Highlander

"Sticky Fingers"

Summary: At the Opera, Richie gives in to a small temptation…it's just one little diamond bracelet. What could it hurt? Right?

Author's Note: Quick little story that came to me while re-reading Melanie Riley's "A Symbol of Love"—for about the thousandth time.

If you haven't ever read it, do so. It's awesome. (Highlander's Seventh Dimension Website).

Warning: Spanking of eighteen year old. Don't like. Don't read. 'Nuff said.

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.

Seacouver, 1992

The Opera.

A lot of singing.

A lot of big chested women.

A hell of a lot of jewels just asking to be snitched.

Richie had thought he'd done pretty good not giving into the itching in his fingers at the sight of all those sparkling baubles—at first.

He supposed he could always blame Mac and Tessa for the predicament he was now in.

They were the ones who had made him dress in a monkey suit and taken him to the Opera in the first place.

"It'll be a learning experience," Mac had told him, practically tossing him into the Mercedes earlier that evening.

"I've had lots of learning experiences," Richie had protested, vehemently. "Seriously, why do I gotta go?"

"Because we said so," Mac told him, bluntly. "Happy?"

"Not even close," Richie had grumbled. "Don't go blamin' me if people stare at us if I fart too loudly or something."

Mac snorted at that while his better half looked utterly horrified at such a statement.

"Richie," Tessa had scolded him, firmly. "Don't even think about it!"

Richie smirked. "Well…when you gotta, you gotta…know what I mean?"

"Yes, we do," Mac told him. "And if you gotta, you better hope it comes out quietly."

"Or what?" Richie challenged, curiously.

Mac smirked evilly. "Or else," he told him, simply.

Richie sighed, resigned to his fate. "This sucks."

"You'll like it," Tessa assured him. "You'll see."

She had been wrong.

He'd hated it.

Except for the pretty blonde girl with the great looking…cones...in the second act, that is.

She'd been pretty hot, he had to admit.

After the show, they had insisted visiting with a few friends.

That was when his fingers had started to itch.

It hadn't improved his mood any when a waiter asked them if they'd like champagne and Mac had slapped his hand when he reached for one.

"He'll have a coke," he'd told the waiter, firmly.

"Sorry, man," the waiter, who looked about nineteen or so, whispered to him. "Sucks, I know."

"You said it," Richie had agreed, smirking.

He'd gotten his coke and drank it while Mac and Tessa butt-kissed some wealthy snobs whom he figured must have some expensive old junk…antiques, they called them…and mentally tallied up just how much dough he could get for the pricey tid-bits around their wrists and necks.

He'd resisted the itch to snatch one or two…until this rather snotty woman made a comment to Tessa regarding bringing the 'help' to the Opera.

Mac had looked ready to go for his katana and Tessa had informed her in no uncertain terms that what they did with their employees was their business and she could mind her own damn business, thank you very much.

Richie had felt proud that his friends would stick up for him like that, but still had wanted to get back at the woman.

So, he had ever so slightly relieved her of the diamond bracelet on her over-plump wrist.

Mac and Tessa had been speaking to another rich snob and hadn't see him—for which he was thankful.

He had been afraid living the good life was making his thieving skills rusty, but apparently they were still in tact.

Unfortunately, the moment he snatched it, he felt his stomach knot up with guilt.

He'd given Mac his word that he wouldn't steal anymore.

In fact, Mac had told him in no uncertain terms (after he'd tried to steal his foster-care records that time), "Steal anything else while you're living under this roof, Rich, and I promise you won't be able to sit for a week after I get through with you. Got me?"

He had laughed at the threat, certain the Immortal had to be joking.

He was eighteen, after all.

An adult, by law.

Unfortunately, the look on Mac's face had told him just how serious he was.

He quickly tucked the bracelet in his pocket and followed the couple out to the Mercedes.

As they drove home, he reached in his pocket and felt of the bracelet.

What should he do?

Try and fence it?

Toss it?

Maybe, even, return it?

That was out of the question.

The old bat would no doubt call the cops and have him arrested.

But…

Mac and Tessa would go ballistic if they found out.

They might even ask him to leave…

Richie felt his heart plummet into his stomach.

Way to go, Ryan, he berated himself, you just ruined the best thing that ever happened to you.

He lay awake all night trying to figure out what to do.

After they had gotten home, he'd went straight to his room.

He'd stared at the bracelet for hours—hoping against hope that it'd just disappear.

It didn't and he had to figure out what to do with it.

Fencing it wouldn't be too hard, he reasoned.

He still had a few connections back in the 'hood.

But…that ran the risks of bringing the cops into it.

He sighed.

He knew what he had to do.

He had to tell Mac what he'd done.

It was the right thing to do.

No matter what the Immortal did to him, afterwards.

When had he grown a conscience?

He didn't used to have this problem before he moved in with Mac and Tessa.

He didn't used to have three square meals a day, a nice bed to sleep in, and two people who actually cared what happened to him, either.

Sighing, he grabbed the bracelet and headed for the office.

Thankfully, Tessa had gone out to procure a possible commission for a statue so he wouldn't have to deal with her as well as the Immortal.

Mac was in the office, doing invoices.

From the sounds of grumbling and cursing, he wasn't having much luck at it.

Computers and Mac didn't mix well.

Richie normally would have kidded him about it, but figured now wasn't the time.

"It'd better be life or death," the Immortal growled at him, without even turning around.

Richie swallowed. "It is," he said, quietly.

Mac turned to look at him, raising an eyebrow.

Richie took the bracelet from his pocket and laid it in front of the Highlander on the desk.

Mac stared at it and then looked up at him; an eyebrow raised. "Where? When?"

"The Opera," Richie said, quietly. "Last night."

"Mrs. Ferranti?" Mac asked, knowingly.

"Yeah," Richie mumbled, not quite looking him in the eye.

"Why'd you take it?" Mac asked next, his voice carefully controlled.

Richie could tell…because his accent was just the slightest bit thick.

That didn't happen unless the man was upset…or pissed.

Richie would have bet it was both, in this instance.

He shrugged in answer to his question. "I was pissed."

"And you think that makes it right?" Mac asked him, curiously.

"No," Richie admitted. "I know it was wrong."

"You knew it was wrong when you took it, Richie," Mac said, knowingly.

"Yeah," Richie said, hanging his head. "I'm sorry, Mac."

"You're taking it back," Mac stated, firmly.

Richie's head flew up at that. "I can't!"

The Immortal's dark brown eyes bored into his own wide blue orbs. "Yes, you can," he stated, firmly, "and you will."

"She'll call the cops," Richie pleaded. "I'll go to jail!"

"All actions have consequences, Richie," Mac told him, heartlessly.

Richie felt tears in his eyes, and he looked down to hide them. "I know."

Mac sighed. "I'll take you," he told him. "We'll say you found it."

Richie frowned. "You won't let her call the cops?" he asked, stunned.

"No," Mac assured him.

"Why?" Richie asked, curiously.

"Because if anybody is going to punish you for this, Rich," he told him, seriously. "It's gonna be me."

"P-Punish?" Richie stuttered. "B-But I'm eighteen…"

"Thanks for the reminder," Mac told him, standing up. "Let's go upstairs."

Richie swallowed, again. "Why?"

"We have something to take care of before we go to visit Mrs. Ferranti," Mac told him, picking up the bracelet and pocketing it.

Richie hesitantly followed him out of the office and up to the loft.

"Mac?" he questioned. "What are you gonna do?"

Mac stopped and glanced at him, his intense eyes boring right into him.

"I made you a promise," he told him, simply. "I always keep my promises."

Richie eyes widened as he realized what he was referring to. "Uh…can't we talk about it?"

"No," Mac said, simply. "Sit down on the couch, Rich. I'll be right back."

Richie sat on the couch, wincing as his butt made contact.

He had a feeling it was going to be awhile before he'd be able to sit comfortably…

A week, in fact.

Mac had said so and as he was learning...a MacLeod always kept his word.

The Immortal reentered the living room, carrying something.

Richie groaned when he saw it was Tessa's rather large, rather thick, wide-backed wooden hairbrush.

He sat it on the coffee table and then sat down across from Richie.

"You gave me your word, Rich," Mac told him. "Remember?"

Richie nodded, feeling again ashamed of himself. "I know," he mumbled. "I'm really sorry, Mac."

"Sometimes, sorry isn't enough," Mac told him, sternly. "It isn't that you stole the bracelet that upsets me. It's that you did it after giving me your word that you wouldn't. That hurts."

Richie gut twisted inside him.

The last thing in the world he had ever wanted to do was make this man lose faith in him.

He respected Mac like he'd never respected anybody in the whole wide world.

He was his boss, his friend…his…well, he wasn't really his father, but he sometimes liked to think of him like that.

"Mac, I…" Saying sorry just didn't seem right now.

Mac stood up, picking up the hairbrush as he did so.

Richie followed him up, standing nervously to his feet.

"Drop you pants, Rich," Mac told him, gently yet firmly, "and then bend over the back of the couch."

Richie swallowed, but walked behind the couch and undid his jeans.

"Do I gotta drop my shorts, too?" he asked, hesitantly.

Mac thought about it. "No," he told him. "Just the jeans, Rich."

Richie nodded, sliding his jeans down and then bent forward over the couch.

Mac placed one strong hand on his back and he automatically tensed in preparation.

"Never be afraid of me, Richie," Mac told him, rubbing his back comfortingly. "I couldna bear it if you were scared of me, lad."

"I trust you, Mac," Richie told him, sincerely, "Even if you are about to make grass out of my ass."

Mac chuckled. "You'll be sore, Tough Guy," he promised him, "but I think you'll live."

"As long as I still get to live here," Richie muttered, "that's okay."

Mac's hand stilled.

"Richie," he spoke, his voice…odd. "Look at me, Richard."

Richie winced at the use of his full name and he glanced over his shoulder.

"Nothing you do will ever make me kick you out," Mac assured him, firmly. "Never, do ya hear me?"

Richie swallowed. "You mean it?"

"Have I ever lied to you?" Mac asked, raising an eyebrow.

"No," Richie answered, truthfully.

"There you go," Mac told him. "I love you, Rich. You drive me crazy sometimes, but I never stop loving you. And I never will. Your apart of mine and Tessa's family. Now and forever."

Richie felt tears sting his eyes and quickly looked away, embarrassed.

Mac chuckled. "I guess we'd better get it over with, huh?"

Richie snorted. "Yeah, let's do that."

Mac smiled, despite the situation.

Raising the hairbrush back, he brought it down across Richie partially exposed rear end with a sharp thwack!

Richie hissed at the sting it inflicted, and gritted his teeth as more sharp smack followed that first one.

Mac obviously intended to keep his promise, and he wasn't leaving any part of his butt out of this 'learning experience'.

By the fifteenth thwack, Richie was hurting and close to tears.

Another five, and he couldn't take any more.

"Mac, please," he gasped out, his voice nearly breaking.

"Almost done, pal," Mac told him, and then proceeded to yank Richie boxers down to his thighs.

Richie hissed as the last five thwacks were delivered to his very (sore) bare backside.

They were the hardest of the lot and they caused his control to slip.

The tears started falling and he couldn't stop them.

Mac tossed the hairbrush down on the couch and fixed his clothes.

Up righting him, he turned him around and grabbed his chin firmly.

"I hope you really got it this time, Richie," he told him, sternly, "because if I find out you've stolen something else…"

"I won't," Richie shook his head through his tears. "I swear, Mac."

Mac nodded, believing him. "Good," he told him, and then promptly pulled him into a great big bear hug.

Richie returned the hug, feeling every inch like a little kid rather than an eighteen year old.

His butt hurt like hell…but he no longer felt guilty.

That was a huge relief...more or less.

"Okay, Richie," Mac told him. "Go wash your face and let's head over to Mrs. Ferranti's."

Richie wrinkled his nose. "Can't we just mail it to the old bat?" he asked, hopefully.

Mac raised an eyebrow at him.

Richie sighed. "That's what I thought," he grumbled, sourly, and went to do as he was told.

"Hey, Rich," Mac called after him.

"Yeah, Mac?" he asked turning back around.

"Next time you get sticky fingers," he told him, "sneak a glass of champagne, instead."

"Won't that get my butt busted?" Richie asked him, curiously.

"No," Mac assured him.

"Really?" Richie asked, disbelieving.

"Yep," Mac told him. "It'll just get you grounded for a month."

"Ah, Ma-ac!"

The end.