Author’s Note: This story was written as an RPG (roll playing game) between me and my friend Phonix360. I’m playing Dr. Wells, and she’s playing Hartley and Cisco. This story is a prequel to the other story we wrote together titled, ‘A Difficult Punishment’ which is a prequel to the story I wrote titled, ‘An Effective Punishment’.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, and I’m not making any money from this story.
Warning: coerced spanking of an adult by his mentor.
Co-author’s Website: Phoenix360’s page.

A First Punishemnt

Dr. Wells hung up the phone and sighed. His human resources manager had just informed him that yet another staff member had complained about the bickering between Hartley and Cisco. Wells had to admit that over the past three weeks it had steadily gotten worse, not better like he’d hoped.

He knew the bickering was ninety percent Hartley’s fault. Cisco was already well known for being friendly and easy to get along with and had made several friends in the three weeks he’d been at the company. Hartley, on the other hand, was well known for being difficult to get along with, his behavior only tolerated by most of the staff members because he was brilliant, and because Dr. Wells clearly liked him.

For some reason, Cisco couldn’t seem to do the same. It’d become abundantly clear that, when the two tried working together, they clashed terribly, and made everyone around them uncomfortable.

Wells had spoken to Hartley about it more than once. He’d started off asking him nicely to try getting along, and more recently he’d basically ordered him to stop provoking the newest employee.

However, nothing seemed to have changed.

Frustrated, Wells looked at the clock. It was almost noon. More often than not he had lunch with Hartley, but maybe that was contributing to the problem? Maybe if Hartley and Cisco could spend some time together when they weren’t working, they’d see how much they had in common.

Having made his decision, he went to speak to Hartley. As expected, he found the younger man at his desk, looking over some test results.

Wells cleared his throat to alert Hartley of his presence and said, “We need to talk.”

Hartley looked up from his desk to face his boss, a small smile on his face. It quickly fell, however, when he saw the rather grim expression on his boss's face.

“Do we now?” In his mind, Hartley went over all the possibilities why Harrison would want to talk to him now at this moment in time when he was busy working. Was one of the cavities in the particle accelerator's core chamber bad? Had one of the simpletons who had miraculously managed to land a job here messed up yet again and he needed to fix it? Really, considering what they were working on in S.T.A.R Labs, it could be anything.

“Ask away, Sir.”

“I got another call from H.R.” Wells said with disappointment. “That’s the fourth complaint, Hartley, and at this point I don’t even want to know what this latest argument was about.”

He shook his head and crossed his arms. He didn’t have time for this kind of nonsense. “We’re not going to have a hostile work environment. I gave you a chance to fix this on your own, and you didn’t, so for the rest of this week, you’re going to eat your lunch in the lunchroom with Cisco and the rest of the staff.”

A scowl came over Hartley's face after Wells had said what he needed to say. He didn't know what upset him more: that he wouldn't get to resume his chess match with Harrison on his lunch break, or that he was forced to socialize and mingle with the amateurs and hacks that worked with and under him.

“You can't be serious.” When Wells' expression remained resolute, Hartley shook his head, a sneer on his face. “Unbelievable. I bet the complaint to H.R was courtesy of your new favorite, Francisco, hmmm? Harrison, if you don't want a hostile work environment, may I suggest you do what you should have done weeks ago and that's fire him?”

“First, it was a female employee who made the complaint, and second, I’m not firing him. He’s one of a handful of employees who actually understands all the components of the particle accelerator and can problem shoot when something doesn’t work by thinking outside the box.” Wells hadn’t missed the insecurity behind Hartley’s snide comment. After he’d heard what had happened with the kid’s parents, he always made a point of reassuring him, even when he was being an ass. “You’re always going to be my favorite, Hartley, even when you’re being stubborn and unreasonable. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to just look the other way when you make a mistake, and antagonizing Cisco is a mistake.”

“I beg to differ,” Hartley replied back, unimpressed. He didn't care what Harrison said, he hated Cisco Ramon. There were a number of reasons why - he showed up to his first day wearing a fan-t-shirt of all things, he found his simpering puppy dog attitude towards Harrison Wells pathetic and hard to stomach, etc. - but, at this point, he supposed it really didn't matter. He and Cisco didn't get along and nothing was going to change that fact.

He said as much to Wells. “What exactly do you hope to accomplish by forcing me to share my precious lunch hours with him? With any of them, for that matter? Do you really think we'll settle our differences or, God forbid, become friends? Spare me.”

Wells raised his eyebrows. He liked Hartley, and he didn’t expect the kid to be happy about what he’d told him to do, but there was only so much disrespect he was going to take before calling Hartley on it.

“I was hoping you would show some professionalism,” Wells said with a glare. “You’re upset with Cisco for the way he dresses, because you find it unprofessional. But that’s a little hypocritical when you’re in a management position and you purposely antagonize the people who work under you. That is completely unprofessional, especially since I’ve ordered you to stop.”

He walked to Hartley, leaned down with his hands resting on the other man’s desk, and said intently, “You need to focus on the bigger picture. We are in the process of creating the most important scientific breakthrough of this decade. I don’t have time to referee the two of you, so I need you to either get along, or fake it. Go eat lunch with them, and be civil. That’s an order.”

Hartley bit back a retort, his ire growing by the second. He only just managed to choke out, “Fine.

If there was one thing he hated more than incompetence and mediocrity from his peers and subordinates, it was Wells' disapproval, and unfortunately for him, he'd been getting an awful lot of that lately. All Cisco Ramon’s fault, of course, he refused to even entertain the notion that he was in the wrong. The boy was unprofessional, rude, a bad dresser, a shameless suck-up, and he should never have been hired in the first place.

If Harrison Wells wouldn't see reason, then Hartley would make him. Come their lunch break, he'd prove why Ramon didn't belong in S.T.A.R Labs, one way or another.

Wells gave Hartley a curt nod, and then walked out. He went to eat lunch alone at his desk, and hoped that his protégé would take his words to heart and do the right thing, because if the kid didn’t do the right thing, they would be having a much more serious discussion the next time. He thought about talking to Cisco, too, but decided against it at this point. If Hartley and Cisco couldn’t get along during lunch today, he’d take Cisco aside and speak with him.

# # #

Hartley approached the table his co-workers sat at, lunch in hand and a sour expression gracing his face. He could barely stand to be with these people when they were working, so having to sit with and talk to them now was nothing short of unbearable. Still, if getting rid of Ramon meant having to endure this, so be it.

An uncomfortable silence settled as he came to a stop before Cisco Ramon, Caitlin Snow, Ronnie Raymond, and their other friends. They stared at Hartley as he stared stonily back before forcing out, cordially as he could manage, “May I join you?”

The silence dragged on for an awkward amount of time until Caitlin finally broke out of her stupor and said, “Of course.”

She scooted her food over a little so that Hartley could sit next to her in the only open spot left at the table. Unfortunately, that meant he’d be directly across the table from Cisco. She turned a worried glance to Ronnie, but he was too busy staring at Hartley to notice.

As for Cisco, he was alternating between shooting Caitlin, “What the hell??” looks, and trying his best to avoid eye contact with Hartley as the man took a seat.
He didn't know what Hartley was playing at, but he didn't like it. He didn’t believe for a second that the man wanted to have lunch with them. After all, he’d made it no secret how little he thought of them - especially Cisco. The asshole never failed to remind Cisco that he didn't think he belonged at Starr Labs.

Hartley, taking notice of his discomfort, gave him one of the smuggest smiles he'd ever seen. “Cisquito.”

Cisco felt his temper flare - he loathed that nickname and Hartley knew it. With narrowed eyes, he replied, “Dickhead.”

Already getting upset, Caitlin set her fork down and frowned at the table. She honestly didn’t understand how a sweet and intelligent guy like Cisco could turn into such a mean person when talking to Hartley, but she’d seen it again and again. Hartley on the other hand was always a dick to everyone, but he clearly went out of his way to antagonize Cisco.

“Come on, guys,” Ronnie said, sounding tired, “give it a rest so we can all eat in peace.” He rubbed Caitlin’s back to comfort her.

Hartley adjusted his glasses, plastering a small, fake smile on his face. “Of course, Ronald, but may I remind you that I'm not the one using profanity here. I simply wish to extend the figurative olive branch to try and build a better relationship between all of us.”

“Bullshit!” Cisco muttered, unable to stop himself. He’d tried hard to keep his mouth shut, he really had, but he couldn't sit here and take this. Caitlin and Ronnie may be buying into Hartley's lies, but he could see right through it.

“Cisco,” Caitlin said quietly with mild surprise and disappointment.

“I think that’s a great idea, Hartley,” Ronnie said, ignoring Cisco altogether. “We’ve worked together for a couple of years, but I have no idea what you like to do with your time off. Before you got here we were talking about the new Batman movie that’s coming out soon. Do you plan to go see it?”

The young man held back a sneer as he simply answered, “No. I'm afraid I'm not that much of a fan of a man who spends his evenings, jumping off rooftops, dressed as a bat.” “Come on, Caitlin, don't tell me you honestly believe this crap?” Cisco hissed to the woman under his breath. “This is Hartley, remember? The guy who never has a nice thing to say about anyone. Who has gone out of his way to make my life hell since my first day here!”

He wouldn’t say it, but it hurt him a little that she and Ronnie were so quick to bury the hatchet. Despite Cisco's efforts, Hartley heard him. “I can hear you...” Hartley smirked inwardly. He hadn't even begun to rile up Ramon and already things were working out in his favor. If things carried on this way then it'd be no trouble at all getting Dr. Wells to fire him.

Caitlin gave Cisco a pleading look and said, without whispering, “I know exactly who Hartley is.”

She turned back to Hartley and said, “We’ll never be friends, but we all believe in Dr. Wells’ vision, so we should try to get along at work.” She turned back to Cisco and added, “All of us.”

Realizing that getting through to Caitlin and Ronnie was looking to be something of a lost cause, Cisco resumed eating, glaring down at his plate. Damn it, why was he the only one with a bullshit radar?

The rest of lunch passed in relative peace, albeit a somewhat uncomfortable one as Cisco spent it in total silence, surfing his phone, while Hartley exchanged a rather stilted, forced conversation with Ronnie and Caitlin.

Cisco was sure he'd get a lecture from Caitlin later, but he didn't care. If she and Ronnie wanted to play along with Hartley's game and ignore the fact that he was a natural-born asshole, fine, but he wouldn't. There was nothing genuine about Hartley's ‘change of heart’ and, since they wouldn't believe him, it was best he just say nothing at all.

Hartley, with an eagle eyed gaze, watched the fuming Cisco, waiting for his time to strike.

Said moment finally came when Caitlin and Ronnie turned to each other and became engrossed in discussing their plans for their date tonight. With them distracted, he leaned towards Cisco and said under his breath, “I must say, Ciscquito, you're far smarter than I believed.”

Don't call me that!” Cisco hissed, not even bothering to look up at Hartley. “In fact, don't talk to me period!”

Hartley let out an infuriating chuckle. “My my, you really hate me.”

Cisco said nothing. Not that this did nothing to deter Hartley.

“Not that I blame you, I am better than you in every way.”

Cisco was just about to make one of his snarky comments, but Hartley's next words made him freeze.

“It's only natural for you to be jealous of me.”

What.The.Hell!” Cisco stared at Hartley, outraged. “I’m not jealous of you! You're the one who's jealous of me!”

That's what this was all about. Sure, Hartley looked down on him for a number of petty reasons, but what it all came down to was that Hartley didn't like how well Cisco and Dr. Wells got along and feared he would be replaced. He wouldn't admit it, but Hartley wanted Dr. Wells all to himself and saw Cisco as competition - no - a threat.

An unpleasant smirk made its way onto Hartley's face at this. “Me? Jealous of you? Cute.”

He leaned forward until their faces were inches apart and said, in a low voice, “Don't insult my intelligence by insinuating that I'd ever desire anything to do with you, Cisquito. I'M Dr. Wells’ favorite; I'M the ‘Chosen One’. You are just a mere employee, a mediocre joke who got lucky. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Dr. Wells only keeps you around because he finds your impersonation of a desperate canine amusing, like a pet if you will. It's only a matter of time till he gets bored and fires you.”

And then, whispering into Ramon's ear, Hartley finished it off with a final insult: “Que te jodan!”

That did it for Cisco. Before he could stop himself, he saw red and punched Hartley Rathaway right in the face.

Gasping with shock, Caitlin instinctually scooted away from the movement beside her. She saw Hartley holding his nose, and couldn’t quite believe that friendly, easygoing Cisco Ramon had actually punched Hartley. Sure, she’d heard Hartley’s snide comments, and she knew Hartley was purposely trying to get under Cisco’s skin, but she never would have guessed that Cisco would respond to that with physical violence.

Ronnie stood and stepped in between Hartley and Caitlin to protect her if things escalated. He glared at Hartley and then Cisco and said, “What the hell?”

Cisco, still under the throes of his anger, tried to get past Ronnie so he could punch Hartley's smug face some more. “You didn't hear the things he said to me. He swore at me! In Spanish!”

He knew that he should calm down, that doing anything more would only make things worse for him, but he couldn't. He was just so sick of Hartley Rathaway’s bullshit! It wasn't good enough that he put him down every chance he got when they were working, he had to invade his personal time with his friends and try and ruin that too?

Hartley, on the other hand, was jubilant. His nose was bleeding and his glasses were broken, but he'd accomplished what he'd set out to do. The damage had been done and Cisco Ramon was sure to get fired now.

“If I were you, I'd start packing up my stuff now,” he jeered.

Ronnie put a hand on Cisco’s chest to keep him from getting any closer to Hartley, and turned this head to Caitlin for a second. “Go get Wells.”

Caitlin nodded quickly, jumped up, and rushed out of the room to go get their boss.

Ronnie glared at Hartley and said, “You shut up,” before turning his glare to Cisco and added, “And you calm down.”

Cisco went to protest, but upon seeing the look on Ronnie's face, took a deep breath and turned his back on Hartley.

Making his way back to his seat, he buried his face in his hands, gripping his black locks.

He was so upset he was shaking. Him! No one had made him this angry before, not even his older brother, Dante! Hartley watched Cisco Ramon smugly before turning his attention back to Ronnie Raymond. “I trust that you and Caitlin will do the right thing. Remember, he assaulted me, I'm the victim here.”

Ronnie leaned down into Hartley’s personal space, and said through clenched teeth, “I told you to shut up. I won’t lie to Dr. Wells for either one of you. Your antics have been hurting Caitlin for days, and I’m sick of it.”

Before Hartley had a chance to respond, Dr. Wells rushed into the room with Caitlin not far behind. He stopped short when he saw Hartley’s nose and glasses.

“What happened?” he demanded.

Hartley didn’t give a chance for Caitlin or Ronnie to say a word. “Isn't it obvious, Sir? I sat down to have lunch with them, made an effort to socialize, and Ramon attacks me. I expected as much, he was hostile from the get-go and everyone here will tell you as much.” He shook his head disparagingly. “And you wonder why I don't want him working here?”

Cisco had calmed down by this point and now anger had given way to shock as it dawned on him that he'd screwed up big time by losing control like that and Hartley might be right in saying his employment at S.T.A.R Labs was now in jeopardy.

Blinking, he stared from Ronnie to Caitlin and then finally Dr. Wells, trying to make sense of the situation and wondering just how he was going to get out of this.

His heart sank as their eyes fell on him, their expressions ranging from condemnation to disappointment. “I...” He gulped. “I'm sorry, I don't know what happened. H-he pushed me and pushed me and I just lost it.”

Dr. Wells looked at Ronnie and said, “What’s your version of events, Ronnie?”

“Hartley has been harassing Cisco since the day he started. Not just a little harassment either, Hartley is purposely cruel to him all day, every day. But Cisco could have prevented a lot of that by reacting differently to Hartley’s taunts from the start. Today at lunch it was the usual. Hartley pushed and pushed, but this time Cisco lost his temper and punched him. Frankly, Sir, I think they’re both acting like five-year-olds and everyone is tired of it.”

Cisco hung his head as some of the other employees nodded their heads in agreement to this. He knew the building hostility between he and Hartley was bad, but he'd never realized it was so bad that it was honestly starting to affect everyone else.

“I'm sorry,” he mumbled, ashamed, saying it to Ronnie and Caitlin, but intending his apology for everyone. Except for Hartley. Screw him.

Dr. Wells gave both Cisco and Hartley withering glares. “Hartley, go with Caitlin and let her look at your nose. Once she’s given you the all clear, come see me in my office.” He turned to Cisco. “You come with me right now.”

He turned to walk away expecting to be obeyed.

Hartley promptly strode out with Caitlin in tow, smirking at Cisco Ramon over his shoulder. Well, that was that. By the time he was done been checked over and made his way to see Harrison, Cisquito would be an ex-employee of S.T.A.R. Labs. Cisco didn't notice Hartley's last attempt to rile him up, having jumped from his chair and followed Dr. Wells' lead the second the man ordered him to follow. He wanted to stop and apologize once again to Ronnie, but had no time. It wouldn't look good to keep Dr. Wells waiting, plus there'd be time later on to make it up to his friends... he hoped.

As soon as they got to his office, Dr. Wells closed the door behind them, and turned displeased eyes on Cisco. “Was Ronnie’s assessment of the situation accurate?”

“Well, yeah, I guess...” Cisco hesitated, before adding on, “I know punching Hartley was kinda O.T.T, but you weren't there! Ronnie and Caitlin didn't hear the things he said to me, they didn't see that Hartley was putting on this act. All that stuff about wanting to turn over a new leaf was a bunch of crap, he just wanted to rub it in my face how he's ‘The Chosen One’ and I'm below him in every way, just like always.”

He deserved what he got. You can't make me apologize.’ He thought, but didn't say.

Wells shook his head. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize Hartley was being so extreme, but lashing out and punching him is completely unacceptable. You should have come to me about this the first week you were here instead of letting it fester to the point where you couldn’t control yourself.”

He crossed his arms and sighed. “I need time to decide how I’m going to resolve this issue. I want you to stay at your desk for the rest of the day, and later tonight after everyone is gone, I want you to come back to my office so we can talk. Understood?”

Cisco didn't say anything, eyes kept firmly on the ground. There were a lot of things he wanted to say in response. ‘I didn't tell you because I feared you'd take Hartley's side over mine’, being one of them, but he didn't. Dr. Wells was upset enough at him, arguing back wouldn't help matters at all. If there was even the slightest chance that his boss wasn't going to resolve the situation by firing him over Hartley Rathaway, he didn't want to screw it up.

So, nodding his head, Cisco silently left the office and returned to his desk, waiting for the verdict. As for Hartley, he’d just finished getting checked over by Caitlin (who was none too gentle and spent the whole time silently glaring at him). Now, he sauntered over to Wells’ office, confident that he would be receiving the news that Cisco Ramon had been promptly fired for his actions earlier.

Coming to a stop outside his boss's office, he knocked.

Wells had been pacing his office, getting angrier about the situation as the minutes ticked by. He was on a time schedule, and the last thing he needed was this kind of petty crap between employees. When he finally heard a knock on his door, he wrenched it open, pointed to the couch in his office, and roughly ordered, “Sit down, Hartley.”

Hartley didn't waste any time, taking a seat on the couch.

'Not quite the welcome I was expecting,' he thought to himself as Wells slammed the door shut. 'I was hoping for an apology and "You were right, Hartley, I should never have hired him", or "Don't worry, you're still my guy."'Unable to help himself, he asked, “Am I wrong to presume that your bad mood is due to having no other alternative but to fire Cisco Ramon? Because, if so, Harrison, there's no need to be so upset. You made the right decision.”

Wells loomed over Hartley, put his hands on his hips, and shook his head. “I did not, and will not, fire Cisco over this, because it’s seventy percent your fault. I asked you to stop taunting him, and then I ordered you to stop taunting him, and you still continued to do it. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I’m actually ashamed of your behavior. I expected better of you.”

Why not?” Hartley spat, frustration and resentment bubbling to the surface as he realized that his plan had failed. “Tell me, Harrison, what is so special about him? Why do you insist on keeping him around, even though it's causing problems? And I would hardly call the things I said to him as ‘taunting’. I prefer home truths.”

Hartley narrowed his brown eyes at this boss. “But, more importantly, he attacked me today. He should be punished!”

“Oh, don’t worry, you’re both going to be punished for this, but we’re going to talk first. You just asked me ‘what’s so special about Cisco’, but I’m going to turn that around and ask you that same question. You’ve made it clear that you don’t like anyone who works here, including Ronnie or Caitlin, and yet you haven’t targeted anyone other than Cisco. So what’s so special about him?”

Hartley said nothing, merely crossing his arms. When it became clear that Wells was waiting for an answer, he sneered, “What do you want me to say? I'm jealous that you like him more and he'll end up replacing me? Well, maybe I am. I've seen the way he acts around you, Sir, like some star-struck fan boy or pet, desperate for whatever praise or affection he can get from you.” He shook his head in disdain. He could practically see the imaginary tail wagging whenever Cisco Ramon was talking or working with Harrison. “It's not the first time I've seen an intern or employee act that way around you, but, what makes Mr. Ramon different from the rest, the reason why I loathe him is because...I know I'm right, that I'm not being paranoid.” Looking up, he fixed Wells with a stony stare. “It's not one-sided, is it, Harrison? He's becoming ‘your guy’.”

With that statement, some of Wells’ anger dissipated. He sighed and sat down next to the young man on the couch. “No, you’re looking at it all wrong, Hartley. Yes, I like Cisco. I like everyone who’s smart enough to help further our cause, but it’s more than that, I enjoy spending time with him to see how his brain works. But he’s not going to replace you. No one could. If a father has two sons, one could never replace the other; the father appreciates them both equally for their own unique talents and personalities.”

He put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder and added, “I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told you before. While you may annoy most of the employees with your candid and blunt remarks about how you see the world, I almost always agree with you. You and I view the world through a negative lens, and not many people do. Because of that, I’ll always appreciate spending time with you.” He squeezed his shoulder once before letting his hand drop.

Hartley didn't say anything in response, though it was clear from his conflicted expression that he'd been affected by Wells’ words. If he were feeling more vulnerable, he'd have said more on the matter. ‘I wish I could believe you,’ or ‘I don't want to share you with Cisco Ramon. He has a family, I have no one,’ but his sense of pride stopped him. To say anymore would make him seem nothing less then pathetic or needy in Harrison Wells’ eyes, he was sure.

So he shrugged, instead. “Very well. I've said my part and what's done is done, so, since you won't be firing Mr. Ramon, I guess I have no choice but to accept that and try and co-exist peacefully with him.”

And then, “So, what now? What's my punishment?”

“I wish you could have agreed to try and co-exist peacefully before today’s fiasco,” Wells said, “because I really don’t want to do this, but you haven’t left me much choice. You defied me several times over the past couple of weeks, so this punishment is going to be quite harsh, and I’m sure it’s going to hurt, but I think it will be an effective deterrent to defying me in the future.”

He regretfully said, “All day tomorrow you aren’t allowed to do any of your regular work. Instead you’ll spend all eight hours doing janitorial services.”

Hartley made a sound that was a cross between a scoff and a laugh. “Janitorial duties? Seriously?

And then indignation took over as he imagined how humiliating such a punishment would be, the jeers and scorn his peers - no inferiors - would throw at him when his back was turned.

That he could not allow. “Suspend me,” he growled through gritted teeth. “Make me do lines; put me on the naughty step, I don't care, just anything but that!”

“No.” He said gently. “My decision stands. I’ll speak with, Felix, the manager of our janitorial services, today and tell him you’ll be reporting for duty first thing tomorrow morning. You’ll be his employee for the day.”

Grinding his teeth, Hartley tried his best not to lose his cool and launch a tirade of complaints at Wells.

“And what about Cisco Ramon, hmmm? Will he be joining me as S.T.A.R Labs newest, one-day-only janitor?”

Why did he get the feeling that that wouldn't be the case?

“No he won’t. Doing janitorial services wouldn’t bother Cisco in the least, so it wouldn’t be an effective punishment for him. I’m not going to discuss Cisco’s punishment with you, because it’s none of your business, but I give you my word that his punishment will be just as difficult for him to endure as your punishment will be for you to endure. And it will absolutely deter him from punching you, or anyone else, in the future.”

‘It better. I want him to suffer as much as I'm going to.’ Hartley thought. Truth be told, he wasn't convinced, but what could he do? Wells wasn't going to tell him and even Hartley wouldn't go so far as to resort to waiting in the shadows once everyone was gone to see for himself what the boss had in store for Cisco Ramon. “Fair enough, so long as his punishment is just as severe as mine.” Hartley stood up, seeing no further reason to continue their little meeting. “Do you want me to go back to work or take the rest of the day off?”

Wells stood up, too, pleased that Hartley had agreed so quickly. “I think you should take the rest of the day off. Take some painkillers for your nose, and rest. If you don’t feel well tomorrow, just call me and let me know, and we can schedule your janitorial service for the day after that.”

‘I can hardly wait’, Hartley thought sarcastically to himself. Tomorrow was going to be the worst day of his life, he was sure of it. Nodding his head, he made his way to leave. At least he could take comfort that, for the rest of today, he wouldn't be forced to interact with the others and that Cisco's punishment was next.

# # #

Cisco couldn't relax. He was stressed on what was going to happen when he saw Wells after work today.

“Have you ever gotten into trouble before?” He asked Caitlin when she passed by his desk. “What did Wells do?”

“I haven’t,” she said, “but Ronnie did once. He got taken off the project he was working on for two days. I though he’d get an ulcer he was so anxious about someone else working on it without him. He hasn’t made Wells angry since.”

She gave Cisco a sympathetic smile and added, “On the plus side, once the two days were over, Dr. Wells didn’t stay angry or hold the initial problem over Ronnie’s head.”

She gestured towards her lab and said, “I’ve got to get back to work.”

“Yeah, thanks Caitlin,” he said as the woman left, turning his attentions back to his desk.

Cisco relaxed somewhat. That...that wasn't so bad. Unlike Ronnie, he could handle the thought of been taken off a project for a day or two. It would suck, but he could just spend the day browsing Netflix or start his own project, no big deal.

By the time it was the end of the day, Cisco's nerves had returned and they only got worse as he stood outside Dr. Wells' office and knocked.

Wells heard the knock and called out, “Come in.”

He watched Cisco enter and shut the door behind him with a shaking hand. He then stood up from behind his desk and gestured to the couch. “Have a seat Mr. Ramon.”

Once Cisco was seated, Wells went to the front of his desk and sat on the edge. “You haven’t been working here for very long, so it’s both disappointing and awkward that I already have to punish you. Generally I know my employees much better than I know you if the need for punishment arises. But I’m already fairly certain that I know what is going to work for you, even though we’ve only known each other a few weeks. I’m going to ask you a question, and I expect an honest answer. Did you ever get spanked as a child?”

Cisco's eyes widened at this and, for a moment, he was speechless. When he'd walked into Wells' office, resigned to whatever punishment he was going to get, he hadn't expected that the first thing his boss would ask him is if he'd ever been spanked.

“, from my grandma, but...what's that got to do with anything?”

Wells nodded when he received the answer he’d been expecting. “Most of the people I hire are coming here straight out of college, just like you, and for many of them that means this is their first serious job. Because of that, I end up correcting a lot of what I would call adolescent and unprofessional behavior. But, on the flip side, because the people I pick are brilliant, like you, I can’t easily replace them. Over the years I’ve found that trying to punish everyone the same way isn’t efficient or productive. I’m good at reading people, and knowing what will motivate them to change their behavior in the future.”

“Unfortunately for you, Mr. Ramon,” Wells continued, “the conventional methods of punishment in the workplace aren’t going to be an effective deterrent. A spanking, on the other hand, will dissuade you from future impulsive and violent behavior, like punching a co-worker.”

Cisco was chuffed that Wells' thought he was brilliant. It thrilled him to hear such high praise his idol. But, he was also very, very mortified. He was dying of embarrassment. His boss, the great Harrison Wells, a man who he had looked up to since he was in college, intended to spank him.

He couldn't make up his mind what was worse about this whole scenario: The spanking itself, or the fact that it would be his boss administering it.

Still, despite this, Cisco couldn't bring himself to argue. His employment at S.T.A.R Labs was more than a new, exciting opportunity for him, it was a blessing; an experience he never wanted to end. He didn't want to jeopardize that any further by refusing. Plus, if he did, what if Wells lost his respect for him? Or, worse, fell out with him over it? He didn't want to even think about it. He meekly nodded his head. “Erm, okay, I guess. I'd prefer - I mean really prefer - you punish me with something else, but,” he started to gulp excessively, a sign of his growing nerves, “if that's what you want to do, Dr. Wells, then...” He trailed off awkwardly, eyes now staring at the ground, his cheeks reddening.

On the one hand Wells felt bad for the kid, because Cisco was clearly embarrassed about the situation, but on the other hand he deserved some embarrassment for punching Hartley.

He walked over to the little couch, and sat on the edge next to Cisco. He put a hand on the young man’s shoulder and said, “No, I don’t want to, but I’m going to. There’s a difference. I genuinely like you, Cisco, and I know you’re going to be invaluable in getting the particle accelerator up and running, as long as you’re able to keep yourself in check around Hartley.”

‘Maybe if Hartley wasn't such an insufferable dick, this wouldn't be an issue’, Cisco restrained himself from saying. It was the truth, but the only thing it'd achieve would be making him seem petty.

However, with Wells’ next words, Hartley Rathaway left his thoughts altogether.

Wells moved his hand from Cisco’s shoulder to his upper arm, and got a solid grip on it. “I’ve only resorted to spanking as a punishment a couple of times before, and I’ve always put the person over my desk for it, but I’m going to make an exception in your case.” He gently pulled at the arm he was holding as he said, “You’re going over my lap for this.”

“Your lap?” Cisco repeated, blinking at Dr. Wells. As the reality sank in, his face became more flustered. “Bu-But why? Why can't I bend over the desk like the others?”

He didn't know why it was such a big deal to him - it was going to hurt and be humiliating regardless of the position - but it was. If he had to guess, he’d suppose it was because he associated ‘Over the lap’ spankings with the few times in the past he misbehaved and his grandmother spanked him. To Cisco, it felt too personal, invasive.

“A couple of reasons,” Wells said. “First and foremost, because impulsively lashing out and punching another person is something a five-year-old would do, and I’m a big proponent of having the punishment fit the crime. But also because Hartley is like family to me, and I think with time you’ll be like family to me too, so going over a desk seems too impersonal for this incident.”

He slightly pulled at Cisco’s arm again and said, “So it’s time to go over my lap, or tell me you’re quitting.”

Cisco grimaced. Well, when he put it like that, no way was he going to refuse, was he?

Resigned, he obediently shifted forward over the older man's lap, trying to get into a somewhat comfortable position, not that it was going to help much. Once that was done, he buried his face in his hands, praying for this to be over with as quickly as possible.

Pleased with the compliance, Wells put a hand on Cisco’s back, and gave the kid two firm spanks, one on each side of his rear end. He paused and said, “You will not punch your fellow employees, no matter what they say to you.”

Without waiting for a response, he started systematically covering Cisco’s backside with sharp slaps.

“Ye-Yes, Dr. Wells,” Cisco managed to reply back.

Wells spanked a lot harder then his grandma ever did. With her, it was quick, sharp slaps, over quickly and, in hindsight, none too painful. Nothing like this. Wells was calculating, making sure every slap counted and Cisco was finding it harder to bear then he’d anticipated.

He tried to hold back a groan as the man's hand came down particularly hard, but it still managed to escape. His back legs were steadily kicking up more and more as the burn increased.

Once he could tell the spanking was getting to the younger man, Wells started lecturing while he spanked methodically. “If Hartley or any of the other employees are harassing you, you need to come to me and tell me about it. You don’t let their words fester in your head until you can’t take it anymore and lash out. Assaulting a fellow employee is illegal, and if Hartley was adamant about pressing charges, there wouldn’t be much I could do about it. Luckily for you, Hartley isn’t the type to do that, anymore than you’re the type to press charges against me for doing this to you. Besides being illegal, losing your temper like you did also gives power to the person harassing you, because they know they’ve caused that response in you.”

“Yes, Dr. Wells,” Cisco repeated. It was better to say that then try and argue back about Hartley Rathaway's dickery and how sometimes things weren't that simple. Despite his efforts to take his punishment as calmly and quietly as possible, Cisco found himself starting to break very quickly. The burn building up in his ass was becoming unbearable, as was the lecture Wells was giving to him, delivered in that stern but oh so disappointed tone of voice that drove him crazy. “Please stop,” he begged, tears building up in his eyes, as he reached around and tried to shield his bottom or stop Wells’ hand. “I get what you're saying and it won't happen again, so please stop!”

Wells paused to take the kid’s wrist in a firm grip, and gently pulled the hand away from the target area. “It had better not happen again,” he said.

He looked down at Cisco, cataloging all of his physical responses to what had happened so far, and decided that the young man had almost had enough. “I’m inclined to go easy on you this time since you were clearly provoked. Six more and we’ll be done.”

Wanting to make these last six memorable, Wells raised his hand a little higher, aimed for Cisco’s right sit-spot, and brought it down with a thwack.

Cisco closed his eyes. Six more? It didn't sound that much but, right now, those six remaining slaps felt like they would last an eternity. Like they were even more painful and unbearable than the ones preceding them.

As Dr. Wells’ hand came down hard on his sit spot, he bit down on his lip, enough so that it left dents. If he didn't, he was sure he'd lose all composure. That undignified yells would erupt from him and his legs would kick all over the place. It’d be embarrassing, and sure to make Dr. Wells’ annoyed, so he had to stay strong.

He did cry, though. That he couldn't stop. Once one tear fell, like dominoes, more followed and soon he was full on sobbing.

Wells finished up the remaining swats fairly quickly, concentrating the hits on the younger man’s lower bottom and upper thighs. He could hear Cisco crying through it, and when he stopped, the sound of tears filled the otherwise quiet room.

Wells started to gently rub circles on the younger man’s back, and let go of the captured wrist. He said softly, “Okay, it’s done. You’re forgiven.”

At these words, Cisco tried to get a hold of himself. It was embarrassing, he was an adult and Wells hadn't even spanked him that much, yet here he was now, draped across the older man's lap, bawling as if he were a little kid all over again!

Eventually he managed to regain some control and stop the tears.

Hoisting himself off Wells’ lap, he rubbed at his reddened eyes, before turning to face his boss. Taking a deep breath, he croaked, “I’m sorry, Sir, about today. I promise it won't happen again.”

Wells stood and put a hand on Cisco’s shoulder. He gave the younger man a smile and squeezed his shoulder gently. “Apology accepted, Mr. Ramon, and I’m sure it won’t happen again.”

He let his hand drop, and walked over to the desk to grab a few tissues. He handed them to Cisco and said, “What are you going to do tomorrow if Hartley gives you any trouble?”

“I won't rise to take the bait and... and if he continues, I'll notify you.” Cisco sniffed, wiping his eyes vigorously. It was embarrassing, as if he were a little kid again back at school, but then he supposed he only had himself to blame for that.

Wells nodded. “Good.”

He sat on the edge of his desk and said, “Now I need to warn you about tomorrow. I’m forcing Hartley to do janitorial services all day, and he’s quite unhappy about it. It’s going to be difficult for him, probably more difficult than tonight was for you because of the public aspect of the punishment. After everything he’s put you through, I would understand if you had the impulse to taunt him over it, but I’m telling you right now that you’re not allowed to do that. If I hear about you taunting him, or laughing at him even once tomorrow, you’ll be going over my knee again tomorrow night.”

It was hard for Cisco not to smirk when he heard that Hartley would be on janitor duty tomorrow. Very hard. If not for the fact that Dr. Wells’ would surely be unimpressed if he did and, he wouldn’t have been able to stop himself from snickering.

He gulped however at the warning that he'd be getting another spanking should he try and provoke Hartley in anyway tomorrow. While the prospect of making fun of Hartley and putting him down like the young man had done so many times to him was a sweet one indeed, it wasn't worth another spanking like the one he'd received today.

He hated to admit it, but it would be better to be the bigger man tomorrow.

“Roger, Dr. Wells,” Cisco nodded, hoping his boss would see that he'd got the message loud and clear.

Wells raised one eyebrow, assessing the younger man’s sincerity, before giving him a nod. “Alright then,” he waived a hand towards his office door, “you’re free to go home for the night. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

“Thanks, see you tomorrow!” Cisco said, his words all but jumbling together as he raced out of the office. He wanted to get home and tend to his sore ass, as well as get over the embarrassment that his boss of all people actually gave him a spanking. He just hoped the older man wasn't offended by his hasty retreat. He also wondered if, come tomorrow, he'd be able to look Dr. Wells in the eyes or not…

Wells smiled fondly as he watched Cisco go, pleased that he’d been right about which punishment would work best for the kid. He started gathering up his stuff to go home for the night, and hoped that tomorrow wouldn’t be too rough for Hartley.

# # #

The next day, Hartley awoke, dreading going to work and the humiliation that awaited him. He knew no one would say anything - even if Dr. Wells' wouldn't stand for it, he would make sure they regretted it - but that was beside the point. It was a matter or pride, of dignity, and he was about to lose both in one fell swoop today with this ridiculous punishment.

With a face like thunder, he made his way to the janitor rather than his desk.

Wells was talking to the head janitor, Felix, when Hartley arrived. Wells could tell by the kid’s expression, that he was already pissed about the day.

Ignoring the attitude, Wells said, “Ah, there you are. I don’t know if you’ve met him or not, but this is Felix our head janitor. You’ll be working for him today. Felix, this is Hartley, he’s lead physicist on the particle accelerator project.”

Felix held his hand out to shake.

Hartley would rather have decline, but one warning flash from Wells' was enough for him to realize that that'd be a bad idea.

So, he plastered a smile on his face and gave a curt, half-hearted handshake. “No, I'm afraid I haven't. Nice to meet you,” he said.

‘And I hope I never again,’ he thought viciously, finding it harder to be cordial.

“Felix is fully aware that you’re here as punishment,” Wells said, “because I’ve used this method on other employees in the past. He also knows that you’re not happy to be here. I’ve paid Felix a substantial bonus to look after you today, and to give me an honest report about your behavior at the end of the day. I don’t need the report to be glowing, but if it’s full of you being snarky to other employees, I might have to get creative in finding you another, less pleasant, punishment. Have I made myself clear?”

“Yes, Sir,” he sighed. Less pleasant? What could be any less pleasant than this? Hartley wondered. As far as he was concerned, this was as bad as it could possibly get. The ultimate humiliation.“So, what would you like me to do first? Do I have to wear one of those...things,” he asked, eyes trailing distastefully over Felix's getup.

“Yes, you do have to wear the uniform; otherwise people might wonder why some random person was emptying their garbage.” Dr. Wells gestured to Felix and said, “He’ll show you where you can get changed, and I’ll come check on you at lunch time.”

Hartley's scowl deepened, but he said nothing, merely turning his back on his boss to follow Felix as the man led him to the dressing room where he could change into his new uniform. As for Cisco, he was suffering the after-effects of the punishment yesterday evening. He'd forgotten how sore he felt after receiving a spanking as a child, how he would flinch every time he sat down. It was even worse this time because Dr. Wells had been far harsher than his grandmother had ever been... "Morning," he said weakly as Ronnie and Caitlin passed by.

“Hey,” Ronnie said as he walked past.

Caitlin paused while Ronnie went to his desk. She looked Cisco up and down with concern. “Are you okay?” she asked. “You look really tired.”

“Huh?” Cisco blinked at Caitlin, processing this, before thinking up a suitable answer. “Oh, yeah, I'm fine, thanks. Didn't sleep much last night.”

He hadn't, though this was due to the discomfort resulting from the spanking, rather than anything else. Not that he was going to tell her that.

She gave him a knowing smile and said, “Gaming until 2am again?”

Cisco gave a strained smile in response, one he hoped Caitlin interpreted as sheepish, rather than painfully awkward. "Yeaaaah...pretty much. Won't be happening again, that's for sure." Looking around, he then asked the question that had been bugging him ever since he came in this morning. "Erm, where's Hartley?"

Caitlin shrugged. “I haven’t seen him yet today.” She looked around to make sure no one was listening in and then whispered to Cisco, “But after yesterday it wouldn’t surprise me if he got suspended for a few days. Actually I didn’t expect to see you here today either, I thought you’d both get suspended for a few days. What did Dr. Wells say to you last night?”

Cisco couldn't force a smile anyone. His face turning red, he avoided making eye contact with Caitlin and busied himself with re-arranging the belongings and papers on his desk. "Nothing good, that's all I'll say," he muttered. "I am never getting in trouble again! I don't care what Hartley says anymore, I'm not going to do anything that'll make Dr. Wells angry at me again."

With a sympathetic wince, she said, "That bad huh? Try to console yourself with the thought that Dr. Wells is always fair. At least as far as I've seen he is, so I'm sure Hartley suffered just as much as you."

She walked towards her lab and said, "See you at lunch."

“See ya, Cailtin.” Cisco muttered, watching the woman walk away. Despite her words of comfort, Cisco wasn't convinced. Not to say he believed favoritism was involved, but he just didn't see Hartley being punished as severely as he was yesterday. That was his initial opinion. Right up until lunchtime, when he was sitting with Caitlin and Ronnie and spotted Hartley, not sitting alone, but decked out in what looked to be a janitorial outfit.

Caitlin couldn't help but stare at Hartley for a few seconds, before turning wide eyes to Cisco. She whispered, "Janitorial services? Hartley?"

Ronnie smirked. "That should bring him down a peg or two."

Cisco said nothing, simply staring, open-mouthed, at Hartley with wide eyes. When he did speak, it was to gasp under his breath, “Holy crap. No way.”He had to be dreaming, he quickly decided. Hartley Rathaway, the Golden Boy of STAR Labs, was a few feet away from, doing janitorial service? It was too good to be true! Noticing their stares, Hartley looked up and sent a death glare their way.

Dr. Wells walked into the lunchroom to see Hartley glaring at Cisco, while Cisco stared at Hartley with wide shocked eyes. Dr. Wells cleared his throat to announce his presence before either of the boys had a chance to say or do something they might all regret.

The reaction from both men was vastly different. Cisco's brown eyes widened to almost comical levels when he saw it was none other than Dr. Wells. His cheeks burned red as the memory of what transpired yesterday evening returned to him. "D-Dr. Wells! Good morning!" He quickly replied, trying to act as if none of it had ever happened. Hartley just rolled his eyes, annoyed at the interruption. He wouldn't have said anything - maybe - so Harrison needn't have bothered stepping in as he was doing right now, whether he admitted it or not. "Don't say it. I'll go elsewhere." He drawled, walking away before the man could speak.

Dr. Wells paused long enough to send Cisco a reassuring smile and a nod as he said, “Morning Cisco.”

He walked across the room to speak with Felix, and get an update on Hartley’s behavior.

Cisco let out a sigh of relief once Dr. Wells left him. He'd worried that Dr. Wells might get the wrong end of the stick there, but crisis averted.

Dr. Wells was pleased to hear that Hartley hadn’t caused any trouble, even though he was clearly not happy about his day. Once he was done talking to Felix, he went to find the young man.

He found his protégé emptying the trash in the hallway by the lunchroom. “Felix says you’re holding up fairly well all things considered.”

"Did he now." Hartley responded, not looking up to face Harrison. "That's an understatement if ever I heard one. You and he both should be considering it a miracle that I've gone along with this infernal punishment and held back from saying anything to those insufferable gawkers." He tied up the black bug of garbage and then dropped it none too gently on the floor, his frustrations getting the better of him. "Do you have any idea how embarrassing today has been for me, Harrison?"

“I do.” Dr. Wells said. “Embarrassment is the punishment.” He put a hand on Hartley’s shoulder and said, “I’m proud of you for keeping it together so far. Keep yourself in check for the rest of the day, and it will all be over.”

He let his hand drop and said, “Come see me in my office before you leave for the day.”

Whilst Wells words of encouragement weren't enough to lighten Hartley's mood, they at least calmed him down somewhat. The day was far from over, he still had to endure a few more hours of this humiliation, but just knowing the end was soon was enough to placate his dark mood. He nodded. "Very well. Am I right to assume our unfinished chess game will be waiting when I get there?"

“Absolutely.” Dr. Wells started walking back into the lunchroom and said over his shoulder, “I’ll see you then.”

Switching his focus, Dr. Wells went to talk to Cisco, but found the lunchroom table empty. He hoped that the kid wasn’t trying to avoid him.

Frowning, he went to find the young man.

Cisco plopped down in his chair, ready to get back to work. He remembered too late about how sore his ass was thanks to Dr. Wells’s punishment yesterday and bit his lip to stop himself from crying out. Never again, Cisco. He thought. Never again.

Dr. Wells came into the room just in time to see Cisco’s discomfort when he sat. He walked over to his newest employee, and stood by his desk. “Hey, Cisco, I was hoping you could help me in my office for the rest of the afternoon. The parts were delivered to make the new scale model of the particle accelerator with the changes you suggested, and it’s a two-person job. I hope you wore comfortable shoes, because you’ll be standing for the next few hours.” He gave Cisco a wink.

"Oh, s-sure, Dr. Wells," Cisco nodded enthusiastically, half relived, but also half embarrassed because he knew his boss knew that his ass was killing him this morning thanks to yesterdays punishment. Still, at the very least he wasn't making it awkward or rubbing it in his face. Jumping out of his chair, he bounced off after Dr. Wells.

# # #

Dr. Wells looked at the clock. It was getting late, which meant Hartley should be arriving any moment. Wells had sent a relatively happy looking Cisco home half an hour ago after they’d assembled the model. He wanted to make sure the two young men didn’t run into each other while Hartley was still on punishment duty and likely to be close to his breaking point.

Wells sat down at the chess table, hoping that it wouldn’t take long to sooth Hartley’s damaged pride.

Hartley made his way to Dr. Wells’s office, tired, fed-up at the world, but ultimately relieved. That godawful punishment was over, he could now relax knowing he'd never have to put on that vile uniform and clean up after other people ever again. As insufferable as Cisco Ramon was to Hartley, his pride meant more. Soon as he reached the office, he opened the door, not even bothering to knock. He needn't worry; Harrison knew he didn't do it out of rudeness

Dr. Wells smiled when he saw Hartley. “There you are.” He gestured to the other side of the chess table. “Have a seat.” As Hartley was sitting Wells said, “I haven’t heard from Felix, so that must mean the rest of your time with him went by without incident?”

Hartley nodded. "Naturally. If it hadn't, I have no doubt you'd have heard about it and we wouldn't be sitting here as we are right now, correct?"

“Correct,” he agreed. Gesturing at the board he said, “I believe it was your move.”

Hartley sat down and assessed the chess board with tired, critical eyes. Despite his eagerness to resume the match earlier, he no longer felt mentally or physically in the right state to carry it through. Still, he had to, if only for the fact that Harrison might take a refusal as a sign of petulance. He moved one of the pawns, taking down one of the older man's. "Not that I'm complaining, but it doesn't feel like Ramon suffered at all for what he did."

Dr. Wells raised an eyebrow at Hartley’s move. The young man clearly wasn’t very focused, because with that move Wells would have him in checkmate three moves from now. He moved his bishop into place to set up a trap for Hartley’s king and then made eye contact with the younger man.

He said with sincerity, “Cisco suffered plenty. Just as much as you, but in a completely different way, because working as a janitor for the day wouldn’t have been a punishment for Cisco. You’re going to have to trust me on that one. You should know me well enough by now to believe that I’m a fair man. I would never punish you for taunting him, and then not punish him for punching you.”

"Hmmm, if you say so," Hartley replied, not looking up from the chess pieces. His brows furrowed in frustration at Wells move. He knew it put him in trouble, but the answer on what his next move should be to get out if it escaped him.He soon accepted defeat, letting out a sigh. "Can we continue this tomorrow? After the day I've had, I think I'd prefer to return home, have a nice hot shower, and go to bed end forget all about this day."

Wells nodded in understanding and said, “Of course we can.”

He stood up and walked around the small table. He put a hand on Hartley’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Go home and relax. You’re completely forgiven. Everything will be back to normal tomorrow.”

Simply nodding his head - he couldn't be bothered to say anything - Hartley stood up from his chair, bid Harrison Wells goodbye, then left. He had to hope that Harrison in time would see how right he was about Cisco Ramon. Until then, he'd bite his lip and devote himself fully to seeing the particle accelerator come to fruition.

Wells watched his golden boy leave for the day, and shook his head. He knew Hartley would never like Cisco, but he certainly hoped that over time he’d learn to appreciate the boy’s problem solving abilities so they could all work together to get the particle accelerator up and running.

The End

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