Bastian walked into the kitchen after school to find his father sitting at the kitchen table. This was unusual as Barney worked as an engineer and was usually at work still. Something was up and Bastian had a feeling he wasn't going to like it at all. He had good intuition and could tell when something was afloat.

"Hi. What are you doing home so early?"

"We need to chat. I have some important news that I want to share with you and I want to hear how you feel about this. During lunchtime I went out and bought a ring for Jane. I want to ask her to marry me."

Bastian's face fell. Was his dad for real? He was going to ask that woman to marry him? He wanted her to be family along with Nicole. Didn't his father understand how much he despised them? How he constantly felt like she was trying to replace his mother? Oh no, this was not going to happen. Not if he had any say in it.

"Why? Why do you want to marry her? She isn't right for you. She isn't good for you. And don't get me started on Nicole. That girl is trouble at every turn."

"I thought you would be happy for me. I guess I was wrong. Bastian, I love her and I want to make a life with her and Nicole and you. I want us to be a family. I want you to have a family again."

"I do have a family, Dad. I have you. Isn't that enough? Aren't I enough for you? Why do you need more? Why do you need a wife and step-daughter?"

"Bastian, I am tired of being lonely. I just want to feel normal again. I want to have a wife to love. I want another child to raise. Your mother and I always talked about giving you a brother or sister. But then she got sick and it wasn't in the cards for us. Now I can fulfill those dreams."

"I don't care. I don't want a sister. I don't want another mother. I just want it to be the way it is. Just you and me. Why can't that be enough?"

It felt to Bastian like his whole world was falling apart. He refused to believe that this was happening. But he knew it was. And he knew his father well enough to know that once he made up his mind there was nothing Bastian could say or do that would change it. Well fine, so be it. That didn't mean he had to make it easy for his dad. He could be a real brat when he wanted to be and he was going to be one real quick. He'd make his father regret this decision.

"I won't have you marrying her. I won't, I won't! I hate her and I hate you!" Bastian stomped his foot as he said this to his dad. And then he slammed one of the kitchen chairs into the table.

"You knock it off this minute. You are much too old to be behaving like a child. I will not tolerate temper tantrums. Go to your room!"

A few days had passed since Bastian's outburst about the news that his dad was going to remarry. He had asked Jane to marry him and much to Bastian's dismay she had said yes. Bastian still refused to accept that she would be his step-mom and that Nicole would be his step-sister.

That night Jane came over for dinner. Barney could feel the tension in the room as Bastian looked at the soon to be "new mommy" as he had taken to calling her. She was no mother unless he used the term in the most derogatory way that he knew how. And he knew that if he voiced that out loud his dad would kick his butt. So he wisely shut his mouth.

"Where's Nicole tonight," Barney asked Jane.

"Oh, it was her father's weekend with her so it is just the three of us tonight. It will give us time to discuss the plans for all of our futures. I am so excited to start this next chapter with the two of you by my side."

"Whatever". Bastian could not stand to hear this woman gush about the future. She was so sickening.

"Lose the attitude buddy. I will not have you being rude."

"Fine. I'll go set the table and leave you two alone to chat."

Dinner that night was not how Barney envisioned it. Every time Jane asked something of Bastian or tried to engage him in conversation she was met with a stone wall of silence or an attitude. Barney's patience was wearing thin really fast. His son better shape up or he was going to be in severe trouble.

"You better start acting your age or I will treat you the way you are acting. Stop being rude and answer Jane's questions. You have better social skills than this."

"Why the hell should I answer her questions? She comes in here like she owns this house. This is mom's house, not hers. I don't want her here. I don't want her for a step-mom. But none of you care or give a shit about what I want."

"You are skating on thin ice pal. I will not tolerate that language in this house. Apologize immediately."

"I will do no such thing. All you care to do is screw this whore. All she cares to do is spend your money. Stop thinking with your dick and start thinking with your head. Are you that hard up for sex that you would marry anyone to have it regularly?"

"ENOUGH!" Barney roared. "You are out of line. Apologize to Jane right now. I will not tolerate this behavior or these outbursts. I swear to God, if you do not start acting like the teenager that you are I will spank you like the child you are acting like. Now apologize. IMMEDIATELY!"

"No! I have a right to say what I am thinking. She is a whore. She's divorced. Probably couldn't keep her panties on and her legs closed. You ever ask her why she is divorced. Or asked the ex? I bet the story would be nothing like the sweet lies she has told you."

"Why do you hate my so much, Bastian? What have I done to you to make you call me such horrible names? Why can't you be happy for the two of us? Are you that selfish that you wouldn't want your dad to be happy?"

Jane asked these questions quietly as tears rolled down her face. There was a part of Bastian that felt a little guilty for making her cry but not enough to care or stop his rant. He hated this woman down to his core and he would make sure she knew it. With any luck she would decide not to marry his dad because she didn't want to take on the responsibility of having such an out-of-control step-son.

"Shut up bitch! Stop acting like you are all innocent. You aren't. You're just trying to replace my mom and take my dad away from me. I HATE YOU!"

"That's IT!I have had it! I told you that if you were going to act like a child I would treat you like a child. Go upstairs to your room and wait for me. I will not have you acting this way. And if I have to beat this attitude out of you, so be it."

Bastian sat on his bed in tears waiting for his dad to say goodnight to Jane and come up to his room. He knew he had gone too far this evening but he couldn't even muster up any contrition for his actions or words. Yes, he had acted like a child throwing that tantrum. But it appeared no one cared what he wanted. He just wanted it to be like it used to be. He just wanted his mom back.

Finally, he heard footsteps on the stairs as his dad made his way to his son's room. There was a light knock on the door and then the knob turned. He always wondered why his dad did that. He knocked but never waited for a response before entering. He supposed it had to do more with warning him he was entering rather than asking for permission to enter.

"Dad..I.."

"I don't want to hear it. You were out of line and rude. I cannot even begin to imagine what has gotten into you or where you even thought you could get away with this behavior. I know your mother and I did not raise you this way. I told you if you acted like a child you would be treated like one. Well I wasn't just giving you lip service."

All the while as Barney was saying this he had sat down on Bastian's bed. Bastian feared what was coming next.

"If you are going to be a child you shall be punished like one. Drop your pants and over my knee. You are getting a spanking for this."

"But Dad! I am too old for spankings."

"You didn't think you were too old for temper tantrums. I don't think you are too old to go across my knee. I will not repeat myself. Over my knee now."

"Yessir."

Bastian dropped his pants and boxers to his ankles and lay across his father's lap. His face was beet red as the embarrassment of the situation registered in his mind. How had he gotten into this mess? He was bare bottomed over his daddy's lap like a toddler.

WHACK! His dad's hand landed on his upturned bottom really hard. "OW! That hurt." "It's supposed to hurt." And with that statement Barney lit into Bastian's butt with all the force he could muster. He was fuming mad and he knew he probably should have calmed down before administering the punishment but he truly did not care whether he hurt his son's butt or not. Tonight Bastian had hurt the woman that he loved and truth be told, he was hurt too. Didn't Bastian understand that marrying Jane was for his advantage too? No child should grow up without a mom. And Barney knew that Jane couldn't replace Bastian's mother but she was a good substitute in her absence.

The spanking went on for over ten minutes. Bastian's butt was bright red and the boy was sobbing his heart out. His father finally stopped and let him up. Bastian pulled up his clothes and tried to regain some of his dignity.

"Son, I love you a lot. I am marrying Jane because I love her. I will never love her like I loved your mom. Your mom gave you me and that is the most precious gift of all. When your mom died it felt like I was dead inside too. Each morning I dragged myself out of bed for you alone. You were my salvation and for a long time the only reason I had to live. And then one day it didn't hurt so much. I felt like I could breathe again. And I was lonely. I had you but I missed the companionship of a woman who shared my goals and hopes and dreams. I met Jane. And for the first time since I met your mother I knew that I could love someone and be with them the rest of my life. I'm not marrying her because I want to replace your mom. I am marrying her because your mother would want us to be happy and to move on."

"I don't want you to move on. I just want mom back and things to be the way they were. I am never going to get over her death. It eats me alive each day. I sob each night for her. I just don't understand. I don't understand why she had to go or why we can't be enough for each other. I'm your son. I should be your top priority."

"You are my top priority. I just want to spend my life with her. Some day you will go off to school and I would be all alone. Is this what you would want for me?"

"I don't know. I don't want you to be alone but I don't want you to marry either. It is not Jane, per se. It is all women. I don't want you with anyone but mom."

"I wish that I could change all of this but I can't. This is how it is. I have made up my mind and as much as I know it hurts you I am marrying Jane. You are just going to have to come to terms with that. As for the rest of your punishment…You are going to apologize to Jane the next time you see her. You will also write her a nice letter and explain what it is that is bothering you. You are also grounded for the next month. You will not leave this house without my permission and only to go to school and necessary doctors' appointments. If you want a new book to read you better check it out of the school library. Am I making myself clear?"

"Yes sir. I understand."

"Good, now get ready for bed. You have had a long night."

After Barney left Bastian sat down gingerly on his bed and sobbed some more. His dad found him the next morning with his face in his pillow and the same clothes on from yesterday. Bastian had cried himself to sleep. Barney sighed and not for the first time in his life looked up to the sky and prayed to his dead wife to guide him in what to do. A peace washed over him and he knew it might be a long journey but things were going to work out just fine.

The end