Highlander

"Status Symbols"

Summary: Richie gets 'busted'…in more ways than one. Sequel to 'Kid Status'.

Author's Note: I'm working on many, many stories at the moment…but I'm trying to post only when they are completely finished. That's why they'll probably be long pauses between stories—so, please, be patient. Thanks.

Warning: There will be a discipline (spanking) scene in this story. Don't like? Don't READ!

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I just wrote this story for fun.

Freedom.

It was such a simple word, but one with a lot of meaning.

And after spending two weeks in solitary confinement (a.k.a. his room) Richie Ryan had never felt its meaning more.

It had been two weeks, eight hours, and some odd minutes since the night he had come stumbling into the loft at one in the morning—completely smashed out of his head.

His employers/guardians/jailers, Duncan MacLeod and Tessa Noel, had not been impressed with him—to say the least.

They had effectively put him back on kid status—meaning he now had to tell them where he was going, who he was going to be with, and they told him when to be home.

It sucked—BIG TIME—but at least he knew they only nagged him because they cared.

When he'd been younger, and in foster care, he had wished someone would care that much about him…but no one ever had.

His little 'stunt', as Mac had called it, had earned him a two week grounding.

That meant going no where but from his room to work his shift in the antique store below the loft and back again.

The two weeks were now up, however, and he was once again a free man—if not completely a free agent.

Despite the fact he was an adult under the law, Mac and Tessa felt that if he was to have adult freedoms—such as coming and going as he pleased—then he needed to prove he was ready for them.

Coming in at one o'clock in the morning, drunk, was not going to cut it.

Not by a long shot.

Not to mention that he had not only been drunk, but that he had also driven while he was drunk.

Yeah, Mac was not at all pleased about that.

In fact, he had informed him in no uncertain terms that if he ever did it again (drink, much less drink and drive) he'd bust his butt.

And Richie didn't believe for a minute the Immortal Highlander couldn't—or wouldn't—do it, either.

If there was one thing he had come to know very well about the four hundred year old Scotsman, it was that he always kept his word.

"Richie!" Tessa's voice called from the living room, as he was putting the finishing touches on his ensemble.

Since he was once again free, he was going to go hang out with a bunch of the guys.

Maybe they'd go cruisin' for some girls…

"Comin', Tess," Richie called out, checking himself out in the mirror. He smirked at his reflection. "I'm so hot, I'm smokin'!"

With that, he headed out of his bedroom (a place he had come to know quite intimately in the last two weeks) and out into the living room where Duncan and Tessa were waiting.

"Yeah?" Richie asked, as he entered. "What's up, guys?"

"Nothin', Rich," Duncan told him, smiling. "How does it feel to be free man?"

Richie gave him his 'million dollar' smile.

"Terrific," he told them. "I'm going out to celebrate with a few of the guys!"

"That's fine," Duncan told him, grinning. "So long as the celebration ends before 9:00 o'clock."

Richie frowned at that.

"Nine? C'mon, Mac, you can't be serious," he told him, snorting. "Nothing good happens before nine!"

"Never the less," the Highlander told him, firmly. "Your butt better be back in this loft by nine…otherwise, it's mine. Got it?"

He gave Richie the 'Look'—the one he reserved for evil Immortals…and teenagers who tested his patience.

Richie gulped, wide-eyed. He hated when Mac did that.

"Uh, right, nine it is," he said, smirking nervously. "Does that mean I gotta go to bed at nine? 'Cuz, I think I may be a little too old for a bedtime."

"Of course you don't," Tessa chuckled. "We simply want you home at a decent hour, that's all."

"You do have to work first thing in the morning, remember?" Duncan reminded him, firmly.

Tomorrow, he and Tessa were going to be away for the morning at some snooty estate sale so Richie was going to take the morning shift in the shop and the Highlander would take the afternoon.

"I remember," Richie told them, "and don't worry—I won't screw up."

He went and gave Tessa a peck on the cheek. "See you guys later."

Duncan grabbed his arm, regaining his attention before he dashed out the door.

"Rich," he told him, seriously. "Don't disappoint me."

Richie swallowed. "I won't, Mac," he told him, sincerely. "I swear."

The Highlander nodded, giving his arm a pat.

"Go on then, lad," he told him, nodding toward the door with a large smile on his face. "And have a good time…"

"Always," Richie said and headed for the stairs.

"…but not too good a time!" Duncan called after him, after he was half-way down the stairs.

"Yeah, yeah," Richie yelled back up, heading out to his waiting motorcycle in the back alley.

Tessa glanced at Duncan. "Should we be worried?" she asked him, curiously.

"Always, love," Duncan told her, chuckling. "But we also have to trust he'll make the right decisions."

"And if he does not?" The French beauty arched an eyebrow at him.

A scowl descended on the Immortal's [ageless] face.

"Then," he told her, darkly. "He can deal with the consequences."

Highlander*****Highlander*****Highlander

"Yo, Ryan!" Gary, one of Richie's oldest friends, greeted him as he joined their little posse at one of their favorite haunts. "Where you been, dude?"

"Yeah, Rich," another buddy, Ricky, mock punched him on the arm. "Haven't seen you around in a couple of weeks, man!"

"Those slave drivers working you to death or what?" a third friend, Tony, asked as he took a swig from what was obviously a can of beer.

"Yeah," Richie said, laughing. "Man, I ain't never been so busy—I thought I was gonna be put in the hospital for being overworked!"

The others all laughed at this, of course, just like he hoped they would.

There was no way he was going to tell them the truth.

They'd never let him here the end of it if they knew he'd been grounded and now had a curfew.

The terms 'Grounded' and 'Curfew' were status symbols, after all.

Only kids got 'grounded' and had a 'curfew'…

Only kids needed to be on a leash—more or less…

Only kids couldn't be trusted to look after themselves…

And Richie definitely did not want his friends to know that as far as Mac and Tessa were concerned he was still a kid.

Telling the guys was definitely out—especially since a couple of them thought he was going soft on 'em as it was.

"Hope you asked for a raise?" Gary told him, holding out a can of beer for him. "Here you go, man."

Richie automatically started to reach to take the can from him, but then hesitated.

Mac had made it very clear he was not to drink until he was twenty-one…but surely one beer wouldn't hurt him, right?

It'd be off his breath by the time he went home…so there was no way Mac would ever find out. Right?

Gary frowned at him.

"What's wrong, Rich?" he asked, holding up the can. "It's only beer, man."

Knowing he'd look like the biggest dumbass in the world if he didn't, Richie did so.

"W-Where'd you manage to get it?" he asked him, curiously.

Gary was only a year older than he was, after all.

"From my old man, of course," Gary snorted, rolling his eyes. "What's with you, dude? It ain't like we haven't swiped his beer a thousand times before."

"Yeah, Rich," Ricky said, laughing. "What'd you think? We knocked over a store or somethin'?"

"Not that we haven't before," Tony reminded him, laughing.

"Nah," Richie laughed nervously. "Nothin' like that. It's just…won't your old man be pissed?"

"Probably," Gary told him, shrugging. "But who gives a damn? S'not like he can do anythin' about it, right?"

"One of the perks of bein' nineteen," Ricky said, smirking. "The 'rents' can't do a damn thing to yaw anymore."

"Not that you have to worry about that anyway, Ryan," Tony said, laughing. "You sure are one lucky bastard!"

"Uh, yeah, real lucky," Richie said, scowling down at the beer in his hand.

He didn't feel so damn lucky at the moment…

"You gonna drink that or stare at it all night?" Gary asked him, snorting.

He popped the top of his second beer and took a long swig.

Sighing, knowing they'd nag him 'til he did, Richie popped the top of the can and brought it up to his lips…

Mac is so gonna kill you for this!

…and took a long swig.

The beer was bitter—the way he usually liked it—and it burned a bit as it went down his throat.

"So, what are we going to do tonight?" he asked the guys, hoping he could distract them from the fact he wasn't really drinking much.

"We could go to the arcade," Ricky suggested.

"Or the movies," Tony put in. "There's a new Arnold flick out."

"Or," Gary said, smirking, "we could head over and catch the show at Tops and Bottoms."

Richie spewed his beer out—all over Ricky's face.

The other teen began swearing up a storm, but Richie didn't care. He was focused solely on Gary.

"A strip joint?" he asked, wide-eyed. "Are you crazy, man?"

"No," Gary said, frowning. "It ain't like we haven't been there before…"

"You guys may have been, but I haven't," Richie reminded him.

"Well now's your chance to go," Gary told him, slapping him on the back. "The girls there are pretty awesome, Rich. We might even get lucky tonight."

Richie felt his stomach drop out of him.

If Mac, but especially Tessa, ever found out he'd gone to a strip club…

Pearl Harbor would look like a minor thing in comparison!

"What's a matter, Ryan?" Tony taunted him. "Don't got the balls to go?"

"It's not that big a deal, Rich," Gary told him, smirking. "My sister is working there—she owes me for not rattin' her out to the folks. She'll get us in to watch the 'show' and then back out again."

"Maybe he'd rather go to Dicks instead?" Ricky chortled, snickering.

Dicks was the all male strip club just down the street from Tops and Bottoms—but only women (and gay men) went there.

Richie felt his face heat up—his temper rising.

"Up yours," he told them, snorting. "I ain't afraid of nothin'…or nobody."

Except a maybe a Scotsman who happened to carry a large sword wherever he went…and his well-developed, powerfully swinging, sword arm.

"Prove it," Tony taunted him, chuckling.

Richie's face reddened even more and he took a long, deep swig of his beer—polishing off the rest of the can in almost a single gulp.

Crunching the can in his fist, he tossed it aside and said, "Let's go."

Nobody called him a 'wuss' or a 'coward' to his face.

He just hoped and prayed Mac and Tessa never found out about this.

He wouldn't have to worry about what the guys thought of him then, if they did…

Highlander*****Highlander*****Highlander

9:30 PM.

The clock on the mantle chimed the time gently as Duncan began pacing back and forth…

Once again it was because of a certain pre-Immortal teenager who had wrapped himself rather effectively around his heart.

"He's gonna feel my hand connecting with his butt when he gets home," he muttered darkly to himself.

Tessa came into the living room from where she had been drying the dishes from their dinner.

She bit her lip, glancing at the clock. Richie was thirty minutes late past his curfew.

But surely he wouldn't deliberately break it—not on his first night out—would he?

"Mac," she said, hesitantly. "Do you think…?"

He stopped pacing, the glare on his face telling her exactly what he thought.

"I think somebody is in very BIG trouble when he gets home," he told her, angrily. "He stood right there and gave me his solemn word, Tessa!"

"I know," Tessa said, sadly. She walked over and put her arms around him. "Maybe he has a perfectly good explanation?"

"He had better," The Immortal growled, angrily. "Otherwise, I might be tempted to use my father's approach!"

Tessa winced. Duncan had told her a little bit about his childhood in the Highlands of Scotland in the 1500s.

His Clan was a piteous one, superstitious, and easily willing to accept anything as the work of Satan—even misbehavior in their children.

As Clan Chief, Ian MacLeod had been determined to raise his 'foundling' child up in the tradition of the clan—and that meant taking his leather kilt strap to his son's naked backside whenever he did something that either disappointed or displeased him.

Duncan had said he was a very active child and youth, very brash and impulsive—not unlike another teenager she could name—which meant he had gotten into more than few scrapes.

These led to him and his father having a rather 'heated' discussion out in the barn.

"You wouldn't really," she told him, gently. She knew him better than that.

Duncan's nostrils flared. "Maybe not," he said, snorting. "But I damn well might take a paddle to him!"

Tessa snorted. "We don't even have a paddle," she told him, giggling.

"I'll be sure to buy one while I'm out," Duncan told her, pulling away and grabbing his jacket off the back of the sofa.

"Where are you going?" Tessa asked him, worriedly.

"To look for him," Duncan told her, firmly. "I'm not going to wait 'til one in the morning again, Tess."

"Be careful," Tessa called after him, as he started for the stared. "And, please, control your temper!"

He turned back to her, smirking.

"The night air and drive should help cool it down," he told her, gently. "He'll be in one piece when I bring him home, love."

Tessa nodded.

"But for how long after that," she wondered, quietly to herself.

She really did hope Richie had a good excuse for being late.

Otherwise, Duncan was liable to take his belt to him...

Highlander*****Highlander*****Highlander

Richie didn't enjoy the 'show' at Tops and Bottoms at all.

Oh sure, the girls were smoking hot and more than a few of their dances had set a certain part of his anatomy to 'dancing', as well.

But that nagging voice in the back of his head kept reminding him how strongly Tessa would disapprove of his being there watching 'the utter exploitation of the female form'.

Those had been the exact words the beautiful French artist had used when she'd discovered his hidden stash of Playboy magazines a week ago.

She had been utterly livid, chewing him out in two different languages at once, but what made it the more worse was what she did after that.

She had gathered all the magazines up, thrust them into his hands, and marched him into the living room by his ear—his ear!—right over to the fireplace.

She'd ordered Mac to start a fire and then made him throw each and every single one of them into it.

He'd thought his heart would break at the sight, as she made him stay there to watch while they burned, but then Tessa had made him look her in the eyes…

"It is perfectly all right to admire beautiful women, Richie," she told him, "but it is not all right to use their naked forms for your own sexual gratification."

He'd crossed his arms over his chest and asked bitterly, "And girls don't do it, too?"

He'd known more than a few girls who'd owned their own stashes of Playgirl magazines, after all.

"It isn't all right when girls do it, either," Tessa had told him, firmly. "The human form is a magnificent work of art, and one that should be admired…not lusted over!"

"Tessa's right, Rich," Mac had spoken up then. "And I'm just as guilty as you are for 'lusting' in the past...but with age comes wisdom."

"Well said, my love," Tessa had told him, and then pecked him on the cheek. "If you want something to read, Richie, why not try one of the classics."

"I'm sure Oliver Twist would be right up your alley," Mac had teased, smirking.

"Or perhaps 'War and Peace'," Tessa had told him, gently. "I'll go see if I can find my copy of it, okay?"

After she'd gone, he'd looked at Mac in a panic. "War and Peace?" he asked, wide-eyed.

Mac chuckled, draping an arm over his shoulder as he guided him back to his bedroom.

"Like I said, with age comes wisdom," he told him, quietly. "You still have your stash of comic books, don't you?"

"Yeah," Richie had said, sighing. Comics weren't nearly as exciting as Playboys, though. "Why?"

"Accept the book graciously," Mac told him, "and then get one of them out to read."

"You want me to lie to Tessa?" Richie had asked, wide-eyed.

"No," Mac told him, firmly. "When she hands you the book, just say 'Thank You'. So long as you make no promises to read it…" He gave him a pointed look.

"Oh, I get it," Richie had said, smirking. "Good one, Mac!"

"With women, Richie," Mac told him, "sometimes the best thing you can do is not say anything at all."

"Right," Richie had said, smiling.

"Anytime, pal," Mac told him, chuckling. "Oh, and you'll have a little extra in your paycheck this week."

"I will?" Richie asked, puzzled. "Why?"

"To pay you back for those," Mac told him, pointing back toward the living room. "It'll just be between us men, all right?"

Richie nodded, grateful. Those 'skin books' weren't cheap, after all.

"Thanks, Mac," he told him, glad he understood.

"Tessa means well," Mac told him, gently. "She just over reacts at times."

"Tell me about it," Richie had said, rubbing his ear—despite the fact it no longer hurt…

"EARTH TO RYAN!" a hand waving in his face brought him back to the present.

"Huh?" he asked, glancing over at Gary. "What's up, man?"

Gary smirked, and Richie groaned as he remembered where they were.

"Do you seriously want me to answer that?" his buddy asked, chuckling.

"No, not really," he told him, sighing. "What time is it, anyway?"

It wasn't until they were in the strip club that he realized he'd left his watch back at the loft.

"10:30," Gary told him, glancing at his watch.

Richie's eyes widened. "No way!" he exclaimed. "Tell me your kiddin', man?"

Gary shook his head. "Uh, no," he said, raising an eyebrow at him. "Why'd I kid about the time, dude?"

"Oh, man," Richie groaned, loudly. An hour! He was an hour late past his curfew!

Mac must be going ballistic by now!

"We gotta go," Richie told his buddies. "Now!"

"C'mon, Ryan, I wanna see Lolita dance," Tony told him. "Her poster looks super hot!"

"The club don't close 'til midnight, Rich," Gary told him, puzzled. "S'long as Gina sneaks us outta here by then…"

Richie shook his head. "Fine, whatever, you guys stay," he told them, "but I seriously gotta go!"

His three friends glanced at each other, but then sighed and got up to follow after him.

They quickly found Gary's sister Gina, who was working there as a waitress (not a stripper) and had her go unlock the back door for them.

Gary's parents were devout Catholics—at least his mother was—and would have gone spare if they ever found out their only daughter was waiting tables at a place like that.

Despite Gary's bravado earlier, Richie knew they'd go spare if they found out their son—who still lived at home, by the way—had been inside a place like that.

Tops and Bottoms was one of the upper scale strip joints in town.

Most of its money was made from the liquor they sold while the girls danced.

Because of this, the owners prohibited anyone who wasn't of legal drinking age inside—hence, why they had to get Gina to sneak them in.

None of that, however, mattered to Richie at that moment. Getting home did.

The four teenagers made their way outta of the club and out of the alley to the street.

"What's going on, Ryan?" Tony asked him, sourly. "Things were just starting to get good in there!"

"I told you guys to stay!" Richie told him, snorting.

"Richie, I don't get it," Gary said, perplexed. "You're acting as if you're out past your curfew or something!"

"Curfew, right?" Ricky snickered. "Good 'un, Gar!"

Richie winced, biting lip.

"No way!" Gary exclaimed, catching the look. "You're not seriously telling me this MacLeod guy gave you a curfew!"

All three of them burst out laughing at that. Richie felt his face heat up, and he felt like punching all three of them in the gut.

"Yes, damn it," he admitted, scowling. "Mac did give me a curfew…and I'm an hour past it! So I kinda need to get home el pronto! Comprendo, amigos?"

"Your boss actually gave you curfew," Tony was still snickering. "I'd quit!"

"I'd tell him to stuff it," Ricky said, elbowing Richie in the ribs.

"Well, I'm not you," Richie told him, snorting. "And Mac and Tessa have been good to me. I'm the one that keeps screwing it all up!"

"I wouldn't go that far," a very familiar voice spoke and all four turned to find a shiny black T-bird parked on the curb beside where they were standing.

Richie felt his stomach plummet straight to his feet in the moment.

"M-Mac," he said, swallowing. "H-How did you find me?"

Mac snorted, scowling at him. "Dumb luck," he told him, nodding back toward the traffic light. "I was waiting for the light when I saw you exit the club."

Richie bit his lip, his eyes finding his shoes very interesting at that moment.

"Uh, well," Gary said, smiling. "It was nice meeting you, uh Mr. MacLeod? But we really gotta go…"

"Yeah, man," Tony added, smirking. "We'll just let you and Rich talk, right Rick?"

"Yep," Ricky said, starting to back up. "We'll just go back and enjoy the show?"

"Hold it," Mac's sharp voice stopped all three of them in their tracks before they could back up further. "How old are all of you?"

Richie wondered if his friends would actually try to lie to Mac's face or not?

Apparently, though, they were all smarter than he gave the credit for.

"Nineteen," they answered at the same time.

"Uh huh," Mac said, crossing his arms over his chest. "Do you all still live with your parents?"

"Yeah," all three answered him, fidgeting from foot to foot.

None of them were looking the Scotsman in the eye, Richie noticed.

"Do you think they'd approve of you all being in a strip club?" Mac asked, pointedly.

"No," they answered. Gary, especially, winced.

"That's what I thought," Mac said, opening the door of the T-Bird. "How about you three get in and we'll drop you off at home on our way."

Their shoulders slumping, all their bravado gone, the three young men did as they were told.

"Rich," Mac said, eying him sternly.

"Yeah, Mac?" Richie asked, hesitantly.

"Get in," Mac said, climbing in and slamming the driver's side door shut.

Richie winced, but obeyed.

He climbed into the passenger's seat and Mac sped away.

Something told him his free time for the forseeble future was far, far away…

Highlander*****Highlander*****Highlander

MacLeod gripped the steering wheel so tightly his knuckles were turning white.

He couldn't believe Richie!

The boy had broken his word to him.

And that hurt.

Badly.

After dropping Richie's friends at home, they headed back to the loft in silence.

Richie, who was sitting beside him in the passenger's seat, kept giving him covert glances. He had a decidedly worried look on his face.

"M-Mac?" Richie asked him, hesitantly.

MacLeod continued to stare straight ahead.

"We'll talk when we get home, Rich," he told him, sternly, not trusting himself not to pull the car over and deal with the teenager then and there.

Richie winced, but fell silent after that.

Stewing on things wouldn't hurt him any, the Highlander figured.

They pulled up into the loft and he turned off the car. Instead of getting out immediately, however, he just sat there a moment.

Finally, he turned to face the boy. "You let me down, Rich," he told him, allowing his hurt and disappointment to show through.

Richie blinked back tears. "I, uh, I know," he said, quietly. "I'm sorry, Mac."

MacLeod blinked back his own tears.

"Ah, lad," he said, shaking his head. He reached over and cupped the back of the boy's neck fondly. "What am I to do wit' ya?"

Richie shook his head. "I, uh, I guess I'm grounded again," he said, wincing.

MacLeod chuckled. "It'd be a pretty safe bet," he told him, nodding. "One month."

"A month!" Richie groaned. "C'mon, Mac, have a heart!"

"Leave my heart out of this," MacLeod told him, sternly. "Where the hell was your head tonight, Rich?"

Richie blushed. "Well, the guys started ragging on me and…"

"And your stubborn male pride wouldn't let you back down from a challenge," MacLeod finished for him, snorting. "I'm always amazed how things never change."

"Huh?" Richie asked, puzzled.

MacLeod smirked.

"I was your age once, Rich," he told him, gently, "and believe it or not 'peer pressure' did exist in the 16th century. My da blistered my butt more times than I can count because I let my friends talk into one stupid adventure or another."

"So, I guess you know where I'm comin' from," Richie said, hopefully.

MacLeod nodded. "I do, just as my da understood where I was coming from," he explained, "but that doesn't change the fact that you broke the rules, Tough Guy."

Richie sighed. "I know," he said, glancing down.

MacLeod reached over and lifted his chin.

"Was drinking on the list of the activities you and your cohorts got up to tonight?" he asked him, sternly.

Richie visibly gulped.

"Um…maybe a little," he admitted. "But I only drank one beer, Mac, I swear!"

MacLeod face hardened. "You shouldn't have had any beer, Richie!" he growled at him, angrily.

The boy hung his head. "I know," he said, quietly. "I'm sorry, Mac."

"Do you remember what I said I'd do if I found out you'd been drinking again?" MacLeod asked him, sternly.

Richie glance up at him, his blue eyes wide, and nodded. "Y-Yes, S-Sir," he said, swallowing.

MacLeod nodded. "Then, I guess we'd best go in now and get it over with," he said, unbuckling his seat belt.

"Do we have to?" Richie asked him, hopefully.

MacLeod gave him a look that said what he thought of that.

"Now, Rich," he said, firmly.

"Yeah, yeah," Richie said, climbing out of the car.

MacLeod draped an arm around the boy's shoulders. "C'mon," he said, soothingly.

Together, they made their way inside.

Highlander*****Highlander*****Highlander

Richie's feet felt like they were made of lead.

He knew what was about to happen, but what hurt more than the impending 'beating' he was about to get was that he knew he'd let Mac down.

He'd looked directly into the man's face and promised him he wouldn't let him down.

And what had the smokin' hot Richie Ryan do at the first opportunity?

Yeah, he deserved whatever the Highlander dished out.

That didn't make his feet feel any less heavy, however.

Upon reaching the apartment, they found Tessa waiting for them.

She rushed up and hugged him. "Are you okay?" she asked him, concerned. "Why were you out so late?"

Richie blushed in embarrassment at her mothering. "I'm fine, Tess," he told her, gently.

At least 'til Mac gets through with me, he added silently to himself.

"And I didn't mean to stay out so late," he told them, honestly. "It just sorta…happened."

"Uh huh," Mac said, raising an eyebrow at him and then glanced at Tessa. "Sweetheart, it's late. Why don't you go on to bed?"

"What about you?" she asked, frowning.

"Richie and I need to have a little talk," Mac told her, rubbing her arm gently. "I'll be along after that. I promise."

Tessa glanced from him to Richie, who grimaced. Understanding dawned on her. She sighed.

"Very well," she said, kissing him. She then kissed Richie on the cheek. "Sleep tight."

With that, she turned and headed down the hallways towards her and Mac's bedroom.

Silence reigned in the living room for a few moments, neither he or the Highlander said anything.

"Richie," Mac said, almost causing him to jump out of his skin.

"Y-Yeah?" Richie asked, hesitantly.

"Go on to your room," Mac told him, firmly. "Get ready for bed. I'll be in, in just a minute."

Richie nodded, his stomach tightening up. He did as he was told.

Going into his bedroom, he shucked off his shoes. Then, took his jeans and t-shirts off.

He almost thought about putting on some of the pajamas Tessa had bought for him to wear (even though he usually just slept in his underwear) but decided that would taking the coward's way.

Whatever Mac intended to do to him, he'd take it like a man—or try to, any way.

A knock sounded on his door, and this time he did jump. "C-Come in," he said, hating how shaky his voice sounded.

Mac entered, closing the door behind him. Richie blanched at what was in his hand.

A small, flat-backed wooden paddle.

Crossing over to the bed, Mac sat down beside him. The paddle he sat just behind him.

"Okay, Richie," Mac said, rubbing his palms on his jeans. "This is how this is going to work. You're going to lay across my knee, I'll pull your shorts down, and then I'll spank you with my hand first…then end it with about ten smacks of the paddle. Okay?"

Richie winced, not answering. How could he possibly say it was 'okay', when it wasn't. He did, however, nod.

At least Mac was being up front with him about everything.

He hadn't come in swinging like a few of his old foster fathers had when he was a kid.

Of course, those had been true beatings—undeserved—and this was…well, a spanking.

A punishment for using poor judgment…

A kid's punishment!

His kid status was complete now, he supposed.

"I-I'm ready," he said, shakily.

Mac looked at him proudly. Reaching out, he cupped the back of his neck and rubbed it gently.

"Ya've naught ta fear from meh, lad," The Scotsman told him, his accent thickening from emotion. "Never, understand?"

Blinking back tears, Richie nodded. "I really am sorry, Mac," he told him, gently.

"I know," Mac said, and then gave him a gentle tug to propel him face down over his lap.

Richie felt the Highlander's fingers at the waist band of his boxers and then the cool air hit his bared ass as they were pulled down just enough to expose his butt.

His face flaming in embarrassment, he hid it in the comforter of his bed.

"When you're told to do something, Richard," Mac said, sternly. "You do it."

With that said, he delivered the first smack.

Richie hissed at the sting it alone caused, gripping the comforter a bit more tightly.

Mac began spanking him in earnest, landing smack after smack on each of his butt cheeks and even his thighs.

He lost count of the smacks, but the pain increased from a small crackle to a roaring fire within minutes.

Tears welled in his eyes, but he did his best not to let them fall.

He tried to remain stoic and unaffected, but…well, it hurt!

A sob was bubbling up in his throat when he felt Mac stop.

"All right, Rich," he told him, quietly yet firmly. "Hand me the paddle."

Richie had almost forgotten about the paddle—which was almost funny as it had been right at eye-level with him the whole time.

Reaching out a timid hand, he grabbed it and held it out behind him. Mac took it from him.

"Ten smacks, Rich," Mac reminded him. "No more—no less."

With that, he brought the paddle down—hard.

Richie gasped, unable to keep quiet as his butt was re-lit on fire again.

"M-Mac," he gasped out, tears falling steady now down his cheek. "P-Please. I-I'm s-sorry..."

"Just one more, Rich," Mac told him, raising the hairbrush back again. He brought it down, directly onto his sit spot.

CRACK!

The sob Richie had been holding back finally was tore from him and he began bawling in earnest.

Mac put the paddle down and fixed the boy's boxers back into place.

He then stood him up, bringing himself up off the bed as he did so.

Richie felt the Highlander's strong arms wrap around him and pulled him into a crushing embrace.

"There, there, laddie," Mac soothed, calmly and gently. "It's over. All's better and we can start fresh in the mornin'…"

It was what his own father had always told him after he'd taken him across his knee.

This only seemed to make it worse for Richie, as he continued to sob. He leaned into the Highlander's neck even more.

At that moment he didn't care was supposed to be eighteen and an adult.

At that moment, he just cared that he was forgiven and everything was all right between them again.

After a few moments, Richie managed to calm down and disentangled himself from the Immortal's embrace.

Wiping at his face, he gave the man a tentative smile.

"I'm real sorry I worried you and Tess," he told him, quietly. "Even sorrier that I broke curfew on my first night out…"

Mac reached out and gave his shoulder a squeeze. "As I said, son," he told him, gently. "All's forgiven."

"S-Son?" Richie swallowed. "C'mon, Mac, you can't…"

"Yes, I can," Mac told him, gently. "You're the closet thing to a son I've got or ever am likely to get, Rich."

Richie felt something inside him swell at that. He felt proud that the man considered him like son.

"Guess this means I can now get an allowance, huh?" he asked, smirking.

Mac laughed, shaking his head. "What it means, my bonnie lad," he told him, wryly, "is ya best watch your step from here on out. Got it?"

"Oh, I got it," Richie said, reaching back to rub his throbbing behind. "I definitely got it."

Mac smiled, pulling him into a hug again. "I love ya, Richie," he whispered to him. "Don't ever forget that."

Richie swallowed. "I, uh, I know," he told him, hugging him tighter. "I, uh, I love you too."

Mac kissed the top of his head. "Time for bed, I think," he told him, gently. "We'll discuss the rest of your punishment in the morning."

"The rest?" Richie asked, wide-eyed. "But I thought—"

"The spanking was for drinking," Mac reminded him. "Being grounded is for breaking curfew, but there is still the small matter of you being in that strip joint…"

Richie grimaced. He'd forgotten about that.

"We, uh, we don't have to tell Tessa about that, do we?" he asked him, fretfully.

"We don't have to, son," Mac told him, grinning, "but you're going to."

"What!" Richie winced. "C'mon, Mac, have a heart!"

"Goodnight, Richie," Mac said, picking up the paddle and heading for his door. "We'll see you in the morning."

"But, Mac—" Richie didn't get a chance to say anything else as the Highlander simply walked out of the room and closed the door behind him.

"Ah, man!"

The End.