AN: This takes place after Necropolis, before Atonement. The notes explaining why Zach is there and who everyone is are all on my livejournal, and it would be obnoxious to post them all here. This was typed in email (some of it was handwritten first) and edited there, so hopefully my eyes were enough to do the trick. I'm out of a computer right now, so that was my only option to write anything. If you spot errors, I'd be thankful to have them pointed out to me so I can fix them!

It was with the utmost sympathy that Daphne laid her eyes on me. Next to her, Augustus avoided looking me in the face. I imagined him suppressing his smug thoughts. Better me than him.

He would be at the window outside the living room as soon as I went inside, bearing witness to what would soon send him into peels of laughter. I'd seek my revenge on the wiry little brat later.

"Xavier," Zach called sternly from the porch. From the corner of my eye, I could make out the shape of him leaning against the wooden banister.

"Better go on," said Augustus with amusement. The laughter in his throat broke through before he contained it again with a cough and his fist against his lips.

"You..." I wagged a finger at the child threateningly. "You think this is funny? You're supposed to become a Guardian! No harm is supposed to come to others under your watch, right?"

Augustus lifted his chin to make eye contact, smirking. "This won't kill you. It won't even come close!"

"I shared my peanuts with you! You're not a very loyal friend, are you?"

He shook his head violently as many younger children do, sending his uncombed brown hair flopping back and forth on his head. Thank goodness he wasn't mine, or I would have taken an experience from my own childhood and emulated one of my father's favorite punishments. What did a little boy who was likely to pick up lice need with a head of hair, really? I could just burn every strand off.

"Your father would take my side. He's the kind of Guardian who wouldn't let a flea jump on a dog! It ran him late one time!"

A sour expression fell across the boy's face. "It's no fair to bring Dad into it, Xavier! I'm nothing like him." It was his turn to feel betrayed. Augustus had been dealing with conflict after conflict because Bernardo couldn't figure out why he had such a naughty son.

Just as well another parent in Heaven and Hell experienced the oddball child that went against his or her nature. My father was still pondering the mystery that was my virginity.

"Xavier!" Zach's voice was sharp and loud. It echoed through our quiet, suburban street.

"Good luck, Xavier," murmured Daphne with genuine concern.

"Well, you make one kid in the world I like," I said to her affectionately.

Her brother giggled. "Yeah, good luck."

The next time he was in a similar position, I was going to tease him, laugh at him, and seek out ways to make him feel more lowly and miserable. Not that his father would ever do what Zach was about to do to me, but at least I could embarrass the snot when he was scolded and grounded.

"Xavier, do you want me to come out into the yard and fetch you?" My lover's voice was deep and threatening.

I scurried up the porch to greet Zach. He firmly took me by the arm and directed me inside the house. The other residents were either not home or were upstairs, preoccupied with noiseless activities in rooms I hoped were soundproof.

"I'm sorry," I told him unconvincingly. I hadn't regretted my actions for a second. "The kid deserved it."

Zach rounded on me when we stepped just inside the living room. Pressed against one of the windows was the nose of a pleased little boy. I stuck my tongue at him.

"Don't do that!" There was a harsh slap to my hindquarters. "How old are you, Xavier?"

Rhetorical questions were amusing. "Uh, nine thousand, five hundred, and - oh, you know I can't remember my age!"

Zach's eyes narrowed. "That's not the point. Ignore him and focus on what we're here for."

My gaze fell to the floor. I was never fond of lectures when I was in the right - even if my method of dealing with the problem had been reckless and dangerous. Zach was the sort of man I could listen to, just not this time. If only he'd been there to see how scared Daphne and Augustus were at the time, I didn't think he'd be upset with me.

"Zach, the boy was a bully. The children were really having a hard time."

"Is that why you set the kid's book bag on fire? With magic?"

A chuckle. A hand to the back of the neck. Shit. "Cybil told you?"

"More or less, yes. She was vague about the details, but she told me to take care of it. 'Put yourself to work and make yourself useful,' she said." Zach grunted. "I guess that happens when they've got a soul walking around that they can't place?"

Happy to alter the subject (and soften him before the inevitable), I said reassuringly, "There are others they've pulled from the Great Beyond before. They just don't know what to do with an immortal that wasn't born a Demon or Angel, though..."

A sharp glare broke me off. There was no fooling around with him or trying to persuade him.

"I'm your disciplinarian," he said, and I was surprised to hear amusement in his voice. "Who else will do the job?"

Embarrassingly enough, I could name a few that would be happy to. Starting with my father...

"I rarely use magic, you know, and it took me ages to convince Dad to teach me that fire spell. I might as well put it to good use..."

Zach glowered. "I should put a slipper to good use..."

"Should?" I barely smiled, hardly hopeful. Behind him, Augustus seemed to be losing interest at the window. At least if I delayed the punishment, I could save myself the humiliation of having that brat witness it.

"I don't have a slipper," he replied dully. "A certain rabbit peed on my pair..."

"And a certain rabbit's owner has a very good reason for not replacing them." I wrung my hands about nervously in front of my stomach. Good God, I was grateful to my new, baby pet. Little Hera had harmlessly done my posterior a favor.

"Don't think you're so fortunate." Zach eyed me rather lustily then. This was less and less about my (honorable) deed and more about his personal desires as time decreased between my "misbehavior" and the execution of my punishment.

"Stop looking so aroused," I scolded, blushing and turning away.

"Sorry," he snapped, biting down on his lip briefly. "But you know what you did was wrong, correct?"

I hummed cheerfully. How could he possibly think of spanking me when it only looked like an excuse for him to fulfill his desires? Ah, if only that would stop him! Even little Auggie hadn't given up hope of seeing someone several millennia his senior get punished! (Though he was starting to get bored. Get a little more impatient and go play, you stupid child.)

"I think a wooden spoon would just snap in half," said Zach, still contemplating the implement he would use. "Anything like belts and switches seem harsh..."

I stopped humming. "You mean they're turn-offs," I corrected.

"I'll borrow one of your slippers!"

The color in my face was drained at the thought of my pair of slippers being used on my bottom. Unlike Zach, I actually wore mine, and I was sure that the way they walked across the floors, the soles had accumulated filth. Zach's pair had set idly in our bedroom, in one clean corner, unless he needed them to spank me. They were gone after a good soaking in rabbit urine, but before then, they'd remained fairly clean.

"It'll be over your pants," Zach justified. It was our agreement that as long as there were children around, I remained clothed. That disappointed him, since he liked the sight of my naked ass.

Personally, I didn't care for the arrangement either. It meant that we still had Bernardo's children living here, and even without it bare, they could still see and/or hear the humiliating ordeal. Daphne was fair and thoughtful, but Augustus was like most young boys - he played in the mud and dragged it through the house.

At least in privacy with just Zach, Clarissa, and myself, I'd enjoyed and appreciated a bit of embarrassment. It just didn't work out when Augustus took such delight in it.

The little "Angel" was still at his window perch, though he frowned impatiently. Where were the fireworks in the show?

"Fetch one of your slippers," Zach demanded.

Well, Augustus, something is about to be lit, but it won't be Roman Candles, I thought.

I recited poems in my head as I traveled up the stairs the second floor. One line per stair so that it took me a good three minutes before I made it to the top. In our bedroom, snuggled like pets on the rug next to our bed was my fuzzy pair of red slippers. I picked one up and gave it a testing tap against my palm. The rubber sole slapped against the skin, more noisy than painful. Zach would really have to put a great deal of strength in his swing if he expected me to squirm.

I hurried over to the window to check over the yard. I couldn't see Augustus or Daphne playing around, though they could have been on the wrap-around porch. It occurred to me then to lazily rest upstairs so that Zach would be compelled to fetch me. In the privacy of our room there wasn't an audience!

The problem with Zach?

"Xavier, get down here!" I had left the door cracked just enough that when his voice worked its way to the second floor, it slipped right through that gap. "How long does it take to fetch a slipper?"

The necessary footwear had indeed been retrieved; I had rested it on the bed next to me as I stared up at the ceiling, eagerly waiting for him to come and get me. I was pretty sure he would drag me back downstairs if he was willing to call up at me. Part of me wondered if he enjoyed humiliating me just as much as he did spanking me.

I accumulated confidence as I made it down the stairs with that thought in mind. At the bottom, I leaned in on his eager face and whispered, "You know, if you'd gone up there, I would have let you strip me down as long as you locked the door."

There are plenty of victories in life. Some - well, most - involve peanuts. This was another notable accomplishment because of the blush that spread across Zach's face.

I shook my head with amusement. "Tsk. Oh, you." I wagged the slipper, letting it thump lightly against his chest. "Didn't you think that far ahead?"

The slipper was wrenched from my grip in the same second Zach scowled at me. He spun me around by the arm and landed firm but not very painful slaps with the slipper against my bottom as he marched me into the living room. My eyes darted apprehensively over to the window where Augustus was still waiting. Unlike before, where he was so eager to see the show, his grin had sunk away and his eyes were wide with fear.

Cheekily, I beamed at him. The nose against the window disappeared, but the boy remained in the same spot. As intended, I had baffled him, but that didn't mean I could convince him not to watch. There were events in life where I had thought it best to turn away but couldn't peel my eyes from the sight, and this was like that for little Auggie. I'd be sure to make him regret staying later, but my attention was mostly focused on the fact that my lover had been clumsily swatting my bottom with the sole of a slipper consistently.

There was persistent tugging at my shirt with his free hand. "Get over my knee." By golly, his voice was husky and hoarse. I was more embarrassed for him than I was for me; my figure was bent across his lap compliantly just to keep him from making a fool out if himself, and never once did the slipper stop its barrage! Zach picked up speed with each slap so that they were no longer nagging little smacks across the seat of my thick denim, but stinging whacks I could feel through the fabric.

One would think I might giggle, writhe, cry, or defiantly clench my body tight so that it would seem his spanking had little effect. I did none of that. The best part of being spanked by someone far too horny for his own good was waiting for him to break down. A flustered Zach was an adorable Zach, and he could earn one of my rare kisses if I approved enough. I was far too big as a full grown man to simply dangle over his lap, so I placed my elbow on the sofa cushion next to his thigh, rested my chin in my palm, and listened carefully for him to start sputtering.

There were benefits to throwing Zach off his course by pointing out the purpose of this punishment. The blows were uneven, uncalculated, and not exactly very effective. Sure, that slipper could sting even while he was flustered to the point of being unable to squarely hit my bottom, but the pain was more like a nagging voice I could shut out. Sort of like how I shut out my father's voice!

"Oh, Xavier, why are you doing this to me?" Slap, slap, slapslap...slapslap, slap!

I chuckled.

"You're enjoying this, aren't you? I pity your parents, Xavier. Did you behave this way when you were punished as a child?"

"No, I believe I used crocodile tears if Dad raised his voice and ran to my mother." It was with fondness I recalled those instances, though... "You might want to watch out for retribution."

"You mean revenge."

"I mean retribution. I'm not the one beating up my boyfriend to get off while using some flimsy excuse to do it." When it came down to it, how could he deny that I was an honorable fellow for sticking up for Daphne and Augustus? "Face it, Zach. That's evil. I should be punishing you instead of the other way around."

Against my chest, his legs shuffled. The slipper was now patting against my backside rather than swatting. Was his resolve finally weakening? I was close to getting out of this mostly unmarred, but I wouldn't be entirely safe until he was worn out and humiliated. Come to think of it, there were some similarities between this and dealing with my father when I was small. I recalled moments in my childhood where I had publicly humiliated my father by obnoxiously (but justifiably) crying, "Ew!" at everything sexual I saw whenever we went out until he was so fed up with it we returned home, where I could hurry upstairs to the safety of my room - or run around in circles about the house until he was tired of chasing me. Unlike Zach, though, Dad couldn't physically punish me. Thank you God for that law!

"Xavier, why are you doing this to me?" The slipper had slowed down considerably; someone's wrist was beginning to ache.

I stifled a yawn. "It's cute."

Whether it was from exhaustion or from what I said, the slipper halted and was tossed to the floor. I turned my head as it thumped against the area rug. Zach's torso slumped against my back.

"Damn you, Xavier..."

There was a certain area of his body that was telling me very clearly why I had just been damned, but not being a sensitive person to all sexual matters, I merely said with childish petulance, "I'm from Hell. You can't damn me."

"If I had the energy and that slipper was still in my hand..." His voice was threatening, but in a very non-serious way.

"Can I get up now?" I asked, clearly bored and not entirely comfortable with his bony thighs against my stomach and chest.

The weight off my back lifted as he sat up and I stiffly returned to my feet and stretched. Zach was slumped in his seat, head buried in his hands. Aw, why did he have to look so dejected?

I bent over him to give him a quick kiss on the forehead before I whispered, "Only you know where your blue mags are. I'll go start dinner."

He wasted no time darting up the stairs, leaving me to reflect. It was difficult enough to accept that he kept porn in the house, but we both agreed that as long as he kept it cleverly hidden, its presence was not offensive to me or Bernardo, who had a very nosy son that often pried the floorboards loose if he wanted to find entertainment.

The little devil was standing next to me in the living room, but it took me a few minutes to notice his presence. The door must have opened after Zach left to take care of business - Augustus was too scared to interrupt any of these sessions even if he insisted on watching. With his arms folded across his chest, the lad pouted up at me.

"You were having too much fun," he accused.

"Ah, well, you know." I shrugged.

"You're not allowed to have fun when you're getting a spanking!"

"How would you know?" I only thanked God for the law against corporal punishment on Demon and Angel children when I recalled my own youth. Ungrateful little boys like Augustus should have been disqualified, but Bernardo was a Guardian; if the law enforcers and protectors of the people stopped abiding the laws, there would be anarchy in Heaven and Hell! "The only reason I was in trouble is because I was kind enough to step in and protect you from that bully."

Augustus puffed his cheeks out further, but it was clear that he was deliberating as much as his tiny brain was capable of. I really hated children, especially filthy, thankless boys. Daphne was an absolute dear, taking more after Bernardo even though she was adopted. Reapers were just kinder than Guardians by nature, full of sympathy and understanding.

"I'll tell Fenton what happened!"

"Oooh," I mocked. "As if he doesn't already know. He's probably already working on the letter or packing his bags for a visit to congratulate me. You should probably think of a better way to pay me back for ruining the show. In the meantime, I'm going to think up something for you. There'll be retribution, punk."

"That's revenge," the stuck up boy corrected.

"Whatever." There was dinner to make, and I was not letting a little boy spoil my victory over Zach. That would come much later, after we'd settled down to dinner and my father swept into the dining room, boisterously denouncing my behavior. After I sunk under the table, I planned retribution for all of them - Zach, Augustus, and Dad.