Author's Note: Pre series. This story was written quite a while ago for a writing prompt challenge I hosted on my website. I'm currently hosting another Writing Prompt Challenge for any author who'd like to join. The link can be found on my profile page, and here is a spelled out link to my website.
www (dot) ficwriter (dot) com
John pulled up to the house and breathed a sigh of happiness thinking about Mary waiting for him. He had been gone for what seemed like months, but was in reality only two weeks. He looked at the dashboard clock and felt some disappointment as he realized Dean was probably already asleep. He got out, pulled his duffel bag out of the trunk, and headed to the front door with a smile and a warm feeling of being home.
Before he could reach for the doorknob, the door opened. Mary's smile was as big as John's was. "Welcome home."
John walked in, dropped his duffel on the hallway floor and picked his wife up while giving her a big hug. "I missed you."
He set her back on her feet, and they kissed. Slightly breathless Mary said, "I missed you too."
He kissed her again and then let her go, shut the door, and picked up his bag. "Is Dean asleep already?"
"He tried so hard to stay awake for you. He finally fell asleep about an hour ago. He's on the couch 'waiting up' for you. I'll take your bag, you carry him up to his bed."
Handing the duffel to Mary, John headed into the living room to see three year old Dean sleeping while propped up in a sitting position in the corner of the couch. Smiling softly he walked over, and gently picked up Dean along with his blanket and headed up the stairs. He lay Dean down on his bed, and pulled the covers over him and whispered, "It's good to see you too buddy. I missed you." Dean slept on peacefully as John walked out and went to find his wife.
He had been on the road for the past four hours and decided to stop at the bathroom on his way to finding Mary. He walked in and saw a book on the floor in front of the bathtub. Leaning down to pick it up he realized it was the paperback book he had been half way through before his trip, and he realized it was sitting in a puddle of water. He picked up the soggy book and could tell it was wrecked. Annoyed, he threw the book away and got a towel down and wiped up the floor.
After using the toilet, he went downstairs to the laundry room with the wet towel and ran into Mary who was starting a load of the dirty clothes he had brought home. She smiled at him and said, "Did he wake up?"
"Nope. Still sleeping like a log."
Mary turned the washer on and turned back towards John. "Why don't we go sit on the couch and you can tell me about your trip."
John said, "Did you see what happened to my book?"
"I had left a paperback book on the shelf in the bathroom next to the tub, and I just found it on the floor in a puddle of water. I had to throw it away."
"That's a shame, you'll have to buy another copy I guess."
Mary took his hand and led him to the living room couch. "Tell me about your trip. It was so hard not to be able to talk to you for the whole two weeks."
They sat together and she rested her head on his shoulder as he put an arm around her. He said, "It was a good trip, but it was hard not to talk to you too. I wanted to head home half way through, but… well a promise is a promise."
"A promise you made years ago." John could hear the annoyance in his wife's voice.
Sighing he said, "Are we gonna have this argument again?"
Mary remembered the night before John left.
# # #
Mary's voice was raised, "It would be one thing if you wanted to go, but you said you didn't. Or was that just a lie?"
"Of course it's not a lie. I don't see why you're so upset about this, it's only the second time I've gone, and you didn't get angry the last time I went."
"That was before Dean was born."
"And what if I had to go away for work?"
Tossing her hands in the air with annoyance, "It's not for work!"
John crossed his arms and gave her a look that clearly said she was being childish. "I have explained this to you before Mary. We got married when I was in the Marines, so you know how much these guys mean to me. We fought together, and saved each other's asses more then once. We made each other a promise to get together at Mike's cabin at least once every five years no matter what, so that we don't lose track of each other. So even though I hate leaving you and Dean for two weeks, I am going."
"I just don't see why you can't make it a week, or better yet, get together somewhere more civilized and close to town where there's a phone near by. It's not that I can't deal with being alone, I can, it's just that you don't seem to want to go, and I'm going to miss you."
John leaned down and kissed the top of her head. "I'm gonna miss you too."
She pushed at him with a hand to his chest and said, "Don't kiss me. I haven't forgiven you for going."
Rolling his eyes John said, "I haven't even left yet."
She crossed her arms and said, "Fine. Finish packing and leave us. See if I care."
"You're acting like Dean when he doesn't get his way."
Refusing to dignify that with an answer, she walked out of the room to go see what was on TV that she could distract herself with while plotting revenge.
# # #
With a slight pout Mary said, "No. I'm done arguing about it."
For the next hour they caught up on what each had done over the past two weeks. As Mary was half way through explaining her week John interrupted and said, "Could you hold that thought for a second while I go raid the refrigerator? I was so anxious to get home I skipped dinner."
"There's some leftover spaghetti. I could warm it up for you."
"That would be great. Thanks."
Mary went into the kitchen and John followed. Mary was getting containers out of the refrigerator when she heard a low-pitched, "Damn it."
She turned and saw that John was standing by the telephone and looking at the stack of bills that was on the counter. She put the containers down and got out a plate and watched John out of the corner of her eye. He picked up the bills and started looking through them.
After she put a plate in the microwave, she turned and saw that John was holding the bills up for her to see with a very unhappy expression on his face. She could see crayon and marker scribbles all over the bills. John said, "How did this happen? Dean's three, you can't just let him have markers, and then not watch him. That's irresponsible."
Mary crossed her arms and said, "Well I'm sorry that you think I suck so much at parenting."
Clenching his jaw, and trying to keep his anger in check John said, "I didn't say that at all."
"No you just implied it."
Waving the bills at her he said, "I can't even read some of these numbers now. It's just sheer luck that there isn't marker all over the kitchen walls too. When did this happen? Did you even know about it before right now?"
"I'm not talking to you."
John watched with growing frustration as Mary walked out the door. An irritated grunt came out of his throat as he looked through the rest of the bills, and inspected the counter top for marks.
A few seconds later the microwave bell sounded, and he went to get his food. He ate alone at the kitchen table and started feeling bad about what he had said. He thought about the times that he had watched Dean when Mary was out, and he knew how easy it was to turn your back for a second only to find the toddler into something he shouldn't be in. He finished his food, rinsed his plate, and went to go find his wife.
As he walked into their bedroom he could hear her in the master bathroom taking a shower. He undressed and put on an old tee shirt and some pajama pants to sleep in. As he was about to sit down on the bed he realized he hadn't locked the front door. He put a foot into one of his slippers and yanked it back out as he felt something gush. He sat on the bed and inspected the light brown goo on his sock. He muttered, "Peanut butter?"
He reached down and picked up the offending slipper and looked inside. He could see a quarter of a peanut butter sandwich stuffed up inside the toe of his slipper. He heard the water go off in the bathroom. He set the slipper down on his nightstand, and got the other slipper off the floor to inspect it. After finding it sandwich free, he set it down and took off the peanut buttered sock. He looked at it and thought about things until Mary came out of the bathroom wearing a nightgown.
He looked up at her and said, "Hey honey, I'm sorry about what I said earlier. I know how easy it is to lose track of the little guy."
She gave him a sweet smile and started walking towards him. "It's okay. You just got home, I don't want to fight."
She sat down next to him on the bed, and he showed her the slipper, "Guess what else the little monster has been up to."
Mary frowned at the sandwich inside the slipper. Not wanting to start another argument, but feeling like this was important John said, "I can understand Dean knocking a book off the shelf and into some water on accident, and I know Dean doesn't know the difference between color book pages and bills, but this is deliberate."
Mary shook her head no and opened her mouth, but John held up a hand and said, "Just hear me out. I know he's only three, but he certainly knows that sticking a sandwich in someone's slipper is wrong. We can't let this go. I think in the morning I should show this to him, and I'm sorry to say I think he should get a few swats."
Mary glared at John and said, "Don't you dare."
Trying to get Mary to see his side of things, John said, "I know you don't believe in spanking, but you know that I do. I'm not talking about some huge traumatic thing; I'm talking about a few swats for clearly naughty behavior. If we don't do something to show him that we won't put up with this, he's just going to keep it up."
Mary said with finality, "You will not strike our child John."
John shook his head not liking that answer. "So what do you suggest we do about this?"
"Just let it go. Dean won't even remember it in the morning. It's a little peanut butter. It will wash out."
Giving her a look of disbelief John said, "You're not giving him enough credit if you think he's not going to remember it. We are going to do something about this, one way or another. If you're that set against spanking, then I'm going to talk to him about what he did, and then make him stand in the corner for a time out."
Mary, sounding slightly desperate, put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Come on John, can't you please just let it go? I mean Dean has missed you so much, and it's going to break his heart if the first thing you do is punish him."
Feeling guilty about it already John looked down at the sock in his hand, and set it on the messy slipper. He said, "I'm sorry Mary, but I won't just let this go. I'll hate it as much as he does, but I'm sending him the wrong message if I just let it go."
Mary crossed her arms and said, "Why do you have to be so stubborn?"
John wrapped his arms around her in comfort and didn't say anything. After a few seconds Mary asked in a quiet voice, "You won't change your mind about this?"
Closing her eyes, and wondering why things never turned out the way she planned, Mary whispered, "It wasn't Dean."
John let go of her for a second and said, "What?"
Mary stood up, backed away a few paces, and willed John to understand as she started rambling an explanation, "You were gone for two weeks, and I kept thinking that you didn't really want to go, but left us anyway just to keep some stupid promise. And Dean was a handful the whole time you were gone, and even cried for you a few times. And the longer you were gone the more upset I was that you had left. And then I found out….. Well…. I just… I just thought you might be less inclined to leave next time if it was obvious things didn't go as smoothly around here when you were gone."
John sat there in disbelief for a few seconds as he watched his wife fidget and turn pink when the silence stretched out between them. Trying to make sure he had understood her correctly he asked, "You stuffed a sandwich in my slipper?"
Giving him a nervous glance she said, "Yes?"
"You colored on the bills, and you dropped my book in the water?"
"Well…. uh…. Maybe?"
Silence stretched out between them for a few seconds, and then Mary heard what sounded like a cough from John. She looked over and saw he was having a hard time not laughing. She glared, "It's not funny!"
John broke down into loud laughter at that. She crossed her arms and refused to look at him. A few minutes later once John was able to quit laughing, he got up and walked over to her. He put his hands on her shoulders, and she looked up at him with irritation. He was smiling as he said, "You are a brat."
He kissed her forehead and said, "You framed your three year old in an attempt to irritate me. What would you call someone who did that?"
He lost some of his smile and said, "I think you're the one in need some behavior modification."
John got a firm grip on one of her arms and pulled her towards the bed. "What? John what are you….?"
Sitting down on the edge of the bed, he pulled Mary over his lap. She gave him a nervous, "John?"
She lost her nervousness as she felt the first few swats, which weren't particularly hard, and said with disbelief, "You can't seriously be spanking me. You know how I feel about spanking."
"And you know how I feel about spanking."
The swats got slightly harder but still weren't hard enough to actually hurt. For the next few minutes the only sounds in the room were dull thuds of hand smacking bottom through cotton fabric.
Mary was too surprised to do much at first. But once the swats started to build on top of each other, and she could feel the beginning of a sting on her behind, she said, "I can't believe you're doing this!"
John paused in his swatting and said with humor in his voice, "I can't believe how childish you were."
She squirmed to get up, but he got a better grip on her and said, "Oh no, you're not going anywhere until we've got a few things cleared up."
Mary muttered, "This is so ridiculous."
He said in a stern voice, "Tell me why I'm spanking you young lady."
Rolling her eyes Mary answered, "Because you're bigger then me and you can."
John brought his hand down in a much harder swat.
"Ow! Hey, that one hurt!"
"I've always been bigger then you, and I've never spanked you before, so tell me why I'm spanking you."
"Hmm… nice offer, maybe later. For now answer the question."
"Because you can't take a joke."
John frowned at that, and then reached down to lift Mary's nightgown up and out of the way of her bottom. As soon as she felt the nightgown going up she said, "Okay, okay! You're spanking me because you think I've been childish."
"I want you to think about this and be honest with me. If I had said I was going to let it go with Dean, would you have even told me you were the one who did those things?"
Mary bit her lip wanting to lie, but found herself unable to in this moment. "No."
John slapped his hand down on her panties repeatedly as he said, "You know very well that what you did was wrong. You wanted to get my attention with these pranks? You wanted to make sure I would know how unhappy you were that I left? Well you got your wish."
Not liking the increased sting, and especially not liking the things John was saying, Mary gave him a slightly whiny and at the same time apologetic, "Joooohn, it's not like that."
Sounding droll John kept swatting and said, "Oh really, then what's it like?"
Mary slapped at his calf a few times and said, "That's enough John."
"You don't sound repentant at all to me, so obviously it's not."
Wiggling from the increased pain Mary said, "It's just that….Ow…. I was really upset… because…Ow….. Because I'm pregnant, and you weren't here when I found out!"
Stopping in mid swing, John whispered, "What?"
After taking a deep breath now that the swats had stopped she said, "I'm pregnant, and you're a jackass."
Flipping Mary over so she was sitting on his lap instead of across it, he put a hand on the side of her face and said with a gentle smile, "Really?"
Feeling less then happy with his treatment of her she said, "Yes you're really an ass."
Ignoring that, John put both his arms around her and hugged her close. "We've been trying for so long. Are you sure?"
Still upset, but feeling somewhat mollified now that she was being snuggled instead of smacked she said, "I'm sure."
They sat quietly for a few seconds and then John said in her ear, "I'm sorry I wasn't here when you found out."
"It's okay." she lied.
"What can I do to make it up to you?"
After a few seconds thought she answered, "Watch Dean all day tomorrow while I do some shopping?"
Chuckling John said, "So I'm supposed to reward your bad behavior with a child free shopping spree?"
Mary pushed at him until he let her go. She turned herself in his lap so that they were face to face, and she was straddling him. She smiled sweetly as she said, "Yes."
He raised an eyebrow at her. Her smile grew, "If you want me to forgive you for beating your poor pregnant wife that is."
John gave a long suffering, "Oh brother."
Knowing he would have felt somewhat guilty about it even if she hadn't phrased it that way, and knowing he would have let her shop tomorrow while he watched Dean no matter what, she laughed. She pushed his chest until he lay down on the bed. She leaned down on top of him and teased, "I'm going to hold this one over your head for years to come."
Leaning up to kiss her John smiled, "As long as we're together, I'll be happy to let you hold it over my head for the next twenty years."
She felt a rush of love for him with those sincere words. Looking in his eyes she said, "I love you."
He said, "I love you too." and pulled her down to him for another kiss.