'copter. A lot of those injuries you have now, you wouldn't have had if you'd trusted me. Then, when I treated you and told you to rest, you decided to sneak out of the safe house and come here, resulting in more strain to your wounds."

"Yeah..." Rapp sighed softly. "...That...that was really bad. Sorry..." Rapp glanced up into Hurley's eyes, so the older man could see the apology was sincere, even if he wasn't cooperating about the punishment. Yet, anyway. A bit of time, having Hurley help him again (after coming after him) and his own common sense pointing out everything he'd gone wrong, and he was beginning to think he deserved a spanking.

As much as it made him feel like a child even contemplating it.

Hurley reached out and lightly touched Rapp's cheek. "Thank you for apologising." He didn't say it wasn't just an apology he was looking for. He'd finished making sure there were no injuries on his son's body and now he picked up the first aid kid and stepped back into the main room, sitting on the bed once more. He'd told his kid what needed to happen.

Rapp bit his lip as Hurley stepped away and went back to the main room. He felt incredibly guilty now, something he hadn't thought he'd be able to feel. And he was feeling uncertain and restless, a strange pulling in his chest that made no sense to him at all.

Standing himself, he took his jeans off the counter and carefully moved them to his bag. No sense putting them back on; Hurley'd seen his bare ass and other parts of him so many times, to rush to put the pants on again now would be as ridiculous as a prostitute playing shy. He took the ruined shirt and tossed it in the trash. And then he was left with nothing for his hands to do, so he started pacing like a caged panther.

Hurley could see Rapp pacing, but he didn't comment on it. He made himself comfortable and watched his son, just as if he was taking in everything about the kid. Learning and observing what he could.

Rapp was in his own head, thinking of what he should do. He wasn't focused on hiding anything, so Hurley would be able to learn probably quite a lot if the man was as good at reading people as the CIA thought. He just continued pacing, stopping in front of the door for a little while, leaning against the wall for another. He lost all track of time. It could have been minutes, it could have been hours, pacing back and forth thinking.

Eventually, though, he knew. He knew, and he made his decision. He was Hurley's. He wanted to go home now. There was only one way to do that, as nervous as it made him. And he had to admit he was nervous. Still...

Swallowing hard, he slowly walked to Hurley, shifting so he was next to the older man's knee. "I... I've never been... spanked... before," he whispered hesitantly, uncertainly, before he carefully lay over Hurley's knee. He was obviously scared.

Hurley gently placed his hand on Rapp's lower back. "You don't have to be scared, son. I've got you." He kept that hand in place, gently rubbing, even as he lifted his other hand and brought it down in a firm smack...though he didn't use anything like the force he had when spanking Ghost.

Rapp couldn't stop the yelp when the first smack landed. He'd already determined that, if he was submitting to this, he wouldn't fight it in any way; what was the point in accepting the punishment and submitting if he wouldn't accept what went with it? Not to mention, if he was accepting Hurley being in charge of him...being his father...then the man deserved his reactions. Deserved to see how he was affected. So, he didn't try and keep the yelp inside.

Hurley made sure to keep his grip on Rapp tight and firm as he settled into a pattern of swats, going down to his son's thighs before starting over from the top. Partway through, he began speaking. "The attitude you've had towards your own safety up until this point isn't acceptable, kid. Even if you're struggling to care about yourself...it's not only you now. You aren't alone. I'm not gonna let you go."

It was a good thing that Hurley kept a tight hold on him, because if he'd had a hard time not yelping, he was having more difficulty not squirming. He felt helpless, vulnerable, exceedingly young and childish and these feelings got stronger and more overwhelming with each swat. By the time Hurley started over and began speaking, Rapp was already shifting and wriggling around like a worm caught on a hook. The words were what started the tears falling.

Hurley didn't so much as loosen his grip on Rapp, making sure his boy's squirming didn't cause any of his wounds to chafe or rub. Completing the second circuit, he began a third, swatting a bit harder and faster. "You're my kid now. And after we're done here, you'll be coming home. With me. I'm going to take you home," he repeated.

He hadn't been fighting the punishment. He hadn't been fighting his responses. Even so, hearing Hurley say he was taking him home? That he was his? He broke inside.

"Y...yessir," Rapp choked out, before going limp and just sobbing. He hadn't thought he'd find family; a father, when he'd taken this assignment. He certainly hadn't expected to want it so badly that being told he had a home now would feel so good that it would hurt. He cried like a baby.

Hurley ended the spanking with two more swats to Rapp's sit spots and then paused to gently move his son into his arms, mindful of the kid's wounds, but holding him close and tight even so.

Rapp just pressed as close to Hurley as possible, gripping onto him as tightly as he could, and continued to sob. It had been a long week...a long night...and he was tired. He was sore. And he felt too young and vulnerable to be able to handle himself and pretend that everything was okay. Because it wasn't. Not really. But now? Now he had Hurley to protect him. He didn't have to pretend.

Tightening his arms around his son, Hurley whispered, "You're not standing alone anymore, kid. I've got you. I'm not letting you go. No matter what happens."

He knew Hurley was trying to help him calm...trying to help him feel better. He forced himself to look into the older man's eyes, so that Hurley knew his response was deliberate and not thoughtless. "I know...Daddy. I'm so sorry I ran and made it hard for you to do that..." he whispered, before choking on another sob and burying his face against Hurley's chest as a fresh round of tears started.

Hurley held on tighter, letting his hand stroke gently and soothingly over Rapp's back. "I know you are, baby boy," he soothed, using a nickname that, at that moment, seemed to fit in with his youngest. "And I've already forgiven you."

Rapp's crying eased slightly at the words of forgiveness, but it was many minutes of snuggling tight to his father and crying before the crying turned into gentle sniffles. Finally, he was able to sit up and wipe his eyes, looking like nothing more than a young kid. A young kid who'd been spanked by their daddy. "...Can we go home now, sir?" he asked in a weary but hopeful voice. "I promise I won't run away from home anymore...I'll be good! Obedient, even!" He spoke earnestly.

"Yeah, son." Hurley stroked his cheek. "Your shirt's not gonna be fit to wear...you can take my jacket." He pressed a kiss to Rapp's forehead. "Even if you're not as good as you want to be, it won't change anything," he promised.

"Thank you for that..." Rapp couldn't help but chuckle slightly. "You know, as much as I want to be good...I'll most likely end up over your knee again..." He had no doubt that, now that he'd submitted and accepted his place in Hurley's life, Hurley wouldn't hesitate to correct him when needed. Standing carefully, he slowly made his way to his bag and grabbed his clothing. When he was completely dressed, sans t-shirt, he looked back up at his father.

Hurley picked up his jacket and put it on Rapp, buttoning it up so that he was completely covered. "Let's go home, baby boy."

Rapp blushed at the name, but couldn't help but smile bashfully. "Yes, daddy...I'm ready to go." He grabbed his bag and waited for Hurley to open the door and lead him out.

Hurley wrapped his arm around Rapp's shoulders, guiding his son out of the room and out of the motel, heading to his vehicle. He opened the passenger side and helped Rapp inside, then got into the driver's seat and drove them both home.


Ghost had slipped in and out of sleep from the moment Hurley had left to retrieve his baby brother. He heard when the vehicle pulled in and quickly got up, heading toward the entryway to meet his family.

Parking just outside the house, Hurley got out of the vehicle and then moved round to help Rapp out, knowing, despite the treatment, his youngest would still be quite stiff and sore. He kept hold of Rapp as he led him into the house and wasted no time in holding his other arm out to Ghost.

"Welcome home, Dad...baby brother..." Ghost moved under Hurley's arm.

Rapp snorted. "Thanks...but what's with both of you calling me baby?" He grinned. "I know I'm younger than both you old geezers, but I'm not that young..." he teased.

Hurley wrapped his other arm just as tight and securely around Ghost. "You've got a lot to learn, baby boy," he replied. "And you are my youngest."

"Yes, sir!" Rapp smiled and snuggled close. "Plan to learn whatever you wanna teach me..."

"Good." Hurley grinned and then said, "But for right now...I think sleep and then food is in order for all of us."

"Bed's still warm. Junior going to be joining us?" Ghost asked conversationally, no doubt that he at least would be staying in Harley's room.

Rapp blinked at the question and glanced at Hurley, a touch of guilt crossing his face. He looked at the ground, realizing suddenly that his continual disobedience and lies may have made it impossible for his new-found father to trust him. He hadn't exactly made it easy for the older man to trust he would stay where he was told, especially after running tonight, and he suspected the older man wouldn't get much sleep if Rapp wasn't sleeping right next to him. But he couldn't see how there would be enough room...and he didn't particularly want the other two men to hear his nightmares either.

"Yeah." Hurley gently squeezed Rapp around the waist. "We're gonna be sharing. Bed's plenty big enough and it wouldn't be the first time. Means I can respond faster if needed," he added; more for Rapp's sake.

Rapp nodded hesitantly. "I... are you sure?" His voice was hesitant. "I sometimes have nightmares...they may keep you awake..." This time, his voice was embarrassed, almost ashamed.

Ghost smiled. "You wouldn't be the first, baby brother..."

"Means you'll be with us already and I can take care of you, baby boy," Hurley said, without any form of hesitation.

Rapp blushed, the two men referring to him as baby making him feel exceedingly young and childish. He was surprised that he liked the feeling. "Okay..." he said, in a tiny voice. He didn't bother asking if Hurley was sure. He knew the older man wouldn't lie about wanting him in the room with them.

"We can get something to eat after you've both slept...unless either of you are hungry now," Hurley added, looking them both over carefully.

"No, sir. I can wait till after sleeping..." Ghost responded.

"Me too, daddy..." Rapp blushed as he slipped and used the more childish form of address. Being called baby repeatedly was putting him into a more vulnerable mindset and he couldn't seem to help gravitating toward the man who would provide protection.

Hurley kept his arms tightly around his sons as he guided them into the bedroom. Once there, he made sure they were both comfortably settled before he joined them.


Ghost was surprised, though maybe he shouldn't have been, that they had slept through the rest of the night without waking. When they did wake, Rapp had quickly headed to shower, a blush on his face as if he had done something wrong by sleeping in the same bed as his family. He himself got up, but didn't change out of the jogging pants and undershirt he wore. They were comfortable against his wounds and he had no intention of leaving the house, so staying in his sleepwear would be acceptable until Hurley said otherwise.

Waking up early as well, Hurley quickly got washed up. "We've got enough food in for the rest of the week, but I want to head into town to get you and your brother some more clothes," he said. He actually had some of Ghost's clothes there, but was fairly certain enough time had passed that they wouldn't fit his eldest.

"Yeah...okay, dad. Is the kid going with you or staying with me?" Ghost asked, as he got out the eggs and a skillet and began to make breakfast. "You know what I like, but I can give you my sizes..."

"Yeah, giving me your sizes would be better," Hurley agreed. "I can probably guess, but I'd rather you be comfortable." He began to put out plates and cutlery as he added, "As for your brother, I think it'd be better if I keep him close to me."

"Yeah." Ghost looked up at that, before glancing toward the bath. "I think he's having a little trouble adjusting to the new dynamics in his life..." he said softly.

"It's not so much a surprise," Hurley commented. "You had trouble adjusting at first too." He left unsaid that he'd been concerned his oldest would have trouble going back. It wouldn't have changed anything...but he still would have been ready.

"True..." Ghost said quietly. He began to put the eggs he'd prepared on the plates. A few minutes later, he asked, "What time will my spanking be tonight? I... I know you like schedules, so I'm guessing whatever time you choose tonight will be the time it is every night till you think I don't need them anymore..." His voice was matter of fact and bland, so if he was nervous or upset at the fact he'd be spanked again...or relieved...it wasn't obvious.

Rapp came in at that moment and overheard; his eyes went wide and he gave Hurley a nervous glance. Did he have more spankings coming to him as well?

Hurley noticed his youngest come inside the room and he walked over to Rapp, gently and reassuringly squeezing his shoulder, even while he answered Ghost's question. "After we've eaten. Eight."

Ghost nodded, not phased in the least that Rapp had overheard. The kid would find out soon enough when he heard it happening, after all. "Bed after? Or will I be allowed to stay up?"

"Wait...what?" Rapp couldn't stop from blurting. "You're going to get another spanking...are even scheduling it...and all you have to ask is if you get to stay up after?!"

Ghost smiled faintly. "I did a lot of bad things, baby brother. Even before you got involved. One spanking was never going to cut it... I asked about bed time because generally, when dad spanks... nine times out of ten, you'll be sent to bed after. Since I'm to be spanked every night until I've...reached the point I need to, I needed to know if I'd also be going to bed right after because I'll need to make sure anything I have to get done in a day is done before eight."

Rapp looked at Hurley. "You're really...?"

"Nine times out of ten, an immediate bed time is because getting spanked tends to tire you out," Hurley said. "You won't have to go to bed straight after unless you've reached that point...which I will be the judge of." Gently squeezing Rapp's arm, he added, "Spanking you...either of you...isn't about revenge or hurting you, baby boy. It's about wiping the slate clean. Letting you forgive yourself. And it creates a much closer, personal relationship that other forms of punishment don't allow for."

Rapp wrinkled his nose, but he didn't argue. It was obvious by the way Ghost was acting that he was okay with it. From appearances, his older brother actually wanted it. "You're okay with it..."

"I'm more than okay with it. I need it," Ghost answered, even though it hadn't been a question. "Eat up. Dad's taking you into town to get us clothes." He grinned and handed a plate to each of the other men before taking his own.

Hurley took his plate and sat. "You want me to get either of you anything as well as clothes?" he asked his sons. "We can make a list."

"Yeah...there's probably a few personal items I'll need. I'll get that list to you along with my sizes." Ghost smiled and began to eat.

Rapp was quiet, thinking about everything that had happened and that was going to happen.

Hurley nodded. "Good." He kept up a light conversation as they ate and then helped with cleanup before he gently grasped Rapp's shoulder. "Ready to go, baby boy?"

"Sure thing, daddy..." He winced as he continued to call Hurley by the more childish term. He'd figured he'd call the man dad...like Ghost did...but he was feeling uncertain and unsettled and being called baby... He hoped it didn't bother Hurley, but he'd have to make special effort not to slip up in public.

Hurley snagged the list from Ghost and then pulled his oldest into a tight hug. "I love you. Make sure you stay safe. Don't leave the house unless it's an emergency."

"I'll be here when you get back and won't set foot outside," Ghost promised, hugging him back.

Rapp smiled at his brother and followed Hurley to the car.

Hurley led his youngest to the car and waited for Rapp to get in before he did as well. "You figure out anything you want?"

"Yeah...I've got a list too...even though I'll be there and can just get it..." Rapp smiled crookedly, before looking out the window thoughtfully.

"Something on your mind, son?" Hurley asked, as he began to drive.

"You're going to spank him again..." Rapp blurted. "...And he wants you to! Says he needs you to..." He wrinkled his nose. "And you said it's a way to bring him back to you and make your bond closer..." he huffed. "I guess I don't understand how that works...and don't see how it's fair. I mean...yeah, what he did was horrible. But some of what I did was just as bad...just because I was on your side when I did it...at least you weren't expecting anything good from him, since it was clear he was against you. Unlike me, who was supposed to be on your side and just ignored anything you told me if I didn't want to do it..."

"It wasn't just about what he did but about what he became," Hurley said. "I spanked you last night. Putting aside the fact that it hurt...how else did you feel?"

"Like...like I belonged with you. Like you had every right to spank me and once it was over, like maybe things would be okay and I... I could come home..." Rapp whispered, then bit his lip.

"Then I don't think you need me to explain what I meant when I said spanking's a way to pull your brother closer to me," Hurley commented. "Are you worried you might end up going down the same path?"

"The only reason I haven't already is the CIA grabbed me mid-revenge run and redirected my activities. Otherwise, you probably would have been going after me next," Rapp reluctantly admitted. "Everything he did...I'd planned on doing. Yeah, it was aimed against enemies of the U.S., but my motives were entirely personal, and I didn't care who got hurt if they were in my way..."

Hurley nodded. "So do you need something similar from me? For me to pull you firmly to me, so you don't go off the rails?"

"I don't want to be spanked every night!" Rapp whimpered, not answering the question exactly; although the fact he didn't say no was probably an answer in itself.

"That's not what I have in mind," Hurley answered.

"What do you want to do?" Rapp asked quietly...curiously. "I... I'd rather you be able to stop me before I even come close to coming off the rails than you have to pick up the pieces after..." he admitted.

Hurley was quiet for a moment, considering what he was going to say, then spoke. "Every day, while I'm spanking Ghost, you'll stand in the corner. You don't move or come out until I say so."

"Stand in the corner?" Rapp blinked. "Like...to think or something?" He didn't question that it was too childish or required him to submit. He was already past the point of feeling like a child in Hurley's presence and he pretty much submitted to the older man when he laid down over his knee. "This is about me obeying you no matter if I think it's necessary or not?" he asked, realizing one of the things it was he needed to learn.

"Exactly," Hurley replied. "So moving out of the corner before I tell you that you can will earn you a trip over my knee."

Rapp swallowed and nodded rapidly before verbally answering. "Okay, daddy..." He winced again. Why couldn't he just call the man father? Or dad?

Hurley reached out to gently stroke Rapp's cheek. "You don't have to worry about what you call me, baby boy."

"I'm not actually a baby..." Rapp whispered uncertainly. Why was he having such difficulty in, if not acting as Hurley's equal, at least acting like his adult child instead of a child, child?

"No, but you are my son," Hurley answered. "My youngest son. Does it really bother you if I call you baby boy?" he asked.

Rapp started to say yes, but then paused and shook his head. "No, sir..." He sighed. "...It makes me feel safe and cared about and... loved." He blushed. "I just don't understand my reaction to it. Ghost is your son and he calls you dad and acts completely adult with you...even when talking about his future punishment. You call me baby boy and all of a sudden, I'm incapable of being a grown up..." He pouted.

"Ghost's fallen easily back into our old relationship...but this is still new to you," Hurley pointed out gently. "If it doesn't bother you and makes you only feel positive emotions, do you really need to worry about it?"

"What if I slip up? When it isn't just us? I mean, unless we're on a mission and our cover is being father and son...I could screw things up.!" Rapp bit his lip. "I can't seem to get ahold of myself or my feelings or our new relationship and I know it hasn't been long and maybe all I need is time, but I don't want to be responsible for anyone else dying because I couldn't react the way I needed to..." His eyes became shadowed, as he thought of his fiancé.

"I don't think you give yourself enough credit, kid," Hurley said. "Outside of the three of us, you and Ghost will still be my sons. So even if you call me 'dad' outside, it won't mess things up. And calling you baby boy is private. Personal."

"You believe I'll do okay?" Rapp asked hopefully...almost desperately.

"I think you'll do better than okay," Hurley promised. "Don't worry about acting younger when you're with me and Ghost. Chances are doing so will relieve tension. Make it easier for you to take control in certain areas when you're able to give it up in others."

Rapp thought about that. "Okay..." he said softly, his body relaxing and relief in his voice. Hurley had no reason to lie to him. Maybe everything would be okay.

Hurley parked the car and smiled warmly at his son. "Let's go get what we need." He got out of the car and waited for Rapp to join him.


It hadn't taken long to get the needed items. The lists Ghost had given helped immensely. Rapp just got the same for himself in his own size and favorite colors, so he didn't need to waste time looking. When they arrived back home, he'd quickly helped carry the bags in, then gone in to start fixing their lunch, since Ghost and Hurley had taken care of breakfast.

Ghost watched calmly. "He seems more at ease..." he whispered to his father.

Hurley nodded. "We talked about a few things. I told him it doesn't matter if he acts younger when he's at home with us." Gently squeezing Ghost's arm, he added, "When I spank you later, he's going to be standing in the corner."

Ghost blinked at that. "He got into trouble while shopping?" He sounded surprised; mostly because Rapp's demeanor didn't give the appearance of him being in trouble.

"No. It's not about being in trouble. It's about teaching...training," Hurley answered.

"He wanted that?" Ghost's eyes took on a sad sheen. "Doesn't want to be like big brother...smart kid." He sighed softly. "He going to be in the same room when...?"

"Yeah." Hurley stroked his oldest's cheek. "I'm working on things with both you and him. It's about healing and learning. Not just about punishment. And speaking of healing...I've got paperwork for both of you now."

"How will we make it official? I'm supposed to be dead..." Ghost wasn't arguing against it. He just needed to know how his father planned to handle that wrinkle.

"By making your identity that of being my son," Hurley answered. "Ghost is dead...Alastor Hurley is living with his father."

Ghost blinked. "I… I like it..." He smiled slowly, his eyes crinkling in amusement. "Leave it to you to pick a name that means something similar to 'ghost'." He grinned.

At that moment, Rapp came out of the kitchen. "Lunch is ready!"

Hurley smiled at both his sons and used his grip on Ghost's shoulder to gently guide him into the dining room. "We were just discussing the official adoption paperwork...or new identity paperwork, for your brother," he informed his youngest.

Rapp blinked. "You're making me legal?" He sounded surprised. "What's big brother's identity going to be?" He caught on to the last announcement as he was finishing his first question.

"Alastor Hurley," Hurley answered. "And yeah. I'm making it legal with you too. In every way possible. But I didn't figure you'd want to change your last name."

"Maybe not right now. Since I still work for the CIA, apparently. They just called me while I was in the kitchen," Rapp admitted. "They have an op they wanted me to go on. I told them they had to clear it with my handler..." He grinned impishly.

"Give me the details they gave you and I'll figure out what to tell them," Hurley said. "You're still recovering, so no ops until you're fully healed in any case."

"I wrote it down." Rapp grinned, handing Hurley a piece of paper along with his plate with lunch. "I knew you'd want to know."

Hurley nodded, taking the paper and scanning it after he'd sat and begun eating. "Whether you choose to change your last name or not, I'm making you officially my son, so it's going to become known anyway."

"In that case, I'd like to add your last name. My last name can become a middle name..." Rapp said hesitantly.

Hurley smiled, clearly very happy to hear that. "I'm glad you want to do that," he said, simply and sincerely.

Rapp's uncertainty became confidence at Hurley's happiness. "Me too..."

Ghost was busy eating as he listened to his family talk. When a free moment occurred, he slipped in, "Dad just named me. From now on, I'm Alastor."

Hurley gently squeezed his sons' hands. "Once we've finished eating, we can finalise the paperwork," he said.


Ghost stared at his copy of the paperwork for what had to be the thousandth time. Oh, who was he kidding? After signing and receiving their copies of the legal documents making them Hurley's, he and Mitch (time to use baby brother's given name, he thought) had done nothing but stare at the evidence of Hurley's love for the remainder of the afternoon. Even watching the movie together, he'd spent more time looking at the document. He didn't even remember what they'd watched.

Dinner hadn't been much different either. They'd put the documents aside so as not to spill food on them, but as soon as eating and cleanup were finished, they both held them again. It was Mitch that finally admitted they couldn't keep doing that.

"Daddy?" Mitch asked quietly. "Do you have a safe where we can put these?"

"Yeah. There's a safe in my bedroom. They'd be protected there," Hurley said. "And I'll give you the combination." He left unsaid that that meant his sons could get them out whenever they wanted to...whenever they needed to. It had been hard for him to put aside his own copies that had ensured his sons were as his as it was possible to be.

Ghost...Alastor...smiled. "Let's do that now. It's almost eight and, well..." He paused.

Mitch bit his lip at that. "Do we have to?" he asked softly.

"It's non-negotiable," Hurley answered gently. He stood up and held an arm out to each of his sons, so he could guide them to his bedroom.

Alastor quickly moved to Hurley's side. Mitch took only a little longer; he was still adjusting to the new family dynamic and his place in it.

Hurley wrapped an arm each around them and headed to the room. He only released them long enough to open the safe, making sure they could see the combination, and allowed them to put their copies of the paperwork inside...while he did the same with his own.

Both younger men quickly put the documents in place, making certain they were as secure and protected as any money or jewel. Once stored, they both turned toward their father.

"Which corner?" Mitch finally asked quietly.

Hurley made sure the safe was locked and then gently grasped Mitch's shoulder, guiding his youngest towards the corner closest to the bed, so he could see him. "Stand here. Don't move until I tell you." He gently squeezed Mtich's shoulder and then returned to Alastor. Taking a gentle hold of him, he moved over to the bed and sat, guiding his oldest son across his knee.

Mitch closed his eyes tightly, tensing visibly. He hoped he'd be able to hold still and not move. It would be difficult, though. Even knowing the reason for Alastor being punished again, and knowing his older brother wanted and needed to be, Mitch felt the urge to argue with their father and try and convince him not to do it.

Ghost saw his brother tense and gave a sad smile in his direction, but he willingly went with Hurley and lay over his knee, reaching down and holding onto the older man's leg. He didn't say anything. They all knew why he was in this position and Hurley knew he was sorry. This was to keep him on the right path.

Hurley shifted his son's shirt up and out of the way, so his non-dominant hand could rest on the bare skin of Ghost's back and then tugged his pants and underwear down. Not wasting any time...he wanted to get the spanking over with and hold onto his sons...he lifted his hand and brought it down in the first firm swat, nowhere near as hard as the smacks he'd delivered the previous day, but definitely enough to sting.

Ghost managed not to make much of a sound besides a quick inhalation of breath, but he couldn't stop his automatic squirm. The spanking the night before had been hard, and he was still a little sore from it, so the fresh smack immediately reignited the sting. It didn't help that Mitch whimpered at hearing the sound of the smack. A quick glance at his baby brother showed him that Mitch was huddled in on himself, pressing himself into the corner tightly as if he was struggling to stay there. He squeezed his father's leg, but didn't otherwise draw attention to the situation.

Hurley's grip was tight on his son and he gave a gentle, reassuring rub to Ghost's back even as he settled into a pattern of swats down to Ghost's thighs. Starting over from the top, he began to speak. "You took yourself away from me. Not when you were captured, but when you came back. When you chose revenge because you assumed I would have left you to be wounded and tortured."

This time, Ghost was the one whimpering. The words cut deep and as soon as Hurley said them, Alastor knew it wasn't going to be more than a couple of minutes (if that long) before he'd be sobbing in contrition. He squirmed a bit more.

Hurley completed the second circuit and began a third, still holding Ghost tightly, going a fraction harder and faster. "I know I didn't tell you I was going to retire. I know I didn't tell you that I was going to bring you home with me...but I thought you knew. That you knew the only reason I didn't come for you was because I thought I'd lost you." He took a deep breath. It was hard not to get emotional, but this was about pushing his son to the point he needed to be. Healing. Working through the pain like drawing poison from a wound. He didn't say that the bodies of Ghost's team had been found; that what had been done to them was so horrible, Hurley had had nightmares himself almost every night that tormented him with what his son must have gone through.

And with that, Ghost slumped and began quietly sobbing, the tears a catharsis even as they let his father know he'd been heard. "I'm sorry, daddy," he choked. "I didn't trust your love... and should have trusted your love..."

Mitch, hearing his brother's broken words, clenched his fists and swallowed hard, tears streaming down his own face. It was becoming more difficult to stay in position, but he needed to do it. He needed to obey. He just hoped Hurley let him out soon.

Stopping the spanking, Hurley didn't waste any time in gathering Ghost into his arms, hugging his son tightly to himself. After so many years of his oldest being lost, holding on was like a soothing balm to his own guilt and the memory of that painful loss. Noticing the position of his youngest, he carefully situated Ghost and spoke quietly. "Come here, baby boy."

Ghost just clung to his father, relieved that after years of separation and all that he had done wrong, he was able and allowed to come home.

Mitch heard his father call him and wasted no time in leaving the corner and quickly making his way to the older man. It was obvious he'd been crying...still was...and he wiped futilely at his face.

Hurley didn't waste any time in wrapping his other arm around Mitch, drawing both his sons in so he could hug them tightly to himself.

"I'm sorry, daddy..." Mitch whispered. If he was more obedient, he wouldn't have made things more difficult for his father. He could see now that it had already been terribly difficult as it was. He was just glad Hurley had been able to bring his big brother home again.

"We both are..." Ghost whispered, having finally got his crying under control. With a tiny hiss, he pulled his clothing back into place, then shifted enough that Hurley could pull Mitch onto his other knee. Baby brother looked like he needed a good snuggle.

Wrapping his arms more tightly around both of their waists, Hurley pulled both his boys fully onto his lap. "I've forgiven you both," he whispered. "I'm just happy I was able to bring you both home."

"Even if you gotta teach me stuff I should already know? Like obeying you..." Mitch snuggled close and sniffled.

"Dad's one of the best teachers around, baby brother." Ghost smiled, snuggling a bit closer himself. "You'll do fine..." he encouraged.

"You'll get the hang of it, baby boy," Hurley promised. "Even if you slip up, we'll get past it. Even if I have to punish you, it won't change anything." He tightened his arms around both of them. "Keeping you both close last night was one of my better ideas," he commented. "I slept better than I had in a long time." That didn't mean he wasn't likely to wake up if one of them slept badly...but since he'd lost Ghost, his sleep had been spotty at best.

"Me too..." Ghost admitted quietly.

"Me three..?" Mitch also admitted, with a tiny snort.

"Good." Hurley pressed a kiss to each of their heads. "Before bed, I want to check both of your wounds...in case I need to change bandages." He'd watched both carefully through the day to make sure they didn't do anything too taxing, but he wanted to make sure.

"Yes, sir..." Ghost snuggled a bit more, then carefully stood up and began undressing so he could go take a shower. He'd submit to the checkup before dressing in clean pajamas.

Mitch didn't say anything, just continuing to snuggle close while his brother got undressed and disappeared to the shower. Sighing softly, he stood and took off his clothes as well, then held still so Hurley could check over his wounds. "It was really hard not moving," he admitted with a sigh. "If I'm finding it difficult to obey simple orders when you're watching me...I'm afraid to find out what I'll do when you give me harder orders and aren't right beside me."

"It'll be hard at first. You're not used to it." Hurley began to carefully check his youngest over, changing the bandages he needed to and making sure the stitches were clean and not inflamed. "And even despite your best efforts...you're gonna end up moving sooner or later." He spoke simply and matter-of-factly. "It isn't a bad thing if you do. Like with all training...there are gonna be setbacks."

"And when I move, I get spanked..." Mitch's voice was just as matter-of-fact. Hurley wasn't holding anything back...he'd be just as open. "I don't like spankings..." He pouted, but didn't whine or beg for it never to happen again. Hurley had been right about one thing. As soon as he'd been spanked by the older man, he'd felt closer to him. Felt liked he belonged with him...to him. Felt like his son. He may not have liked the spanking, but he liked the results after.

"I know." Hurley finished checking the wounds and stitches and gently stroked Mitch's cheek. "But that's the point of them. You don't like them, so you try and avoid them. And the pain from that doesn't touch on other pain," he added, eyes shadowed and haunted as he remembered the scars that covered his oldest's body.

"I know, daddy..." Mitch slanted his face into Hurley's hand, closing his eyes and focusing on the caressing. He had his own share of painful scars and he knew Hurley likely did as well. "I didn't like it, but...I needed it. " He sighed at the admittance.

Hurley continued gently stroking his youngest's cheek. "It pulls you towards me. Makes me less likely to lose you," he said softly. "And we'll work on it as much as we need to...until following my orders is as instinctual to you as breathing."

Mitch smiled crookedly. "Hopefully sooner than later..." He impulsively threw his arms around his father and held tight before stepping back and giving a sheepish look. "Should I put on some of those pajamas you bought me?"

"That's what they're for, baby boy." Hurley's voice was gently teasing. If his contacts in the CIA could see him now, they would hardly recognise him. Losing Ghost had thrown him into dark depression that only throwing himself headlong into work had enabled him to stay alive.

Mitch's grin turned even more sheepish, but before he could retort with his own teasing, Ghost came into the room, a towel draped low on his hips and using another to dry his hair. "I made sure to leave some hot water for you, dad..." he said, as he walked over to his family.

Mitch stepped back so Hurley could check Ghost over and pulled his pajamas out of the bag. He hadn't put anything away yet.

"Thanks." Hurley waited for Ghost to finish drying himself and then began to check over his oldest's wounds. He was as careful and gentle as he had been with Mitch, so he didn't cause any pain.

Ghost held still, but as Hurley took care of him, a thoughtful look crossed his face. "When you've done your shower, I want to check your wounds. Make sure everything is okay..." he finally said, though it was more like he was asking permission. And guilt was clear in his voice.

"Okay, son," Hurley replied, finishing checking and rebandaging what needed to be before he gently stroked Ghost's cheek. "You get into your pajamas. I'll only be a few minutes."

Ghost nodded and smiled crookedly at his father before going and grabbing a pair of his own pajamas from the bag. He couldn't help but laugh that they were the same as Mitch's.

Hurley didn't take long in the shower, only a few minutes, before he came out just finishing off drying himself. He smiled at the sight of his sons in matching pajamas, but didn't make a comment.

Ghost grabbed the first aid kit and moved to Hurley's side, carefully going over the wounds. "Some of these should have had stitches..." he said guiltily. "I'll put some in where it isn't too late to do so..."

Rapp bit his lip. "Can I help?"

"Yeah...you can get me warm water. Some of the worst wounds were on his back and he couldn't reach those...I should have helped with them last night..." The guilt in his voice was thick.

Hurley held still, so he didn't dislodge Ghost checking him over, but at the words and the sound of guilt in his son's voice, he carefully placed a hand on his oldest's shoulder. "I've showered, so they'll be clean. And last night, I don't think any of us were thinking clearly." His voice was low and reassuring.

"I'm the one who put the wounds there..." Ghost swallowed. "Maybe they are clean, but...I just need to make sure..."

Rapp returned with warm water and a washcloth.

"Son, I pushed all of your buttons." Hurley's voice was gentle, but carried a wry note. "Most of what you did to me, I goaded you into doing. And trust me when I say I've felt far worse emotionally than you did to me physically."

"Also thanks to me..." Ghost sighed. "I'm putting in a few stitches, dad..." he added softly.

Rapp frowned. "You wouldn't have even got caught and needed to goad him if I'd obeyed you..." His own guilt was palpable.

"No, son...not thanks to you," Hurley said softly. "The pain I'm talking about was when I thought I'd lost you...that you were dead. I don't know if you know what was done to your teammates...but their bodies were found." His voice was very gentle...he was very careful not to go into details about what had been done to them. In case Ghost hadn't been forced to witness that. He relaxed himself enough to make it easier for his eldest to put the stitches in, but responding to his youngest, Hurley held an arm out to Mitch so his other son would come into touching distance. "I don't think you were expecting things to go that far south."

Ghost inhaled quickly at his father's words. "They showed me pictures..." he admitted. "Told me that they offered to exchange me for one of their friends, but that they were turned down. It was a lie, I see now..."

Rapp moved into his father's grip. "No... I didn't. But it's a reason I should have obeyed. Among many."

"If the details of that trade had been told to me, I would have gone off the grid to make it happen." Hurley spoke with complete and utter sincerity. If it had got him his son back, he would have gone dark. Would have done whatever it took. He gently wrapped his arm around Rapp's shoulders, careful not to dislodge his oldest. "We're gonna work on you obeying me, baby boy."

"Maybe it's better you didn't know, then. Going dark...I don't want a target on your back." Ghost winced at the thought before putting the last bandage on. "All done, sir."

"Thank you, daddy..." Rapp said softly. "Thank you for teaching me."

"Best teacher in the world." Ghost smiled at his brother.

"I would have taken the target on my back to bring you home to me." Hurley reached out and snagged Ghost into the hug as well. "Teaching you both's part of my job now. Along with taking care of you...looking out for you..."

Rapp carefully wrapped his arms around Hurley and hugged tightly.

Ghost wrapped his arms around both men. "I'd be happy staying here forever being taught by you," he murmured.

Hurley kissed both of their heads. "Good, because I wasn't kidding when I said you were staying here for the forseeable future." He held them until he heard his phone start ringing and then moved over to answer. "Yeah. Hurley here." His voice was abrupt and business-like. He listened and then glanced over at his sons, eyes lingering on Rapp for a moment or two, before he said, "Yeah, okay. I'll come pick her up." A pause, then, "I don't care about protocol. She hasn't got any family left." He was quiet for a few more moments and then, "Yeah, you're not gonna find any trace of his body. He was right in the centre of the blast, from what I was told. Okay? You put that in the report." He listened for a moment or two longer and then hung up.

Rapp had been listening attentively and, at Hurley's words, had an anxious look on his face. "Who did they find? I'm assuming you told them Alastor died? But who are you picking up?"

"Annika," Hurley replied. "That was one of my contacts at the CIA. They picked her up right after I took after the two of you. Took her to hospital."

"Annika is alive?" Rapp sounded shocked.

Hurley nodded. "I know she doesn't have any family left. I also know you and she grew close over the past few days." He looked at both his sons. "Do you want a sister?" he asked them outright.

Ghost blinked. "I'm okay with it..." He shrugged faintly. "You sure she will be, though?" He sounded hesitant.

Rapp just had an odd look on his face. He wouldn't mind a sister; but Hurley hadn't been wrong when he'd said they'd got close. He suspected his father didn't realize how close.

Hurley noticed the odd look on his youngest's face, but didn't comment on it, even if he was starting to suspect the two of them had become much closer than he'd initially been aware of. "I thought I could pick her up on my own...talk to her about what she wants. And if she does, we can go from there," he commented.

"Probably better that way. Give her a heads up about me so she isn't caught flat-footed." Ghost was resigned, if a little hopeful. He had too much blood on his hands to expect everyone would be as forgiving as his father and brother.

"Okay, daddy..." Rapp quickly agreed. He wasn't sure how he'd face her after leaving her for dead. He needed time to wrap his head around it...and also readjust how he viewed her.

"I've got my cell with me. Make sure you call if you need me. For anything. Don't leave the house unless it's an emergency." Hurley gave them both tight hugs and then quickly pulled his clothes on, though he was careful not to pull any of the stitches.

"When do you think you'll be back?" Rapp asked hesitantly.

"It'll be a few hours," Hurley answered. "I've got to make some calls, but I'll do that along the way. If you get tired, you can go to sleep in here. I'll just get in between you when I come home."

"Sure thing, dad. We'll be fine. Go get little sister..." Ghost smiled.

"I love you both." Hurley gave them another hug and then left the house, getting in the car. As he drove to the hospital, he made some calls...waiting for information as he drove along.


By the time Hurley reached the hospital, he was angry...or, more accurately, furious. He forced that down as he got out of the car and headed inside the building, making his way to Annika's room on the second floor to the elevator. He knocked once on the door to announce his presence and then stepped into the room.

Annika glanced over. "You made it out..." She sounded happy. "...Mitch?"

"Wounded, but recovering at home," Hurley said, stepping over to the bed. "I'm here to take you as well. How are you feeling?"

"You will take me from this place? They will allow it?" She sounded skeptically hopeful. "I feel as if I had been shot...among other things. But it is better than feeling nothing. I had thought I'd die."

"From about this point on, I don't give a damn what they'll allow or won't." Hurley's comment was more muttered to himself and he added, at a normal volume, "You'll still need to rest and recover, but you can do that at home instead of here." Like he had with Mitch, he didn't call it his home.

Annika's eyebrow rose at the mutter, but she chose to focus on the offer. "Thank you..." she said quietly.

Hurley offered his hand, in case she needed the support to lever herself from the bed. "If you're hungry, we can grab food on the way back."

"I do not have much of an appetite. I would like to get out before the nurses return and try to stop me, though..." Annika gave a mischievous grin.

Hurley helped her to stand from the bed and then picked up her clothes that had been left on the chair, handing them to her and then turning his back so she could get dressed. "There are some things we need to talk about, but we'll do that in the car."

"Do you think I am in danger?" she asked softly, quickly dressing, then moving close to him. She might be able to fight, if she had to, but she knew she was in no real condition to protect herself.

It was automatic for Hurley to wrap an arm around her shoulders to support her. He'd adjusted quickly to seeing her as his...and it was second nature to protect her. "No more than any of us. The bomb exploded, but that happened out in the water." He steered her from the room and to the elevator, taking it down so they could leave the hospital and get into the car.

"What if they send police after me? I didn't discharge..." Annika wasn't certain why they were doing things under the board. Unless there were people who would come after her if they knew she was leaving. She couldn't help but press closer, seeking reassurance.

"I took care of it." Hurley kept hold of her until they reached the car and then he helped her into the passenger seat before moving round to take the driver's. "There's no physical danger. I wanted to get you out before the CIA got to you. Or any of the other organisations. I want to bring you home. With me. To my sons."

"Your sons?" Annika asked innocently. "Do you wish for me to be a nanny or a tutor to them? In exchange for your protection? My uncle would be relieved that I had found someone to help me...he would be proud that it was you...his friend..."

"No." Hurley took a deep breath as he began driving. "I'm not asking for anything in exchange for your protection, save for you to become a part of my family. I only just got my oldest son back...but I've also adopted Mitch."

Annika took a quick breath, then smiled. "I would be pleased to join your family. I am also pleased that Mitch is alright and with you. As well as your older son. Was he an agent as well?" She refrained from bringing up her and Mitch's near past. If he was to be her brother, they would adjust. It wasn't as if they had plans to be wed or anything of the sort.

That was one hurdle down. The next one would be slightly trickier. "My oldest son is Ghost," Hurley said, very carefully. "Before he was captured, the only thing that hadn't happened was an initial adoption. It's true he did a lot of bad things, but he was tortured and lost his mind to rage. That's no longer the case."

Annika's breath this time was more labored and hurting. "He...my only living relative was killed on his orders..." she whispered. "He tortured you...had his people shoot to kill me...would have killed Mitch...how can you trust him?" Her voice was confused and almost childlike in her nervousness.

"I know." Hurley was quick to respond. "There's a lot of bad he's done. But the man you encountered isn't the same one I trained. Isn't the same one now. I trust him because I know my boy. And he feels regret and remorse. He knows how wrong he was. He believed he'd been abandoned...that I'd left him." His hands tightened on the steering wheel. He wasn't sure if it was good or bad that Ghost had told him of the trade. Now he knew for sure...and he wasn't going to hand any of his kids back to the CIA if he could help it.

"Does Mitch trust him too?" she asked softly.

Hurley nodded. "I was only able to save them both because Mitch chose to knock him out instead of killing him. After that point, they already started seeing each other as brothers." Never mind that Mitch had needed a bit of persuading to get to that point.

"If both of you trust him, who am I to distrust him?" Annika whispered reluctantly. She'd give Ghost a chance; but she'd be watching him closely the whole time.

"I wouldn't be taking you home with me, where he is, if I didn't think you were safe," Hurley said softly. "If you don't feel comfortable being alone with him, I'll make sure you stay with me or Mitch."

"I trust you. I will learn to trust him." Annika was pragmatic. "How did you reach me so quickly? I was led to believe your training center was far from the major cities."

"My training centre is," Hurley answered. "But my safe house...the one I initially planned to retire to and where the boys are now...is closer."

"Lucky for me. I think your CIA planned to whisk me away to question as soon as they could do so without undue attention." Annika gave Hurley a tiny smile. "You might not have found me, had you not got me when you did..."

Hurley smiled. "I had a contact who let me know where you were. And from now, the CIA isn't going to be able to touch you or your brothers."

"I hope you are right. I... I think I am through and they will not like that..." Annika sighed and leaned back into the car seat, wearily.

"If you need to nap, you can. I'll wake you up when we're home," Hurley promised.

"Okay..." Annika barely managed to get the words out before she was asleep.

Hurley shrugged out of his jacket, carefully placing it over her and then turning up the heat in the car. He was quiet and thoughtful as he finished the drive home and then parked just outside the house, reaching out to stroke some of Annika's hair from her face. "We're here."

"Already, Papa?" Annika blinked blearily and then winced as she moved to unbuckle her seatbelt and get out of the car.

Hurley smiled at the name, but quickly unbuckled her seatbelt and then moved round to help her out of the car.

"Thank you..." Annika smiled, gratefully letting Hurley help her out of the car. She giggled softly as she glanced toward the window. "We have sentries waiting on us..." she whispered, having noticed the curtain flutter from where one of the younger men had been standing, watching the drive.

Hurley smiled and kissed the top of her head. "Are you ready to go inside?" he asked softly.

"Yes, Papa..." She smiled back. Hurley had made it obvious he wanted to be a father to her. She had no family and she liked and trusted the older man. She saw no reason not to jump fully, feet first, into the relationship the way he'd described it to her (or at least the way she'd perceived his explanation). Leaning on him more fully, she let him lead her into the house.

Mitch, who had been standing at the window because he was unable to sleep while worrying about his father and 'friend' (he wasn't entirely sure what she had been to him, but since she was going to become his sister, he needed to shove 'what might have been' into a back far recess of memory and focus on the 'what is'). Despite Alastor's urges to 'come to bed and sleep, damnit!', he'd ended up pacing in the living room and looking out the window every three minutes. When the car pulled up, however, he ran back to bed and quickly crawled in, in an attempt to look like he'd been sleeping like Hurley had told them to do.

"He's gonna know..." Alastor mumbled in amusement, before rolling over and falling asleep again.

Hurley carefully led his daughter into the house. He knew his sons...or at least one of them...was still awake and he quickly made a beeline to his bedroom, though was still careful not to jostle Annika. "I know you're awake." There was a trace of affectionate amusement in his voice.

"Told ya he'd know..." Alastor hadn't been asleep long enough that Hurley's words didn't wake him immediately.

"Sorry, daddy..." Mitch sighed. "I couldn't sleep, I may have kept Alastor awake..." he continued, getting out of bad and moving to check Annika over, as if the hospital- and, more importantly, his father- hadn't already done so.

Annika blinked at Mitch's term of address for the older man, then gave Hurley a considering look. "I can see it..." she finally said with a grin, before shifting closer to him and shooing Mitch back. "I am alright, scoundrel...you may back up a few inches...!" she ordered, her tone fond and amused.

"I'd be exactly the same if any of you were out of the house." Hurley smiled briefly, but he could tell that his youngest son was worried. "She just needs time to recover. Like both of you." And he himself, if he was honest. Just because he could ignore the pain from the wounds didn't mean he didn't feel them. He wrapped his arm around Annika's waist and stroked Mitch's cheek. "You don't need to worry, baby boy," he murmured.

"Do you need to eat? Or do you want to go straight to bed?" Mitch looked between Hurley and Annika, not even trying to hide his worry. The fact the woman he'd nearly bedded had heard him call Hurley daddy and Hurley call him baby boy didn't even phase him.

Annika glanced toward Hurley, expecting him to make the decision. Although she did let him know how she was feeling, in case that played a part. "I'm not really hungry right now. Just tired..." she admitted. "If I can borrow a t-shirt, maybe some shorts...I can sleep in that..."

"If you're not hungry, then I think sleep is going to be the first priority." Hurley let his hand linger on each of them a moment or two longer before he moved over to the bags of clothes they'd bought, going via the bed so he could stroke Alastor's cheek, giving his oldest some affection. He took out some clothes for Annika to sleep in, adding, "I'll buy you some proper clothes tomorrow."

Annika took the clothing with a smile, slanting her head. "Taking care of us completely...just like ..." She swallowed, then smiled again, not finishing her comment about it being just like her real father. Her real father had died. Her uncle had died. Now Hurley was her real father. She quickly went into the bathroom to change clothes and give Hurley time to change as well.

As he began to get changed, Hurley spoke to his sons. "It's fair to tell both of you I've now officially retired from the CIA. And, Mitch, you'll no longer have to take calls about ops from them. Anything you do, I'll be vetoing first."

Mitch blinked. "You'll be vetoing everything? Does...does this mean you don't want me to be an agent at all anymore? I mean, if that's what you want, I'll do that. I can find other employment..." He sounded a little confused, though. He could find other employment, but he wasn't sure what, if anything, he'd really be as good at.

"It means I don't trust the CIA with the safety of my kids," Hurley stated. Changed now, he moved over to sit on the bed, wrapping an arm around Alastor and holding his other out to Mitch. "I checked. A trade was offered. A decision was made not to take that trade. A decision was also made to keep that knowledge from me."

It didn't take more than a glance for Mitch to realize his father was talking about a trade being offered for Ghost. "If you had known, you would have saved him...none of what just happened wound have happened..." Mitch realized.

Annika had returned in time to hear that part. "The more they try to fix, the more they mess up and cause worse problems..." she spat, then sighed. "Thank you for rescuing me from their clutches..." she reiterated.

Ghost hugged his father, mindful of the injuries. "Not to be a party-pooper...but can we talk about future options in the morning? I'll be more able to contribute then."

"I'll be keeping all of you out of their clutches. I'm never again going to be powerless to help my kids...never again going to risk any of you captured or hurt." Looking at the three of them and then at his bed, Hurley thought for a few moments about how to hold onto all of them. "We can fit all of us onto the bed, Mitch, if you're willing to lay on top of me."

MItch blinked at that. "Uh...won't that irritate your wounds?" he asked, in a small voice. It wasn't that he didn't want to be that close to his father. It was that he did want to be that close to his father, but knew if he slept like that, he'd very easily fall into the childish mindset he'd been skirting since Hurley adopted him. He didn't want to be the only one falling into that mindset; it made him feel as if there was something wrong with him.

"I can do that, Papa...I am lighter..." Annika offered hesitantly. She wasn't surprised that she wanted to be that close, but her hesitancy was more to do with her injuries and her fear that if she moved or slept the wrong way, it would take longer to heal.

Ghost huffed. "I'd offer, but you're still healing and I know I'm too big."

"The weight isn't an issue," Hurley replied. "Annika, I don't think your injuries are up to that...at least not yet; but we can work it in turns, for all three of you, once we are. In the meantime, you and Ghost can just as easily curl into my sides." He gently squeezed Mitch's hand as he added, "I've been in worse situations and I guarantee that having my three kids close enough to touch means I won't even feel my wounds." He was pretty sure he knew what else was bothering his youngest son, though, and said in a quieter voice, "There's nothing wrong with that mindset, baby boy."

Annika brightened at the reassurance that she'd get her chance to 'cuddle' with Papa and nodded. "Okay, Papa... May I have the right side?" she asked Ghost, since that had actually been the side he had been sleeping on. Her wound was on her right side, though, so if she slept on her left side, she wanted to be facing their father and could only do that if she was sleeping on the right side of the bed.

Ghost, realizing why she was asking, responded, "Of course. I've even warmed it up for you..." He winked impishly and shifted to the left side of the bed. Annika crawled into the right side and then they both moved until there was enough room for Hurley to crawl up into the middle.

Hurley gave each of his kids a quick, affectionate kiss to their foreheads and then settled back, holding an arm out to Mitch. "You're with family, baby boy," he murmured. "You don't have to worry."

Annika smiled, then glanced at Mitch and gave him an encouraging look. She suspected that she was the main reason he was trying to be reticent in showing his feelings; that he didn't want to seem a child in front of her. But if the way Hurley continued to call him baby boy was any indication, they'd formed a close attachment that put Hurley firmly in the adult caregiver/parent role and Mitch into the role of child. She suspected she and Ghost- Alastor- would be in the same position if they let themselves go enough. Mitch had always been more open with his feelings and reactions, so it didn't surprise her that he was the first to respond in that way. She didn't want him holding back on her account. "Come to bed, scoundrel..." she teased. "...You are keeping me awake!"

Mitch blinked, his gaze darting toward Annika in surprise. The look in her eyes was teasing, like a sister. She obviously did not mind the relationship dynamics and in fact was now nodding at him in encouragement. He blushed faintly, but crawled up onto the bed, situating himself so he was over Hurley, before carefully lowering himself down onto the older man. It was a bit awkward and a bit of maneuvering and shifting was needed before he found a position where his head was supported (on Hurley's shoulder) and he wasn't crushing his father. "You okay, daddy?" he found himself asking, not bothering to use a more mature address. He was too tired to pretend he was anything but Hurley's 'baby' boy.

"More than okay." Hurley gave his youngest son's backside a gentle pat. "Don't worry so much next time, baby boy. You're with family. You need to react a certain way? You do that. That's true with all of you." He looked at his daughter and oldest son. "I'm not going to be unhappy or belittle you if you don't always act like adults."

"Okay, Papa!" Annika agreed cheerfully. She'd already decided she'd react however she felt and wouldn't care how it made her seem to her family. In public was a different story, of course, but in private, with her family, she could be herself.

"You got it, dad..." Alastor mumbled sleepily, right before he conked out and began snoring.

Mitch huffed softly at the pat and wiggled just a tiny bit, hugging his father in response to show that he'd actually liked it and wasn't upset at it. "Okay..." he answered quietly.

Hurley wrapped one arm around Annika, taking a moment to gently stroke Alastor's cheek before he let his other hand rest gently on Mitch's lower back, beginning to rub gently in slow circles.

It didn't take long at all for Mitch to settle, the gentle rubbing calming him down in a way that nothing else had. Soon, he was sound asleep as well.

"Thank you for giving me a family, Papa..." Annika whispered, before she finally fell asleep.

Hurley smiled, happy to have his three children close to him. He closed his eyes and slipped into sleep fairly quickly. The pain from the wounds was a dull ache...but he'd told the truth; having his children so close meant those wounds didn't bother him.


Ghost was the first to awaken the next morning and, seeing that his father and siblings were still sleeping, he carefully crawled out of the bed and grabbed some clothes to change into, heading to his room. It was nice to have a room of his own; even if he had a feeling he wouldn't be sleeping there that often, if ever. It didn't take him long to get ready for the day and he was soon in the kitchen, preparing breakfast.

Annika was the second to awaken, but she didn't want to leave the warmth of the bed or the comfort of her father's arm. She glanced up into Mitch's face and grinned when she saw her new brother was awake, but holding very still so as not to wake their dad.

It didn't take long for Hurley to wake up, but he didn't move, actually quite happy to continue cuddling his son and daughter for a while. He was happy that it seemed none of them had had nightmares. If sleeping like this was what stopped those, he'd willingly cuddle his children every night.

Mitch grinned when he felt his father wake but not move. In response, he snuggled a bit more, brushing a kiss on the older man's shoulder. Annika shifted even closer as well, until she was as tangled up against Hurley's side as Mitch was his front. "Good morning, Papa!" she said brightly, if quietly. "I believe big brother left to make breakfast. I of course will go help him; I just want a thousand more snuggles first!" she declared, with a grin and a giggle. Mitch snorted, but was grinning at her, so she knew he wouldn't mind a few more himself.

Hurley chuckled, one arm wrapping tighter around Annika while his other held Mitch tightly, pressing a kiss to each of their heads. "I'm sure that can be arranged." His teasing voice was much lighter than it had been in a long time...having Ghost back and two more kids had pulled him out of the depression far quicker than any therapy or medication could have.

Annika grinned at the sound of happiness in Hurley's tone.

"That's good. Because my twin and I would hate to have to resort to underhanded means to get it..." Mitch teased impishly. It wasn't as difficult to shift from thinking of Annika as a potential lover to a sister as he'd worried it would be. He was just grateful that they hadn't actually taken that final step.

"Yes. Being naughty to get attention should be a last resort, brother!" Annika agreed just as impishly.

"Being naughty will get you the wrong type of attention." Hurley smiled, though, taking any sting from the words out. "As for cuddling like this...it'll happen as often as you want."

Mitch had an entirely understanding look on his face and was wincing, but Annika didn't have a clue why Hurley's words would get that reaction. "What kind of attention do we get if we're 'naughty'?" she asked curiously.

"It's unconventional, but being naughty will get you spanked." Hurley spoke simply and without hesitation. It wasn't a secret, after all. He just hoped the knowledge wouldn't make his daughter regret her decision to join the family.

Annika blinked, but didn't seem phased at the revelation. "Bit old-fashioned, but if we do the crime..." She smiled.

"It works," Hurley said. "It's painful, but it's over quickly. And it's a more personal punishment that actually draws you closer to me."

"Ah...you should be careful saying that. I might be naughty just so I can be pulled closer..." Annika smiled crookedly, teasing, though Mitch could see a thoughtful gleam in her eye that made him wince again.

Hurley raised his eyebrows, both at the words and the thoughtful gleam on his daughter's face. "Being naughty isn't the only thing that'll get you pulled closer. I'm sure your brothers can attest to that." What he didn't say was that it wouldn't surprise him if she chose to act out...to test him.

"Believe me. You don't want to be naughty to be pulled closer," Mitch interjected. "Daddy will cuddle you all you want if you just ask. As nice as being pulled closer when I've done something wrong is, I'd much rather have it happen without spankings..." He winced again. He had a feeling his sister would end up having to learn the hard way.

"That's something I would much prefer as well," Hurley added, figuring it didn't do any harm to let his children know he didn't enjoy spanking them.

Mitch sighed softly and snuggled a bit more.

Annika got an apologetic look on her face. "Sorry, Papa...I'll behave like a good daughter..." she said, not wanting to make him do something that he obviously would rather not do (even if he felt it necessary).

Hurley tightened his hold on both of them. "It's not a bad thing if you aren't as good as you want to be," he commented. "I'm not going to change my mind or give up on you if you don't behave."

"I know..." Annika smiled. "But you obviously don't like having to punish us, so I will do my best to make certain it isn't necessary."

"I would appreciate that," Hurley replied. "Now...do you two want to cuddle some more? Or join your big brother for breakfast?"

"I...am going to get dressed. And then go and try to make nice with big brother..." Annika said with bravado...and a hint of nervousness. "Thanks, Papa..." She hugged Hurley and kissed him on the cheek before ruffling Mitch's hair.

Mitch didn't move until she'd left and then it was only enough so that he was half on Hurley, half on the bed, his head still on the older man's shoulder. "I guess I should get up and get dressed too," he said, reluctantly, without moving.

"You don't have to get up straight away," Hurley commented, gently running his fingers through his son's hair. "That's why I made the offer. You said yourself...I'll cuddle with you for as long as you want." He smiled, his arm wrapped tightly around Mitch's waist; though he wouldn't try to keep his youngest son close if Mitch wanted to get up.

"I don't wanna get up..." Mitch admitted. "...Feeling off kilter...confused..." he added hesitantly.

"What's wrong, son?" Hurley continued gently stroking his son's hair and over his back, kissing the top of his head.

"I know you call me baby boy cuz it's affectionate and shows what I am yours...and I like it. I just never expected to like it. Or to find it so hard to act like an adult around you, instead of like a kid...your kid." Mitch wrinkled his nose, not entirely sure what the problem was. "Dunno if I feel weird cuz I think I should be an adult and need you to stop babying me... or if I feel weird cuz deep down, I wish I could just let you control everything and not have to be adult at all..."

Hurley kept up the gentle affection while his son talked, listening intently. "You said that you like me calling you baby boy. How else does it make you feel? When you slept on me last night, where I effectively had control whether you got up or not, did you feel trapped? Scared?"

Mitch blushed. "No, daddy...felt safer than I have in forever...since before..." He swallowed hard. "...Since Katrina was killed and I couldn't...I couldn't..." He swallowed again and was surprised to find tears streaming down his face. "Anyway...I feel safe. Like I never want to leave you, cuz it feels like even if everything is wrong, somehow you'll make it alright again..." He wrinkled his nose. "I don't want to do it all on my own anymore..."

"You aren't on your own anymore, baby boy," Hurley said, his voice very gentle. "I don't want to let go of you...the paperwork means I never have to hide how I feel about you." He stroked Mitch's cheeks, wiping away the tears. "I love you. You're not alone anymore. You won't ever be alone again, because I've got you. And I'm not letting go."

Mitch sniffled again, hiding his face against Hurley's chest. "I love you, daddy..." he whispered.

"I love you, baby boy," Hurley repeated, wrapping his arms tightly around his son. "It doesn't matter how you act around me. Don't force yourself to act any way that feels unnatural, because then you'll just make yourself unhappy." He gently patted his son's backside, as he had last night, to prove his point.

Mitch squirmed slightly, but grinned. "Yessir..." He paused. "...I don't think I'm sposed to like when you do that..." he continued impishly.

Hurley smiled at that. "You're not supposed to like it when you're being punished, baby boy."

"Well...I definitely don't like it then, so I guess it's okay?" Mitch laughed softly.

"It's okay to like the affection when you're not in trouble." Hurley gently patted Mitch's backside again, so his son would hopefully be reassured it wasn't a problem.

Mitch let out a tiny sigh and snuggled a bit more before his stomach growled at him. "Guess that's my cue to get up and get dressed. Need me to check your bandages before you get dressed?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah, kid. I'll check yours, too," Hurley added, wanting to make sure the stitches were still doing okay. He kissed Mitch's forehead and then gently loosened his hold.

Mitch smiled brightly, carefully crawling out of bed and removing his pajamas. Before getting dressed for the day, he held still so his father could reassure himself that Mitch was healing correctly.

Hurley carefully checked each one of Mitch's wounds, changing the bandages that needed to be changed. "It all looks good, baby boy." He stroked his son's cheek and then began to remove his own pajamas.

Mitch smiled, pressing his face to Hurley's hand. He got dressed for the day while his father got ready. As soon as his father was ready, he made sure that the wounds were healing cleanly, changing the bandages where needed. "All done, daddy." He kissed Hurley on the cheek, then went to dispose of the old bandaging while his father dressed.

Hurley walked to the kitchen, knowing Mitch would join him there and wanting to see his other two children as well.

"Just in time!" Alastor smiled. "Pancakes are ready. Annika just finished the coffee."

Annika grinned from where she was setting the table. "There is also tea, if you prefer."

Mitch came trailing in. "Coffee is fine for me..."

"I'm fine with coffee, too." Hurley stepped over to his oldest and wrapped his arms around Alastor in a tight hug.

Alastor returned the hug just as tightly. "Mitch take care of your wounds, dad?" he asked in concern.

"Yeah, son. I can take a look at yours now...or after we've eaten," Hurley commented. "I'm sorry I didn't know about the trade," he whispered in his oldest's ear. He wasn't sure he'd ever forgive himself for not knowing.

"I'm good, dad...Annika checked me over and changed my bandages for me...and I did hers..." Alastor smiled at his sister. He knew it was difficult for her to see him, but she was a trooper and had made every effort to give him a chance. "The trade wasn't your fault. I know you would have done everything in your power to get them to take it. That's most likely why they didn't tell you." He wrapped his arm around his dad's shoulders and pulled him in for a hug before kissing him on the forehead.

"I'm never going to be powerless to protect any of you again," Hurley promised before smiling. "I'm glad you both helped each other." In a slightly louder voice, so his other children could hear him as well, he said, "After breakfast, I'll take any of you who want to come to buy clothes for you, Annika...and then we can take care of the paperwork to make you officially my daughter. Your brothers chose to take my last name. Is that something you'd like to do as well?"

Annika smiled. "I'd like that, Papa."

"Is it safe for me to go?" Alastor asked. "If so, I'll go with you..."

"If Alastor can go, I'll go. If it isn't safe, I'll stay with him...keep him company." Mitch smiled.

"We're far enough away here that it should be safe," Hurley answered. "And I was in touch with my contacts about more than just the CIA. There'll be no problems with your new identity."

Annika grinned. "Family trip!"

"We could make a day of it," Hurley commented, as he moved over to the table to sit. "Maybe catch a movie. Have lunch in a cafe. Do a bit of sightseeing." All things he'd never had the chance to do with Alastor. He wanted, more than anything, to make up for that lost time.

"The sounds fun, dad. I'd like to go that..." Alastor quickly responded.

"I'd like it too," Annika agreed.

Mitch grinned. "Family trip it is..."

Soon, they were all eating and offering suggestions of where to have lunch and what movie to see; as well as the shops Annika wanted to peruse.

Hurley made a mental note of what each of his children wanted to do, so he could make sure that, even if they couldn't do it all in one day, they could do things during the rest of the week. When they'd finished, he began to clean up.

Mitch jumped up to help clear, since Alastor and Annika had prepared the breakfast. It didn't take long and soon, they were in the car heading to town.


They'd had a long day, but it had been a good one and after dinner, Hurley had sat on the couch with his two youngest close and his oldest on the armchair, watching television. Glancing at his watch, he sat up a bit straight and spoke quietly to Alastor and Mitch. "It's almost eight."

Alastor just nodded and stood. "I'll get my pajamas on."

Mitch sighed, looking reluctant, but stood as well. "Me too. Your room?" he asked his father, just as quietly.

Annika looked confused, but Mitch's resigned look made it clear that they weren't leaving to do something fun. If they wanted her to know, they'd tell her. "Should I head to my room?" she asked hesitantly.

Hurley smiled encouragingly at his daughter. "You don't have to go anywhere in particular." He didn't tell her what was about to happen, figuring his boys would if they wanted to let her know. "If you stay here, we'll come and join you...if not, you can join us in my room in a little while."

"Okay...I'll change into pajamas and then come back, stay here and wait, then." She smiled at her father before giving her brothers a worried look.

"See you in a little while, baby sister..." Alastor teased.

Mitch just gave a tiny smile and went to his father's room.

Hurley reached over and kissed his daughter's forehead. "Don't worry. I love you," he said softly, before heading to his room.

Alastor didn't waste any time changing into pajamas; not that he needed them yet. His father would be removing at least half of them soon enough. Still, it helped him calm himself and prepare mentally.

Mitch wished changing into pajamas helped him calm down. By the time his father had gone into the room, he was ready to start climbing the walls.

Hurley moved to his youngest son and pressed a kiss to the top of Mitch's head before he gently led him to the corner they'd used before. "Stand here, son. Don't move until I tell you."

Mitch whimpered slightly and let his head fall forward against the wall, but he obeyed and stayed in place. It was difficult, though. His brother had been doing really well. He couldn't understand how spanking him for the third day in a row would do anyone any good; and he hated listening to it.

Alastor waited until his father had situated Mitch before moving to stand by Hurley's knee.

Hurley sat down and gently guided his oldest son across his knees. He didn't waste any time in tugging Alastor's pajama pants down, one hand resting and lightly rubbing his son's back, while his other hand lifted and fell in the first firm swat, repeating it.

Despite being calm and knowing he needed the spankings (and deserved even worse), Alastor wasn't able to hold still. This was the third day he was being spanked. He was sore, and the new swats were just adding to the soreness. He quickly began to squirm with abandon, hoping his father would be able to hold him still and would forgive his inability to do so himself.

Hurley kept his grip tight on his son as he completed the first circuit and began a second. The swats he was delivering were lessened in force, although he knew they would still be felt. As he had the first day, he began to speak...talking about one of the agents who had been killed through his son's actions. His goal wasn't to torment; rather to draw the pain out like he would poison from a wound. To stop the unknowns from festering inside.

And as always, it was the talking- the thinking- about one of those whose life and whose family's lives he'd destroyed that broke him. Ghost slumped over his father's lap as he sobbed quietly and listened to the words, his fingers opening and closing spastically around Hurley's leg.

Mitch closed his eyes tightly, body tense with the need to jump in and stop his father from hurting his brother further, but he managed to keep himself in place.

Annika could hear what was occurring; the walls weren't soundproof, after all. She'd jumped when she heard the first smack, but when she heard the sobs begin and the smacking didn't stop immediately, she'd quickly headed to the room to try and help.

Hurley hadn't been lying when he told Annika and Mitch he didn't want to punish any of them. If it was only up to him, he wouldn't be doing this. If it was only him who'd suffered, he wouldn't be pushing his son to this point. Like drawing poison from a wound. He had to keep reminding himself of that; that leaving Ghost to flounder would be far crueler than spanking him was.

He could count on one hand and have fingers left over for the amount of times he himself cried. It wasn't that he didn't feel things deeply; but even though he'd never expect the same from his children, he'd always felt he needed to be the strong one. Even when he hurt, he kept it hidden. In fact, the only times he'd broken down had been in that painful period after Ghost had gone...and that was when he was alone and there was no one to see how much he hurt.

Wasting no time in drawing his oldest up and into his arms, hugging him tightly, Hurley felt his own eyes moisten. It was hard not to blame himself when he knew they'd never have been in this situation if he hadn't trusted the CIA.

Alastor quickly twisted in his father's grip so that he could hold onto the older man as tightly as he was being held. He pressed his face into Hurley's chest and took in deep breaths, slowly calming his sobbing, even if the tears were still falling down his face. "I'm sorry, dad...so sorry..." he whispered.

"I know, son." Hurley tightened his embrace and kissed the top of his head. "I've got you," he whispered. "I love you. I forgive you." He stroked Alastor's hair and back, just holding onto his son.

Mitch, realizing the punishment was over and his brother was being comforted, visibly calmed down himself. He slumped against the corner and just breathed slowly, thankful he'd managed (barely) to continue obeying his father.

Annika paused at the door to the room, realizing that she wasn't hearing smacks or crying any longer. Biting her lip, she debated just tiptoeing back to the living room so they didn't know she'd heard, but that seemed unfair somehow. Instead, she hesitantly knocked on the door, then called in quietly, "Is everything okay?"

Hurley situated Alastor carefully on his lap, kissing his head. "I've got you, kiddo," he murmured, before speaking so his son and daughter could hear. "You can come out of the corner now, baby boy..." He paused, decided to go along with it, and added, "Angel...you can come inside."

Alastor snuggled, but as his father talked to his brother and sister, he quickly tugged his pants back up without moving out of his father's arms.

He was very adept at it, which caused Mitch to snort in amusement, as he had caught the movement as he turned around. "You've had a lot of practice?" he teased gently, even as his eyes searched his brother's face in concern.

"Some bit..." Alastor blushed faintly, giving his father a chagrined smile. "...More'n dad would like me to have had, I'm sure..."

Annika didn't come in immediately; she opened the door slowly and slowly backed into the room in case her brother wanted to compose himself before she saw him.

"I'm okay, baby sister..." Alastor called to her, encouraging her to turn around.

Hurley gently squeezed Alastor's waist. "We just had some things to work on, kiddo," he commented. He held his free arm out to his other two children. It might be a bit of a tight squeeze, but he was certain he could cuddle all three of them; even if they wouldn't all fit on his lap at once.

Annika quickly moved over into Hurley's arm, looking into her older brother's eyes to reassure herself he was fine. She smiled at the sense of peace she saw there.

Mitch moved closer, too, though he only stood close enough that his arm would brush against his father's arm. He'd have plenty of time to cuddle later, he was certain.

"I'm just glad I get the chance to work on them with you again..." Alastor said softly, his glance sincere.

Hurley wrapped his arm around Annika's waist, his hand grasping Mitch's so he had the contact with all three of them. "I'm more than glad to have you back in my life," he whispered to his oldest, his gaze lingering on his other two children. "To have three kids now...let's just say, I wouldn't have believed this was possible even a month ago."

Mitch grinned crookedly. "Congratulations, sir. It's a boy. And a boy. And a girl..." he teased. "I'm...I'm just grateful you wanted us. I didn't even know I wanted a father until you became mine..."

Annika just smiled and snuggled.

"I'm glad to be back in your life- finally- the right way..." Ghost responded. "That I get a baby brother and a baby sister in the process is icing on the cake..."

"It works both ways," Hurley said. "I couldn't be your father if you were unwilling to accept me." He smiled, tightening his hold around Ghost and Annika; squeezing Mitch's hand. "I would have retired anyway...because now I have a reason to." Now he had his children to live for.

All three children just continued to snuggle and cuddle with each other and their father. Eventually, Annika had to ask, "Are we going to watch a movie, or does everyone just want to go to bed now? Since we don't seem to want to let go of each other..." She sounded amused.

"It has been a long day..." Mitch started out.

"And I'm a bit tired from thinking..." Ghost said, in lieu of saying he'd worn himself out sobbing.

"Papa?" Annika looked at Hurley to see what he wanted to do.

"We can go to bed now, if that's what all of you want," Hurley said. "We can make plans for what we want to do tomorrow in the morning." He still had hold of each of them, but loosened his grip enough that they could start getting ready for bed.

Since all three of the 'children' had gotten into their pajamas before Hurley punished Alastor, all they had to do was stand up and move into their positions on the bed. Ghost quickly got into the spot he'd occupied the night before, while Mitch and Annika stood looking at each other.

"I'm still a little sore and need to sleep on my side," Annika admitted hesitantly, not wanting to worry their father.

"So, I'm still the blanket?" Mitch asked teasingly, trying to keep the mood light so that no one would be worried.

Hurley had also got changed before spanking his oldest and he stepped over to Annika, gently squeezing her shoulder...and then glanced at Ghost and Mitch. "I recall saying last night that all three of you could take turns." Maybe his oldest didn't need in quite the same way...but Hurley needed to keep them all close; particularly the son he'd lost and only just found again.

MItch looked at Ghost and raised an eyebrow, daring him to attempt to argue with their father. He suspected the reason Alastor had got into the bed so quickly was he was attempting to give up his spot in 'dad's arms' without an argument.

Ghost licked his lip and winced. "I don't want to suffocate you..." he said weakly.

Mitch's brows wrinkled, and he huffed. "You do realize you aren't that much bigger than me!" He shook his head. "Just cause he calls me baby boy don't mean I'm an actual baby or child..." he muttered, semi-offended.

"I didn't mean it like that!" Alastor interjected frantically, before getting up out of the bed. "It's fine... fine... you sleep here in this spot. I'll try not to crush our father..." he muttered and ran a hand through his hair, embarrassed.

Hurley gently squeezed Mitch's shoulder and then did the same to Ghost. "If I was worried about discomfort, I wouldn't insist on it. The fact is, I need to keep you close...all of you, really...but you're the only one who I lost. Humour your old man if I need to hold onto you just a bit tighter."

Mitch smiled at his brother, hearing his father's words. "See...? He wants you to crush him!" he said impishly, ducking away when Alastor took a gentle swipe at the side of his head. Still grinning, he crawled into the space that Ghost had been occupying.

Annika had already crawled onto 'her' spot, so Alastor stood and waited for Hurley to get into the bed so he could get in as well. "If you insist, dad..." he whispered. "...Just if I get too heavy... let me know. Okay?"

"You wouldn't be too heavy, kiddo." Hurley kissed Alastor's forehead and then settled onto the bed, simply holding his arm out for his oldest.

Much like his brother had the night before, Alastor carefully crawled up onto the bed, gingerly laying down so that he was on top of his father, his head on the older man's chest. He didn't think it could possibly be comfortable, for either of them, but he discovered, to his surprise, that after a little adjusting, he was very comfortable. And his father's heartbeat was lulling him into a sense of peace that even sleeping next to the other man the night before hadn't given him. "Love you, dad..." he finally whispered, before dropping into sleep.

Annika had pressed up against Hurley's arm, snuggled as close as she could get without making it impossible for the older man to move. "Love you, Papa..." she whispered and then was also out like a light.

Mitch was the last of the kids still awake. He waited until he was certain the other two were asleep before whispering, "I almost didn't obey you, daddy...I almost turned around and tried to convince you to stop..." he admitted, with a hint of shame.

Hurley stroked Mitch's cheek. "We both knew it wouldn't be easy, baby boy," he murmured. "Even if you know I'm doing right by your brother, you're listening to him crying and in pain. The physical pain might only be a catalyst to release the emotional pain, but I know how difficult it is. If you do move out of the corner, it's important not to think of it as a failure, but as a learning curve."

"I'll try...course, the learning curve means getting spanked and I really don't like that; not when you're punishing me for disobeying, anyway..." he said, with a tiny sigh. "I'm just glad you understand why I might mess up. I... I don't want you to think I'm disregarding your orders because I don't respect you or anything. I did too much of that before and it wouldn't be because of that..." His voice was earnest.

"I know, baby boy," Hurley answered, continuing to gently stroke his cheek. "But don't think of it as messing up. It's just a different style of training. You're learning to obey my orders in an environment that's safe and where doing the wrong thing won't result in consequences any more severe than a trip over my knee."

"Instead of learning in an environment where I can get sent away from you permanently... or in the field where I learn because I get hurt really badly..." Mitch whispered, showing he understood. "I... I know it is better this way. It's still difficult..."

"It is," Hurley agreed. "You've learned one way and now you're expected to learn an entirely different behaviour. It's not going to be easy. But by the end, following my orders will be instinctual; and that could make all the difference."

"I wish I'd already learned to do it...Annika doesn't seem to have any problems with it. Alastor doesn't seem to have any problems with it. Me? I don't understand why I have such a hard time with it..." He sighed softly.

Hurley stroked some hair out of his son's face. "I know you didn't really have a family before, baby boy. You were used to being alone. Even more used to being in the mindset that it was okay to sacrifice yourself. But I could see that you weren't entirely beyond hope; that I could get through to you."

Mitch closed his eyes and pressed his face close to his father's hand. "You got me now..." he admitted. "...S'long as you don't give up on me...I think I can learn. Eventually." He smiled crookedly.

"I'm not going to give up on you," Hurley promised. "I'm never going to give up on you, baby boy. It doesn't matter what happens. You're always gonna be mine. Even if you're naughty, it won't change anything." He gently patted Mitch's backside for emphasis.

Mitch squirmed a little at the pat, then gave a sheepish smile. "I really shouldn't like that so much..." he murmured, even as he scooted closer to his father. "...Even if it does remind me you are in charge...and that you love me." he whispered.

"I do love you. I am in charge. And as I said earlier, there's nothing wrong with liking it when it isn't a punishment." Hurley gently patted again. "You're mine, baby boy."

Mitch bit his lip, smiling hesitantly, an indecipherable look in his eye. "So... if I came to you and asked you to...to... You wouldn't think it odd? Or worrisome?"

"I'd be worried if you tried to hold back from me or were nervous about telling me," Hurley answered. "If you need something, I want you to tell me."

MItch's smile became less hesitant, more open. "Okay, daddy..." He snuggled a little closer still before saying shyly, "...Maybe tomorrow morning..." He hesitated and blushed faintly. "...I mean... I... right now... but..." He winced, positive that he wasn't making any sense at all. But his brother and sister were sleeping peacefully, and he didn't want to accidentally wake them up. Even if he did need his father to be a little more hands-on and in charge with him, he could wait the night.

Hurley kissed his forehead. "We'll take care of it in the morning, baby boy," he promised, wrapping his arm tighter around Mitch so he could draw him in close and effectively 'trap' his youngest son.

Mitch had to admit to himself that being 'trapped' by his father helped ease a little of what he needed the 'patting' for. Sighing happily, he finally settled down enough to fall asleep, his breathing even and gentle.

Hurley adjusted his position enough so he could physically touch each of his children and then closed his eyes, sleep taking him very quickly.


The next day was bright and clear and once again, Annika was one of the first to wake, slipping carefully out of the bed so she could go shower and change for the day. She had a feeling her father would want to look over her wounds himself this time, so she made certain to wear clothing that he could maneuver easily.

Alastor and Mitch woke up at the same time, giving each other bleary-eyed smiles before they got up and stripped so that Hurley could check their wounds. It was becoming more routine, just letting their father check them over. It eased his mind and it made it easier for them because they didn't have to put bandages on one-handed.

Hurley didn't wake that much longer after his sons got up and he quickly wasted no time in checking their wounds, reapplying bandages and making sure the stitches looked clean. "You're all set." He gave each of them a kiss on the cheek.

"Great. Now we get to help you!" Alastor said with a smile, though it was clear he wouldn't budge if his father tried to argue. Not that he expected his father to argue. Hurley tried to lead by example most of the time, so he'd most likely cooperate because that's what he expected his children to do. He quickly got dressed, giving his father a chance to get ready.

Mitch grinned. "I'll go get breakfast started." He quickly got dressed as well and then head out to the kitchen and joined Annika.

Hurley didn't argue or protest, wasting no time in removing his clothes so his oldest could check him over. "You sleep all right?" he asked, wanting to be certain Alastor had been comfortable.

"LIke a baby..." Alastor smiled as he checked over the wounds and then rebandaged. "I have to admit, I might have overheard a bit of your conversation with Mitch. After breakfast...would you like me to take baby sister out for a walk to see the grounds and familiarize her with them? While you settle baby brother? I can make sure you have at least an hour alone with him, if it would help..." he said softly, as he began to check the very last- and the worst- injury.

Hurley nodded, but otherwise held still as his son checked him over. "That would help." He knew Mitch was unlikely to want an audience, even if all that happened was them being overheard. Waiting until Alastor was done, he gently squeezed his hand. "Thank you for letting me hold onto you last night. I don't think I can ever fully explain how much that healed."

Alastor blushed faintly, but smiled and looked his father in the eye. "It helped me too, dad. Sorry I almost gave you a hard time about it..."

Hurley hugged his son tightly. "I hope that means I won't have to persuade you again next time."

Alastor shook his head. "No, sir. I won't argue next time. I'll just get in your arms where I belong..." he promised, with a tiny laugh.

"Good." Hurley kissed his forehead. "I love you, kiddo. Let's go join your brother and sister, so I can check her over too." He quickly pulled on his clothes.

Alastor waited for his father by the door. As soon as Hurley was ready, he walked into the kitchen with him.

Mitch was at the stove, making what appeared to be a rasher of bacon. "Breakfast is almost done...you have just enough time to look at Annika's injuries while Big Brother sets the table," he said to the room at large, though it was obvious he was talking to their father.

For her part, Annika just moved to an out of the way corner and struck a pose, grinning impishly at Hurley.

Hurley smiled and moved over to his daughter, checking her over carefully and reapplying the bandages where they were needed. Once done, he kissed her forehead. "You're healing well, angel."

"Thanks to you, Papa..." Annika smiled brightly at the nickname before taking his arm and walking to the table, where Mitch was putting the last of the platters on and Alastor was filling the drinking glasses with orange juice.

As soon as they were sat down, Alastor looked toward his sister. "I was thinking...if you were willing...I could take you out on a walk around the grounds today? Show you a bit more of where we will be living...let you familiarize yourself with it?" He left unsaid that it would give him a chance to apologize again and hopefully start to make up for what he'd done to her, caused to be done to her.

It was clear on her brother's face what he wanted to do, however, and Annika couldn't bring herself to turn down the offer, even if it made her slightly nervous to be leaving the house alone with him. She nodded. "Okay. That sounds like it might be fun, big brother..." she said, any hint of her nerves hidden behind a confident voice and a bright smile.

Alastor visibly relaxed at the agreement, his own smile brightening. "Thank you..." he said softly.

"Thank you..." Annika responded, her smile turning gentle and accepting...some of her nerves dissipating at the look of relief on his face. He was obviously trying hard and willing to do whatever it took to mend their relationship. She respected that. She'd help as much as she could...for her own sake, not just her father's.

Mitch blinked. "So... that will leave dad and I at home. Guess we can play a game or something..." He glanced at his father, but managed not to give any indication of what he was thinking, even if Hurley might know anyway.

Hurley smiled at his youngest son. "I'm sure we can find something to do, baby boy." Looking at his other two children, he added, "There shouldn't be any problems here. This was about the safest environment for this home. But if there is, I have my cell. Or you can grab one of the radios, too."

Alastor nodded. "I'll take a rifle too. Just in case we run into a wild animal." He glanced at Annika. "Normally, they avoid humans, but if we accidently run across them, if they feel cornered and unable to escape..."

"Good idea," Hurley agreed. Once they were done eating, he stood up to begin cleaning up after them.

With everyone helping, the leftovers were soon stored, and the dishes were cleared, washed, and dried. Alastor handed Annika a jacket and the radio as he took the rifle out of the safe. "I have a spot in mind to see that I think you'll really like..." He grinned. He may have come up with this idea to give his father and brother some alone time, but he was truly looking forward to hopefully bridging the gap between he and his sister. This walk would be good for everybody, he hoped.

Annika smiled. "Lead on, Casper!" she teased gently.

Mitch stood at the window and watched as they walked down the drive a few feet and then veered into the wooded area. When they were finally out of sight, he turned toward his father. "He overheard last night, didn't he?" His tone was resigned, but he was surprised that he wasn't upset about his brother knowing. He was grateful to his brother for making it possible for his father to help him.

"He did." Hurley gently stroked his son's cheek. "But you don't need to worry or feel embarrassed. It's about making sure you get what you need, baby boy."

"Oddly enough, I'm not upset at all. I'm thankful to him for helping me out..." Mitch smiled crookedly, slanting his face toward Hurley's hand. "...And I think he genuinely wanted to have some time with just him and Annika- try to fix things with her- so it doesn't feel like I chased them out of the house." He shifted closer to his father and wrapped his arms around the older man's waist in a loose hug.

Hurley wrapped his own arms around his son, kissing Mitch's forehead. "I love you, baby boy." The words were soft, but sincerely meant.

"I love you too, daddy..." Mitch returned easily, relaxing in his father's hold. "...I love you and I need you. More than I ever thought I'd need anyone after...after Katrina. You make me feel safe and protected and...I dunno. Wanted? It's hard to describe what I feel..." he said quietly.

"You don't need to describe it, baby boy. It's enough to know that you know you're wanted and loved." Hurley gently stroked Mitch's lower back, much as he had done the other night with Mitch on top of him.

Mitch snuggled a bit more before carefully stepping back and giving his father a hesitant look. "Daddy... will... will you...?" He swallowed. If he wanted his father to do this, then he should at least be able to ask for it. "...Will you spank me?" he whispered.

Hurley stroked his son's cheek. "Yes, baby boy." He then took Mitch's hand, so he could lead his son through to the living room and take a seat, guiding Mitch across his lap.

Mitch went easily, squeezing his father's hand as they walked. As soon as he was over his father's knee, he reached down with the hand that wasn't being held and grasped onto Hurley's leg. He kept hold of his father's hand, though, bringing his own hand up behind his back so his father could hold him in place and still hold his hand. "Thank you, daddy..." he whispered, as he relaxed and waited for his father to 'take control'.

Hurley kept hold of his son's hand, squeezing it gently. "I love you, baby boy." As this spanking wasn't for punishment, he chose to start over Mitch's pants this time, starting with pats that were just a bit firmer than the previous ones he'd given.

"Mmmhmmm...Love you too..." he responded softly, squeezing Hurley's hand back and focusing on the pats. It's what he needed...his father taking charge of him completely...submitting to his father. He'd spent entirely too long bucking the older man's authority and disregarding his orders and commands. Yes, Hurley had promised they'd work on that- and they were- but at the moment, what he needed was to feel like he had no control over it and that his father had all the control over it. It made it easier to obey when he knew the other man could handle everything, including him. He didn't have to be afraid that if he obeyed, he'd end up with horrible results.

Hurley kept hold of his son's hand, still gently squeezing, even as he covered Mitch's entire bottom, down to his thighs and including his sit spots, in the firm pats. He did this for three circuits, putting a tiny bit more force behind the pats each time he started a new circuit, and then paused to tug Mitch's pants down.

Mitch let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding as his father pulled his pants down. It came out in a tiny whimper and he blushed, but he didn't struggle or try and get away. Instead, he relaxed further, squeezing his father's hand to show that he wasn't scared; that he still needed his father to assert this control over him.

"I've got you, baby boy." Hurley spoke softly and reassuringly, even as he resumed the patting, this time with only the thin layer of Mitch's underwear between his palm and his son's bottom. Once again, he increased the force a fraction, until the pats were more like light swats, reaching his son's bare thighs.

Mitch squeezed his father's hand again in response, wanting Hurley to know that he was listening. That he was focusing on his father and what he was doing, nothing else. As the pats became light swats, he began to let out tiny whimpers and whines every so often, the skin of his bottom becoming more sensitive and tender the more Hurley smacked.

Once again, Hurley completed three circuits of the light swats and then he removed the last piece of protection, pushing Mitch's underwear down, baring him entirely. Once again, he increased the force, enough to allow the swats to begin to sting, though they weren't as hard as punishment swats.

Mitch's whimper this time was a little longer and drawn out, but it wasn't a distressed whimper. It sounded relieved and Mitch relaxed even further before pushing his bottom up slightly like a stretching cat, making it even easier to swat him more thoroughly. "I'm yours, daddy..." he whispered. "...Need to obey you, not fight you...not disobey your orders..." He sniffled and let out a tiny groan, pushing his bottom up again. "...Need to remember you're in charge always..."

"You do, baby boy," Hurley agreed, beginning to gently smack Mitch's sit spots. "You need to remember that you belong to me. That you're my baby boy. That I'm in charge of you. That I love you."

"Love you too, daddy...I do..." Mitch squirmed as Hurley focused on his sit spots. Not enough to get away- he didn't want to get away- but more to ask for more swats without actually asking for them. It felt good, being over his father's lap with his father showing him who was in charge, proving that he could control him. Because if Hurley could control him, he could protect him and maybe obeying would be easier. Plus, it just felt good. He didn't know if he should admit to that, but it did feel good. It was stinging and made him feel vulnerable and childish and needy and he'd feel it after it was over and he liked that. He liked all of it.

"You're my baby boy and I'm going to protect you. Take care of you. Watch out for you." Hurley continued to gently smack Mitch's sit spots and thighs, focusing on the more sensitive spots, but he didn't let the rest of his son's bottom 'get cold' and returned to gently swat there.

"I'm yours...completely...you keep me safe..." Mitch whispered in agreement, squirming a little more; this time because he'd reached a level of sensitivity that he couldn't help but squirm. "...Feels good...belonging..." he admitted, his face turning pink to match his bottom.

"You do belong to me," Hurley agreed, adjusting his son's position in order to make it easier to smack, covering every inch of Mitch's bottom down to his thighs. Every so often, he paused to gently rub and lightly soothe the warm skin.

"Yours forever..." Mitch said hesitantly. Forever was a really long time; what if Hurley regretted taking him on? Decided he was too much work?

"Forever," Hurley agreed. "You're always going to be mine, baby boy."

"I'll always be your baby boy?" Mitch's voice sounded a little embarrassed at that. He really shouldn't like being treated like he was so young and helpless, but he did. At least when it was Hurley treating him that way.

"Yes. You will. And I will always be your daddy," Hurley promised. "No matter what happens. Even if there are mistakes made...my love for you isn't going to change." He continued to gently rub over his son's pink, warmed bottom, his voice low and reassuring.

Mitch relaxed even further. "Thank you, daddy..." he whispered. Knowing Hurley cared about- loved him- helped. Having him prove that he could maintain control over him helped. Both at the same time? Eased a little of the fear he had that he'd be dropped and left behind if he became too problematic. And he was positive he could be very problematic.

"I'm not going to let you go, baby boy." Hurley resumed the firm pats he'd started out with, though this time, a 'harder' one was interspersed periodically.

Mitch moaned slightly when the slightly 'harder' swat landed, but again, his reaction when he squirmed was more needy and appreciative than reluctant and trying to get away. He felt too safe and cared about and loved to be nervous or need to get away from the less than gentle affection. And that's what it was, affection. He wasn't in trouble. His father was doing this because he'd asked him to. He was doing this because he loved Mitch and wanted to give him whatever he needed to be happy. Mitch would be perfectly happy lying over his father's lap all day, just being swatted and then rubbed, his father in complete control over him and whatever was done to him. It was freeing, in a way; not being in charge. Not having a say in when it would start (even if it started because he'd asked for it, it was still his father that had decided to give him his request). It was freeing letting his father be in charge. He wondered if obeying his father would give him the same feeling of freedom. He'd have to test that theory out, see if he felt as good obeying Hurley when he wasn't over the older man's knee.

Hurley gently squeezed his son's hand, continuing to firmly pat and gently smack Mitch's bottom, pausing to rub and stroke and soothe, but then resuming the light spanking.

Mitch closed his eyes and let out a tiny sigh, still holding firmly to his father's hand, holding still when his father was soothing him and squirming when being smacked; never trying to get away and often saying thank you in between his whimpers.

"You're mine, baby boy," Hurley whispered...reiterated...stroking Mitch's hand. "No matter what happens...even if you're naughty...you belong to me. You're my son. We've got the paperwork to prove it, but I didn't need that to make my decision. And even without that, it doesn't change anything."

"...Never will change..." Mitch took a quivery breath, squeezing his hand around his father's gently.

Hurley paused in the spanking, letting his hand rest on Mitch's bottom while his other still held his son's. He decided to change things up a little. "Before everything that happened...what were your plans? What were you doing?" He hoped asking questions would give him more of an insight into his son's mind; how he worked.

Mitch swallowed and blinked, the question having caught him off guard. He wanted to make his father as happy as Hurley was trying to make him, though, so he answered. "Before Katrina or after Katrina?" he asked, in a tiny voice, for clarification.

"Tell me both." Hurley's voice was low and reassuring as he gently and soothingly rubbed over Mitch's lower back and bottom.

"Be...before..." Mitch swallowed reflexively. "...Katrina and I were both orphans. My only thought was to make sure we got married so we could always be together; wouldn't have to be alone anymore. I'd had a job interview right before we went to the resort. It was entry level, but I knew I was smart enough that if I worked hard, I could get promoted... I wanted the house, white picket fence, 2.5 kids with one dog and a cat. Typical dream. She wanted that too; we'd talked about it before I asked her to marry me, so I knew she wanted that..." He closed his eyes as he remembered the day that had ripped that dream away from him before he continued, his voice thickening as he fought back tears. "After...my plans were focused on one thing. Kill the men who had taken her from me. Everything I did from that point on was to prepare myself to go in and eliminate them all, before they could destroy anyone else the way I felt destroyed..." His voice caught. "I never expected to come out of it alive. I wasn't trying to come out of it alive. I was trying to die. And then the CIA caught me and brought me to you and..." ...And now he belonged to Hurley and didn't want to die anymore.

Hurley kept rubbing and stroking while his son talked, responding to the pain and grief he knew still lurked under the surface. "And now...you won't ever be alone again, baby boy," he said, his voice pitched...almost like he was asking a question.

"...I... I won't ever be alone again, daddy..." He repeated his father's words hesitantly. His father had voiced it like a question, almost as if asking Mitch to confirm the words. He couldn't not repeat them. Saying them made him feel marginally better, though, and it was slightly easier to keep from crying at the memories.

"Good boy," Hurley murmured, squeezing Mitch's hand. Pitching his voice the same way, he continued, "You have a sister...a brother...more importantly, a father."

"I... I have a sister...a brother...a father..." Mitch obediently repeated, then altered the words slightly. "...I have Anni and Alastor and you, daddy..." he said, his voice small and still a little hesitant; uncertain about repeating everything, but wanting to make Hurley happy. Plus, repeating it was easing something inside of him that he hadn't even realized needed easing.

"Good boy," Hurley praised again, squeezing his hand gently again. "Did you go to school?" His voice was gentle and encouraging. He kept stroking and rubbing and caressing...not stopping touching his baby boy.

"I... I graduated high school. I dropped out of college. I wasn't very good at following the rules..." he admitted sheepishly. "...None of the professors knew how to engage me enough where I wanted to attend class regularly. Finally, they gave me a choice; drop out on my own, or be kicked out..." If he sounded ashamed of what had occurred, it was because he was ashamed. He knew that if that had occurred under Hurley's watch, he would have straightened up immediately, or the older man would have known why.

Hurley didn't voice his thoughts that Mitch wasn't good at following orders and directions...that it needed the right person to step in and his son hadn't had that until recently. "Is that something you've regretted? Dropping out of college?"

"I don't know. I hadn't really given it any thought. Until recently, I never really thought I had much of a future left..." Mitch answered truthfully, even though he knew it might upset his father to hear it.

Hurley gently squeezed his hand. "But that's not true anymore, baby boy. It's not true that you don't have a future."

Mitch squeezed Hurley's hand back. "It isn't true now...I do have a future..." He didn't repeat exactly, but that's what he knew Hurley wanted to hear him say. The fact he actually meant it wasn't lost on him, though. "I do have a future..." he said again, before sniffling slightly.

"And you have a choice," Hurley continued. "If it's something you want to do...go back into education. Or if you want to continue to be an agent. Or perhaps go back to college to have an option to fall back on. You have choices, baby boy. Choices your family will support you in."

"I... yeah. Anything at all? You wouldn't mind?" he asked curiously. Since he hadn't really given it much thought, he was more curious as to if Hurley had anything he wanted him to avoid doing or being.

"I want you to do what makes you happy," Hurley replied. "I want you to make your decision...with help, if necessary. The only requirement is that, once you've made that choice, you need to stick with it...and I'll help you do that."

"No quitting?" Mitch asked softly.

"No quitting," Hurley repeated. "But I won't ever leave you to flounder, baby boy."

"I won't quit...you'll help me..." Mitch stated firmly. The words may not be the same, but the intent was. He was beginning to understand Hurley's 'game'. He found he didn't really mind it; especially if it got him praise from his father when he 'understood' and got the answer right.

"Good boy," Hurley praised. "Because you belong to me. You're my baby boy. You belong to your daddy."

"I'm your baby boy... I belong to my daddy..." Mitch's voice caught again and he blinked back tears. "I belong to you, daddy...I'm yours..."

"You're mine," Hurley said, stroking Mitch's hand. "You belong to me, which means you don't have the right to disobey me."

Mitch paused, then took a slow breath and repeated. "I'm yours...I belong to you...I don't have the right to disobey you..." He swallowed hard and sniffled audibly. He whispered, "I'm sorry I was so disobedient, daddy...was wrong of me...was a brat..."

Hurley stroked gently over his lower back and bottom. "I've forgiven you for that, baby boy. I love you. I want you."

Mitch sniffled and then whimpered. "I know you have, daddy...I know you want me...still feel bad about disobeying. Was very bad disobeying you. Coulda gotten you killed!" He choked on the last bit.

"You didn't, baby boy," Hurley soothed. "No one bore more or less responsibility for what happened. And you didn't lose me. I still came for you. And no matter what, I will always come for you."

"You always come for me..." Mitch repeated, tears still in his voice. He hadn't lost his father, but he could have. The thought that he almost had made it hard not to cry.

"Because you're my boy...my son. I love you. You belong to me." Stroking his back, Hurley continued, "You belong to me...and you won't ever fight me on checking over your wounds. Or checking to see if you are wounded."

"I'm your boy...I'm your son...I belong to you..." Mitch choked again, the tiny sob escaping this time. "I'm yours and I won't fight you. I won't fight you checking over me for any reason..." he promised.

"Good boy," Hurley praised again. "You belong to your daddy...and you'll listen to me when I tell you to do something. Because it'll be for your own good. Because I'll be telling you to keep you safe and protect you."

"I belong to my daddy..." Mitch whispered, his voice small and sounding like a little boy's. "I'll listen when you tell me to do something, because you want me safe and protected..." He sniffled again. "I'll obey you, daddy, bec...because you know better'n me and I want to be your good boy..." he added on quietly.

"You are my good boy," Hurley said. "After I brought you home, you've been doing everything right, apart from one setback that we dealt with."

"I've been doing everything right?" Mitch's voice was pathetically hopeful; as if he couldn't believe that he'd be considered good.

"Since that first time, you haven't fought me on checking you over at all, baby boy," Hurley pointed out. "You've been trying hard to obey my directions when I'm punishing your brother...even though I know it's difficult."

"I've been good?" Mitch couldn't stop himself from asking again. "I'm...I'm your good boy?" he whispered.

"My good boy," Hurley repeated. "My baby boy." He rubbed his son's bottom a little bit more and then began to gently smack once again.

"Your good boy..." Mitch repeated, his voice hitched. "Your baby boy..." He sniffled and whimpered when the smacking started over. "Totally and always yours..." he added on, as much for his own benefit as Hurley's.

"Exactly, baby boy." Hurley smacked for one full circuit and then paused to gently rub his son's bottom before he began smacking again.

"Daddy..." Mitch whined in a strained voice, beginning to squirm helplessly over his father's knee. The sting had gone past the point of feeling good. Now it just felt sore. He'd be feeling it for a few hours if not days past this point. He wasn't in charge, though. His daddy was. Hurley would be the one to decide when he'd had enough.

"I've got you, baby boy," Hurley repeated, interspersing rubbing with the gentle smacking. "I won't let you go. You'll never be alone again."

"I won't...I won't..." Mitch slumped as he whispered, "I won't be alone ever again..." Then he was sobbing.

Hurley stopped spanking and carefully replaced his son's clothing, then moved Mitch so his baby boy was no longer over his lap but sitting on it, wrapping his arms tightly around his son and just holding him. "I've got you," he repeated softly. "Your daddy's here. I'm not going anywhere."

Mitch squirmed just enough so he could wrap his own arms around his father and hold tight, his head burrowed under Hurley's chin, against his chest. "Love you, daddy...'m yours...'m gonna be good...obey you from now on...do whatever you say...'m yours..." he kept repeating while he cried; more to remind himself of the fact he belonged somewhere now than any other reason.

Hurley kissed his head. "I love you," he whispered. "I've got you. I promise I'm never going to let you go, baby boy. You have a family. You have me."

"I love you, daddy, so much...I need you so much..." Mitch continued to cry. Eventually, though, his tears ebbed to sniffles and then finally, he was just snuggling quietly on his father's lap. Content to be held and cuddled and kissed. He stayed there until his brother and sister were walking up the drive, talking loudly enough that they could be heard before they reached the house. He glanced up at Hurley for some sort of direction. If he should get up and go wash his face, get up and move to sit beside his father, stay where he was... he didn't really care if his brother and sister saw him so needy, but he wanted it to be his father's decision.

Hurley stroked his son's cheek. "If you want to stay sitting with me, it isn't a problem," he said gently. "Your brother and sister won't mind seeing us cuddling...and will probably join in with the cuddles."

"Okay, daddy." Mitch just snuggled closer and when Alastor and Annika proved his father right by coming in and snuggling up with both of them, he let himself relax enough in the love of his family that he was able to fall asleep.

Hurley shifted so he could touch all three of his children and smiled at Alastor and Annika. "Have either of you given thought to what you'd like to do when you're healed, now that the CIA is no longer a factor?" he asked.

Annika shook her head. "No, Papa."

Alastor shook his head as well. "No, dad, but maybe we can all talk about it when Mitch wakes up?" He grinned.

Hurley smiled at that and pressed a kiss to each of his children's heads. "We have time. The important thing is that I have all of you home and safe. Everything else can fall into place when it needs to."

The End