Throttle dropped Xander into his bed, then basically fell down beside him. He didn't even have the energy to take off his boots. He was too tired to move and too sore to do more than hiss at whoever it was who was nice enough to try to remove his vest for him. He mumbled something that should have been 'stop it' or possibly 'thank you' but he was already snoring so he wasn't quite sure which or if it was his imagination.
Vinnie snickered, finishing the stripping process while Dawn got Xander's clothes more or less off him. They covered the duo up and went back to helping Modo strip the wax off his bike so he could see how many real injuries she had. He patted Throttle's bike. "Let them sleep, girl, then he'll baby you too."
"Plus, he'll have Xander helping put back on the thousand coats of wax that weigh you down," Dawn added. "Unlike Modo's baby over here who has millions." He snorted but went back to cleaning off the wax gently. She hugged his arm. "Are you feeling all right? You're being more quiet than usual."
"I'm fine," he promised. "It's just been a long night."
"Then go to bed." He gave her a look. "I'm more than capable of stripping wax off a bike, Modo. Really. You watched me do the back fender and said I did a good job. So let me do this part while you rest up, then we'll tackle all the scratches in the morning before reapplying multiple coats of wax."
"That okay with you, girl?" His bike nudged him. "Sure. I'll go rest. She'll take good care of you." He yawned as he stood up, heading for his bed.
Dawn looked at Vinnie. "I have Xander's allergy pills if you want to try it," she offered.
"Nah, I'm good," he said through a yawn. "I'll crash soon but not yet." He got down to help her. It would drive Modo insane if his bike was scratched for any longer than necessary. They probably had about a day before he lost his temper about it. Once they got the bike totally stripped down, they examined all the little dings and scratches. "Are you finding any?"
"One serious one. Mostly little things." She moved back to look at the seat. "He needs to recover this. You can see the difference in color where he sits." She found another one. "Hmm, one deeper blow. Still in the paint I think." She ran her finger over it and the bike shifted. "Sorry, girl, trying to make sure it's a paint touch-up and not a body job. Should we plan on taking a softly padded hammer to the little dings?" She shook her front wheel. "Okay, if you're sure." She looked at the scratch again. "I can see bare metal in it."
"We'd have to sand down the old paint and apply a strip of new," Vinnie said, leaning over to look at it. Dawn looked up at him. "Not tonight, sweetheart, grinders are noisy and the only one who touches her with power tools is Modo. Even sandpaper would get us lynched." She nodded, yawning a bit. "Come on, you can kick Stoker off the couch and make him sleep with his girl." He helped her up. "Give us about six hours and we'll come back to cover those, girl. I promise." She beeped, watching as they left. Then she went to curl up beside Throttle's bike to make sure she was all right. She was the worst of them all. She leaned against her friend, giving her some comfort. Their riders would be fixing them tomorrow, and that nice woman would be helping obviously.
Stoker jumped when Vinnie kicked at his foot. "What?"
"You've got a bed. Go sleep with the wife."
"Yeah, and? Doesn't mean she doesn't want a cuddle," Dawn pointed out. "She's either feeling the most female ever or depressed. So go hug your woman. The couch is mine."
"Fine," he complained as he got up, heading into the spare bedroom. He found his wife curled around their child, letting her feed. "Can I cuddle in here?"
"Of course," she said softly. "Want behind me?" She smiled up at him. "Come watch. She's amazing. She grabbed onto my breast like she knew what it was for." Stoker laid down behind her, leaning over to watch their daughter eat. "Did anyone call Carbine?"
"Not yet. You wanna?"
"Not yet," she admitted with a grin. "Maybe Rimfire. He should be there at the naming party."
"Yeah, he should. That mini-punk will gladly help protect her. He's not the youngest of this generation anymore."
"No, he's not," she agreed, reaching back to catch his hand to hold. "Cuddle, Stoker, I need a cuddle." He wrapped them in his arms, letting her relax. The baby burped up some of the milk, but that was fine with them.
Xander woke to an odd sensation. He was curled in a seriously small space with someone very warm. He opened his eyes, blinking at the sleeping face next to his. Well, that answered the question about who was holding him. He looked around and found Vinnie staring at them from the couch. "Help," he mouthed. Vinnie shook his head with a smirk. "Bribe?" he mouthed. Vinnie shook his head again and his smirk got brighter. "Please?" Vinnie shook his head again and pointed behind them. Xander looked back and found Carbine staring at him. He shrugged and Throttle pulled him closer if that was possible. He gave her a helpless look and she snorted, shaking her head as she walked off. She slammed the spare bedroom's door, waking Modo, Throttle, and the baby.
"Damn it, Carbine, let her fucking well sleep!" Switch yelled.
Carbine wisely retreated back to the main room. "What's wrong with her?"
"That baby came out of a very small hole," Dawn told her dryly. "Plus, you know, the end of the hormones. So go easy on her and don't wake everyone up." She handed over a cup of coffee. "Because you're being a grumpy butt again." She walked over to stare at Modo, then beamed at him. "Unless she's gotten more hurt, there's only a few dings and only two deeper scratches. One I can see metal in and the other's still the color of paint inside." He nodded, letting her help him sit up with a moan. "Go shower and change and I'll have food ready so we can tackle the poor babies. She's snuggled up against Throttle's baby to keep her company and warm."
"Thanks, Dawn." He gave her a pat on the head as he walked around her, heading for the bathroom.
"Anytime." She checked the kitchen, then came over to look at the couple everyone else was staring at. "Yeah, it's me again," she said dryly. "In supper fuss mode no less. So get your butts up and eat. Then you can both shower and we'll work on stripping the wax of Throttle's bike while Modo's new paint dries. Now, up."
"Can't. Too sore to move," Throttle said with a small yawn. He put his head back down and closed his eyes. "I will beat the tail of anyone staring."
"Does that include me?" the shoulder he was resting on asked.
He looked up at him and shook his head. "Nah, you're comfy."
"Let him go back to sleep. He's still halfway there," Vinnie advised. He got up and came over to tuck them back in. "Give them another hour, Dawn."
"Sure. Not an issue. I'm sure you three can easily eat everything I've made. Carbine, tap gently and ask the other couple if they want food. Vinnie, call Charley and ask her."
"Sure." He went to do it but Carbine looked at her.
"Woman, that baby you were holding earlier came out of her twat. Which was only stretched to ten centimeters. She's not getting out of that bed today and Stoker's supposed to be hovering." Carbine shuddered. "Now, shoo, before I have to pull out my bitch act again this week." She went back into the kitchen to save the eggs she was frying from burning. She could have the crunchy one if no one else wanted it. She was kinda hungry. Stoker stomped in. "I'm cooking, want some?"
"Please, scrambled. She said her stomach's still touchy."
"Yeah, it's from the pushing and stuff," she said, pointing at the bowl. "Needs pepper, I only salted them."
"Welcome, old guy."
He snorted, shaking his head. "No respect from the younger generation. First her and Rimfire, then you."
She punched him on the arm. "You're just too old to realize we're having fun and giving you respect. Otherwise we wouldn't listen to you at all."
"Point," he admitted, putting some toast into the toaster to toast. She took it out of the coffeemaker and put it into the appropriate slots for him. "Thanks again."
"Welcome. I didn't figure you'd be used to our appliances anyway. Vinnie still mistakes the toaster for the microwave when he's half-asleep." She handed him a plate she had cleaned earlier, earning a small smile since she only included one fork. She poured the poor girl some milk while he loaded up the plate, handing it over before he could leave. "Here, it's good for her and the baby."
"Thanks." He headed back to his room, using his tail to get the doorknob. He walked inside and shut the door, coming over to help his wife into a sitting position so she could eat. He handed over the food, standing there watching while she ate.
"That's not very romantic."
"Carbine, go find a man of your own," Switch ordered between bites. "I like how he protects me. Tell Dawn she added too much salt."
"They're more used to it down here," he reminded her. "Drink the milk too." She obediently drank the milk and finished her breakfast. "Need anything else? I was going to check the punks bikes with them."
"Go ahead," she offered with a small smile. "You'll hear it if I need you."
He nodded, taking back the empty dishes to take back to the kitchen. Then he headed down to the basement area to look at the bikes. "Wanna come upstairs, ladies? Throttle's still crashed and has Xander pinned." They revved up and headed up the ramp, going to sit in a convenient area. Charley came in shaking something and he gave her an odd look. "For the baby?"
"Paint pens," she told him, holding the three of them up. "For the poor bikes." She walked up the stairs, handing each guy a paint pen. She stopped when she saw Throttle using Xander as a pillow and handed that one to Modo with a smirk. "Dawn, enough for me?"
"Of course." She brought out the bowls. "Switch said I oversalted the eggs again. Sorry, have more toast and milk to help cover it up." She went back to get everything else, then sat down in her usual chair, looking at the pens. "We have something like those for nail polish."
"They're very handy," Charley agreed. She looked at the bikes. "Any serious body damage or is it all scratches?"
"Scratches on Modo's, but he's got a few dings here and there," Dawn told her. "Plus, his seat is starting to show wear." He gave her a sideways look. "Where you sit is starting to change color and texture, big guy." She grinned at him. "That's a later project though." He nodded, digging in, only blushing a bit. "It's normal physics."
"I know," he admitted quietly. He looked over as Throttle shifted some, shaking his half- empty glass. "Food."
"I am," Xander offered, more to be able to move than anything else. Throttle was a big guy and you never really saw how big the mouse was until he was curled up on you in a hammock. Or at least he hadn't seen how large and impressive he was until just now.
"Fine." He heaved himself up, only wincing a bit, then pulled Xander up and over to the table, where he sat down and sat his pillow in his lap. Dawn couldn't quite hold in her smirk as she handed over food. He dug in, then grabbed Xander harder to make sure he couldn't move. He held up the fork, letting him eat a bite, then finished off his breakfast and made another plate for the younger man, handing him the fork.
"I could sit in a chair," Xander offered.
"It's no use fighting him when he's in one of those moods," Carbine said dryly. "He got me once. Then I turned and tried to pull his ears off."
"Which is why I didn't take everyone's suggestion and knock you up," he said dryly. "Eat, Xander." Xander ate a bite, glancing back at him. "Do I have to feed you? You said you were hungry." The boy dug in, eating quickly. He looked at his bike, squinting a bit. "You need cleaned up, don't you, baby?" It beeped. "Give me a few and we'll start to work on you."
"I can strip the wax off," Dawn offered. "I did that with Modo's bike last night."
"Sure, kiddo. Have fun with that," Throttle agreed happily. More time for him to sleep in. He looked at the boy in his lap. "You done?" Xander shook his head, drinking the milk. He poured himself some more and drank it too. "Now are you done?"
"Yeah, I think so," he admitted. "Why?"
"Because I was going to get comfortable and that meant you'd have to shift away from the table." He nudged a chair over with his foot and put both feet up in it, giving Xander a better seat. "I feel like I've had breaking-the-bed sex," he complained.
"I remember doing that," Carbine said with a small chuckle.
"You and me both," Xander sighed, shaking his head.
"You?" Dawn asked. "When?"
"When I was on my roadtrip," he said dryly. "I wasn't about to share that sort of stuff with the other two. They'd have freaked if they had found out I was stripping and sleeping around. Pure little Willow who blushed when sex was mentioned and your sister, who only slept with creepy or dead guys?"
"Dead guys?" Carbine asked.
"Her first and truest love was a vampire," Dawn told her. "Straight out of a soppy romance novel." She ate a bite of her eggs. "I still can't imagine you stripping."
"I may not be very rhythmic, but males stripping is more choreographed and thrusting and shaking it, and if you've figured out how to make things twirl that too." He poured some more milk and looked at Throttle. "Want anything since I'm still up?"
"No, I'm good. I agree, I can't imagine you stripping."
"I'm sensing a juicy story of smuttiness," Charley teased. "Did you destroy things too?"
"Only her antique bed," he said with a small cough before drinking some of the milk. "It was made back in the twelfth century. It had foot thick posts holding up a very heavy canopy that was covered in very heavy velvet. I know this because it came down and broke my arm and thigh, while it sent her into a coma for three days since it hit her on the back of the head, then slid off to scratch my head and land in my hair. She woke up and the first real sentence she said was, "I love you, I adore you, but I'm not having any more canopy beds"." They all chuckled at that. "The nurses had wondered why she was mumbling 'no canopy' over and over while she woke up. The sad thing was that the cops didn't want to respond. It took me nearly five minutes to get her voice-activated phone to dial the cops. Then they thought it was a prank call. I had to start panicking because she was bleeding from her head and I thought she was going to die. That got them there and breaking inside the house. The paramedics were more impressed though. They had to lift off the three hundred pound canopy and velvet mass. One of them quipped about hoping it was good for both of us."
"Which one of you was tied to the bed?" Vinnie asked. "I can't see it coming loose any other way," he said when Xander shook his head.
"No, no straps that day, just honest, good, hard screwing into the mattress. Fortunately I had just flipped us over because she had the harder head. It would have killed me by snapping my spine. And I just shared way too much, didn't I?" he asked with a groan.
Dawn handed him the soda she had brought out. "Here, to stop the babbling," she said sweetly. "Do you give lessons so I can break a bed of my own?"
"Not until you're eighteen," he said, popping open the soda and taking a long gulp. "Sorry to have shared like that. Didn't mean to embarrass myself."
Throttle took the soda and took a gulp of his own, his eyes going wide. "That's strong." He handed it back and patted him on the back. "I wouldn't worry about it. Vinnie's got worse stories about being caught in a police station in the closet."
"No, that would be a bondage story," Xander mumbled.
Vinnie gaped at him. "No way," he said, shaking his head. "Not possible. Give, Xander. You mentioned it you have to tell it now," he said with a smirk.
"What? It was a kinky thing. It was a small town, there were only two cops on duty. We had to sign some forms about the bed thingy and she got hot and bothered reading her statement since she was...graphic to say the least," he admitted with a small cough. "She got so hot and bothered she pulled me back toward the bathroom but that was inside the cellblock and decided to use the janitor's closet instead. She had me tied to the pipes before I could complain. Not my fault at all. It was her moaning that got us caught." He finished the rest of the soda and started to get up to get another but he was pulled back down. He looked back at Throttle. "I don't do leashes."
"Good. It wouldn't go with your outfit." He ran a finger up Xander's back. "Why were you muttering about the city the last time I saw you?"
"Oh, I walked out of the new building and fell into a sinkhole," he said grimly. "I fell into the new gas line tunnel, and then it collapsed under me." He noticed the blushes. "Even if the extra tunnels were your fault, it doesn't excuse the city from checking for those sort of things."
"How would they?"
"Ground sonar, the same way you check for hidden bodies," Dawn told her, sipping her juice. "Did you rant and throw a fit?"
"I did a few better than that," he said smugly. "See, we didn't have a ladder that long. It took Merle four hours to get someone down there to look at the hole and to get me out, and that's only because I found a body. He had me staying down there to monitor things in case the college's people or the cops caused another cave in. Then they went off and forgot to get me up. I screamed bloody murder and Merle had to call the gas company this time to come get me. They claimed they didn't have ladders long enough and it wasn't their fault. That's when I yelled up that I was going to sue the city for it's entire budget for the next ten years if they didn't get me out immediately. They didn't have ladders either so they took the city's charge card and bought a bunch of rope, eventually hauling my big, fat butt up out of the fifty foot deep hole. Then two days later, I got a bill for the rescue and the cost of the rope. At the site. Merle looked over when I growled, took it, then handed it back and *graciously* gave me the rest of the day off so I could go pounce the City Council."
"I headed in there, I screamed at them. I screamed at the gas board, and finally I told the gas board that it was their fault. That they should have checked the lines. That I wasn't some peon with a high school education, that I was worth over three million dollars and that I was going to hire Johnny Fucking Cochran to come in and deal with this for me. Someone so thoughtfully reminded me this wasn't a criminal case. So I looked at him and told him how it was going to become a criminal case since they had conspired to leave me in a fifty foot dark hole until I died, premeditated murder, and how it was also going to be a civil case when I sued them for the next ten year's budget. They didn't like that. I got a short phone call from a very nice voice who gave me the name of some lawyer, Rodney something or other, I couldn't pronounce the last name, I just repeated it after Micah said it. That made them all wet themselves, in one case literally," he added with a smug smirk at Charley.
"They called in their lawyers. I told them what had happened, that it had happened to others, that four others had been captured on the news and I was about to head there. If I walked out of that room without being satisfied and having that project stopped until reasonable people could look at the plans, then the press was going to be the least of their worries. Especially since the system of holes has now sunk a few buildings and we were due to put a parking lot there." Dawn snickered at that. "So the thought of untold hundreds of lawsuits by families with kids who got hurt since this is a doctor's office filled with pediatricians, and they knew it was going to kill the banker and the bank when it landed wrong. I walked out of there with a nice contract saying that they were going to desist until a real authority could look at the hole system and what was going on, and a hefty check. The funniest thing was when the geologist from the college showed up and Merle pointed at the hole in the ground and said 'it's a good thing he fell when he did. Six more days and that's a parking lot. We can't change the plans without the city's approval and they're claiming ignorance. Pity about all those cars who're gonna fall fifty feet."
Throttle snickered. "I take it that's when the plan changed?" Xander nodded smugly. "How big was the check?"
"Enough for most people to live comfortably for two whole years," he said smugly. "I didn't soak them since I got the safety precautions I wanted and to not pay for the rescue or the rope."
"Which is good considering part of a school fell in this morning," Charley told him. "One of the nearby elementary schools fell in."
"I'm so glad it's only Monday," Dawn vowed, looking up. "Thanks, whichever one you are." She shook her head. "Are we all being delayed going back?"
"They're discussing that at the moment," Charley admitted. "They're leaning toward only that school and any near the planned route."
"We were over twenty feet away from the planned route, Charley, they messed up their coordinates," Xander said quietly.
"Yeah, so was that elementary school. It was one of the newer ones too. Let me tell you, those are probably some happy families that it was Monday instead of Tuesday." Dawn nodded. "Oh, Xander, Meg said she fed the cats and she's huddling with Oz on your bed until the cleanup is complete. She said it was creeping her out." He nodded and Throttle shrugged. "What else are we doing today?"
"Just the bikes," Throttle told her. "They need to be taken care of before anything else." He looked at Xander, slowly running a finger up his spine, making him shiver. "We still need to shower."
"I still can't imagine you stripping," Carbine offered suddenly. "Wanna prove it, Xander?"
Throttle looked at her. "You don't like humans, you said bald spots bothered you," he said flatly.
"You've got a bald spot?" Dawn asked. "Did someone do the candlewax thingy in bed on your fur?" Throttle pointed at Carbine, making Dawn snicker and the other women blush. "You're so bad. First we find out way too much about kinky Xander sex and now we find out Throttle had some too."
"Vinnie's got better ones," Carbine said, blushing brightly.
"Yeah, but I'd expect Vinnie to have stories like that. He's that sort of personality," Dawn said smugly. "Unlike Xander."
"Yeah, because that one didn't jump out a window without a bike, a parachute, and only vampires to catch him," Vinnie snorted. Xander glared at him.
"Well, since vampires love Xander enough to follow him around Sunnydale panting a few times, I'm sure they were going to keep him unhurt so they could snack."
"Only three of them bit me," he defended.
"Then I'm really impressed, Xander. What did you do, drink holy water?"
"One of the vampires at the club stole some and put it into my drink," he said self- consciously. "Let's not get started on Sunnydale stories, Dawn."
"Point," she agreed with a hand wave. Her phone beeped at her so she opened it then dialed a number and listened. She hung up and sighed. "Buffy wants my cute butt back there for Thanksgiving."
"Max said she was coming up that weekend," Xander told her.
"Yeah, well, Buffy said either I come back for the holiday or she was going to send someone to kidnap me from school."
"Fine," Xander agreed. "If you want. I'm not that pushy and I wasn't planning on celebrating beyond hitting a hotel spread anyway."
"Cool. Then I need to make travel plans or find a new POS car. I am bringing back the Andrew cat, right?" Xander nodded. "Cool." She got up to get some more milk. "Switch, need anything?"
"Nope. Just changed the first diaper and it was gross, but we've got it handled."
"'Kay, just yell if you need us, babe." She came back with a full glass of milk and walked over to Throttle's bike. "It okay if I strip the wax so your pet can nap?" The bike leaned against her. "Cool beans. Let me get the stuff from downstairs." She left her milk there and went to get the soft scratch pad and cleaning solution Modo had mixed up. She came back and got comfortable, spraying the first side so she could get to work on it. "Vinnie, I could use some water and you're a big, strong guy."
"Sure, Dawn," he said patiently, getting up to get her some warm water. He brought the bucket back, watching as she carefully worked on a section. "You're going to need a new pad soon, that one's about gone." She held up the package, making him smile. "Good girl."
"Yeah, I'll do yours too," she sighed. "You could've just asked, Vinnie." She pinched him on the leg, making him dance back. "Take it like the mouse you are. You deserved it this time."
Throttle chuckled, nodding. "She's got you there, bro, you did deserve it."
"All she needs is a bikini and we could set up a fund raising car wash," Xander joked.
"I have two or three of those but it's too cold," she retorted. "Besides, you probably would not approve of two of them because they'd make even Vinnie blush." She grinned at him. "After all, I am very hot property," she said smugly.
"Vinnie, quit helping her ego," Charley said dryly.
"Not me, sweetheart, she knows the truth when she sees it in the mirror." He smirked at her. "You're beautiful though."
"Thanks. Really. How is she getting to school tomorrow?" Xander shrugged. "Ah. Need to go back to sleep?"
"No, I'm pretty good," he admitted. Throttle shifted again, wiggling his hips a bit to get comfortable. Which made Xander wiggle, then blush. "Can I sit in my own seat? I've got to be making your legs fall asleep."
"Nope, I'm good," he assured him, patting him on the back. "Next time don't wiggle if you're embarrassed."
Carbine shook her head. "You're so screwed, boy. He's in a playful and possessive mood."
"I don't give sex for rescues, even though he deserved it for coming back for me last night," he said blandly, making her blush and squeak this time.
"If you did, I'd have to turn you down," Modo assured her.
"Never thought otherwise, big guy. I couldn't woo you into my bed if I wanted to, I don't have the right equipment."
"True," he agreed smugly. "You're not like my momma either and she'd have to approve of anyone I took up with."
"Your mother should come down here," Carbine said. "She's been raising hell on Mars about talking to the humans about getting stronger weapons and hitting Plutark."
"Hey, talk to Micah. We've probably got extra nuclear weapons somewhere and it'd be better than selling them to some bad guys." She blinked at him and he shrugged. "Weapons get sold. It's a business."
"Fine, I'll talk to him tomorrow," Carbine offered. "I'm sure he's busy today." Dawn's phone chirped.
"That would be the man himself," Dawn offered. "He bugged the place while it was being built."
Carbine snatched the phone and opened it. "Hello?" She listened to the quiet voice on the other end. "Fine. Tomorrow? That's fine. Thank you," she said before hanging up. "Where is this bug?" Everyone shrugged. "We have a meeting tomorrow, Throttle. He wanted to know if you had any of the life review done."
"I can do that," he sighed, standing up. He looked at his bike. "Want us to help so it goes faster?" The bike shook her front wheel. "Liking the spoiling?" It beeped, a smug sounding noise if he'd ever heard one. "Fine, I'll let Dawn spoil you while I probe Xander's most secret places." He pulled him into the unused front room that had a small desk on it. "You asked last night to figure out why they wanted you."
"I remember. Micah took some samples of stuff that was open already."
"Yeah, and now we've got to correlate it with stuff that's happened to you. There's two ways to do this. I can do it the Martian way or we can talk."
"Is your way going to hurt?"
"Not really. You might get a headache. Some people do. I'd be using Martian mind tricks." Xander shrugged. "You're sure? This means I'd be seeing everything just like you did." He moved closer. "There could be some bleedover and you'd catch some of mine."
"Do you think it'd scare me?" he asked blandly, smirking at him. "You just want to get in there and poke around for dirty memories."
"No, but I'm sure I'll run into a few and it'd give me a clue what you liked," he said smartly. "You're sure?"
Xander nodded. "Yeah, I'm sure." He looked around. "We should probably be sitting."
"We probably should," Throttle agreed. He drug the boy down the ramp, taking him down to their unused rooms down there. They had an old couch down there. He settled Xander in and sat facing him, leaning forward. "Tell me if I get into too many personal spots."
"Sure." Xander concentrated, lowering the shields he had learned to build by force after his last possession. He let them go totally and leaned forward, letting Throttle touch his antenna to his head. There was a flash of light and Xander was watching some memories flow past. Since he'd never seen a red sky and wasn't used to riding a miniature motorcycle he knew he was seeing some of Throttle's old memories. He smiled at the cute boy he could see just a few feet away. Vinnie was a cute little kid. Throttle rode past a mirrored window and he saw him and cooed. He was adorable!
"Hush," Throttle ordered, but he was chuckling. "Yeah, he was cute and all. So was I. Then we got older." He switched the focus back to Xander's mind, and found himself standing in it, being part of the scene. No one else reacted to him but it was like he was there. This was something he'd never heard of happening before but he couldn't pull away. He wasn't trapped; it was that he was experiencing it at the same time. He moved forward from the child Xander, smiling at the cuteness of the young boy. He saw some of the worst memories go past and shivered but let them go on. He found him growing and changing, turning into the man in front of him. He stopped when he saw a familiar blond girl show up and started from there. He wasn't sure how this was running in real time but this was so...seductive. To know someone this deeply, to share their innermost memories. He found a new appreciation for the boy who was Xander and his strength. Some things made him chuckle. A few pissed him off, and one made him want to kill someone. Not Xander though. He felt his physical body being touched and assumed it was Xander moving closer so let it happen. They continued forward through night after night of fighting and winning. He saw the graduation battle and the demon made him shudder in horror and cheer the boy's plans because he had done so well planning that one.
They moved onto his road trip and he saw Xander dancing, he was watching a taped performance of himself to see where he needed work. He wasn't too bad. He saw the girl and the bed incident, wincing at the pain of the breaks. It was almost like he could feel them on his body. Then he moved forward, blushing at a few other wild things he did. It was like he was starting to feel each thrust as Xander did it, each touch tingled on his skin the same way, and each shift around his heat was met by heat of his own. He found a blocked memory and went back to glance and poke at it. What he saw upset him but he understood. The next closed memory was from an outside block and it was easily defeated. He saw what was going on and thought that it might be important. Why else would his memory be blocked that way?
He made note of the demon so he could look it up later for his report, then moved on. He saw the boy go back, felt the pain of that first semester back in Sunnydale. He saw Anya, and understood why Xander liked her. She needed him. He needed to be liked and needed. Anya was a very blunt woman and he chuckled at a few of the things she complained about, but she was there for him. He saw the battle when Buffy died the second time and wrapped the boy in his arms, then saw her come back and the confusion and pain. How he had been there even if no one had noticed it. He bet none of those girls knew that he had went to clean up a few nests during his lunch times or the other things he had done.
He moved on to the final set of battles, finding Xander in the battle with someone his mind said with Caleb. He saw his eye being popped. He felt his own ache in sympathy. He saw the blond blur that saved him and cheered Spike on. At least he had cared some, even if he was cruel and mean to the boy. He saw the rush to the hospital and how they had only been able to remove it and medicate him. He saw Xander come home a few days later, and not too long after coming home they had went into the Hellmouth. He shuddered in fear as he saw what was waiting on them. He'd seen some horrific things but nothing that bad. He watched as people fell, demons fell, and then the final blow was struck. They ran out and evacuated as Spike gave up his life to save them. He saw the destruction slowly happening as they ran off with the townspeople. He clutched at the boy in front of him and felt a tender touch to his mind.
Then they moved to Cleveland after a few days in LA. So that was Wesley. Fred was a kicker and he adored her without seeing more of her than those few bars of memory. He saw the slayers start to treat Xander differently and how he had left to get away from them the first time. How he had witnessed another slayer being born in Africa. How he hadn't told Buffy that the child was one too because he knew something bad would happen to the girl. How they slayers treated him when he came back, and he saw Switch's crash. He saw how Xander saw him, noticing how tired he looked to him and remembered feeling the same way about Xander. He pulled back, seeming to switch places. He settled in his mind, storing all that away, then kissed the boy gently. "You're safe now," he said gently. Xander nodded, leaning against his shoulder. "I've never been that deep."
"I'm a negative person, I draw in spirits," he said softly. "Sorry." He rebuilt his shields before looking up at him. "Can I go dig up Karbunkle and hit him again?"
"It's done and gone, Xander. He's still in the hospital and about to be sent back to Mars with Carbine and them." He gave him another kiss. "What happened to Fred and Wesley?"
"Angel had one hell of a final year and they both died," he said quietly. "I miss them, Throttle."
"We miss all the ones we lose for good causes," he reminded him.
"Yeah, I guess." He looked down at his lap, then up at him. "Your mother, is she still alive?" He nodded. "She seemed kinda nice."
"She is. She'll fuss about you being human but I don't care. I love the woman but I'm happy and she'll accept that." He stroked his cheek, smiling at his shiver. "I'm hoping Switch has a daughter just like her namesake," he said smugly.
"Switch is a lot like that," he agreed with a small grin. "I can't wait until she starts blurting out stuff at them in public." Throttle chuckled, nodding that she had done that. "She'll probably be just as good as Meg is."
"Stoker gave Meg a horrified look the last time they saw each other. Meg was going on about something Oz had taught her about cherry stems." The boy blushed. "Oh, that's what he taught her," remembering seeing Xander doing that same trick. "I guess it makes things better." He kissed him again and stood up. "Come on, I've got to write out the more relevant parts for Micah and you've got to shower so we can fix my bike."
"I can shower afterwards."
"No, go now, Xander. That way you can get good and sweaty helping me," he said, turning him around and giving him a nudge. He watched the boy's back. "You got as deeply, didn't you?" he asked as he followed him.
"I was inside you, it was like I was your alternate personality."
"I was just beside you most of it, watching," Throttle told him. Xander blushed. "Yeah, even that. Still got those scratches from the bed?"
"Oh, yeah. Nice little scars," Xander admitted, blushing more. He hurried into the bathroom, then came back out when Switch screamed. "Sorry. Was going to hide and take a shower."
"Give me five more minutes, Xander. Then you can have it. It's only been a half-hour."
"Only?" he asked, looking at the clock. "Wow, it was only a half-hour."
"Damn, I'm good," Throttle joked. Xander smirked at him. "Dawn, how much longer before all the wax is off?"
"Nearly done with the front. I've still got around the saddle and rear fender," she said, moving in small circles. She got down to the paint in that section and sprayed the next, moving on once she rinsed off the pad.
Throttle grabbed a notebook and wrote down the most pertinent parts, including what he had found behind that barricade. He still thought that might be relevant. The boy had been stronger after that and there had been something odd during that encounter. Besides, why would the demon make a drunken Xander forget ever meeting him right before he died? The fact that he was bound to another by a vow wasn't bothering him. That one was dead too and it had been to protect the other, harmless, being. He finished his report and found Stoker reading over his shoulder. "He sucked me in there."
"I can see that. How deeply did you get?" He saw Throttle's look around and pulled him up, walking him off. "Give, Throttle."
"He said he sucks in spirits. Called himself a negative person." Stoker shuddered. "He's been possessed a few times. He let me have full access, it was like I was standing there with him." He shifted so he was leaning against the wall. "I could feel each time he got hurt," he said quietly. "I got it all. Each touch, each hurt, each hit, all of it."
"What about him?"
"He said he was inside my head, like he was inside me at the time," he admitted. "Have you ever heard of that?"
"Once and it drove the other person insane." He stared at Throttle. "He knows everything you've ever been through. The same as you do."
"He's not showing any difference. I found memories and attitudes from his possessions." Stoker shook his head. "I'll watch out for him, Stoker. You know that."
"I'm more worried about you turning into him. You took a big risk."
"No, I got what we needed to figure it out," he admitted. "Besides, I feel fine and he was still embarrassed by stuff." He smirked at him. "By the way, if Anya lives up to her namesake, we'll all be really proud of her."
"Good. I remember him saying she was a bit blunt."
"Yeah, like Meg is blunt," Throttle joked, walking off. "We're fine. He's got shields, I felt them go down and be rebuilt. I've rebuilt mine. It'll be fine."
"Sure, kid. We'll make sure of it." He went to pounce Modo, who could watch them both. "Hey." Modo looked up from carefully sanding the paint crease around a scratch. "Throttle did the life review."
"Good. I heard him tell you he got sucked in." He glanced up at him again. "What's wrong?"
"Well, the boy's still got to find a bigger spot to live. You guys have the room."
"He owns the building anyway," Modo said with a small grin. "I'll suggest it to our fearless leader. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to know that much about some of Xander's past."
"Me either. He said Anya, the original one, was blunt like Meg is."
Modo chuckled. "Then she'll be a lot like her momma and you'll deal, Stoker. Go play with your wife and daughter. Let Throttle do the worrying, that's why he leads so well."
"Fine. Just watch out for them." He walked off, heading in to help his wife dress their baby girl. "Hopefully you'll be sweet and gentle, dear, not totally like your namesake."
"He did the life review?" she asked excitedly. She walked out to hug Throttle. "Can I get what Anya was like?" He nodded, showing her a few of the more interesting scenes. She giggled and headed back, cooing at her baby. "You're gonna be so great!" she assured her. "You'll have free run of a lot of mice to embarrass and you'll love it, Anya. Trust me. It'll be wonderful and you'll have a great mouse who thrills you like Stoker does me." He blushed at that. She kissed him on the cheek. "You do."
"Can we try to civilize her some?" he suggested. She cackled and he shivered once she had walked out. His poor daughter. The next one would have to be named after someone more reasonable, like Modo's mother. She had been a hellion in her youth but she was a great woman. He was still going to send her down here for a visit though. They needed some time away from the woman pushing to be a grandmother for the baby.
Throttle looked at Xander, then at Dawn. "You know, there's a solution to you guys having to find a bigger spot." He ate a bite of steak stir fry, Xander's contribution to dinner. Xander grunted since his mouth was full. "You could move in here. We do have six unused rooms. That way you'd be closer in case something happened. Dawn could have her own room and we could continue to train her daily. You could go help Charley whenever you were bored. Or me whenever you're bored," he admitted. "You can Vinnie could go out when you're having one of those nights without having to bump into each other by accident."
"Yeah, but I don't want to mooch," Xander told him.
"You wouldn't be," Vinnie assured him. "Besides, if you did move in here, then we'd have cable." Xander snickered at that. "We would."
"Vincent," Throttle sighed. "He could leave the computer for Oz too, that way you couldn't find embarrassing porn sites."
"Embarrassing?" Dawn asked.
"He found one with gerbils."
"Oh." She nodded once. "Well, some people are like that," she said reasonably. "I feel sorry for the animal though." She ate another bite of dinner. "Personally I like the ones I found."
"Yes, and I'd like for you to not bookmark them on the main list. Oz and Meg both gave me odd looks about some of your stuff," Xander told her. "By the way, why were you watching gay football porn?"
"Because I love to see jocks being humiliated," she said happily. "The one begging for it always makes me have a happy."
He shook his head. "TMI, sweetheart," Vinnie complained. "Some of us were jocks."
"Yeah, but you partially grew up. You no longer pick on girls for being girls and no longer try to take what doesn't belong to you," she said sweetly. "The last one tried that on me I ruined his whole week the night of one of our most important games. Our star tackle was not happy and neither was his coach."
"Then he was a big baby. Dancers dance on broken bones and he can't block people because he's got an ache?" Xander said dryly. She nodded. "Did you point that out?"
"Yeah, and the coach shuddered in revulsion at the mention of dancers. I only got a day in-school for it too. The principal said it was reasonable to defend myself but next time to report him, not take on the coach."
"I'm impressed that you didn't get the coach too," Charley told her.
"I did, that's why I got the in-school. He tried to grab me and I was in an anti-grabby mood," she said smugly. "His assistant had to bellow out all the orders that night." She ate another bite. "Good dinner, Xander, and I'm going to vote yes on the moving here. I'll need a wardrobe since there's no closets downstairs, but it's a *huge* room."
Xander looked at Throttle to try a counter argument. "You're moving in," he stated. "We need you closer."
"Fine. I'll talk to some guys about moving my stuff tomorrow."
"We can do that," Vinnie said dryly.
"Why? You can't lift furniture down my former stairs. Or the gun safe."
"Point," Vinnie admitted. "I'll help though."
"The beauty of movers is that they pack for you and do it in a reasonable order," Dawn told them. "That means you guys'll have a lot more dishes soon. Plus a dishwasher." She ate another bite, then looked at Vinnie. "Give me a ride to school tomorrow? That way I can set the right tone?" she asked with a grin. "Xander's SUV is looking a bit more worn than usual."
"If you want and you think you can handle your skirt," he teased.
"Your butt'll be blocking the wind there," she said smartly, smirking at him. "Speaking of, when am I getting riding lessons?" Charley and Xander both choked at that. "Not that sort, people. I've got an idea of what *that* sort of riding is like," she said dryly. "I'm just waiting for someone unslimy and a nice date that lasts more than ten minutes." She sipped her water. "Can't I learn to ride a bike, Throttle?" she asked.
"Sure," he agreed. "It could come in handy some day." Xander stared at him. "If she's going to work for Micah then she might have to take a bike someday," he said with a small shrug.
"I don't think her sister would agree."
"Whine," Dawn said smartly. "She's not here and to her I'm not any older than Anya is."
"Sure, Dawn, we'll work on teaching you this upcoming weekend," Modo assured her. "You can Xander both."
"I get dizzy riding behind you guys," Xander defended.
"That's fine, I'm sure you can continue to ride behind Throttle," Vinnie teased. Throttle reached over and hit him on the arm, smirking at him. "Behave or I'll ask about what you saw."
"He saw way more than he probably should have," Xander said dryly.
"That old possession streak coming back again?" Dawn taunted.
"Yeah and it sucked," he told her, glancing at Throttle. "Ask him, he had to sit there and watch Anya and I have sex a few times."
"More than a few," he snorted. "Did that woman never need to nap?"
"You went into his mind to do the life review?" Carbine asked. Throttle nodded. "Did you get to see him dance?"
"Yeah, one time. He was watching a tape of himself to get ideas how to make his act better. He wasn't too bad." Xander was now bright red and had his head on the table to hide his face.
"If you crawl under the table, I'll expect you to stay right there," Charley told him. "I don't want you crawling around my feet."
"Keep it up," he moaned. "I'll spoil someone else instead of you."
"You shouldn't be spoiling her anyway, it'd make Vinnie jealous," Carbine told him.
"He doesn't want her, it's more a taunt to make me step up and taunt him by spoiling her more," Vinnie told her.
"He bought me a forty pound box of chocolates for my birthday and included a note telling me that there's a law in Idaho saying you have to buy your girlfriend no less than fifty pounds of candy, but since we weren't dating he could get away with it." She smiled at Vinnie. "He bought the other ten pounds of my favorite stuff and presented it to me later that night."
"He's also the one who spoiled Switch with those hot pepper candies," Stoker agreed. "It's a good thing he was here to spoil and flirt with her or my girl would've been in trouble looking for attention."
"If she had told us it was yours, we would have called you down sooner," Throttle told him. He looked at Carbine. "Remind me to have a small talk with you later."
"Already done that, Throttle," Stoker said patiently.
Xander lifted his head and glared at Carbine. "She nearly died, you know that right?" Carbine went pale. "When I found her, her bike was a wreck. It took all of us over a week to fix it."
"If Xander hadn't been around to fix the plug wires, we couldn't have," Charley agreed quietly. Carbine shuddered.
"Next time, make sure of the fuel level of both the ship and her bike," Xander ordered. "You're damn lucky it was me who found her and that I found her in time."
"I'm sorry," she said quietly. "I was reacting instead of thinking."
"Even I have to think most of the time," Dawn told her. "You could have just locked her in a closet instead. It'd have been more humane. Stoker must have went nuts trying to find her."
"Remember, your big sister will follow that one's lead if you *ever* get knocked up," Xander told her grimly. "So if you even *think* there's a chance I want a tracking device on you, Dawn. Before you tell me. Which will be before you tell anybody else but possibly the father."
"Not an issues. I'm on a very nice birth control shot," Dawn reminded him. He had taken her to get her last one. "There is no chance on any version of hell of me ending up pregnant before I'm ready and willing."
"Good. I don't think we could take a baby full time around here," Charley told her. "It would finish driving Vinnie over the edge."
"He's not that close," Dawn defended. "He's just very fun loving and likes to walk on the edge of things now and then."
"See, I knew I was right to pick you to hang out with," Vinnie said happily.
"Keep it up, hotshot, spend tomorrow helping Xander pack."
"I have to go home tonight to start on the trash anyway," Xander admitted. "He can come heft that since I can't."
"No," Throttle told him. "Not tonight."
"But the cats...."
"Meg's there with Oz," Dawn told him.
"Fine," he sighed. "I really should." Throttle reached over and covered his mouth, shaking his head. "Fine," he complained through it. "Didn't you wash your hands after painting?" He pulled back and coughed. "You smell like gasoline and paint."
"Sorry. I washed, but it happens." He patted him on the back. "Eat. You too, Dawn."
"This is my second plate," she reminded him. She dug in anyway. "I still have to head back to grab clothes. Unless we're leaving pretty early so I can change."
"I'll drive you back tonight," Vinnie promised. "Call your sister to agree to go for the holiday."
"That's right, I forgot to call the brats." She got up and found her phone, unplugging it to bring it back. She hit the speedial button then put it next to her ear while she ate another bite. "Hey, me. I can come for Thanksgiving but I'm due some training time with one of Micah's people all that weekend. Yeah, her. Why?" She smirked. "Well, yeah, she is," she admitted. "Max is a pretty cool woman and Lorne is slowly relaxing around me. He treats me less like a little kid and more like I've got a bit of sense now." She snorted. "Sister, dear, I am seventeen. I do have *some* clue of what's going on around me. No, not yet. I start school tomorrow. No, I'm sitting here surrounded by three studly bikers, one older mostly studly biker and his wife and new baby, a very nice woman who's teaching me how to fix engines, and Xander." She smirked at Throttle, pulling the phone away from her ear as she screamed at her. She put it back again.
"You done? No, they're very sweet guys. They helped Xander take on an alien menace last night. No, big, huge biker studs. Like the tallest is six-seven and all muscles," she said, nudging Modo with a wink. "No, I can't bring pictures. Ask Micah. Yup, that's why. No, Xander's presently being teased to distraction by one's tail." Throttle coughed and moved his tail from where it had been teasing Xander's back beltline. "Another's giving me this look like I'm a wicked being and he's giving me a ride to my first day so I make the best impression. No, Catholic school. Complete with school uniform. No, short skirt, white blouse, hair back, shoes, knee highs. Yeah, classic stripper wear. So, speaking of sluts, did she live?" She snickered. "Wonderful. No, we're having dinner. Xander cooked stirfry and we're all eating. Why? They're very nice. They make sure I do my homework and they're helping Xander teach me how to defend myself. Oh, and I'll be bringing the Andrew kitty back with me then so I can't ride a bike down. I don't know, airport or car I guess. Whatever's going to be easiest for me. Sure, I'll let you know when I do. It's only a five or six hour drive."
She snorted and rolled her eyes. "No, Buffy, I'm perfectly happy where I am. Buffy, listen to the words out of my mouth. I'm surrounded by some very pretty men who think of me as their little sister and protect me like I'm their little sister. Vinnie doesn't even take the dangerous roads with me on the back of his bike. Yeah, Xander rides behind Throttle all the time. Oh, I don't know, maybe for the same reason he's blushing bright red," she said sarcastically. "Hey, not my thing. So, I'll be in either late Wednesday or early Thursday. Sure. Nope, I can't. It's classified. Ask Micah for pictures. Sure. Nah, they're sweeties and they let me bandage them when they get banged up. Well, I spent the day stripping the wax off their bikes to help them fix the beauties up after they got scratched last night in that alien assault. Sure, here, have a Xander." She handed over the phone. "For you."
Xander took the phone, grunting into it with a sigh underneath. "No, she's fine," he assured her. "She's being very good. She doesn't bug the guys to go on rides all the time.
No, we all treat her like our little sister. We'll be checking homework and all that." He looked at the guys. "Two of them are taken, Buffy, and none of them think of her that way."
"She's cute but too young for me," Vinnie called.
"That was one of the taken ones," he joked, smirking at his buddy. Then he squeaked as Throttle poked him with his tail and took the phone. "No fair, you won't help me get a tail," he complained.
Throttle coughed. "Ma'am. Fine, Buffy," he said dryly. "No, Buffy, this is Throttle. No, Dawn's been a very perfect angel. She helps out around here, helps out in the garage one of the group runs, and she's very excited about going to school tomorrow. No, she's been a perfect young lady. No partying, nothing wild like that. Of course we are," he agreed patiently. "She'll be perfectly safe on the back of our bikes. Why? She's already got a good grasp of how to ride and we'll be giving her formal lessons this weekend. Yes, but most of the vehicles around here are bikes so we'd rather she learned in case she needs to take one."
He looked at Vinnie. "No, he's a friend. A bro, yes, I'm one of them," he said smugly. "I'm the tan one you met." He nodded once, smirking at Dawn. "Of course we're taking good care of her. We're moving them into our lair this week so she's got her own room. That and so she can get easier rides to school and won't have to take the bus. No, Buffy, if she wants a bike, she'll have to save up for one and buy one, or talk Charley into borrowing hers. Of course. You have a nice night too," he said smugly, hanging up and tossing it back. "Go in biker gear, make her splutter and moan all holiday."
"Oohhh, I like that idea," she said with a wicked smirk. "Would it be okay if I bought a bike, Xander?"
"As long as *you* buy the bike, I'll pay for your first year's insurance," he decided. She squealed and leaned across the table to hug him. "Sit and eat, scrawny woman. You're losing weight and I won't have it."
"Yes, Xander. It's not like I'm going to get to crack ho size or anything." She ate another bite, looking down at Charley. "If I find one, can I run it by you?"
"How much are we looking at new?" Xander asked.
"I've seen some of the smaller models, the sportsters, going for about nine grand on the Harley website," Charley offered. "There were two I could see her on and they were going for about sixteen but they'd suit her."
"Wow. So nearly a car?" Dawn asked. She nodded. "What about used?"
"Depends on the person," Throttle offered. "Some people undervalue their bikes."
"I know someone who's selling a 2004 XL 883 Sportster Harley. New it went for just over seven grand and they're selling the old dear for about two," Charley offered. "He can't ride any more. His back's gotten so bad that he'll never be able to ride again. He just wants someone who'll love it."
"Which she'd have to do before we'd let her have one," Modo agreed. "Those two could share one."
"I'm still getting dizzy riding behind you guys," Xander said again. "As much as it might be fun now and then, I'd rather crash a car than a bike. My next one will be that Chrysler roadster I found though." Throttle chuckled at that. "You'd like it, it's sweet and we've got a good truck at work I can borrow for things of that nature." He looked at Dawn, who was giving him puppy eyes. "How close are you?"
"About three hundred short at the moment," she admitted. "Can I at least look once I know how to ride?"
"As long as you pay for it," Xander told her. She nodded, understanding that. "Then we'll see. The first time your grades slip, it's history."
"Yes, Xander." She finished her dinner and went to make a few phone calls, getting Meg and Oz on her side. Plus maybe she could get a quick after school job for a few months. She left a message for Max telling her that Buffy had demanded she come for Thanksgiving so if they were still on she'd be in Cleveland. Then she went down to figure out which of the four rooms downstairs she wanted. She decided on the middle one. It had no windows, but it was nice and had space for a good bed and a wardrobe. Not that she had that much stuff, but she'd need space for those icky uniforms she'd be wearing. She came back out and leaned on Xander's arm. "I've got to go pack up some clothes." He held out the keys. "Thanks, Xander." She kissed him on the cheek and headed out to find an outfit for the morning and some appropriate shoes. She couldn't wear heels, they were against dress code. So that left her the tougher than usual biker boots she had, a pair of hiking boots, or the loafers she had reluctantly bought on advice from Charley about sore feet. "Wish I had time and the cash to hit the mall tonight," she muttered as she got in to drive. "I need better shoes." She glanced in the back seat, then turned and smacked the hell out of the boy hiding back there. "Out!" He got out and ran off, letting the door slam. She groaned and checked everything then started the huge SUV, driving it carefully back to Xander's current spot. She parked it and headed up the stairs, smiling at the landlord. "Problems?"
"Where's Xander this time?"
"Staying with the guys. He got injured last night. Why?"
"He's due the rent tomorrow."
"I'll call once I get inside." He nodded, walking off. Dawn used her keys to open the door and walked in, catching the Andrew cat before he could escape. "Keep it up, dude, be fixed tomorrow by me personally." She shut the door after checking the hallway. She thought she had seen another cat. "Oh, well." She called Xander's phone. "It's me. The landlord said rent's due tomorrow. Yeah, him. Sure. No, I'm here and I'm not hearing noises. Guys, it's me, make more nookie noises," she called. Oz let out a growl and Meg giggled. He came out, still being human. "I had to come get clothes for school."
"Fine," he complained, looking around. "Tara?" He opened the door. "Tara!" She let out a howl and came running up the stairs, ducking under the couch. He looked down there. "Feel better now?" He caught Andrew and looked at him. "You're puppy food if you go down there to get the same sort of service from the male cat," he vowed. That cat slunk off once he let it go. "Say hi for me."
"Okay, and we're moving this week," Dawn told him.
"Fine, I can sublet," Oz agreed. He headed back into the bedroom, going back to pouncing his girlfriend. "Sublet?"
"I like my place."
"It's tiny and you can keep it, just stay over here most of the time," he offered. He kissed her and she snuggled into his arms. He heard a giggle and looked over, nodding Dawn inside. "Good timing."
"Thanks. Which shoes should I wear tomorrow, Meggy? Vinnie's taking me to school."
"The boots," she said with a giggle. "Or those new ones in there." Dawn squealed and hugged her. "I thought you'd like that, princess." She watched as Dawn packed enough for a few days, then waved and left. "I like her."
"Me too. She's a neat kid," Oz agreed, going back to kissing her.
Xander had been allowed to go out with Throttle to get some groceries once Dawn had gotten back and he was looking at the newest Roadster magazine on the rack. He pulled it out and grinned, finding the ads he wanted. "Let me show you what I want," he said happily, showing him each one. "What do you think?"
"I think you're still going to be on the back of a bike most of the time, but I'm liking a few of those," he admitted, taking it to look through. "Only one of these is below thirty grand, Xander."
"I can afford it," he reminded him, pointing at one ad. "We saw that one and I loved it then."
"It's also the most reasonably priced one," Throttle pointed out. "Are you going for style or power?"
"Style mostly. Why?"
"Because the most expensive has the better engine, more torque, and better gas mileage," he said, smirking at him. "You're young, get something dangerous and deadly, something that makes people shiver when they see you driving it."
"Sure." He flipped through the magazine some more. "I like the older looking, spy movie cars." His phone beeped for the new text message. "So that's where it is," he said dryly, looking at it. He looked in the magazine, that one wasn't listed, but fortunately it came with a picture. "That's what I want," he told Throttle.
"You and Modo both," he sighed, shaking his head. "Everyone wants to be a spy." The phone beeped, making him laugh. "Micah said think how he feels." He handed it back, walking off. "If you can find one, I'll help you polish it."
Xander looked down at his phone beeped again a moment later. "But I still get dizzy." The next message popped up. "I can take dramamine for that? Never mind, I'll get it checked out." He got that one and another magazine, then caught up with his apparent keeper. "I need to get my ears checked."
"Probably," he agreed. He smirked at the boy, watching as he looked at the magazines. "Get one of those little sports cars."
"I don't like sitting that close to the ground. The corvette I was looking at had a ground clearance of six inches." Throttle winced. "Yeah, I'd kill the car within a week. So I want a sports car that's got some clearance, but has some pretty classic styling and some power to it." He went back to the magazine stand and found a classic cars one, bringing it back to show Throttle. "These," he said, showing him the auto show articles. "The MGA 1600, the Jaguar E-type. Things like that."
"Have you noticed they look like they're faces on the front?"
Xander shrugged. "I thought all roadsters were like that. I like the sloped noses instead of the blunter ones in some of the others, like the Mercedes that came out this year."
"I can see you in those," he admitted, handing it back. "Maybe we can find you a good dealership so you can go look."
"Yeah, that'd be for the best," he agreed, tossing some ice cream into the cart. Throttle looked at him. "I've got to have sweets or I'll go into withdrawal."
"We'll see. No bouncing." He walked him on. "Get milk."
"Two percent. Fat's bad for you guys."
"And? With all the exercise I get?"
"Modo likes two percent," he admitted. Xander got both and shook his head, but he looked amused. "Dawn?"
"Hates two percent. She said it's watered down milk and she's rather buy a cow and suck directly."
He snickered, leaning on the cart. "You two are horrible some days."
"Of course we are." Xander looked at Throttle, then the bottle of butterscotch sauce, then sighed.
"I like toppings on people sometimes."
"Fur makes that hard," he agreed, giving him a short nuzzle since they were practically alone in the store. "We'll see what we can do about that." He stole a kiss and moved on. "Bread was on the list, right?"
"Yeah, Dawn's a toast person." He grabbed her bread and some regular white bread for everyone else. He looked at the cart, then took it to get what he wanted. Since he was paying and all. He met Throttle back at the check out, blushing a bit. "I'm done."
"Good." He looked in the cart, then plucked out the condoms and tossed them onto a nearby rack. "We'd eat through them," he explained. "It's not a good reaction." He unloaded the cart, frowning at the soda. "Regular?"
"You guys still got three cases of rootbeer," he defended. "Dawn and I need caffeine."
"Fine. Just don't let Vinnie get into them."
"Sure, I'll lock them in my room," he teased.
"If it floats your boat," Throttle agreed. "We will be putting a lock on both doors. To keep Dawn in and to keep people out when we want privacy."
"You're moving into my room?"
"Visiting," he assured him.
"Oh. That's okay, I guess," Xander admitted. "I'm confused."
"We'll talk about it later, Xan," he promised. He hefted the last of the soda up there then the cheese, wincing a bit. "Keep those away from Vinnie too," he advised.
"Vinnie knows I eat cheese," he said patiently. "He shudders in horror, but he knows I like cheese. He's fine with me liking cheese as long as I don't make him eat cheese. Not that I blame the guy."
"Fine. You can have your cheese. Just brush your teeth before sharing out kisses."
"You mean you're sharing me?" Throttle blushed and Xander grinned. "You didn't say you were sharing me. I might have to renegotiate this moving in stuff."
"Hush, Xander," Throttle ordered, pulling the cart forward while he stepped into the empty spot behind the next register, catching Xander to kiss him stupid. "No more dirty thoughts, kiddo. Or else I might have to retaliate."
"We'll see," he said with a smirk. He turned to the cashier, who was blushing and carefully watching each item she scanned. He started his credit card through the system, smiling at her. "It's a new thing."
"I can see that," she admitted. "Sixty-eight-forty-two, sir." She noticed the blinking and hit the correct buttons. "Oops." He ran the card again and it went through this time. She bagged up everything and helped them put it into the cart, then handed him his receipt. She smiled at their backs as they left, then groaned and hit the switch since someone just walked in with a shotgun. One of the nice men came back and pounced the man on the back, knocking him down and slamming his head into the floor a few times. He kicked the gun, then waved and left. "What a nice man," she said. "I'm wondering why he's with the mutant, but he seems very nice. Even if he is gay." She waved the next person forward, taking her first item to scan. "How are you today?"
"Fine. Did I just see someone from a comic book?"
"They're probably just off work," she offered. She pointed at the man for the guard's benefit, letting him handle it.
Throttle walked Carbine up to Micah's office the next morning, glancing around. "You'd expect there to be a lot more people than this working here," he noted.
"They're not due in for another hour," Micah admitted, getting comfortable. "Carbine, we may be able to get you some decent weapons, but to do so we've got to expose you to the President and VP." She shuddered. "That's my feeling too but it's necessary. We'd have to get his help. If it was my choice, I'd take six thousand Marines up there, free anything that didn't stink, take them all off the planet and then bomb them into little bits. Unfortunately I have to have authorization to get you those weapons and I probably can't promise the Marines."
"I understand. Will it be helpful?"
"That's up to you, my dear. I can tell him. I can prove it to him, but if he's scared he might declare war." He smirked at her. "Not that we can get up there, not for about another century, but you've seen how he can be."
"I understand. We'd rather have something to protect ourselves and to shove them off our world."
"I get it fully," he promised. "So let me start that process and see what we can get you. It'll take me a few hours so you can hang out in the training range if we want. I don't know if you know anything about our guns."
"Not really. Other than Xander seems to have a few."
"And then some," he agreed dryly. "Speaking of, let me handle Throttle's thing and then I'll come down to help." She nodded, heading down there with his secretary. He looked at Throttle. "Did you ask him?"
"No, I read his mind," he said, handing over the notebook and sitting down in a corner. "I think it was Quorensct demon. It had him blocked and he seemed to have changed after that. Though, the bed incident was right before then."
"Yeah, he helped someone break their eight hundred year old canopy bed."
Micah winced. "Ow. I can't imagine that."
"Broke his arm and leg, sent her into a coma for three days. Three hundred pounds of wood plus a heavy velvet draping." Micah winced again. "Exactly. This was right before he nearly got arrested for public indecency, but the cops decided to drop it when she almost molested him in front of them. They decided she needed help and Xander was just a willing victim."
"I saw that report," he admitted. "I pulled every record with his name on it when we found out about him." He looked up at him. "Do you mind if Buffy has pictures of you three? She's worried about you guys going after Dawn."
"She's too young for my tastes, and Vinnie and I are taken. Modo's mother would only want him to date a mouse so she's safe with us."
"I'll tell her that. You're taken?"
"Xander." Micah blinked a few times so he gave him a smug look. "The boy needs a firm hand and someone to help bandage him and to get hurt every now and then. He's still being playful."
"Wonderful." He went back to the notes, nodding as he went through each one. "I'm wondering why they're all drawn to him."
"Because he's a medium," Throttle told him. Micah winced again. "Yeah, he sucked me in very well yesterday. I'm hoping the baby grows up like her namesake, Anya."
Micah snickered. "I've heard quite a lot about her from Buffy and Giles. I'm sure Stoker would be less than impressed but oh well. Too late now," he said dryly, going back to the notes. He nodded. "It probably was that demon. I can't see anything else that might have altered him that much. So, you realize he's a widow, right? Twice."
"Well, the vows to that one girl are now gone. Cordelia died a few years back." He leaned back, getting comfortable. "As for Quorensct demons, they'll toughen up their spouses. It seems a few years ago there were a few of them who weren't...following the guidelines of 'girls can say no'," he said delicately. "As such, we found out that they're strong enough to rip into the intestinal cavity from the vaginal column." Throttle winced at that. "So if they pick a weaker species to mate with, they inject this stuff into them that makes them strong enough to stand them. They only do this for their mates. Did you see anything that would suggest something like a shot?"
"Yeah, there was an extra fluttery feeling I felt," he admitted quietly, glancing around. "The thing blocked him."
"That was nice of it. Then what happened?"
"It died. It headed off, going into the woods, where something cut its head off. Xander found it the next day. He was drunk when the demon approached him and very drunk when the demon got into him."
"Xander didn't strike me as the sort to go for vampires and demons anyway," he offered. "I'm hoping you're good to him. The boy's had enough pain."
"I know. I saw it all." Micah gaped in awe. "Every bit," he admitted. "Even the stuff with Anya. I also saw why he left her at the altar and which demon showed him having a beer gut in ten years." He stood up. "So what do we do about this?"
"Nothing really. It substantiates what we found in the tissue and blood scans. We figured out it must have been demonic and those type act like wish demons. They were near the top of our list. We did find one interesting thing. We combined a sample of his and Vinnie's blood in a dish once we found the taint. It went explosive."
"Because we didn't have any of yours," Micah said dryly. "Do you guys have an innate protection against other species eating you?"
"Not that I know of. Carbine!" She stuck her head out. "They combined Xander's and Vinnie's blood and it exploded."
"That's the taint Vinnie has," she called back, then disappeared again.
Throttle looked at him and shrugged. "Got a needle? Before I get too involved."
"Sure. Patricia, get a nurse up here to draw some blood," he called. She came up with a nurse, helping her draw the blood. "Run the test with Xander's, make sure they're not going to explode."
"Of course, sir." They hurried away to do that. She came back about ten minutes later. "It doesn't," she said, smiling at him. "It seems to turn semi-solid. It is able to be lit on fire however."
"Thank you. Test Xander's tissues against Quorensct demons as well. I want to know if he's got any skills."
"Already done, sir. He doesn't have anything other than spouse's skills as they're listed. Was he one?"
"One ...gifted him then went to die," Micah admitted. "I wanted to make sure before he wished the world would go away and it did some day," he told her. "Any other good news?"
"Yes, sir, when the hormones combined it was sympathetic. Only the blood itself mingling was in conflict and I'd say it'd be a good field bandage, unless it's with Vinnie."
"That's one hell of a way to blow an exit," Throttle said bitterly. "I'll keep that in mind. Vinnie won't mind giving up a few pints if necessary."
"We only dropped a piece of gauze with your friend's blood into the dish and it exploded before we could blink or turn away."
"I'll keep that in mind too," he promised. "Need anything else, Micah?"
"Not unless you want to show me any of it that might be relevant." Throttle leaned forward and showed him a few things, making him blush. "I don't look at the kid that way, Throttle, but thanks."
"I do," he said smugly.
"Just don't make the building explode. Did Dawn get to school?"
"Yeah, Vinnie was giving her a ride. She had some calf boots with no heel and are her skirts supposed to be that short?" Micah nodded. "She looked a bit slutty."
"They all do," he sighed. "That's why strippers like schoolgirl outfits." He smirked at him. "Have a good trip back if you're not waiting for Carbine."
"No, she's got a short wait. We've got a prison transport ship coming down. I told Rimfire not to crash it into anything."
"That might be helpful, yeah," Micah said dryly. "Go, I can hear Lorne coming in."
"Sure. Later, Micah." He paused. "Know where Xander can find a decent car?"
"There's a place on third street. It seems decent enough and if not Charley could easily help him fix it up."
"Thanks." He walked off, heading back to the ship to head home. He had some new very interesting facts to share with his boy.
Micah looked at the screen beside him as it came on twenty minutes later. He had expected this, that's why he had called Throttle and Carbine in so early. The President got his last report last night and this was as early as he ever got in. "Good morning, sir. Sleep well?"
"No, Micah, I didn't," the president said bluntly. "What does your agency do?"
"We used to do counter-intelligence but then we got switched here after Homeland Security started. I don't know why they picked us."
"Actually, Tom looked at the list, found that one odd category and said 'move the smallest department there, they'll keep the same staff but like the raise in budget, so they won't complain about it'," he admitted.
"Bet me, sir. I complain a lot about not being a spy any more." He looked at his secretary, who handed over a folder with a wink and left again. "What part of the report didn't you understand, sir?"
"All of it. They're real?"
"Very real." He glanced down at Carbine, who smirked at him. "Sir, would you rather I show up with files and pictures or would you rather I take you somewhere that you can see for yourself?"
"I'd rather see for myself. Pictures can be faked. Not that I'd expect it from you, mind you, but others aren't that nice."
"I know, sir. All right, have your car pick you up about eight tonight to go downtown. Just the regular car, no Secret Service. I'll be with you as will a delegate from a group that needs some help against the terrorists they're fighting."
"Fine. Are they European?"
"No, sir, Martian."
"Martian," he said flatly.
"Yes, sir," he said, starting to smirk. He could hear the confusion and it was making his day. "I've got one of their top Freedom Fighters down here. They're fighting against the same people who were trying to take over Chicago the other night. Fortunately some of her people have been fighting them there for a few years now, plus they've added an older fighter from Sunnydale to their group."
"Sunnydale. Why is that name familiar?"
"Town in California, sunk into their hole in the ground that went to Hell, sir."
"Hellmouth, sir. Portal to hell. The newest one's in Cleveland. We've got their ancient enemy there fighting with that thing now."
"I don't understand," he complained.
"That's fine. Like I said, eight tonight, pick me up here at ECHO, and I'll give you proof you can't refute. Bring Dick if you want, sir."
"Fine. He won't believe this one."
"I didn't either until I nearly got eaten one night near this club. Fortunately it's calmer now. Eight, sir."
"Fine, Micah. I'll trust you that far." He hung up.
Micah shook his head, snickering a bit. "Hey, Carbine, you busy for dinner?"
"No, why?" she asked, coming up the stairs. "I like those handguns, but they run out of ammo too soon."
"Yeah, well, all our lasers are really too big to do more than sit on a building," he said dryly. "Max!" She came jogging up the stairs. "We're going to give the Prez and VP proof tonight. He just called. I'm taking Carbine with me. Make sure she's dressed in a way that won't make someone drool on her." He looked at her present outfit. "Wear that tomorrow," he told her. "Today look like the general you are."
"I don't have my uniform down here."
"And? Just find something near it."
"Fine," she agreed, following Max out the door. "If I had known, I would have brought my dress uniform."
"Yeah, we've been dreading this one now for months," Max assured her. "What color?"
"Blue, dark blue. Snaps, mandarin collar as you call them." Max nodded, grabbing her keys and taking her out to her car. "This is nice. Xander drives this huge beast."
"Yeah, we're still trying to figure out what hit him."
"He said he saw a headlight."
"With that much impact, the headlight was going nearly eight hundred miles an hour. He's lucky he didn't die." She started the car and backed out of the garage, heading out into the bright morning sunshine. "So, how did you like our monuments when you flew over them?"
"One looks like a breast and one looks phallic."
"They're classical designs, but made by men," Max admitted. "They're to commemorate a president. I'll give you the quick tour on the way to the spot I know." She changed lanes, heading for the capitol park area.
Throttle walked into the lair and smirked at Xander, who was on a new bed. "Didn't want to move the other one?"
"Oz and Meg had sex on it last night. I didn't want to know that much about them," he said dryly. "Everything else will be over in about an hour if you wanted to hide with Vinnie in the garage."
"No, not yet." He laid down beside him. "We found out what it was." Xander put down his book and looked at him. "Do you remember anything about a Quorensct demon?" Xander considered, then shook his head. "Gray head, scales that formed a ruff like a lion around the back of his head? Tall thing but lanky and looked like it was bending the arms the wrong way?"
"Oh, that thing. Yeah, I found one dead back during my road trip."
"You did more than that, Xander," he shared quietly, leaning forward to let him see the encounter. When he pulled back, Xander was frowning. "He blocked it from you. Then he went to die. The problem becomes they're like wish demons and they only do that to their spouses. They're apparently very strong and have to strengthen anything that's not them." He stroked his hand. "So you're actually a widow three times."
"Three, you vowed to Cordelia. Even though it wasn't official it would stand up on Mars." He smirked at him. "So, my widow, now you know."
"Does this make a difference?"
"You were drunk and he took advantage of you. Why would it?" He leaned up and gave him a kiss. "Widows are nice, they're not twittering virgins."
"Yeah, I'm definitely not one of those," he admitted. Someone knocked on the door. "Damn it." He got up and went to smile at whoever was there. "Hey, guys, done already?" They nodded so he let them inside. "Okay, anything bookish goes upstairs. Head up the ramp and back to the front of the building. Anything mine goes in the bedroom with the open door, Dawn's stuff goes in the room with her name on it. She can have that frou-frou couch too."
The movers nodded, hefting boxes and furniture where it needed to go. "Sir, desk and computer?"
"Front room with the books," he decided. "It's general usage." They nodded, carrying the desk that way. "Where are the cats?"
"That strange redhead said he'd bring them over later."
"You consider Oz strange when Meg was wearing a chainmail bikini earlier?" Xander asked dryly.
"She's pretty enough to pull it off, but the guy was talking to the cats like they understood, sir."
"We figured she did that stuff where people dress up and hold court and stuff," another of them offered. "Gun locker?"
"Back room. There's a dark corner, put it there." They nodded. "Did you guys bring the other stuff?"
"No, sir, regulations forbid us from touching weapons that aren't safe or legal," one of them yelled. "The warrioress said she'd bring them over later."
"That's fine," he admitted. "She can even use my car since they won't fit in her Honda." He found Throttle reading his book on the bed, his tail wiggling to the noise coming from the radio. He paid the guys once they were done, then closed and locked the door. He found Throttle looking at a box that had 'unpack me first' written on it. "Huh, one of the cats can do magic. Interesting." He opened that one and pulled the cord inside, wincing at the flash that unpacked everything. He looked around at the spread out clothes. "Nearly." Throttle chuckled but helped him pick up everything and put the clothes away. Everything else was set up. Dawn could pick up her own clothes. They didn't want to touch her underwear.
Throttle laid Xander down on the bed once they were done, kissing him again. "You okay? You should be in pain."
"I took something earlier," he admitted, stealing another kiss. "What time is it?"
"Maybe three." He glanced at the clock. "Two thirty. We've got about an hour before Dawn comes back." He gave him another kiss. "Let's make sure nothing else is out of place. I can't imagine if something landed on top of Modo."
"I don't think he'd care unless it was undies or a bra," Xander joked, but he got up and took Throttle with him. "Any other good news?"
"Yeah, if we mix yours and Vinnie's blood together, you get an explosion. Mine and yours turns into putty." Xander looked at him. He shrugged. "I'm guessing it's a species difference. I'm not planning on bleeding into you so it'll be fine."
"Okay. Useful to know, but I'll be careful about that. Any idea what Modo's blood would do?"
"We can test it. Hey, Modo, we need some of your blood to see what happens when we mix it with Xander's. His and Vinnie's explodes."
"Explodes?" he asked calmly. "Badly?"
"Knocks a door in from what they weren't saying. I'm guessing it's a blood protein difference. Our hormones are in synch."
"Vinnie will be thrilled to hear that," Modo said, pulling out a knife. He made a careful slice on his arm, letting it drip onto the plate that held his snack earlier. He passed them to Xander, who did the same thing with the clean side of the knife. They all winced as the plate exploded and sent ceramic shrapnel out. "Cool."
"Very cool," Vinnie said in awe from the doorway. "Wow."
"Yours and his too, bro," Throttle said smugly. "Mine and his make putty that can be set on fire."
"Whoa! We can create some pretty destruction with that!" Vinnie gave them a manic grin. "I can't wait to use that in the field!"
"You and me both," Xander said with a chuckle. "We're checking for messes."
"Ehh, one box did manage to unpack itself at Charley's, but it's all older stuff of hers. It exploded all over the kitchen. I didn't know she knew what flimsy lingerie was." Xander snickered, hiding his face on Throttle's shoulder. Vinnie winked at him. "She's cleaning that up. She said I can't touch it."
"Tara made it too strong," Xander laughed. "I'll apologize."
"Why? I loved it! She's got stuff that I'm going to whine to see her in!" He leered and let out a wicked chuckle, pulling something out of his back pocket. "I even confiscated something."
"That's very tiny and see through," Throttle agreed. "I can't imagine her wearing it." He shook his head, leaving it there. It was all good to him if Charley didn't brain Vinnie for it.
Modo coughed and pointed at a pile of stuff. "We had a box of stuff too. I'm thinking it's Vinnie's since I don't wear a thong."
"Me either. Underwear bites," Throttle admitted. "Vinnie, it unpacked a box of your stuff too."
Xander looked at the pile and snatched something, holding it up. "Isn't this women's underwear?" he teased. Vinnie lunged but he ran past him, heading over to the garage. He tossed it at Charley. "Fair trade for the one he stole of yours," he shouted, heading out the other door to get away from Vinnie.
"Give it back, Xander!" Vinnie yelled as he burst through the kitchen doorway. "No fair!"
Charley snickered, holding them up. "What did you steal of mine, Vinnie, and who did these belong to?" She kept them from him. "Trade."
"But, Sweetheart, I wanted to see you in the other one," he whined. "I haven't been able to wear those since I was sixteen." She looked at the thong then at him, so he sighed. "Please?"
"Nope. Even trade." He grumbled but gave her back her nightie. She looked at it. "You couldn't pick something comfortable?"
"It looks comfortable to me," he said with a small leer.
"It's not. It's too tight and it's itchy." She tossed it into her office. "Stay out of that box. I don't want to know what you think about those sort of things."
Vinnie used his tail to grab her and bring her closer, kissing her until she moaned. "That's what I think about those sort of things, sweetheart." He gave her an unsubtle rub against her stomach, then winked and walked off, going to deal with that.
Charley leaned against the car she had been working on, staring after him. He'd never been that blunt before. No one had been that blunt with her before. She fanned herself, considering it. He had hinted in the past, but nothing like that. She looked behind her and squeaked, finding Meg standing there. "Don't do that to me," she panted, grabbing her chest.
Oz helped her sit down. "Good kisses should do that to you anyway," he offered. "Animals and guns."
"The lair, guys. Swat Vinnie if you see him."
"From what I saw, unless he's a minute man, he's still going at himself in the bathroom," Meg said with a grin. "You lucky girl!" She kissed her on the cheek, walking past her clinking the whole way.
"Do I want to know about the chainmail bikini?" Charley asked Oz.
He shook his head and went to get some of the bigger things, then decided to pull the car around to the back so no one would have to see him carrying serious weapons around the building. He walked the first one in, putting it against the wall. He went back and found one missing and a boy sneaking off with it. He growled and the boy dropped it, staring at him in shock. Oz narrowed his eyes and pointed. The boy ran off with a squeak, leaving a wetness trail behind him. He picked up that launcher, putting the safety back on it. Thankfully it hadn't went off and destroyed another building. Or six since the only ones in that direction were rubble. "Could use some help," Oz called. Vinnie came out, bouncing and grinning. "Already?"
"Your girlfriend interrupted me," he said dryly. "Can you take her off for about thirty minutes?" he asked.
"You've got to pick up Dawn," Oz reminded him.
"I can't do that around her!"
"Like she'd care."
"Yeah, and she'd probably help you by giving you better mental images," Meg said as she leaned in the doorway. "You're going to be late and Xander said he's too sore to deal with it. You can take the SUV if you want."
"I can," Oz said, pushing the others into the back while Vinnie carried another inside. "Be right back." He tossed the cat back inside and shut the door, checking around. One had snuck into the back but that was fine with him. He closed the back gates and got in to drive, heading for the school. He nodded politely at the guard. "Are they out yet?"
"No, sir." He glanced in the back. "Sir, is that a kitten sitting on a grenade launcher?" he asked.
"Modern art installation piece," he said promptly with a straight face.
"Oh! All right then, that's a great piece. Can't wait to see it, sir," he said more happily. "Go ahead and pull into the circle and wait, sir. Which year?"
"Ah, one of the newer ones. She may be coming out last. The newer children usually have teachers reminding them that they're there for them. Go ahead and park, sir."
"Thanks. I'm Oz, one of her uncles."
"That's fine." He drove in and parked, wincing because most of the kids were going to be walking past him. He turned on some tunes, snorting at the pop music. "I hate that addiction." He found the bro's favorite radio station and left it there, tapping along with it. He really missed playing some days. Kids started to stream out, and where he was parked most of them went past the SUV. A great number looked at the cat in the back. He glanced back. "Andrew, I know you felt deficient in your last life, but that's a bit too much overcompensation."
The cat gave him a smug look and went back to cleaning his paws.
Oz rolled down his window when a motherly looking woman tapped on it. "They're part of an art exhibit. The cat snuck in."
"Oh, that's good. I didn't want anyone *dangerous* around the children you know."
He nodded. "I understand. I'm an uncle." She smiled and walked off, going to tell the other parents. Dawn finally came out and hurried over, getting into the truck. "Don't ask," he noted. "Say it's art." He put back up the window and backed out, pulling around the driveway and back onto the street. "So, bad day?"
"Usual first day sniping. No one liked my shoes. I got looked at funny by the local prozac patrol members because I showed up on the back of a bike. Though, I did get some looks from the boys. A number of them were very appreciative." She put down her hair and scratched the back of her head to get feeling back in her scalp. "I've got to do more than ponytail that mess tomorrow."
"Sure. Your stuff's in. Someone did a packing spell but it exploded all over the house." She moaned. "All your stuff should still be in your room."
"So my room looks like a teenager's room?" she asked. He nodded, tapping along with the music. "Wonderful," she said dryly. She looked back and moaned. "Weapons."
"I said it was an art piece."
"Good, I'll remember that tomorrow. And the Andrew cat?"
"Snuck in because he wants to be art." He pulled onto the road out to the garage, wincing at the lights behind him. "Shit!"
"Oooh, bad word," Dawn moaned, buckling up. "Andrew cat, we're in deep. Think you wanna do something otherworldly before they take you to the pound?"
The cat meowed and the cop car passed to go after someone who was driving way too slow. Then he bent down to clean his butt.
"Thanks, babe. Let me know what you want in a treat. Besides your brother Bob."
"The white one with brown spots."
"Oh, I thought that was a Simile."
"No, because I had to explain what that was," she sighed. "Xander didn't know." They pulled out behind the building and she helped, unloading a weapon and the cat. She opened up a tin of food and put it down in front of him and the cat pounced it, licking it fiercely. He defended it against everyone but his mother Tara and Bob.
"I'm guessing he thinks it's rude not to share since she fed him first," Oz noted, carrying in more weapons. "Could use some help!" The other three cats were retrieved and then the rest of the weapons were brought in. Oz closed the back gate. "Only one more load," he said patiently. "Meggy?"
"Bathroom. Chainmail and tampons don't go well," Charley shared.
"Ah! Know what I'm doing tonight then," Oz noted, getting in and heading back to pack up the rest of the stuff that had been hidden in the closet. He didn't want to know where Xander got some of this stuff, he really didn't. He might get scared of him. He paused to look at the closet. "I'm taking a nap," he decided, calling Dawn's phone to warn her of that. He could move the other stuff tomorrow. He wouldn't be doing much of anything with his girlfriend suffering.
Throttle looked up at the explosion, wincing a bit. "Xander?" He got a moan so he nudged the sleeping man again. "Xander?"
"Hmm?" He sat up and blinked, then gaped at the next explosion. "That had better be that gas line," he vowed, heading up to the roof to look. It was in the right direction but he could see his apartment building. Someone handed him some binoculars so he scanned the building. His SUV wasn't there. He scanned the lots between the apartment and here, wincing when he saw the new sinkhole and Oz standing there staring at the smoking hole. "Oh, shit," he groaned, heading down to put on some shoes. "Oz is staring at a smoking sink hole about three blocks away," he announced.
Throttle whistled and his bike came over, he climbed on and let Xander climb on behind him, hurrying out to check on Oz. He found him smoking a cigarette. "You do that?"
"After nearly exploding, I felt like smoking as much as his car." He looked at Xander and pointed. "What was in there?"
"What did you put in there? I didn't have any explosives."
Oz shook his head. "A bag of Mexican food, man." He looked down there and flicked the cigarette down there, watching as it lit the gas on fire and it burned hotly. He looked at Xander again. "No hidden weapons? Nothing like that?"
"A few stakes."
Oz shrugged. "Okay then. Your car exploded when the sink hole happened." They both looked when Throttle pointed at the little thing hovering above the hole. "Huh. Know about them, Throttle?"
"Not a clue," he admitted. "Morning. Welcome to Earth. I'm from Mars. You?" The ship blinked a few times.
"That's the headlight that hit me!" Xander said, pointing at it. "That's what hit me!"
"Huh," Oz and Throttle said in unison as the little ship took off and hurried away.
"Guess we know why it exploded," Oz said finally, looking at Throttle. "Can I squeeze on?"
"Sure. Xander shift closer." Xander shifted much closer, rubbing against his tail, which made him moan. "Tease," he muttered.
"No I'm not," Xander whispered. "Never in the past and not now."
"I don't want to hear about gay sex," Oz told them. A few cop cars rushed up and Oz climbed off with a sigh. "Xander," he said patiently. Xander climbed off. "I was driving and the engine exploded, then the sink hole took it and made it explode again," he told them.
One of the cops recognized Xander because he was staring at him. "Yours?" he asked timidly.
Xander sighed and nodded. "Oz was helping me move stuff to my new place since I've got cracked ribs. I'd had a wreck a few weeks back and the dealership was slowly fixing it too." He looked down in the hole, then suddenly backed up. "Guys, secondary gas tank," he called, heading for cover behind Throttle.
A pretty spew of flame went up then settled back down.
"Got tired of the daily pump visit?" Oz asked dryly.
"Yeah, and I had a second tank put on it," he said as he straightened up. "I'll miss my Infiniti."
"I'll miss it too, Xan. You could carry an enormous amount of stuff in that thing," Throttle said, giving him a pat on the arm. "We'll help you find a new one."
Fire trucks rolled up to put out the fire and Oz went to lean against the bike too. "I'm impressed," he said finally. "Aliens made a pretty bonfire." Throttle flicked him on the back of the head. "You guys make some too, it's always very pretty when the tower comes down." He glanced back at Xander, who was pouting. "Someone needs a nap."
"He was until the first explosion," Throttle told him. "Thanks for getting dinner, Oz."
"Not an issue. We've still got the few guns left at the apartment to move too."
They watched as the fire turned to steam, and then smoke, and then wisps. Then a cop came over to talk with them. "Okay, boys, let's try this one again. Who was driving?" Oz raised his hand. "Why?"
"See, I'm moving in with my best buddies here," Xander said, stroking down Throttle's arm, making him shiver. "So we've been doing minor moving stuff all day. Oz is a friend and he's subletting for me. He was bringing dinner so we could discuss the last few loads and when he could bring them over because I've got cracked ribs."
"How did you crack them?"
"Um," he said, looking at Throttle, who shrugged. "Remember Limburger tower?" he asked. The cop shivered. "I was there. It was a pretty explosion."
"You don't look like his usual goons."
"That's because I'm not. I'm a Xander," he said with a bright grin. The cop shivered again and backed up a step. "Since I was injured, I couldn't lift much. I had movers over earlier if you wanted to check."
"No, that's all right, sir. Any weapons in there?"
"Not that I remember. We moved most of them earlier," Oz admitted. "We had ammo and a few miscellaneous weapons left."
"You are, sir?"
The cop stared at him. "We're old friends," Xander said with a smirk. He ran a finger up the side of Oz's neck, earning a shiver from him and a swat at his fingers. "He was there when I learned everything I know now."
"I see," the cop said, taking that down. "So no artillery?"
"Not this load. We got that out earlier. All that was left are some bullets, some stakes, a crossbow or three, and I think the broken assault rifle," Xander told him. The cop whimpered. "Sometimes I need one in my line of work. I may hate spray and pray mode, but it has to happen sometimes."
"I understand, sir," he said quietly. "I truly do. You're moving in with ...." He looked at Throttle, who smirked at him over top of his glasses. "Uh-huh." He looked at him. "Never mind. I don't want to know. Your insurance company, sir?"
"State Farm. That's nearly brand new and the local Infiniti dealership knows it very well," Xander assured him. "I had a wreck a few weeks back."
"I heard about that," he admitted. "I'll drop the report at the garage tomorrow, sir. All right?"
"Sure," Xander agreed happily. "I was in the middle of a nap and Oz was bringing dinner."
"Mexican food was stronger than I thought," Oz said blandly.
The cop found himself snickering against his will as he walked off, sounding hysterical to his ears but he didn't really care. He found his boss. "Sir, this was Xander Harris' car. He had a wreck a few weeks back. The person driving it for him while he had broken ribs said that the engine exploded, which set off a sink hole, which caught the gas tank, and eventually the second tank."
"Fine. No weapons involved?"
"They said not, sir. You can go make sure if you want," he said, pointing back at the trio. He looked back, Oz was saying something and the ...other one was grabbing Xander to kiss. He shuddered and looked at his boss again, who was staring in horror. "Sir, he's the one we watch out for," he said quietly. "Right?"
"Definitely. Is that what I think it is?"
"I'm not sure, sir, and I don't want to know. If he's in love or lust with the large man who likes to wear the titmouse costume, I'm not one to judge. They taught us that in sensitivity lectures." He walked away to start his report. He saw the fire chief. "I need a report sometime in the next few days."
"Sure," he agreed. "We haven't heard any bullets popping, but someone noted that they smelled refried beans." The cop let out a whimper. "What?"
"They were making a joke about the Mexican food being too strong," he said weakly, shaking his head as he walked off. He didn't need this. He really didn't. Running into that boy once was more than enough for his fragile psyche.
The fire chief walked over to where the local head cop was standing, nudging him gently. "What's going on?"
"Them," he said, pointing. "I'm trying to figure out what one of them is."
The fire chief looked then shrugged. "He's a mouse. His name's Throttle. He's from Mars. He and the former mayor were friendly since they saved his life." He walked off, going to talk to the investigator that had just pulled up. "This was Xander Harris' car."
"Construction guy, has a demo license. He said there shouldn't be any weapons or explosives in the car. Made a joke about Mexican food being too strong. They claim the engine exploded first, set off a new sink hole, then set off both gas tanks in serial."
"Two gas tanks?"
"Those sort get crappy mileage. Maybe twenty mpg if they're lucky." The investigator shuddered. "Yeah, so I'm guessing it was self defense. There was a pretty spume as we headed to respond. I'm guessing the second tank was larger than the original." He pointed behind him. "The owner and the driver are over there. I don't know how he got out."
"Why wasn't the owner driving?"
"Not a clue. He looks like he's in pain though." They looked over and found Xander being held up by Throttle and Oz stroking his hair. "I heard he's got broken ribs or something."
"Looks like it too," the investigator agreed, heading over there. "Hi, boys. My name's Phil Thomas and I'm an investigator for the Fire Department. Can I get a quick statement?" He looked at Xander. "Is he okay? Turned wrong?"
"I turned wrong and nudged him," Oz admitted, continuing to stroke his hair. "The pain killers have now worn themselves out." He heard another heavy engined bike and looked behind them, nodding at Vinnie. "We're all fine. The Mexican food did it."
"Man, and you know Switch has gone home. No one needed stuff that hot," Vinnie joked.
Dawn climbed off the back and came over to check on Xander. "Are you okay?" He shook his head. "Wanna head back to bed?" He shook his head, wincing a bit as he stood up. "I think you should."
"You'll make a great mom some day, but you're not mine," he reminded her, kissing her on the forehead. "Calm down. I'm fine. They're only cracked." He looked at the investigator. "Oz was driving. I owned it."
"That's fine, sir. I can get most of the story from him then. If you wouldn't mind?"
"I'll stay with him," Dawn offered. Vinnie snorted. "You can stay," she sighed.
"That means one of you has to walk home," Vinnie pointed out. "You're not that good yet."
"I'll make sure whichever one stays gets home," the investigator offered gently.
Dawn stared at him, then looked at Oz. He nodded for her to go. "You're sure?" He nodded. "You're all right?"
"Just shaken. Good thing I heard that ping," he offered. She nodded, watching as Xander got on behind Throttle and they took off, then climbed on behind Vinnie so he could leave. Oz looked at the investigator then shrugged. "For the record, I can smell the blood on you, dude. Don't try it with me, my blood's deadly."
"You're HIV positive?"
"No, I'm a werewolf."
"Oh." He looked him over. "You are?" He saw the yellow eyes come into being and suddenly realized that he needed to have a personal discussion with his God about his life. "That's fine," he agreed. "Please calm down. It shouldn't take too long and I'll make sure an officer gets you home."
"Thanks. I'd appreciate that." He looked down at the SUV again, shaking his head. "Poor Mexican food."
To part 11