"Free Fall: An Epilogue"

Summary: Richie feels REALLY guilty.

Author's Note: I always thought they left things hanging at the end of this episode, so I decided to write my own ending. Companion to "The Road Not Taken: An Epilogue".

Warning: spanking of eighteen year old. Don't like, don't read.

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I just wrote this story for fun.

The drive back to the store was a silent one. Duncan still too upset by the fact that he'd allowed himself to be almost taken in by Felicia; not to mention he was more than a little upset with Richie for not listening (AGAIN!) to his advice to stay away from the Immortal seductress. The boy, who sat dejectedly beside him, had not said a word since uttering his "Mac, I'm sorry" earlier on the beach.

Arriving back at the store, they both wordlessly got out of the T-Bird and headed up to the loft. Richie immediately retreated to his bedroom and Mac went in search of Tessa. He found her in their bedroom, crying.

"Tess," he said, gently wrapping his arms around her, "shhh, everything is all right now."

Tessa leaned into his embrace, overjoyed that he was safe. "Did you…" she left the question hanging.

"I started to," Duncan told her, "but Richie begged me not to."

Tessa nodded. "Is he all right?" she asked. Despite the hurtful things the teenager had said to her earlier, she still loved him and didn't want anything to happen to him.

Duncan sighed. "I know he's feeling guilty," he told her, 'but other than that, I'm not sure."

Tessa looked at him in confusion. "Did you not talk to him about what happened?" she asked, concerned.

Duncan grimaced. "I was still too upset after the fight," he explained. "Besides, I wouldn't know what to say. You'd be better going and talking to him." She always seemed to be able to get right to the root of what was bothering the boy, when with him he'd just clam up.

Tessa sighed. "I-I can't," she told him, gently. What the boy had said to her still echoed throughout her mind and she didn't think she could face him just yet.

"Why not?" Duncan asked her, concerned. Something wasn't right here? "Did something happen you didn't tell me about?"

Tessa bit her lip, knowing he wouldn't like what she had to say. She had only been able to give the barest of explanations when Duncan had come in earlier. Just enough to give him Felicia's message and what it meant if he didn't show up.

"Love?" Duncan probed his deep brown eyes boring into her.

Sighing, Tessa told him about the conversation she and the boy had; as well as what Richie had told her.

Duncan looked about ready to spit fire. "How dare he?!" he exclaimed, outraged at the boy for saying such an awful thing to her.

"He didn't really mean it, Duncan," Tessa told him.

"That's no excuse, Tess," Duncan told her, standing up. He started pacing, trying to determine how to handle this situation.

"You know," Tessa told him, gently, "I remember saying something similar to my mother when I was Richie's age."

Duncan stopped pacing and looked at her. "What do you mean?" he asked, curious.

"Well," Tessa told him, "she and I were arguing about my boyfriend at the time—as it turned out I should have listened to her, but that is beside the point—anyway, I remember I told her that I was young and it didn't matter so much what happened in the future. I told her at least I had a future…unlike her." She grimaced, remembering the hurt look on her mama's face.

Duncan came over and sat down beside her. "I bet your father wasn't too pleased," he said. Jean Noel had a temper, which his daughter had inherited; luckily, he had never been on the receiving end of it.

"That would be putting it mildly," Tessa told him. "He told me that if I EVER talked to her again like that he'd turn me across his knee and spank me!" She blushed, embarrassed.

Duncan's eyebrows shot up to his forehead. "Now there's an idea," he said, referring to situation with Richie.

"Oh, Duncan," Tessa told him, "I'm not Richie's mother! Besides, he is a victim in all of this!"

"Maybe so, love," Duncan told her, "but he still didn't listen to either one of us when we told him to stay away from her. She may have seduced him, but he ALLOWED her to do it…and as we saw he wasn't putting up too much of a fight."

"He's so young," Tessa reasoned. "He just didn't think!" It was funny, a couple of days ago she was getting onto the boy for just that and now she was defending him for it!

"Oh, he thought all right," Duncan said, darkly. "He just did his thinking with his hormones instead of his head. I thought I'd gotten through to him the last time, but I guess he needs another reminder." He got up and walked over to her dressing table. He picked up her wooden-handled hairbrush.

Tessa sighed. Perhaps, it was for the best. At least the boy wouldn't have to feel guilt anymore once Duncan was through with him. "You will talk to him, won't you?" she asked, hesitantly.

Duncan smiled. "Of course I will," he told her, sincerely. "I love him, too."

Tessa kissed him. "I know," she said. "I'll be in my work shop." With that, she turned and left the room.

Duncan watched her go, and then a determined look found its way onto his face. Hairbrush in hand, he strolled out of their bedroom and into the living room. Setting the brush on the coffee table, he called out, "Richie! Get your butt out here!"

A few moments later, the teenager made his way out to the living room. His movements were hesitant, not certain what to expect from the angry Highlander. "M-Mac?" he asked, wondering if the man was about to tell him they were kicking him out. The first thing he saw when he entered the living room was the hairbrush, and he froze right there on the spot. Uh oh!

"Come here, Richie," Duncan told him, pointing to the sofa. "We need to have a talk."

Gulping, Richie came and sat down. Almost unconsciously he winced; remembering the last time Mac had a "talk" with him that involved Tessa's hairbrush. He waited for the man to start speaking, but his eyes stayed on the hairbrush the entire time.

Duncan took a moment to study the boy's worried, anxious face and decided it was best to talk first. "Why, Rich?" he asked, a pained look on his face.

Richie looked at the man, confused. "What?" he asked, not sure what the Immortal was asking him?

"Are you not happy here anymore, Rich?" Duncan asked the boy. "Is that why when the first pretty face to offer says "run away with me" you went? Has either Tessa or I done something to make you not want to live with us anymore?"

Richie bit his lip, guiltily. "No," he answered, honestly. "That wasn't it, Mac. I-I just got caught up. I mean, no girl has ever come onto me that strongly before and i-it felt so nice!" He smiled, remembering the night he'd spent with Felicia. He also then shudders, remembering how she'd looked a few hours ago on that beach.

Duncan nodded. "She's had centuries of practice at seduction, Rich," he told him, gently. "So, instead of using your head to think things through all the way you allowed your hormones to do your thinking for you. Is that it?"

Richie refused to look at him. "Yes, Sir," he said, guiltily. There was no use denying it. He had, and it had nearly gotten both Mac and Tessa killed. Not to mention he didn't know HOW he was ever going to face Tessa again after what he'd said to her.

Duncan sighed. "Well, Tough Guy," he said, "it looks like you need another reminder to keep your head focused and your feet glued to the ground."

Richie winced, remembering him using those same words the last time. "You mean…" he left the question hanging, but he nodded his head at the hairbrush.

Duncan nodded. "Bring it to me," he ordered, gently.

Knowing he deserved what he was about to get, Richie grabbed the hairbrush and handed it to the Scotsman. Duncan took it, but then ordered, "Drop the blue jeans, Rich."

Richie froze in horror. "M-Mac, no!" he begged. "Not that!"

Duncan's face, however, had hardened. "You can keep the shorts," he told him, "but the jeans come down. Now!"

Biting his lower lip, Richie reached and undid his blue jeans. Unfastening them, he lowered them down past his hips. His face was flaming with embarrassment now.

Duncan took the kid's arm and gently lowered him over his knees. "You could have been killed tonight, Rich," he told the boy. "You're safety matters to both me and Tessa. We want it to matter to you to." He then raised the hairbrush back and brought it down across the slightly exposed backside, hard.


Richie gasped, amazed at how much different a layer of clothing could make. Last time, the first swats had sent a tingling heat through his butt. This time, it skipped that and went right to the warm burn. He bit his lip, harder.


Richie started squirming. The burn was now a sizzling crackle and more than a few tears had escaped his eyes.


His butt was on fire now. A sob had begun to form in his throat and he was trembling trying to hold it in.

"It's almost over," Duncan whispered to him, raising his hand back one final time.


With those last smacks delivered, he tossed the hairbrush aside and allowed the boy to cry over his lap for a little while. He rubbed soothing circles into his back, murmuring softly to him the entire time. When his sobbing lessened, he let him off his lap and helped him to fix his jeans back into place. Standing up, he pulled the boy into a hug.

"I'm so sorry she hurt you," he apologized to the boy. "She was after me all along."

Richie nodded. "She was a B," he said, angrily.

Duncan chuckled at that. "You said it," he said, then looked at him seriously. "You know, you owe Tessa a big apology. Don't you?"

Richie grimaced. "Yeah," he said, quietly.

Duncan lifted his chin. "She's in her workshop," he told him, turning him around and sending him off with a light shove.

Richie gulped, but headed that way. He didn't know why, but having to face Tessa was far worse than the blistering Mac had just dealt him. Which seemed odd to him?

"Tess?" he inquired, coming into her workshop.

She looked up at him from where she was sketching. "Yes, Richie?" she asked, smiling encouragingly.

Richie took one look at her and started crying again. "Oh, God!" he said. "Tessa, I'm so sorry! I-I…" He faltered unable to even get out the proper apology he owed this kind, caring beautiful woman whom he had come to care about very much.

Tessa went to him and wrapped her arms around him. "Apology accepted," she said, kissing his cheek. They held onto to each other for several long seconds, simply enjoying each other's presence.

A throat clearing got their attention. "Everything all right now?" Duncan asked them, smiling.

Richie grinned. "Aside from my butt hurting," he said, shrugging. "I guess it is. Right, Tess?"

Tessa smiled at him, amazed at how quickly the boy could bounce back after such an ordeal. "Yes," she said, happy that both her men were safe, sound, and home. "Everything is just perfect."

Duncan grinned. "Then let's go out to eat," he said. "My treat."

Richie's face brightened even more. "I'll go grab my coat," he said, rushing out of the room and back upstairs.

Duncan rolled his eyes, and Tessa smiled. "It seems he is back to his old self," she said.

"Would we have him any other way?" Duncan asked her, smiling.

"Never," she said, smiling back.

"Come on, guys," Richie called out to them. "Let's go. I'm starving!"

Laughing, the couple went to join him. There family was once again safe and whole. That was reason enough to celebrate.

The End.