Author's Note: This is what I like to picture happened at the end of the episode 'K-Town' from the show Dark Blue. I'm not going to take the time to recap the episode, but the show is about four under cover cops. Carter is the boss; Ty, Dean, and Jaimie are his three employees. In this episode Dean almost gets himself killed by not following Carter's orders. Written August 2009.

After K-Town

Carter was sitting in his car watching Dean's house. He'd been waiting for Dean to come home for a couple of hours now. As he waited, he couldn't help playing their last conversation over and over again in his head.

"When you meet with Lee, I want you to make the bust the second you see the counterfeit money."

"Okay, and what about the press?"

"Forget about the press. This dance has been going on too long. I want Lee and the funny money in the same room. That's good enough. Got it?"

Dean was silent, but the disagreement was written on his face.

Carter glared, "Is that a yes?"

"Yes."

Carter shook his head. That had been a clear order, and Dean had completely ignored it. Carter didn't want to admit it, but he knew Dean was getting worse. Ty had been warning him for weeks that Dean was spinning out of control, he just hadn't wanted to listen. He hadn't wanted to listen, because Dean got results, and results were almost as important to Carter as keeping his crew safe. But tonight Dean had nearly gotten himself killed, and Carter wasn't going to just let this one go.

Dean's car pulled up on the other side of the street, and Carter took a deep breath, trying to get himself mentally prepared to do what needed to be done.

Dean cursed when he saw Carter's car across the street from his house. Facing Carter and getting chewed out was inevitable, but he'd been holding on to a glimmer of hope that Carter would wait until tomorrow morning.

Dean parked and walked up to his house, refusing to acknowledge Carter's presence across the street even though he knew he was there. He went inside, left the front door open, and got two beers out of his refrigerator.

On his way in, Carter shut the door behind him. He refused to take the beer that Dean held out to him, and glared at him for a few seconds, trying to understand what was going on behind the mask of indifference Dean always wore.

Dean put the extra beer on the counter, and took a long drink of his own. He wasn't about to give Carter any kind of apology for what he'd done.

"What was that today?"

"That was me doing my job."

Getting into Dean's personal space, Carter yelled, "Your job is to do what I tell you to do!"

Instead of backing down, Dean inched forward so they were almost touching noses and yelled back, "My job is to catch the bad guys, and I'm damn good at what I do!"

"You almost got killed today!"

Dean's mind went back to that moment. The moment when he knew the deal had gone south, and he was about to be murdered. The only outward sign of his inner thoughts was a slight crease of worry in between his eyebrows that lasted less then a second. Then he shrugged his thoughts off, leaned back against the kitchen counter and said, "It's not the first time, and it won't be the last."

"That's where you're wrong. It was the last time."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You're fired," Carter turned and started walking towards the door.

Unexpected panic started to overtake Dean. He stood up straight and followed him a few feet. "What? What do you mean I'm fired? I'm the best agent you've got!"

Whipping back around Carter yelled again, "No! You used to be my best agent. Now you're a liability!"

"Making one error in judgement doesn't make me a bad agent!"

Carter shook his head with disbelief. "One error in judgement? You think this is just about today? This is about the past month! You helped torture that FBI agent almost to death. You're stockpiling more cash then you earn in a year, and you won't tell me where you got it. I have strong suspicions that you've slept with Jaimie, which you'd better believe puts us all at risk every time we're working a job. And then to top it all off, you completely ignored my orders today!"

As Carter was talking, Dean broke eye contact. His hands balled into fists at his sides, and his face blushed with emotion. When Carter brought up Jaimie, Dean's eyes flicked back for a second, before darting away again.

After a short pause, Dean glared back at Carter and said, "The FBI agent understood, and didn't press charges. I already told you that I keep that money to use on jobs. You're accusing me of sleeping with Jaimie with no proof. And I didn't ignore your orders, I assumed you'd want to change them after knowing things were going so well with Lee."

Carter leaned in close to Dean and said, "That right there is why you're fired. Our team can't function with two leaders, and you obviously aren't following my lead anymore."

Trying not to be intimidated and failing, Dean backed away a step. He could tell Carter was serious, and that trying to defend himself was only making things worse. He looked away and said quietly, "Okay, I admit I was out of line today, and it won't happen again."

"I need a team I can trust."

"You can trust me."

"You almost got killed today Dean! If we'd gotten there half a second later, you'd have a bullet in your head. All because you refused to signal us when you were supposed to."

Dean's chest felt tight. "Okay, so suspend me for a week, or put me behind a desk for a month. Don't fire me."

"I don't have time to keep one of my team out of rotation for an entire month, and a week of suspension won't put an end to your reckless behavior, it'll only postpone it."

Dean swallowed his pride and said desperately, "Please Carter, I need this job."

This was the moment Carter had been waiting for since he'd pulled up to Dean's house. He'd been prepared to fire Dean, but didn't think it would come to that, because he knew Dean needed this job, the same way Carter himself needed the job. Pretending to think about it for a second, Carter said, "There's only one way I'm letting you stay, and you're not going to like it."

Nodding in agreement before the sentence was finished, Dean said, "Okay."

Carter knew Dean wouldn't fight him now, even if he hated every second of what was going to come next. He put a hand on Dean's shoulder and said, "Over here," before steering them both towards the kitchen.

When they got to the kitchen table, Carter took Dean's beer out of his hand and put it on the counter next to the unopened one. Then he started to undo his belt as he said, "Bend over and put your hands on the table."

Dean froze, trying to process that statement; "You're joking."

Carter pulled his belt through the loops of his jeans. "I'm not."

"No!" Dean's face contorted in anger.

Shrugging, Carter started to put his belt back on and said, "Fine. I'll file your termination papers with the department tomorrow morning."

For Dean, the thought of losing his job was worse then the thought of Carter beating him. Dean back peddled, "No, just wait a minute. Can't we talk about this? Maybe I…"

Interrupting, Carter said, "No. No discussion. It's this or you're fired. Take it or leave it."

After a short pause to think about it, Dean shot a look of hatred in Carter's direction and muttered, "Bastard," before leaning forward and putting his hands on the table.

Once Dean was in place, Carter doubled the belt over in his hand, and said, "Stay down until I tell you we're done."

Dean refused to dignify that statement with a response. He heard the sound of the belt whistling through the air a split second before he heard a dull thwack, and felt the impact dead center on his butt. With a small grunt of surprise, he fought his instinct to get up and move his body away from the source of the pain. He was able to keep quiet for the next few swats, but it was difficult. His entire body was trembling with the effort to stay still and quiet. On the fifth swat, a groan of pain escaped.

Once Carter heard it, he paused and said, "I need to be able to trust you Dean. How can I trust you when you go behind my back to stock pile stolen money and sleep with your co-worker?"

"I told you why I'm keeping that money, and I didn't sleep with Jaimie!"

Carter walked around to the other side of the table, and leaned down slightly so he could look Dean in the eye. "Is that right?"

Feeling slightly sick to his stomach at the thought that Carter might have some kind of evidence that he was lying. He stood up and said, "Yeah that's right."

Pointing at the table Carter yelled, "I told you to stay down!"

Glaring, Dean bent down and put his hands back on the tabletop.

Shaking his head in disappointment, Carter said, "Looks like we have a long way to go still."

Walking back around the table, Carter said, "If you were keeping that money for the job, you would have told me about it instead of hiding it until Ty's life was on the line. And I saw your face when I brought up Jaimie. You can deny sleeping with her all you want, but your face told me what I needed to know."

Dean shook his head slightly, desperately wanting to deny it, but knowing now that it was futile. When the belt landed on his ass again, he grimaced and hissed in pain. For the next six swats, Dean grunted out noises of discomfort and frustration.

Carter stopped and said, "I'm looking for honesty and confessions here Dean. I won't be able to trust you to be a member of my team again until you come clean about the things you've done. Ready to change your statement?"

Hanging his head slightly, Dean went against his nature and said quietly, "Look, I wasn't planning to ever use the money. I just… I liked knowing it was available."

Thinking that was a much more honest answer, Carter said, "Good. And Jaimie?"

"Jaimie and I had a fling. It didn't mean anything. She's still with Scott."

Carter's voice was laced with disappointment as he said, "Even if she was throwing herself at you, you should have kept it in your pants."

Thinking about the way Jaimie's face had looked when he'd shown up on her doorstep a few hours earlier, Dean nodded once in agreement. "It won't happen again."

Carter believed him, and left it at that. "What about the FBI agent?"

Anger crept into Dean's voice; "I don't know what you want me to tell you. I did everything I could to make sure he stayed alive."

"I want to make sure you still see value in human life. If you don't feel it in your gut every time you see someone tortured or killed, then you need to look for a new career."

Turning his head to look at Carter, Dean said with hurt in his voice, "How can you ask me that? Of course I still feel it."

With a nod of acceptance Carter said, "Good, because I still feel it too, and watching you almost get shot in the head today…"

Carter turned his attention back to Dean's ass with a grim expression, and started spanking him again.

Focusing back on the table top in front of him Dean tried to take it like a man, but the belt was hitting skin that already hurt, and the pain was too much. Dean grunted through the first six swats, and then cried out, "Okay, I get it! Ow! I said I get it damn it!"

Carter stopped and said, "What do you get?"

Voice rough with pent up emotion, Dean said, "I'm sorry I didn't listen to you. No more going off and doing my own thing without asking."

Walking around to the other side of the table, Carter leaned down to look Dean in the face. "You'd better mean it Dean."

Nodding vigorously, Dean answered, "I know. I do mean it."

Carter scrutinized Dean for a few seconds to see if he thought he'd really gotten through to him or not. Dean added, "I swear we're not going to have this problem again."

"If we have to go over this again, I'll suspend you for a week before I take a belt to you."

"We won't have to go over it again." Dean desperately wanted Carter to believe him.

"Okay then, you can get up," Carter said as he put his belt back on.

Dean stood with a wince. Carter walked over to him and put a hand on Dean's shoulder, squeezing it gently. "Why don't you take tomorrow off? We'll see you Friday morning."

Understanding that this was Carter's way of telling him things were back to normal between them, Dean nodded and said, "Okay, I'll see you Friday."

Carter patted Dean's shoulder once before turning and letting himself out.