The Edge of Disaster

Title: The Edge of Disaster

Disclaimer: We own nothing from DC Comics or the television series Flash or Arrow and are not making money from this fic.

Summary: Next in the Second Chances series. A friend helps another friend. A father learns something. A meta goes viral.

Warning(s): Contains spanking, including with a belt. Heavier D/s with implications of ownership/high possessiveness. AU

Authors: BlackFox12 and Hope1iz

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Caitlin nearly hadn't gone to the labs. She'd thought the guilt over what Killer Frost had done wasn't as strong as it had been...but seeing someone her alter ego had hurt and hearing what had happened...brought it all back.

Quieter than usual, Caitlin entered the labs and quickly headed over to begin her work, trying not to be noticed.

Cisco was at his typical spot, fiddling with something on his Vibe glasses. "Hey! Caitlin! I need to test these out and see if it helps me focus better and makes opening a portal any easier. Fancy a trip to London?" he asked curiously, shooting a teasing glance her way.

"Oh!" Surprised, Caitlin darted a glance in his direction. "Maybe later? I've got a lot to do right now..." she said softly.

Cisco blinked. "What are you working on? Maybe I can help and then we can vibe over to Big Belly Burger or something for lunch?"

"I don't need help." Caitlin winced, realising her tone was a bit sharper than she'd intended, and quickly turned back to her screen. "Why don't you see if your dad wants to help with the glasses?" she suggested; now with a more normal tone.

"Yeah...he's busy helping Barry right now; they're testing something on the suit. And what's wrong? You had a funny look on your face when you first came in and now you've gotten all irritable at me just because I want to do something with you? That's not normal. So what gives?" Cisco asked suspiciously.

Caitlin stared at the screen, so she wouldn't give in to the urge to tell Cisco what was wrong. "Nothing." She shook her head, knowing he wouldn't accept that. "Just having a bad day. That's all."

"Caitlin, Caiti, Caitlin, my lovely frosty friend! I don't believe that for a moment. Let me help..." Cisco ended in a plea, his eyes and tone of voice clearly worried about her.

Caitlin flinched at the nickname and ducked her head. "Look...I don't want to talk about it. I just want to pretend it didn't happen."

Cisco couldn't help but catch the flinch at his nickname for her, he was watching her so intently to be able to help her. "Does this have something to do with Killer Frost?" he asked, worried. "She didn't pop out unexpectedly and leave you with the bill, did she?"

Caitlin sighed and couldn't help but admit, "No...not this time. I ran into someone I...she...hurt." She wasn't sure how to continue and say that it had reminded her of hurting Cisco and Julian at the same time. Cisco seemed to be over it...but she wasn't sure she could ever be.

"Were they mean to you? Do I need to go shake some sense into someone? You do realize you aren't to blame for what she did? Even if we ignore the whole 'she's helping us now and is actually behaving herself' thing..." Cisco gave his best friend a worried look.

Caitlin shook her head. "It's hard not to remember...when my best friend got hurt because of me. Hard not to feel responsible...it was still my body that did those things."

"I wasn't hurt because of you. I was hurt because of Suvantar. He convinced Frost that she was better off helping him. In the end, she didn't kill me, though. She made the right decision. I can't help believe that was because, deep down, she knew what you wanted." Cisco was serious.

Caitlin shook her head. "It still wouldn't have happened...I can't help but feel like..." She took a deep breath. "If she wasn't in me, it wouldn't have happened. No one would have been hurt."

"If she wasn't in you, Suvantar would have killed us...she did save us in the end, after all," Cisco protested. "And if it's the fact she tried to kill me; I went there with the intention of changing her mind to join us or die trying. That is on me, not you."

"That really doesn't make me feel any better," Caitlin protested. "And I would never have forgiven myself if she'd killed you."

Wells had returned to the labs to collect an item for the test...just in time to hear Cisco's comment. The fact that his son could casually talk about dying trying was enough to stop him in his tracks. He knew he hadn't been close to them before; but just hearing that one sentence was hard. Jarring.

"I didn't mean..." Cisco sighed and rubbed his nose between his eyes. "I wanted you back. My best friend. And I was- am- willing to take her along with you. But the direction she was going, you'd never come back. It was worth it, to me, to take that risk. Because without you, I didn't want to live. I felt too alone then. Barry and Iris worried, but they were completely focused on stopping Suvantar from killing Iris. Wells had returned home with Jessie and could only give advice through dimensional space and at the time, I didn't think he liked me. HG was doing his best, but he was focused on stopping Suvantar too. Julian was the only one who really understood. But..." He shrugged. "The point is, I chose to put myself in danger because, to me. the alternative- life without you- was worse than death. And that isn't on you. I'm a bit more stable now. I'd try and find a non-lethal way to help you now." If the tone of Cisco's voice was anything to go by, he was just telling her that to calm her down and he'd actually do the exact same thing if he didn't see better options.

Wells slipped into his office, deciding he wouldn't immediately draw attention to his presence and would talk to Cisco about it as soon as his son was finished talking to Caitlin. He was fairly sure neither had noticed his presence and he put in a call to Barry, suggesting the younger man take the rest of the day.

Caitlin shook her head, wondering if Cisco really thought he could fool her by saying that. She knew him better. "You would have condemned me to life without my best friend...she could have done the same thing," she whispered.

"Caitlin...if I had failed, you wouldn't have come back. So you wouldn't have had to live without me at all." Cisco was sure of that. Him not being killed by Frost that night had been a turning point for Caitlyn's alter ego. She wasn't as angry and prone to immediate violence. She was more willing to listen and give alternate ideas a chance before killing. The fact Caitlin was more willing to accept her and live with her instead of trying to destroy her didn't hurt. "The point is, you don't need to and shouldn't feel guilty about me. You don't need to feel guilty about any of them. It wasn't you who did those things. And you're helping the one who is responsible to become a better individual so they don't do those types of things anymore...at least not to innocents."

She could see the logic in what he was saying...but that logic didn't make her feel any better emotionally. "I think I can live with it...and then something happens, or someone says something, and I can't just pretend it didn't happen..."

Cisco bit his lip, thinking about how he'd feel, and had to admit he'd be the same. The only difference was he had someone who would do something to help him feel like he'd paid. He couldn't imagine doing to Caitlin what he knew Wells would do to him if he were in Caitlin's shoes. Well...no. Now he was imagining it in vivid detail. Damn it. "Bad brain...bad bad brain..." He shook his head and rubbed his nose between his eyes again. Caitlin would never go for it and might grab his ear and tug him to Wells for even suggesting it. But he knew what he was thinking could help. If she agreed to it. He supposed if he was willing to die for his best friend, he should be willing to have his ear ripped off by her if he could possibly help her. "Uh... don't be mad because I'm in no way suggesting this is what you deserve and if you weren't so obviously feeling guilty and not able to let the guilt go that it is hurting you, I'd never suggest it, but..." He paused and took a deep breath. "...If it were me in your place, Wells would turn me over his knee and spank me until I felt like I'd paid for the actions that made me feel guilty. I..." He paused again and awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck. "...I could do that for you. If you thought it might help..." he whispered hesitantly, but kept his eyes on her face, so that she knew he was serious and would do this for her if she agreed to it.

Caitlin's mouth fell open and she stared at her best friend before closing it with a nearly audible snap. "Of course. That explains so much," she muttered, thinking about offhand comments he'd made...and she was certain he'd been reluctant to sit after one particular time he'd ticked off his father. "It actually works? To make you feel better?" she asked, not sure how what was a child's punishment could have any effect.

Cisco nodded his head vigorously. "Yeah. It does. I mean, I don't like it by any means and I try and avoid it as much as possible, but...afterwards, I don't feel guilty anymore. Or if I do feel guilty, it isn't as much, because the guilt is manageable and doesn't keep me from being able to be happy and do what I need to do. I...after I feel like I've been held accountable. I haven't just 'gotten away' with anything. And...I know that at least one other person is looking out for me and willing to help me make sure whatever happened to make me feel guilty doesn't easily happen again. So...that helps a lot too. I think it might...no, I think it will help you too. If you are willing..." He said the last softly.

"Oh." Caitlin sat quietly for a few moments and then she looked up, making eye contact with her best friend. "If you think...that it'll work. I trust you," she said simply.

"I think it will work...and if it doesn't, you can get even and put me over your knee..." Cisco seemed to realize what he'd just spouted out and continued quickly, "...But I'm sure it will work, so that won't be necessary!" He cleared his throat a bit awkwardly. "I...I'm pretty sure we're the only ones in the building, so we could stay here if you feel more comfortable here. Or... Or we could go to the breech room..." He wrinkled his nose, wanting to make sure she was as comfortable as possible.

"Well, we don't know when Wells or Barry will be back, so maybe the breech room?" Caitlin suggested, wincing at the thought that someone would return while they were in that position.

"Yeah. True. We'll go there..." Cisco quickly agreed, before hesitantly taking Caitlin's hand and leading her in that direction. He had to admit he hadn't expected to be in this position today. Heck, he hadn't expected to be in this position ever. He wondered if he were doing the right thing; if things would be awkward and uneasy between the two of them after, or worse, if Caitlin ended up despising him after. But one look at her face and seeing the guilt that was plaguing her, and he knew he had to go through with it; and hope that it helped her as much as Wells stepping in had helped him. No matter how uneasy he felt being the one 'taking charge'. Soon, they were in the breech room and he quickly led Caitlin over to the lone chair that was in the room. "I... uh... I'll be putting you over my knee..." he said quietly, before sitting and drawing her forward to do just that.

Caitlin didn't protest or fight, taking a deep breath and allowing herself to focus on the reason why her best friend was doing this. Closing her eyes, she nodded, moving so he could position her. "I trust you," she said again, letting him know she fully believed he was trying to do the right thing by her.

Cisco smiled at Caitlin, but inside, he was quaking. He truly hoped this would help her, because if it didn't, the weird factor would be unbearable. Once she was over his lap, he wrapped an arm around her waist and drew her in close and tight to his stomach, making certain she couldn't fall. He'd already decided that he wasn't going to spank her bare. While Wells did that with him- and it was very effective- that was also partly to reaffirm Wells' position in Cisco's life as a guardian and someone Cisco was meant to obey and come to for help. While Cisco truly wanted Caitlin to be able to come to him when she needed help, she was also completely his equal. Putting her in a position where she had to submit that far didn't feel right. "I'm going to start now..." he warned her, before lifting his hand and letting it fall with a crisp smack...not terribly hard. He had never done this before and didn't want to actually hurt her...just cause enough pain that she felt like she'd paid for Frost's actions. He was feeling his way through this situation and hoping he handled it right.

Caitlin jumped, but it was more from surprise at the swat rather than because it hurt. It didn't; not really. She didn't say anything...or make a sound...just tried to relax and accept what Cisco was doing.

Cisco, realizing that, to make any type of impact, he needed to be a bit, more firm, raised his hand and let it fall again, a small bit harder than the first time; hard enough that it actually made a sound that echoed through the room. He continued in that vein, watching her closely to see if it was having any effect (it needed to have an effect, or it was pointless), or if it was hurting her too much.

The swats weren't exactly painful, but the cumulative effect had her shifting in response. Her pants afforded enough protection that, even with the swats overlapping, they were really only beginning to sting; and that didn't last too long.

Cisco decided that he was swatting hard enough; she was shifting, and the point was to help her feel like she'd paid for what Frost had done, not leave her so sore she couldn't sit right for the rest of the day, especially since he didn't feel she'd actually done anything wrong to deserve being punished. He continued to swat, letting his hand fall in a random pattern. Sometimes he landed on a spot more than once, other times he made certain that the swats were far from each other so that it was noticeably a different swat. He just continued quietly for two circuits, before he started to talk. "I don't blame you for what Frost did. You weren't in control and, speaking with her, it's obvious you are two different people just inhabiting the same body. The fact you've managed to influence her enough that she's actually willing to work with us now... willing to try and do things the way you'd want to do them... is a strong testament to your character and how good you are. I don't blame you and I know Julian didn't blame you. And anyone who knows what's really going on doesn't blame you. You're the only one that blames you..." he said quietly, even has his hand continued to fall.

Caitlin couldn't help whimpering softly...not because of the pain of the swats (though they were now getting to the point of uncomfortable), but because of what her best friend was saying. "She's in my body...I don't want to come back if she goes off the rails," she whispered, beginning to squirm a bit.

"Caitlin...we're keeping an eye on her. We won't let her go off the rails. If she does, that's just as much on us as on you. More on us, since you can't control her, and we actually have some sway over her now. You aren't responsible for her actions, any more than you are responsible for becoming her..." Cisco continued to swat, concentrating more of his focus on her sit spots and upper thighs, hoping that focusing on the more sensitive areas would reach her more quickly.

Caitlin whimpered again, tears beginning to trickle out of her eyes. "I don't want...any of you to get hurt," she whispered, jerking her legs a little. "I can't do this without my best friend..." Her breath hitched on a sob.

"You won't have to do it without me. I'll do my best to stick around for you. And if I screw up- and I know I tend to do that frequently- know that Barry and Iris and Joe and my dad will step in and help, so you don't have to do it without me. We've got it all covered!" Cisco sounded very optimistic and certain of that. He slowed the smacks, listening to her carefully, hoping that he'd broken through to her and could stop spanking and move onto cuddling. He hadn't thought he'd like doing this to her by any means, but he was surprised at how horrible it made him feel, even if he was doing it to help her.

While she hadn't been fighting the spanking by any means, Cisco's promise made it easier for Caitlin to slump and stop even so much as resisting, quietly sobbing over his lap. The pain wasn't bad, but she felt much better than she had since coming into the labs that morning.

As soon as Caitlin slumped, Cisco ceased the spanking and just gently rubbed her back, giving her a moment to compose herself before carefully pulling her up and onto his lap where he held her tightly, just cuddling. "You're my best friend...I love you so much..." he whispered.

Caitlin wrapped her arms around Cisco tightly and pressed in close. "I love you too...you'd better not make me risk losing you." She tried to sound stern but found herself sniffling instead and holding on tighter.

Cisco just tightened his grip. "I'll do my best. But if I ever scare you into thinking I'm not... well... you can always tell on me to Wells. He doesn't like me taking risks either..." He was teasing; for all that he was speaking the truth and they both knew it.

"Of course, he doesn't. He's your dad." Caitlin smiled, more than happy that Cisco had formed that relationship with the other man.

"Yeah..." Cisco smiled, hugging her again. He bit his lip and gave her a worried look. "Are...are we okay now?" He meant the question two ways; did she feel remotely better about herself... and was she upset with him for suggesting and following through with spanking her?

Caitlin nodded, hugging him a bit tighter. "Thank you," she said simply, her voice sincere.

"You're welcome," Cisco whispered and kissed her on the cheek. "Do...do you want to talk about anything else, or do you want to go back into the computer lab and get some work done? I'm surprised none of the others have come looking for us, to be honest..." he said, his tone quizzical, as he glanced toward the entryway.

Caitlin smiled. "It's a good job they didn't...maybe we can go back to work? I'll help you with the glasses. We can get lunch at Big Belly Burger..."

"That'd be great!" Cisco grinned brightly and began to walk with her back to the lab, describing what he'd been trying to attempt with his upgrade and asking her opinion.

As they moved back into the lab, Wells stepped out of his office, catching his son's eye. "Cisco. A word, please, son." Every time he addressed his son as such, it reaffirmed their relationship...at least to his eyes.

Caitlin smiled at her friend. "We can pick up later?" she suggested.

"Yeah!" Cisco nodded and smiled, giving his father a smile as well; not knowing what he needed, but always happy to talk with the older man. He walked over to Wells and gently bumped shoulders with him. "What's up, dad?" He smiled.

Wells wrapped an arm around Cisco's shoulders, guiding him into his office and closing the door. "I overheard your conversation with Caitlin." He wrapped his other arm around Cisco in a tight hug that betrayed just how much what he'd overheard had affected him.

Cisco blinked, wrapping his own arms around Wells and hugging him tightly because he could tell the other man was upset. He didn't understand the reason why, though. "She's okay now, dad...we talked, and I think I convinced her that it isn't her fault what Frost does. And she seems to feel better now..."

Wells pulled back just enough so that he could look into Cisco's eyes. "You were prepared to let Frost kill you." His voice was low...hoarse with emotion that he couldn't keep back. "As if you weren't as important."

Cisco's eyes widened, and he swallowed hard. "...Dad...I..." He didn't know what to say. He had been willing to do that. At the time, he hadn't felt like he was as important. He might have thrown in the excuse that Wells wasn't there at that time- that he was on Earth 2 with Jessie- but he knew that wasn't a good excuse. He was friends with H.G. and he would have been upset too. As would have Barry and Iris and Joe... pretty much all of them would have been devastated if Frost had succeeded in killing him. "...I don't feel that way anymore..." he said, in a tiny voice. He didn't think he did, anyway.

Wells tightened his embrace. "When you told Caitlin you would find a non-lethal way if there was a next time, I could tell you were lying...just saying what she wanted to hear. That's not acceptable, son. You don't get to risk taking yourself away like that."

Cisco swallowed hard. "I... I'm sorry, dad... I didn't want to lie... I wish it was the truth... I just... I don't know what I'd do if it happened again, but I can't... she's my best friend..." He bit his lip and looked into his father's eyes, hoping that Wells could understand.

"I know she's your best friend. But you're hers too. And if you sacrificed yourself, it wouldn't just destroy her." Taking a deep breath, Wells added, "I'm going to turn you over my knee and spank you. For risking your life in the first place. To make you think the next time you might be tempted to treat yourself like you're expendable."

Cisco winced and whined, "...Daddy..." but he noticeably didn't pull away or struggle to put any distance between them. If Wells truly believed he deserved to be spanked- if he believed it would teach him something he needed to learn- Cisco wasn't going to fight him on it.

Wells kept a tight hold of his son as he guided Cisco over towards his chair and sat, carefully guiding him across his knees, making sure he was supported and was in no danger of falling before he bared his son.

Cisco closed his eyes tightly. He didn't know which was worse. The fact that he was over his father's knee for something he had done when the older man wasn't even around... or the fact that his own lack of regard for his own life made the older man think it was necessary to spank him for something he had done when Wells wasn't even around. There was no doubt in Cisco's mind he needed to be spanked, though. Wells wouldn't spank him for something if he didn't need or deserve it. Cisco knew that. "I'm sorry, daddy..." he whimpered out, reaching down blindly to grasp onto Wells' ankle because tears were already clouding his vision. He hated being over his father's knee.

"I know, son." Wells let one hand gently rest on Cisco's lower back, rubbing gently. "You thought I didn't like you at that time. That wasn't true. I already felt you were mine, even then, but I didn't think you needed me." He lifted his hand and brought it down in a firm swat that he then repeated. "I know better now. And I won't allow you to take yourself away. No matter what."

"I won't...I'll be so careful not to...I don't want to hurt you...or Caitlin...or any of the others bec...because I was careless and thought I didn't matter... I know better now..." He whimpered again. "...I'll try so hard..." he promised, pointedly not saying that he wouldn't take chances, because he knew he might and he didn't want to break that promise, but promising that he'd do his best not to.

"You do matter." Wells continued the firm swats down to Cisco's thighs before starting over from the top. "You matter to everyone...but you're more important to me than I could ever truly put into words." And then, because he wanted to be sure Cisco believed him, he spoke his honest, true feelings. "I love you. I missed you the most when I was gone."

"I... I love you too, daddy...I didn't know it would hurt you when...when I thought I didn't matter." Cisco let out a tiny sob. "I know now...I know it would hurt you if I don't be careful and I get taken from you. It would hurt a lot of people. I'll try not to take chances. I'll try to be good."

As firmly as he believed his son needed a spanking to learn this lesson, it actually wasn't easy for Wells to punish Cisco. It wasn't easy to hear him cry. "I'm relieved to hear that," he said, beginning a third circuit of swats and going a fraction harder and faster. "Your behaviour then wasn't acceptable. I won't let you get taken from me. And anymore reckless actions will get you right back in this position."

"Ye... yes, sir!" Cisco's quiet sobbing became a bit louder and desperate as the spanking became more intense. "...I... I'd deserve it... I'm sorry, Daddy..." Cisco squirmed weakly for a few moments before he went lax. It was as if something allowed the stress of the situation to fall away and in its place, was a boy at peace with what was happening. Accepting of what was occurring. Even the sobbing eased, and Cisco gave a weak squeeze to his father's leg. "I'll be good... I love you, daddy... I know you love me... you just want me safe... I know. I'll do my best to be good... be careful..." His promise was heartfelt, despite how quietly he made it.

Wells brought the spanking to a stop, unable to continue with his boy crying. He was getting better at comfort and didn't waste any time in moving his son onto his lap, wrapping his arms tightly around Cisco, unwilling to let him go. "You're my son," he whispered. "I'm not going to lose you."

Cisco snuggled close, tears still falling down his face, even though he wasn't crying vocally any longer. "Okay, daddy..." he whispered in agreement. "...I'll do whatever you say to keep that from happening..." He hadn't meant to make that promise, but it felt right to do. He knew how he'd feel if Caitlin was taken from him. How he'd feel if Wells was taken from him. How he had felt when his brother had been taken from him. He didn't want to go through that and he couldn't in good conscience do something that would make someone else feel the way he didn't want to feel. If making a promise to his father to obey him in matters that would protect him and keep him alive would help keep him with his friends and family- and make those friends and family feel better- then he'd make that promise.

"Good." Wells tightened his arms around his son. "I know I don't tell you enough...I'm not good at voicing it...but I do love you. You are important to me. And I will do whatever it takes to keep you alive. Well. Not taking yourself from me."

Cisco nodded, snuggling as close as physically able and letting his head drop onto his father's shoulder. "I know you love me... but it still feels good to hear it..." he whispered, with a tiny smile. "I hope I don't make it necessary for you to spank me again... I know chances are you will have to... but I would much rather just be held by you when you want to show you love me than have to go over your knee while you prove it to me..." His smile was rueful this time.

Wells tightened his embrace. "You don't have to wait for me to initiate it," he said softly. "Just because I'm not that good with affection or words, it doesn't mean I don't want to hold onto you. Or tell you."

"So, if I just want a hug, I can come bother you for it?" Cisco teased slightly, although it was obvious he'd do that if Wells said it was okay.

"You wouldn't be 'bothering' me," Wells replied seriously. "I want you to come to me. To talk. For affection. For any kind of help..."

"So... if I were to come to you and tell you that I was having problems adjusting my Vibe glasses... and had maybe, possibly, vibed to somewhere I shouldn't have so I could test them..." Cisco bit his lip, giving his father the side-eye.

"Where did you vibe to?" Wells tried to keep his voice calm, but his hold on his son tightened at Cisco's words.

Cisco swallowed hard, thinking he should have kept his mouth shut. "...I was aiming for a deserted part of Siberia, but accidently vibed in front of a troop of Russian soldiers..." he squeaked. "...I vibed out again as soon as I realized my mistake, though!"

Wells couldn't really hold onto his son any tighter without risking harm, but the tension was obvious in his body at Cisco's words. "When did that happen?" he asked, struggling to keep an even tone.

Cisco winced as his father's grip tightened; not because it hurt so much as because he knew how upset his father was at the news and how he was struggling not to over-react to it. He swallowed hard again. "Three days ago..." he whispered.

Wells took a deep breath, but realised he wasn't going to be able to handle his son immediately. He helped Cisco to stand and then stood up as well, leading his son to the corner. "Stand here," he directed.

Cisco slumped and faced the corner without argument. He didn't know why he'd chosen to tell his father of his actions in this way. He'd been planning to bring it up in a regular talk after explaining how it had been an accident- he had thought there would be no one around- and that it hadn't been deliberate and maybe catch Wells when he was in a really, really, good mood so that he wouldn't be in quite as much trouble. Instead, he told the man when Wells was still upset over hearing how he'd been willing to die, as if he didn't matter. Now he not only felt guilty about doing something that he knew upset his father, he felt guilty about making Wells even more upset than he already had been and stupid because he couldn't keep to his original plan. He just had to open his big mouth.

Stepping away from Cisco was perhaps one of the hardest things Wells had ever had to do when all he wanted was to hold onto his son. It was hard to hear that Cisco had been so prepared to die...and knowing how recklessly his son had acted was even more difficult. "I need you to stay alive." His voice was soft, but the words were meant for his son's ears.

"I know, daddy..." Cisco's voice came out small and childishly apologetic. "...It was an accident! I didn't deliberately vibe in front of them...I thought the area would be people free..." he weakly defended himself, though he knew the mere act of vibing into an area like that was questionable, by itself, and deserved a spanking, even if it wasn't intentionally dangerous.

"But the area wasn't one you could be certain was safe," Wells said, still in that same soft voice. "You know I would never have condoned you vibing to an area like that at the best of times. It wouldn't have been acceptable before, when I first joined you. But it is even less acceptable for my son to put himself in that kind of danger."

"No sir... Yes sir... No sir..." Cisco acknowledged each of his father's points in a very quiet, still childishly apologetic voice. Then, because he was a bit confused as to if he'd answered correctly (if he'd missed one of the points somewhere along the way, he would be disagreeing with his father instead of agreeing), he added, "I didn't know for certain, I just guessed. And, I know it wouldn't have been acceptable to anyone before, so I should have thought about it definitely being unacceptable now that you're in charge of me and would worry so much..." he whispered. "I'm sorry I was bad..."

"No, son," Wells corrected. "Not 'bad'. Disobedient and naughty, yes. But not bad." He thought he was calmed down enough now to properly handle his son and he drew Cisco back out of the corner and into a tight embrace.

"Feels bad..." Cisco muttered, even as he pressed as close to Wells as he could get. "...I didn't mean to be naughty or disobedient, though. I just didn't think. I'm sorry..." He sighed softly, his voice regretful and resigned all at once. He truly was sorry; and he also knew he deserved to be punished. His bottom still stung from the spanking he'd just received, though. This was going to suck.

"I know." Wells tightened his embrace a fraction. "And you're going to go back over my knee. But..." And here he hesitated, not wanting to hurt his son, but needing to make sure Cisco learned for the next time. "I'm not going to use my hand for this next spanking."

Cisco bit his lip and whimpered. "W... what are you going to use?" he asked nervously. He could imagine a lot of different items that could be used: belt, ruler, paddle, slipper. He didn't think Wells had a cane lying around, but if he did...

"I'm going to use my belt." Wells knew it would be hard for both of them. He didn't plan to truly hurt his son, but he needed to make sure Cisco remembered this; that he would keep his own safety in mind even if Wells wasn't there to pull him back. He hugged a bit tighter, pressing a kiss to Cisco's head. "If I lost you, it would tear a hole in me I don't think anything could fill."

"I'm sorry, daddy..." Cisco's voice caught. He truly hadn't meant to do anything dangerous and the fact he'd caused needless worry to his father made it worse. He blinked back tears of remorse and guilt. He snuggled for as long as Wells would allow, letting his father direct him into position when it was time.

Although reluctant to let go of his son, Wells knew they needed to get the rest of the punishment over with so they could move past it. He held on for a fraction longer and tighter and then moved to sit on the chair again, guiding Cisco across his lap once more, making sure his son's body was supported.

Cisco whimpered at what he knew was coming, but he didn't fight. He felt he deserved this, if only for scaring his father so bad.

Wells wrapped his arm around Cisco's waist and then carefully removed his belt. Doubling it in his hand, making sure the buckle was clasped safely in his grip, he brought it down in the first strike. He was very careful not to use much force.

Even with as little force as he was using, the strike reignited the sting from the previous spanking and imposed a burning stripe on top of it. Cisco's breath caught in his throat and all he could do was stiffen up, unable to even whimper.

Wells delivered another strike and then a third, still keeping a careful control, his other hand still holding onto his son.

Cisco let out his breath in a hissing whine before gasping in another breath and holding it. He held his body unnaturally still, unable to do more than quiver in place, the sharp burning pain holding him in place. He knew his father was actually going easy on him. Which meant he was either a complete wimp or a full force belting would be excruciating.

Using the belt was hard...far harder than hand spanking his son and that was never easy. Wells could only bring it down eight times in total, not able to force himself to continue, and then wasted no time in bringing Cisco back up into his arms, hugging his son tightly.

It wasn't until Wells had him up and in his arms again that Cisco was able to breathe correctly again. He let out the breath he was holding in a slow, pain-filled whine and then gulped in air with a tiny sob before he completely lost it and began sobbing brokenly. It felt like he wouldn't be able to sit for a month, it hurt so bad! "I'm sorry, Daddy!" he kept repeating, over and over. He knew for Wells to punish him so harshly, he had to have terrified the older man and now he was afraid he wouldn't be forgiven or trusted anymore.

Wells hugged tighter...as tightly as he could without hurting his son… and kissed his head. "I love you, son," he whispered in Cisco's ear. "I forgive you. I don't want to lose you. I can't lose you."

Cisco was only able to focus on two things; the pain in his bottom and his father holding him tight and secure. He heard the love in Wells' tone but wasn't truly hearing the words and he couldn't stop sobbing. He kept sobbing until his eyes were dry, his face and body were hot and he was exhausted and weak from the experience. He lay limp in Wells' arms, just snuggling and repeating apologies and promises to be good.

Wells continued to hold onto Cisco, kissing the top of his head and cuddling. He'd grab a bottle of water for his son in a few moments, but right now, just wanted to hold onto his son. He kept repeating his love and forgiveness, rubbing Cisco's back and stroking his hair.

Finally, Cisco's sobbing (which had been little more than dry spasms toward the end) eased into tiny little quivery hiccups. Soon, he was lying in Wells' arms, limp as a wrung out dishrag; which he supposed was appropriate, since that's what he felt like. Taking a tiny quivery breath, he whispered, in a tiny, childlike voice, "I was s'posed to meet Caitlin for coffee and to talk..."

Wells gently smoothed his son's hair and kissed his forehead. "I'll get you some water. You can take a few minutes to compose yourself. Cuddle," he added. "And, later, I'll take you home with me."

"Gotta let Caitlin know...postpone..." Cisco croaked out reluctantly. Not because he didn't want to go home- at the moment, that's all he wanted to do- but because he'd have to tell Caitlin why and he was positive she'd be upset and find some way to blame herself.

Wells gently stroked his son's hair, still hugging him tightly. "In person? Or do you want to use my phone to send her a message?"

Cisco sniffled and got a shamed and mortified look on his face. "I think she's still in the lab," he whimpered. "She prolly heard me being a complete wuss..."

"Not a wuss," Wells corrected. "That was the hardest spanking I've ever given you." He took a deep breath. "I don't want to ever punish you like that again." He didn't ever want to punish Cisco; but definitely not as severely as he just had.

"I don't wanna be punished like that ever again!" Cisco said fervently, nuzzling against Wells, seeking reassurance. "So, I gotta be good and not... do things that will force you to..." he added on with a sniffle, making it clear he felt he'd asked for it with his reckless actions.

"You've got to stay safe," Wells said. "Not act dangerously. Not think that you don't matter, because you do. And I'll keep telling you that. So, you don't ever doubt it. That you're important and you do matter and if I lost you, it would tear me apart."

"I really am sorry for making you worry like that. It was wrong of me and I'll try harder to be safe like you want me to be..." Cisco gave Wells a tiny smile, his tear stained face and earnest look making him seem years younger. The young look was reinforced when he bit his lip hesitantly. "Will you go with me to tell Caitlin?"

"Of course. If you want me to." Wells kissed his head again. "But I do want you to drink some water before we do."

"Okay, daddy." Cisco snuggled again, reluctant to move; both because he was feeling clingy and because it hurt to move.

Wells was reluctant to let go of Cisco, feeling just as clingy with his son. "I'm more than happy to keep cuddling you," he whispered, "but you'd better talk to Caitlin sooner rather than later. I'll grab you some water and then I can take you home," he suggested. "I have an idea I'd like to talk to you about."

"You're right, of course." Cisco sighed, then stood carefully, unable to hide his wince or stop his pained moan. "I might just spend the rest of the day lying down..." He quickly but carefully pulled his clothing into place with a tiny whine.

Wells stood and moved to his mini-fridge, taking out a bottle of water that he handed to his son. "I love you." It was getting easier to say; and after how hard he'd punished Cisco, he wanted to be sure his son believed him.

"I love you too, daddy..." Cisco took the water and drained the bottle. Once it was empty, he took a deep breath. "I'm as ready as I'll ever be..." He sighed.

Wells moved a bit closer to his son, not sure if Cisco wanted or would feel comfortable with him wrapping his arm around his son's shoulders to guide him out of the office but wanting to be close to him.

Cisco relaxed as Wells moved closer. He leaned toward the older man, as if seeking more comfort and aid.

Wells wrapped his arm around Cisco's shoulders, drawing his son in close, feeling better to have that contact with him.

Cisco leaned on Wells as they walked back to the lab, needing the support in order to not start crying as he walked. He'd be very glad to get home and remove the rough jeans he was wearing. He glanced around for Caitlin.

Now that she knew Wells punished Cisco, the sounds coming from the office had been un-mistakeable and Caitlin had had to fight the urge to storm in there and put a stop to it. As soon as she saw her best friend, though, she stepped over to hug Cisco, able to see he'd been crying. She couldn't help but glare at Wells, even as she asked her best friend, "Are you okay?"

Cisco blinked at finding himself being hugged tightly, his eyes widening as he saw Caitlin glaring at his father. "Yeah! I'm good! I mean... I'm horrified that you heard, and your glare is making me even more nervous to tell you why I need to postpone our coffee plans, but... I'll be okay. Daddy's going to take me home and help me get comfortable and probably watch me sleep, as badly as I scared him..." Cisco gave more information than intended and still not nearly enough to explain what he'd planned to.

"What did you do?" Caitlin blinked, focusing on her best friend. She still felt protective of Cisco, but if he'd scared his father...

Wells didn't say anything, figuring it was entirely up to Cisco what he told Caitlin.

Unable to face Caitlin and see the same fear on her face that he'd seen on Wells' face, Cisco looked at the floor. And told her of his illicit and ill-advised Vibe into Russia.

Caitlin paused and glanced at Wells, then said, "It's a good job your dad has you in hand, otherwise I'd be taking you up on your offer. I'm glad you're safe...but you'd better not ever do something like that again."

Wells raised his eyebrows at Caitlin's comment, but figured he'd ask his son about it later.

Cisco blushed and nodded. "He does have me..." He cleared his throat. "I... I need to go home now. Put more comfortable pants on." He blushed again.

"Okay." Caitlin hugged a bit more and then released him. "Maybe we can test out those glasses tomorrow? Or when you feel up to it?" she suggested.

"Yeah. I want to do that..." Cisco smiled at his best friend in relief. "Thanks..."

Caitlin nodded and hugged him. "I'll probably head home later. You can give me a call when you're up to it," she suggested.

"Be careful!" Cisco said, hugging tightly. He watched as she left, then turned toward Wells. "Are we driving home?" he asked hesitantly.

"You can open a portal if you'd prefer that way, but then we'd need one open, so I can pick up my car later or tomorrow," Wells answered. "Or I can drive, and you can stretch out on the backseat."

"I don't wanna leave you..." Cisco admitted, ashamed at how needy he was being. "I'll stretch out..."

Wells wrapped his arm around Cisco's shoulders and guided his son outside and to his car. "That works out well as I don't want to leave you either," he stated.

Cisco relaxed at the words, leaning on his father as they walked to the car. "Maybe I can stay at your place for a few days...?" he offered hesitantly.

"That was what I wanted to talk to you about," Wells said. "We spend so much time at each other's places...it seems to me it would make more sense if we moved in together."

"Really? I mean...I like that idea..." Cisco enthused, before trying to act cool about it. "If you really want to, that is..."

"You're my son. Even if I haven't figured out how to make it official yet, you are in every way that counts," Wells said seriously. "I do really want to."

Cisco smiled again, blinking then wiping at his eyes. "How soon? Cuz, I don't wanna leave you..." he whispered.

"As soon as possible," Wells replied. "You can move in now...but we'll have to go by your place to pick up the rest of your stuff eventually."

Cisco nodded. "That won't take long, though," he said happily.

"Not at all." Wells opened the back door, so his son could stretch out on the backseat.

Cisco carefully climbed in, settling on his stomach. "Feel like a baby... not being able to handle a spanking..." He sighed. "...Like a little kid..."

Wells closed the door and then got into the driver's side before answering, "It was a hard spanking... harsher than you're used to. I didn't find it any easier to spank you like that."

"I... I know..." Cisco said apologetically. "...I don't mean just because I reacted the way I did... even though I meant that a little. I mean... I feel very young... it's hard to explain. I'm not sure I can explain..." Cisco sighed.

Wells began to drive home, taking a few moments to respond. "You don't have to worry about how you need to react, son. How you feel and how you respond when I discipline you isn't bad or wrong."

"So... needing to stay next to you and being clingy after you spank me won't bother you... got it..." Cisco's tone was sheepish. He'd known Wells didn't mind but had still needed it confirmed.

"Considering I feel exactly the same way about you... no, not at all," Wells replied honestly.

"Thanks, daddy..." Cisco said quietly, subdued. It didn't take long for them to reach Wells' apartment, but Cisco waited for his father to open the back door before attempting to move. He couldn't stop the whimper, even the short time laying still making movement that much more noticeable.

Wells got out of the car and opened the back door, reaching in to help his son out of the car. "It's not a problem if you need to remove your jeans altogether," he said, as he guided Cisco inside the apartment.

"I don't have anything to put on instead," Cisco said quietly, as he let Wells help him inside.

"I might have something you can use," Wellls said. "You can help yourself."

"Thanks, daddy..." Cisco gave a small smile. He let out a tiny sigh of relief once they were in the apartment and he didn't have to act like it didn't hurt for the benefit of the neighbors.

Wells moved his son to the bedroom, so Cisco could find a pair of pants that were more comfortable, keeping his arm wrapped around his son's shoulders.

Cisco ended up settling on a pair of flannel sleep pants and began carefully taking off his jeans with a whimper.

"Do you want me to order some takeout?" Wells asked softly, turning so that he could give his son a bit of privacy to change.

"That sounds good..." Cisco let out a relieved sigh as the rough jeans were finally discarded in a heap on the floor. He took a deep breath and pulled the sleep pants up. He would have just left everything off if he was by himself, but since he was in Wells' apartment, he didn't feel right doing that. He didn't want to make the older man uncomfortable.

Wells wrapped an arm around his son's shoulders, drawing Cisco in close, and guided him through to the other room. "I don't want you to feel uncomfortable about acting natural around me, son," he said seriously.

"I'll try..." Cisco said, not entirely sure what vibe Wells was picking up on to say something like that. He glanced around the room. "May I lie down for a little bit?" he asked quietly, not sure when the food would arrive.

"Of course." Wells gave him a one-armed hug and then took his phone out to put in a call for food, making sure he ordered Cisco's favourites.

Cisco hesitantly lay down on his stomach, shifting minutely as he attempted to get comfortable. "I really am sorry I worried you so badly..." he said out of nowhere.

Wells carefully sat on the couch next to his son, reaching out to stroke Cisco's hair. "You worried me because I love you. Because I don't want to lose you."

"I know...I should have thought of that before..." Cisco turned his face into his father's hand and nuzzled.

"I hope you will now...that you'll remember how important you are to me. Not just to me, either," Wells added, stroking his son's face.

Cisco winced slightly, giving a rueful smile. "It will be a very long time before I forget that..." he said remorsefully.

"Good. Because I was telling you the truth, son. I can't lose you," Wells said seriously. "It doesn't feel good to know you thought you didn't matter...that you weren't as important."

"I know now...wish learning didn't hurt so much, but...I might not have learned otherwise, so..."

Wells squeezed his shoulder. "I know it was painful, but the pain will fade." He gently rubbed his son's back. "And you're going to be living here now...with me."

"That will help me remember even better than a sore backside..." Cisco said confidently.

"Good. But I want you living here for more than just to help you remember," Wells said seriously.

"I know." Cisco smiled. "You want me with you cuz you love me..." he whispered, letting his eyes close for a second to rest them.

Wells smiled at the words and stroked over Cisco's hair and back. "So very much," he murmured.

Cisco relaxed at the gentle affection and felt so safe that it didn't take long at all for him to fall asleep.

Wells stayed with his son, only getting up to collect the food when it arrived. He didn't wake Cisco, though, instead putting the food to the side to heat up later.


It was a couple of days later and Oliver was in the Arrow headquarters driving everyone crazy, but especially Felicity. "So, Cisco didn't give you any indication what this new and improved suit did?" he asked, for what felt like the thousandth time to the blond techie.

"No, Oliver. I have no clue," she nearly growled and felt somewhat justified when he gave her a sheepishly chagrined look and backed away to do the Salmon ladder.

Slade had been quietly standing to one side, lost in thought, but after his little brother had started questioning Felicity yet again, he stepped over to Oliver. "Kid, you're all kinds of on edge. Why don't we spar for a bit?" he suggested, figuring that idea was a better one that forcibly take his little brother home.

Oliver gave Slade a grateful look. "Yeah. That would help, I think. I don't know why I'm so keyed up..." he mumbled. It wasn't because Cisco said he was bringing him something. He'd been feeling on edge before Felicity had told them Cisco was coming and bringing gifts for everyone. He moved over to the area where they practiced their sparring and began to stretch, knowing Slade wouldn't be impressed if Oliver just began sparring without warming up.

Slade moved over to the space and began to do the same. He'd been observing Oliver all day and he continued to do so. They had a code phrase in place for if Oliver could recognise and voice his needs...but if he needed to, Slade was prepared to take his little brother home and settle him. He actually had a couple of gifts at their apartment for Oliver that he thought his brother might react well to.

Oliver was feeling antsy enough that he figured maybe he should defer to Slade in some things, if only to keep from doing something that would get him hurt and therefore get him into trouble with his brother and get the rest of the team upset with him. Because of this, he waited until they'd both been stretching for about five minutes before glancing at Slade. "Ready?" he asked. To anyone else, it would seem an innocuous question about if Slade was ready to begin. To Oliver- and Oliver believed Slade would pick up on it- it was Oliver asking permission for them to begin.

Slade nodded. "Normal rules apply." He didn't really need to say that; even before, on the island, he'd only pushed Oliver as far as he needed to make sure his little brother could survive. Now that they weren't fighting for their lives every day, he always made sure to hold back enough that there'd be no risk of injuries. But Oliver responded well when Slade gave him directions and he figured it might help to settle his brother further.

"Got it!" Oliver grinned. Slade had basically told him that it was anything goes as long as it didn't put either of them at risk for injury (well, if it didn't put Oliver at risk for injury, but Oliver knew he'd learned enough that it was possible he could hurt Slade now, even if he wouldn't have been able to on the island). He quickly moved in; the element of surprise always worked best for his brother, because Slade was able to predict Oliver's moves so easily otherwise.

Slade held back, watching his brother, letting Oliver make the first move. He was smiling; a fond, loving look in his eye when he watched Oliver. And he was always watching his brother. Whether they were sparring or otherwise, he watched and adapted to his brother's needs.

Thea watched Oliver with Slade. It was long past the time she worried about Oliver's safety with the older man. In fact, she'd been thinking about reaching out to Slade...asking him to come along with Oliver the next time her brother came by her place. Tommy and Oliver both thought the world of the other man; and Thea found herself beginning to follow the example of her two brothers.

Oliver wasn't oblivious to the others watching, but his focus was on Slade and how to best get by his brother's considerable defenses and take him down. It wasn't often Oliver 'won' during their sparring matches- which amused the others to no end- but then it was never really about winning anyway.

Floyd stood next to Diggle and watched the two sparring, chuckling softly to himself. "I think I learn just as much watching those two spar as I do sparring myself..." he muttered.

Slade's attention was fully on his brother, even if there was a small part of him always taking in their surroundings. He pulled back any time he connected with his brother, stroking or touching affectionately, even if he was careful not to push Oliver into a submissive mindset.

Diggle snorted softly. "Anyone they face together needs to watch out," he commented to his own brother.

Felicity sighed. "So unfair. All this hotness in the room and I'm on a dry spell..." she muttered to Thea, without thinking about the fact it was Thea's brother (and might-as-well-be brother) she was talking about.

"Good thing they're on our side, then..." Floyd grinned.

Oliver slanted his head as Slade got in yet another 'connect' and turned toward the elevators. "I think he's here..." he said quietly.

Thea wrinkled her nose at Felicity's comment. "I really don't see either of them that way..." she commented, hardly realising that, mentally, she was beginning to group Slade with her brothers.

Slade paused and turned to look towards the elevator too, almost automatically shifting nearer to Oliver so they were nearly brushing sides.

Felicity let out a loud sigh. "...So hot..." she muttered, more loudly than intended, before realizing that both men were looking toward the elevator, which was behind her, and therefore looking at her staring at them. Blushing, she quickly turned to look behind her to see who was coming.

Floyd laughed outright at that, since her voice had carried to the entire room, amused because she was blushing darkly, and Oliver had a pink tinge to his face as well.

Diggle chuckled at the sight but didn't make any comments to further embarrass Oliver or Felicity. Instead, he headed over to the elevator to meet who was coming. Just in case it wasn't who they were expecting.

"I can't believe I didn't think of this before we dragged everything over here! But if we adjusted the arm guard just slightly, a knife could be fit..." Cisco was extrapolating from behind a pile of uniforms that went up high enough to block his view of the room. He was relying on Wells to keep him from running into anything or tripping and falling on his face, since the other man was carrying two cases of improved weaponry and could still see what was coming in order to warn him.

Oliver's eyes widened at the load Cisco was carrying and he quickly moved forward to help take some of the burden from his friend, so Cisco could see again. "Did you upgrade all of us?" he asked in surprise.

Wells stuck close to Cisco even after Oliver moved forward to help grab the uniforms. "You can worry about that when it's time for the next upgrades," he said, before nodding to Oliver. "There's something here for all of you."

Slade didn't waste any time moving forward so he could give Oliver a hand with the clothing.

"Wow...You all went above and beyond..." Oliver sounded impressed. "...And we can't thank you enough..."

Floyd shifted closer, surprised when he was handed a suit as well. "...Oliver's right...we really can't thank you enough..." He smiled crookedly.

Cisco grinned brightly. "The least we can do. We're all fighting the good fight and all..." He glanced around the facility. "You've upgraded your hideout!" he enthused, moving over to look at Felicity's new computer set-up.

Felicity's eyes widened. "Yeah! Come look at the new screen I got! And there is so much more RAM..." She dragged Cisco over to the technical area, leaving the others to their suits, not noticing that Cisco was moving a bit stiffly.

Oliver noticed, though. "He okay...?" he asked Wells, slightly concerned, although the look on his face was becoming a bit more 'knowing' and 'understanding' as Cisco's movements made it more clear why he might be sore.

"He's fine," Wells replied, not really wanting to discuss his son's punishment without Cisco knowing or being aware of it.

Slade moved a bit closer to his brother, seeing the same thing Oliver had, and let his hand gently linger on his brother's hip.

Diggle noticed and raised his eyebrows, but instead of commenting, he began asking a few questions about the upgrades.

Oliver felt his brother close to him and Slade's hand on his hip calmed him enough that he decided not to question any further. It was up to Cisco if they knew what had happened. "Okay..." he answered Wells, not pushing.

By this time, Felicity had noticed that Cisco was moving funny and since she didn't know how things were handled by certain groups of family members, she had no qualms about blurting out, "What happened to you?! Why are you walking funny!?"

Cisco blushed darkly. "...Uh..." He scrabbled in his mind, trying to come up with a plausible excuse, not wanting to just tell the world how he was punished. As far as he knew, he and Barry were the only two adult males on the planet who got spanked by an authority figure; and if he admitted he'd got spanked (or, in this case, the belt), he'd have to tell her why he'd been in punished and Felicity was really good at making you feel three inches tall when she thought you'd done something stupid.

"It was a long drive," Wells commented, figuring he'd give his son the excuse of having sat in a weird position, so Cisco didn't need to embarrass himself. "I think we're both a bit stiff." He quickly changed the subject back to the equipment and allowing his son to explain the upgrades.

"Yeah. I'm too used to vibing now...car rides longer than ten minutes and I get stiff..." Cisco smiled crookedly at his father.

Oliver knew that was a lie but didn't say anything. If it weren't for the fact that Felicity had no clue how Slade handled him (although he wasn't entirely sure about Thea; she'd been giving him a few odd looks recently), he'd say something to let Cisco know he wasn't alone in being accountable to someone else. But to help Cisco, he'd not only give away Cisco's secret (and the kid obviously wanted it kept secret), but he'd give away his own.

Felicity shook her head. "You need to use your ability less when you don't need it. You're gonna be like those wizards in Harry Potter that can't even wash their dishes without magic!"

Floyd shook his head and snorted at Felicity's antics, giving Diggle his own knowing yet amused look.

Wells didn't make any comment, just gave his son an affectionate smile.

Thea didn't comment, even though she was fairly suspicious about what she was seeing and glanced at her watch. "You still want to grab a coffee?" she asked Felicity.

"Wha...?" Felicity blinked, turning her attention from Cisco and to Thea before looking at her watch. "...You want to go now?" she asked in confusion. "When they have all the new toys?" She blinked again but gathered her jacket and handbag anyway. Maybe Thea wanted to talk to her about something and there were just too many people here.

Oliver smiled at his little sister. "Sounds good. Meanwhile, the rest of us can test out the new gear by sparring... when you come back, you can join in, Speedy..."

Thea nodded to her brother. "Sounds good to me." She grabbed her own things, pausing just long enough to wait for Felicity, and then left the headquarters with the other woman.

"Did you bring your vibe suit?" Oliver asked Cisco. "You can practice sparring with us. I know you usually are more hands off, but it doesn't hurt to get practice in..."

Cisco's eyes widened. "I actually did, but..." He glanced at Wells. It was clear he wanted to, but was holding back because it would be impossible to hide what had occurred if he joined in.

"Slade and I can go first, if you want." Oliver smiled as he gathered everything he needed and headed behind the changing screen.

Wells stepped a bit closer to Cisco, wrapping an arm around his son's shoulders and giving him a reassuring squeeze.

Slade moved to join his brother, changing quickly.

Diggle glanced at his brother. "You want to join them? Or wait and watch for a bit?" he asked.

Floyd shrugged. "Can't hurt to practice. But we can watch a bit more first. I'll get changed, though..." He grabbed the suit Cisco had brought him and went to change. It was obvious that everyone on team arrow was used to changing around each other; much like a sports team locker-room.

Cisco swallowed. "I'll just wait a bit...see if I want to join in after watching you..." he said nervously.

Oliver was stepping out and nodded. "If that feels more comfortable to you..." he agreed easily, before moving to the center of the sparring mat.

Diggle joined his brother to also get changed.

Slade walked over to stand opposite Oliver, watching his brother closely as he made his first move.

Oliver began as they normally did, ducking when expected and looking for an opening to sweep his brother's legs out from under him. He noted that both Cisco and Wells were watching intently.

As he had earlier, Slade pulled back on his punches and kicks, only touching or stroking when he connected with a part of Oliver's body. He didn't care about anyone else seeing him affectionate with his brother; actually preferred that, considering how much he had put Oliver through in the past.

Oliver wanted to show Cisco he wasn't alone; that how he apparently related to Wells (and Oliver was fairly certain he wasn't wrong in his assumption) was very similar to how Oliver related to Slade...although Oliver's reliance on his brother was a bit deeper than just Oliver being accountable to him. The only way he could think of that would let him do that, though, was if Slade started showing more of his possessive, dominant side and Oliver submitted. Why he didn't just tell Slade that's what he wanted to do, he couldn't rightly say. Instead, he began sparring in a way that would 'encourage' if not force his brother into taking control of the situation... deliberately stepping into jabs he should have and could have avoided. "We can test out how much impact the suit can take now..." he said impishly, with a wink at Cisco.

"Uh...I didn't actually upgrade the material to take more impact...that wasn't what the upgrades did at all..." Cisco said nervously, glancing from Oliver to Slade and then toward Wells and back again.

Slade raised his eyebrows at that and, the next time Oliver stepped into a jab, he caught his brother's wrist, pulling Oliver in close against him so he could whisper in his ear, "The next time, I'm going to swat you, kid." He kept his voice low enough so that only his brother would hear the warning. He'd told Oliver that he wouldn't hesitate to take him in hand in front of other people if his little brother pushed enough.

Oliver wouldn't have pushed further if Felicity and Thea were in the room. But Diggle already knew how Slade handled him and by default, he was pretty sure Floyd did as well. And the point was that he wanted to clue Cisco in so that the younger man wouldn't feel like he had to put on an act, or be embarrassed around Oliver, at least. He nodded briefly to show Slade he'd heard him, then promptly stepped into another jab, completely ignoring his brother's warning.

Slade wouldn't have chosen to carry out his warning, but the fact that Oliver acted as soon as he'd been warned not to, meant his little brother needed to push. For whatever reason. Slade responded by carrying out his promise and swatting Oliver's backside.

Surprised, Diggle darted a look towards Oliver. Yeah, he knew how Slade handled him...but he wasn't sure what had prompted that.

Floyd whistled under his breath, glancing from Oliver and Slade toward Cisco and Wells.

Cisco's eyes widened noticeably, and he glanced at Wells before his eyes darted back to Slade and Oliver.

Oliver couldn't help the tiny little jump he gave when his brother's palm impacted his backside. It wasn't hard, but it wasn't light either; and it caught him by surprise, even though he'd been expecting it. And then he found himself wanting to push just that much further. He felt safe with this group of men not only knowing the truth but witnessing it; and he'd been feeling edgy all day; and while he couldn't bring himself to admit it out loud, the swat had taken just a tiny bit off that edge and he realized he needed more. He needed Slade to take over. Normally, he'd use his phrase and get his brother to take him home, but he really didn't want to leave yet. So he pushed again, this time doing a maneuver that was a slight bit more risky to himself than was advisable when he wasn't in an actual fight and it was life or death and it was the only move open to him.

Diggle might have tried to put a stop to it...or at least done something to draw Oliver's attention to the fact he and Slade weren't alone, if Oliver hadn't followed the swat with a move that all of them knew wasn't necessary. Didn't need to be practiced.

Wells stepped a bit nearer to Cisco, so he was able to brush his shoulder against his son's.

Slade responded by wrapping an arm around Oliver's waist, pulling enough to jerk his brother off balance so that Oliver would have to lean into him, and delivered another couple of swats to Oliver's bottom. He couldn't ignore the actions; and if Oliver was pushing to this extent, Slade knew his brother needed this. And as he'd continually reiterated, Oliver's needs came first. Always.

Oliver did yelp at those swats, but he noticeably didn't pull away and seemed to lean on Slade more. The swats took enough of the edge off that he was able to take a deep breath and realize that even if he didn't mind everyone else knowing or witnessing how Slade handled him, it might be making them uncomfortable. He blushed slightly, giving Diggle and Floyd and then Wells and Cisco a chagrined smile. Swallowing, he let his head briefly drop onto Slade's shoulder. "Sorry, Koro..." he said softly, though it was loud enough to carry to everyone. "I'm okay now..." He swallowed again and straightened up, though he didn't pull away. He'd pushed Slade into taking charge in front of everyone. Now Slade was in charge. He wasn't leaving his brother's grip until Slade was satisfied that he could safely do so. "Sorry, everyone..." he repeated to all the 'witnesses', for making them uncomfortable.

"Uh...no problem..." Cisco squeaked out, shifting closer to Wells uncertainly. He didn't know if he was allowed to comment or ask questions, or if this was something that he should just pretend never happened.

"No problem, Kid..." Floyd found himself calling Oliver by the same name Slade used; since he was closer to Slade's age than Oliver's and Oliver wasn't being his typical in charge self, it seemed to fit.

Slade gently squeezed Oliver's arm, letting his other hand gently rub over his brother's hip before he gently released Oliver, though he moved in close enough that they were still touching. "It's okay, kid." His voice was low, warmed through with affection and love.

"Yeah...as long as you're feeling okay." Diggle was really talking about emotionally. He'd seen glimpses of how Slade settled Oliver. This was the first time he'd seen the older man outright handle Oliver, though.

Wells wrapped an arm around Cisco's shoulders, figuring that maybe part of the reason for Oliver's actions was that the other man had seen Cisco's movements and put two and two together. "Can I assume there are others who've found a more hands-on way of dealing with family members?" he asked dryly.

Oliver took a deep breath, leaning on Slade a little bit more and giving Diggle a tiny smile. "Yeah. I'm feeling okay now..." he said softly, indirectly admitting he hadn't really been feeling okay before.

Floyd caught the distinction and frowned slightly. "Is there anything we can do to make sure you keep feeling okay? When you know...you aren't home? Cuz even though I'm happy you feel comfortable around us enough that Slade can help you when we're here? I can't help but notice you waited till the girls were gone before you let him know you needed help..." And Floyd couldn't really say it looked any other way. Oliver had pushed Slade into helping him.

Cisco gave Wells a startled look that he would ask such a question but was grateful he had all the same. He wouldn't have been brave enough to ask.

Slade wrapped his arm around Oliver's shoulders; the movement not quite as possessive as holding onto Oliver's waist, but keeping his brother close either way. "Aside from letting me know to take you home..." he commented; primarily to Oliver, but also answering Floyd's question.

Diggle nodded and responded to Wells. "I'm not sure I would have chosen to say it in that way, but yeah. No need to be embarrassed about it." That last comment was addressed more to Cisco.

Oliver blinked at Floyd's question, but nodded at Slade's answer. "Normally, if I'm having problems, I just let Slade know I need to go home," he admitted. "...I just didn't want to go home yet. I could have handled things a lot better..." he admitted, with a sigh. "I'm not sure any of you could do anything to help, although if I let you know I'm feeling edgy, you can at least be prepared for if I do something stupid..." He grimaced. "Lately, most of the times I've done stupid things on our missions, it's because I was feeling edgy..."

Floyd snorted. "That would be helpful to know. I can help hold you back if I know you're about to go off rails..."

Cisco blinked. "You all...and it doesn't bother... you just talk about..." He blinked again owlishly.

"I already made it clear I would respond to my brother's needs whenever and wherever," Slade commented, phrasing it that way as he was speaking to the others and not just Oliver. "I ordered a couple of things that might help with you feeling edgy outside," he added, in a lower voice to his brother.

"I guess there's not much point in being embarrassed about it," Diggle commented to Cisco. "It's how some things are dealt with and handled."

"You did?" Oliver's eyes lit up and in that moment, he resembled a kid at Christmas time at the idea that his brother had got him a 'gift' just because.

Cisco nodded. "Yeah...Okay. That...actually explains a lot...and makes me feel a lot better about not being able to hide things as well as I thought I was..." His smile was sheepish. He glanced at Oliver. "You all can't really test out the new features on the suits until you go out tonight, unless you have a shooting range? And as much as I wanted to spar with you all, I don't think I'd be able to do very well; I'd rather not force the issue unless absolutely, necessary because it hurts just to walk, and I don't think falling on my butt would help any," he added. If it wasn't a secret, then he wasn't going to pretend anymore. At least not around those who obviously were familiar with a well spanked backside. He'd noticed that Oliver had waited until Felicity and Thea had left as well, so he'd continue to keep quiet about it around them.

Floyd chuckled. "So, you're saying that you want to head home now and we don't have to stick around?" he teased.

Cisco blushed. "Well...not exactly...I mean, I'm hungry, so figured we could get something to eat before we headed home..." He turned toward Wells deferentially. "...But you all are welcome to join if you don't already have plans, I'm sure..."

Slade smiled at the look on Oliver's face and hugged his brother that bit tighter. "Yeah, kid. I love you," he added, not caring who heard; knowing his brother knew that, but always wanting to put voice to his emotions. Always wanting to make sure Oliver wouldn't ever doubt it again.

Wells nodded and gently squeezed Cisco's shoulder. "Sparring can wait for another time," he suggested.

Floyd glanced at Diggle to make certain he wasn't mistaken before he answered, "Thanks, but Lilah planned a big dinner for us, so if we're done here, I think I want to head home and get cleaned up so that I don't get the stern 'you didn't clean up before dinner?!' look..." he teased gently.

Oliver glanced at Slade, obviously wanting to eat with Cisco and Wells, but also just as obviously wanting to go home and see what his 'gift' was.

Diggle nodded. "We'll catch up with you next time," he said, before walking out with Floyd.

Slade smiled at his brother. "The gifts can wait until after we've eaten."

"So... we can go eat now?" Cisco grinned, glancing at Wells for confirmation. While he wasn't submissive by any stretch of the word, he did tend to let Wells take lead on things that weren't work related if it was just the two of them.

Wells nodded. "That's fine by me." He waited for Slade and Oliver to precede the two of them out of the headquarters.

Oliver quickly went to change. "Be with you in a bit..." he called out. Since he wasn't going straight home, he didn't want to risk wearing his suit out in public when it wasn't dark, and he wasn't on patrol.

Cisco nodded. "Yeah. Good idea." He just changed where he was since the girls weren't around.

Slade didn't waste any time going to change and then joining his brother and friends.

Once everyone was changed and back together and walking to the elevator, Oliver asked, "So... where were you all wanting to eat?"


It hadn't taken long for the group to make a decision about where to eat and they were all soon settled at the restaurant, having ordered their food and waiting for it to be brought to the table.

Cisco glanced around to make certain there was no one too close that might overhear, then gave Oliver an awkwardly hesitant smile. "So... uh... can I ask something personal?"

Oliver blinked, then grinned. "Sure, Cisco..."

"It seems like, from the way the others were talking, that normally Slade doesn't handle you in front of everyone like that. And it kinda seemed like you were pushing him to do it..." Cisco bit his lip uncertainly, not sure exactly how to word what he was wondering.

"Normally, he doesn't handle me in front of people," Oliver said softly, nodding. "...Normally, if I'm feeling edgy, I let him know before I do anything too off the rails and he helps me hold on until we get home, so he can settle me..." He was matter-of-fact in the way he spoke.

Cisco blinked in surprise at that. "So normally, you would have told him, and you would have gone home? Why'd you push him then?"

Oliver shook his head and laughed quietly. "Because I didn't want to leave everyone and go home..." he admitted sheepishly. "... And I didn't realize exactly how out of sorts and edgy I was feeling until I'd decided that it might help you to realize you weren't alone when it came to being spanked... I had only originally intended to push just far enough that he would swat me once and you'd see and then if you had questions, maybe you'd feel comfortable asking. After... well, I realized that it had helped calm me and so I pushed further. " He gave Slade an apologetic look.

Slade gently squeezed his little brother's shoulder. "I don't have any problem fulfilling your needs, little brother," he said, his voice soft and sincere.

"So, you ask Slade to take you home?" Wells asked curiously, not sure how they got around keeping it from Thea and Felicity if Oliver worded his request that way.

"Not in so many words," Oliver said with a tiny smile. "...We have a code phrase I use if I'm feeling unsettled and need help..." he said quietly. "Something that would sound like a normal thing for me to say but is innocuous and wouldn't cause anyone else to worry."

Cisco nodded. "And when you use that phrase, Slade knows you need him to step in..." he continued for his friend, just as quietly.

"Yeah..." Oliver nodded.

"It sounds like a good idea," Wells commented, glancing sideways at his son, wondering if using a codeword might help them. He gently squeezed Cisco's shoulder.

"Yeah. It does actually..." Cisco said, thinking that while he might not feel unsettled like Oliver appeared to get, there were plenty of times when he felt like he could use Wells' advice on something, but wasn't in a good place to ask him what he thought. Maybe if they had a phrase that he could say, Wells would know that meant he didn't know what to do and could offer suggestions, or outright directives, and not have people look at them oddly.

"It's something we could keep in mind," Wells added to his son, gently bumping shoulders with him.

"Yeah...definitely..." Cisco agreed, smiling at everyone at the table as their food arrived.

"It has helped, knowing the option is there..." Oliver said, smiling as well. "...Thank you..." he said to the server, as his own food was placed in front of him.

Slade added his own thanks, sitting a bit nearer to his brother as they began eating, letting his arm brush gently against Oliver's.

The rest of the meal progressed without any huge revelations, but Oliver still felt like he and Cisco had become better friends by the end of it. He even felt more connected to Wells, which since he hadn't really been able to meet the other man the last time he'd seen him, and he was a huge part of his friends' lives, he was glad for.

Soon, they were standing in front of the restaurant, saying goodbye.

"Thanks again for the upgrades, Cisco. But you know you can come see us without bearing gifts; we like you all. You can come see us just because..." Oliver said seriously.

Cisco nodded. "I'll keep that in mind..."

"I'm sure we can find time," Wells commented, before asking, "Could you ask Felicity to call me in the next day or so, please? I have something in mind I think I'll need her help with."

"Of course..." Oliver quickly agreed.

Cisco held up his fist for a fist-bump, which Oliver quickly returned. "See ya, man... Slade..." He nodded at Oliver's brother, before bumping shoulders with his dad. "Ready, Old Man?" he teased.

Wells smiled and wrapped his arm around Cisco's shoulders. "Let's go home, son." He guided Cisco towards the car.

Oliver watched the two walk away before turning toward Slade. "Home now?" he asked his big brother quietly.

Slade nodded, wrapping an arm tightly around Oliver's shoulders. "I love you, kid." He began to guide Oliver to his own car.

Oliver went along with his brother, pressing closer to Slade's side. He let Slade get him situated in the car instead of rushing ahead to get himself in. He was already falling into the 'Slade is in charge' mindset he tended to be in when at home.

Getting in the driver's seat, Slade reached across to grasp his brother's hand as he began to drive them home, gently squeezing it, thumb stroking over the palm.

Oliver relaxed, just holding onto his brother's hand. "Are you upset with me?" he finally asked softly. "...For pushing you instead of letting you know what I was feeling?"

Slade gently squeezed his hand. "I'm not upset with you, little brother. I think it's important you feel able to tell me what you need...but you at least pushed me in an environment where it was safe to do so."

"I... I didn't even know I really needed you to step in until you swatted me the first time..." Oliver admitted hesitantly. "I've been feeling edgy, but I thought I could handle it till we got home. Pushing you... at first... was more so Cisco could feel more able to not hide himself. And then I felt so much better after you stepped in, I realized I was more strung out than I'd thought..." He sounded sheepish.

"That's the point you should have told me, kid," Slade replied gently, as they reached their apartment building. "When you did know."

"Yeah..." Oliver looked at their clasped hands. "I didn't want to leave everyone yet, but at that point, I should have told you and let you make that decision. I really don't make good decisions when I'm edgy."

Parking the car, Slade released his brother's hand just long enough to get out and walk round to help Oliver out, linking their hands together once more. "I'll always take care of you, kid," he murmured, holding back on hugging his brother until they were in their apartment.

"I know you will, Koro..." Oliver smiled crookedly as he meekly followed his brother into the apartment building. "You always do what's best for me. I just have to let you know when I need you to..."

"Exactly, little brother." Slade stepped into the apartment and closed the door behind them, then wrapped his arms tightly around Oliver. "I love you. Taking care of you is my priority," he said seriously.

Oliver snuggled close. "I love you too, Koro. Sorry I didn't say anything soon as I knew..." he whispered.

Slade gently squeezed the nape of his little brother's neck. "I know. And I forgive you, kid. After you've opened your gifts, I'll take you over my knee for a reminder. But you aren't in trouble. I'm not upset with you."

Oliver leaned further into his brother. "Okay, Koro..." he said quietly, content with the knowledge that he was safe with his brother.

Slade kissed Oliver's head and then began to strip his little brother, kissing Oliver's head or stroking his cheek as he did so.

Oliver held still, only moving when Slade indicated he should. Soon, he was naked and vulnerable in front of his brother. He never felt safer.

Slade kissed his forehead and guided him through to the living room, picking up the packages that had arrived and handing them to his brother.

Oliver waited until Slade had sat down before sitting on his brother's lap and eagerly tearing into the packaging of the first package. He blinked at the soft material, unfolding the garment and shaking it out so he could look at it. "An adult onesie?" he asked, with a hint of confusion and a lot of amusement.

"It has an extra feature... but I got it for you, so you can still be comfortable and warm here with me." Slade had wrapped his arms around his brother's waist and now he gently squeezed. "Look at the back."

Oliver automatically snuggled closer to his brother and smiled at the fact Slade wanted him comfortable and warm. Carefully, he turned the pajamas over and then laughed. "These are perfect..." He grinned as he unsnapped then re-snapped the flap that would cover his bottom.

Slade kissed Oliver's shoulder. "It also means you won't be as vulnerable if we happened to have an enemy follow us home, for instance."

Oliver blinked at that, then nodded. "You're right...I never thought about that happening to be honest, but it makes sense. This way, I can be vulnerable with you but not anyone else that shows up unexpectedly..."

"Exactly, little brother. And I would never want to risk your safety." Slade tightened his embrace. "I want to keep you safe, kid. More than anything I've ever wanted."

"You do keep me safe, Koro!" Oliver said seriously "Most the time, it's from myself... but you keep me safe." He pressed closer to Slade and slumped enough that he could put his head on the older man's shoulder and nuzzle against him. "...Are you going to dress me in them?" he asked softly, his voice serious, but an impish gleam in his eye.

Slade stroked his hair and kissed his head. "Do you want to open your other gift first?" he whispered, gently stroking over Oliver's chest and stomach.

Oliver nodded eagerly but didn't make a move toward opening the other gift because he was arching toward his brother's hand, seeking the physical affection without even thinking about it.

Slade continued the gentle, affectionate touch, kissing Oliver's head again. "I love you, little brother," he whispered, his voice filled with that love...and a whole lot of gratitude for how much Oliver had saved him. He picked up the other gift and held it so his brother could open it.

Taking the package, Oliver smiled before quickly opening the gift. His eyes widened as he pulled out the thin strip of leather. Biting his lower lip, he gave Slade a shy look. "Would you put it on me?"

"Of course." Slade stroked his hair. "I thought it could go around your wrist, so you don't have to take off the pendant," he said, squeezing the nape of Oliver's neck before putting the leather on his brother.

"You're right; I wouldn't want to take off the pendant. This will remind me anytime I look at my hand that I'm yours and I obey you..." Oliver whispered, as he looked at the band wrapped around his wrist.

"You're mine," Slade whispered, kissing his cheek. "And you will always be mine." He began to carefully clothe Oliver in the pajamas, touching and stroking.

Oliver squirmed and shivered as Slade dressed him, the gentle touches and caressing causing him to relax and become more agitated at the same time. It was a contradiction he didn't understand, but he was wriggling like a puppy by the time Slade zipped up the pajamas.

"Comfortable?" Slade asked softly, stroking Oliver's cheek and squeezing the nape of his neck, kissing his forehead.

"Yessir..." Oliver mumbled, almost shyly, slanting his face into Slade's hand before kissing his brother's palm. "They're soft and warm...very comfortable..."

Slade held his brother a few more moments, hugging him tightly. "I love you, kid. You're my whole world," he whispered, before gently moving Oliver over his knees, adjusting his brother's position so Oliver was in no danger of falling and was as supported as possible.

"I love you too, Koro..." Oliver held onto Slade tightly, only letting go when his brother shifted him to being over his knee. The position was more comfortable than it probably should have been, but Oliver had no fear that Slade would drop him, and he needed to feel his brother's control. Being over Slade's lap let him feel that.

Slade gently slid his hand under the flap in the pajamas, beginning to gently stroke and rub Oliver's bottom, back and down over his thighs.

Oliver let out a tiny sigh as his brother began to rub, the possessiveness of it calming down the jittery feeling he'd been having all day since leaving home.

"I've got you, kid. You're mine," Slade whispered, continuing to gently stroke and rub, squeezing the nape of his brother's neck.

"Yours, Koro...completely..." Oliver mumbled in total agreement. He'd been feeling so anxious that the minute Slade had him, he'd begun falling into that headspace where the only thing that mattered and that he noticed was his brother, his brother's hands and what Slade was doing. The rest of the world disappeared.

Slade stroked and rubbed Oliver's back, bottom and thighs, sliding his hand under the pajamas to reach bare skin. He raised the flap so he could begin to gently pat his brother's bottom.

The contrast of warm pajamas and cold air once Slade lowered the flap was noticeable and Oliver shivered slightly as the cool air touched bared skin. He didn't move or try to get away, though, relaxing further as his brother began to pat. "Yours, Koro..." he repeated, in a tiny voice.

"Mine," Slade reiterated, alternating between patting and rubbing his brother's bottom. "You will always be mine. I love you, kid. I won't ever let you go." He let his other hand stroke up over Oliver's back, tracing the lines of the tattoo. "You're mine...in every way possible," he promised.

"I belong to you..." Oliver whimpered and stretched in an attempt to get more of the strokes and pats and caresses.

Slade continued to stroke, pat and rub his brother's bottom, while his other hand continued to stroke and rub over the rest of Oliver's body. "I love you." He began to increase the force behind the pats.

"I love you too, Koro...so much...need you so much...shoulda told you...shouldn't a pushed...yours...always yours..." Oliver began to mumble as the sensation of being completely controlled took over and he gave in to it.

"It doesn't matter if you need to push, little brother," Slade said softly. "Whatever need you have, I will fulfill. Because I love you. Because you're the most important thing in my world."

Oliver wiggled his bottom and whimpered slightly. "Need you to take control, Koro..." he admitted softly, almost ashamed at the fact, but trusting his brother enough to tell him anyway. "...Need to feel you control..."

"I know, kid." Slade squeezed the nape of his neck, beginning to pat a bit more firmly, so he was almost lightly swatting Oliver's backside.

The firmer Slade was, the further Oliver relaxed and submitted to his brother's control. Soon, he was making tiny little noises of contentment, sometimes sounding like a purring tiger cub, other times like a happy wolf pup. If he'd realized how young and needy he sounded, he might have been embarrassed; but he wasn't listening to himself. He was listening to his brother. Paying attention to everything Slade said and did.

"I've got you. I love you. You're mine." Slade reiterated the words, beginning to gently smack his brother's bottom, pausing to rub periodically.

"Yours...I'm yours..." Oliver repeated in a tiny voice, slumping completely over his brother's knee. "Yours..." he said again, unable to stop himself from pushing his bottom up a little higher, needing his brother to be firm with him.

"Mine." Slade repeated the word back to his brother, beginning to gently swat Oliver's sit spots and thighs, other hand alternating between stroking and squeezing his brother's neck.

Oliver moaned softly, alternating between pressing his neck up into his brother's grasp and pushing his bottom up to be smacked. "Koro..." he whimpered quietly, bringing his arms around to put his head on them, looking at the leather band wrapped around his wrist showing whose he was.

"You're mine, kid." Slade's voice was quiet but filled with so much emotion that he might as well have been shouting. "You will always be mine. I won't ever let you go. You pulled me out of the darkness. You gave me hope. A reason to keep on living. I love you so much...I owe you everything." He continued to smack Oliver's bottom, putting a tiny bit more force behind the swats.

The harder Slade smacked, the more Oliver relaxed, his brother being more firm with him allowing him to let go little by little, the possessiveness of the words and tone helping him feel more secure in his position in Slade's life. "Love you, Koro...love you so much..." he whimpered, wriggling a little more, needing more, but not knowing exactly what he needed, so unable to ask for it.

Slade stroked down over Oliver's back, then squeezed his neck, before resuming the increased smacks. "I've got you. I won't let you go. You're safe." He then wrapped his arm around Oliver's waist, drawing his brother in tight against his stomach, trapping Oliver against him.

The moan Oliver expelled when Slade pulled him in tight, trapping him against his stomach, could only be described as relieved. "Always safe with you, Koro..." he whispered, letting his eyes close so he could focus solely on his brother without any possibility of distraction.

Slade kept his grip on Oliver tight and firm, even as he let the smacks fall a fraction harder and faster. He swatted for two full circuits and then paused to begin gently rubbing, soothing the warmth he could feel from his brother's backside.

Oliver whimpered slightly, the two circuits having ignited a sting that was only ebbing because his Koro was rubbing his bottom. And yet he didn't want Slade to stop. He wanted to be able to feel how his brother owned him even after Slade had let him up and he was no longer submissive over his brother's knee. He couldn't stop from pressing his bottom up toward Slade's hand as his brother rubbed, though. It felt good, having the sting rubbed out.

Slade rubbed a little bit more and then swatted for another full circuit before he paused once more to begin rubbing, each touch...each move...possessive. Reiterating that Oliver was his.

At the end of the third full circuit of swats, Oliver's bottom was burning, even when Slade wasn't smacking. He moaned softly as his Koro began to rub again. It felt good, easing a little of the burn, but it didn't alleviate all of it. And still he wanted more. He wanted to be so completely under Slade's control, all he could do was lie over Slade's lap and accept whatever Slade chose to do, not even able to wiggle... which he currently couldn't seem to stop himself from doing.

Slade continued to rub his brother's bottom, soothing a small amount of the heat, even while his other arm kept Oliver firmly trapped against his stomach. He kept up the rubbing for a few more moments and then began to smack once more, again for another full circuit, before he once more paused to rub and stroke.

Oliver began to quiver, torn between wanting to ask Slade to stop and ask him to go harder. By this point, the smacking was painful, and he couldn't keep himself from wriggling his bottom in an attempt to control where the smacks landed. He couldn't stop himself from wriggling any more than he could stop himself from pushing his bottom up into Slade's hand whenever his brother began to rub the heated flesh. And to his surprise, tears were sliding down his face, even though he wasn't crying vocally. "Slade..." he whimpered again.

"I've got you, kid. I've got you, little brother," Slade whispered, rubbing his brother's warm bottom and then delivering two smacks in quick succession before beginning to rub again. "I won't ever let you go," he promised.

"You got me..." Oliver repeated. And he could tell that Slade did have him. He was held so tightly against his brother, he knew he wouldn't fall; he wouldn't even be able to pull away if he tried. And Slade was heating his backside to where he'd feel it to the next morning, if not longer. He wondered if telling Slade he'd had enough would cause Slade to stop... or if Slade would keep control over everything, including when the attention stopped. "...You can stop now, Koro..." Oliver said, as firmly as he was able, considering his voice was quivering almost as much as his body, testing Slade's resolve.

"That isn't your decision to make, little brother." Slade's voice was firm, not allowing his little brother to wrest control from him...unless Oliver felt the need to use his safeword, but that was another thing entirely. He did pause. In case that was what his brother needed to do.

Oliver whimpered again, his brother not allowing him to control the situation causing him to drop a little more. He felt relieved, more than stressed at the fact. It didn't even cross his mind to use the safe-word, because he wasn't feeling threatened. He was testing Slade's resolve to control him.

Slade resumed the swats and the rubbing, though this time, he paused to rub after every single smack instead of every circuit, his grip on his little brother still tight and firm.

Oliver began to whimper and squirm with each swat, then whine softly as his brother rubbed. As good as the rubbing felt, it didn't soothe like it had originally. Instead, it seemed to amplify the swats when they occurred. He wanted to give in to his brother, but something was holding him back from taking that final needed step. It was frustrating to him that he couldn't let go like he needed to. Not sure how to express himself, he huffed and whined again. "Stop! It's enough!" He bucked his hips up a couple of times to dislodge himself.

Slade paused at the words, responding immediately to the demand. As he'd promised Oliver on the island, if his brother asked him to stop, he would. He shifted his hand so that it was resting on the pajamas instead of on bare skin, in case the skin-on-skin contact meant Oliver couldn't truly put voice to what he needed. "Okay, kid." His voice was calm.

Oliver groaned, tensing up as his brother actually listened to him; he wasn't expressing himself well at all, but didn't know how to say what his problem was, because he didn't understand it. Blinking back tears of frustration and pain, he sniffled before saying, in a tiny voice, "I'm sorry, Koro...I don't know what's wrong with me..." Everything felt so sensitive and every touch was magnified. And it felt like he was fighting himself and he didn't know why or how to stop it.

Slade carefully lowered the flap in place and then moved his little brother up onto his lap instead of over, very carefully watching Oliver's reactions to make sure he wasn't about to panic or become more distressed. After hurting Oliver so much through the Mirakuru's influence, the last thing he wanted was to hurt him now. Or make his brother scared of him again.

Oliver just slumped against his older brother, a sad, dejected look on his face. "I'm sorry, Koro..." he whispered. "I wanted to be good for you...to be able to listen and give in completely, only I couldn't stop myself from trying to take over. I tried, but I couldn't stop myself..." he whispered. He was really frustrated and upset that he hadn't been able to stop squirming or trying to direct how, when and how hard Slade smacked. He'd wanted to give complete control to his brother, but his body had had other ideas.

"You are good for me, kid," Slade said softly, wrapping his arms around his brother, even though he didn't push the skin-on-skin contact, or hold Oliver so tightly that he was 'trapped'. "This is about what you need, kid. It always has been."

"I thought letting you control everything was what I needed...what I wanted." Oliver sighed. "I'm so confused that I couldn't make myself do it..."

"Can you tell me what you were thinking or feeling?" Slade asked, wanting to understand what had been going through his brother's mind so he could help him.

"I... I wanted to give you control over everything... all of me... to feel like I was completely yours. But that means letting you decide how to handle me, right? Only I couldn't stop squirming away from the swats... and when I wasn't squirming away, I was pushing my bottom up, demanding more rubbing and that... I'm not supposed to make demands or boss you around if you're in charge..." Oliver's voice faltered.

He swallowed before continuing, "I tried to hold still, but that just frustrated me more because I couldn't do it for long and I was back to squirming and bossing. And I thought maybe if you smacked hard enough that I cried, I'd be able to let go that way, but I couldn't get the words out. And then I was ordering you to stop cuz I was just so frustrated at myself and I didn't really want you to, but you're always so careful with me and you knew I was upset, just not why, so you did stop. And I don't deserve you being nice to me when I'm being a cranky brat..." Oliver wasn't certain any of that made sense, he was still so confused himself.

Slade touched his brother's cheek; carefully, in case Oliver needed to pull away, but unable to help but respond to his little brother. "You aren't a cranky brat, little brother. Trying to let me know what you need isn't a problem...it wouldn't ever be a problem. When we had that conversation on the island about safewords...back then, I told you that if you ever told me to stop, I would respect that." He kept eye contact with his brother as he continued, "I'm in control of you when you need me to be. And if there are times you don't feel able to submit, that's okay." The exception being, of course, when Oliver was being punished; but that was a different matter entirely.

"But... I wanted to...I wanted to show you how I trust you to take care of me. It feels like I failed..." Oliver's voice caught, and he looked down, not wanting to upset Slade with the fact he'd started crying.

"You didn't fail, kid." Slade couldn't help but respond to those tears, tightening his arms around Oliver and pulling him in close. "I know you trust me, little brother. If you didn't...if I couldn't believe that...I would never have been able to come back into your life. I wouldn't have been able to sit here with you, because at best, I'd be a distant protector...at worst, as soon as it looked like you were safe, I would have returned myself to the prison. You saved me, kid. I owe you everything."

"You aren't disappointed in me? That I couldn't let you control everything?" Oliver asked in a hesitantly hopeful voice. "Cuz I wanted to... I wanted to be able to do that for you..."

"I'm not disappointed in you, kid." Slade gently stroked his hair. "I'd never be disappointed in you for needing in a different way," he promised. "The tattoo...the pendant...this..." He touched the band around Oliver's wrist. "They demonstrate that we belong to each other."

"Is it okay that I'm disappointed with myself?" Oliver asked quietly, snuggling close to his brother.

"You don't need to be, little brother." Slade kissed his head. "It might have been something you weren't able to do now...that doesn't mean it'll always be the same."

"Maybe I'll be able to later?" Oliver snuggled some more. "Okay... I think I can live with that... I'm still a little frustrated... I feel itchy, like something's unfinished... but I can live with it." Oliver sighed and nuzzled against his brother's shoulder.

Slade gently stroked the nape of his neck. "Why don't we watch a movie together, kid? Then, at bedtime, I can read to you... if at any point you start to need, all you have to do is indicate to me in some way."

Oliver sniffled, still feeling out of sorts and uncomfortable, but aware enough to realize doing what they'd been doing again would only make the problem worse, not better. "That sounds good, Koro," he whispered, snuggling close again, before carefully standing so they could get into comfortable movie watching position.

"Why don't you pick the movie and I'll make some cocoa and get some snacks?" Slade suggested, gently squeezing his brother's hand. "I love you," he added, able to tell that his brother was still feeling out of sorts and wanting to reassure him.

"Okay, Koro," Oliver said, in a subdued manner. He smiled faintly and squeezed his brother's hand back before going to where they'd stored their movies and began to look through them. He picked a comedy, needing something that wasn't too serious and wouldn't raise his blood pressure, considering how on edge he still was. He wished he knew what was wrong with him- what he needed to calm down- since what he'd thought he needed ended up not being what he'd needed at all. He hated the confused feeling, the anxious feeling that something was hanging over his head. The last time he'd felt this raw and exposed and didn't understand why was on the island right before Sara had shown up. Since her reappearance had heralded in the moment of time when Slade had nearly died, been given Mirakuru and Oliver had nearly lost everything important in his life (and had lost several important people), he hoped that it wasn't a harbinger of something else bad coming his and Slade's way.

Slade didn't take long to collect the drinks and snacks, returning to the main room and placing what he'd brought on the small coffee table. "Do you want to sit on my lap or next to me, kid?" he asked directly, letting Oliver choose whatever he felt most comfortable with.

"I don't know, Koro," Oliver said, in a small voice. Normally, he'd take any chance to sit on his big brother's lap, since they were home, alone, and he didn't have to act like the in-charge adult he was outside. But he didn't want to sit on his brother's lap only to find that it made him more agitated, because he knew that would just worry Slade further and he'd already worried his brother enough for one night.

Slade gave him a reassuring smile, even though he couldn't help but worry about his little brother. "Why don't we start with you sitting next to me and then, if you need to, you can shift onto my lap?" he suggested softly.

Oliver nodded at that. "That's a good idea, Koro," he said amiably, his smile a bit happier at Slade's efforts to help him feel comfortable. He could always count on Slade to try and do what was best for him. He carefully sat down next to his brother and turned on the movie, only shifting minutely because his bottom was still sensitive from before. He sighed softly and leaned against Slade.

Slade shifted enough so that their sides were pressed together, but left the contact entirely up to his brother, allowing Oliver to make the decision on what was right for him. He was paying more attention to his brother than the movie, trying to make sure he could adapt to Oliver's needs.

As the movie progressed, Oliver began to relax bit by bit. He was still on edge- and it really bothered him he couldn't figure out why since it was resembling the time on the island more and more- but the comedy had enabled him to laugh, which had let him release tension. And being next to his brother was soothing. And even his sore bottom helped a little, since it reminded him that Slade was willing to do whatever it took to make sure Oliver was happy and healthy. By the end of the movie, Oliver was calm, even if he was still on edge. He wondered if he should mention his worry about impending doom to Slade, though. Maybe he was being paranoid for no reason. He shifted and bit his lip at the sting in his backside, impulsively wrapping his arms around Slade and hugging tight in response to the soreness.

Slade wrapped his arms tightly around Oliver in return and kissed his head. "I love you, kid," he said firmly. "Can you tell me what's on your mind?" he asked, his voice gentle, as he stroked Oliver's hair and back.

"I don't know why I feel this way..." he said hesitantly. He'd told Slade that before, of course; admitted how confused he was that what he'd thought would help hadn't helped at all. Swallowing hard, he added quietly, "...The last time I felt this anxious and on edge for no apparent reason was on the island right before Sara showed up. Right before everything went to hell and I lost Shado to death and you to the Mirakuru; and what I thought was me killing you..." His voice was little more than a whisper at the end.

Slade tightened his arms around Oliver, unable to help but respond to that. "Are you worried something else will happen?" He kept his voice gentle.

"I think maybe I'm being paranoid now that I thought about it..." Oliver gave Slade a sheepish look. "...But yeah. I'm a little worried. And I'm still on edge. I'll be lucky to get any sleep tonight." He sighed. "...I need to get rid of the excess tension..." He bit his lip and glanced sideways at Slade, thinking of one thing that might help him release the tension; but after he'd been so completely wrong about what he needed earlier, he wasn't certain he wanted to risk it. Especially since it might upset Slade.

"There's a lot that we don't necessarily understand, kid," Slade said seriously. "It doesn't necessarily mean that you're being paranoid." Noticing his brother's glance, he asked, "Do you have a way of getting rid of the tension in mind?"

"You won't want to do it..." Oliver said hesitantly, snuggling closer to his brother.

Slade gently squeezed the nape of Oliver's neck. "Try me, kid. You know I'd do anything for you."

"It's just...there's only three things that ever really help calm me down when I'm this keyed up..." Oliver admitted. "Going out and fighting bad guys... like in hand to hand, I'm smashing in their faces and they're leaving bruises of their own..." He glanced at Slade, to see if that caught the older man's interest.

"That isn't happening, kid." Slade didn't even hesitate. "I won't be letting you head out and coming back with bruises on your face. Or any other part of your body." He knew full well how easy it was to fall into the trap of picking a fight to make the person feel better. He also knew it very rarely worked...at least for long.

Oliver nodded. "I didn't think that would really be an option," he admitted, with an amused snort. "The second method is sex. Problem is, I'm not dating anyone right now, I've never paid anyone for that in my life and while I could easily go to the club and find someone to pick up, that just doesn't really appeal...so..." He shrugged.

"And what's your third method?" Slade wasn't sure he'd like that any more than the first one. The second, he could sort of get behind, as long no one was getting hurt.

"You know... never-mind...it's stupid, really; I can go take a hot bath and the steam will make me tired enough to sleep, even if I am still a bit on edge..." Oliver blurted and stood up to head into the bath.

"Kid..." Slade stood up and reached out to gently grip his brother's shoulder. "I've taken you over my knee and spanked you to settle you. I gave you a tattoo. I got you a collar to wear around your wrist. I've fed you, bathed you, read to you...trust me when I say you can tell me anything."

Oliver blushed at the list of things Slade had done to him...done for him...and knew the older man was right. There wasn't anything he couldn't tell Slade. "I don't even know for sure if I'm right. I was wrong before and if I'm wrong now, it will just upset you needlessly..." he muttered.

Slade gently squeezed the nape of his little brother's neck. "I'd never be upset about you voicing what you need, kid."

"It's just... the other two work because they let me release tension... emotional tension, I mean. Not just physical, cuz if it was just physical I could work out really hard and that would help." Oliver bit his lip. "...The third way works because it releases emotional tension too... in the form of a long, hard crying spell..." He ran a hand through his hair nervously.

"Through a spanking?" Slade asked carefully. He gently squeezed Oliver's shoulder, not letting his hand move to his brother's neck because he wanted to make sure his brother wasn't swayed by the possessive touch.

Oliver nodded quickly, but then realized he had to say the words, so Slade would know he was asking for it. "Yes, sir. Not a settling spanking or one meant to feel good and help me submit. More like... like I've been very naughty, and you need to punish me." He looked up. "I know I haven't been and it wouldn't be, but it needs to be hard like that...emotional like that..."

Slade reached out and gently squeezed the nape of his little brother's neck, thinking about what his brother was asking him for. "Are you sure, kid?" His voice was very gentle. He didn't want to hurt his little brother, but he could see how on edge Oliver was. "If it's truly what you think you need... I need to be sure you'd tell me if it didn't work. Whether through using your safeword or telling me to stop."

"I'm not sure, sure... but I think it will help." Oliver's voice was small and hesitant. It was clear he was hoping it would help but had no clue if it really would. "I promise to let you know if I need you to stop..."

Slade kissed his forehead. "I love you, kid. I'll do anything to help you feel better. Are you sure you want to try this?" He stroked Oliver's cheek.

Oliver bit his lip, letting himself press his cheek more firmly into Slade's hand. "I don't know..." he admitted quietly, "but I can't think of anything else that might help me let go enough to be able to relax and sleep...unless I take a sleeping pill..."

Slade thought about it, still gently stroking his brother's cheek. "We could spar, kid. If you need a bit more than that, maybe I could give you a swat each time I get through your defences."

Oliver thought about that for a second, then nodded. "That might work, Koro." He smiled, a hopeful note in his voice.

"Would you prefer to get changed? Or stay in the pajamas?" Slade asked, continuing the gentle affection.

"I should probably change...otherwise they'll get all sweaty and I won't be able to keep wearing them," Oliver decided.

Slade nodded and pressed a kiss to Oliver's forehead. He didn't need to worry about changing, as he hadn't yet got ready to go to bed.

Oliver quickly retreated to their room, where he grabbed a pair of shorts and a tank top and changed. He then returned to Slade's side. "Where will we spar?"

"I figured we'd use the other bedroom," Slade answered. "As you haven't needed to use it, there's not much in there, so we've got space."

Oliver nodded and walked in that direction. "Ready when you are..." he said, getting into a defensive stance.

Slade moved opposite his brother and then began to move, feinting to one side and then coming at Oliver from the other.

Oliver managed to avoid the first attempt, because he was expecting Slade to try and fool him. He made his own move at Slade, choosing not to feint.

Slade ducked under his little brother's blow, coming up the other side and aiming at his ribs while one leg darted out to sweep Oliver's legs out from under him.

Oliver avoided the jab at his ribs but not the leg sweep, finding himself landing on the ground. "Damn it...why do I always fall for that?" he griped in amusement, rolling over to push himself back up.

Slade gave him a mild swat, as he'd suggested, and then offered a hand to help his brother up.

Oliver grinned as he took his brother's hand. "I'll learn not to fall for it one of these days..." he declared.

Slade helped him up and then shifted into his own defensive stance.

This time, Oliver did feint to the left before jabbing right. His anxiety was affecting him more than he'd realized, though, as he left himself open for quick retaliation.

Slade followed the opening Oliver gave him, gently stroking his side and then giving a quick swat to his backside.

Oliver giggled, the gentle stroke tickling him, and then yelped at the swat. He grinned ruefully at his brother. "I didn't know tickling was on the table!" His protest was more teasing than serious.

Slade's smile was affectionate...loving. "Well, kid, now you do know."

Letting out a playful 'roar', Oliver rushed at his brother, aiming to tackle him to the ground.

Slade sidestepped, circling behind his brother and giving him another quick swat before aiming a quick jab turned stroke to his side.

Oliver yelped again before shying away from the tickling. It took more than a few seconds to calm his giggling, seconds he spent dancing just out of reach of his brother lest he get caught again.

Slade couldn't help but smile as his brother giggled. He waited for Oliver to calm and then moved into a feint, this time aiming a tickling stroke at his brother's ribs before he circled behind him once more, again aiming a sweep at his brother's legs.

This time, Oliver attempted to avoid the leg sweep, allowing his ribs to be tickled. Unfortunately, his laughter made his attempt to avoid the sweep ineffectual and he found himself on the ground again. Rolling over onto his stomach, he went to get up again.

Slade gently pinned his brother to the ground, effectively trapping him, and gently tickled his ribs. "No, kid. You're not allowed up yet."

Oliver squirmed ineffectively, attempting to get away. Slade had picked the perfect position to pin him, though. He was unable to get enough leverage to dislodge his brother and was unable to get his legs under him enough to push up. And then Slade's words penetrated his thoughts and, added to being pinned under his brother with his brother fully in control and tickling him, he felt himself begin to drop almost immediately.

"N... no... not allowed?" His words were gasped between giggles and he wriggled his bottom frantically to try and dislodge Slade enough that he could get his legs under him. The wriggling caused his shirt to ride up under his arms, exposing his ribs and belly and leaving them vulnerable to Slade's 'torture', while his pants began to slip down, not quite exposing his bottom completely, but exposing enough that it would be entirely too easy to 'lose' them the rest of the way if they were 'helped' with their escape.

Oliver was too busy wriggling and laughing to notice, not that he would have anyway; he spent so much of his down time completely naked and vulnerable to Slade that it didn't seem unusual or draw his attention at all.

Slade began to tickle his brother's ribs and belly, tightening his hold on Oliver. He noticed the pants beginning to slide down and 'helped' them along, gently squeezing one cheek before delivering a light swat. "No, kid. I'll let you up when you surrender."

"Sl... Sla... Slaaaade!" Oliver's giggle filled, gasped whine was breathless. He was laughing so hard by this point, it was difficult to catch his breath. When his brother squeezed, then swatted his backside, it instantly reignited the sting from earlier and Oliver began to squirm more frantically to dislodge his brother, even as he felt himself 'dropping' further.

Slade very carefully watched Oliver's reactions, delivering another light swat before rubbing and then tickling. "You want up, kid? You've got to surrender."

Oliver continued wriggling and laughing, not quite to the point where he could surrender yet. He was still attempting to break free, but he was laughing too hard, so his movements resembled a spastic fish more than any semblance of controlled effort to escape. He was laughing so hard, it was beginning to hurt, and tears were streaming down his face. And the swat sent him one step closer to the edge of falling.

Slade wrapped his arms tightly around his little brother, continuing to tickle and lightly swat his backside, alternating squeezes and rubs with the swats.

Oliver continued to struggle to break free, but eventually, he wore himself out and could only lie limply under his brother, laughing and giggling breathlessly, a few tiny whimpers and moans interspersed when his brother rubbed or smacked his bottom. He felt drained, the laughter and struggling having done what it needed; the edge was gone. Now all that was left was a boy who needed his brother to take control. He was down as far as he could go without falling over the edge into incoherency. "I... I give..." he finally gasped out, in a tired voice. "You control, Koro... I'm yours and you control..." he whispered, lying limp on the floor. The only 'struggle' he put up at the end was pushing his bottom up so Slade could squeeze or smack harder; and that was done without conscious thought, his body wanting, even if his mind wasn't on the same page any longer.

Slade wrapped his arms that much tighter around his little brother, kissing Oliver's head. "You are mine, kid," he whispered. "Nothing is going to take me away from you. Not ever again. I promise. I'll stay with you, no matter what it takes. I love you." He alternated gentle smacks with squeezes or rubs, still carefully watching Oliver's reactions.

Oliver's laughter finally calmed, and he just lay peacefully under his brother, letting out happy little sighs in reaction to Slade's affection and possessive grip. "...Be your good boy..." he mumbled softly, still on the edge of falling into that zone where Slade would have to take care of and protect him completely, but not over the edge yet.

"You are my good boy," Slade promised, tightening his hold on his brother. "I love you, kid. I've got you. You're safe here with me. I won't ever let you go..."

"...Yours..." Oliver's smile could be heard in his voice, as could the weariness. He wasn't moving at all by this point, not wanting to dislodge his brother or be separated from him. He knew he should take a shower, knew he should probably eat something. All he wanted was to stay in Slade's firm grip and feel his brother's ownership.

Slade kissed his head. "I love you, little brother. Why don't I give you a bath and then tuck you into bed with me?" he suggested softly.

"Okay, Koro..." Oliver whispered drowsily, sounding content and truly at ease for the first time since returning home.

Slade helped his brother to stand, hugging Oliver tightly to himself as he led his brother through to the bathroom to begin running a bath. He didn't let go of his brother, keeping Oliver as close as possible.

"...Feels so much safer when you have me..." Oliver mumbled, pressing as close to his brother as he could. "...Bad nerves go 'way..."

"I feel so much better when I have you," Slade whispered. "You've done as much for me as I've done for you, little brother." He slid his hand under the top to stroke Oliver's back, then began to strip the clothes off his brother.

Oliver held still, reaching his arms up like a little kid to help his brother remove his shirt and carefully balancing on one foot, then the other, to help with the shorts.

Slade stroked his brother's cheek and then began to remove his own clothes. "I'm going to get in with you, kid," he said softly.

Oliver nodded and gave a tiny smile. "...Good... don't wanna be let go..." he admitted softly.

Slade kissed his brother's forehead and then checked the temperature of the water, helping Oliver in and then getting in himself.

As soon as Slade was in, Oliver slid down and twisted enough so that he could cuddle against the older man. "...'ove you, Koro..." he whispered. He was obviously in a very needy, affectionate and cuddly mood.

Slade wrapped an arm around Oliver's waist, drawing his brother back tightly against him. "I love you, kid. You're my whole world." He used his free hand to begin washing Oliver.

Oliver nuzzled against Slade's shoulder for a second before straightening out so Slade could wash him easier. He lay back against his brother, his eyes half-closed and just focused on the fact Slade was holding him and wasn't letting go. Slade was taking care of him. Whatever had put him on edge? He'd be able to handle because Slade was by him and wasn't going to leave him to handle it alone. He sighed softly. "...Feels good..." he whispered.

"I've got you, little brother," Slade whispered, his voice low and sootihng. "You're safe with me. You will always be safe with me." He smiled, kissing Oliver's head. "I'm lucky that I have you in my life..."

Oliver smiled crookedly and pressed back against his brother, so he could kiss Slade's chin. "I'm luckier..." he chuffed.

Slade gently stroked his stomach, even as he continued to wash Oliver. "You saved me, kid. You brought me back. I need you."

"...We need each other..." Oliver said seriously, before giving a tiny giggle. "...Tickles..." He smiled sheepishly, even as he shifted to open himself up, so Slade could rub and wash easier.

Slade kissed his shoulder. "I love you. And I won't let you go," he promised.

"I love you too, Koro...so much..." Oliver snuggled back. "...I'm so glad you found me...came back...made me yours again. I was lost without you..." he admitted hesitantly.

"The same as me, kid." Slade's voice was soft and loving. "Waking up in prison...without you...it hurt so much, it was like a part of me was missing. As if someone had ripped out my heart."

"But you came for me. The missing parts are back together," Oliver said confidently, before snuggling more.

"And I always will," Slade promised, kissing his head. "I will always come for you. I won't let you be taken from me."

"Thank you, Koro. I want to be with you forever..." Oliver whispered. He lay back, letting himself half float, half relax on his brother.

Slade carefully washed Oliver's entire body, touching and stroking along with that. Finally, he carefully helped his brother out of the bath, getting out himself, and began to dry Oliver.

Oliver held still, moving only when Slade directed him to. Once he was dry, he stood to the side so his brother could dry himself off.

Slade dried himself off and then wrapped his arms around Oliver once more to guide his brother through to the bedroom, so he could put the pajamas on him.

Oliver snuggled close and, as soon as they were in the bedroom, cooperated as much as possible while Slade put the pajamas on him. Once dressed, he waited for Slade to put on his own clothes before letting himself be led to the bed. He continually reached out to touch his brother's arm or shoulder when possible, not wanting any distance between them.

Slade kept touching and carressing his brother in turn, reluctant to let go of him even to get changed. When he was, he wrapped his arm around Oliver, kissing his head and guiding him towards the bed. "I love you, kid. You're my whole world," he whispered.

"Same here, Koro..." Oliver whispered, then smiled brightly before climbing into the bed. As soon as Slade was situated next to him, he curled up next to the older man, pressed against his brother from head to foot, his ear laying against Slade's chest, so he could hear his brother's heartbeat.

Slade wrapped his arms tightly around Oliver, one hand gently stroking his hair and the nape of his neck while his other hand gently stroked his brother's bottom under the flap in the pajamas.

Oliver let out a happy sigh, shifting just enough that his bottom was in easy reach and an easy target for whatever Slade decided to do, then settled and closed his eyes. "Yours..." he whispered.

"Mine." Slade gently squeezed one thigh, continuing to gently rub, pulling Oliver as close to him as possible.

Oliver relaxed further at the possessive touch. Slade had him, was proving to him that he belonged to him, with him. It was comforting, feeling that he belonged to his brother.

"I've got you, kid," Slade murmured. "I won't ever let you go. I promise." He continued to rub and squeeze Oliver's bottom and thighs, his other hand gently squeezing the nape of his brother's neck.

"I love you, Slade...I won't ever try to leave you...I promise..." Oliver said quietly, closing his eyes and falling asleep to his brother's settling.


It was at least three days later, and Oliver had mostly remained calm. The edge was returning, though. He had a feeling he'd be needing to wrestle with his brother again soon, if whatever was coming didn't happen quickly. But he would worry about that later. This morning, he was having brunch with his baby sister. And they had just been shown to their table by the window.

Holding her chair for her before going around to sit himself, Oliver smiled brightly at Thea. "The paperwork for giving Walter the acting CEO position was finalized today and he mentioned that he'd finished moving into the mansion completely." He grinned wider. "I think he's as happy about being home with you as I am that he agreed to come home. Are you happy?"

Thea nodded, taking a seat and smiling at her brother. "I don't need to ask if you're happy," she commented, before saying, "The next time you drop by...why don't you bring Slade with you? I mean...he's your brother. Tommy thinks the world of him. And I know he'd step in and start being protective of me if he didn't think it would be stepping on your toes."

Oliver's eyes widened and he smiled hesitantly. "Are you sure? I mean, I know you've been hesitant to trust him...I didn't want to force you to be around him when we weren't working..."

"I think I've seen enough of him with you to know he's not the man I originally met," Thea said. "He's such an important part of your life...I don't think I'm the only one who's noticed how much happier you've been since he came back." She'd said the words to him before; now she could do that without her previous perception of him colouring them.

"I got my big brother back, Speedy...I didn't even realize how much I missed and needed him till he returned to me..." Oliver's smile was serene. "Thank you for accepting him...it means a lot."

Thea smiled. "It's obvious to everyone who sees the two of you together that he loves you and that you're his world."

Oliver smiled. "Yeah. That...it's hard to get used to...being that important. I don't think I'd do well without him at all either, though. You know what I was like before..." His smile was rueful. "I know I worried you, even if you tried to act like I didn't."

"You're my brother," Thea said. "Of course I'd worry. But I can see Slade is good for you. And for Tommy, too. So long as you don't lose him again..." she added, knowing full well how Oliver had been when he came back from the island. "You act...I don't know. Almost the age you were before you were missing. Even if you are more responsible," she added.

"So...I'm acting like I'm twenty-one again? Is that a good thing?" He chuckled slightly.

"You're acting like you care whether you live or die...like you have a future and aren't just the Arrow," Thea corrected.

"I had a lot of guilt built up from him being gone..." Oliver admitted. "Him coming back has let me move beyond that..."

"It's a noticeable difference," Thea said. "And I can't help but be grateful that there's someone able to stop you acting like you have a death wish." She paused and then asked, "Did any decisions get made about that kid who attacked him?"

Oliver frowned slightly. "Not yet...he wasn't doing well emotionally, so Quentin got him into a counseling program and a place to stay. Beyond that, we were waiting to see how he did with that."

Thea nodded. "It's a start, at least." She hesitated, then asked, "What does Slade think about him?" She didn't know if Oliver had discussed the kid with him, but knowing Ian wasn't doing well emotionally probably wasn't helping the older man.

"To be honest, Slade doesn't talk about him. The first few times I brought him up...to let him know what Lance had done...he was obviously relieved. But he didn't press for information. I'm not sure if he's afraid to find out, or if he just feels he has no right to know. I stopped pushing because I didn't want to keep reminding him and have him feeling guilty about it." Oliver smiled crookedly. "Unless he talks to Lance... I dunno."

Thea nodded. "I guess we'll just wait and see what happens, then...but I meant what I said. Bring him over with you next time."

"Definitely..." Oliver grinned.


Barry huffed in frustration. The meta they'd been tracking the last couple of days wasn't really difficult to locate. The problem was that they were leaving people in immediate need of medical attention in their wake and Barry had needed to forgo capturing them to get those people to the hospital. But a meta who could sicken someone just by touch? With a virus that became progressively worse the longer the touch lingered? It was a pandemic waiting to happen. He needed to capture them.

Joe had been working with his colleagues and with team Flash to try and locate the meta and send people in to capture them. The problem was that no one was immune to the touch...and neither Joe or Wells were prepared to test out Barry's super healing against it.

"We've got signs that the meta is in Starling..." Caitlin said into the comm. "We should warn Oliver and the others..."

"Where in Starling?" Barry asked.

Caitlin answered with a questioning tone. "Restaurant near the dock, but they need to stay away from the meta. Barry?"

The computers beeped, Barry's signature rapidly moving toward Starling City.

"Barry? What are you doing?" Caitlin asked nervously.

Cisco straightened. "Wait, Bar! You'll need help!" he said, before vibing a portal and jumping through. It closed before anyone else could react.


At the restaurant, Oliver and Thea had finished their meal and had walked out just in time to see Barry zoom in and Cisco jump through to stand next to him. "Well, this is interesting..." Oliver blinked.

"Is something going on?" Thea asked quickly, glancing around...just in case there was an immediate danger. Or the rest of team Flash would be popping out along with Barry and Cisco.

"Meta...There!" Cisco said, before pointing toward the man in a moldy looking hoodie.

Thea shot a quick glance towards her brother but didn't need any more encouragement to quickly begin moving towards the man Cisco indicated.

With Thea moving to the western side of the meta, Barry heading him off to the north and Cisco to the east. That left the south, so Oliver quickly moved into position there. Luckily, all other bystanders realized something was going on because of the Flash being there and backed away. The four friends and crime fighters moved closer to the meta, hemming him in.

Thea moved in on the meta, only taking her eyes off him to make sure the rest of the team was moving into position. She completely trusted that the meta was a threat...but it didn't occur to her to wonder just how he was.

"Don't let him touch you!" Barry yelled out, when he became aware of the fact Oliver and Thea were moving very close.

Thea frowned, hearing Barry's words, but wasn't sure what the problem was. She did do as instructed, though, trying to corner the meta without letting herself get too close.


By this point, Caitlin had contacted Felicity to let her know what was going on and the fiery blond had contacted the rest of Oliver's team and family- in particular, Slade and Walter.

As soon as he received word from Felicity, Slade was quickly heading to the scene, sending his brother a text to warn Oliver not to engage.


Oliver felt his phone vibrate, indicating a text, the little tone indicating it was Slade...but he was too intent on making certain the meta didn't get by while he was checking his phone, so he ignored it.

Walter had also texted Thea, pretty much the same thing.

Thea ignored her own phone to approach the meta, not wanting someone so apparently dangerous to be allowed loose around innocent people.


Caitlin, meanwhile, had been attempting to get either Cisco or Barry to acknowledge her on the comm link, but since they'd both very deliberately ignored direct orders from Wells and Joe to return to base and form a plan, they were now ignoring her. She turned to Wells with a frustrated sigh. "I managed to get the meta-inhibitor into a vaccine form. It hasn't been tested for safety, but if it's a choice of millions of innocents dying of a virus, or possibly killing the one that is deliberately causing the virus..." she said hesitantly. "...Only I need to get the tranq gun to them with the virus inside and no one will listen!"

"We're not going to get there in time if we try to drive it." Wells' voice was tinged with frustration; but just as strong was his worry about his son and nephew. He couldn't waste time trying to get hold of Cisco or Barry if they wouldn't answer. He had to come up with another idea.

Caitlin perked up. "Is Wally in town?" She turned toward Joe and Iris.

"Yeah. I'll give him a call." Joe didn't waste any time grabbing his phone and dialling Wally, asking him to come to the labs. He couldn't hide his own frustration and worry.

Wally was there within seconds of the phone call. "What's wrong?" He couldn't help but notice the level of frustration and worry.

Wells didn't waste any time explaining the situation, while Joe made one last-ditch attempt to contact Barry. Or even Cisco, just in case he could get through to his nephew.

Wally waited just long enough for it to be clear Joe wouldn't be able to reach his brother or cousin before taking the tranq gun and vial of meta-inhibiting vaccine and handing them to Wells before grabbing hold of the two older men and speeding them to an area just around the corner from where the standoff was occurring. He sped off again and seconds later, Slade and Walter were stood next to Joe and Wells.

"It's probably lucky we weren't driving yet and were just about to get back into the car from Slade coming to retrieve me..." Walter said, with a hint of disorientation.

Wally winced. "Sorry. Caitlin said you'd wanna get here faster than you probably could in a car. Next time I'll ask..." he said sheepishly.

"It's fine. I'd rather be here as quickly as possible." Slade quickly glanced at the other 'adults', noticing the tranq gun Wells was holding. "Is that for the meta?" He held his hands out for it.

Wells handed the gun off to Slade without hesitation.

"Caitlin says the standoff is just around the corner..." Wally grinned.

Slade didn't waste any time in heading in that direction, moving so he had a clear shot at the meta.

Oliver, seeing his brother, shifted so that everyone else would shift as well, leaving Slade a clear shot.

The meta, not sure what Oliver was doing, panicked and waved his hand around, dousing the four surrounding him with a greenish dust.

"Oh, crap!" Cisco sneezed.

Slade fired as soon as he had a clear shot...but not in time to stop the meta from infecting his brother and the others. Logic went out of the window and he hurried to Oliver's side to check on his brother.

Wally moved forward with the others as all three men followed Slade to take care of their kids. "I'll just take him back to the labs." He waited for Wells' nod of approval before speeding the now harmless meta to Caitlin.

"He didn't touch us." Oliver sneezed. "We should be fine."

Barry winced. "We won't get sick like everyone else, but we still got exposed. We should be quarantined till we know for sure we aren't contagious. Prolly best to do that at the labs..."

"So...one portal coming up...?" Cisco asked.

Thea sneezed. "What kind of symptoms are we looking at?" she asked. "Besides a cold."

Wells moved to Cisco's side and quickly began checking his son over for injuries, while Joe did the same with Barry.

Walter moved to Thea's side to help her.

Cisco winced. "More like the flu than a cold. A very bad flu if he touched us. Not sure, since he just blew dust on us..."

"I refuse to be sick!" Oliver declared.

Barry snorted. "Good luck with that!" He began to cough. "Darn, it hits quick..."

Slade wrapped his arm around Oliver's shoulders. "You won't have any control over it, kid..." He glanced at Cisco. "Can you vibe a portal? So we can get everyone into the labs?" He knew Oliver would know what he really meant was 'so I can look after my brother'.

Cisco was already beginning to look a little green, but he nodded and quickly vibed an opening for everyone to go through. He followed through last, leaning on Wells.

"Right this way." Caitlin quickly directed all of them to rooms.

The adults were very quick to get their charges settled in the specific rooms.

Walter glanced around the room, noting that there were two beds and a bath. "I know you aren't feeling badly now, but I prefer to keep you here till we are certain you will stay alright..." he said to Thea. "If it doesn't make you too uncomfortable, I will stay with you."

"Ollie's going to be the worst patient." Thea sat down on one of the beds, putting her hand over her mouth as she coughed. "It won't make me uncomfortable." In actual fact, she was relieved that Walter was readily staying with her.

"I'm going to get whatever we might need before you get worse. I won't want to leave you, if I can avoid it, once the illness sets in," Walter admitted.

"Okay...I can give you a list of what I think I might need," Thea suggested.

"Please do..." Walter smiled, handing her his phone so she could type it in. "I already know what medicines to pick up. Since you were the least likely to argue or try to sneak out, I was elected to run to the drug store..." He smiled.

Thea snorted softly. "It's not the first time you've seen me sick." Taking the phone, she began to put in the list of what she thought she might need.

Walter smiled. "I have the feeling the others could say the same to their care-givers...and yet every one of them expected an argument. I am thankful you are willing to accept my help."

"I don't want to chase you away." As she handed the phone back, Thea almost added, 'again'.

Walter heard the unsaid word and winced, giving her a sad smile. "I'd hoped you realized that I didn't leave because of you. You never chased me off, Thea. My own demons and guilt from what I'd let occur under my own nose, my inability to protect those I loved from themselves, did that." His tone was serious...earnest.

Thea nodded, but said, "I'll still try not to cause problems...especially if you all think the others will."

"I appreciate that. Maybe your example will help the others be good patients..." He smiled as he took the phone with her list back. "I should return within the hour and we can spend time together. I'll bring some card and board games and some videos we can watch."

"Sounds good." Thea sneezed again and then yawned. "I might just nap until you come back."

"You do that." Walter quickly gave her a tight hug. "You need to rest to fight off the germs." Stepping back and giving her a smile, Walter backed to the door. "I'll be back as fast as I can," he said, before leaving. As he walked into the main area where Caitlin stood, he noted that Wells and Cisco and Joe and Barry were already gone (presumably in their rooms). Oliver was pouting, for lack of a better word, and arguing with Slade about the need to stay.

"I feel fine!" the blond was arguing with the ex-ASIS agent. "I'm not even sneezing or sniffling like the others!"

It was true. The kid wasn't sniffling or sneezing. It was just as true that the reason he wasn't was because he had an iron grip over his body's reactions. Walter quailed inside to think about what had occurred in the younger man's life that would have trained him to have such tight control over his body. Sighing silently, he walked to Caitlin. "I've got Thea's list of things she'd like. Did the others give you their lists? I'll head out now and get everything before things get worse." He kept his voice soft, so as not to interrupt Slade and Oliver.

Caitlin was trying to fade into the woodwork as well; only sticking around because once everyone was settled in, she needed to be able to run and pick up things for everyone if needed. "I've got the lists here, but if you want to give me Thea's, I can run and pick up all the medicines and items so that you can stay with her. I know you're worried; and since I wasn't exposed, I figured I should stick around in case, you know...someone needs something, or something happens. I can get Wally to help take care of it or call in Diggle and Floyd, or even call in Gypsy and Jessie if worse came to worse..." She stopped talking and blushed, realizing she was rambling. "...Plus, you know...working on a cure."

"If you wouldn't mind, that would be perfect..." Walter smiled at the younger woman, quickly texting her the list he'd written out for Thea as well as the list of medicines they needed. He hadn't really wanted to leave Thea. "Thank you, Dr. Snow."

"Caitlin..." Caitlin smiled. "...We're all in this together, after all. Practically crime-fighting family!"

Walter smiled. "Caitlin. If you need me or have any questions about the lists... and here...take this. In case you need funds to pay for everything..." He pulled out his wallet and handed her several bills.

Caitlin's eyes widened. "I don't think I will need that much to pay for things, so I will be certain to keep all receipts and bring you your change..." she said faintly.

"No need. If there is any left over, use it to buy some things to keep everyone occupied if they didn't think to put it on their lists... and to buy yourself some items to keep you occupied when you aren't working. As I expect you to take some time to yourself and rest as well. We wouldn't want you getting sick from over-work..." he said sternly, smiling at her quick nod of acceptance. He waited long enough to watch Caitlin leave before turning and heading back to the room he was sharing with Thea. He shook his head slightly. Oliver was still arguing with his brother. That wasn't going to end well for the young Mr. Queen, he knew.

Slade wasn't surprised that Oliver was arguing with him...had in fact been expecting it. The only reason he hadn't stepped in and taken a firmer hold of his little brother was because there were other people around and he was hoping reason would work. But as both Caitlin and Walter had disappeared, he reached out and squeezed the nape of his little brother's neck, other hand taking possessive hold of his brother's hip. "Just because you're able to control your reactions, it doesn't mean you're not sick. And I'm not going to stand here and continue arguing with you, kid."

"Slade!" Oliver yelped slightly. He should have been expecting his brother's actions... he'd known from the moment he began arguing that his brother would just step in at some point and let him know it wasn't acceptable. He wasn't able to stop himself, though. He hated being sick. Hated the feeling of being out of control (which being out of control due to illness was an entirely different thing than giving up control to your big brother, even if the result was you not being in control. Being out of control due to your body betraying you was a lot scarier.) The feeling of his brother's grip on his neck, the possessive hold on his hip- he wanted to just give in immediately. He was his Koro's. He owed Slade obedience. He wanted to give Slade his obedience. But he knew he was sick- he could already feel the virus working in him- and as irrational as it was, he felt like he had to fight it. Had to fight admitting it was there, because to admit he was sick would give the virus a foothold to take over and then he'd be out of control in the way that was entirely too frightening for him. "I'm NOT SICK!" he argued again, even as he immediately began to follow along wherever Slade directed, the hand on his neck and hip encouraging him to obey, even if he was still arguing.


Thea heard her brother's protest from inside her room and glanced up at Walter as he entered once more. "I take it Ollie's fighting? Good luck, Slade." She snorted, glad the older man knew what he was doing with her brother.

Walter shook his head, glad that he didn't need to deal with the obstinate Queen. "He's very much like your mother when it comes to admitting weakness of any kind..." he said fondly, shutting the door behind him. "His brother has his work cut out for him. Caitlin will be picking up the items on the list, so that enables me to spend more time with you. If you wish to take your nap, though, I can read until you wake up..." Walter suggested.

"He wasn't before. More evidence of how much he went through changed him, I guess." Thea sighed, then said, perhaps out of the blue, "I told Ollie to bring Slade with him the next time he comes over. It seems wrong to keep blaming him for actions that were out of his control and, well, Ollie's acting so much less recklessly and dangerously now that Slade's back in the picture."

Walter blinked, then nodded, giving Thea a proud look. "I think that was very kind of you. Perceptive also. I believe you are right as to Slade's positive influence on your brother." He had needed to wrestle with his own demons in accepting the other man that was such a big part of Oliver's life; he had killed Moira, after all. But Walter was a realist and even though Slade was responsible for his wife's death, Walter also knew Slade wouldn't have done what he had if he'd been in his right mind. Walter also knew that Moira would most likely have died due to something of her own doing eventually anyway; despite how much he loved her, he wasn't blind to her faults, or the fact that she kept getting involved in shady practices that drew the attention of unsavory characters.

"But I feel kind of jealous, too," Thea admitted quietly; probably something she never would have said if she hadn't been feeling out of control due to the virus taking hold. "I know it's wrong, but Slade sees so much of Ollie that he'd never feel comfortable showing me..."

Walter slanted his head as he thought about that admission. "I think...perhaps your brother doesn't want to show that part of himself to you because, in his eyes, you are his baby sister and he needs to protect you... And he wants you to look up to him and admire him. There are some things that if you knew or saw, it would change your view of him considerably..." He held his hands up to hold off a protest and continued, "...Not that you would love him less, because I know that you will always love him unconditionally... but that it would change your view of him. And for whatever reason, he needs you to view him as you do now. Not for your sake, but for his own..." He sighed as he sat down next to her. "...You are exactly what he needs for you to be for him at this moment in time...just as Slade is what Oliver needs him to be. So, I understand the jealousy- he's your brother and you want to know all there is to him- but just because he keeps some things from you doesn't mean you are less important. It means you are so very important and he doesn't want what you have to be changed by knowledge that really doesn't have anything to do with the two of you but still would change your view of him."

Thea nodded. She knew that logically; just like she knew she never wanted to change her own perception of Oliver. Even so, she couldn't deny that it was hard to see that Oliver had needed something so badly from Slade that... "When Ollie came back from the island, I don't think he cared whether he lived or died." She struggled to put voice to what she felt. "Slade showing up made it even worse and I know Ollie would have let himself get killed by Slade if that was what he wanted. But Slade coming back and..." She took a deep breath. "No one else could force Ollie to stop acting so recklessly. So it makes me worry. About if Slade gets taken from him. There's no way he'd survive that."

Walter nodded. "I think...the circumstances that separated them the first time were unique and very personal. A lot of Oliver's reactions to and because of Slade were rooted in how they were torn apart the first time. Has he told you what happened?" he asked curiously. He knew a little about the situation; enough to know that Slade had been given the Mirakuru at that time and that Oliver had believed him dead. He didn't know any other details, though; his feeling that the separation was very personal was more a gut feeling than actual knowledge.

"I know bits and pieces," Thea admitted; which was less because Oliver had told her and more because of what Slade had said under the influence of the mirakuru. "Someone close to both of them died...Ollie thought it was his fault; Slade blamed him for her death, at least while the drug had hold of him...I don't think he does anymore."

Walter blinked at that news. He hadn't been aware of that part. "...Well...it sounds, then, like a lot of what occurred when he first returned home and what was happening the first time Slade showed up... was due to guilt. Guilt that he's been able to work through and deal with properly now. And if there is one thing I've noticed, while he may rely on Slade immensely... he's also opened up more and become more reliant on you, John, Felicity... everyone else in his life that cares about and wants to help him. He shares things that he wouldn't when he first got back home. His ability to be more open and lean on the rest of you means that if, God forbid, something did happen to Slade? He'd survive it because he'd be able to lean on all of you and you'd help him survive it. It'd hurt immensely, I'm certain. And he'd think he couldn't survive it. But with you all supporting him, he would. To be honest, I'd worry more about Slade if something happened to Oliver. I haven't noticed him getting close to anyone, with the exception of Captain Lance."

"He talks to Diggle a lot," Thea said. "And he's seemed more at peace when he's spoken to Lance. Plus...he's helped out Tommy a lot." Her other brother seemed to think the world of Slade in a very similar way to Oliver.

Walter nodded. "Well. With the support group that they've formed with you and the rest of the family- and you can't tell me you don't all view each other as family, even those who aren't related by blood- then both of them should be able to survive the loss of the other. But we'll hope it never happens anyway." He smiled and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Is that the only thing that worries you about how close the two of them are?"

Thea leaned into his arm and sighed. "I guess I've given voice to everything that worries me...but at least there's a lot of good in how close they are. And Ollie's changed enough that I don't have to worry about losing my brother all over again because he doesn't care."

Walter nodded. "He does care. And he cares about you..." he responded.

Thea smiled, a bit sadly. "I never had any doubts on that front," she commented, sighing quietly and then turning her face to one side so she could cough into her arm.

"Good..." Walter said softly, before carefully standing up. "...I'll get you a bottle of water," he offered, moving toward the door so he could head out toward the tiny kitchenette he'd seen as he was walking to the room.

"Thank you." Thea sneezed. "Some tissue would be nice, too," she added, a bit embarrassed.

"Of course. Caitlin will be bringing a fresh box, as that was on my list of needed items, but I believe I saw a box in the kitchenette that I can bring you until she returns..." He smiled and quickly went to get the tissues and water.

While he was gone, Thea pulled the blanket around her shoulders, beginning to shiver.


Barry hadn't argued with Joe at all, when the older man had taken him back to one of the quarantined rooms. He'd actually hoped to just go home and sleep off what he thought would be a mild illness, given his tendency to heal quickly, but then he'd thought of Iris and the fact she didn't heal as quickly and decided his father was probably right. Staying at the lab would be safer. "I won't leave" he said to Joe quietly. "You don't have to stay, though; I don't want to risk you getting sick."

"I'm not going to leave you, Barry," Joe answered. "I want to stay with you. Look after you. I don't want you to be alone," he said seriously.

"But you might get sick!" Barry's eyes widened in worry.

"I might do...but I'm already exposed," Joe pointed out. "At this point, it doesn't matter if I stay with you or not. If I get sick, I'll get sick anyway. This way, you've got me with you."

Barry bit his lip, then nodded. "Yeah...that's true. I have to admit, having you here with me would make things easier. And it's been a while since we've been able to just talk, so..." He smiled crookedly. "I don't think I'll get sick. Or, at least, I don't think I'll get very sick..."

"It's better not to risk it," Joe said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "At least this way, you can be kept an eye on. And who knows? If you heal fast, it might help the others."

"How so?" Barry blinked, curious about why Joe would think his healing fast would be helpful to anyone but himself.

"Same way with any kind of cold or virus," Joe said. "If your body fights back...produces antibodies...maybe those can help the others."

"You think Caitlin could make an anti-virus using my blood?" Barry looked hopeful at the idea. "There are a lot more people affected than just my friends, so if she could..."

"Which is another reason why it's good for you to stay here," Joe said. "Maybe it won't work. But it's worth testing in case."

"Yeah...of course!" Barry smiled crookedly, before giving Joe a hesitant look. "I wish you weren't being exposed to the virus...but I'm glad you're here..." he finally said, in a quiet tone.

"I'm glad I'm here too." Joe gently squeezed his shoulder. "I wouldn't willingly leave you to suffer alone."

Barry winced. "I'll prolly suffer less than the others. I feel bad that they got involved. Even if I couldn't have kept them out of it once they knew what was occurring."

Joe tightened his embrace. "About that...you and Cisco didn't need to head to Starling City. In fact, I remember both me and Wells telling you both to come back."

Barry bit his lip, giving Joe a guilty look. "I needed to stop him, Joe! He was spreading that virus and it could turn into a pandemic and... I just needed to stop him!"

"I understand that, but Caitlin had prepared a way of knocking him out," Joe said. "Neither you or Cisco chose to listen to her. If you had done, the shot could have been taken more subtly...without risking any contamination."

Barry winced. "Was Caitlin too mad?" he asked hesitantly. Ignoring their teammates was never a good thing and tended to upset everyone involved.

"She was frustrated more than anything else," Joe answered. "But even if you chose to ignore me and Wells...you shouldn't have ignored her. That wasn't respectful in the slightest."

Barry sighed and looked at the ground. "Ignoring any of you wasn't respectful in the slightest..." he admitted, in a shamed voice. "I'm sorry, Joe; you deserve better than that...than to have me just ignore you. I should have at least answered you and told you why I felt like I had to disobey your order..."

"Yeah, you should have," Joe agreed. "And if you were still a teenager, you'd be grounded for pulling a stunt like that. After you'd recovered."

Barry bit his lip and winced a tiny bit. "If you hadn't been here and I'd just ignored Wells, he'd be spanking me for it..." he admitted hesitantly, not sure Joe knew about how his honorary uncle handled him, or even suspected. But feeling like he should put the information out there anyway, just in case. "I think you probably have saved my backside, because since you were there, he figures I'm your responsibility and he doesn't want to step on your toes..."

Joe raised his eyebrows at that. "When did he start doing that?" Truth be told, he'd noticed a change in his kid...along with Barry growing closer to Wells. He wasn't sure he would ever have considered spanking his son; for the most part, Barry had been a good kid. It was only since becoming the Flash that his behaviour had kicked into reckless.

"Not long ago..." Barry admitted quietly. "...I...I was feeling really guilty about how I'd messed everyone's life up because I'd messed with time, trying to save my mom. He'd warned me not to mess with time before he'd returned to Earth 2... along with Jay and you and nearly anyone who knew I was thinking of it. When we went after that guy that kidnapped that guy Slade knew, Sebastian Blood? Oliver wanted to run because of reasons and I just went with him without thinking about what it'd do to everyone else. And then you were hurt and in the hospital and I felt even worse and... he... spanked me. To help me get past the guilty feelings..." He cleared his throat and swallowed. "And then he did one other time because I took a very dangerous and unnecessary chance that led to someone getting hurt; and even though they may have gotten hurt anyway and he didn't think I should blame myself, he knew I wouldn't be able to let it go, so... I didn't want you to worry, because you were already so worried about the baby that's coming and...and now I'm telling you anyway, so I'm sorry if I'm worrying you now. I don't want you to worry..." He bit his lip and looked at Joe uncertainly.

Joe sat quietly, trying to digest the information, but seized on one of the most important things about what his son was saying. "You're telling me him stepping in helps you feel better? Less guilty? It doesn't scare or worry you? You trust him?" That was the most important question. Joe trusted Wells... trusted the other man wouldn't harm Barry, even if he was spanking him. But did Barry trust him?

Barry blinked at that. "Well... yeah. I don't think I'd be able to just let him punish me like that if I didn't trust him..." He gave Joe a confused look. "I trust him as much as I trust you. He's kinda like an uncle now. Thing is... if you said you didn't like it and didn't want it to happen again, it wouldn't. HE wouldn't do it, if you objected. He really respects you. Which kinda helps me trust him more; cuz you're my dad and even though I'm an adult now? What you say still goes... when I'm being smart and listening anyway..." He sounded a little embarrassed.

Joe nodded. "So if I tell you I'm happy for him to handle this disobedience in the way he would normally? You'd be okay with that?" He watched Barry's face carefully, making sure what was coming out of his son's mouth matched the expression.

Barry's face was startled, but underneath was guilt and he didn't try to hide it. "I... if you felt he should, I wouldn't argue against it. I'm pretty sure Cisco will be in trouble that way. You don't...?" He paused with a wince. Part of him wondered if Joe would ever consider doing it himself, but he wasn't sure he liked that idea. It felt like it would be forcing Joe into something that didn't fit. "I'm really sorry, dad..." he whispered, wanting Joe to know that Barry respected and valued him and how he handled things.

Joe wrapped his other arm around Barry in a tight hug. "I wouldn't have thought of spanking, son. But if it helps you change your behaviour... and I'm not saying I wouldn't do that if it was necessary. But it feels like that kind of discipline is personal with you and your uncle. And I can only think it's a good thing that he's formed that kind of emotional connection with you as well as Cisco, even if it's a different kind of family."

"You're not upset?" Barry only allowed himself a few fleeting seconds to wonder at the fact he was worried his dad would be upset about him accepting spankings from his uncle, but he still asked. Because he did worry about his dad being upset. "Your opinion matters to me so much and I know I didn't prove that when I ignored you earlier, but it does!"

"No." Joe tightened his embrace. "I'm glad that you've formed a bond with Wells. And I feel like he's the closest thing I've got to a brother... so him being your uncle? Works out fine."

Barry visibly relaxed before it occurred to him and he gave Joe a wide-eyed look. "Are you going to ask Uncle Harry to spank me?" he squeaked.

"Perhaps not in so many words," Joe answered. "I'll let him know I'm aware of how he handles you and will leave it up to him to respond to your actions today."

"Oh..." Barry gave his father a sheepish look. "That is fair, I guess." Suddenly, Barry sneezed, then gave Joe another wide-eyed look. "If I'm getting sick...the others are going to need a lot of help," he worried.

"They have their parents... or brothers... with them," Joe replied reassuringly. "And Caitlin's running out to get what we all need."

Barry nodded. "I haven't been sick since I became Flash..." he admitted, a little scared despite himself.

"This isn't a normal virus," Joe said gently. "It's not caused by a normal infection. You don't have to be scared of it. And you'll get through this," he promised.

"Of course, I will..." Barry gave Joe a trembling smile. "...I've got you."

"And you always will, son," Joe promised. "I love you."

Barry impulsively moved closer and threw his arms around Joe, holding on tight. "I love you too, dad... I'm sorry I ignored you..." he whispered. "...I shouldn't have. You only tell me to do stuff or not do stuff when you're trying to keep me safe..."

Joe hugged him tightly. "I'm glad you understand that. And I forgive you, son. I know you heal faster, but I still don't want to risk anything happening to you."

"I know. I don't want anything to happen to you either, so it's not fair to do things that worry you unnecessarily..." He sighed softly, then turned his head to sneeze into his arm again. "I'm worried about the others now. If I actually got sick, when I normally don't get anything..."

"Don't worry about the others," Joe directed. "Their guardians have them well in hand; and I think the only person who might give his guardian grief is Oliver."

"Okay, dad... I'll try not to. You're probably right about Oliver. Makes me kinda wish the walls were soundproofed more now..." He winced and looked around.

"Well, it wasn't really set up for quarantine," Joe commented.

"No... it wasn't. Wasn't really set up for more than one person at a time either... how did it get set up so fast?" Barry grinned crookedly.

"I think it was realised it might be needed when you all went after the meta," Joe commented. "But it was likely already being set up when he first made his appearance."

"Caitlin, right? She always is one step ahead of the rest of us when it comes to taking care of the team..." He chuckled. He turned toward Joe. "So... what do we do now?"

"We wait for what I've ordered to arrive," Joe answered. "I stay with you... look after you... we'll have things to occupy the time with along with medications and things like medication."

Barry made an 'eww' face. "I have to take medicine?" he asked, in a semi-whine.

"Everyone's going to need to take medication," Joe replied.

Barry sighed. "Well... if it keeps me from spreading it to you and everyone else, I'll do what I'm told..." he agreed, with a sigh, before sitting down on the nearby bed. "Suddenly feel tired, though."

"If you need to sleep, then sleep. I'll be right here," Joe promised. "I won't leave you."

"Thanks, dad... I don't know if I'll be able to, though..." Barry smiled sadly. It was obvious he was worried about his non-meta friends and family; and that he felt guilty for doing something that might put them in danger.

"Do you need help with that guilt, son?" Joe asked gently, remembering what Barry had said about some of the reasons Wells had stepped in.

Barry looked into his father's eyes and bit his lip. "I really am sorry, dad..." he said, letting Joe see how guilty he felt. "Can you help me?" he asked hesitantly.

Joe hugged his son tight for a moment. "I'll help you with the guilt... but I'll leave the disobedience to your uncle to deal with," he said gently. Sitting down on the bed, he gently moved Barry over his lap.

"Oh... he's not going to be happy with me..." Barry sighed in resignation but didn't argue about it. He knew he'd screwed up badly, disobeying direct orders from Wells not to go. He reached down and held onto Joe's leg carefully, not wanting to hurt the other man and grateful his father was willing to step out of his comfort zone to help him. "Thanks, dad..." he said quietly.

Joe rubbed his son's back gently and then tugged his pants and underwear down, figuring with Barry's fast healing, he wanted to make sure he could see what he was doing. "I love you," he reiterated, even as he lifted his hand, bringing it down in a firm smack that he repeated.

Barry let out a tiny gasp as the first swat landed, then said, in a tiny voice, "I love you too, dad...so much..." He didn't say any more than that. He'd already apologized. Now, unless Joe asked him a specific question, he would just accept what his father was doing to help him face his guilt. He squeezed Joe's leg gently.

Joe kept his hand on Barry's lower back, even as continued to swat down to his son's thighs before starting over from the top, rubbing gently to provide at least some comfort.

Barry felt himself relaxing, going limp over Joe's knee both because he felt like he might be paying for at least a little of the danger he'd put everyone in; and because he could feel, in how careful Joe was being, how much he was loved. It didn't take long at all for the swats to cause him to tear up, but he didn't try and fight what was occurring or wriggle away. "Thanks, dad..." he whispered, slumping even further, letting himself cry out his worry and fear for everyone else, the steadiness of his father's hand, and the sure grip Joe had on him, allowing him to let go.

"I've got you, son." Joe began a third circuit of swats, a fraction harder and faster, his other hand still rubbing and stroking over Barry's back.

Barry wasn't able to hold still when Joe began the third circuit, beginning to squirm and wriggle uncontrollably as he began to sob quietly.

Joe wrapped his arm around his son's waist, drawing Barry close and tight against his stomach, beginning to focus more swats to his sit spots and thighs.

Barry squirmed frantically a few more moments when Joe focused on his sit spots, kicking out when his thighs were smacked, and then just slumped over his father's knee and sobbed; still quiet, but obviously having given up fighting and just accepting the correction. "I'm sorry, dad..." he choked out, sorrowfully.

Joe didn't waste any time bringing the spanking to a stop, carefully replacing his son's clothes and then drawing Barry into a tight embrace. "I forgive you. I love you," he repeated, hugging Barry tightly to himself.

Barry just snuggled as close as he was able, holding onto Joe tightly. "I love you so much, Dad..." he whispered, feeling like a young kid again, being comforted and held by his father.

Joe hugged him just as tightly, stroking Barry's hair and back. "I love you, son. No matter what happens...I'm relieved you're here and safe. Even though you're sick, it could have ended up being a lot worse."

"Yessir. S'why I shoulda listened. I can't see everything when I'm right up close and personal...if I'm being warned about something, I need to pay attention. This isn't the first time I've done something risky cuz of ignoring warnings..." He sighed. "Thank you for forgiving me. I... I don't feel up to facing Uncle Harry right now, so... if you see him, can you tell him I'm sorry? And I'll stand still and let him chide me all he wants, once I'm feeling better and can actually concentrate...?" He yawned, despite himself.

"I'm sure he knows." Joe kissed his son's forehead. "Get some sleep, son. I'll be here when you wake up. I promise."

"Okay, dad." Barry snuggled a bit more, falling asleep in his father's arms.


Wells led his own son into the bedroom put aside for him and Cisco. "How are you feeling, son?" he asked softly.

"Uuuugh..." Cisco sniffled, then sneezed. "...How am I feeling, other than like I'm an idiot?" he asked sardonically, then sneezed again.

"Do you need to sleep?" Wells clarified. "Do you have a headache? What are your symptoms?"

"Right now... I just have a stuffy nose..." Cisco admitted in chagrin. "But I'm starting to get tired...I just..." He bit his lip and sighed, not able to look his father in the eye.

Wells wrapped his arm around Cisco's shoulders. "Just what, son?"

Cisco swallowed, sniffling again, and forced himself to look up into his father's eyes. "Just I know I should have listened to you and not rushed off without... without listening." He bit his lip. "I knew it was wrong the minute I did it. And I know I'll deserve every smack I get for being so...so..." He grimaced.

"Naughty?" Wells tried to find the word his son was looking for, not wanting Cisco to fall back on 'bad'. He wrapped his arms around his son. "I'm more concerned that you put yourself in danger."

Cisco winced. "...That makes me sound like a little boy that pulled the girl's pigtails..." he muttered and blushed. "...Can't think of a better word that you won't object to, though." He sighed softly. "I shouldn't have done it..." he admitted. "I know I shouldn't have done it and... and I just... I know I'm gonna get sick now, but I feel like I deserve to be punished for what I did wrong and I don't... don't want it hanging over me... don't want it between us... cuz... cuz I'm really sorry, daddy and I just want to be right with you and maybe if you spank me really hard now, you can cuddle me the rest of the time and I can just think about how much you love me while I'm getting better instead of thinking about how much I screwed up and how sorry I am..." He winced again, not certain if he was making any sense. His head was already beginning to become slightly fuzzy.

Wells hugged his son tightly to himself. "Even if I waited to spank you until you're better, I would still hold you and cuddle you," he whispered. "I told you before... any time you need to be held.. .even if you're in trouble, I won't ever withhold that from you."

"I know, daddy..." Cisco said in a small voice. "...I just... I need to feel right with you. Like I've paid for my naughtiness and you've taken care of it and me and you forgive me..." he admitted, almost shyly.

Wells kissed his forehead. "If you'll feel better emotionally, we can take care of it now. But you don't get punished in exchange for forgiveness, Cisco. It's to help you remember what to do... or what not to do... next time."

"I... I know, daddy. I know you'd forgive me, no matter what, if I was truly sorry and asked you to. I just... I feel so guilty about ignoring you... and putting myself in danger and scaring you again... and everyone else too..." he admitted hesitantly. "...I just feel like I need to... to... I dunno. Not give complete control to you exactly; but... to give complete control to you? I'm not making any sense..." he muttered in embarrassment.

Wells held his son for a few more moments and then led Cisco over to the bed. "I love you, son. I'm going to punish you and then I'm going to spend the rest of the time taking care of you and cuddling you." Taking a seat, he guided Cisco across his lap, settling him in place.

Cisco relaxed in obvious relief that his father didn't expect him to explain any more. He wasn't certain he could explain what he was feeling. All he knew was that he'd done something that had the potential to be deadly and Wells had told him repeatedly that wasn't allowed. He'd ignored his father for no good reason and he just felt so guilty. He needed to know Wells would still step in and save him from himself if he needed. Just like he was doing now. "Thank you, daddy..." he whispered, reaching down and holding onto Wells' leg.

Wells wrapped his arm around Cisco's waist, drawing him close against his stomach, and divested him of his pants and underwear. "I love you, Cisco." Every time he said it, it was easier. Lifting his hand, he brought it down in a firm swat that he then repeated.

Cisco didn't attempt to be brave or stoic. He yelped. Loudly enough it could likely be heard in all the other rooms. And he didn't care. Caitlin already knew he got punished this way (so did Barry) and after he'd ignored her advice and then Wells' and Joe's advice... well, he figured she probably felt he deserved it. "I love you too, daddy..." He whimpered, doing his best not to tense up too badly or wriggle yet. He knew he'd be wriggling soon enough.

Tightening his hold on his son, Wells settled quickly into a pattern of swats, going down to Cisco's thighs before starting over from the top. Partway through that circuit, he began to speak. "You know I don't give you orders for the sake of it. You shouldn't have gone after Barry. You shouldn't have ignored me when I told you to come back."

Cisco whimpered and began squirming halfway through the first circuit. By the second, he was letting out tiny sobs and wriggling frantically. "No, daddy... I know I shoul... shouldn't have ig... nored you. Was wrong! Wrong and naughty! I'm sooooorry!" he wailed, his voice not so loud that the whole building could understand his words, but loud enough that they would be able to tell he was distressed.

Wells kept his hold tight and secure on Cisco, completing the second circuit and beginning a third, going a bit harder and faster. "I know, son. I forgive you. I love you. I never wanted anything to happen to you."

"I... I know!" Cisco sobbed, his crying becoming a little bit louder as he began to lose control over himself. He was quickly tiring himself out with the squirming, the frantic movement becoming a bit more feeble. "I know..." he said again, finally ceasing the attempt to escape and just going limp over his father's lap. "...Just want me safe... need to 'bey you... need to not 'gnor you..." He sobbed brokenly, just lying limply and accepting the punishment he knew he deserved.

Wells stopped spanking and wasted no time in drawing his son up into his arms, hugging him tightly to himself. "I need you to stay safe," he whispered. "I can't lose you, son."

"I'm sorry, daddy... I'm sorry..." Cisco just kept repeating over and over, even as he snuggled as close to the older man as he could and gripped tight. The illness was catching up to him quick and he could feel himself chilled. He suspected Wells would be able to feel a fever, but until his father made him change into pajamas and get into bed, he didn't want to let go. He just wanted to be held.

Wells tightened his arms around his son, kissing his head. "I love you," he repeated. "I forgive you. I just don't want to lose you..."

"I don't want to be lost, daddy..." Cisco said, in a tiny voice, then whimpered. He'd finally stopped crying, but he truly felt like crap now. His head hurt, and he was alternating between hot and cold.

And a knock on the door interrupted his cuddle time.

"I've got all your medicine and the items you requested. They're in a bag just outside the door..." Caitlin called in softly, not wanting to disturb them, but wanting Wells to know where he could get the items.

"Thank you," Wells called quietly, stroking his son's hair and back. "I'm going to get you changed and into bed," he murmured to Cisco. "I had Felicity do a favour for me," he added. "She set up an identity for me here."

Cisco sniffled and cuddled closer before looking up into Wells' face, his eyes bleary. "You have an identity now? That's great, daddy..." he said, in genuine happiness. He made a feeble attempt to stand so he could get himself changed for bed.

Wells helped his son to stand and then did so as well, so he could help Cisco get changed. "Not only that. Do you remember I told you I wanted to make you officially my son?"

"Mmhmmm..." Cisco mumbled, helping as much as he could, but, unfortunately being dizzy, had to rely on his father to do most of the work getting into pajamas.

"I had her set that up, too." Wells carefully changed his son into the pajamas. "I've made you my son in every way that's possible," he clarified.

Cisco gave Wells a look that indicated how thankful and happy he was at that. "I'm yours? Legally?" he asked hopefully, even as he snuggled close to his father again.

"Legally. In every way possible," Wells promised, hugging his son tightly and then leading him over to the bed so he could tuck him in, stroking Cisco's hair.

Cisco quickly settled into bed, giving his father a smile. "Do you want me to take medicine now? Or wait till the symptoms get worse?" He didn't particularly want to take it immediately, but then again, he didn't want to risk spreading his germs to his dad and maybe the medicine would keep that from happening.

"I'll give you the medicine now. That way, maybe it'll help with some of the symptoms before they get worse." Wells retrieved the items that had been left and took out the medicine so he could give some to his son, stroking Cisco's hair again.

Cisco obediently took what he was given, then lay back on the bed and yawned. "Sorry...I don't think I'll be much company..." he whispered sadly, even as he blinked and tried to stay awake.

Wells reached out to stroke his son's hair. "Don't try to stay awake. Sleep. I'll be here when you wake up," he promised.

"Okay, daddy..." Cisco mumbled, before immediately falling asleep, Wells petting his hair aiding in that endeavor considerably.


Walter had been talking to Thea, snuggling her close and just thankful she was in one piece and relatively healthy, despite being exposed to the meta-virus. When they'd heard the sounds coming from first Barry's, then Cisco's room, he'd glanced at her to see what her reaction was.

The sounds were un-mistakeable and Thea winced, trying not to listen to something that she figured was really too personal to take place within a room that wasn't soundproofed. "I guess that answers that question," she muttered under her breath.

Walter blinked, not having expected that kind of comment. "What do you mean?" he asked curiously, tightening his arms around her in a comforting hug.

"I've... noticed some things," Thea admitted. "Hearing that... it makes what I've seen make sense."

Walter widened his eyes. "Ah... I see. Well. I've known for a while to be honest... It isn't discussed except between those it occurs between, or unless the one receiving brings it up, but... I can answer some questions if they aren't too personal."

Thea blinked. "You've known... who did you know about?" she asked. It wasn't like Walter spent that much time with team Flash, at least as far as she knew.

Walter just gave Thea a look that said, 'you know, if you really think about it' and didn't say anything. At least not about that. "I tried to call you. To tell you to make sure to stay away from that meta. That he was dangerous to you. You ignored my attempts..." His voice was calm, but stern and held a hint of disappointment.

Thea blinked, a confused look coming over her face...not about the fact she'd done something she shouldn't, but the way he was wording it. Given what they'd just overheard... "If I'd stopped to check my phone, he could have got away."

"I know Slade tried to contact Oliver as well and he ignored the attempts as well." Walter shook his head. "...Unless both of you had your phones on silent and you couldn't hear his phone and he couldn't hear yours... it didn't occur to you that both of you receiving a phone message or call at the exact same time, at the exact moment you were facing off against a meta-human...might be important and you should answer? It isn't like you couldn't keep your eyes on him while answering..."

"We didn't really communicate, other than to try and cut him off," Thea admitted, her tone apologetic.

"I may not know much about how this whole... 'Arrow' thing works. But I know enough to know that going into situations like that without communicating with your team and having back-up that isn't directly involved is generally frowned on." Walter said quietly. "Did Barry or Cisco not warn you of the danger the meta posed? I know that their fathers were communicating to them through comms. The fact they ignored their fathers' communications as well..." He frowned slightly. "Were you warned?" if Barry and Cisco hadn't passed on the warning and no one was communicating, then the only thing he really could hold her responsible for was not answering her phone. The meta certainly hadn't looked dangerous and she wasn't attacking him head on and if it hadn't been for his dangerous abilities, she wouldn't have been in danger at all. If she hadn't been told and therefore wasn't aware of the danger...

"Barry told us not to let him touch either of us," Thea admitted. "But I didn't know exactly what he could do. At least not until he waved his hand and made us all sick."

Walter sighed. "Well, at least you listened to his warning, even if you shouldn't have been anywhere near him at all. I dread to think of how ill you'd be if he'd actually touched you." Walter's voice was strained as he tried to keep his fear under control. He'd lost Thea's mother senselessly. The thought of losing his daughter- and that's exactly what Thea was, as far as he was concerned- made him feel ill himself. "You should have answered your phones, though...heeded the messages you were sent. That was wrong, even if you felt like you had to keep the meta contained. I know you're capable of doing more than one thing at a time; I've seen you do it."

"I'm sorry." Thea spoke without hesitation; not because she wanted to make an excuse, but because she could tell how affected he was by her actions. "You're right. I should have realised you were calling for a specific reason."

"I realize that expecting you to answer every time I call is likely unrealistic, at least in this point of time. Knowing what I do about your 'extra-curricular' activities, though, I think I'm going to request that I be given comms so that, when you are on missions, I will be aware of it and will know if I should refrain from calling you. If you are NOT on missions, then I expect you to either answer your phone immediately when I call or find some way to let me know as soon as possible why you haven't answered. And you are not to go on these missions when you do not have your team backing you up or have your comms in place to call for help if needed. I don't care if the bad guy might get away. You staying alive and healthy is more important than catching a criminal. I insist that you not take chances like that..." Walter's voice was firm.

The virus beginning to take hold was starting to play havoc with Thea's mind, so it took a few moments longer than usual to fully digest what Walter was saying to her. She'd come a long way since her brother had returned from the island; liked to think that she'd gained in maturity and grown as a person. But even so... "Like my parent?" she asked quietly, almost subdued, watching his face...waiting for his answer.

"Thea... Sweetheart... I am your parent. There is no like about it," Walter declared. "When I married your mother, in my heart, you became my daughter. I did not make it official because of respect for your feelings for your father, or the man you thought of as your father... but as far as I was concerned, as far as I am concerned, you are every bit my daughter as if you were born to me or adopted by me legally." Walter's voice was soft and loving, but certain. "And it is because of that, that I will not allow you to take unnecessary risks with your life and not do anything about it. I would not be much of a father if I didn't at least try and stop you. And it seems that you need some help in remembering your importance and that you should not take unnecessary risks or neglect to get help from those who love you if you do have to take those risks. And so, to help you remember, I am going to hold you accountable for failing to answer your phone. For failing to call your team for back-up." His voice was back to being firm and stern.

Thea bit her lip. She knew what she was thinking wasn't fair... but she had to know. She did want him... he was a better father to her than Malcolm ever had been. But... "You left. I know it was because of Mom, but you still left. And you only came back cause Ollie asked you to." Even if he hadn't left because of her... she couldn't shake the fear that he'd leave again if she ended up doing something he didn't like.

Walter closed his eyes briefly, then opened them again and looked into her eyes, nodding. "You're right. I did. I made a mistake. I thought you no longer needed me; I had no place in the company anymore, Oliver didn't need me... and staying in town just reminded me of everything I had lost. It wasn't fair of me to not talk to you first, though. To make sure that you didn't need me. I am sorry for that, but it will not happen again. That I promise you. Even if you tell me to get lost, I won't leave you again."

Everyone else had. Of course, it hadn't been by choice some of the time. Thea thought that was probably the main reason she stayed on Team Arrow; it let her stay close to her brother. She had Slade to thank for more than one reason, because she didn't think she'd still have Oliver if the older man hadn't come back. She looked into Walter's eyes and decided to believe him... because she desperately needed to. "Okay," she whispered.

Walter gave her a kind smile and gently tugged her into his arms. "I love you, Thea, and I will do everything in my power to make sure you are happy and safe..." he promised. Kissing the top of her head, he reluctantly pulled away. "But that means not letting you take chances that could hurt you and take you away from me... and that is why I am holding you accountable. That is why I am going to spank you." He kept his voice soft and low, so that she would know he wasn't upset with her. But he was firm, so she would know he was serious. "Because this is the first time I have ever stepped in, in this manner and because you didn't realize I cared enough that I would step in... I will be leaving your clothing in place, even though you will be going over my knee. But if you ever do anything as reckless again? If you take unnecessary chances, don't call for help or back-up, or do anything deliberately that will potentially take you from me? I will spank you bare. Do you understand?"

Thea hesitantly nodded. "Yes." She cleared her throat, but still spoke softly as she added, "I do understand. I'm sorry I worried you, but..." She hesitated. "I'm not sorry... to know that you really do care," she added, not sure if that made sense, but needing to voice it.

Walter quickly tugged her close and hugged her tightly again. "I do care, sweetheart. I should have made sure you realized that sooner, but I care a great deal..." he said, his voice tight with emotion. Reluctantly, he pulled away again. "Let's get this done and over-with, shall we? Then I can focus on taking care of you and proving that I love you and you are so very important to me."

Thea nodded. "Okay. How do...? I mean..." She paused, blushing. "I've never been spanked before. I don't know what to do," she admitted quietly.

"You don't have to do anything but cooperate," Walter said gently, before carefully maneuvering her over his lap. He pulled her in tightly against his stomach, so she wouldn't fall, before lifting his hand and letting it fall with a firm smack on the center of her bottom.

Thea jumped; more in surprise than pain. She held herself still, not wanting to start moving around and risk causing him problems.

Walter let the second firm smack fall to the left of the first. "Don't try and hold back your reactions," he encouraged quietly. "React however you need to. I won't let you fall." Soon, he was smacking all over her bottom, leaving no spot untouched.

Thea let out a quiet sob; as much from the emotions as from the spanking. Very soon, she began to shift and squirm, not trying to hold back how she was reacting.

Walter began a second circuit of the swats, keeping them at the same strength and speed. Halfway through, he began to talk. "I love you, Thea. I don't want to lose you to something that shouldn't have happened. What you do is dangerous, but there are ways to mitigate that danger. Letting your team know what you are doing before going after bad guys is one. Making sure you have backup is one. Listening when those who know the situation and the best way to deal with it tell you to back down is one. Going into a situation blindly without backup, or even calling those who should back you up, is not one. And there are very few, if any, situations where doing that will be acceptable." He finished the second circuit and began a third, at the same steady rate and strength.

Tears filled Thea's eyes and she began to sob quietly, listening to Walter's...to her father's words. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I love you too...I'll do better next time," she promised, the words sincere and heartfelt.

Hearing the tears and the sincerity in Thea's voice, Walter carefully tilted her just enough to focus the last half-dozen swats on her sit spots. As soon as those had been administered, he immediately stopped and drew her up onto his arms and held her tight. "I love you, Thea... Please don't make me have to exist without you too..." he whispered in a haunted voice, even as he hugged her tightly to his chest, desperate to keep her alive and safe with him.

Thea didn't waste any time in latching onto Walter in a tight hug, burrowing as close as possible. "I'm sorry," she whispered, clinging on.

"I know. It's over and you've been punished. We can put this behind us. I forgive you. I just want to take care of you now..." Walter consoled, kissing the top of her head again.

Thea sniffled and then sneezed, but tightened her embrace, not wanting to let go of him. Even if she was beginning to feel feverish.

"Let's get you into your pajamas and into bed. I'll stay next to you..." Walter soothed, carefully helping her stand so he could help her. It would be better if she got ready and into bed while she was still able to move. He could easily lift her, but he wanted her comfortable before it reached that point.

Thea nodded and moved, helping her father as much as possible to get herself changed and comfortable.

Once Thea was changed and comfortable in bed, Walter made certain she'd taken all the medication that she would need and then sat in a chair next to her bed, keeping her company until she fell asleep.


Oliver hadn't thought anything of it when they could clearly hear first Barry and then Cisco obviously being spanked. He was too busy arguing with Slade about how he felt fine and couldn't they just go home. When he heard the unmistakable sounds of Thea being punished, though, all his focus was suddenly on what was occurring in the other room. A glare on his face was all the warning Slade had before Oliver was barreling toward the exit of their room, intent on going to stop Walter from 'hurting' his baby sister.

Slade wasted no time, stepping in front of his brother and wrapping his arms around Oliver to hold him still. "She isn't being hurt, kid. If you tear in there, all you'll do is embarrass her and make it harder to reach the point they need to."

"But..." Oliver gave Slade an irritated look that the older man had stopped him, but then he thought about what his brother was saying, and realization dawned in his eyes. "...He's punishing her? For trying to help capture the meta?" he said softly. "...I don't think he's actually stepped in with her before... least she's never acted like he has..." He swallowed. "...This will draw them closer..." He said it more as a statement than a question.

"Like us, kid." Slade wrapped his arms tighter around his little brother. "You know how it feels from the same end she's experiencing it from."

Oliver turned faintly pink and nodded, swallowing. "Yeah... I know..." he said quietly. "...I'm guessing I'm in trouble for going after that meta too? Since the other three were..." He sighed softly. He didn't really like being in trouble with his brother. He liked Slade taking charge; even liked being spanked by his brother - when it was meant to show Slade's position and control over him. He hated it when it was because he'd done something to get into trouble. The guilty feelings and the knowledge that he'd disappointed or upset Slade was normally more than he wanted to face or could deal with without turning into a blubbering baby. At the same time... "That meta needed stopping. If we hadn't done what we did, he might have escaped, and even more people would have been exposed and endangered!"

"That's true... but I sent you a text and I know Walter sent Thea a text too," Slade replied. "How much did you know about what the meta could do?"

Oliver winced. "Nothing..." he muttered under his breath. Until Cisco had yelled out not to let him touch them, Oliver hadn't had a clue just how the meta could be dangerous... and even then, all he knew was that it would be dangerous to be touched by him.

Slade nodded. "So, you went after a meta, without getting the full story about what he could do... and ignored my text, even though both you and I know you could have easily checked what I sent. There were four of you there, after all. And you're capable of staying aware of your surroundings and doing more than one thing at once."

Oliver's wince turned into an embarrassed scowl. Reluctantly, he admitted, "Yessir..."

"What were you thinking?" Slade pushed gently; not accusing but wanting to know where his brother's mind had been.

Oliver huffed and threw his hands up in the air. "I don't know!" he said in frustration. "I wasn't thinking! I don't know why!" Well, he might have had some small idea of why; he'd started feeling edgy again that morning and between seeing Barry and Cisco seemingly needing help and the edginess, it had seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea to just rush headlong into the fray.

"Do you think maybe it had something to do with the edgy feeling you had the other day?" Slade asked, his voice still gentle.

Oliver shook his head. "No..." It was obviously a lie; something Oliver hadn't done in a very long time, because he didn't like the feeling of guilt or the fear his brother wouldn't be able to trust him.

Slade sighed. "Kid... I really need you to be honest with me. Unless you're scared of me, I expect you to be honest." His voice carried a heavy note of 'or else'.

Oliver bit his lip. He didn't want to lie again; he wasn't scared of Slade. Not really (although he was a bit nervous about what he knew his brother was going to do because of his actions). At the same time, he really didn't want to tell the truth. "I don't wanna answer..." he finally whined.

"Why?" Slade pushed. "And saying 'I don't know,' isn't an answer. And lying to me isn't acceptable, little brother. You don't need me to tell you that. It has never been acceptable; and the next time you lie, I'll wash your mouth out with soap." He was at once very serious with his promise and very disappointed that he had to say it.

"But I don't know!" Oliver protested; even though that was a lie too, since after Slade had pointed it out, he realized that he'd acted because of feeling edgy.

Slade still had his arms wrapped around Oliver and he didn't waste any time in guiding his brother over to the sink. "Lying doesn't have any place in our relationship, little brother. It damages trust." He picked up the bar of soap.

Oliver closed his eyes and whimpered. He knew that. He knew better. And still he'd pushed. Part of him was tempted to clamp his mouth shut tightly and not cooperate and then he looked into his brother's face.

Slade stroked Oliver's cheek. "I love you, kid. I can't have you lying to me. It might not be just us on the island any more, but we still need to rely on each other. I still need you."

Swallowing hard, Oliver let himself press his face into his brother's hand before sighing softly. "I'm sorry..." he whispered, before opening his mouth for the soap. Tears were pooling in the corners of his eyes, even though they weren't falling- yet.

Slade placed the soap in Oliver's mouth and then moved his hand to the nape of his brother's neck, squeezing gently, even as his other hand continued to stroke Oliver's cheek.

Oliver closed his mouth around the soap, closing his eyes tight. It was horrible. It tasted horrible, it was slimy, and it was a reminder of the fact that he'd lied to his big brother. Only the fact Slade kept hold of his neck helped him not to panic at that thought. He needed Slade's trust and he did the one thing sure to destroy it. He shivered, letting his eyes open to stare into his brother's face again as a few tears slid over his cheeks.

Slade kept his hand on Oliver's neck; his other still gently stroking his brother's cheek. "I love you," he repeated, leaving the soap for a full minute before gently touching Oliver's chin to encourage him to open his mouth so he could remove it.

Oliver blinked at the words, pressing his cheek against his brother's hand again. When encouraged, he opened his mouth, but didn't do anything else; allowing the suds to remain on his tongue as a bitter reminder of the fact he'd lied. More tears slipped from his eyes.

Slade pressed a kiss to Oliver's head and, without letting go of him, filled a cup with water, gently encouraging his brother to rinse. "I've got you, kid." His voice was a low, emotion-filled promise. "I won't let you go."

Oliver obediently rinsed before giving his brother a sad look. "I did it cuz I was feeling edgy. I'm sorry I didn't tell you I was feeling that way and I'm sorry I tried to hide it and lied..." he said quickly, in a tiny voice, his eyes wide and sincere.

Slade gently squeezed the nape of his neck. "Can you tell me why you tried to hide it and lied, kid?" he asked gently.

"I hid feeling edgy cuz I didn't know what was causing it and I was tired of looking like a spaz. I dunno why I lied. I mean, you obviously knew what was wrong, so it wasn't just naughty...it was stupid to lie about it. It wasn't thought out..." Oliver admitted. "Just feel out of sorts and contrary..." He sighed.

"I imagine that's because you're fighting the fact that you've been infected and are getting sick," Slade commented, a wry note to his voice, as he ran his fingers through Oliver's hair, stroking his cheek.

"But I'm not sick!" Oliver denied, lying more to himself than to Slade. He wouldn't accept that he'd got the virus when he hadn't been touched.

"Kid, I know everything about you," Slade said. "I know when you're not completely right. You can't force your body to be okay, no matter how hard you try."

"Oh yes I can!" Oliver denied. "I. Am. Not. Sick!"

Fully aware that Oliver was going to need to have it proved to him, Slade gently squeezed his brother's neck. "Okay, kid. As soon as Caitlin comes here with what I've asked her to bring, I'll prove it to you."

Oliver smirked. "Good luck with that! I think I heard her knocking on the other doors, so I wouldn't be surprised if she left it outside. You were too busy calming me down." Oliver's smirk turned sheepish.

"Too busy reminding you that you don't lie to your big brother," Slade said, keeping a grip on his little brother as he headed over to the door. Opening it, he found the items and brought them inside.

Oliver just nodded at that, not saying anything as Slade tugged him along. "Pajamas in there?" he asked curiously, seeing soft material.

"Yeah. I thought you might be more comfortable with the ones I bought you," Slade commented, taking out the thermometer from the first aid kit.

Oliver had been changing into the pajamas, so didn't immediately notice what Slade was getting out. Once he'd changed, though and turned to face his brother, he saw. "Huh-uh! No way!" he protested, backing away from his brother.

Slade followed Oliver's movements, reaching out to draw his little brother closer to him. "You won't believe me when I tell you you're sick, kid. Clearly, I need to prove it to you."

"Or you could just believe me when I say I'm not!" Oliver asserted, attempting to squirm away.

Slade didn't bother to argue verbally with his little brother. Instead, he guided Oliver to the bed and tugged his brother over his lap, moving the flap out of the way for access to his brother's backside.

"Slaaade...noooo!" Oliver protested in a near whisper, not wanting to draw attention to the fact he was arguing with his brother, but not wanting to cooperate either. He began to struggle, wriggling his bottom every which way to make things as difficult as possible. It would have been easier if he weren't already feeling tired.

Slade very quickly moved Oliver, turning him over so they could look into each other's eyes, still keeping his hold firm on his brother.

Oliver continued struggling for a few more moments until his eyes saw his brother's and his struggles slowly ebbed. He whimpered, shifting his hands to cover his bottom.

Slade moved Oliver's hands out of the way, carefully inserting the thermometer, holding onto Oliver's hands.

Oliver gripped Slade's hands tight, tensing as he felt the thermometer slide in, and then just slumped, all fight and argument draining out of him. He didn't know why his brother taking his temperature always affected him like this, but it was one of the quickest ways to drop him into submission. He whimpered softly, but held still, knees up near his chest, eyes not leaving Slade's.

Slade kept a tight hold of his little brother's hands, gently squeezing and stroking. "I love you, kid," he whispered, holding eye contact with Oliver. "No matter what happens...I always will. You're mine."

Oliver felt himself slowly relaxing at Slade's words. "Yours," he whispered, feeling the tenseness drain from his body. It made the presence of the thermometer less uncomfortable once he relaxed; the tiny instrument feeling less an intrusion and more another sign of whose he was. He sniffled, not surprised when he felt tears sliding down his cheeks. He wriggled just a tiny bit, but as soon as he felt the thermometer begin to shift, he forced himself to stay still. He kept his eyes on Slade's the entire time. "Yours," he repeated, in a quivery voice.

"I've got you. I won't let you go, little brother. I'm here, with you, for good now." Slade gently rubbed over Oliver's backside and thighs.

Oliver blinked more tears from his eyes and swallowed hard, but he didn't try and pull away or fight. He relaxed further, the combination of looking into his brother's eyes while being over his lap, the thermometer that he could still feel (even if it was more like the presence of an annoying gnat than a truly uncomfortable sensation) and the comfort of Slade's hands rubbing over him possessively enabling him to let go and just give in to Slade. "No more arguing," he whispered. "No more being naughty..."

"No more," Slade agreed. "No fighting me. Just let me take care of you, kid. I love you. You are the most important person in my life..."

"I'll be good, Koro," Oliver promised. "I'll let you take care of me..." he whispered.

"You're good, kid. And I love you, so very much." Slade continued to rub and stroke a bit more before carefully removing the thermometer. "You definitely have a temperature, little brother."

Oliver let out a tiny whimper at that. "I gotta take medicine now...?" he said in a tiny voice- not quite a whine- obviously not happy at the news. He was feeling very young and needy at the moment- the position and rubbing doing nothing to help him keep control over himself. All he wanted was for his brother to be in control and take care of him; even if it meant doing things that he didn't really want.

"I'm afraid so, kid." Slade moved Oliver onto his lap, kissing his forehead. "I love you, kid," he reiterated, hugging his brother tightly.

Oliver sniffled, turning his head and coughing into his own shoulder. "...Love you too, Koro. Sorry I was naughty and a pain..." he mumbled, snuggling close. Now that his brother had taken charge so completely, any desire he'd had to argue was gone. He wasn't even trying to claim he wasn't sick.

Slade tightened his embrace around his brother. "I know, kid. I forgive you." He kissed Oliver's head and then reached out to pick up the medicine, so he could feed it to Oliver.

Oliver took the medicine without complaint and just snuggled as close as possible after swallowing it. It had been rough, the last hour. And all of it his own doing. If he'd answered his brother's text, he wouldn't be facing a spanking. If he'd not lied about his reasons for doing what he'd done, he'd not have had to taste soap. If he'd just admitted he was sick and taken medicine from the very beginning, he wouldn't have had to have that... that... he shivered and snuggled closer.

Slade tightened his embrace, squeezing the nape of Oliver's neck. "I need you, kid," he whispered. "So much more than I could ever truly put into words."

"It's pretty obvious how much I need you..." Oliver said, with a tiny smile. "I don't take care of myself like I should. You keep me safe and healthy and honest..." He nuzzled into his brother. "When will I be spanked?" he whispered, snuggling closer.

Slade tightened his embrace, enough to effectively hold his little brother trapped. "If you're feeling up to it, now... so I can spend the rest of the time cuddling and looking after you."

"Yessir... Please now... I don't want it hanging over my head, Koro... just wanna be held and cuddled and taken care of by you..." Oliver whispered.

"I'll always do that, kid," Slade whispered, kissing his little brother's head before turning Oliver back over his knee.

"I'm counting on it," Oliver said quietly. As soon as he was over Slade's knee, he grasped his brother's leg and squeezed gently to let him know he was ready. He wasn't fighting.

Slade gently rubbed Oliver's bottom and thighs for a few moments before he lifted his hand, bringing it down in the first firm swat that he then repeated.

Oliver let out a hiss and then a tiny whimper but managed not to be too vocal. After all the difficulty he'd given his brother, he was determined not to fight until he wasn't able to help himself (he had no doubt he'd reach a point he couldn't help himself.)

Slade continued the firm smacks down to Oliver's thighs and then paused to rub his little brother's bottom. "You don't ignore me when I try to contact you, kid. When something's bothering you, no matter how small or unimportant you think it is, I expect you to tell me about it."

Oliver winced at that, his grip tightening slightly before he whined. "I didn't know what to say about it. I still don't know why I was feeling that way..." he admitted, in a tiny voice.

"It doesn't matter if you know why or not." Slade completed a second circuit of swats and then paused once more to begin rubbing. "You tell me so that you don't have to face it alone. So we can figure things out together."

"Okay... Okay, Koro..." Oliver choked out, beginning to squirm and cry enough that it was clear Slade was getting through to him, but still quiet. "Ev... even if I don't know why... I'll tell you..." he agreed, not as reluctantly as he thought he would have.

"You tell me everything, kid," Slade said seriously. "You let me help you... lean on me for support. I won't ever let you go. I won't ever let you down."

"I will..." Oliver all but promised. "I'll tell you, Koro. I'm yours!" He sniffled and slumped, partly because he was giving up to his brother and submitting already; partly because he was just so tired. He'd tried to hold out. He couldn't possibly see how he'd been punished enough, but he wasn't able. And maybe it wasn't his place to. Slade would know when he'd been punished enough; he shouldn't try and control it. Still... "I'm sorry, Koro," he choked out as he began to cry vocally; quietly, but still vocally.

Slade finished the spanking with a final two swats and then stopped, wasting no time in bringing Oliver into his arms, hugging his brother tightly. "I love you. I forgive you. I'm not upset with you," he soothed, kissing his brother's head and squeezing the nape of his neck.

Oliver continued to cry softly as he snuggled tight to his brother. "I love you, Koro... I want to be good for you... I want to be your good boy..." he whispered.

"You are my good boy." Slade squeezed the nape of Oliver's neck, tightening his hold. "I've forgiven you, kid. I love you. Nothing could ever change how I feel about you."

Oliver slowly relaxed at those words. He fully trusted what his brother was telling him. "Yours..." he whispered, before nuzzling against Slade's chest.

"Mine," Slade agreed. "For always. I won't ever let you go."

"What do you want me to do now, Koro?" Oliver asked meekly, all fight drained out of him from the spankings or the illness. Now that he had finally admitted he was ill and had stopped fighting letting Slade see, he was obviously very sick.

"Sleep... rest... is the first thing," Slade answered. "I won't leave your side. You're safe here, with me."

"Okay, Koro," Oliver agreed quickly... quietly. Closing his eyes, he snuggled close against the older man, obviously well on his way to falling asleep in Slade's arms.

Slade didn't try to make his little brother move, instead holding Oliver tightly, stroking his hair and back, squeezing the nape of his neck... every touch possessive.

"Dunno why I argue with you when all I really want is to be like I am now..." Oliver sighed softly, his breathing slowing and easing as sleep and the medication took hold.

"It's okay, kid," Slade murmured, kissing his head. "It doesn't matter how much you fight or argue. I won't let go."

"I know... just... you can take charge easily enough without my pushing..." His voice was sheepish. "I need you, Koro. I don't mean to be a brat..."

"You aren't, little brother," Slade murmured. "You push because you need to... and that isn't a problem."

"You're patient..." Oliver smiled crookedly before falling asleep.

Slade held his brother for a few more moments and then carefully moved Oliver into the bed, settling down next to him and just stroking his hair or the side of his face.


The illness didn't take long to settle in at all. They were all lucky they hadn't touched the meta, Caitlin thought. As it was, they had such a horrible version of flu symptoms, she couldn't help but wonder if they had been touched by him and just hadn't realized. She did her part, bringing medicine, food and supplies.

All of the guardians took care of their respective kids. Fortunately, none of the caregivers were infected with the virus and even though there were some instances of tempers getting frayed, for the most part, everyone did their best to cope.

Soon, the illness began to work its way out of their bodies. On what would be the final day of the quarantine, they all met in the main lab so Caitlin could draw blood and make certain the illness had run its course.

"I can vibe open a portal... get you all home..." Cisco said to Slade and Walter. It had quickly become apparent that Slade made the decisions when it came to Oliver's health.

"That sounds good, if you are well enough to do so..." Walter said, glancing toward Wells to see what Cisco's father thought of the offer.

"If you're feeling up to it," Wells commented, his tone of voice indicating he expected Cisco to tell him if he didn't.

"Currently, I feel like a million bucks. But if I get there and discover it was more than I could handle, I'm sure I could crash on someone's couch till I get my strength up again..." Cisco grinned.

"You'd be welcome to stay at mine if you needed to," Thea said.

"Thank you!" Cisco grinned. "Are we ready to go?" He glanced around the tiny group from Starling.

Slade nodded. "I think we've got everything we need..." He glanced at Oliver, Walter and Thea for confirmation.

"Actually, leaving with more than I arrived with." Oliver laughed.

Nodding, Cisco opened the portal to where he knew Oliver and Thea's cars were. "See you later, dad!" He waved and stepped through with the others. Once the portal was closed, he glanced to the older men. Do you need a vibe to your cars too? Or did Wally manage to catch you at home so you don't need to retrieve them?"

Walter smiled. "Mine is at home, so I will go with Thea."

"That's where mine is, too..." Slade said, as he'd gone to pick up Walter before Wally had shown up.

"Why don't you both come with us, then?" Thea asked Slade and her brother.

"I guess I can pick my bike up later..." Oliver smiled. "Wanna come have lunch with us, Cisco?"

"I think I will..." Cisco grinned. His father would be happier if he gave himself a break in between vibing.


Caitlin watched as five of the people in the lab left through the portal, then turned to look at the remaining three. "Could I catch a ride home with someone? I used a cab to get here because my car is in the shop..."

"I'll drive you," Joe offered. As he was now aware of how Wells handled things with Barry, he figured he'd give his son and brother a chance to clear the air between them.

"Thanks!" Caitlin smiled at the older man as she grabbed her handbag.

Barry waved at his father and friend as they left, before swallowing and turning toward his uncle. "I... I told dad. How you took care of me..." he said hesitantly.

"What did he say?" Wells asked, not sure if Joe was opposed to his actions or not.

"He said that ... well, to paraphrase; he doesn't believe he'll correct me that way himself unless it seems I need him to..." He blushed, since he was certain everyone had heard the other night and Wells would realize what that meant. "...But he's glad I trust you and feel comfortable enough that I can accept your help and correction too..."

"I see." Wells paused for a second and then, watching his nephew carefully, said, "You disobeyed both of us when we told you not to go after that meta."

Barry bit his lip and nodded. "Yes Sir..." he admitted, in a whisper, before looking at his feet in shame.

"I know your father took you in hand." Wells hesitated, waiting to see how Barry would respond; if his nephew thought Joe's punishment was enough, or felt that he needed to answer for his disobedience towards Wells.

"Yeah..." Barry swallowed. "Normally, he'd just lecture me, and his lectures are- they have the same effect as one of your spankings..." Barry looked down, then back up into his uncle's eyes. "...But I put everyone in danger because I didn't listen... again... and just felt so guilty that a lecture wasn't enough to... to..." He blushed. "...And I still feel guilty. Cuz he wasn't the only one I ignored, disobeyed. I did you too. Again. I feel like I put this huge chasm between us and can't bridge it and can only hope you can... that you want to..."

Wells reached out and gently grasped Barry's shoulder. "Of course, I do," he replied. "You're still my nephew." He began to guide his nephew through to his office.

Barry relaxed noticeably at his uncle's words. Even knowing what he was going through to the office for was a relief. Wells was going to bring him back and mend the rift Barry had caused and Barry couldn't help but be glad at it. "I love you, uncle Harry," he whispered. "And I'm sorry." He kept doing the same wrong thing over and over. He could only hope one day he'd learn.

Wells squeezed his shoulder gently. "I know, and I forgive you. I love you too, Barry." He sat down on his chair and gently guided Barry across his lap, settling him in place before he divested his nephew of his pants and underwear.

Barry didn't whimper as the cold air touched his backside. He let out a tiny sigh of relief. His uncle had him and would take care of everything. He reached down and held onto Wells' ankle. "Thank you..." His voice was soft.

Wells rubbed Barry's lower back gently. "No matter what happens, I won't stop caring about you," he promised. He lifted his hand and brought it down in a firm smack, delivering several more on top of the first before moving onto another spot.

Barry couldn't help but whimper when his uncle repeatedly smacked the same spot over, and over again. He may not have been swatting harder, but the cumulative effect was the same as if he had been. Even so, he didn't protest or tense up or pull away. He quivered slightly, whimpered and squeezed his uncle's ankle.

Wells continued swatting in the same pattern down to Barry's thighs and then began again from the top. Partway through the second circuit, he began to speak. "You know you shouldn't have disobeyed me...ignored me. We've dealt with this issue several times over."

"Yessir... we have... I know better..." Barry's voice was filled with regret and apology. "I don't know why I keep disobeying... I don't even think about it." This time, his voice was filled with irritation at himself. By this time, he'd lost the struggle not to squirm, the spanking having built up to the point his bottom burned. He was not trying to get away, though and in fact squirmed into a position where his uncle could smack his sit spots easier. He whimpered again. "Deserve to be spanked," he admitted in a choked voice, betraying how close to tears he was. "Was bad..."

"No. Not bad," Wells corrected, beginning to target more swats to his nephew's sit spots and thighs. "But you do need to stop disobeying me. It needs to be instinctual to do what I tell you when I tell you."

"What if it doesn't become instinctual? What if I never learn?" Barry choked out with a tiny sob.

"You're not stupid, Barry." Wells began swatting that bit harder and faster. "Maybe it'll take a bit of time for the lesson to stick... maybe you'll be in this position again... but you will learn."

"P... promise?" Barry's voice was desperately hopeful. He began to squirm frantically at the harder, faster swats on an already very hot and sore bottom.

"I promise," Wells replied, swatting a bit harder and faster. "Not just because you'll get spanked next time, but I believe you want to do better for me."

"I do!" Barry wailed. "I want to do so much better! I want to be good for you!" Barry sobbed, wriggled helplessly, then just slumped bonelessly over his uncle's knee. "I want to be good for you..." He continued to cry.

Wells stopped the spanking as soon as his nephew went limp and then began to gently rub Barry's back. He was getting better at giving the affection...but knowing Barry liked the back rubs, he thought he'd do that a bit first before moving his nephew into his arms.

Barry calmed almost immediately as he felt his uncle rubbing his back, his sobs ebbing to tiny sniffles and quivery breaths. "I am sorry, Uncle Harry," he whispered, in the most contrite voice he'd ever used.

"I know, and I forgive you," Wells replied reassuringly. "You don't need to feel guilty anymore. That distance? That gap? It isn't there anymore."

"Thank you..." Barry sniffled again. "...For bringing me back to you; not leaving me separate from you..."

"You're welcome." Wells gently rubbed his back. "I won't let you stay separated, Barry. I know... it's not always easy for me to say, but I do love you."

Barry started crying anew at those words, but it was a relieved, happy crying. "I love you too, Uncle Harry," he said in a small voice, almost childlike.

Wells continued the gentle, comforting touch. "And no matter what happens, nothing will change it," he promised.

Barry finally stopped crying, the comfort and the promise helping him calm the rest of the way. He lay quietly, just soaking in the affection, not moving. If Wells was ready for him to move, the older man would help him up. Otherwise, he was happy to stay where he was, even if the position did make him feel young and vulnerable.

Wells didn't halt the comfort, actually almost preferring this time, when he could be more open with his nephew. He knew they both found it easier like this, which was what prompted him to ask, "Is there anything on your mind? Anything you need to talk about?"

Barry thought about it. "Nothing really important or worrisome. I guess... everything has just been happening and happening and so little time to think and just be... I don't know. I... I know it isn't true; that I have all of you to help me and I'm not in it alone... but sometimes it just feels like if I don't act immediately that everything will fall apart and... And then I do things like today, where I'm in such a hurry to act and get things done that I completely ignore the people I should listen to most." He sighed softly. "Sometimes I wish I wasn't the Flash anymore. That I could go back to just being Barry Allen- Forensic guy. So many people need me now..." He slumped, wrapping his arms around Wells' leg and cuddling. "...Then I feel like I have to be the worst person ever, cuz I have this gift- this ability to help everyone- and I don't want it anymore..."

Wells continued to stroke and rub Barry's back with one hand, his other gently rubbing his nephew's backside and thighs. "There's nothing wrong with that. It's a lot of responsibility. Of course, there are times you'll have doubts... regret what happened. Wish things could be different. It's normal to feel that way."

"I... it's easier. Knowing I have you... and Cisco and Caitlin... Wally...dad...Iris..." Barry snorted slightly, laughing at himself. "I'm really very lucky. If I could stop feeling so overwhelmed..." He couldn't help feel like if he didn't let himself get overwhelmed, he might learn to listen better too, but he didn't say that.

Wells didn't stop the comforting touch, even as he commented, "You do have people who care about you... who are willing to stand by you. And if things get too overwhelming, you can always come to me."

"Just like I should come to you before I go running off after metas with no information at all... or listen when you tell me to stop..." Barry's tone was chagrined.

"Exactly," Wells replied. "You can rely on me for help."

Barry sighed softly again, not even attempting to move. He didn't know what it said about him that he found comfort in just laying over his uncle's knee being rubbed affectionately. Or that he couldn't seem to be as open and honest if he wasn't over his uncle's knee getting the affection. If he'd been facing Wells? He'd never have been able to admit feeling overwhelmed. He would have felt like he had to brave it out. "Would prolly be easier to do that if I didn't have a hard time admitting things. Only time I can just say whatever I'm feeling without feeling awkward or uncertain is when I'm... well... like this."

"Well, if that's the case, maybe we should start doing this more regularly. Not the spanking, but the position. If you find yourself more honest and open over my knee...that means I can help you more," Wells said seriously.

Barry swallowed and cuddled Wells' leg a bit more before answering. "I... I find it easier..." he admitted. "...Some things I can't say or talk about facing someone... facing you. Some things I don't feel comfortable talking to Joe about, but I know I can talk to you...if I can get it out anyway..."

"If that's what you need, that's what we'll do," Wells said gently. "You don't need to feel embarrassed or awkward."

"Thanks, Uncle Harry. I... it helps. Even if it's only for a little while, being able to just talk and not have to be... on... let you take care of me... it helps... " He squeezed his arms around Wells' leg.

He didn't mention that being over Wells' knee, bare-bottomed and in position to be smacked if needed, made him feel extremely young and childish. Mostly because if he admitted that, not only would he have to admit that was part of why it helped him- because he didn't have to act like a responsible adult and could just let Wells be the adult for the short time he had hold of Barry- but because, even if he could admit being over Wells knee helped him be honest, he wasn't about to admit being bared and spanked helped him too. (Beyond helping him deal with his guilt when he'd been naughty anyway).

"I'm glad," Wells replied honestly. "Because I want to help you. I care about you. And no matter what form that help takes... even if you think you should feel embarrassed about it... I promise you don't have to be."

"It's... it's a little hard not to be embarrassed... I'm a grown adult... married, even... but... having you hold me like this helps me a lot..." Since he was laying over his uncle's lap instead of sitting on it... and his clothes were still down around his knees... he figured that was all the explanation he really needed to give. Wells was a smart man.

"It isn't a problem," Wells said seriously. "Maybe you need me to be a little more hands-on... and that's okay. You're my nephew. Cisco's cousin. Part of my family. You don't need to worry or feel embarrassed. It makes me feel better to have that trust from you," he admitted.

Barry smiled. "Yeah... I... it helps me be honest... It also helps me remember I'm not meant to do everything alone. Other people can help. You'll help... if I let you. And sometimes letting you take lead works better than me trying to be in charge all the time..." He wrinkled his nose. "...Not sure I'm making sense." He sighed.

"I understand what you mean," Wells said. "As you said... you don't have to be 'on' all the time with me. And you have someone to hold you accountable... now two people, if I can't step in immediately with you at any point."

"Yessir..." Barry said softly, hugging his uncle's leg again. Part of him wondered if he shouldn't try and get up. He'd been lying there long enough to cause Wells' legs to fall asleep, he was certain. But despite his worries about being embarrassed and whether he should be or shouldn't be... the truth was, he wasn't embarrassed. Not really. He thought he should be, but deeper introspection told him he wasn't. He was comfortable. He felt safe and loved. He felt able to let go for a tiny bit and he was reluctant to give that feeling of ease up. He knew as soon as he was fully clothed again and standing, he'd be back to trying to carry the weight of the world; he wouldn't be able to help himself. Still... even if he was willing to lie half-clothed over his uncle's knee, inviting rubbing or smacking or both... there would come a point where Wells would need to get up and he didn't want the man to feel obligated. Sighing softly, he said, "...Maybe we can do lunch tomorrow?" It wasn't what he'd been planning to say. He'd been planning to say 'I guess I should get up now'. Why was he having such a difficult time of this? His arms were still wrapped around Wells' leg, for crying out loud.

"That sounds good to me," Wells agreed, fairly certain that hadn't been what Barry had planned to say. Continuing to gently rub and stroke over his nephew's back and backside, he continued, "If you're worried about making me uncomfortable... don't. I'm more than happy for you to stay like this for as long as you need."

"Even if it's for a long time?" Barry asked curiously. He knew he eventually needed to speed home to Iris- she was planning dinner for both of them, after all- but that was at least three hours away. As comfortable as he was in this position- and he was a bit surprised at how comfortable it was- he'd be happy staying until the last possible second before speeding home. That wouldn't be fair to Cisco, though. He'd have to make certain that the minute he felt secure and settled enough, he let his uncle know so that he could go home to his son, Barry's cousin.

"It doesn't matter how long it's for," Wells replied. "When you're ready and feel secure and settled, you can let me know. I imagine Cisco won't rush to leave Starling City," he added.

"Okay..." Barry said, in a small voice, and hugged his uncle's leg again. "...Love you, Uncle Harry..." he said softly.

"I love you too," Wells replied, without any hesitation, still continuing the gentle rubbing and stroking.

The End