Author’s Note: This story was written as an RPG (roll playing game) between co-author’s Hope1iz and BlackFox12 (aka Cat). This is the sixth story in the ‘Redeeming Grant’ series, which is set after the season one finale.
Summary: Ward thinks he has the right reason to do the wrong thing.
Disclaimer: We don't own anything from the television series Marvel: Agents of SHIELD and we're not making any money from this fic
Warning: Spanking; spoilers for the entire first season of Marvel: Agents of SHIELD;
Co-Author’s Website: BlackFox12's fanfiction.net page
LIES OF OMISSION
None of the meetings as director were easy, but this had been a particularly bad one. Coulson returned to the Bus with a sense of relief, though he couldn't quite keep his stress from showing through. Later, he thought he might take a turn in the training area and hopefully get rid of some of this tension that was still affecting him.
There was still the debriefing to go and although he would deal with any problems that rose, Coulson hoped everything had gone smoothly. He suspected Fury had been all too happy to hand over the job of director to him. He wasn't sure how the other man had kept his cool for so long.
Ward had returned to the bus a mere hour before Coulson had. He knew the other man would want a report on the mission; the first solo mission Ward had been on since rejoining the team. The other man looked so tired Ward hated the thought of telling him just how badly everything had gone.
Coulson didn't allow himself to take much of a break before he went to meet Ward. "How did everything go?" he asked, discarding the normal barking for a report. Not only was he too tired to act like the director, he tried never to bark orders at his team. They did a good enough job without needing to deal with that.
Ward only had to look at Coulson to see how tired he was. He didn't want to add to the stress by telling him just how many things had gone wrong and how many of those problems were his fault. In the end, the objective had been met and Ward wasn't injured...beyond a bruise or two. It could have gone much worse. He spoke without stopping to second guess himself. "Everything went fine. I've given the disk to Skye." He didn't elaborate.
Coulson nodded, clapping a hand gently on Ward's shoulder. "Good job." He'd normally ask for more details, but for now, it was enough to know that Ward was safe and that the mission had been a success.
"Thanks, sir." Ward pushed down the slight guilt he felt at keeping information from Coulson and smiled. "You look worn out, sir. Why don't you go rest...? I'm making dinner tonight."
Coulson nodded. "I think that would be a good idea. I should wake in time to eat... if not, someone can come in and wake me." He squeezed Ward's shoulder gently and then released him. "If Skye does find anything on the disk before I wake up, then wake me then."
# # #
Ward blinked as he stared at all the food he had made; all Coulson's known favorites. He bit his lip. Hiding the particulars of what had occurred during his mission was going to be more difficult than he thought if he was feeling guilty enough to want to 'impress' the other man. The sad thing was… he hadn't lied. Not really- if you didn't count glaring omissions of information as a lie. Which, unfortunately, Ward did and knew Coulson would too.
Ward sighed. Well, he'd just have to feel guilty. Better he feel guilt than Coulson to be burdened with yet one more problem (that wasn't really a problem. He'd completed the mission! He had to remember that!)
Heading down the hall, he called into the lab, "Hey, gang! Dinner's ready. Simmons, will you get Coulson while I get May?"
Jemma looked up from where she was drying a beaker. "Sure thing." She smiled and put her equipment in a safe area, then went to wake the Director.
Knocking on the door, she called hesitantly, "Sir? Dinner is ready. Do you want to join us?"
Coulson felt better for having had some rest. He was still somewhat tired, but it was at a more bearable level now. He was dressed and preparing to leave his bunk when Simmons knocked on the door.
Walking over, Coulson opened the door and smiled at her. "I'm coming. Thank you."
Jenna smiled brightly at the older man. "It's good to have you back, sir! And see you in one piece! When I saw how much food Grant had made and how much was your favorite, I was afraid you'd been injured or some other bad news had happened!" Jenna smiled again innocently and twirled around to head back to the dining area.
Coulson raised his eyebrows at what Simmons unwittingly revealed. In his experience, that sort of thing occurred when someone was feeling guilty.
Walking into the dining area, Coulson glanced at the sheer amount of food and then on Grant. "It looks good," he said with a quiet smile, before casually asking, "Is there anything on your mind?"
Ward blinked like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. Was there anything on his mind? He'd thought maybe Coulson would be suspicious at all the food, but would just attribute it to Ward wanting to make him feel better after a really bad trip- not automatically zero in on the fact that he 'had something on his mind'.
"Uh...No?" he finally answered hesitantly, not quite able to tell if Coulson actually knew anything about what had occurred and was just waiting for Grant to fess up, or if it truly was just suspicion at the amount of food.
Coulson's eyebrows raised once more. "Are you asking or are you telling me?" he asked calmly. "Is there something I need to know?"
Ward gave his best innocent smile (which, really, he should know better- whenever he tried to 'look innocent' was usually when he ended up looking like Dennis the Menace pulling a prank). "No, sir, nothing you need to know. I just...you looked so tired earlier and your trip seemed hard, so I wanted to do something to cheer you up." His smile was more genuine this time; it wasn't a lie, after all. It just wasn't the entire truth.
Ward pushed down the stab of guilt he felt at outright lying to his director about there not being anything he needed to know and began dishing up a plate for said director.
Coulson could tell that Ward wasn't being entirely honest, but he decided to drop it for the time being. He didn't want to ruin the meal, but he planned to find out exactly what was wrong with Ward later.
Lightly squeezing Ward's shoulder, Coulson spoke with quiet sincerity. "Thank you."
Ward relaxed when Coulson didn't continue his questioning and smiled happily back at the other man. "You're welcome." He glanced around at the others who were watching the exchange with varying degrees of bemusement. "What are you all waiting for? It's going to get cold." he motioned at the food, made sure Coulson had everything he wanted, and then began plating his own meal.
He'd go to the rec room and work out later to get rid of that last nagging bit of guilt from hiding how badly his operation had gone- even if it had succeeded in the end.
Coulson sat down to start eating, glancing round to make sure the rest of the team was eating as well. He glanced periodically at Ward, wondering if something hadn't gone according to plan in the mission.
And, if so, why Ward hadn't told him.
By the time the meal was done and he'd cleaned everything up, Ward was more than ready to go and work out in the rec room. The conversation had been pleasant. In fact, after the initial curiosity on Coulson's part, the topics of conversation had been fun and non-work related. Coulson needed a break from being director sometimes and the team was more than willing to provide him that.
The only problem was, Ward could feel Coulson's glances. They weren't long and they weren't frequent, but when they occurred, Ward could swear he heard the questions that Coulson was thinking; wondering what Ward was hiding from him. And it didn't help lessen the guilt at all. By the time Ward reached the rec room, he was agitated. Why should he feel guilty? He'd succeeded in his mission! Just because he didn't go into gruesome detail of every little thing that went wrong (and how it was his fault) didn't change the outcome. And his reasons for not saying anything weren't selfish. He wasn't afraid of getting into trouble for what had gone wrong. He was trying to make things easier for Coulson. So why did he feel guilty?
He knew why. After being given his second chance at family and a good life, he'd promised himself never to lie to the older man again...and as much as he hadn't wanted to admit it, that's what he'd done. Leaving information out was pretty much the same as lying. He knew it and he knew Coulson believed the same...and when the man discovered it (which he inevitably would), he would be so disappointed in Ward. Ward didn't want to see that disappointment.
Sighing, Ward began doing his Kata.
Coulson planned to talk to Ward as soon as they'd finished eating. Unfortunately, before he had a chance to do so, he was alerted to an incoming call. And after he'd spoken to his friend, he had to take a few moments to gather his thoughts.
Keeping Ward's presence on the Bus a secret was never going to be a permanent solution, but Coulson had assumed he would have a bit more time to figure out how to deal with it. It was fortunate that, this time, it had been someone who was friendly with Coulson and owed him a favor, so plugging that potential leak hadn't been a problem. And it wasn't the fact that Ward had been seen was what was bothering Coulson the most.
No... according to Coulson's source, the mission hadn't gone nearly as smoothly as Ward had led him to believe. And Coulson was disappointed, even if he had a pretty good idea of why Ward had kept this a secret.
It did explain why Ward had been acting so strangely at the meal, though.
Figuring the most likely place for Ward to be was in the training area, that was where Coulson headed to. He watched the younger man for a few moments before speaking. "We need to talk."
Ward had known the moment Coulson entered the room- could feel him watching him- so he wasn't surprised when the man spoke. Even so, the words caused him to wince, flinch even, and he slumped slightly as he realized Coulson had found out somehow. He'd heard the disappointment in the man's voice. There was no way he hadn't found out.
"Yes, sir...." He managed to speak calmly without his voice catching. He would have been proud of the fact if he weren't concentrating so hard on actually looking the man in the eye and not at his feet like an errant child. "May I take a shower first, though?"
Coulson nodded. "Come to my office straight afterwards," he directed. He doubted Ward needed to be told, but he didn't want the younger man to run into one of the other members of the team and allow himself to be distracted.
Ward watched the other man leave, then sighed and went to grab a change of clothes and hit the showers. While there, he had a lot to think about. While he didn't regret trying to lessen some of Coulson's burden, he was quickly realizing there were much better ways to do so. By the time he'd finished his shower and dressed, the niggling guilt he'd been feeling for his lie of omission (and later full out lies when Coulson became suspicious) grew into a solid rock of guilt that sat in his belly and made him nauseous. He knew what he had to do.
Walking back into the office, Coulson took care of some paperwork while he waited for Ward to come to him. He wasn't angry with the younger man, even if he perhaps should have been. But as much as he could understand why Ward had kept this from him, he also knew he couldn't allow the lies to just pass by. There had to be consequences.
Reaching Coulson's office, Ward knocked firmly and tried to push the nerves down.
Coulson put the paperwork to one side and waited a moment before calling, "Come in." His voice was firm, but not raised.
Taking a deep breath, Ward stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. He forced himself to look the director in the eye as he began talking.
"I'm not sure how much you know or what you know...but it is obvious you found out something...." He swallowed hard and then continued before the older man could jump in, "It doesn't really matter, because I will tell you everything in as much detail as you require...the important thing...the thing that I've been feeling guilty about from the moment I did it, even though I had the best of reasons...is that I lied to you. Maybe not baldly, but leaving information out is as much of a lie as giving an untruth if I'm doing it to give you a wrong impression." He finally looked down.
"I just wanted to make things a little easier for you...." Biting his lip, he looked up again before quickly moving to his mentor's side, lowering his sleep pants and putting himself over Coulson's knee.
He knew he'd be in this position eventually and felt too guilty to try and talk or explain. Everything just suddenly felt so wrong and off-kilter. If Coulson wanted to talk first...maybe he wouldn't mind if Ward answered while staring at the floor?
He couldn't face his mentor at the moment. Not anymore. He'd used up his allotment of bravely facing his mistakes for the day.
Coulson was a little taken aback by Ward's actions in placing himself over his lap, but not completely surprised. It had, after all, been obvious that Ward was feeling guilty about something.
Wrapping his arm gently around Ward's waist, Coulson didn't start the spanking straight away. "I know you feel guilty," he said gently. "I'm sure I don't have to go into detail about why keeping things from me is wrong, even if you had a good reason for doing so. I understand and appreciate that you were trying to make things easier on me, but there are much less harmful ways of doing that."
Ward wrinkled his nose, irritated at himself. "I know, sir. I...didn't really stop to think before I did it and then...well, I should have told you the minute I did think about it. Because I knew it was wrong and I knew you wouldn't be happy if you ever found out...and I knew you'd find out. I should have known..." He sighed softly, wrapping one hand tentatively around Coulson's ankle.
Coulson just nodded. "When we're finished here, I'd like you to tell me what did happen on the mission." He rubbed Ward's back gently a moment and then brought his hand down in the first sharp swat at the crest of his backside.
Even expecting it, the first swat managed to cause Ward to gasp. His hand tightened around Coulson's ankle and he moved his other hand forward to keep himself from sliding forward. Biting his lip, he answered, "You'll probably want to make sure I can't sit for a while, then- I messed up really bad..." he admitted in a tiny voice.
"This isn't about you messing up on the mission," Coulson said seriously. "Everyone makes mistakes and they aren't the end of the world. This is about you keeping things from me and lying to me." He started spanking hard, though still made sure the swats weren't too painful.
Grant slumped at his mentor’s words, his guilt for hiding things overwhelming him. Coulson was smacking him harder than normal (even if it didn't hurt as much as it could have) and Ward knew it was because trust was such an important thing to the older man.
Trust that Ward had broken. At the thought that he might have broken his father-figure's trust in him completely, Ward started crying.
The times he'd spanked Ward before, Coulson had stopped soon after Ward's tears had started. He considered doing that now, but he knew - and he was sure Ward did, too - that lying was one thing he could not tolerate. He'd never accepted it from the team before, but now, that trust was even more important.
Coulson spoke as he continued to spank the man he considered a surrogate son. "I need to be able to trust you to be honest with me, Grant. No matter what reasons you have, lying to me or keeping things from me will not be tolerated. There's been too much of that already." As he finished speaking, he shifted Ward forward, beginning to address sharper swats to his sit spots.
Ward knew how important truth was, not just specifically to Coulson but to the team as a whole. He knew that lying was the one thing that no one would be able to overlook and accept from him; they wouldn't even tolerate it from each other, but they specifically couldn't tolerate it from him. Not with his history and how he'd lied to them so horribly in the not distant past. He'd known it and still had thought 'protecting' Phil with lies of omission (and later blatant lies to keep Coulson from figuring out the truth about his omission) was a good idea.
Well, no. He'd known it, and also known that whatever his reasons for it, it wasn't a good idea- and yet he'd still found himself doing it. If he had thought it was a good idea despite everything, he wouldn't have been feeling so guilty ever since doing it. Because of this, he didn't have any emotional defense against his mentor's words.
He couldn't tell himself that Phil had just misunderstood. He couldn't tell himself that even though it was wrong and he wouldn't do it anymore, it was worth it this one time. He couldn't even tell himself that he didn't know, so it really wasn't as bad as the older man felt it was. Because Phil understood all too clearly; his father-figure being disappointed made it not worth it; and he had known the entire time, so it really was as bad as Phil felt.
When Coulson said he needed to trust him to be honest because there had been too much lying already... the words cut straight into him. His quiet crying quickly became heartbroken sobs, that he muffled by turning his head and biting into his forearm. What if Coulson couldn't trust him anymore? Had he ruined everything? Even if his reasons were for the best, if Phil couldn't trust that he could depend on the truth from him....
"I'm sorry..." he finally choked out, his voice sounding more scared than he would have liked; but he was scared. Scared that he'd ruined one of the only relationships in his life that was actually good for him and that he desperately needed.
Coulson's hand came to a stop. Even if Ward deserved more, there was no way Coulson could ignore that fear in the younger man's voice. Or the way his crying had changed, showing just how much this had got to him.
Tugging gently, Coulson brought Ward up into his arms, settling him on his lap and pulling him in close. As they had the last time, one of Coulson's hands found its way to the nape of Ward's neck, while the other arm wrapped around his surrogate son and pulled him in close.
Ward didn't need any encouragement to burrow against his mentor, pressing as close as humanly possible while wrapping his arms around him with a grip that betrayed how scared he was. "Please don't give up on me..." he finally managed to whisper hoarsely. "I'm so sorry...."
Coulson tightened his own embrace around Ward, rubbing his back gently as he had so many times before. "I won't ever give up on you." His voice was soft, but still reassuring. "I know you didn't intend anything bad from this. I do forgive you."
Ward slowly relaxed as he finally understood Phil's words and recognized that the other man hadn't let him go. "I'm sorry..." he finally said more clearly in a very contrite voice...apologizing not only for the lie, but for the fact that he was so needy and had been afraid when nothing Coulson had ever done or said should have led him to think the other man would just leave him alone again. He'd wished it so many times in the past, but this time, he allowed himself to voice the wish; even if it was pointless because the past was the past...at least it would let Coulson know exactly how important he had become. "I wish you'd found me instead of Garrett..."
Ward knew he should pull away, but he couldn't make himself do it.
Coulson's arms tightened as he continued gently rubbing Ward's back. "I know. I wish the same," he said honestly. "But I have you now. Later than it should have been, but not too late."
Ward latched onto the words like a lifeline...Coulson had him...it wasn't too late...and he finally started calming down, realizing that it was true. The older man had rescued him long before he even knew he needed rescuing and even after all the vile crap he had done, he'd kept hold of him. Slowly, he started calming down, his crying ebbing into quietly hitching breaths. He still didn't let go of Phil...but this time, he wasn't embarrassed by it.
Instead of moving, he allowed himself to think on what he'd done and what he should have done and he finally leaned back enough to look up into Phil's eyes. "I really messed up...but I panicked so much, I didn't really get into as much trouble as I was expecting..." He bit his lip, not entirely sure how to ask if his punishment was over, or if it was time to continue now that he wasn't afraid any longer.
Coulson met Ward's gaze, trying to decide what the right course of action to take was. "What do you think should happen now?" he asked, trying to gauge whether Ward felt he deserved more punishment... or whether this had been enough.
Ward bit his lip again. His first inclination was to say he'd been punished enough...but he knew the seriousness of what he had done. He knew that if Phil was any less understanding or forgiving, he could have lost everything. And he knew that given the fact he'd deliberately done something that he knew was wrong and shouldn't do, but talked himself into doing it anyway...he really hadn't been punished as much as he deserved. But the idea of being spanked more.... He swallowed and glanced down for moment before looking back up.
"I don't know..." he finally admitted. "I deserve to be punished...but...I don't know..." He sighed.
It would be easy to decide that Ward had been punished enough, but Coulson felt that, even though he was sure the younger man didn't want to be spanked any more now, he would believe that, later, he hadn't been punished enough. Although Ward was unlikely to resent him, Coulson needed to stay consistent with him.
After giving Ward one last affectionate squeeze, Coulson gently began moving him back over his lap.
Ward sighed softly at the sign of affection and bit back the whine that wanted to escape when Coulson began helping him back into position. His bottom was already very sore, the seriousness of what he had done being made very clear through his backside. Ward knew this was one lesson he wouldn't be forgetting anytime soon. He thought he should be upset at that, but found he was grateful instead. When he was back in place, he resumed gripping Phil's ankle with one hand and bracing himself on the floor with the other. He then did his best to relax and submit so that he would receive the fullest amount of the punishment as quickly as possible.
He wanted to atone for what he'd done...but the sooner it was over with, the sooner he could admit what he'd actually done (and hidden) from Phil... and maybe spend some time with his father-figure that wasn't due to him needing to be disciplined.
Coulson rubbed Ward's back gently a moment, then lifted his hand and resumed swatting Ward's backside. The swats were firm, but still not too harsh, though he wanted to make his message very clear so they didn't have to deal with this again.
It didn't take long for Ward to begin crying again...this time mostly because his strong emotions had drained him and made him unable to hide anything of what he was feeling...and a little because Phil had not only reignited the stinging burn on his backside, but despite not smacking any more harshly, made it burn even more. Ward held still for as long as he was able, but then his body stopped listening to his orders and he began squirming helplessly, soft whimpers escaping his lips despite his efforts to bite the sounds back.
Coulson tightened his hold on Ward's waist as he began targeting more swats to the younger man's sit spots, also including the tops of his thighs. He watched Ward's reactions carefully, so he could be sure to stop when it was necessary.
The squirming wasn't helping (and Ward was thankful Phil had such a tight grip on him, because he knew he'd have ended up on the floor long ago otherwise) and when the older man targeted Ward's sit-spots and upper thighs, Ward couldn't fight it any longer. Giving up completely, he went limp over Coulson's knee, just letting the pain remind him over and over that he was never going to tell a lie to his mentor ever again...even one by omission or one meant to help. He couldn't even cry anymore, he was so wrung out...only managing pathetic, pained whimpers.
Once again, Coulson stopped, this time satisfied the lesson would stick... and that, later, Ward would still feel like he'd been punished enough, rather than as if Coulson had let him off easily. Once again, Coulson didn't hesitate and tugged Ward into his arms, wrapping them tightly around the younger man and pulling him in close.
Ward didn't attempt to say anything, just accepting the comfort and being thankful for it. He knew eventually he'd have to confess to all the myriad of ways the mission had gone wrong, because he'd made the wrong decisions...but that no longer bothered him. He'd paid for what he'd done wrong (he squirmed slightly at the sting that he could still feel). From here on out, any lessons Phil imparted would be to give him advice; and he wasn't too proud to take it.
Blinking, he finally straightened up and wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand. "Thank you, sir..." he finally said softly, hoping that Coulson knew what he was being thanked for.
Coulson nodded. "You're welcome," he replied, placing a hand gently on Ward's shoulder and squeezing. "Are you ready to tell me about how the mission went from your perspective?" There was no blame in his voice. Coulson knew how easy it was to make mistakes. He just wanted to listen to Ward and suggest ways things could be handled next time.
Ward swallowed, finally straightening up and standing long enough to put his clothing right. "Yes, sir. I'm ready." Carefully sitting on the chair nearest to Coulson - he didn't want to be too far away from the man, even now that he was assured he wasn't being given up on - he carefully began filling in all the details from the op that had occurred after he'd left the director's sight. This time, he left nothing out....