Author's Note: My first story for this fandom, but I hope to write several more. It deals with the talk about an imminent spanking. No actual spanking in this one.
Summary: After S1E13 Captain Gregson is still quite fed up with Sherlock’s behaviour, but feels bad about punching him. His wife gives him some advice on how to deal with cranky consultants. The conversation with Holmes goes about as well as can be expected.
Disclaimer : I don’t own any of these characters, and I’m not making any money from this story.
Warnings : talk of spanking.



The Talk

“You’re in a contemplative mood today. Everything all right?” Cheryl’s question yanked him out of his musings quite abruptly. They were seated at the kitchen table, enjoying a quiet dinner and a nice glass of wine. Well, Cheryl was; Gregson was rather preoccupied with what had transpired over the last few days and especially earlier this evening. He looked at her, probably for the first time this evening and a wave of guilt washed over him. She had that worried frown on her face that usually only made an appearance when one of their daughters was up to no good or he had been in danger at work. He hated worrying her and shamefully had to admit to himself that he hadn’t paid her the proper attention tonight. It was something he had always struggled with over the years whenever work had been particularly straining.

“I – no, no. – It’s not.” In answer to his wife’s questioning look and furrowing frown, he continued, “I did something today. I –” He broke off again, searching for a way to tell her without disclosing anything not meant for her ears.

“Something at work?” she coaxed gently, reaching over to touch his hand. She’d done this so many times over the years and still he hadn’t grown immune to her gentle touch and words. They’d been having some difficulties lately, but he was certain that their marriage would pull through. It always did.

“Yeah,” he replied with a heavy sigh, stroking his thumb over her hand. “You remember that consultant I told you about?”

“The smart one?” Cheryl asked, taking a sip of wine. “The one you enjoy working with because he’s so fast?”

“Yeah, that one. Holmes.”

“Did something happen to him?” He pinched the bridge of his nose with his free hand trying to sort his jumbled thoughts.

“No, he’s fine. – Well, not fine. He didn’t get hurt in the investigation, if that’s what you’re asking.” He could feel a bit of tension drain from her body at his words. She was always worried about him and his colleagues. “I suspended him for … stuff. He did some things that were … not good. Under my watch. – You don’t need to know the details.” At her sceptic look, he added, “It was valid. – He deserved suspension.”

“I’m sure it was,” she replied, a soft smile on her lips. She trusted him on that and knew that certain matters couldn’t or shouldn’t be discussed at home.

“Anyway, he was suspended, but he kept showing up at the precinct, butting in, talking his way into the investigation. Even into the interrogation room!”

“Sounds like someone’s looking for attention,” Cheryl said wryly.

“Yeah, big time.”

“Did it work?”

“I told him I’d have him arrested for trespassing,” he admitted. “But he’s smart and he got a lead, so I let him come back. – What?” he asked as his wife chuckled knowingly.

“Nothing,” she said, patting his hand in a gesture that was meant to be soothing.

“If it were nothing, you wouldn’t be laughing.”

“It’s just, you know you did the exact same thing with the girls, right? You grounded them, they cried and begged and dazzled you with good behaviour until you caved and let them go to whatever event they wanted to see.”

“I did not,” he replied, affronted. He had been strict when he needed to be – and had made allowances for good behaviour. Besides, wasn’t it common for a father to have a soft spot for his daughters?

“Sure,” she chuckled. “Go on. That’s not what’s got you in this mood.” He took a deep breath, forcing his mind back to the topic at hand.

“And then he went and confronted a suspect! Alone! And unarmed! On a whim!” Cheryl whistled through her teeth. “Not to mention all that stuff he’s done to earn his suspension. – Anyway, I was angry. Furious. – I met him tonight, said we needed to talk, and I – I lost my temper and punched him.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.” They sat in silence for some time. “I feel awful.” He sighed heavily. “I mean, he’s a pain in the ass, sure. He rarely listens. Only if it suits him, actually. And if he doesn’t get his way, he throws the most impressive tantrums. – But he’s a damn good consultant, despite his unconventional methods.”

“Sounds like you like him,” Cheryl said. “And also that he’s got the emotional maturity of a four-year-old.”

“Yeah, yeah, I do,” Gregson agreed absent-mindedly. His wife’s assessment of Holmes character without having met him was spot-on.

“I mean, tantrums? Really? Don’t people grow out of those over the years?”

“Oh, you have no idea. He’s apparently perfected them over the years. I have no idea what to do with him. – I want to shake him and shout at him to get his act together, but that would only rile him up. – I’m … I’m at a loss here, Cheryl.”

“It seems to me that he could benefit from a bit of quiet time for reflection,” she quipped with a grin in an attempt to distract him from his troubling thoughts.

“And what am I supposed to do?” he replied, humouring her and her unconventional idea. It felt good just getting all of it off his chest. God knew, he needed a second opinion on how to deal with Holmes. “Put him in a time-out? Make him face a corner?”

“You could,” she agreed and he chuckled. “I’d probably give him a smack. You know how I hated it when the girls lost their tempers?”

“Oh, I do,” he replied. “I’m sure the girls do too. But I just told you that I feel awful about hitting him.”

“I didn’t say you should hit him. I’m talking about a well-deserved smack.”

“He’s a grown man, Cheryl.”

“On the surface, yes,” she agreed. “But you just said his methods are unconventional and he’s emotionally unstable and prone to lash out in a fit of temper. Maybe what he needs is an unconventional approach to his behaviour.” He raised his brows in surprise, pondering her suggestion. He would be lying if he said that the thought hadn’t crossed his mind once or twice. Especially when Holmes was in the midst of one of his tantrums. But that didn’t mean he could actually do it. “Maybe he needs consistency. Someone to call him out on his behaviour?”

“I don’t know,” he hedged, rubbing a hand over his face to chase away the tiredness. “You’re partly right. He behaves like a child sometimes and the urge to throttle him is strong on those occasions, but he’s a grown man.”

“It’s just a suggestion, Tommy,” she said with a smile. “I would just hate to see you sad and disappointed when you have to let him go because one of his stunts went too far or got him hurt or worse. – You like him, I can tell. And you would beat yourself up if something happened to him on your watch and you could have prevented it by being a bit stricter.”

“You’re probably right,” he said with a heavy sigh. “I do like him. – And I want to continue working with him. He’s so fast, Cheryl, you wouldn’t believe it. – He’s good.” She nodded knowingly, patting his hand again.

“Then do something to keep him in line, or you’ll eventually lose him.”

“Yeah. – Yeah.” He nodded vigorously. “I’ll think of something.”

“You should apologise, if you feel bad for punching him. And you should,” she added reproachfully, bringing the conversation back to its origin.

“Yeah, I’ll – I’ll do that.” He nodded. “I’ll get over there straight away.” He rose from his seat. “And you know, I don’t think your idea sounds half bad. It’s actually pretty good.” He kissed her softly.

“Go and deal with your consultant,” she said with a laugh, pushing him in the direction of the door. He was almost outside when she added, “And don’t let him wheedle his way out of it!”

“Yeah, yeah!” he replied, chuckling. She knew him too well.

****

Rapping his fingers against the door’s worn wood, Gregson suddenly felt unsure about his venture. Not about the apology. He had been wrong to punch Holmes, and the other man needed to know that and deserved to hear his apology, but about the idea that had formed in his head at Cheryl’s candid words. He had spent the ride over with nothing else on his mind but how to deal with Holmes and Cheryl’s idea had sounded more sensible with every block. But now, standing at Holmes’ front door, the doubts returned with a vengeance. He couldn’t smack his consultant. Holmes would be well within his rights to report him for assault, if he did. But then again, he could also report him for his rather spectacular right hook to the stomach and he didn’t seem to have done that. Yet.

Before he could ponder it any longer, the door opened to Watson’s surprised face.

“Captain? – What can I do for you?” she asked, stepping back and motioning him over the threshold.

“Is Holmes here?” he asked, getting straight to the point, before he lost his nerve.

“Yes,” she replied, just as the man in question stepped around the corner. He stopped a good distance away in the library, eyeing him warily and Gregson felt a pang of guilt.

“Holmes,” he greeted.

“Captain.”

Joan regarded them suspiciously for a few moments before announcing that she had been on her way out anyway for a walk around the block and would give them some time to talk.

“You were doing no such thing,” Holmes protested. “And to be perfectly honest, I might be feeling a bit of a pull. You probably shouldn’t be leaving me alone tonight.”

“I don’t think you’ll take drugs in the company of a police officer and I won’t be gone long,” she replied, shrugging into her jacket. “But if it eases your mind, I can give you a drug test when I return. – Have fun.” And without further ado she vanished through the open door and closed it soundly behind her.

They remained standing there, looking at each other uncomfortably, until Gregson decided that he might as well pull this through.

“I’m sorry,” he said, stepping into the library to get a little closer to Holmes. The other man didn’t move, but his eyes followed him warily. “For punching you. I was wrong and – I’m sorry.”

“I appreciate the gesture, Captain,” Holmes replied. “But I understand the concept of action and consequence and you were in your right to present … consequences to me.”

“That might be true,” Gregson agreed. “But it was wrong to punch you.”

“Let me assure you that I am quite all right. – I am a man grown and to be perfectly honest I’ve been beat up worse during my time at boarding school. I can handle it.” He swayed back and forth uncertainly, arms rigid at his sides.

“You shouldn’t have to though. – Especially not from someone you consider a friend.” Holmes remained silent, watching him with that unique scrutiny of his. “It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t face consequences for your actions.” Holmes still didn’t move or speak, so Gregson decided to just plough on. “But I promise I won’t ever punch you again.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” He sounded relieved, but still stood frozen to the spot, as he always did whenever there were emotions and feelings involved. Despite his vast knowledge of almost everything, he was incapable of discerning human emotions.

“But mark my words, if you continue behaving like a child when you don’t get your way or throw another one of your tantrums, I will punish you.” Holmes scrunched up his face in a rare display of confusion.

“And might I inquire about what kind of punishment you deem to bestow upon me?”

“I’m gonna tan your hide,” Gregson replied, watching Holmes closely for his reaction. There wasn’t one at all, at first. Holmes seemed to contemplate his words; he could practically see him thinking. The seconds stretched on, and Gregson was starting to seriously doubt his idea, until,

“Very well.” He nodded, raising his arms slightly before letting them fall back down again. “Shall I fetch the cane, then?”

“The cane?” He didn’t even want to contemplate why Holmes was in possession of a cane.

“I assume you want to follow your dire threat with action?” he suggested. “You know, the punishment… for my misconduct. – Hence the cane.”

“I’m not gonna hit you with a cane,” Gregson replied quickly, supressing the shudder that crept up his spine at the mere thought of hitting someone with a thin stick of wood. It could break the skin; it could leave marks. He didn’t want to harm him; he simply wanted to make him think twice before rushing headfirst into trouble. A deterrent. Not a torture instrument.

“What implement shall I retrieve then? A belt? A paddle? I assume they’d be more traditional for you as an American. You probably have some experience in wielding them, since you have children. Whereas the cane is a uniquely British thing and most likely not very common in the United States.”

“No,” he interjected, but Holmes didn’t appear to have heard him as he just kept on prattling on about the pros and cons of various spanking implements. “Sherlock!” he interrupted loudly, using his first name in hopes of startling a reaction out of him. It worked. Holmes snapped his mouth shut immediately, an attentive expression on his face. “I’m not hitting you with a belt either. Or a paddle.” The confusion returned to his face, Gregson noticed. “If you step out of like again, I’m gonna spank you. – You know, with my hand.” He held his hand up for demonstration and Holmes’ face hardened all of a sudden.

“Captain, I agree that you deserve the right to bestow some sort of correction upon me, if you consider my behaviour unfitting for an NYPD consultant, and that your work-related options are incredibly limited since I am not one of your detectives, but I am not a child!”

“Never said you were.”

“Then why imply it with your ludicrous suggestion?”

“It’s not a suggestion, and-”

“It’s humiliating!” Holmes interrupted him loudly, and – Gregson couldn’t quite believe his eyes – actually stomped his foot. He frowned at him.

“Yes, embarrassment is part of the punishment,” Gregson agreed calmly, feeling a bit baffled about the fact that Holmes apparently thought it okay for him to beat him with a stick, but rejected a spanking straight away. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to choose the less painful option? “But I don’t want to humiliate you. It’s gonna be only you and me. No witnesses. In case you were worried about that.”

“It bothers me that you wish to treat me like child!” He looked about ready to explode and Gregson surreptitiously scanned the immediate surroundings for any breakable objects that would be easy to hurl.

“If it bothers you that much, then maybe it’ll keep you from stepping out of line again,” Gregson replied, making his voice a notch sterner.

“But-”

“No, I’m not changing my mind, Holmes.”

“I’m not a child!” he repeated angrily. “It’s a child’s punishment! I don’t want it!”

“And I’ll tell you what I told my daughters when they said the exact same thing to me: Don’t do things that make me want to smack you.”

“It’s madness!”

“You can sulk and rant all you want, it’s only further cementing my decision.” Holmes opened his mouth again, the expression on his face having changed from angry to livid. “And if you throw the tantrum you’re apparently working yourself up to, I am going to give you a preview.” He let the dire threat hang between them, as Holmes sharply turned his head to glare at the wall, and clenched his hands into fists, obviously not quite ready to test him. He wasn’t okay with it, not by far, and Gregson knew it, but he didn’t want to risk finding out if Gregson was indeed serious.

Deciding, that some distraction was in order, Gregson looked around the room, eyes catching on the case files and notes thrown seemingly haphazardly across the desk and mantelpiece. But he knew that there was some kind of order in them, one that only Holmes seemed to see, and he was very okay with that. He nodded towards them and asked, “What are you working on?”

Holmes kept his head angled to the side, jaw still working furiously and shoulders rigid. But he couldn’t help but glance at Gregson studying his notes and soon enough the desire to share his findings outweighed his anger about Gregson’s proposal. Holmes motioned towards the case file spread on the table and the pictures on the wall, and said, “I ventured to take a look at one of your cold cases and I believe I have found something of utmost importance.”

“All right.” He sat down in an armchair, getting comfortable. “Let’s hear it,” Gregson prompted. Not that it was necessary as Holmes looked about as excited as a kid on Christmas Day. Not needing any further encouragement, he dove into his explanations, pointing out several details on the photos excitedly and almost bouncing giddily between the desk and Gregson whenever he handed him a piece of paper to look at.

He was very sure that this battle would be continued once he decided to actually follow through with his promise, but he hoped that the threat would keep Holmes on the straight and narrow. He didn’t make idle threats and would make good on his promise, if Holmes choose to test him again, but he certainly wished that he didn’t have to.

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