Dylan knew he would have to talk to Harper, and he wasn't sure what he was going to say or do about Harper's behavior. Dylan thought, 'Four months ago, ..no it was really 300 years ago, I would have had a full crew, and I could just toss Harper in the brig for the rest of the trip. Then he would have been court marshaled when we got back home for disobying direct orders. But things are different now. I only have five crewmembers, well six including Rommie, and I need them all to be working. Hell, I wouldn't even have Rommie without Harper. In fact Harper is brilliant, and he does his job very well. Better than any engineer I've had in the past, but that's also the problem. He knows he's the best, and he doesn't mind telling everyone. He also knows I need him, so he thinks he can pretty much get away with whatever he wants. Like when I let him out of his room, he had the nerve to use a condescending tone when he told me it was good that I 'finally agreed to kill the bad guys'. I need to find a way to get through to Harper. A way to let him know that I'm the one calling the shots, and that Harper going off to do his own thing isn't acceptable, especially when that thing will kill thousands.'
As Dylan was thinking, he was walking towards Harper's work area. As he got close he overheard Harper muttering, and he was surprised at the guilt he heard in the other man's tone.
Harper was in his work area pretending to work on something, but really he was thinking about what he had done and talking to himself. "Stupid Nietzscheans. Dumb time travel. Why did we have to be there? I know, I know, so that boy genius, namely me, could try to wipe out the Nietzschean people. Well, I was just making things more even. Of course I didn't know that when I built it, I just wanted the Commonwealth to win. Is that so awful? Dylan did it in the end, so maybe it isn't so awful. Except that it is. Why is it that I can make all these wonderful things, but I don't think through what I do with them? Stupid."
Dylan chose that moment to clear his throat to alert Harper to his presence. Harper jumped and glanced up at Dylan with embarrassment. Harper said, "Jeez Boss, don't sneak up on me like that. I get enough of that from Tyr and Rev."
"Harper, put down your tools, and walk with me."
Harper stared at him for a second, and realized 'Walk with me' was the same phrase Dylan had used with Becka when he was going to chew her out. Or at least that's what Becka had told him. Harper was going to try to make some excuse, but Dylan just walked out of the room to wait for Harper in the hall. Harper swallowed nervously and took his tool belt off while he thought, 'I already feel bad Dylan, you don't need to tell me I screwed up.'
Soon he was in the hall next to Dylan who started walking. Harper fell in step beside him. Dylan said, "Harper, I think we need to talk about what happened today."
Harper interrupted. "I really don't think we ."
Dylan cut him off with a glare. "You went behind my back, and behind Rommie's back to do something you knew we would not approve of."
"Yeah, but as it turned out, you needed it, so really you should be thanking me for ."
Dylan stopped and crossed his arms while glaring and Harper stopped trying to defend himself.
Dylan shook his head and started walking again. "Damn it Harper, just because we ended up using your weapon, doesn't mean it was a good idea to make it. I know Rommie has already told to you how upset she is about this, and I don't blame her."
Harper didn't think this conversation was going well. "I apologized to Rommie."
"Well at least that's a start, but I think she's going to have problems trusting you for a while, and so am I."
Dylan stopped, and Harper realized they had walked to Dylan's quarters. Dylan walked into his room and motioned Harper inside. Dylan took a seat, and gestured for Harper to sit down too. He said, "I want you to know that if I had a full ship, I would put you in the brig, and leave you there until we got back to port, where I would have you court marshaled."
Harper just stared at him with wide eyes for a few seconds. Eventually he said, "That would be a crappy thing to do to. I'm glad you don't have a full ship."
Dylan chose to ignore that, and continued, "Since I have such a small crew, and only one engineer, I can't afford to do that. I need you working, but I also need to be able to trust you."
Harper opened his mouth to tell Dylan he could trust him, but he knew he couldn't make it sound convincing. Dylan could trust him to protect the other people on board, and to be smart and come up with solutions to any engineering or mechanical problems, but that was about it. Dylan was correct in thinking that Harper would do what he wanted to do when it came to other things like taking vacations, doing things to make money, or getting revenge on people who had wronged him and his family.
Dylan could practically read Harper's thoughts. "Would you have done this kind of thing to Becka behind her back?"
"No way!" Harper answered without thinking.
Surprised by the immediate response, Dylan asked, "Why not?"
Harper squirmed in his seat, and tried to come up with a convincing lie. "Because she's like my family, and she would have gone along with it anyway."
"I don't believe that, and I don't think you do either."
Harper stammered. "Yeah? Well... too bad, because that's all I have to say about it."
"Alright, then you can stay right here while I go talk to Becka."
Dylan gave Harper a disapproving frown. "Excuse me?"
Harper held his hands up. "Okay, okay. I wouldn't have done it to Becka, because .because she would have kicked my ass."
Frowning, Dylan said, "Really?"
Harper blushed. "Well, .Yeah."
"What exactly do you mean by kicking your ass, and how many times did she have to do it before you started listening to her?"
Harper shook his head and scowled. "Why does it matter! Just have Rommie 'escort' me to my room again and leave me there for a while!"
Dylan pointed a finger in Harper's face. "You stay right here."
Before Harper could come up with a sutible reply, Dylan had walked out the door. Harper tried to go after him, but found that the door wouldn't open. "Rommie, the door won't open, will you get it for me please?"
Rommie's voice said, "Dylan has asked me to keep you in his room until he gets back."
"I could make the door open," Harper retorted.
"And I can zap you again," Rommie replied.
Harper winced at the thought of the electric shock she'd given him earlier that day, and went back to his chair to wait. He hoped and prayed that Becka would keep her mouth shut, but he didn't know if she would. He thought she would probably take a dim view of him going behind Dylan's back even if she did agree with killing the Nietzscheans.
# # #
Dylan found Becka in the Maru doing some repairs. "Becka, a word please."
"Sure Dylan. What can I do for you?" She put down her wrench and focused on him.
"Short form: you know what Harper did, I don't have the time to waste putting him in the brig, or confining him to his room. I asked him if he would have gone behind your back, and he said no. When I asked him why he said you would 'kick his ass' if he did. I want to know what that means exactly."
Becka scrutinized Dylan for a few seconds trying to decide whether she should tell him or not. She new Harper wouldn't like it, but she also knew Harper probably needed to realize Dylan was the boss on the Andromeda. She didn't want him to get kicked off, because she would have to go with him, and this was the best thing they had going for them right now. So she decided to tell the truth. "Well, I took Harper aboard when he was sixteen, and he didn't have much experience with following the rules."
Becka shrugged. "I don't know of an easy way to say this, so I'm just going to tell you. When he didn't follow my orders I spanked him."
Dylan's eyes opened wide and his eyebrows went up. "You ..what?"
"He was a kid, Dylan. It was just him and me, and I didn't know what else to do. He had to learn to follow orders, and I'm pretty impatient. He also needed a family, so I became that for him, and to be honest, I needed him as my family too. But that was like ten years ago. He learned pretty quick not to cross me. We're still family, but we're also friends now."
Dylan didn't respond and just continued to stare at her in shock.
"Stop looking at me like I've got another eyeball in my forehead!"
Dylan shook his head and chuckled. "Sorry, I'm just having trouble picturing... no! I mean... taking this in."
Becka laughed and said with an evil smile, "Over my lap with a hairbrush."
Wincing, Dylan muttered, "Great. Well, thank you for the information. I'm sure it will be... useful."
Dylan turned and walked away wondering if he should employ her methods or not. Once he got to his quarters, he stood outside for a full five minutes thinking about what he had learned, and wondering if it would be the right move. Harper wouldn't miss any work. He would hopefully learn that Dylan was in charge, and that he couldn't just go behind Dylan's back when he wanted to do something Dylan wouldn't approve of. And maybe a little fear of consequences was something Harper needed. Dylan had never spanked anyone before, but his dad had spanked him a couple of times, so he knew the general routine. Reluctantly, he decided to do it. Before opening his door he said, "Rommie, privacy mode."
Rommie's voice said, "Could I watch? He rewired me behind my back."
Dylan chided, "Rommie, it wouldn't be right. Privacy mode."
Rommie's voice said, "Aye Captain, privacy mode engaged."
Dylan rolled his eyes at the 'aye captain' bit, and stepped into his room.
Harper jumped up at the sound of the door opening, and his eyes kept going to the door as if looking for an escape.
Once the door closed behind him, Dylan crossed his arms and said, "She didn't exactly 'kick' your ass did she?"
Harper put his head in his hands as a blush crept up his face. He moaned, "Becka how could you."
"I'm pretty sure she thought it would be a good tactic for me to use."
Harper's head shot up. "No Way! That was years ago. She doesn't... do that any more." He kept shaking his head, but he could tell Dylan's mind was made up.
"She hasn't had to for a long time, but it looks like I do." With that Dylan grabbed Harper's upper arm and dragged him towards a chair with him. He sat down, kept a hold on Harper's arm, and said, "Drop your pants."
"No!" Harper tried to pull away from Dylan's grasp without successs.
Dylan shook his head. "We can do this the hard way, or the easy way, but either way it's going to happen. If I have to do it, you can lose the boxers, too."
"Please don't," Harper said, still trying to pull away. But when Dylan reached a hand towards Harper's pants, Harper quickly unbuttoned and unzipped his own pants.
"Shit." Harper muttered as his pants fell to the floor.
Dylan pulled Harper over his lap and started to spank. Harper yelled and tried to make things harder for Dylan by thrashing around. Harper couldn't believe he was back in this position at twenty-eight.
Dylan paused after a few moments. "Now that I have your attention, I want you to tell me why I'm spanking you."
Harper was pissed and blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "Because you're bigger than me and you can."
Pursing his lips, Dylan pulled down Harper's boxers. "Wrong answer."
Dylan started the spanking again, and didn't stop until Harper was yelping from the pain rather than the indignation. Then he paused again. "Let's try again shall we? Why am I spanking you?"
Harper thought about it before answering this time, and decided it would be best to just tell Dylan what he wanted to hear. "Because I went behind your back to do something that I knew you wouldn't approve of, which is kind of like lying, and makes it so you can't trust me."
Dylan was surprised, but pleased that Harper got it all. He suspected this kind of question and answer session must not be new for Harper during a spanking. "That's right. Very good. Keep that in mind while I persuade you to make better choices next time."
Dylan started spanking harder than before.
Harper yelped and soon he was kicking his legs. He refused to beg, but after trying to fight it for a while he did start to cry.
Dylan noticed when Harper's struggles stopped, and heard a hitch in the younger man's breathing. Decided they were done, Dylan stopped swatting, quickly pulled Harper's boxers back up, and pulled him upwards to stand. Once Harpe was standing, Dylan said, "Okay Seamus, we're done here. You can put your pants back on."
Harper tried to stop crying as he pullled his pants back up. Dylan handed him a tissue, and Harper took it and blew his nose. Then Dylan put an arm around Harper's shoulders, and started towards his door. "I hope we don't have to do this again Mr. Harper, but I will if I deem it necessary."
"It won't be," Harper assured him.
"Good. Why don't you take the afternoon off, and relax in your room for a while. I'll see you at dinner."
Dylan's door opened, and Harper nodded in agreement before walkign out. He made his way slowly and painfully to his room. He took off his pants and lay on his stomach on his bed. He was almost asleep when he heard a knock on the door. He pulled his covers up and said, "Come in."
Becka came in. "How are you, Harper, sweetie?"
Harper glared. "Don't you 'Harper sweetie' me! I can't believe you told him! You suck!"
Becka came over and sat beside Harper on the bed. She started rubbing his back in soothing circles. "I know you're mad, but I think you deserved it, and I bet you think you deserved it too. You need to follow Dylan's orders, the same way you follow mine. I don't want us getting kicked off the ship. Sleep now. Things will look better after a couple of days."
Harper listened to her, and even though he knew there was some truth in what she said, he didn't verbally agree. He just closed his eyes and let her presence sooth him as he drifted off to sleep.
# # #
Harper woke up and rolled to his back. He quickly rolled to his front again remembering what had happened. He groaned and looked to see what time it was. He took a quick shower and got dressed. He went to join everyone for dinner, because he knew it would look suspicious if he didn't show up. He was the first one there, so he got a sparky cola and drank it standing up. As soon as he heard voices he sat down with a wince and tried to look like it didn't hurt.
Harper gobbled down his food as soon as the drone set it in front of him. Both Tyr and Trance commented on his gross eating habits, but it didn't slow Harper down. Then, well before anyone else was done, he excused himself to go do some work.
Later that evening when he was working in the shop Dylan came by.
"What can I do for ya Boss?" Harper asked.
Dylan glanced around the room awkwardly. "I... Well, I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
"Well no, I'm not okay." Harper smiled and shrugged. "But I will be in a couple of days."
Dylan thought it was a good sign that Harper was able to smile and talk about it. "I just wanted to tell you I forgot something before. Something my father always told me after a spanking. You're forgiven, Harper. Just don't let it happen again."
"Thanks Dylan," Harper said. "And to tell you the truth, I kind of feel better now. I was stuffed full of guilt before, but now I can let it go. Becka was right damn her, so no hard feelings. It isn't like it's my first time, even if it's been a while."
Dylan thought that was the most mature thing he'd ever heard Harper say. He smiled and patted Harper on the shoulder before leaving the room. Dylan hoped he wouldn't have to spank Harper again, but with such positive results, he'd keep it in mind for future misdeeds.
(Feedback makes me happy.)