Author’s Note: This story takes place during season 2 episode 17 ‘Welcome to Storybrook’. It’s my take on what Neal might have done in response to Henry’s lying, running off, and putting himself in harms way. It was written by request for Jlbrew30.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, and I’m not making any money from this movie. I do NOT advocate spanking children in real life, only in fiction. I also don’t advocate blowing up wells to ‘destroy magic’ in real life, only in fiction – on second thought, I don’t even advocate blowing up wells to destroy magic in fiction because that’s a lame story line.
Warning: Non-consensual disciplinary spanking of a minor by his parent.

He's Your Son

Neal smiled at Emma as she walked over to his table in Granny’s diner.

“How’d it go?” she asked.

“Surprisingly well,” Neal said. He couldn’t help but be a little pleased that the son he’d just met a few weeks ago had agreed to leave town and stay with him until it was safe to come home. “Not bad for a first time parent,” he added with a smirk.

Emma looked down at the empty side of the booth where she’d left Henry moments ago and asked, “Where’s his backpack?”

The smile faded, and Neal said uncertainly, “He took it with him.”

“To the bathroom? Did you really fall for that? He’s your son.”

Neal scowled at the table in front of him. How was he supposed to know that the kid had more in common with him than he’d thought? He hadn’t even known the boy existed until a few weeks ago. But when he considered the possibility that Henry would lie to him, it all quickly fell into place. Of course Henry wouldn’t agree to leave town with him when his adoptive mother was threatening to kill members of his newly found biological family.

“He’s running,” Neal said, as he stood up. “I’ll check the bathroom.”

Emma started for the door as she said, “I’ll check outside.”

Seconds later they were looking at each other through the open window of the bathroom. Emma said, “Come on. Let’s talk to Ruby and see if she can track him.”

# # #

Half an hour later, Neal felt as though he’d swallowed a bag of leeches that were squiggling around in his stomach and causing multiple painful open wounds. The instant he’d heard Emma tell him that Henry was his, the need to protect his offspring had been overwhelming, and right now that instinct was working overtime. He had no idea how fulltime parents dealt with the emotional overload all the time.

First they’d tracked him to the mines, and they’d figured out he’d taken some dynamite. Now they were headed to the well in the forest where the curse had originated, because they suspected Henry was headed there to blow it up.

Emma screeched her yellow bug to a stop at a spot on the side of the road that seemed unremarkable to Neal. As she was getting out of the car she said, “Come on, the well is this way.”

While Neal was getting out, David pulled up behind them in his truck, and joined them in running towards the well.

They found Henry standing beside the well talking to Regina, but the dynamite was nowhere to be seen. Emma and Regina started arguing. Things became heated quickly, and within seconds Regina created a fireball in her hand, and David responded by pointing his service weapon at her. Then Neal thought his heart might pound out of his chest when Henry actually stepped in between the two of them.

“Henry! Get out of there!” Neal yelled.

“No! Not until someone helps me destroy magic!” Henry answered.

Neal almost rushed in there and grabbed the kid, but both David and Emma stopped him with a hand to his chest. Thanks to his own father, Neal knew jumping in front of someone wielding a fireball was almost certain to end in death, but in that moment, the thought of his life for Henry’s was acceptable.

To everyone’s shock, Henry was able to talk Regina into destroying the spell she’d been planning to use, and she dissolved the fireball in her hand instead of throwing it. Within moments the crisis was averted, and Henry willingly walked over to get a hug from Emma. The need to touch the boy, and feel that he was okay was impossible to ignore, so Neal reached out and put a hand on the boy’s head while his mother hugged him. Emma glanced over at Regina, and cut the hug short as she muttered, “Come on, let’s go.”

Emma, Neal, David, and Henry all quickly walked away from Regina and headed to their vehicles. Neal silently thanked every deity he could think of while they walked, and he noticed that Emma kept an arm around Henry’s shoulders the whole way.

When they stepped onto the road beside the vehicles, Emma put both of her hands on Henry’s shoulders, and held him in place to talk. “Did you take some dynamite from the mines?”

Unable to keep eye contact, Henry stared at the ground. “Yeah.”

“Where is it?” David asked, eyeing Henry’s backpack.

“Mom, I mean Regina, got rid of it with her magic before I could light it.”

“Thank God,” Emma said. “Do you have any idea how dangerous that was? You could have been killed. Dynamite that’s been sitting for a long time corrodes, and it can explode without the wick.”

Scowling mulishly at the ground, Henry said, “I had to do something to stop you all from fighting.”

Neal couldn’t keep quiet. “No, Henry, you didn’t have to, and you shouldn’t have. You’re eleven. It’s not your job to keep the peace between the adults in your life, and certainly not if it puts you in danger.”

Henry crossed his arms and refused to comment.

Emma sighed and said, “I’m sorry kid, but you’re grounded.”

“What?” Henry didn’t like this new development at all. He was used to Regina grounding him, but Emma had never done it before. “For how long?”

“A week.”

“A whole week?” Henry complained. “That’s not fair. You’ve all done worse stuff than me to save our family, and you don’t get into trouble.” He turned to his grandfather for support.

David held his hands up and said, “Don’t look at me. If it were up to me it would be a lot longer.”

“Neal?” Henry asked as a last ditch effort.

Neal shook his head, “If it were up to me…” He paused and turned to Emma. “Why isn’t it partially up to me?”

“What?” she said with surprise.

“Henry was supposed to be on his way to New York to stay with me for a while, and I’m the one he lied to. I am his biological father, and I came here to be a part of his life, I should at least get a vote.”

Emma didn’t like the idea of giving up that much control, but she also didn’t want to deprive Henry of having a father. She looked over at David, and wondered for the millionth time what it would have been like to grow up with him. She turned to Henry, but she couldn’t tell by his confused expression if he liked the idea or not.

“I guess that’s fair,” she said. “How long do you think Henry should be grounded?”

“Being grounded for a week sounds reasonable for lying and ditching us,” Neal said. “But for trying to set off that dynamite, I think he should get spanked.”

Emma’s eyebrows shot up in shock. “Spanked?” Her eyes darted to Henry. He appeared more pale than usual, and he was slowly shaking his head. She scowled at Neal. “Are you talking literally, or figuratively?”


“You mean like…” She wasn’t even sure what she was trying to ask. She knew what it meant, she just had trouble believing Neal had suggested it.

“I mean across my lap with my hand applied to the seat of his pants until I’m sure he won’t do it again.”
“No,” Henry’s protest sounded more like a whisper than a demand, and he took a step closer to his mother.

Emma looked to David, expecting him to be angry at the suggestion, but to her surprise he simply nodded and said, “If I’m being honest, I agree with Neal.”

“What?” Emma couldn’t believe it, and put her arm around Henry’s shoulders.

“Did Regina ever spank you?” David asked Henry. The boy shook his head.

Focusing back on Emma, David gestured to himself and Neal and said, “We were raised in the Enchanted Forrest. Spanking was standard practice there. I know it’s frowned on in this world, but I think it’s a perfectly valid punishment for extreme instances. I got spanked more than once when I was a kid.” He held Emma’s gaze and said, “If you’d been raised with me and your mother, there’s no doubt in my mind that we would have spanked you a few times while you were growing up.”

Emma blushed bright red. Her entire childhood had been permeated with a deep aching need for a parental figure, and a part of her did equate spanking with parents. Spanking was banned for employees at the orphanage and for foster parents, but it was perfectly legal for biological or adoptive parents, and she’d heard plenty of stories from other kids about it. A lot of the stories were horrible and abusive, but not all of them were. Whenever she’d heard stories about good parents who’d spanked their kid for a valid reason, and the kid was telling the story because they were missing that parent, not because they were glad to be rid of them, she’d felt a hot surge of jealousy.

She looked down at Henry, and tried to put her issues aside so she could decide what was best for him. He put his arms around her waist and shook his head. “No. Please don’t let him, Mom. Please. I’ll be grounded for a month.”

“Emma,” Neal said to get her attention focused on him instead of their son’s pleading eyes. Once she was facing him, he said, “You know me, probably better than anyone else ever has. This isn’t something I want to do. But I do think it should be done. I want to make sure Henry never does anything like this again, and from what you’ve all told me, Henry does this sort of thing often. It’ll be a little pain now to prevent huge amounts of pain and suffering later. Think about the damage that dynamite could have done.”

Emma closed her eyes, and thought about how many times Henry had put his life in danger since she’s known him. She cringed at her own decision, and then gave Henry a sympathetic glance. “Sorry kid, but your dad is right.”

“Nooo.” Henry held her tighter, and buried his head in her side.

“Henry,” David’s firm tone made everyone look his way. “Come here for a minute, I want to talk to you.” He leaned down slightly, and gestured Henry over.

Feeling on the verge of tears, Henry tentatively took the five steps over to his grandfather.

David put a hand on Henry’s shoulder and said, “I know this is hard, and I know that you thought you were doing the right thing, the heroic thing, by taking that dynamite to the well, but you’re wrong. None of us, including Regina, want you injured or dead. That’s the one and only thing that all of us agree on, and if you do get injured, that could cause us to fight. So now you have to ask yourself what kind of adult you want to become. Heroes face up to their mistakes and take whatever consequences come their way, even if they’re scared. Villains and small children refuse to acknowledge their mistakes, and try to avoid consequences.”

Emma winced in sympathy, knowing Henry wasn’t left with much of an option after that speech.

Henry glanced over at Neal and then back to David. He reluctantly whispered, “I want to be a hero.”

David squeezed his shoulder and said, “That’s the right choice, the brave choice. I’m proud of you.” David let go and turned to Emma. “Why don’t you give Neal the keys to your car, and I’ll drive you back so they can have some privacy.”

“What? I’m not leaving,” Emma said.

David sighed and said, “Can I talk to you inside the truck for a minute.”

Emma scowled as she walked over to the passenger side of the truck and got in. David held a finger up to Neal and said, “Just one second.”

Neal nodded, and once David got in the truck, he said to Henry, “Why don’t you come stand over here with me.”

Henry slowly walked over towards his father and the yellow bug. He stopped just out of reach, so Neal closed the gap, and tried to put an arm around Henry’s shoulders. Henry ducked and backed a step away to avoid it.

Neal let his arm drop, stuck his hands in his pockets, and kept his hurt feelings to himself.

In the truck David was the first to speak. “We should leave for two reasons. First, hearing it is going to be much harder on you than getting spanked will be for Henry. You’ll want it to end before it even starts. Second, if you don’t trust Neal enough to do this without you here, then you shouldn’t let him do it at all. If you do trust him to do it, then both Henry and Neal will appreciate the privacy.”

She considered those words. Did she trust Neal? He’d certainly given her a big reason not to when he let her to go to prison for his theft, but thanks to her childhood she didn’t trust anyone on the face of the earth not to leave her. On the other hand, Neal had never given her a reason not to trust that he was always kind and gentle with children. While they were together, she’d seen him go out of his way to help several different children that they’d run into during their travels.

She dug her keys out of her pocket, handed them to David and said, “I trust him with Henry.”

He nodded, took the keys and said, “Wait here.”

She put a hand on his arm and said with worry, “Do you think I’m making the right choice?”

“Yes, I do.”

Looking down, but gripping his arm tighter she whispered, “You really would have spanked me if I’d been your daughter?”

“Hey,” he put both his hands on the sides of her face, and tilted it up. Once he had eye contact he said gently, “There’s no ‘if you’d been’. You are my daughter, and yes I would have.” He scrutinized her expression for a moment and added, “In fact, I still will if I ever think you need it.” Her eyes grew comically large, and David hid his smile by leaning over to kiss the top of her head. “Wait here,” he reiterated, and got out of the truck.

He walked over and handed the keys to Neal. He said, “We’ll meet you back at the loft when you’re done.”

“Thank you,” Neal said sincerely.

“Don’t take too long, Emma’s already upset about it.” David made eye contact with a clearly nervous and frightened Henry, and said, “We’ll see you at home. Don’t forget that we all love you, and that includes your dad.”

Henry glanced at his father, and then gave David a tiny nod.

Neal and Henry watched David get back in the truck, and drive away with Emma. Neither one said anything until the truck went around a bend in the road and disappeared from sight.

With a sigh, Neal said, “I meant it when I said I don’t want to do this, Henry. I’d rather take you to the park, because I want you to like me. But I need to keep you safe, and that’s more important than you liking me.” He walked to the bug, and sat near the front on the wheel arch with his back to the car. He held out a hand, and said, “Come over here.”

“You don’t have to.” Henry’s voice trembled slightly. “I won’t do it ever again.”

“I’m sure you mean that right now, but your history tells me that there’s a good chance you will do it again, especially if your only punishment is being grounded. You’re not talking your way out of it,” he said with sympathy. “It’s happening, so either you come here, or I’ll come get you.”

Tears of frustration slid down Henry’s face as he went to his father.

Once the boy was close enough, Neal grasped his upper arm to help guide Henry across his lap. Once his son was in place, he wrapped an arm around his waist, and said, “You put your life in danger today when you took that dynamite, and when you stepped in between Regina and David. Every time you do something like that, I’m going to do this.”

Neal swatted the boy’s behind, and Henry yelped loudly. Assuming that his son’s volume had more to do with surprise and pent up anxiety than actual pain, Neal laid down another solid smack.

The kid’s only response was a tiny gasp followed by a whiny sounding, “Ow.”

Neal started spanking a bit faster and kept count in his head. He was planning on twenty swats, but Henry’s reaction could increase or decrease that number.

Within seconds, Henry’s outcries went from whiny, to sincere, and he started to kick and squirm in an unconscious attempt to get away. Neal tightened his grip around the boy’s waist and kept spanking. Soon Henry started to yell out promises of good behavior in between grunts of pain, and when that didn’t make the spanking stop, he broke down into tears. Once Neal heard the crying he landed two more swats, bringing the total to nineteen before he stopped.

After a short pause Neal helped Henry to stand up, but remained seated himself. He waited to see if his son was the type to want a hug, or if he’d rather have some personal space first.

Henry rubbed at his bottom, sniffled a few times, and wiped his face off with the sleeves of his jacket. Without looking at his father, he shuffled a little closer and said softly, “I just wanted everyone to stop fighting.”

Neal gently pulled him into a hug, and said, “I know, buddy. I want that, too. But we need a plan that doesn’t involve you almost getting yourself killed.”

The boy leaned into the hug, and said, “I’m sorry.”

“As far as I’m concerned, the slate is wiped clean for this incident, and I know you’ll think twice before doing anything like that again.”

Several moments later, once all of Henry’s sniffling was done, he leaned back so he could look Neal in the eye. “Are you still mad?”

Neal put both hands on Henry’s face, and wiped some of the remaining dampness off with his thumbs. “I was never mad, Henry. Terrified, and worried sick, but not mad. I know you were trying to help your family. You just went about it the wrong way.”

Neal stood up and said, “Ready to head back? Emma is gonna worry until she gets to hug you, too.”

Henry rubbed his butt a few more times and said, “Yeah, I guess.”

Neal gave him one more quick hug, patted his shoulder, and said, “Get in and buckle up.”

The two got in, and Neal drove them towards the loft. Henry spent the car ride shifting around in his seat while thinking about ways to help his family without putting himself in danger. Neal spent the car ride daydreaming about spending quality time with his son in New York to help balance the scales after coming down so hard on him this early in their relationship.

The End

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