Author’s Notes: This story takes place midway through season one. It was written for a holiday bingo challenge that I’m doing with cat2000 over at the LiveJournal group spanking_world. It fills the ‘spoon or slipper’ bingo square. Here is the prompt from cookielaura that inspired the story:
‘Liv eats the brains of a spoiled, petulant five-year-old and ends up causing havoc for Ravi in the lab. Ravi threatens to spank her and ends up having to follow through.Up to you whether you want to have Clive walking in part way through and being super confused :D’
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, and I’m not making any money from this story.
Warning: Short non-consensual disciplinary spanking of an adult behaving like a child. Also, this is a show about zombies who do eat human brains, so… some people might find this story morbid.
The Terrible Fives THE TERRIBLE FIVES
Ravi pulled up to a large brown building in Seattle’s warehouse district, and turned off the coroner van. He looked over at his friend, who was technically his employee, and said, “Ready?”
Liv nodded. “I just hate it when it’s a kid.”
They got out, showed their badges to the cops guarding the crime scene, and went in.
Ravi was thanking his lucky stars that the most recent brains Liv had eaten were those of a middle-aged accountant. She’d been quite even-tempered for the past few days, even a bit boring; but that was perfect for a case where emotions were already going to be high.
Once they got inside, it was clear that they were on a movie set. One side of the warehouse looked like an expensive restaurant. There were twenty tables with tablecloths and place settings; many of the tables had plates with food on them. Over forty actors and extras were standing near the wall behind the tables. Some were crying, and others looked as if they were in shock. The cops were walking around getting statements from them. The other side of the warehouse had the cameras, sound equipment, directors, and crew; they didn’t look any better off than the actors.
The small male body lay on the floor beside one of the front tables, and an inconsolable weeping woman was kneeling on the floor beside him. A cop was standing next to her, and when he saw Ravi and Liv, he gently pulled the woman up and moved a few paces away, trying to comfort her while also letting the medical examiners do their jobs. Ravi went straight over to the body, with Liv a few paces behind him. They’d already been told it was a male, five years of age, but when Ravi got close enough to see his face, he immediately recognized him. The young actor, Bobby Byrnes had been the star of the huge blockbuster movie, My Buddy, about a boy and his dog, and the equally popular sequel, My Buddy’s Pal.
Knowing this would be a high profile case, Ravi knelt by the body and said quietly to Liv, “Do you know who this is?”
With a sad nod, Liv said, “The kid from those dog movies.”
“Once the media hears about this…” He shook his head; if there was one thing he didn’t need, it was reporters around him asking questions.
“Everything by the book,” Liv said, understanding why Ravi was already nervous about the scrutiny surrounding the work they did.
That thought encouraged him to get to work. After a brief initial exam, he knew without a doubt that the child had been poisoned.
Clive showed up as they were about to bag the body and take it back to their lab. “What do we know so far?” Clive asked.
“He ingested some sort of fast acting poison,” Ravi said, “Most likely from the food or water on the table. I won’t know exactly what until we run some tests, but it looks like cyanide.”
“Any visions so far?” Clive asked Liv
“Do you want to stay with me and question the witnesses? See if you get anything?”
Liv looked at Ravi, who gave her a nod. “Sure.”
# # #
Four hours later, Liv was back in the morgue with Ravi. He’d already done the exam, and confirmed it was cyanide that had killed the boy.
“What did you guys find out so far?” he asked, after he’d shared his findings.
Liv said, “They were in the middle of making another sequel, Me and My Buddy. Everyone we talked to seemed to love Bobby. The cast, the crew, the director, and all the extras thought he was sweet. No one had any clue as to a motive. There were so many people milling around between takes, that anyone there could have poisoned him. His mother, who was also his manager, was too upset to actually say much yet. But she did tell me that she suspected one of the cameramen, Matt Chan. Clive finds that highly unlikely since Matt wasn’t even there today, but a few people did say that Matt wasn’t fond of the kid, so we’re having him brought in for questioning.”
“Here.” Ravi held out one of the metal pans they used for body parts.
Liv looked inside and saw a slice of brains. “Are those…”
Liv shook her head and refused to take the metal pan. “No. No way. It’s hard enough to deal with the personality changes I go though when I eat the brains of another adult. I can’t even imagine what I’d be like with the personality of a five-year-old. What if I start picking my nose while I’m questioning a suspect, or ask Clive if I can go outside and play?”
“Clive thinks you’re a psychic, and he’s used to your personality shifts when you’re working a case,” he said. “This won’t be any different. It’s not like you forget how to do your job or lose any of your adult knowledge, you just approach things differently. You’ll probably have less impulse control, be less cautious, and crave more affection and approval than usual, but we can work with that.”
“Since we’re stepping into unknown territory, you can stay at my place until we solve this case. And if you do end up fully acting like you’re five for the next couple of days, I’ll be your stand in parental figure slash babysitter slash fun uncle Ravi,” he said with a grin.
Liv chuckled, looked at the brains, and felt her mouth water. “I am hungry.”
“Have you seen My Buddy?”
“Bobby is the sweetest kid you’ve ever seen. You’ll be fine. Besides…” Ravi looked back at the body and said, “His mother deserves justice.”
Liv took the brains without another word, and went to their kitchen area. She got out a frying pan and said, “I think grilled cheese brains would be appropriate, don’t you?”
She got out the bread, the cheese, and the butter, to make herself a meal.
Ten minutes later, as she was putting the last bite in her mouth, Clive came in and said, “Hey Liv, the cameraman is here.”
“Okay.” She got up and followed him upstairs to the interrogation room.
Matt Chan appeared to be quite disgruntled about being brought in, and the first words out of his mouth were, “I wasn’t even on set today! I can’t believe that bitch is trying to blame me, just because I told her she needed to rein her kid in while she still could.”
Clive and Liv shared a confused look.
“Rein in her kid?” Clive asked.
“Put a stop to the temper tantrums,” Matt said.
Feeling a little ill, Liv said, “Temper tantrums? Everyone on set said he was sweet.”
Matt scoffed. “He was five and he died horribly in front of them. Of course they’re going to say he was sweet.”
“You think he wasn’t?” Clive asked.
“I think he could have been if his mother had stopped giving in to his every demand, but as it was he was an out of control brat. He held up production all the time, which caused the crew a lot of late nights, and made the movies go over budget.” Matt shook his head, “Don’t get me wrong, I liked the kid, I just think his mother should have focused more on turning him into a good person, and less on turning him into a source of income.”
“We talked to over a hundred people today.” Clive said, not ready to believe such a different take on the situation. “Not one of them mentioned that the kid had a temper.”
Matt rolled his eyes and got out his phone. “Here, I have a video from last week. I took it because I thought showing it to his mom would help her understand what she was doing to the kid, but it completely backfired, and she accused me of hating the kid.”
He hit play and held the phone out for Clive and Liv to see.
There on the screen was little Bobby with a bright red face, screaming at the top of his lungs, “I said I wanted blueberry pancakes, not strawberry! I won’t eat it!” He picked up the plate and flung it to the floor.
“But you like strawberries, sweetheart,” his mother said.
“No I don’t! I want blueberry pancakes, right now! I can’t do the scene with strawberry pancakes! I can’t!”
A member of the crew came in to clean up the spilled plate, and blocked their view for a few seconds, but the sound still worked.
“But sweetheart, the script calls for straw…”
“No! I won’t do it! You can’t make me! I hate strawberries!”
The crewmember moved out of the way, and they saw the mother bite her lip and turn to someone off camera to ask, “Do you think we could change it to blueberry pancakes?”
The video ended, and Matt said, “That kind of thing happened all the time.”
Terrified, Liv got up and said, “Excuse me for one second.” She stepped out of the room, and called Ravi’s cell.
“Liv?” He asked. “Are you calling me from upstairs?”
“We have a serious problem.”
“This kid, the sweet little kid that America adores, isn’t sweet at all. I just saw a video of him throwing the worst tantrum I’ve ever seen, and the cameraman says it happened every day.”
“A tantrum? Bobby?”
“A massive tantrum. I want these brains out of my system right now, Ravi! I can’t have a tantrum at work! I can’t!”
“Alright,” Ravi said soothingly. “Come back down to the lab, and I’ll see what I can do.”
“Okay.” Liv hung up and realized she was close to tears. “Great,” she muttered and went straight to the elevator instead of the stairs so that no one would see her cry.
# # #
Feeling absolutely out of his depth, Ravi immediately googled ‘advice on tantrums’ while he was waiting for Liv to arrive. He’d been confident in his ability to deal with a sweet five-year-old Liv, but a five-year-old prone to huge tantrums wasn’t something he was ready for. He opened the top suggested site, but quickly disregarded it because it was for children ages 1 to 3. Each of the next three sites were also for that age range, so he went back to the first page, and started reading. The first half of the article was about preventing a tantrum in the first place. He skimmed the bullet points that were in bold.
Have a set routine.
Provide regular healthy snacks.
Make sure the child has enough sleep.
Provide regular physical activities to burn off energy.
Really listen to your child’s wants and desires, and if it’s reasonable let them have the things they want.
Help the child feel empowered by letting them make small choices throughout the day.
Ravi scanned down to the second half about what to do once the tantrum occurred and read those bullet points.
Try distracting the child.
Try ignoring the child if the behavior is mild.
Try taking the child out of the situation if possible.
Try a time out if the behavior is serious.
If the child’s behavior is dangerous to himself or others, hold the child securely until they calm.
He was about to google ‘tantrums in older children’ when he heard the elevator doors open in the hall. He closed his search, and plastered a smile on his face, hoping he looked more confident than he felt.
When she walked in, he saw the tears on her face, and simply held out his arms for her. She rushed over to him, and cried on his shoulder while he held her.
“It’s okay, you’re going to be fine,” he said, holding her tight.
“It’s not okay,” she said through her tears. “I don’t want these brains. If I act the way Bobby was acting in that video, I’ll get fired.”
“I’m not going to let that happen. For the next few days, we’ll have you stay in the lab with me. We’ll have to tell Clive that you’re not feeling well until these brains are out of your system.”
“But that’s not fair,” Liv whined, wiping the side of her face on Ravi’s white medical jacket. “Working with Clive is my favorite.”
Frowning, Ravi thought about the list and decided to try distracting her. He patted her back and said, “Let’s get you some tissues, and then you can help me with the new body that came in from a car accident.”
She pushed away from him and gave him a glare. “No. I don’t want to work on a new body; I want these brains out of me.”
“I know you do, and I understand why,” he said soothingly, “but once you’ve eaten them, I don’t think there’s any way to get them out of your system immediately. We have to wait them out.”
“I want more accountant brains.”
Ravi cocked his head to the side and thought that over. It would be an interesting experiment. Liv usually ate brains about once every three or four days, and she took on the personality of whoever’s brains she’d eaten. But she’d never had two different brains on the same day. He had no idea if the most recent brains she ate would override the brains she’d eaten before, or if they would mingle into one different personality, or if the child brains would remain the dominant personality since she’d already had the accountant brains.
“I want more accountant brains, right now!” she stomped her foot for emphasis.
Ravi’s eyebrows went up in surprise. Clearly that was already a tantrum brewing, but he saw no reason not to give her what she wanted. It was a reasonable request, and the accountant was still on one of the shelves, due for burial tomorrow.
“Okay,” Ravi said, “I’ll get you some.” He wasn’t sure if she should be cooking with her five-year-old personality, and decided to try the advice about choices. “Do you want me to make you a cheese sandwich with them, or peanut butter and jelly?”
Liv seemed slightly confused for a second, but then said, “P, b and j.”
“Good.” Ravi gestured to one of the stools by the kitchen area. “Go sit down, and I’ll get it ready for you.”
It only took him a couple of minutes to get the sandwich ready, but when he went to set it down in front of her, he found Liv scratching her initials into the countertop with a paperclip. He set the sandwich down and held out his hand. “Give that to me, and eat your sandwich.”
She snatched the paperclip out of his reach, and held it on her lap. “It’s mine.”
He thought about demanding that she hand it over, because property damage was something she could get fired over, but that would only cause things to escalate, and a little scratch on the counter could be easily explained. Instead he decided on distraction again, mixed with some choices and a light reprimand. “I thought you wanted accountant brain. Aren’t you going to eat it?”
With a distrustful glare, she picked up half the sandwich with her free hand and took a bite.
“If you want to carve your initials into something with the paperclip, we can make a batch of the alginate we use to make dental impressions, or I have some paper and markers if you just want to draw. But this…” he pointed to her initials, “…is not okay, and you know it.”
She frowned at the letters and took another bite of sandwich.
“So do you want alginate or paper?”
“Okay, then give me the paperclip while you’re eating, and you can have it back once the alginate has hardened.”
Reluctantly, she handed it over.
“Good girl. Thank you.”
While she ate her second lunch, Ravi pulled his laptop over and sat directly in front of her on the other side of the counter so she couldn’t see his screen. Then he googled ‘tantrums in older children. Most of the advice was surprisingly the same. But had a section about tantrums as learned behavior, and how to change that.
Explain expectations ahead of time if it’s a situation that often causes tantrums.
Say ‘no’ and mean it.
Don’t give in to demands once you’ve said no.
“All done,” Liv said as she pushed the plate with the crusts towards him.
He shut the laptop, not feeling any more qualified to deal with five-year-old emotional Liv than he had been before looking things up.
Before Ravi had a chance to say anything, Clive came in and said, “Hey Liv, what happened? You just disappeared on me.”
Instead of answering, Liv turned wide eyes to Ravi.
Ravi stood, and put a hand on Liv’s shoulder. “She’s not feeling well. She’s going to stay down here for the rest of the day, and see if her stomach settles. If not, she’ll probably go home early.”
“You’re feeling sick?” Clive asked.
“I’m sorry,” Clive said with sympathy. “Why don’t you just call me if you get a vision about the victim, okay?”
“Yeah, okay.” Liv said.
“Did you find out anything else from the cameraman?” Ravi asked.
“No, but I’ll probably go re-question a few of the people who worked closely with Bobby. I don’t like being lied to, and after watching that video, I know some of them weren’t telling the truth.”
“I want to come,” Liv said with a pout.
“You just said you were sick,” Clive said with confusion.
“She wants to come,” Ravi said while squeezing her shoulder, “But she knows she can’t, because she’s sick.”
Liv gasped as a vision of Bobby’s life struck.
Bobby was on the floor yelling at the top of his lungs, and flailing around. Several people were around him, including his real life mother, the movie director, and the actor, Dylan Wright, who played his father in the movies. Bobby’s mother was on her knees by his side, rubbing a hand on her arm. “Bobby sweetheart, you have to stop this. You’re going to make yourself sick.”
“Jesus,” Dylan said with disgust and turned to the director, “I can’t watch this again. I’ll be in my trailer. Let me know when the kid knocks this shit off.”
“He just needs a few minutes to calm down,” his mother said, glaring at Dylan.
Dylan walked away muttering. “What he needs is a swift kick in the ass.”
As the vision ended, Liv blinked a few times, and took a deep breath. “Talk to Dylan Wright again.”
Stepping closer, Clive said, “Did you have a psychic vision?”
“Yes. Bobby was on the floor screaming, and Dylan was really angry about it. He said the kid needed a swift kick in the ass.”
“Well that certainly doesn’t match the glowing report he gave us earlier, does it?”
“No,” Liv agreed.
“Thanks, I’ll talk to him first. Keep me updated with any other visions, and feel better.”
“Keep us updated, too,” Ravi said, as Clive went back to the elevator.
Once Clive was in the elevator, and out of hearing range, Ravi said, “How was the vision? Any difference between adult visions and kid visions?”
Liv thought about it for a few seconds. “Not really. It seemed like any other vision.”
“So I guess accountant brains didn’t override kid brains?”
“Guess not.” She scowled. “That sucks.”
He patted her shoulder and said, “We’ll get through it.”
Liv bit her lip and said, “You don’t think Bobby needed a kick in the ass do you?”
“No, of course not.”
“But you told me once that your mom used to…” her voice went down to a whisper, “…spank you.”
He frowned. He wouldn’t have really called it a ‘spanking’ per say. His mom had threatened to ‘smack his bottom’ with a wooden spoon more than once when he was getting on her nerves in the kitchen, but she’d only followed through with the threat a couple of times, and when she did, it was one smack, not a spanking. But he thought he understood what Liv was asking.
“You want to know if I think Bobby would have benefited from a spanking?”
She nodded; her forehead wrinkled with worry.
“Not really, no. But if his mother had decided to overhaul her entire approach to parenting, then a few swats on that first day might have helped him realize she was serious. Why?”
She shrugged. “Can we make the alginate now?”
She grinned and clapped her hands.
He had to admit that was pretty cute. “Do you want to make it into a shape once it’s mixed?”
Liv nodded and then looked around the room. She snapped her fingers, went to the kitchen area, and pulled out three heart shaped cookie cutters that made three different sizes of hearts.
“We have cookie cutters?” Ravi asked. “Why do we have cookie cutters?”
He shrugged. “Good point.”
Over the next fifteen minutes, Ravi realized that either the accountant brain had mixed with the kid brain, or this particular kid had some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Liv wanted to split the alginate evenly into the three cookie cutters, but simply guessing how much to put in each wasn’t good enough. She not only did some advanced math to figure out exactly how much to put in each cookie cuter, she also measured the goo before putting it in. But once it had hardened into heart shapes, the kid part of her brain must have taken over, because she started slapping the little rubbery things down on the metal exam table, and laughing at the sound they made.
Ravi looked at the time and realized he still had work that needed to be done before they could go home.
“Alright, Liv, I’m going to start processing that body that came in from the car accident. Do you want to help me, or do you want to play with your hearts?”
She cocked her head to the side and asked, “How old is the victim?”
“Seventy-three year old male.”
“Ew,” she wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “Old people smell. I’m not helping with that.”
“That’s fine, you can play with the hearts.” He handed her the paperclip she’d given him earlier and said, “Stay where I can see you, and if you want to play with anything new, you ask me first. Okay?”
For the next half an hour, Ravi processed the new body on one of their two metal exam tables, while Liv sat by the empty one carving initials and other shapes into her rubbery hearts with her paperclip. He looked over at Liv every once in a while to make sure she was still there and playing happily. When he was stitching up the body, he glanced at her, and saw that she was now cutting up the hearts with a scalpel.
He just stared for a moment, not wanting to startle her when she was holding something sharp. As he watched, he saw her use the tool correctly and with her usual finesse. Knowing she still had her adult motor skills helped him to relax marginally, but he still didn’t want an overly emotional five-year-old who was prone to tantrums to be holding a potential weapon.
“Liv,” he said, trying to use the displeased tone his mother used to use when he was up to something.
She glared over at him, clearly not liking the tone. “What?”
“I told you that you needed to ask me if you wanted to play with anything new, didn’t I?”
She looked down at the scalpel and then back up at him. “The paperclip wasn’t working right. The scalpel is better. See.” She held up a sliver of the heart that she’d cut out to show him.
“I’m sure it does work better, but that’s not the point.” He put down his tools and took his bloody gloves and apron off before walking over to stand on the other side of the empty exam table. “Didn’t I tell you that you had to ask me if you wanted to play with anything new?”
Glaring again, she said, “I use scalpels all the time.”
Using logic hadn’t been one the tactics for preventing tantrums, but Liv wasn’t really five, so Ravi decided to give it a try. “Adult Liv uses scalpels all the time, and in a couple of days when the little kid brains are out of your system, you can use them again, but for now I don’t think it’s safe.”
She pulled it in close to her chest, and said, “You can’t tell me what to do.”
“I’m your boss, so I can tell you what to do, and I’m telling you that you don’t get to use any scalpels for the next two days.” He tapped the table and said, “So put it down.”
“No! You can’t make me!”
He couldn’t help but think she had a point. As a zombie she was stronger than he was and he couldn’t physically ‘make’ her do anything. But her emotional child brain might get in the way of her realizing that at first. “Yes I can,” he bluffed. “I told you I was going to be your stand in parental figure while you were on these brains, and I meant it. Now you have two options. You can either put it down, and then I’ll get you something else to play with, or you can have a time out.”
Her eyes opened wide with shock for a millisecond, and then her eyebrows crashed down into a scowl just before she threw the scalpel at him.
Ravi tried to step out of the way, but it hit him squarely in the chest. Luckily for him it hit his chest sideways instead of head on, so it bounced harmlessly off and clattered to the metal table.
There was a moment of silence where the both stared at the potentially dangerous item, and then some part of Liv’s adult brain must have taken over, because she whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Ravi reminded himself to stay calm, and took a deep breath. He picked up the scalpel, put it on the other table, out of Liv’s reach, and then turned back to her. Keeping his tone as level as he could, he said, “That was dangerous, and even if you’re feeling five, you’re definitely old enough to know that throwing a sharp object isn’t okay. So now we’re going to go into my office,” he pointed to the small room behind the kitchen, “and you’re going to have a five minute time out on the couch.”
She shook her head no, and some tears welled in her eyes.
He walked around the table towards her. He put a hand on her back and gave her a gentle nudge. “Come on.”
“I don’t want a time out,” she whined as she stood and started walking in the direction he was guiding her.
He thought to himself that he didn’t want to give her a time out anymore than she wanted to get one, because she was his best friend, and it felt wrong to treat her like a child, even if she was acting like one. But he’d promised to look out for her, and a part of that had to be keeping her in check when she did dangerous things.
He pointed to the couch, and said, “Sit down.”
“Nooo,” she whined, stepping away from it.
Wanting to get the upper hand before she had a meltdown, he made his voice very stern. “Yes, Liv. You’re going to sit down and have a time out, because you know you did something you shouldn’t have.” Praying that she wouldn’t resist, he put his hands on her upper arms, moved her to the couch, and firmly made her sit down.
Very pleased that he’d gotten her into position without a fight, he took out his phone and said, “I’m setting a timer for five minutes. No talking or getting up until it’s over.”
He showed her the timer once it had started counting down the seconds, and then leaned against the doorframe with his arms crossed, feeling incredibly uncomfortable about the entire situation, and trying not to let it show.
“This is stupid,” Liv muttered, crossing her arms as well, and glaring at him.
“I said no talking.” He reset his phone to start the five minutes over again, and showed it to her. “Every time you talk, we start over.”
“That’s not fair!” she yelled as she stood up. “I won’t have a time out!”
Ravi closed his eyes and wished he hadn’t suggested these brains. He knew he couldn’t let her win this battle if they were going to have any kind of peace over the next few days, but he felt a little sick to his stomach at the thought of keeping at it until he won. He sighed and paused the timer. “It is fair, and you are going to have a time out. Sit back down, right now, Olivia.”
“The longer you argue with me, the longer this will take, because we’re not leaving this room until the time out is over.”
She opened her mouth, and screamed at the top of her lungs.
His eyes opened wide with shock, and he glanced out to the main room to make sure no one else had come in. Their entire floor was mostly soundproofed, because they used noisy tools like bone saws, but it wasn’t one hundred percent, and this scream was loud. Cursing himself for having this battle of wills at work, Ravi closed his office door, leaned against it and waited for her to take a breath.
As she was sucking in air, he said quickly, “Screaming won’t help.”
She screamed again, and he waited. When she was taking in air again, he said, “You’re still having a time out.”
This time as she screamed she picked up a pillow off the couch, and hurled it at him, before dropping to the floor and kicking her legs while screaming some more.
He blocked the pillow with his arm, lost his temper, and spoke without thinking it through. “If you don’t stop that right now, I’m going to smack your bottom with a spoon.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he winced. It was as if he’d been possessed by his mother from twenty years ago. He knew he shouldn’t have made the threat at all, but now that the words were out, if he didn’t follow through, it would be even harder to make her believe that he meant what he said.
If anything, she screamed louder, and flailed harder.
His stomach sank because he knew he’d have to follow through, but at the same time, he was irritated enough with her behavior that a small part of him wondered if this would at least shock her out of her screaming. He opened the office door, and went to dig through the kitchen drawer that held the utensils. Her screaming didn’t falter as he grabbed her favorite wooden spoon and went back to the office. He closed the door, reminded himself that she was feeling five, and knelt down next to her. He rolled her onto her side, and carefully smacked the spoon against the seat of her black jeans once before letting her go.
Her screaming did immediately stop, and she stared at him with disbelief, and said, “Ow.”
Feeling slightly satisfied that the ear splitting sound had stopped, he pointed at the couch with the spoon and said as calmly as he could, “Go sit on the couch for your time out, and I’ll reset the timer.”
She scrambled to her feet, and put a hand back to rub at the spot he’d struck. He stood up as well, and fought the urge to apologize or comfort. Instead he said, “Sit. Down.”
She looked at the couch once, and he thought she was going to sit, but instead, she grabbed the other pillow, and threw it at his head. “You can’t spank me!” she screamed.
He pursed his lips, prayed that she wouldn’t toss him across the room with her zombie strength, and took her upper arm in a firm grip. When she didn’t struggle, he sat down on the couch, and pulled her across his lap. “You do not throw things at me.” He raised his arm up high, but before he brought the spoon crashing down, he reminded himself that even if her body was that of an adult, her mind wasn’t. So he lowered his arm, and used his wrist to flick the spoon against her bottom, trying to cause an unpleasant sting instead of sharp pain.
He thought she’d been screaming before, but now a seriously blood curdling scream came out of her, and she drummed her shoes against the floor. Not letting that sway him, he continued with the stinging little slaps, moving the spoon from side to side as he spanked, and kept it at a deliberately slow pace.
After six swats she stopped screaming, and after ten she yelled with anger, “Ravi, you’re hurting me! Stop!”
“No,” he said grimly, and kept the spoon moving up and down as he lectured. “You threw things at me, and refused to stay in time out, so now you’re getting a spanking.”
Two swats after he’d finished his lecture she started to cry loudly. He gave her three more smacks to make it an even twenty before stopping. He set the spoon down on the couch, and then turned her over so she was sitting in his lap and pulled her into a hug.
She wrapped one arm around his shoulders, leaned her forehead into the crook of his neck while she cried, and rubbed at her bottom with her free hand.
Before either one of them had had much time to calm down, there was a soft knock on the office door. Ravi looked over, and saw Clive staring at them through the glass. Cringing at the thought of trying to explain this, he waved at the other man to come in.
The detective stepped into the office took in the scene, and then awkwardly looked over at the empty desk after making his own conclusions as to why Liv was rubbing her bottom and Ravi had a wooden spoon sitting next to him on the couch. “Uh… someone called and said there were some unusual noises coming from the morgue, so they sent me to check it out.”
“Ravi spanked me!” Liv complained while continuing to cling to him.
“Uh… Well…” Ravi honestly couldn’t think of any plausible excuse.
“Look,” Clive said, “Whatever you guys do on your own time is fine, but you shouldn’t be doing that kind of thing at work.”
“No!” Ravi said, “It’s not like that at all!” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he realized he probably should have just gone with the assumption that he and Liv were into some kinky stuff, because that was a much easier thing to explain.
“It’s not?” Clive said.
“Well… not exactly, no.”
Looking less awkward, and a little angry, Clive said, “Do you want to press charges, Liv?”
“No,” she whined, and wrapped her second arm around Ravi’s shoulders to hold him tighter.
“What exactly is going on?” Clive asked.
Knowing he couldn’t actually tell the truth, Ravi thought fast and said, “We were playing out one of her psychic visions to see if it would help her figure out who killed Bobby.”
Ravi wasn’t sure if Clive entirely believed it, but the anger had left his face.
“Someone spanked Bobby?” Clive asked.
Ravi said, “Liv is still pretty emotional and upset right now, could you maybe come back in say fifteen minutes, and we’ll tell you about it.”
“Oh, yeah, sure.” Clive seemed relieved, and stepped back out of the office. “Sorry to interrupt. You guys take all the time you need, and call me when she’s ready.” He shut the door, and swiftly walked to the elevators.
Once they were alone again, Ravi patted her back and said, “Okay, Liv, you still need to do that time out.”
“Nooo,” she whined.
“Yes.” He pushed her off his lap, and sat her on the couch next to him. He picked up the spoon so it wouldn’t end up being a projectile, put it on his desk, and went to stand by the office door. “Do you remember why you’re having a time out?” he asked.
“Because I threw the scalpel at you.” She sniffed a few times, and wiped at her nose with her sleeve.
“That’s right.” He went back to his desk, picked up the box of tissues, and handed them to her before going to the door again. “Now I’m going to set the timer for five minutes, and you need to stay seated, and quiet until the timer goes off. Do you understand?”
She pouted, but did nod, before blowing her nose.
He set the timer and showed it to her once. “Okay, the time starts now.”
The next five minutes crawled by excruciatingly slowly for both of them, but Liv kept quiet other than some light sniffling, and shifting around on the couch. When the timer sounded, Ravi sighed with relief and said, “Okay, your time out is over.” He went to sit next to her on the couch, and opened his arms. “I don’t know about you, but I could use another hug after all that.”
She nodded and leaned against him for a hug. “I’m sorry,” she said softly after a few moments.
He rubbed his hand up and down her back a couple of times, and forced himself not to apologize for spanking her, even though he desperately wanted to. There would be plenty of time for that in a couple of days when she was back to her adult mindset. Instead, he said, “I know you are, and you’re forgiven. I’m not angry about the throwing things, or the screaming, but if it happens again, you’ll end up in time out again. Okay?”
She nodded against his shoulder.
“Good. Now we have to decide what to tell Clive. We can’t tell him what really happened, unless you’re ready to tell him you’re a zombie.”
She shook her head.
“Okay, then we have to make something up. What do you want to tell him?”
“Well, that Dylan Wright guy said Bobby needed a swift kick. Maybe we can tell Clive that we were trying to find out if he’d followed through.”
Ravi nodded. “We could tell him that you had a vision of Dylan actually threatening to spank Bobby. Then we decided to play that out to see if it would trigger another vision, but it didn’t, so we’re sure that Dylan never followed through.”
“He was pretty mad in my last vision. I can picture him making that threat.”
Ravi couldn’t help but think about Clive asking Liv if she wanted to press charges. He certainly didn’t want to end up in jail for assault, and he didn’t think he’d been in any way abusive, but he had struck her against her will. If she wanted to press charges once she was back to her adult mindset, he wouldn’t try to stop her, but he seriously doubted she would. He let her go so he could look in her eyes.
“I know this isn’t particularly fair to you, Liv, but you’re going to have to tell Clive that the spanking was something we decided on together, not something I decided to do to you. Clive won’t understand that you’re feeling five right now, and that you need an adult to help you out for a couple of days.”
“I know,” she said. “When I’m calm, I can still see things from my adult perspective, but once the emotions have taken over… it’s like that part of my thinking is pushed to the back. Right now, I’m horrified that I threw a scalpel at you. I could have caused you serious damage, especially with my strength. But in the moment it didn’t even occur to me that the scalpel was dangerous.”
“And then the screaming…” she closed her eyes and leaned her head against his shoulder again, “…God, that’s humiliating. I felt so… out of control. So… lost, and hurt, and angry, and scared all rolled into one. I hated the spanking, but it did narrow my focus. Once it started my only thought was escape. I very suddenly wanted to do whatever you told me to do so that I could get away. It was like my fight or flight response had been on fight and then it was suddenly switched over to flight.”
Ravi had already felt bad, but after that explanation, he felt ten times worse. He’d made five-year-old Liv want to escape from him. Maybe he needed to rethink the idea that he hadn’t been abusive. He opened his mouth to apologize, but before any sound could come out she spoke again.
“But then once it was over, and you were hugging me, I just felt so relieved. Not just relieved that the spanking was over, but also hugely relieved that you’d done something to stop the tantrum, because I hated the way I felt during the tantrum even more than I hated the spanking.”
Feeling slightly mollified, he patted her back and said, “We can talk more about it in a couple of days, and see how you feel. At that time if you want to deck me, slap me, or even spank me in retaliation, I’ll understand.”
A snort of laughter came out of her.
“But for now you still need someone to help you get through the next few days, and unless you’re willing to tell someone else your secret, you’re stuck with me.”
“I’m pretty sure you’re the one who’s stuck with me, not the other way around.”
“Are you ready to call Clive?”
She sighed and sat up. “Yeah, I guess.”
After an awkward conversation with Clive that was filled with lies, Ravi finished up the body he’d been working on before things had gone sideways. Then he closed up for the night, and took Liv home after a quick stop at her house to pick up some clothes and toiletries.
# # #
Liv had been exceptionally well behaved during the last half an hour of work, and on the ride home. Ravi wasn’t sure how much longer it would last, but he was hopeful that it would last a couple of days.
She’d been to his house more than once, but she’d never spent the night. “Where should I put my stuff?” she asked.
“You can stay in the guest room,” he said as he led her up the stairs. “Although really it’s just a room with a futon that I’m mostly using for storage.”
She set her bag on the futon and bit her lip before quietly asking, “Is there a night light?”
“Oh… no, but we can put one in. I have a little desk lamp in my office. I’ll go get it and we can plug it in next to the bed, okay?”
He came back in a few seconds later holding the lamp and a little stuffed bunny.
Her eyes lit up when she saw the toy.
“Look what I found,” he said as he handed the stuffed animal to her, and plugged in the lamp.
She hugged it close and said, “Where did you get it?’
“I was on a date last week, and the restaurant we went to had one of those claw machines in the front with a bunch of different stuffed animals. My date bet me that she could win a stuffed animal before I could.”
“And you won?” Liv asked.
He chuckled. “I lost. She won the bunny after five tries, and I still hadn’t gotten anything. I’m pretty sure she thought it was a hilarious role reversal to give the bunny to me to take home. You can keep it.”
“Thanks, Ravi,” she said sincerely, and gave him an impulsive hug.
“Sure. Why don’t you bring it downstairs, and you can watch some television while I get dinner ready.”
“What’s for dinner?” she asked as she followed him downstairs.
“I don’t know yet. I’ll have to see what I have. I was planning to go to the store tonight, so it’s probably going to be whatever microwavable entrées are in the freezer.”
“Ew, no,” Liv said. “I want mac and cheese. Mac and cheese with Tabasco. Lots and lots of Tabasco.”
They’d made it to the living room, and Ravi turned on the television as he said, “I don’t think I have any boxed macaroni and cheese, but one of the entrees might have some as a side dish.”
“I want Mac and cheese,” Liv said with a hint of demand in her tone.
Ravi found the Disney channel, and hoped the television would distract her from the potential tantrum that was clearly forming. He said, “Look they’ve actually got cartoons on right now.”
She glanced at the set and then turned back to Ravi, “I want mac and cheese.”
Clearly two days of good behavior wasn’t in the cards, and he tried not to let his stomach sink at the thought of another confrontation. “How about you come to the kitchen with me, and we’ll see if we can find any.”
As he suspected, he had no boxes of macaroni and cheese, but he did have a box of plain pasta, and if worst came to worst, he could melt some cheddar on that and call it macaroni and cheese.
She stood there frowning at him, clearly waiting for a verdict.
“I’m going to check the freezer,” he said. He dug through the boxes of frozen foods, and found what he was looking for. “Here,” he showed her the box with a picture of macaroni and cheese on it. “I’ll make this for you.”
“I like it from a box.”
He shook the box and said, “It is in a box.”
“Not that kind of box.”
He opened the refrigerator and pulled out the large bottle of Tabasco that he kept there just for her, and said, “I bet it will be great with this on it.”
She was still frowning, but slowly nodded. “Okay.”
He read the directions, and put it in the microwave to cook. He grabbed himself a beer before looking through the rest of the frozen food to find himself a dinner.
“I want a beer,” she said.
He winced while his back was to her, and wished he hadn’t gotten himself one. They almost always had beers together when she was at his house, but there was no way he was letting her have one tonight, and he knew she was going to be upset about it. Trying his best to keep her happy without the trauma of another tantrum, he said, “I have root beer.”
“I don’t want soda, I want beer.”
With a tired sigh, he put the entrée he was going to cook for himself on the counter and closed the freezer. He turned to face her and said in a no nonsense tone, “No. You may not have a beer, or any other alcohol while you’re on little kid brains.”
“No fair,” she said with a scowl.
“You can have soda, water, or milk. No beer.”
“You’re having a beer.”
He went to the sink and dumped it out. “No beers for either one of us tonight.”
Her eyes were wide with surprise, and she rubbed the bunny’s ear between her fingers as she thought about that.
The microwave dinged, and he got out her dinner. He mixed it up and set it on the table for her next to the Tabasco.
“Sit down and eat,” he said.
Once she was sitting, he poured her a glass of water and set it in front of her, hoping to quell any more arguments about beer.
When Ravi set the water glass in front of her, Liv was struck with a vision from Bobby’s life.
Bobby and Dylan were sitting together at one of the fake dinner tables set up in the warehouse. People were milling around and Dylan was leaning close to Bobby to talk to him privately.
“If you purposely wreck another take for us, I swear to God I won’t sign up for another movie with you no matter how much money they offer me. You were barely four when we made the first movie and you were a hundred times better behaved. At this rate, you’re going to be a drug addict at ten, and your acting career will be over by the time you’re twelve.”
“You can’t tell me what to do!” Bobby yelled.
Dylan tossed his hands in the air. “I give up.” He got out of his chair and went to talk to the director, and Bobby’s mom followed him.
One of the stagehands put a couple of fresh plates of food on the table, and another stagehand set down a couple glasses of water.
Bobby glared over at the talking adults, and then grinned. He picked up his glass, gathered some saliva in his mouth, and then spit it into his water glass. He checked to make sure no one was looking, and then switched the water glasses on the table so that Dylan would have to drink his spit. Plastering an innocent look on his face, he took a sip of Dylan’s water, and waited for the adults to finish yelling. But a few seconds after he’d taken a drink, he felt more ill than he’d ever felt in his life, and he grabbed his neck before falling out of his chair.
Liv gasped and looked up at Ravi.
“Vision?” he guessed.
She nodded. “Bobby wasn’t the intended target. Someone was trying to kill Dylan Wright.”
Ravi sat down and listened while she told him about the vision. When she was done, he said, “Poor Bobby. Did you get a good look at the stagehand that brought over the water?”
She nodded. “She’s one of the people we questioned. Her name was Gina. She was more upset than the others, probably because she’d killed the wrong person.”
“You eat, and I’m going to call Clive. They bagged all the food and water that was on their table, so I’m betting they can test Dylan’s water for Bobby’s spit, and his glass for Gina’s fingerprints.”
She nodded and dumped Tabasco on her food before taking a bite.
While Ravi talked to Clive, he put his dinner in the microwave to cook. It was done by the time he was off the phone, and he sat next to Liv to eat.
“What did he say?” she asked as soon as he hung up.
“The lab had already tested both of the glasses and the water. Clive just got the report about an hour ago. They found Gina’s and Bobby’s fingerprints on both glasses, along with the fingerprints for two other stagehands. And there was cyanide in the glass in front of Bobby, which we now know was supposed to be Dylan’s, and Bobby’s DNA was in the water for both. Clive’s going to bring Gina in for questioning tonight.”
Liv smiled and said, “So we solved the case.”
“Looks like it.”
She sighed and set the bunny on the table so that it looked like it was eating off her plate. Then she put her elbow on the table, and leaned her head against her fist while staring at her half-eaten dinner. “I don’t like these brains, but I guess it was worth it to help find the killer. I just wish I could be done with them now.”
“Me too, but it’s only two days. I’m sure we can make it through two days.”
# # #
The two of them spent the rest of the night watching children’s programs on television together on the couch. Ravi was a little surprised when Liv immediately snuggled up against him, but quickly found it endearing, especially since she was also still holding the bunny, and petting it.
Around nine o’clock, he saw her eyes start to droop. At five minutes past nine her head started dipping down as she feel asleep, only to jerk awake and snap her head back up.
Ravi turned off the show and said, “Time for bed.”
“Hey, I was watching that!”
He stood up and held his hand out for her. “You were falling asleep.”
She pushed herself further back on the couch away from him. “No I wasn’t! I’m not tired at all. Turn the show back on.”
Ravi considered it, because he seriously didn’t want another tantrum on his hands, but quickly decided against it. If she was actually five, he could let her fall asleep on the couch, and then carry her up the stairs, but she wasn’t, and he didn’t need that kind of back strain. Besides, if he let her stay up, and she didn’t get enough sleep, she could be extra cranky tomorrow, and he really didn’t want that.
“No more television. It’s time for bed.”
“No! I’m not going to bed!” She grabbed the remote off the arm of the couch where he’d set it, and turned the television back on.
Cursing himself for not having talked to her about bedtime and set up expectations before she got tired, Ravi took a deep breath and tried to bribe her. “How about I read you a bedtime story? You could get ready for bed, and then I’ll read to you until you fall asleep.”
“No! You can’t make me go to bed when I’m not tired, and I was in the middle of this show!”
Crossing his arms, he said, “No more television tonight. Either you can turn it off, or I can.”
She held the remote close to her chest and glared at him.
When it was clear that she wasn’t going to turn it off, or let him have the remote, he walked over and unplugged the television.
“Hey! Plug that back in!”
“No,” he said. “It’s time for bed. You’re going to go upstairs, put on your pajamas, and brush your teeth.”
“No, I won’t!” she yelled, and tossed the remote onto the ground.
With a stern glare he said, “I have a wooden spoon here at my house, too. If you throw one more thing, I’m going to go get it.”
She froze and looked at him warily, clearly believing his threat.
“Now, you have two choices,” he said. “You can either get ready for bed without a fuss, or you can refuse. If you get ready for bed nicely, I’ll read you a bedtime story. If you refuse, I’ll give you a time out. Which one is it going to be.”
She thought about it for a couple of seconds, and then asked, “What story?”
Hopeful that he’d cut off the tantrum, he said, “I have a whole shelf full of books, and you can pick whichever one you want after you’re ready for bed.”
“Okay to the story?”
“That’s a good decision.” He held his hand out and said, “Come on, let’s get you ready for bed so you can pick a book.”
She stood, put her hand in his, and followed him upstairs.
Fifteen minutes later, Liv was in pajamas and looking at Ravi’s bookcase. She pulled out Harry Potter and handed it to him. Once she was tucked in, and he was sitting in his office chair beside her bed, he opened the book to page one.
“Ravi?” she said before he began reading.
“You’re a good dad. Your future kids are lucky.”
Ravi didn’t think he’d ever had a nicer complement. “Thanks, Liv,” he said sincerely.
They smiled at each other, and then he started reading to her. Ten minutes later, Liv was asleep.
Ravi went downstairs, got a beer, and plugged the television back in to watch something other than cartoons; confident in the knowledge that he would be able to handle anything Liv threw at him over the next couple of days, and that they would both make it through this unscathed.
(Feedback makes me happy.)
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