Leigh's eyes widened in surprise when she saw Daddy arrive to pick them up after school. Since he'd been unavailable that morning, she'd assumed he'd caught a case, and Uncle Gibbs would probably be returning pick them up. She had been counting on that. She had already gotten things settled with Uncle Gibbs. There was no need for explanations. As far as Uncle Gibbs was concerned, it was over and he'd already forgiven her. Daddy was another story.
Picking up her book bag, she walked stiffly to the car. Though the initial sting from her spanking had long since faded, she was still very sore. Not only that, but her legs were sore and achy from spending the majority of her day sitting on her knees to avoid sitting on her sore and burning bottom. She went to the back door without hesitation. For once, she didn't even argue with Katie about who was going to sit up front. At the moment, she didn't want to be any closer to daddy than she had to be. She opened the door and stopped, eyeing the seat warily. She tossed her book bag in the car with a sigh but still made no move to sit.
"Get in," Tim ordered.
Not daring to argue, Leigh obeyed, moaning and wincing as she did. Even if she got in more trouble, she'd be glad to be home and get out of these stupid shorts. The skirt alone wouldn't have been so bad, but the shorts were so tight it was impossible to move without them rubbing her sore skin. It had been absolutely miserable day. Sitting hurt no matter she did, and most of her classmates kept giving her strange looks all day. Either they were curious as to what was going on, or they knew perfectly well and were smug. Katie definitely fell in the smug category. She'd been giving her 'I told you so' looks all day, as if she didn't already know what an idiot she'd been.
And now, on top of all that, she had to face Daddy. Her stomach knotted at even the thought. Daddy was going to be furious.
Tim watched Leigh covertly in the rearview mirror. The kid was clearly miserable, squirming and shifting almost constantly, brows knitted with worry. He thought about putting her out of her misery then and there, but he knew the best place for their discussion would be private. For now, all he could do was get her home.
When they finally made it home, after what to Leigh had seemed an eternity, she vaulted out of the car practically before it stopped. She heard daddy calling after her, and Katie asking if she wanted a snack, but she didn't stop. She didn't want a snack. She didn't want anything. She just wanted everybody to leave her alone. She ran to her room, stripped off her shoes and shorts, and flopped face down on her bed, still in her school uniform. She wasn't stupid. She knew Daddy would be in before long, and it was going to be bad, very bad, but she just couldn't face him yet.
Tim watched Leigh run off into her bedroom and sighed. He thought for a moment about going after her but decided against it. If he knew his daughter, and he knew both of them pretty well, Leigh wanted to be alone right now. He went into the kitchen and fixed Katie a snack, chatting with her about her day. Katie, as usual, was pretty unflappable and chattered on cheerily, but it didn't escape Tim's attention that she kept glancing toward the bedroom door where Leigh had fled. Finally, he sighed, pushing himself up off the counter and heading down the hall. Best get this over with, for all their sakes.
The knock on the door was soft, but Leigh jumped as though she'd been stung. Her heart raced, and she prayed with all her might that he wouldn't spank her again. She knew the rules, and she had gotten in trouble at school. She knew what that meant, but she was so sore already. She hoped against hope that Daddy would let that be enough, but knowing how mad he was likely to be, she doubted it.
Tim came over and sat beside her on her bed. "I hear you've had a rough day," he said quietly.
Leigh turned toward him, startled that he wasn't launching into a lecture already, and nodded.
"Tell me about it," Tim said, reaching out to rub her back gently.
The unexpected gentleness undid her, and before Leigh knew what was happening, the whole sordid story came pouring out.
"Leigh Anne," Tim scolded. The words were stern but very quiet, and the lack of volume made them all the more devastating.
"I know, Daddy," Leigh said, uncharacteristically subdued. "I'm sorry. I know it was rude and disrespectful, and I shouldn't have done it. I already apologized to my teacher. Uncle Gibbs made me do it in front of the class."
Tim winced in sympathy. He wasn't so old that he didn't remember just how hard that would've been at Leigh's age. But what he said was, "Well, you were rude in front of all of them, weren't you?"
Leigh dropped her head. "Yes, sir."
"Then that's fair, don't you think?" Tim asked.
"Not really," Leigh replied, pouting.
"Why not?" Tim questioned, surprised. For all Leigh's headstrong nature, she was generally pretty fair-minded.
"I'd already been spanked," she grumped. "That was punishment enough."
Tim just shook his head. That argument wasn't even worth having.
"Daddy?" Leigh spoke up before he could speak again. "Are you going to spank me too?"
Tim caught her eyes and held them for a long moment. He hadn't worked with Gibbs all these years without learning a little bit of his technique. A moment after the silence began to be uncomfortable, he replied, "Not this time." Leigh's whole body slumped with relief, but he didn't comment. "Uncle Gibbs told me he already handled it, and this time, that's enough." He waited a bit. "But Leigh, if this ever happens again, I will. Understood?"
Leigh's eyes went wide as saucers. "But Daddy... not that I plan on doing it again... but Uncle Gibbs said he'd let them paddle me at school and he'd paddle me. Does that mean you'd spank me to?"
Tim raised an eyebrow. "What do you think?"
"But Daddy..." Leigh began, only to close her mouth again at that absolutely implacable look on Tim's face. "I guess that means I better not get in trouble anymore," she said.
Tim nodded. "Yep." He opened his arms then, and Leigh practically flew into them. Wrapping his arms around her, he asked, "Are you okay now?"
Leigh nodded, lip poking out in a slight pout. "Uncle Gibbs spanks hard."
Tim had to fight hard to keep from laughing. "I know," he told her. "Trust me, I know."