The Way Things Will Be

Title: The Way Things Will Be

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

Summary: Sequel to Family Business. The kids adjust to having a family and what that means.

Warning(s): Spanking; encouraged immature behavior

Authors: BlackFox12 and Hope1iz

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It was now the second week after Hurley had brought his children home and officially retired from the CIA. It meant he could focus entirely on his sons and daughter and help each of them to heal. They'd yet to make decisions on what they wanted to do, but they were thinking about it and he hoped they knew he'd support them in whatever decision they made.

For the entire previous week, Hurley had taken Alastor over his knee each night at eight, Mitch in the corner. So far, his youngest son had managed to stay put and each spanking had gradually brought his eldest closer to Hurley. He'd made the decision to stop spanking his oldest son every night and to start doing so every week instead...for the time being. And tonight was the designated night.

The film was finished now, and Hurley switched off the television before turning to his children. "We're nearly at eight," he said gently.

Annika had nodded quickly. "I'm going to go take a shower. Change for bed," she said softly. "...When it's time for bed, knock on my bedroom door; I'll read for a little while." She'd quickly headed to the bath to do just that.

So far, none of the children had felt like they wanted to leave the comfort of their father's room to sleep alone in their own rooms. Knowing they had the rooms was enough. It was more important to them to stay close with their family.

Mitch didn't say anything. He'd had a shower that morning; plus, he was still in designated corner time until Alastor was no longer receiving spankings. It was becoming increasingly more difficult not to leave said corner and argue with his father about punishing his brother, though. Alastor was obviously repentant of his actions from before and had no intention of ever repeating them. Mitch couldn't understand why their father had to continue punishing his older brother for his bad choices. Hadn't he been forgiven? Alastor had tried to explain it briefly to him; tell him how it helped Alastor feel as if he was paying in some way for his horrible actions, since he would never be able to pay for them any other way. Mitch supposed he could understand that. Still.

Alastor eyed his baby brother worriedly, remembering the conversation they'd had that morning about Alastor's upcoming punishment. Mitch had said he'd understood, but he certainly didn't act as if he understood. It was out of his hands, however. He'd done what he could by explaining. If Mitch didn't want to listen to Alastor himself, when he said it was necessary, then Alastor didn't know that anyone else would be able to get through to the kid. "I'll meet you in the bedroom, Dad," he said instead. Standing, he quickly headed to Hurley's room and began to undress. He figured in another week, he'd be able to put pajamas on before he was punished- his wounds were mostly healed by now- but he'd wait until his father told him he could do so.

"Yeah. Guess I'll go get changed and wait in the corner..." Mitch mumbled unhappily and stomped to the room after his older brother. He did change into pajamas. He wasn't being spanked, after all, so he didn't have any reasons that Hurley needed to be able to see skin. He went and faced his designated corner immediately, afraid if he didn't that he'd say something he shouldn't.

Hurley held back a sigh. He knew hearing Alastor punished was upsetting for Mitch and he knew his youngest son was finding it increasingly difficult to stay in the corner. It wouldn't do any good to point out that he didn't want to punish Alastor; the fact was, he knew what his oldest needed.

Reaching the bedroom, Hurley stepped inside and gently grasped Alastor's shoulder to guide his son towards the bed, giving a gentle and reassuring squeeze.

Alastor eyed Mitch worriedly, but followed his father's direction, walking toward the bed. He knew his father didn't like punishing him and was only doing so because Alastor needed it. He just wished his baby brother could understand that fact.

Mitch took a deep breath and clenched his fists at his side.

Hurley pressed a kiss to Alastor's forehead and then sat on the bed, gently guiding his son across his lap. "I've got you, kiddo," he whispered, figuring Alastor understood he meant in more than one way. Rubbing his son's back, he then lifted his hand and brought it down in a firm swat that he then repeated.

Alastor didn't try to be stoic or pretend what was happening wasn't affecting him. He'd been in this position too many times and his father knew him too well. Instead, he immediately grasped onto his father's leg, so that his hands wouldn't go back to cover his bottom and then he whispered, "I know, dad..." When the first swat fell, he winced, but it wasn't bad enough to elicit a sound from him; though he did shift. The second swat got a tiny grunt from him and he shifted again.

Hurley kept his other hand on his son's back, gently stroking and rubbing, even as he continued the swats down to Alastor's thighs before starting over from the top. Partway through the second circuit, he began to speak. "I know you understand what you did was wrong...that you know there were a lot of good people who didn't have to get hurt when you came home blinded with rage and the need for vengeance."

"Yessir...I know..." Alastor said, his voice quivering. It was always at this point that he began to lose his ability not to cry and squirm, thinking about all those he'd hurt causing worse pain than any spanking Hurley could administer. Normally, his father would pick an individual who had been hurt and talk about them; talk about their family...what was going to happen now that their family member was gone. This time, Alastor was the one who began talking. He chose the first agent he'd killed and began to talk about them, what they had been like, who they'd left behind that missed them. He was only halfway through the recitation when he began to sob.

Mitch had barely managed to stay still during the first circuit of swats, but when Hurley began to talk, he knew what was coming; and he knew how it affected Alastor. He became more and more agitated. And as Alastor began to speak, he began to shift from foot to foot. When Alastor began to sob, he couldn't stand still any longer. Twisting around, he ran to his father's side, next to Alastor's head. "Daddy...stop! That's enough!" he pleaded, as he tried to catch Hurley's hand before it fell again.

Hurley turned his hand over so he could gently grip Mitch's, forcing himself not to show his youngest son how much it hurt him to punish Alastor. "That's not your decision to make, baby boy." His voice was gentle, but there was still a firm undercurrent to it.

"But Daddy! You punished him for a full week last week...when's he gonna be punished enough?!" Mitch argued. He didn't truly believe his father wanted to do this, but he couldn't understand how the man could continue if it wasn't something he wanted to do.

"Mitch!" Alastor's own voice was as firm as their father's. "We talked about this, this morning. What did I tell you?"

Mitch swallowed at his brother's tone. Alastor was on their father's side and it was obvious Mitch had upset him. "You said you needed it...until you felt like you'd paid enough and learned enough that you'd never do something like what you did, ever again..." he whispered.

"That's right, baby brother. I need to remember everyone I killed; those who were hurt because of me. I need to remember them, and I need to feel pain because of them...not just mental or emotional, but physical...all of it. So that I never forget. So that I always remember. So that I never do what I did before, ever again. I need this..." Alastor's voice was firm and unyielding, even if it had a sheen of tears to it.

Mitch shook his head, not wanting to believe what his brother was saying. It hurt so much to hear Alastor hurting. "Please, daddy..." he whispered and turned tormented eyes toward Hurley again, hoping that maybe Hurley would decide it was enough, even if Alastor seemed to think otherwise. Hoping he could convince his father.

Hurley gently stroked Mitch's cheek, leaning in to kiss his forehead. "I know you want to protect your brother, baby boy," he murmured. "I know you don't want to see him hurting. Neither do I." He spoke honestly, letting both his sons hear his words. "But spanking Alastor isn't about piling on more pain." Stroking his oldest son's lower back...his youngest son's cheek...he continued, "Sometimes it has to hurt on the outside so you can heal on the inside."

Mitch swallowed hard and closed his eyes, his brother's words and his father's blending and weighing down on him. He hadn't convinced either of them and Alastor was going to be spanked. He just wished he didn't have to hear it any longer. He'd failed to keep in place- to obey his father- so the reason for him even being in the room at the same time as Alastor being punished was pointless now. Swallowing again, he nodded. "Okay..." he said, in a tiny, defeated tone, stepping away from his father and brother. As soon as he was far enough away that it seemed he would return to the corner, he ran, fleeing the room and into his own room, slamming his door shut and throwing himself onto his bed. He wouldn't run away from home. But he just couldn't stay in the room while Alastor was spanked. Not tonight.

Hurley gently stroked Alastor's back, listening to the door slam to Mitch's bedroom. He could tell his youngest son wasn't running from the house, so he didn't need to abandon his oldest before they were done, and he could move onto comforting Alastor. Still, it was hard and he couldn't bring himself to start spanking again straight away, still gently stroking his son's back. "I love you, kiddo." He felt the sudden urge to reassure his oldest of that...to make sure Alastor knew.

Alastor let go of his father's leg with one hand and reached back, grasping his father's hand tightly. "I know, daddy..." he said quietly. "You're only doing this because you love me. Because you know I need it to be able to forgive myself and move on. I think Mitch understands, too; he just didn't count on it being so difficult to listen..." Alastor squeezed his father's hand gently. "I love you too and I'm not upset at this or at you. I'm very thankful that you love me so much that you'll do it, even though I know it hurts you."

Hurley gently squeezed Alastor's hand. "I don't like to cause you pain. But leaving you to suffer emotionally would be even worse." Stroking his son's lower back, Hurley sighed quietly, letting himself feel his son with him. "I love you too much and missed you too much not to give you what you need."

"I love you too, daddy..." Alastor said softly. "...And I'm grateful to you. Mitch will come around."

Hurley stroked Alastor's hand. "I'll rethink having him in here while we're doing this. It's just going to get harder for him and while being challenged is good, I don't want him hurting." He moved his hand down to his son's bottom.

"Yeah. I don't want him hurting either. Especially not over something that we both know I need..." He sighed, letting himself relax again as his father's hand shifted.

Hurley kept holding onto Alastor's hand, even as he resumed the spanking. He kept the swats at the same force and kept holding on tightly.

Alastor had already recited the name and information for one of those he hurt. Now he just concentrated on the feeling of his father's hand in his, the feeling of his father's palm connecting with his backside, the feeling of his father's knees underneath his abdomen supporting him and the feeling of him holding him in place. It felt safe. And because he felt safe, he was able to let go and begin crying out his regret and shame and his sorrow at what he had become and what he had done. "I'm sorry...so sorry, daddy..." he whispered, knowing his father understood.

Hurley closed his eyes, his son's tears tearing at his heart. He stopped the spanking and wasted no time in drawing Alastor into his arms, cuddling him tightly on his lap. "I love you, son...I forgive you," he whispered, kissing the top of his son's head, once again cursing himself for trusting what he'd been told. It was his fault his oldest son was now in so much pain. Suffering so much guilt.

His father's forgiveness went a long way to helping Alastor heal, but he knew he'd never be completely better until he was able to forgive himself; or at least allow that he hadn't been in a good place mentally and he would never do what he'd done then now. "I love you, daddy...you rescued me...you're bringing me back bit by bit...thank you."

"I'm never going to let you go again," Hurley promised, tightening his arms around his son. "You're here...you're home with me...I won't be letting you leave my sight for a good long while yet."

"I never want to leave your sight...so..." Alastor chuckled faintly. "Why don't I get dressed, go retrieve Annika? We can get into bed and wait for you and baby brother, if you want to take care of him in his room. Bring him back here and it can be his turn to sleep tangled up in your arms. He'll probably need it..." Alastor hugged his father tightly to show he'd be alright, then waited to see if his father agreed with his suggestion or not.

Hurley nodded, pressing a kiss to his oldest's forehead. "Yeah. Good idea," he agreed.

Alastor smiled at the kiss and hugged his father once more before standing and quickly finding his pajamas. Once dressed, he smiled at his father. "It will be okay..." he whispered, before going to retrieve his sister.

Hurley took a deep breath and then walked out of the bedroom, heading to Mitch's room. He knocked lightly once to announce his presence and then opened the door.

Mitch heard the knock, but couldn't bring himself to say anything. He'd known immediately after leaving his father's room that he'd over-reacted. He'd disobeyed the one direction he'd been given; disregarded his brother's feelings about what was happening; most likely made his father feel worse than he already did at having to spank Alastor; and then run out of the room like a petulant child. If anyone deserved a spanking now, he did.

But he couldn't stay there and listen any longer. He wasn't entirely sure why, either. He knew, as much as a spanking hurt, it wasn't so painful that he needed to worry about Alastor. He also knew his father hated doing it and was only still doing it because his brother needed him to. Those two things alone should have enabled him to just stay in place and not melt down like he had. But he had melted down. Spectacularly. He was so ashamed and embarrassed, all he could do was lie face first on the bed, his face buried in the pillow and not face his father. He heard the door open, but his whimper was eaten by the pillow.

Gently closing the door behind him, Hurley walked over to the bed and sat down, reaching out to wrap his arms around his youngest son, gently drawing Mitch onto his lap so he could hug him tightly.

He'd planned to stay with his face buried in his pillow forever, not wanting to face his father, but Hurley had other plans and Mitch couldn't bring himself to fight him. As soon as he was sat on his father's lap, Hurley holding him tightly, Mitch wrapped his own arms around the older man in a desperate hug. "I'm sorry, daddy...I couldn't stay in place...I couldn't stay quiet...even though I knew everything was fine and Alastor wanted to be...I couldn't...I'm sorry..." His voice was small, sounding like a child who knew he'd messed up badly and was waiting to find out how much trouble he was in.

Hurley tightened his arms around Mitch, kissing the top of his head. "That you moved out of the corner isn't a problem, baby boy," he whispered. "We talked about it being likely. Remember? That it wouldn't be a bad thing. It's a learning curve. For both of us."

"I know we did...but we never said anything about my arguing with you..." To Mitch's thinking, that was even worse than the moving. Questioning his father's actions when he knew the older man wouldn't harm his brother. It seemed wrong.

"You were trying to protect your brother," Hurley pointed out gently. "You weren't arguing with me for the sake of it. I know how hard it is to listen to someone you love crying and in pain."

Mitch latched onto those words, nodding fervently. "It was! It was so hard, daddy! I...I didn't mean to sound like I didn't trust you..." His voice went small again and tears began running down his face.

Hurley stroked his son's cheeks, wiping away the tears. "I know, baby boy. I know you were worried about your brother. Even if, logically, you know I'm doing right by him...what I asked you to do was something I knew would be difficult. I know, because it is difficult for me to keep pushing that." He kissed Mitch's head and whispered, "There's nothing wrong with wanting to protect your family."

Mitch just clung more tightly to his father. "I shoulda handled it better...talked to you before. Listened to what Alastor told me. Shouldn't have run out... I'm so sorry..." he whispered.

"It's not about doing something naughty and getting punished, baby boy," Hurley said gently. "This was about training and teaching more than about you disobeying my direction to stay in the corner."

"So I failed a test instead..." Mitch snorted softly. "That don't feel much better..."

Hurley stroked his cheek. "It got too much for you to handle," he whispered. "That's what it was, baby boy. It's not about failing or passing. It's about learning."

Mitch snuggled close. "I didn't fail?" he asked hesitantly. "I disobeyed you..." He sounded confused, as if he couldn't understand why he wasn't in trouble.

Hurley let his hand run gently over Mitch's hair and back. "I told you to stay in the corner. You came out of the corner because your brother was crying and you were worried about him. It's not a failure to worry about your family." Pressing a kiss to his son's head, he added, "I'll still be turning you over my knee, but it'll be as a reminder rather than punishment."

Mitch slumped, Hurley's words relieving him rather than upsetting him. "Okay, daddy," he said quietly, with a tight hug, before he pulled back enough that Hurley could position him.

Hurley gently moved Mitch over his knees, pulling his son's pajama pants down before he began to firmly pat his boy's bottom.

It didn't take long for Mitch to begin crying, but it was soft crying...relieved and accepting more than upset and fighting.

Hurley didn't increase the force any, just really patting firmly enough to sting and only for two circuits before he stopped, reclothed his son and resumed cuddling.

Mitch snuggled close. "That's all?" he asked quietly. "No more reminder?"

Hurley kissed Mitch's head. "Not unless you think you need more, baby boy."

"I dunno, daddy..." Mitch said honestly. "Really tired right now...just wanna be held..."

Hurley stroked his cheek. "Why don't we go through to bed...it's your turn to sleep in my arms...and in the morning, if you think you need more of a reminder, you can let me know?"

"Okay, daddy..." Mitch agreed, hugging his father tightly before carefully standing. He waited for his father to lead him in.

Wrapping his arm tightly around his youngest son's shoulders, Hurley led Mitch into the bedroom. Careful not to jostle his other children too much, he carefully settled in place so Mitch could get comfortable.

As soon as Hurley was in bed, Mitch carefully crawled up, positioning himself so his head was on his father's shoulder, pressed as tight to the older man as was comfortable, making sure he was in position where he could be 'handled' if his father decided to do so. "Love you, daddy..." he whispered, so as not to wake his sleeping siblings.

"I love you," Hurley whispered back, kissing his youngest son's head. He knew his other children were sleeping, but let himself touch their faces gently, careful not to wake them, but wanting to touch each of them. He began to stroke over Mitch's back in slow circles, holding onto his youngest son effectively tight enough to hold him 'trapped'.

His father's tight grip and gentle caressing calmed Mitch down sufficiently that he was soon sound asleep.


When they woke the next morning, Annika couldn't help but smile at the sight of her 'twin' snuggled up to their father. She smiled at her older brother over their father's head, motioning that she was getting up to go make breakfast.

Alastor smiled, nodding, carefully crawling out of bed at the same time as his sister. They both snuck out to get dressed and begin breakfast.

Mitch didn't fully wake up, but he did stir slightly, snuggling into his father and mumbling. "Spank me, daddy," he whispered, still half asleep. It wasn't clear if he was dreaming or not.

Not entirely certain that Mitch was fully awake, Hurley gently stroked lower over his youngest son's back, lightly patting Mitch's bottom. "I've got you, baby boy," he murmured, his voice soft to gently draw his son to full awareness.

"Forever...?" Mitch asked drowsily, shifting slightly as he slowly woke more fully. "Hmmm...feels safe...you having hold of me..."

"Forever," Hurley promised, tightening his arms around his son. "I'll keep hold of you as long as you want, baby boy."

"Be careful...I may never want you to let go..." Mitch teased. "Had a bad dream." He sighed softly. "Dreamt I'd done something really bad...they were gonna take me away...the only way they'd let me stay with you was if you spanked me..." He wrinkled his nose. "You don't think I could ever be taken away from our family, do you?"

Hurley rubbed slow, gentle circles over his son's back and bottom as he listened to what Mitch said. "I've made you mine in every way I possibly could. If there was ever anyone who tried to take you from me, I wouldn't let them. I might be retired, but I've got a lot of contacts I can call upon to make sure you stay mine."

"It was a weird dream..." Mitch sighed. "I don't want to live life without you and Alastor and Annika..."

"I won't ever let you get taken from me...any of you," Hurley promised. "No matter what happens, I'm not gonna lose any one of you." He continued the gentle affection, reluctant to let go of his baby boy.

Mitch snuggled some more. "I love you, daddy..." He swallowed. "I'm really sorry I disobeyed last night. Even if you understood...understand...I shouldn't have done it."

"I know, baby boy," Hurley replied gently. "I forgave you for that. I don't blame you."

"I dunno if I can stay in the corner next time...it's too hard..." Mitch admitted. "Can't we do something else to teach me to obey you?" His voice was hesitant.

Hurley gently stroked Mitch's cheek. "I wasn't planning on having you stand in the corner again, baby boy...not unless it's something that needs to involve you personally. I have some ideas for teaching that might come in useful." Gently patting his son's bottom, he continued, "The other thing is if you've thought at all about what you'd like to do."

"Thought about what I want to do? You mean as far as jobs for the CIA?" Mitch asked, a little confused.

"I mean about if you wanted to do something else," Hurley answered. "Go back to college, for instance. You could even do a home course, so you wouldn't have to leave."

"I thought a little about it, but nothing that I made a decision on...I just don't feel that smart. I'm good at fighting and killing. Not so much anything else..." Mitch sighed.

"I think you're smarter than you give yourself credit for, baby boy," Hurley said gently. "Whatever you choose, I'll support you. And if you still want to carry out missions, I'll take on the role of your handler as well."

"That's the only way I'll take on missions. I don't trust anyone else not to hang me out to dry..." Mitch said.

Hurley kissed his forehead. "I'll always make sure you come home to me, baby boy."

Mitch smiled. "I know...but I think I'd just rather not leave you in the first place." He snuggled a little more, then carefully got up. "Lets go get breakfast. Then maybe you can explain how you'll help me learn from now on..."

Hurley stood and gave Mitch a tight hug before wrapping his arm around his youngest son's shoulders, guiding him through to the other room.

Annika looked up from setting the table. "It's raining. I figured unless you had something planned, Papa, we could play a game or two...along with spring cleaning..."

"Have we been living here long enough to need to spring clean?" Alastor asked quizzically.

"Doesn't it need to be Spring, to Spring clean?" Mitch added.

"I'm sure it doesn't need to be...and there likely won't be much to do, but we can still make sure to keep on top of it." Hurley moved over to hug his other two children.

"Keeping on top of it would be good..." Annika grinned, sticking her tongue out at her brothers.

Alastor chuckled and nodded. "Okay..."

Mitch stuck his own tongue out.

Hurley smiled in fond amusement and moved to help pour out the drinks.

Breakfast was calm and happy, all three of the 'kids' happy to just enjoy each other and their father's company.

Once breakfast was over with, Hurley began to help clean up, motioning for Mitch to join him so he could tell his youngest son his idea.

Mitch quickly began to clear up as well, beginning to wash dishes while his siblings went to get dressed and find some games to play. "So... what do you need to tell me, daddy?" he asked once they were alone.

"It's up to you whether you tell your brother and sister or not, but as part of 'training' you to follow my orders when it's important, I'll be giving you various tasks to complete over the next few days," Hurley answered. "They'll range from easy to harder...but if you don't want to do one, you just get one chance to convince me why."

"So, if I really don't like something or it feels wrong for some reason...I have to tell you right away? Or at least as soon as it feels wrong? Will you change your mind about me doing something if I tell you that?" Mitch asked curiously.

"It's going to depend on what the reason is," Hurley answered. "If it feels wrong to you, the chances are I'll change my mind. If it's just that you really don't like it...I'm less likely to."

"So, I need a really good reason to get out of something..." Mitch nodded slowly. "Makes sense..."

"Exactly, baby boy," Hurley answered. "It's important you follow my orders when it counts...but it's also important you tell me when something feels wrong."

"Okay...should be easy enough..." Mitch smiled crookedly.

Hurley nodded and, seeing that they'd finished clearing up, decided to start with the first request. "There's a letter on the desk in my office. I'd like you to go and get it for me."

"Really? That's...that's it?" Mitch blinked, then shook his head with a slightly amused look on his face. "If all your orders are this easy, I'll never have any problems obeying..." He smiled before heading toward the office.

Hurley couldn't help a fond smile as he watched his son head towards the office. He didn't point out that just because one order was easy, it didn't mean they all would be.

Mitch hadn't wasted any time going in and finding the letter...but as he picked it up, he couldn't help but notice an email that had arrived to his father from one of his contacts in the CIA, the title of which was the name of someone Mitch knew was one of the terrorists he hadn't been able to get to when he was taking out those who had hurt Katrina. A quick glance at the door and he forwarded it to his own secure email account to read later. Then he was leaving the office.

While Mitch was getting the letter, Hurley was setting out snacks and drinks for them all to eat while playing the games, having got dressed quickly.

Mitch came in and handed the letter to his father. "I need to go get dressed too, since I'm the only one still in my pajamas..." he mock complained. "I'll be back in a few minutes..."

"I'm sure we can wait to choose which game until you can put in your vote." Hurley gave him an affectionate kiss on the forehead.

Mitch smiled and headed to his room. He quickly changed, but then pulled the email up on his phone and quickly read it. The man he had been after for entirely too long was in the U.S., not more than an hour away. How he'd got past national security, Mitch hadn't a clue, but he was going to be the one to take him out. As soon as he found a way to get past his family.

Hurley glanced up with a warm smile as Alastor and Annika came back into the room. "Do either of you have a preference about which game to play first?" he asked them.

"No, sir...but..." Annika blushed. "I need some...personal items...that I forgot to pick up when we were in town. I thought I'd have time to get them later, except...well, my body seems to be out of whack, so..."

"I can drive you into town to get them," Hurley offered. He wasn't sure if Alastor and Mitch would want to come...but if his sons needed anything, he and Annika could get those items too.

"Yeah...I think I should be okay to do that," Annika said, after a moment's thought, hoping she wouldn't embarrass herself.

Hurley nodded and glanced at Alastor. "Are you going to come or stay here?" He figured he'd check with Mitch when his younger son returned from getting dressed.

Alastor smiled. "I'll stay." He could tell Annika was a bit embarrassed, so he figured he wouldn't add to it.

Mitch finally returned a few minutes later. He'd read the email completely. Knew where the terrorist was. Knew how he could go to where he was, take care of him and get back without anyone being the wiser. Somehow, he kept all his plans and machinations to himself, his face showing nothing of what he was thinking. "Okay, so what are we doing?" he asked brightly.

"Dad and Annika need to run into town for something, so for the next hour, it's just you and me..." Alastor smiled.

"Really?" Mitch looked at his father and sister in surprise.

Hurley nodded and smiled at his sons. "We just need to grab some things." He moved to give both of them a tight hug.

"Yeah...okay. Be safe!" Mitch smiled at his father and sister. This would make things even easier. He only had to worry about Alastor tracking him.

"You too." Pausing, Hurley decided to give an order he figured would be fairly easy to obey. "Don't leave the house." He turned to Annika with a warm smile. "Ready, angel?"

Mitch's mouth dropped open and he couldn't help but feel frustrated. Of course, his father would tell him not to do the one thing he needed to do to go after his target. He hated that he'd end up disobeying so soon after his father had changed things for him. Then again, he didn't plan on his father finding out about the excursion anyway, so he'd never know he'd disobeyed. Leaving the house wasn't nearly as problematic as what he had planned was. "Okay..." He sighed.

"I'll keep an eye on him," Alastor teased.

Hurley raised his eyebrows at his baby boy's response. "It's raining outside anyway." Giving each of them a hug and a kiss to their forehead, he then wrapped his arm around Annika to lead her from the house and to the car.

Mitch stood at the window, watching as they pulled away, then glanced at Alastor. "Guess I'll go read till they return," he said with a smile.

"Sure thing, baby brother. I'm going to rearrange my room." Alastor smiled back, heading in that direction. Ten minutes later, Alastor needed help shifting the bed and went to ask his brother for help. Mitch was nowhere to be seen.


Hurley kept up a light conversation with Annika as he drove her into town, not worried about his sons at all...and managing to convince himself that Mitch's reaction to being told not to go outside was more due to surprise than anything Hurley needed to worry about.

Annika chattered away, enjoying one on one time with her father; even if the reason for it was so annoying.

As they parked and got out, Hurley asked his daughter, "Have you thought about what you'd like to do, now we're out?" He'd already asked Mitch and planned to ask Alastor the same question.

"I think perhaps college. I can get a job in town..." Annika said quickly, obviously having given it some thought.


Mitch had planned well; had known exactly where to go and when. Of course, that's when his mark decided to change his plans up and go somewhere a little more populated. Now Mitch had to rethink his whole plan.


Hurley walked with Annika to get what she needed, showing absolutely no embarrassment and keeping up the talking about her future, what college she wanted to go to and whether she wanted to study at home or not.

Driving home, Hurley was relaxed and happy, looking forward to the day with his children. So, it was more than just worry that hit him when they got home and he realised his sons were nowhere to be found. When he found no note...no clue as to where they'd gone...he was terrified an enemy had come for them.

Annika was worried as well and had gone into Hurley's office to make certain a note hadn't fallen in the floor. That's when she noticed the email that hadn't been opened, but had been forwarded, that also contained a familiar name. "Papa!" she yelled, dread pooling in her stomach and carrying easily in her tone.


Meanwhile, Alastor had caught up with Mitch. He hadn't been impressed when the younger man had given him his plans. It had taken longer than he would have liked, but eventually, he managed to poke holes in and point out flaws for every single thing Mitch had planned to do; and convinced his baby brother to come home with him before starting something that could only end in one of them being hurt (since he had no intention of leaving Mitch alone.)

Mitch was frustrated that his plan had been thwarted, but he couldn't argue that his big brother hadn't been right. Going now...and using his plan...was not the way to take out the threat living too near them. A better plan was needed. He didn't say anything on the drive back, even about the fact he'd had to leave his car in a parking garage in town, but he did say something when he saw his father's car in the drive. "I'm dead..." he whispered miserably.

Spotting the email, Hurley had wasted no time in getting on the phone to his various contacts. He hadn't been kidding when he hinted at his network to Mitch. He was so worried and scared, he couldn't really hide that from the people he talked to...which meant there was a lot of men and women now privy to the fact that the way to hurt Hurley was through his children. After yet another failed lead, he could only hope there was no one who would use that knowledge against him.

Knowing there was no way to hide the fact he'd left, Mitch bit the bullet and walked into the house ahead of Alastor. "Dad!? Annika!?" His call was loud if hesitant.

Alastor followed quietly. He'd left his phone at home in his rush to get to Mitch, and he hadn't told his father what was going on. He could only imagine what the older man was going through.

Annika came running in. "Oh thank... Papa! They're here!"

Hurley didn't hesitate, quickly leaving the living room and moving over, hugging his sons tightly before he began checking them over. "Are either of you hurt? Did anyone threaten you?" His voice was frantic, but he was beginning to calm down now that his sons were there and in easy reach.

"No, dad. We aren't hurt. Mitch hadn't done anything when I caught up to him and he actually listened to me when I said it wasn't a good idea. The mark never even saw us." Alastor spoke as if Hurley knew what he was talking about. Either his father knew and pretending otherwise would dig them into deeper trouble, or Hurley would ask for clarification. Either way, he knew their father needed to know.

"I thought I'd be home before you...that you wouldn't worry." Mitch sounded apologetically sheepish.

Hurley raised his eyebrows at that. He didn't ask Alastor for clarification, as he was fairly certain he knew what his oldest was talking about. Turning to Mitch, he commented directly to his youngest. "Did I say leaving the house was okay if you were back before I knew anything?" There was more than one issue to deal with, but he was going to start with the outright disobedience.

Mitch blinked and straightened quickly at that. "No, sir." His answer was quick and respectful. He didn't even attempt to argue he'd been in the right.

"We're not even a day into this and you've already disobeyed my instructions," Hurley said, letting his disappointment sound clearly in his voice.

Mitch winced, his father's disappointment hurting more than he'd expected. He opened his mouth to explain, but it was fairly obvious Hurley had known what he'd been up to...and that it wasn't a good reason for leaving in his father's eyes. It wasn't even a good reason in his own eyes, if he were honest with himself. If it had been, he wouldn't have waited to sneak out...he would have just told his father about the email immediately and what he wanted to do. "...Y..yes, sir," he finally said, unable to look Hurley in the eye.

"You didn't need to sneak out of the house," Hurley said. "You think I don't know how important this is to you? But it's not about just you anymore, kid. Taking yourself out to end the threat isn't an acceptable course of action." His voice was very quiet as he continued, "You're mine now. My son. And not even you get to take yourself away from me."

Mitch nodded quickly, the sense of relief that he hadn't caused Hurley to regret adopting him obvious. His father's words had cleared up any worry he had about that, though. If not even he was allowed to take himself away...he was a Hurley's forever. "I should have told you. Waited for a plan that you were okay with. Not snuck out like a rat..." He winced again and swallowed. With hindsight and seeing how his father had been affected, he knew now just how badly he'd screwed up. "How difficult have I made things?" he asked, not entirely certain he wanted to hear the answer, but knowing he needed to.

"How close did you get to the mark?" Hurley's question was addressed to both of his sons. If they'd been spotted, he was fairly sure they would have been tailed...but he couldn't discount that the man might have still been spooked. And if he was, they could be facing a dangerous cornered animal.

"I caught up to Mitch when he was still four blocks away from where the mark was supposed to be. I didn't see any evidence he was close to either of us and as I've ...dealt... with this particular individual before, I'm fairly certain I would have seen him if he was close enough to spot either of us." Alastor's answer was as informative as he could make it, given the fact that nothing could be certain.

"I never got close enough to be seen. Alastor stopped me before I could..." Mitch agreed with his brother's assessment.

Hurley nodded and sighed. "That really leaves us with the fact that you both left without telling me anything...no phones...no radios...no way of getting in contact with me. From the time we got back here to the time you just came in, I've been contacting my entire network...trying to find out where you were."

Alastor winced at that and rubbed his head with a tiny groan. He understood what that meant, even if the look on Mitch's face indicated the younger man didn't quite grasp how seriously messed up that made their situation. "I am so sorry, dad. All I could think of was catching up to Mitch and stopping him...I didn't realize I'd left my phone till it was too late to go back. I'd intended to call you when I caught up to him, but... I failed. I have no excuse. It was a foolish mistake..."

"How big is your network?" Mitch asked faintly, finally beginning to realize that this might be a bigger deal than he'd originally thought. He glanced toward where Annika had been standing, hoping she might be able to clarify, only to discover their sister had snuck out at some point and gone to her room.

"Big," Hurley answered. "There are now a lot of men and women out there who know the surest way of hurting me is through my children. If things ever go south, that knowledge is going to make it harder for me to rely on them."

Mitch took a step back, swallowing hard. "Daddy..." He used the more juvenile term for the first time since returning home, indicating he was beginning to realize the extent of the problems his actions may have caused. "I never intended..." His voice caught, and he swallowed again.

"Is there any way to salvage things so it isn't a problem for you?" Alastor asked quietly. Some contacts were friendly enough they wouldn't use the knowledge against Hurley. It was better to know how many weren't that friendly. Be prepared and take precautions.

"There are some people I can guarantee will handle that knowledge safely," Hurley answered. "But there are more than a few who would work it to their own advantage if necessary." He hesitated. "This house is far enough out of the way that I don't expect we have to move, but we're going to need to take precautions. Always being on guard. Not leaving the house alone."

Mitch closed his eyes, turning his face to the ground and his shoulders slumping. "I put a target on all of us," he whispered in resigned realization. "Even you, daddy...they have to know if we're important to you, you're just as important to us..."

Hurley, unable to see his son so dejected, stepped over to Mitch and wrapped his arm around his youngest son's shoulders. He held his other arm out to Alastor. "Chances are it would have come out eventually. It's not as if no one can see that I've become a father to you two and your sister."

"Not everyone knew. Just those you used to help get Alastor settled...to get me and Annika away from the CIA. I messed everything up because I didn't want to wait...didn't want anyone else getting into my vendetta. I was wrong, and I have made things so hard for you...for everyone..." Mitch slumped further, though it was in Hurleys direction, so he wasn't trying to pull away, at least.

Alastor moved into his father's other arm, leaning over and kissing Hurley on the cheek. "I'm too used to doing things on my own, thinking that it was acceptable to wait to call till I'd reached Mitch. I'm sorry, dad."

Hurley wrapped his arms tightly around his sons. He wasn't going to lie and say things would be easy. They'd take precautions. He'd make sure of that. He pressed a kiss to each of their heads. "I love you...both of you...so much. Whatever comes from this, we'll deal with what we have to. I'm just relieved I didn't lose either of you," he said honestly.

"It was more thanks to Alastor than any wising up on my part," Mitch admitted morosely. "He talked me out of my plan; pointed out everything that could go wrong and why...by the time he'd finished, I was sorry I'd even though of it. Now I'm just sorry period..."

Hurley nodded and sighed. "I know, baby boy. You not only disobeyed my order not to leave the house, you also decided to try to take matters into your own hands when you knew it wasn't acceptable to leave on your own."

"Yes, daddy..." Mitch said softly. He didn't try and deny it. What was the point? It was the plain, unvarnished truth.

Hurley gently squeezed both his sons, looking at Alastor. "I know you were just trying to bring Mitch back home, but you also know not to leave without a note...without some way of me contacting you."

"I do, sir. I've gotten into...very bad habits...since bring away from you. I'll work harder on remembering," Alastor promised.

"Good." Hugging them both close, Hurley added, "But I'm afraid you're still both in trouble."

"I think I'd be worried if I wasn't," Mitch admitted hesitantly.

Alastor snorted softly, giving his baby brother a fond look.

Hurley kissed their cheeks. "Is there anything else we need to go through? Anything either of you are struggling with?" He looked at his sons carefully, wanting to be sure they understood.

"No, dad. I know why I'm in trouble," Alastor said quietly.

"I think I understand," Mitch said, though his voice wasn't quite as confident.

Hurley picked up on the words and the slight confidence lacking in his youngest son's voice. "Explain to me, baby boy," he directed softly.

Biting his lip, Mitch hesitantly responded. "I... I'm in trouble because I left the house when you'd directed me not to leave. I'm in trouble because I planned to go after an enemy agent without any backup, any means of contacting you, without leaving you any idea what I was doing, or where, or why... I'm in trouble because it was a dangerous risk and I'm not allowed to take those deliberately without your permission. I... I'm not sure if I'm in trouble for causing you so much worry and for making you use contacts that you wouldn't and shouldn't have needed to use, but it feels like I should be..." He whispered the last.

"I was worried because I'm your daddy and I love you." Hurley's use of the more juvenile name was barely conscious. "When I came home with Annika and both of you were missing, I could only think that an enemy had got to you...that I'd lost Alastor before and I wouldn't be strong enough to suffer that again. To live through that pain again. At that point, I was prepared to do anything...to sacrifice everything...to bring you both back safe to me. Utilising every resource at my disposal because that's how much you're worth to me."

Mitch bit his lip and blinked back tears. "I'm so sorry, daddy. I didn't think you would worry that badly. I should have known, but I didn't think. I never wanted to hurt you...I'm sorry!" he whispered, his voice catching as he fought tears.

"I am too, dad. I did know you would worry...and I still was thoughtless about calling you. It was a stupid, rookie mistake and you deserved better..." Alastor growled, angry at himself.

Hurley couldn't help but tighten his hold on his sons, needing to hold onto them...to let those memories that had surfaced get pushed back down. He hadn't showed anything like his full emotions when he'd spoken to his contacts, but as he held onto his sons, his hands trembled, enough to show just how badly he'd been affected by this. "It's impossible to stay completely safe all the time," he whispered. "But what happened today wasn't safe. And if things had gone even slightly wrong...I might not have been able to know until it was too late."

Alastor closed his eyes at the visible effects his actions had rendered. "I... I don't know what can be done to help me not forget ever again...it never used to be a problem...but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to keep from putting you through this again, daddy..." he whispered, resorting to the childish moniker because anything else wasn't strong enough to convey how sorry he was and how willing to submit.

"I want to learn too..." Mitch's voice quivered.

Knowing he needed to cuddle his sons tighter, Hurley moved over to the couch so he could sit and pull them both down onto his lap. Holding onto them was helping to calm the sense of fear and the intense, indescribable loss he'd felt when he'd thought Alastor had been killed. "I won't be letting either of you out of my sight any time soon," he said. "Effectively, you're both grounded."

"Yessir." Alastor quickly gave in to his father's edict.

"What does that mean, though...?" Mitch needed to ask.

"Effectively, you won't be leaving the house without me," Hurley answered. "You want to do anything? You'll be asking my permission first." Looking at Mitch, he added, "I'm not going to ask for your phone, but I'm going to be locking my laptop from now." Shaking his head, he added, "You're lucky I don't plant trackers on you both..."

Mitch looked down at that. Given the fact that he'd left the premises twice now, without permission and without even telling Hurley where he was going, he thought maybe he deserved to have a tracker placed on him. "I wouldn't blame you if you did..." he whispered. "I'd deserve it."

"If it set your mind at ease..." Alastor was more pragmatic. Given the fact he didn't plan to leave for anywhere without his father- and the fact there were people who wanted to hurt him- he'd feel better himself if Hurley had some way to locate him if he suddenly disappeared. He wouldn't say that, though. His father was already worried as it was.

"It probably would," Hurley allowed, holding both his sons tightly on his lap. "It would mean I had an easy way of finding you...if anything were to happen." Given that he'd lost Alastor once already. In fact, he'd feel better if he had a way of tracking all three of them.

"I... I keep leaving without asking or even telling you...that's just wrong, but I don't think about it when I'm doing it. I don't want to worry or upset you..." Mitch whispered.

"I think I might feel better too...if you had a way to find all of us easily..." Ghost admitted.

Hurley nodded. "It'll make me feel better too," he admitted. He pressed a kiss to each of their heads. "I love you. I don't want to risk losing any of you."

Mitch blinked back tears. "Is...is there anything else involved with the grounding?" he asked hesitantly. "I've...never..." he winced. At the rate he was going, Hurley was going to think he'd never had any discipline or correction to his behavior, ever, before meeting the older man. Which really wasn't too far from the truth, but still...

Hurley stroked his youngest son's cheek. "That about covers it," he said. "But we do have the spankings to get out of the way."

Mitch whimpered, but didn't pull away or try and talk his way out of it. He'd given away that right first night he'd submitted to Hurley and chose the other man to be his father. Chose him along with the restrictions, rules, expectations...love, affection, worry... "I'm sorry, daddy..." His whisper was more apologetic and repentant this time. Even if he didn't fully understand where he'd gone wrong, he understood enough to know that he'd hurt his family and made things difficult; and that was bad enough to deserve consequences.

Hurley held onto both of them, not quite able to let either of his boys go, but spoke softly, even if it was with a firm edge, to Mitch. "Wanting to take him out isn't bad. Where you went wrong was that you chose not to rely on your family to help you; that you decided to try and take him out alone, as if your life was worthless again."

"Not allowed to do things alone, without help, anymore..." MItch whispered back; not entirely a question, but more to confirm.

Alastor remained quiet, knowing this was something his baby brother needed to learn, and it needed to be their father that taught him. Especially since he already knew the lesson, but had somehow forgotten in the few seconds it took for him to chase after his brother.

"Exactly, baby boy." Hurley stroked Mitch's cheek. "Because, like I told you before, you're not alone. You're never going to be alone again."

Mitch swallowed, forcing himself to look up into Hurley's eyes. "...You'll punish me and then I can be forgiven?" His voice caught uncertainly.

Hurley kissed his youngest son's forehead. "It doesn't take being punished to be forgiven, baby boy. I'm going to spank you, but it's not going to change how much I love you. It's not going to change our relationship."

"You forgive me already?" Mitch couldn't keep the hopeful tone out of his voice. He leaned into his father, the prospect of being punished less daunting than the fear that he'd messed up things with his daddy.

Alastor smiled crookedly, squeezing his father before asking, in a whisper, "You want me to wait in my room? I know I have something coming my way, but I know why, and it won't bother me as much to wait..."

Hurley pressed a kiss to his oldest's forehead and nodded. "I'll be there in a few minutes," he murmured. "I love you." He tightened his arm around Mitch. "Yeah, baby boy. You're not getting punished in exchange for forgiveness."

Mitch turned so he could hug his father tightly, barely noting when Alastor slipped away to his room, though he did notice. "I'm sorry, daddy..." he repeated in a whisper.

Hurley wrapped his arms tighter around his youngest son, pulling Mitch further into his lap. "I know, baby boy. I forgive you. And I love you."

Mitch relaxed a little, snuggling into his father's arms. He fidgeted, playing with the buttons on his father's shirt, even as he hunched down so his head was on the older man's shoulder. "I was really bad..." he whispered contritely.

Hurley stroked Mitch's hair and back. "You weren't bad, baby boy. You were naughty...but not bad." He kissed the top of his son's head.

"Feels like I was bad..." Mitch admitted with a sniffle. "Feels like I was horrible; I made you scared and now things are gonna be difficult for you and it's cuz I didn't do what I was told... again."

"I was scared because you're my son. Because I love you and the thought of losing you terrifies me," Hurley admitted. "But even if things are difficult, having you is worth everything."

"I never even thought about how you'd feel if you found out. I thought I'd get back in time and you wouldn't know. Which is almost worse...hiding things from you. I know I wouldn't have been able to hide it for long; and then you'd know you couldn't trust me..." Mitch whispered again, only just now realizing how his actions could have ruined his relationship with his family, even if he'd succeeded and Hurley had never known what he'd been up to.

"I'm very glad to hear you understand the deeper implications, baby boy." Hurley stood up, still keeping a tight hold of Mitch, so he could guide his son through to his bedroom, unwilling to let go.

Mitch just closed his eyes and hid his face against his father as the older man led him. It was all he could do not to begin crying loudly at that moment. He hadn't wanted to see the deeper implications before. Now he couldn't stop thinking about them. He wanted his family, especially his father, to be able to trust him. To be able to believe he'd do the right thing. But he hadn't demonstrated that they could trust him to do the right thing today. Sneaking out, disobeying a direct order, taking chances he knew he wasn't supposed to take... "I was horrible, daddy...I'm so sorry..." He whimpered.

Hurley guided his baby boy into the bedroom, closing the door behind them. "I know you are, baby boy. I love you and I've already forgiven you." He gently stroked over his son's hair and back.

"I don't want to be a sneak...I don't want to be disobedient or thoughtless or careless..." Mitch said softly, though his voice was fervent. "I don't want to be bad..."

Moving to the bed, Hurley took a seat and gently guided his son across his lap. "You aren't bad, baby boy. You were naughty, but you weren't bad. And I love you. So much." Gently rubbing Mitch's back, he then proceeded to bare his son.

Mitch whimpered softly, but found himself relaxing as his father took complete control. He had a feeling this spanking would hurt a lot more than the first one he'd received, because it was for something he'd already been punished for once before, as well as for the fact he'd taken chances with his life and snuck out to do it. The only good thing he could say about this whole situation was that he hadn't attempted to lie. He'd admitted what he'd done wrong immediately (not that it wasn't so obvious that lying was pretty much impossible). It didn't really help him feel better, knowing that sneaking out and disobeying had the potential to hurt his father's trust in him just as much as a lie, but at least he didn't have that guilt added onto the deep guilt he was already feeling. It was a relief to know that his father was going to address everything and that his father would bring him back to him and make sure everything was okay...that they were okay. "Shoulda obeyed you, daddy..." He sniffled.

Hurley rubbed his son's lower back for a few more moments and then lifted his hand, bringing it down in a firm swat that he then repeated. "I love you, baby boy. You're right. You should have obeyed me. It isn't the end of the world that you didn't, but when I tell you to do something...or not to do it...it's about keeping you safe. Keeping you with me."

"I don't wanna be taken from you..." Mitch whimpered, then let out a tiny choked cry, unable to even keep from crying for a few minutes after the spanking began. Tears streamed from his eyes as he lay over his father's knee and accepted what he knew he deserved, his body limp and pliant. He needed to feel like he'd been punished enough to make up for hurting his daddy...needed to feel like his daddy was in control again. Submitting to his father's correction would take care of both those needs. Still, he wished he'd been able to hold out a little bit longer before the tears fell.

"I don't ever want you to be taken from me," Hurley stated. "I'm never going to let you be taken from me. You're my son. I'm not ever going to let you go." He continued the swats down to his son's thighs and then began a second circuit of swats.

Mitch relaxed even more at the words, believing what his father told him. "Never? Even by me?" Mitch choked out. He knew the greatest danger to him being taken from his father were his own actions in possibly taking him away. "You won't let me do anything to take me away either?" He wrapped his hands around his father's leg in an attempt not to throw them back over his bottom.

"Never," Hurley confirmed. "No matter what happens...I would never loosen my hold on you." He tightened his hold on his baby boy, finishing the second circuit and beginning a third, going a bit harder and faster.

Mitch began to cry a little louder, unable to keep from squirming as the third circuit started. It had stung before, but after two circuits of the swats, the now third, harder circuit had caused the stinging to change to an aching pain. It was staying with him even after the swats were delivered, building on itself so that his bottom throbbed. And despite it hurting, he couldn't help but think he deserved worse. So, he tried to keep the tears in check and tried to hold still, even though he was fighting a losing battle against himself. Finally, he couldn't stop himself and threw a hand back over his bottom. "...Hurts, daddy..." he cried softly, as an explanation for his 'naughtiness' in blocking his father.

"I know, baby boy." Hurley took Mitch's hand, holding it tightly, as he began to focus more swats to his son's sit spots and thighs. "But I've got you. I love you. You're mine."

"...Yours..." Mitch sobbed softly, holding onto his father's hand tightly and slumping again, unable to keep his feet from jerking and kicking with each swat, although he did manage to keep from throwing himself off his father's lap. He knew he'd be feeling this spanking for a lot longer than a few moments after it was over. But then again, he deserved to. Needed to. "...Wanna be better for you, daddy..." he whimpered, not sure how long the punishment would go on; what exactly he was expected to do to show that he understood what his father was trying to teach him...to prove that he'd learned his lesson. So, he held as still as he was able and tried to keep his crying low enough that it wouldn't cause his father undue pain.

Hurley gently squeezed his son's hand. "I know you'll do better, baby boy. I know you'll learn from this. I love you." He delivered another full circuit of swats and then paused. Mitch wasn't fully submitting, and Hurley began to gently rub his boy's bottom, using another way to demonstrate his control over Mitch.

Mitch choked back a cry and whimpered at the gentle affection; while it didn't hurt like the swatting, his bottom was so very sore that the rubbing didn't exactly feel good either. "...Daddy..." he whined, uncertain what his father was doing or why. Was the spanking over? There were other ways he'd prefer his father's affection at the moment (such as being held tightly and hugged), but he knew his father had to have a reason for what he was doing. He was in charge. Mitch might not understand, but he trusted his father and his father was in charge. "...Daddy..." he whimpered again, his voice more a question as he tried to understand. He didn't pull away or fight and despite himself, he found himself relaxing slightly at the gentleness.

"I'm here, baby boy," Hurley said softly. "I've got you. You're mine." His voice was low and reassuring as he continued to gently rub Mitch's bottom. "You're safe. With me. You don't have to worry about anything other than letting me be in control and not fighting."

"Yours..." Mitch agreed quickly and quietly, "...Yours and you control..." He sniffled, then let out a tiny sob. "...D...don't wanna fight you..." he admitted, still slightly confused. He didn't think he was fighting. His father had him and he was safe. There was no reason to fight. He let out another tiny sob and then realized his father wasn't upset at him crying. He wasn't looking down on him for crying. Maybe he didn't have to be ashamed to let his father see him cry. Maybe he was safe emotionally too, not just physically. A third tiny sob escaped and then he couldn't hold his tears back any more and just began to sob. Once the dam had burst, it was impossible to keep control over his body. He'd been fighting not to squirm and move for so long, though, he was just tired and instead of kicking or squirming to get away, he just went boneless. His father was in control and he was safe physically and emotionally. If he was sobbing like a huge baby and lying limp over his father's knee so that Hurley had to be the one to move him wherever, well... that was okay. His father was in control...

Hurley moved his baby boy up and into his arms, wrapping them tightly around Mitch and kissing the top of his head. "I've got you," he repeated. "I'm not going to let you go. I'm never going to risk losing you," he murmured.

Mitch blinked at the change in position, not quite aware enough to realize why the spanking was over. He'd think about that later; maybe talk to his father. All that really mattered at the moment was that Hurley was holding him tightly and reiterating that he had him. His father had him. Mitch didn't want to be anywhere else. "...Love you, daddy... yours... always..." He continued to cry, even as he burrowed as close to his father as he could get.

Hurley tightened his embrace around Mitch. "I love you," he reiterated. "I'm so happy I have you back safe and unhurt. I never knew how much I needed you in my life until I adopted you and became your daddy."

Mitch just snuggled as close as possible, slowly calming down. He sniffled slightly before answering, in a tear-roughened voice, "I didn't know I needed a daddy so badly... Sorry I was a disobedient brat..." he added, with a hint of the shame he still felt at his actions. Just because his bottom ached didn't mean it felt like everything was back to normal or perfect. He didn't know if it ever would feel that way.

Hurley stroked his son's hair and back. "You wanted to go after a terrorist who's hurt people and will again. That wasn't wrong. It's just that you need to let your daddy know what's going on and let me help you."

"I need to let you know everything and ...and get your permission..." Mitch added the last on because he knew he would need that. There was no way he'd be able to do something after telling Hurley if Hurley said he didn't want Mitch doing it. "...Get your permission and help cuz you're my daddy and you love me and want to keep me safe..." he whispered, in a tiny voice.

"I do." Hurley kissed his head. "I love you, baby boy. I want to keep you safe. I want to keep you alive and well and with me."

Mitch sniffled and relaxed further in Hurley's arm, playing with the buttons on his father's shirt again like the baby Hurley kept calling him. "I was really naughty...not letting you know what I wanted to do. Not letting you protect me and keep me with you..." he whispered, shifting slightly and wincing as his bottom throbbed at the change in position.

Hurley tightened his arms around his baby boy. "You're forgiven now, baby boy. You're not naughty anymore," he promised, stroking Mitch's cheek.

Mitch sniffled, then let out a tiny, chagrined sound; not quite a laugh, because it was more confused than anything. "I'm such a baby with you..." he admitted. "...Never like this before with anyone else...can't stop being a baby with you, though..." He took a slow, deep breath. "...How can you want such a mess like me?" His whisper was full of shame.

"You're my baby boy." The response was simple because, to Hurley, it was that simple. "I never expected to have you...I never expected to have you and your siblings. When I lost Alastor, I lost all hope of ever having a family...of ever doing anything other than simply existing."

"It doesn't bother you? That I get so immature?" Mitch snuggled closer, finding it hard to keep his eyes open. The whole day had worn him down.

Hurley kissed Mitch's head. "It doesn't bother me at all. I need you, baby boy."

"...Need you too, daddy..." Mitch whispered before he lost his battle and closed his eyes, falling into what was a very peaceful sleep, considering how sore his bottom was.

Holding onto his youngest son for a few more moments, Hurley kissed his baby boy's cheek and then carefully transferred Mitch to the bed, gently pulling the blanket up over his son, and kissing his head before he slipped out of the room, heading to Alastor's and knocking lightly on the door.

Alastor quickly opened the door, then stepped back so his father could enter. "Baby brother okay now?" he asked, with a hint of worry. He'd heard the spanking; but he hadn't heard any of the sounds that normally would accompany a spanking, until the very end. It had been a bit unsettling. He hoped Mitch hadn't bottled everything up. That was a recipe for disaster.

Hurley nodded, stepping into the room. "He's sleeping now. Still worrying about his reactions, I think. I hope I've reassured him enough."

"But he finally reacted? He let himself go with you?" Alastor couldn't help but worry about his baby brother. He knew from first-hand experience how trying to avoid feeling certain things only caused worse problems. Maybe if he'd faced his father and told him how he'd felt after he escaped his captors, instead of bottling it up to fester, he wouldn't have gone rogue and almost killed his father.

"He did." Hurley wrapped his arms tightly around his oldest son. "He didn't fight for long. It's only the second time I punished him, so I'm not sure he knew how to react."

Alastor wrapped his arms around his father and held tight, letting his head fall onto the older man's shoulder. "That makes sense, I guess..." he said softly. "You had to teach me too when you first took me in hand. I thought the thing to do was lie stiffly and not react at all...How many times did it take you stopping mid spanking to just rub my backside and talk to me, so I'd loosen up before it finally clicked?" He chuckled faintly at the memory. Maybe baby brother would learn quicker.

Hurley kissed Alastor's head. "It was always worth it. You're worth it to me, kiddo. I just wish I hadn't lost you for such a long time," he whispered. "I missed you far more than I could ever put into words."

"I'm sorry it took me so long to come home to you. I wasn't in a good place in my head. S'why I was worried bout Mitch holding back. Baby brother doesn't need to repeat my mistakes..." He sighed softly. "...If I'd just come to you soon as I got away and told you how I felt, everything in the whole sorry mess coulda been avoided. You coulda set me straight. I coulda been home with you a long time ago. Only good thing that came from my being a stubborn ass and refusing to let you see how I felt was finding baby brother and baby sister..." he whispered, holding onto his father more tightly.

Hurley moved his oldest over to the bed so he could sit down and cuddle Alastor tightly on his lap. "It wasn't about you being stubborn, kiddo," he said softly. "You'd been tortured. The rest of your team lost. I was convinced the same thing happened to you. It was on me for believing you'd met the same fate and for not digging enough."

"No, dad... The ones truly to blame are dead, since I took them out in my escape. You were lied to by people who should have been on our side. They bear more blame than you. And I know I wasn't thinking clearly because I'd been tortured...but you'd trained me well enough to come and talk to you before acting; and I just wish my training had kicked in so that I'd have remembered. So that I would have come to you to talk. It was a lot of missed time." Alastor held onto his father tightly. "Time I can't get back...but I'm glad you have me now."

Hurley wrapped his arms tightly around Alastor. Every night since losing his son, he'd missed it. Missed just holding onto Alastor. It was why he'd acted so quickly when it came time to adopt all of them. He wasn't going to lose any of them again. "Losing you nearly destroyed me, kiddo. It wasn't until Mitch stepped into my life that I came back to myself."

"And then baby brother brought me back to you..." Alastor smiled, just enjoying the feeling of his father holding him tight again. It had been so long. "...That's why I went after him without waiting for you. I couldn't take a chance that he'd be lost to us before you were able to come get me. Or get to where he was." He swallowed hard. "...But I never meant to leave my phone behind. I'd every intention of calling you when I got there. It was a mix of over-confidence, lack of remembering how I should do things and bad luck that I got there and wasn't able to call you." He looked at his father seriously. "...And that's not an excuse. I deserve to be punished for doing things the wrong way. Especially when it took you such a long time to teach me the right way to do things when you first got me. But it is the reason...and I just want you to know it wasn't a lack of trust in you, or a lack of wanting your help..."

"I know, kiddo." Hurley kissed his son's cheek. "I know you didn't intentionally mean to disregard the rules we'd set in place. I'm not angry with you. I'm just very relieved I didn't lose you again...that I didn't lose either of you."

Alastor leaned forward so his forehead rested against his father's. "I love you, dad. And I'm very grateful I wasn't lost." He smiled crookedly. "...Now I know I've got something coming to me for forgetting. Just not sure what you've decided on...and since it is up to you... What are the consequences for leaving without calling you and for not taking my phone to call you later?" he asked softly.

"I'm going to spank you." Stroking Alastor's hair, Hurley added, "But it's going to be more of a reminder than a full punishment spanking."

Alastor nodded. "I figured, but wanted to make sure. It's fair...Probably more than fair, but I'm not gonna complain that you're having mercy on me..." He smiled, almost impishly, before carefully standing and pushing his pants and underwear down and then laying carefully over his father's knees.

Hurley gently settled his son in place, hand resting lightly on Alastor's back. Like he had with Mitch the night before, he started to firmly pat Alastor's bottom.

Alastor was no stranger to 'reminders' and he wasn't anxious or upset. While he felt badly that he had forgotten to call his father, contributing to the older man's worry and anxiety, he didn't feel overly guilty. He'd gone to look after his baby brother and he knew Hurley would have wanted him to do that had he called the older man before just taking off. The firm pats didn't hurt- not yet anyway- though experience told him that it would start to hurt by the third or fourth circuit once the sting began to build up. He relaxed and reached down, grasping his father's leg and just settled in for however long it took for him to reach whatever point Hurley felt he needed to reach. "I love you, dad..." he said quietly.

"I love you, son." Hurley gently stroked Alastor's back as he continued the firm pats, going down to his son's thighs before he started over from the top again. "You're not in trouble for going after your brother, kiddo. I know you wanted to bring him home safe and sound."

Alastor relaxed a bit more at his father confirming what he'd already suspected. "I just need to work on calling you being the first thing I do instead of acting and then calling..." he said sheepishly.

"Exactly, kiddo." Hurley began a second circuit of the firm pats. "So, I don't come home to find you missing...to the fear and pain of losing you the first time being awoken full force."

Alastor swallowed hard at that. "I'm really sorry for putting you through that again, dad. I never in a million years wanted you to be afraid for me or feel that way. I feel awful that I caused that..."

"You're my son." Hurley's voice was soft, but still very intense. He finished the second circuit and began a third, patting a little bit harder and a little bit faster, almost swatting. "You're my son and those feelings are part of being your father. I know how much you suffered when you were gone from me...all I could think was of you suffering again without me there to pull you out. To take care of you."

"I'm sorry, daddy..." Alastor finally whimpered, letting himself slump over his father's knee. He'd already felt badly scaring the older man, but knowing that the fear was fuelled by his father knowing what had happened to him in the past and being afraid for him going through that again- and knowing that it all could have been avoided had he picked up the phone before rushing after Mitch- he just felt guilt. Guilt that could only be taken care of in one way. Luckily for him, his father knew exactly how to do that.

"I know, kiddo. I've forgiven you and I love you. You weren't in my life for so long and your absence left a huge hole that I couldn't fill." Hurley stroked Alastor's back, even while he continued the nearly-swats to his son's bottom, down to his thighs.

"I missed you too...so much...even when I was so angry at you, deep down, I missed you and just wanted to be back home with you..." Alastor sniffled, the pats/nearly-swats finally building up to a point where his bottom actually stung. Instead of wriggling around trying to escape them or tensing up, he went boneless and let himself feel them. Let himself cry. "I'm still yours, daddy..." he whispered.

Hurley stopped and brought Alastor up into his arms on his lap once more, kissing his head and just cuddling. "I have you back in my life. And I have no intention of letting you out of my sight any time soon," he whispered.

Alastor just snuggled close and tight. "I have no intention of leaving your sight..." he admitted. He sat that way for another ten minutes, just snuggling and cuddling close to his father, before he asked quietly, "Want me to go find Annika? Make sure she is okay and maybe go make lunch with her? You can go check on baby brother again?"

Hurley nodded and pressed another kiss to his son's forehead. "That sounds good to me. After lunch, maybe we could all settle on the couch and watch a movie." He knew they'd planned to do spring cleaning...but right now, all he wanted was to hold his children close.

"I'd like that..." Alastor smiled, kissing his father on the cheek before standing and fixing his clothing. "We'll see you in the living room, then." Smiling at Hurley, he left his bedroom and walked to Annika's knocking on the door. At her mumbled, "Enter," he opened the door and went in to tell her of their plans.

Hurley moved off the bed and slipped out of the bedroom, heading into his own room and sitting next to Mitch on the bed, reaching out to stroke his son's cheek.

Mitch instinctively turned his face to his father's hand, rolling toward his father. A few seconds later, he blinked his eyes open. "Hey, daddy..." he said, in a soft whisper.

Hurley leaned over to kiss his son's forehead. "Hey, baby boy," he murmured. "How are you feeling?"

"Like a real baby..." Mitch mumbled with a blush. He was still shifting closer to Hurley, though, seeking out affection and comfort, so it couldn't have been bothering him that badly.

Hurley moved a bit further onto the bed, so he could move Mitch into his lap and cuddle him. "You shouldn't feel embarrassed by that, baby boy. Not about getting affection from your daddy."

Mitch sniffled, but didn't really have anything he could say to that. The fact Hurley was perfectly happy to coddle him as if he were a lot younger instead of insisting he act his age didn't really encourage him to stop acting 'like a baby'. "You like when I get all immature and needy..." he accused half-heartedly. He obviously wasn't really bothered at the idea that Hurley liked him being 'young'. If anything, it seemed to be making him feel a little better about himself for reacting the way he was. If his father didn't mind and actually seemed to like it- encourage it- maybe he was worried for nothing.

Hurley's smile was gentle and affectionate. "I do, baby boy," he admitted. "I like you needing and responding to me in this way. I like to cuddle and hold you...to give you affection. Just to hold onto you and love you."

MItch bit his lip, then shifted so he could cuddle more closely, holding onto his father. He wasn't oblivious to the fact he'd lost the lower part of his clothing- his father had tucked him into bed right after spanking him and he wasn't wearing his pants when he woke up, so he must have kicked them off at some point- he wasn't oblivious, but he didn't really care either. "My bottom's still sore." He pouted and sounded a little bit surprised. The first spanking hadn't 'lasted' quite so long. Granted, the first spanking, he hadn't been being corrected for something he'd already been corrected for once. Or that wasn't so unnecessarily dangerous. "Guess I had it coming..." he mumbled, blushing.

"You left the house. You sneaked out with the full intention of hiding what you planned from me. You disobeyed the order I gave you to stay put. And you didn't take a phone or radio with you." Hurley tightened his embrace around his son. "It has to be enough of a deterrent to make you remember next time, baby boy."

"I wish just knowing you were disappointed was a big enough deterrent. I actually hate that more..." Mitch admitted, shifting again before asking quietly, almost hesitantly, "You really don't mind me acting like a baby...like a baby boy?" he whispered.

"Not at all." Hurley stroked his cheek. "I love you. And when you need to act like that, I'll respond and give you what you need."

"And you don't think I'm pathetic or weird or...or creepy?" Mitch winced.

Hurley tightened his arms. "I think my baby boy has needs that will make you happy and keep you thriving. And I have no problem giving you what you need."

Mitch relaxed a little at those words, leaning into the tight embrace and letting his head fall until his ear was pressed to Hurley's chest. "Ev... even if what I need is to be over your knee? With you smacking or rubbing my bottom?" His voice was almost non-existent, he was speaking so softly. His entire body had turned pink at the question, though.

"Right now?" Hurley asked gently, not weirded out or disturbed by what his son was asking for; only making sure if it was hypothetical or if it was what Mitch needed in the moment right now.

"Kinda?" Mitch blushed a little darker. "...I'm still sore, so dunno why, but...I felt really safe over your knee- even though I felt guilty and you were punishing me- I felt really safe and... I feel safe when you're holding me tight too, but mostly I feel safest when you've got complete control and it just feels like you have the most control when...when I'm...when you..." He bit his lip uncertainly.

Hurley kissed Mitch's forehead and then gently moved his son back into position over his knees, beginning to gently rub Mitch's still-warm backside. "I've got you, baby boy," he said, his voice soft but reassuring.

Mitch shivered slightly, then relaxed completely, letting out a tiny whimper of contentment. "I know, daddy...you got me forever..." he mumbled, his hand wrapping around Hurley's leg in a gentle but firm grip as he held onto his father. "Feel safest when you have me..." he admitted quietly. "Feel safest when you control..." He sighed. "Stupid not to obey you...don't feel safe t'all when I dis'bey..." He paused. "...When try to act grown up and like don't need you...feels most unsafe ever..."

Hurley continued to gently stroke and rub his son's bottom and back, making sure Mitch's body was well-supported and wouldn't fall. "Well, baby boy, if you fight yourself and what you need, I have no problems bringing you in here, or in your room, and doing exactly this so you know I have you and that you're under my control."

"Promise, daddy?" Mitch found himself asking. He bit his lip. "Still feel like there's something wrong with me...but...I do feel safest when you have me and I'm obeying you..." he whispered. "All...all those times before...when I dis'beyed you? Was cuz everytime I 'beyed you, I felt really safe and good and it scared me..." he admitted.

"I promise." Hurley continued the gentle, soothing affection. "I won't let you fight yourself, baby boy. I won't let go of you."

"Cuz you save me..." Mitch whispered. "...You always save me. Even from me..."

"Because I love you," Hurley said. "I love you and you're mine. You're mine, baby boy."

"I am yours..." Mitch admitted shyly. "...Not mine...yours. need to obey you cuz I can't take myself away from you..."

"No. You can't," Hurley agreed, gently patting his son's bottom. "I'm not going to let you go, baby boy."

"Love you, daddy..." Mitch sighed softly, happily. He needed his father's handling.

"I love you, baby boy. Don't ever feel ashamed or embarrassed about telling me something." Hurley continued gently patting and rubbing.

"I'll try not to, daddy...this is...new for me. Never had a family...not a real one...never had anyone who cared bout me like you do..." Mitch said quietly. It was matter-of-factly, and no hint of sadness, but there was a hint of wonder when he mentioned that Hurley cared. "Never wanted anyone in charge of me, either, but I do want you to be..."

"I know. And I want and need to be in charge of you. In charge of my baby boy." Even while talking, Hurley kept up with the gentle rubbing and patting. "You have a family now. You have me now. And I'll never let you be alone again."

Mitch shifted just enough that he could turn his head and smile up at his father. "Thank you, daddy..." He bit his lip, facing the floor again. "Wanna stick close to you..."

"I won't let you go," Hurley promised. "I'll keep you close to me, baby boy." He gently squeezed one thigh and then the other.

Mitch sighed again. "Part of me wishes we could stay like this all night... but the rest of me wants to see how Alastor and Annika are doing..."

"They're making lunch." Hurley very lightly swatted his boy's backside; just enough that the sting would be 'reignited' and would serve as a reminder of what he'd been saying to Mitch.

Mitch's quick intake of breath and tiny squirm indicated that the sting was well and truly reignited. "Daaaddy!" he huffed, though his voice was amused instead of offended or upset.

"I figure you just need a little bit of a reminder to keep you being my good baby boy." Hurley's voice was filled with fond affection as he delivered another light swat and then rubbed gently.

"Yessir..." Mitch sighed softly and wiggled his bottom. "I want to be your good baby boy..." he said bashfully.

Hurley delivered another pair of light swats, this time to Mitch's sit spots, before rubbing them gently. "I know, baby boy. This way, you'll be reminded when we sit down for lunch."

"That will help," Mitch admitted. "Being reminded helps a lot..."

"And I'll take hold of you...physically and emotionally...whenever you need." Hurley delivered a circuit of the light swats and then paused to continue gently rubbing his boy's bottom.

"Okay, daddy..." Mitch relaxed and just focused on his father's words and hands. "Maybe...maybe this will help me learn to obey better..."

"It'll pull you even closer to me...make you more reliant on me," Hurley said. "I'm always going to be here to catch you, baby boy."

"I never knew how much I needed that until you got me..." Mitch admitted.

Hurley gently stroked over his boy's lower back and bottom; delivered a few light swats before pausing again to rub the sting away. "You'll never have to do without again. Like I told you before...you won't ever be alone again."

"I don't think I'll ever want to sneak out ever again...not that I wanted to before, but...I'm not sure I could after today. It felt wrong before...but...but now..." Mitch didn't know how to say that he felt more like Hurley's than he did even before. He belonged to him and couldn't leave that way.

"You have a better understanding?" Hurley pushed gently. "You believe more that you're mine? You feel it more?"

"I saw the lengths you went to to find me because I scared you so bad. And your response, while painful...it showed me that I really am yours. Totally..." Mitch bit his lip. "And now...this...I do feel it more," he said.

Hurley gently stroked over Mitch's back. "I would go to any length to find you, baby boy. And I know spankings are painful...but it's a personal punishment that, as you know, pulls you closer to me. And doing this...it's something you need. And it lets me hold you and take care of you."

"I love you, daddy..." Mitch paused. "Do...do you think Annika and Alastor mind? That I'm monopolizing you?"

"I think all three of you have different types of needs...but I'm there for them as much as I am for you," Hurley said. "Both of them know that it's slightly different with me and you."

"Okay. I don't want to be selfish...even if this does make me feel better...more at ease..." Mitch said.

"Needing your daddy isn't selfish," Hurley replied.

"Well, that's good...cuz if it was, I'd be be Scrooge or Miser or any of those horribly selfish sorts..." Mitch teased softly.

Smiling, Hurley gently stroked his son's back. "You need me, baby boy. There's nothing wrong or selfish about that."

"Just needed to accept that bout myself...that I do need you. I'm not as much of a lone wolf as I wanted to believe. Not a lone wolf at all. More a wolf pup...just needed to find my alpha wolf dad..." Mitch snorted.

"Or he needed to find and take hold of you," Hurley commented.

"Catch and scruff me?" Mitch sounded amused, although he couldn't help but feel it was a bit accurate. He'd pretty much rolled over and given himself into Hurley's care and control. And he wasn't sorry for it at all.

"When necessary." Hurley gently stroked his boy's back and down over his bottom.

"I'm one lucky pup, then..." Mitch sighed softly, stretching at the 'petting' he was receiving. "If I didn't think it'd make them uncomfortable, I'd ask you to do this while we watch that movie Alastor and Annika are waiting on us for." Mitch smiled crookedly. "Not that I mind them seeing you handle me. I've got no shame, really...not when it comes to them seeing me give in to you... but they might object to having to see my bare butt..."

Hurley stroked his son's lower back and bottom as he thought about that. "Well, baby boy, it doesn't really help right now...but there are pajamas that exist with a flap that can easily be lowered for baring a person's butt without having to pull the pants down. Would you like me to get you some?"

Mitch blinked at that. "They actually make those for adults?" He thought about it. "It'd make it easier for you to handle me when needed without us having to leave the others alone?"

"Yeah, it would," Hurley answered. "If you don't mind your brother and sister seeing you draped over my knee, those would mean you're not really exposed to them."

"I don't mind if they see... They already know you spank me. Seeing you do this would probably make them happy...knowing your physical control isn't just to punish... might make them find it easier to ask for what they need, whatever that might be..." Mitch shrugged faintly.

"Then, so long as you're happy with that, I'll order a pair of those pajamas and you can wear them." Hurley gently patted Mitch's bottom. "In the meantime, you can always curl up on my lap and I can hold you and stroke your hair and back."

"I'd like that, daddy...a lot." Mitch's smile could be heard in his voice.

"I would too," Hurley said honestly. "Holding you on my lap...your brother and sister sitting with us...that's about all I need to be happy."

"I have a family now..." Mitch smiled.

"You do. You have me. And you have a brother and sister." Hurley stroked Mitch's back. "You ready to join them now?"

"Yes, daddy...I just need to find my pants." Mitch's tone was sheepish.

Hurley gently stroked his son's back and bottom. "They're probably in the bed somewhere, since I did tuck you in after you fell asleep."

"That makes sense," Mitch easily agreed. He didn't move, though. As long as his daddy was being affectionate, he wasn't moving an inch...even if his bottom was beginning to get sensitive from the constant attention.

Hurley helped his son to stand, giving Mitch a tight hug and a kiss to the top of his head before he moved the blankets back, finding his son's pants. "There we go."

"There we go..." Mitch snorted and ran a hand through his hair as he reached over to grab his clothing. He put it on and didn't even hiss, even though his bottom felt every inch of material rubbing over it. "I really did look there..." He grinned sheepishly. "Just one more question..." He paused, then gave Hurley an uncertain look. "When you spanked me before...it seemed like...like you were waiting for something before you'd consider the punishment over. Was it...was it for me to stop fighting my reaction to it? Cuz it seemed like I was crying before...and not fighting before...but it wasn't until I just gave up fighting myself that it stopped...is...is not fighting myself part of letting you control everything?" Mitch looked up, a little confused and needing to know if he'd figured it out.

Hurley reached out and stroked Mitch's cheek. "That's exactly it, baby boy. Whether you're fighting me...or yourself...neither of those are acceptable." He kissed his son's forehead.

Mitch nodded, a thoughtful look on his face. "So... if I feel like crying, or feel like I need to cling to you, or feel like laughing... or whatever... even if I think I shouldn't and I'm afraid I'll upset you, or it's embarrassing... I'm supposed to just let it happen and react anyway. My reactions are yours too?"

Hurley pulled Mitch into a tight embrace. "You're never going to upset me with your reactions," he promised. "If you try and stop yourself from reacting the way you need to, all that'll do is hurt and upset you." He gently swatted his boy's backside as an emphasis to what he was saying.

"Yessir..." Mitch's quick intake of breath at the swat was followed by a bashful smile. "I'll try not to hide them from you, then...even when I'm not being spanked..."

"Good boy." Hurley kissed his son's head and then wrapped his arm around Mitch's waist, guiding him out of the bedroom.

Annika and Alastor were already sat on the couch. They'd made sandwiches, popcorn and had drinks ready. They'd left a spot in the middle for Hurley to sit. "C'mon, Dad. Baby Brother. We've got everything ready to go, including the movie. We just need to start it." Alastro smiled at his family.

Annika grinned. "I got us some food that is easy to eat so we don't have to eat at the table."

Hurley smiled at his children and guided Mitch over to the couch, settling in place and then drawing his youngest son down to sit on his lap, giving his other two children a hug and a kiss to their foreheads.

Mitch smiled at his brother and sister, then settled back against his father as they started the movie. Soon, everyone was snuggling, eating and watching, happy to just be with each other.

The End