Xander walked into the lair their first morning back and grinned at the happy, sated, calm Vinnie sitting at the table.  "Hey."  He put down the pastry box and sat down to take his.  "How was the island?"

"Beautiful and calm.  She loved it," he said with a grin. "We didn't get to go to the race, but she lounged on the beach all weekend, just being lazy in the sun.  It was good for her."

"Then why are you over here?" he asked smugly.

"She's started," he said, grabbing a pastry for himself.  "She's also already gotten a car to work on.  Aren't you supposed to be at work?"

"I would, but the house fell in."  He took another bite.  "All construction has been paused until we can shore up the ground.  The city's said so."  Vinnie gave a sympathetic nod.  "So we're off again.  I dropped Dawn off and picked up breakfast, and now I'm waiting on my reward for breaking the bed our first night in."

Throttle came in yawning and kissed Vinnie on the top of the head.  "Have fun?"

"You do know that you kissed Vinnie, right?" Xander asked, taking a bite of breakfast.  "And that I am a jealous man, and being a mouse probably isn't going to make that less?"

Throttle smirked and nodded.  "He earned one. He's not bouncing.  It's amazing."  He took his own pastries and leaned back, getting comfortable.  "No more nightmares?"  Xander shook his head.

"Nightmares?" Vinnie asked.

"Yeah, he has dreams that lead to road signs for considering," Throttle told him. He ate another bite.  "So he and Micah had a talk and then nearly got jumped by an," he coughed, "old friend named Faith."

"Ooh, I'm sensing a scandal," Vinnie teased.

"She was my first, it was over within seconds because she was hot and bothered and wouldn't let me do anything, and the next time she tried to kill me during it," Xander said dryly.  "No scandal.  Sorry."  He stuffed his mouth.

"She did what?" Vinnie demanded, staring at him.  "She tried to kill you?"

"Not that unusual in my past," Xander admitted.  "She was about number five."  He ate another large bite and stole another pastry.  "Modo, food?" he called.  He came up to grab some then went back to checking his bike.   "She okay?"

"She's fine, just a bit of road grit."

Xander looked at Vinnie.  "Faith was hot and bothered from slaying.  I was feeling neglected.  I allowed her to jump me and climb on top.  It was over fairly fast because she was too hot.  She didn't even unzip me fully.  She just did it and then kicked me out.  So I went and saved the day and got rode about it again by the others the next morning."

"Which sucked, Xan," Throttle offered.  "At least the next time was better."

"Yeah," he agreed, smirking at him.

"How would you know?" Vinnie asked.

"Easy, when I did the life review, I saw all of it," Throttle told him.  He ate another large bite.  "How was it?"

"Great!  She lounged on the beach, she snuggled into me at night.  We both got to relax and unwind and she agreed with me about most things."  He let out a sappy grin.  "She's already hard at work, or else I'd be over there hugging her at the moment."

"Good, bro, I'm glad you got to relax for a bit," Throttle said with a smirk.  "Carbine said they had some information, Xander, but they're going to have to investigate a bit.  We're not being invited."  Xander relaxed.  "You okay now?"

"Yeah.  Better."

"Huh?" Vinnie asked.

"Part of the nightmare was that you guys went off to help free a prison world and got captured, so I had to go up and help too," Xander told him. "During the start of a new assault down here."

"You'd leave Charley?"

"In the nightmare she told me off and told me to go away.  I'm not going to argue with the woman," he said, glaring at him.  "I did it from afar.  She wouldn't let me protect her."

"Fine, she's stubborn.  As long as someone's watching out for her," Vinnie said.  Xander nodded.  "You're sure?"

"I'd do that for you," Xander promised.  "She'd be like my own if you were gone."

"We'd take her in," Throttle agreed quietly.  "Just like you would Xander for me."  Vinnie nodded.  "Did you tell her you offered that?"

"Yeah, and then we had great sex," Vinnie said smugly.  "It was the night you claimed him.  I told her as I was jumping in to have her."

"As long as she agreed," Throttle told him.  He looked around. "Cats?"  One of them meowed.  "Fine.  As long as you're fine."

"So, did Meg remember to clean your bike?" Xander teased.

"She sure did, or else she didn't use it," Vinnie said happily.  "I sniffed and I couldn't smell more than leather treater."  He looked in the box, then at Xander, who shook his head.  "You didn't give her any?"

"She said she didn't want any."

"She didn't any fluffy pastries?" Throttle asked.  "Why not?"

Xander shrugged.  "She said she wasn't feeling good."    He paused.  "Should we worry about a baby shower?"

"No, she's taking something so we don't have to," he admitted quietly, getting up and going to check on her.  "Sweetheart?" he called as he walked into the garage.  The guy in there gave him an odd look.  "I call everyone that, dear."  He looked at Charley.  "Did you want some breakfast?  Xander went to the bakery again."

"I saw and I'm not hungry."  He caught her eye.  "It's a side effect of the medicine," she said quietly.  "It's handled."  He nodded, looking in the engine.  "I could use someone to get some oil."

"Sure, I'll run to get it when you call in that order," he agreed, smiling at her.  "Need help? Laundry?"

"No, it's done.  Meg and Oz did it.  Thanks, Vinnie.  Go tease the Xander or play in the snow."  He nodded, going back to do that.  She smirked at the man in there.  "The car's behind the building next door."

"Thank you, ma'am."  He went to look at it, popping the hood.  He saw a big man giving him a long look. "I'm from the company she's getting parts from.  I'm here to figure out which size she needs," he told him.  "Custom engines are very precise."

"I know, my bike has one," Modo agreed as he walked out to look in the engine.  "That's really powerful. I know he's taken it onto some closed roads and got up to around two hundred."

"Is he thinking about racing it?"

"I don't know.  Xander?" he called.  Xander opened a window and stuck his head out.  "The guy from the engine company wanted to know if you were thinking about racing this monster of yours."

Xander leaned on the windowsill.  "I don't know.  I like going fast but I'm pretty busy most of the time and I'd be doing it for the fun."

The guy looked up at him.  "Not for racing for glory?"

"Nah, I've got plenty of glory.  I needed something fast, fun, and dangerous.  The guy who customized it gave nine years getting it nearly perfect."

"I remember talking to him a few times," he admitted.  He looked at the engine.  "Is this street legal?"

"It runs, that's all they checked for," Xander said with a small shrug.  "Am I going to have problems if I don't want to race?"

"Well, some of the engine was custom built so you'd have to pay extra."

"I've got money."

"Really?"  Xander nodded. "Enough to sponsor a racing team?"

"Not quite that rich," Xander admitted with a smirk.  "Nice try though."

"I had to try.  We could always use sponsors."

"Oh, I know.  I like the local drag racing teams.  I'll be right down."  He pulled in and closed the window, coming down a few minutes later.  "So, I know the pinging is in the gear box.  Charley will need a list of what sizes to order in case it blows on me."

He pulled out a paper, handing it over.  "The specs we had.  I had to be sure this was the same one.  Nice job with the fan."

"The last one was grinding.  She said it was from a Mack Truck."  He chuckled, nodding that he understood. "So, my gears, are they special order?"

"No, they're pretty standard," he promised.  "Go ahead and turn it over, let's listen."  Xander walked around and got in, turning it on and revving it.  He turned it off when the man waved and got out, leaning on his door.  "Another issue?"

"No, just a thing to think about. Your cylinders are misfiring."  Xander nodded.  "She hasn't done anything about that yet?"

"She's been packed.  I'm not pushy. It's running at the moment and that's good enough for me at the moment," he said plainly.  "When she's got a minute she'll pop them and we'll look."

"Sure, kid," he said with a grin.  "I'll get those gears for her.  That way she has them when she's ready.  You sure you won't race her?  She deserves to be used properly."

"I deal with emergencies," Xander shared.  "She gets plenty of street racing."

"I understand," he agreed, smiling at him.  "Let me tell her that.  I'll hand her the specs too."  Xander beamed and handed them back.  He went back into the garage.  "Charley?"  She came out from under the hood.  "The specs," he said, waving the form.  "I'll order the gears for you.  You'll need to check his cylinders, one sounds blocked.  Let me put this in your office since you've got grease."  He put it into the office, sliding it partway under her blotter.  He came out and smiled at her.  "It's a beautiful car.  I hope he appreciates it since he won't race it."

"He races their bikes," she promised.  "All for fun.  Did you guys build that one?"  He nodded.  "What's not special order?"

"The gears.  The cylinders themselves.  The seats."  He grinned at her.  "I'll let you get back to work.  I'll get the gears out as soon as I can."

"Thanks, he needs it.  That ping is driving me insane."

"Not a problem.  Let me know if he decides to race her."  She nodded and he left, going back to his office to put in that order.  He made notes about the car and the engine, then put the file in his drawer with a copy of the specs.  He had wondered what happened to that engine.

Xander walked onto his site and looked at the mess.  "Damn," he said in awe.  "What the hell happened?"  He stood there, staring at the mess, until someone tapped him on the arm.  He looked at Merle and pointed.  "How?"

"Neighborhood thugs," he said grimly.  "The owners have already been here."

Xander groaned and covered his eyes.  "I don't believe this.  Is this because of me?" he asked his boss.  "Did you guys have this problem before I started working?"

"Yeah, actually we had it worse, Xander.  You've made it better.  We're waiting on the insurance people to get here.  Your crew is having coffee by the trailer.  Join them until we have time.  Plan out the steps to fix this tragedy."

"Blowing it and starting over?"

"Not an option."

"Okay then.  I'd suggest that we start by taking the fallen stuff out first.  That way we can see if anything is still going to be upright legitimate."  He went to join the crew.  "Hey, guys.  Any holiday tragedies?" he asked as he joined them.  They stared at him.  "What?"  He looked at himself.  He was still white and furry.  He looked at them.  "What?"

"How was *your* holiday, Xander?" Janice asked smugly.

"I spent it beating off teenage girls who only wanted to tie me down and make me helpless.   So did Throttle."  He poured himself some coffee, looking back at that.  "Do we have a stable entrance?"

"The side didn't creak as much as the other ones," one of the guys offered.  "The back stairs were destroyed and we'd have to bridge the first with a board and there's a gaping hole."  He sipped his own coffee.  "What are you thinking?"

"Merle said we had to clean up the mess then start with whatever was left.  That means," he sighed, "hauling and toting for quite a while I'm afraid."  He added sugar and took a sip, taking the creamer from Janice when she held it out.  "Thanks."

"Welcome."  She looked at the side.  "What about through the back window?  There's a huge opening there.  We could probably knock out the remaining portion of that wall.  The ground was steady, we could make a ramp out of some of the stuff that fell."

"The problem becomes, that's one of the last remaining walls," Xander mused.  "Let's go look at the options, Janice."  She nodded, following him so they could compare degree of difficulty for getting things out.  He heard the floor crack and grabbed her with his tail, lifting her up before she broke through.  He slowly backed out, keeping her suspended as he headed back out.  Then he put her down and patted her off.  "You okay?"

"Yeah, thanks, Xander."  She rubbed her stomach.  "You're really strong."

He gave her a pitiful grin.  "Better a sore middle than a broken leg that needs surgery from falling through."

"True.  I'm not complaining.  I just had no idea those tails were so strong."

"Yeah, Throttle picks me up all the time with his," he said with a goofy grin.  "He keeps putting me onto the back of his bike."  He waved and got Merle's attention.  "The floor's weak," he yelled.  "She nearly fell in."

"Damn it!"  He stomped that way, looking at the new hole.  "I want someone to get under there and look at the boards."  He looked at them.  "Xander, how are you about small spaces?"

"I'm okay as long as I have a light and a rope."

"Fine.  Grab a rope, tie it to the trailer, then get under there.  We need that before we allow any cleanup."  He nodded, trotting off to do that.  "You okay?  I saw him grab you with his tail," he asked quietly.   She nodded.  "Not going to scream harassment?"

"He saved me falling in and getting hurt, Merle, and I'm not that sort of girl.  Worry about some of the guys doing that."  She patted him on the arm and walked off shaking her head.  "Guys, pour another cup.  The floor just caved under me," she called as she walked.  Someone thoughtfully poured her one as well.  "Thanks," she said with a small grin as it was handed to her.  "The floor's seriously weak.  I stepped in a spot and it cracked under me."  She took a seat, looking at them.  "Who had floor studs?"

"The external crew were doing the main framing," one of the guys told her.  "You can tell either Brad or Xander did some of the walls, they're still standing."  He sipped his coffee as he watched Xander wiggle under the wannabe house.  "Ow.  I'm so sorry for him.  You'd never get me to do that.  Not even with a safety line and a light."

"Someone has to.  We can't step on there," Janice said grimly.  "I was trying to step on the studs."  She looked at Brad, who had moaned.  "What?"

"I thought something was wrong but I couldn't find anyone to tell them."

"Kid, in those situations, you tell anyone on this crew," Janice told him.  "If I have to wake up Merle or Xander I will."  He nodded.  "Now, what did you see?"

"The studs were the wrong distance.  They were too far apart," Brad said quietly.  "I used a framing square and they were too long."  She groaned and nodded.  "I'm not surprised that it fell in."

"Merle!" Janice yelled.  "Ask Xander to check the spacing!  Brad's right, that's the sort of thing that happens when it's wrong."  He nodded, calling down to Xander, who called back and Merle's face turned red.  He stomped over there.  "We didn't do the floors."

"True, you didn't," he agreed, heading into the trailer.  He found the task sheet and looked it over, then called the boss.  "You won't believe this.  Someone screwed up this site badly.  Studs are spaced wrong, the floor's nearly collapsing.  No, Xander and Janice went to check it over to see how best to clear and she nearly fell through the floor.  Xander saved her with his tail.  Yeah, it's a handy...."  He heard someone shout.  "We've got bigger problems."  He hung up and hurried back out the other door.  "Xander!"



"Hole!  Metal!  Don't pull!" Merle quit hauling on the rope.  "Right above me is a about sixty feet from where Janice fell.  There's nothing holding two of the panels on one side.  We're going to have to cut me out, Merle, and I want drugs!"

"Fine.  Brad! You're tiniest."  He came running.  "Xander said sixty feet from where she nearly fell in is where he's trapped and the floor boards are not connected.  Go in there and peel them up.  He's stuck."  He nodded, going to do that, carefully walking through the mess.  "Kick it or shove it, Brad."  He nodded, getting most of it cleaned off.  "Xander, can you hit the boards with something?"  He hit it and a clear space bounced.  Brad hurried over, cleaning off enough space to pull up a few boards, then he let out a cry.  Merle headed for the phone to call someone more professional.  "Wire snips, now," he yelled.

"Sir, I've got combat experience, if he's that injured you don't want just anyone down there," one guy said quietly, taking the hacksaw and wire snips with him.  He moved Brad.  "Xander, just stay still.  At least it's not rebar."  Xander nodded, bracing on the wire mesh that the city was putting up to help brace the holes.  "Brad, back off.  This is going to get very messy very quickly.  Good job with the floor."  Brad nodded, getting back a few feet.  "Make sure we've got a clear spot to lift him out," he ordered.  "Lay boards across any bracing things."   He slowly got down there, making Xander scream.  "Give me a minute, Xander.  I'm hoping I can get most of it with the wire snips."

"Please," he panted.  "Ow."  He heard a bike.  "Throttle's here."

"He'll have to stay back, he's heavier," the man said, sounding apologetic.  "How did he know?"

"I don't know, but it's nice."  He shifted carefully.  "Start with that one.  It's digging in too deeply.  It's going for a lung."  The other man carefully snipped the wire, leaving the part sticking out of him there.  "Want a job, kid?  I could use a good, steady guy on my crew."

"Sure, I hate shoveling."  He moved around him, getting all the small wires, then working on the heavier wires.  "This stuff is weak," he complained as he worked him free.  Only two needed the hacksaw and he used his jacket to cover the body so none of the shavings could get in there.  "Just one more, Xander, and I can hear the ambulance.  Please don't sue us."

"You guys had nothing to do with this, beyond the person who screwed up the flooring," he ground out, clutching the wires.  "How soon?"

"Just a millimeter more.   Merle, get ready to haul him out.  I've almost got him free."  He finished sawing that spot and Xander went slack in the opening.  "Okay, pull!" he shouted, getting out of the way and up there so he could get his jacket back and help.  He guided Xander up and the paramedics took him.  "I left the metal in."

"That was the right thing to do, sir.  Sir, what's you're name," he asked Xander.

"Xander Harris.  I live beside the Last Chance Garage.  If someone who looks kinda like me isn't waiting, someone needs to call them," he said, forcing himself to stay calm.  "Merle, make sure someone knows and make sure this guy gets moved to my crew!" he yelled as they wheeled him off.  He looked at the paramedic taking his pulse.  "The one in my right side is too deep," he said with a swallow.  "It's brushing my lung, I've had broken ribs in the past."

"That's fine, sir, we can't move it until we can get an x-ray. Just in case we start off bleeding."  He got into the back with him and watched as the doors closed.  "Any particular hospital?"

"We usually head to General on this crew," he admitted.  "They've seen others like me."

"I was going to ask about the fur," he admitted.  "Tail too?"  He nodded.  "Do you know what causes this?"

"I'm turning into a mouse," he said with a grin.  "We're not sure of the exact cause.  Speaking of, tell them the big tan one is my man and he's allowed everywhere and anywhere.  He has my permission to treat if I'm unconscious."

"I'll make a note of that, sir.  What's your man's name?"


"Fine."  He wrote that down.  "No other relatives who might interfere?"

"Dead," he admitted, trying to shift some.  "Ow."

"Shh, we're nearly there."  He held onto the boy as they turned a corner.  "What happened?"

"The site got trashed, we were planning on how to remove stuff since some of the stairs were gone.  The floor cracked under one of my crew and I saved her.  Then I got to go underneath to check the floor and see why it had cracked.  The studs were in the wrong spots," he said miserably.  "I was moving to check a really wide gap when the ground gave and I fell.  I stood up on the wire to crawl out of the hole and it buckled, eating me."  He winced, taking in a deep, hissing breath.  "This sucks, I had cracked ribs a few weeks back from a car wreck."

"That's fine.  We're here now."  He jumped out as soon as the doors opened, taking Xander with him.  "Man was checking the flooring his crew was putting in, he fell into one of the sink holes, stood up on the grating to climb out and it snapped, letting him fall and piercing him twenty-eight times," he reported.  "Pulse is thready and fast, 126 at last check, blood pressure is still good at 150/95.  He stated that the one on his right side feels like it's brushing his lung.  He said his husband is on his way, his name is Throttle and he's... a lot like him, only tan."

"I know him," one nurse admitted.  "Name?"

"Xander Harris."

"Fine.  Thank you."  She took the form, going over it quickly before she snapped orders for blood work, an x-ray machine, and a surgeon.  She smiled at Xander. "We've got you, you're in good hands, Xander.  Just calm down and stay calm."

"I'm used to pain," he told her quietly.  "But that right one is going to pierce my lung soon."

"I'll take the x-ray of that area first.  When were your ribs cracked?"

"Just before the start of school."  She nodded.  "Is Throttle here yet?  I want him."

"I'll check and once you're stabilized we'll let someone in."  She looked over as the x-ray machine was brought in.  "What about the others?"

"They can come in, but Throttle's mine."

"Fine," she agreed with a gentle smile.  "We've seen Vincent before."  She got out of the way, letting them take the necessary x-rays.  She came back.  "Stay awake if you can, Xander.  I know it hurts.  Can we get him pain killers?"

"I'm not sure what won't bother his system," the doctor said.  "That other one had a lot of problems with pain killers."

Xander grabbed her wrist.  "I'm slowly changing from human, my system's going through baby changes at the moment.  Like I'm slowly aging into one of them."  She nodded, getting free to look for something for him.  The nurse turned up his IV and he felt himself drifting.  "Can I have some air?"

The nurse looked at him, then nodded, pulling over a mask.  He breathed a bit easier, but something was still wrong.  "Bleeding," he told her, gripping her arm weakly.  "I can feel it tickling."

"He thinks he's got internal bleeding?" the doctor asked as she came back. The nurse nodded.  "Then pull over the ultrasound."  She got down to check his stomach, pressing gently, and felt the squish that was not a good sign.  "Mr. Harris, did you have your appendix taken out?"  He nodded weakly.  She looked at the blood pressure machine, then flipped on the alarm switch.  "Get that surgeon in here now!"  She looked at him.  "We're going to have to take you in.  Any problems?"

"Ask Throttle."

"Sure, of course.  The big grey one was here already.  He should be here soon."  Xander nodded, more weakly this time.  "I want whole blood!"  The ultrasound showed what was wrong, one of the wires had pierced his intestine.  A surgeon pushed through the door.  "He's got twenty-eight spots where he's got wire sticking into him from an industrial accident on a construction site.  He fell through the grating they're using on the sink holes.  He's bleeding internally."

"Get me a scalpel," the surgeon ordered.  "We'll have to clamp that before we can do anything.  I don't want to do it this way, sir, but it'll save your life."  A hand flopped and he looked at the woman.  "Anything else I should know?"

"He said he was slowly changing into a mouse, he was aging so he's having baby problems.  I'm guessing we should use pediatric sedatives."  She heard someone go crashing into a wall and looked out there.  "Let him to the door," she yelled.  "We need advice on sedatives."

"Fat chance," Throttle said coldly.

"He's got intestinal bleeding, sir."

"Damn it!"  He hit a wall.  "Use very light stuff.  He's prone to not breathing when he takes sleeping pills and that was before the change.  For the infant stuff, I'd use maybe half strength at best."  She nodded.  "How is he otherwise?"

"Bad.  We're taking him to surgery.  Get us any references you can."  He nodded, going out to the waiting area.  She hurried back in.  "He's sensitive and reactive to OTC sleeping pills.  His man said he stops breathing."

"Damn it," the doctor muttered.  "We'll have to go with a local then."  He made the final cut and grabbed a clamp to stop the bleeding.  "Okay, let's move him.  I want him inside within five minutes.  We can shave him and everything up there."  They pushed his gurney up to the elevator, taking him upstairs.  He saw a white body running his way.  "Surgery," he called as the door shut.

Vinnie hurried back, going to tell the others.  They knew where that waiting room was too.  He had been treated here before for serious stuff.

Throttle hung up.  "Enamel's still in town," he said, looking at Vinnie.  He didn't have the information he needed in this case, but Vinnie did.  "Your call."

"Get him."  Throttle nodded and called back, getting Micah.  "He's going up to surgery."

"He's on his way to surgery, Vinnie said send him," Throttle told him.  "Thank you, Micah."  He hung up and they hurried up to that waiting room.  It was more private anyway.  He stopped a nurse.  "I'm the designated person for Xander Harris, piercing victim.  Tell his doctor that one of us is coming in to help with his unique condition."  She nodded, going to pass that on.   Throttle went back into the waiting room, starting to pace.  "How did this happen?"

"Merle said he was checking the flooring because it was ready to cave in," Modo told him.  "Xander hit another hole, tried to climb out, and the grating gave."

"I'm going to rip those assholes limb from limb then spit on their bodies," Throttle growled.

"Calm down.  We have friends who can help us get the people who did this out of office," Charley soothed.  She saw a man in a trench coat walk past.  "What color is Enamel?"

"Tan," Vinnie admitted, getting up to check.  "Yeah, that's him.  We wanna know first," he called.  The doctor waved a hand.  He sat down, looking at Throttle.  "He was a great surgeon, even though he sucked in what he did."

"Good!  I'm still going to kill someone!"

"Hey, great, I'll go with you," Vinnie agreed.  "Not a problem.  We'll go whip the tail of everyone who put that stuff in."

"For now, you've got to calm down, bro," Modo finished calmly and quietly.  He pulled him down, tucking him next to his body.  "It'll be fine.  Xander's really strong.  Think about all he's lived through."  He nodded, leaning forward to cover his face with his hands.  "He'll be fine, Throttle."

"He'd better be."

Charley got up to get him a drink from a nearby machine, opening it and putting it in front of him.  "Here, you could use the liquid at the very least.  It's going to be a while."

They heard something crash and they all jumped up and went running to the door but it was another family waiting that had thrown a fit and overturned a cart of supplies. "Why didn't you save her!" the father screamed.

They pulled back and sat down to wait.  There would not be a repeat of that scene from them.  Xander was too strong for that.


Xander woke up in a glaring white room and blinked at the man beside.  "Hey.  Thank you."

"It's what I do, Mr. Harris."  He checked his vitals, nodding and writing them down.  "Good job getting them to not sedate you.  You probably would have died if they had."  He looked at him.  "You'll be fine.  You'll be itching in a few days as your hair regrows, but otherwise you'll be fine and I'm here to take care of you.  I won't lie, you're in serious condition.  One of the rods did barely pierce your lung."

"Thought so."

"Yes, well, another one pierced your small intestine.  We had to remove a small section since we couldn't stop the bleeding.  The other things were closed and are painful but not as serious.  The one in your back missed your spine by about two inches."  Xander nodded at that.  "Your tail is looking better.  What are you using?"

"Peppermint lotion from one of those natural shops."

"I'll have to remember that."  He brushed his hair back, shining a light in his Martian eye.  "You're coming along very well.  How's your vision in that eye?"

"Really good," he admitted with a small grin.  "Can I have a drink?"

"Of course."  He poured him one then helped him sip it through the straw.  "Whenever you're ready, there's a vibrating tan blur outside.  They had to restrain him."


"Sure, kid."  He went to the door and opened it, wisely getting out of the way.  "He'll be fine," he called, shutting the door.  "Throttle, he said you have the right to make medical decisions for him.  As such I can tell you what we had to do."  Throttle kissed the back of Xander's hand and stared at him.  "One of the smaller rods did start to pierce his right lung.  It'll heal, it's nothing dangerous.  One did pierce his small intestine and we had to take a small piece.  So he'll need complete bed rest when you get to take him home and no bottoming for him for at least a month."  Xander let out a whining noise.  "He can do everything else, and so can you once you're not so tired, but nothing that'll upset your stomach.  No more hot peppers either," he said wisely.  He looked at Throttle again.  "Gentle cuddling and let him decide when he's ready.  When he's ready, you'll know, he'll pound you into the bed to prove he's okay."  Throttle nodded, leaning closer to Xander.  "The ones in his legs and arms were closed.  Most of them bled a bit but not too much.  He got a few pints of blood because of that bleeding.  He'll be fine, but I'm not releasing him for at least two days and I'm pulling every single test I'd do on Mars since I've got him in here.  Any questions?"

"He's fine?"

"He'll be perfect in a few weeks," Enamel offered, walking off.  "No pouncing, Vincent," he ordered before the white mouse could move.  "He's still very fragile.  He is to get *rest*, and I mean it."  He stared Vinnie down, getting a nod.  "Good.  Then you can see him for a few minutes."  He walked off, going to file his notes.  The nurse gave him a long stare.  "I took care of Vinnie as a baby," he admitted.

"At least you knew what to do.  Will we have to shave any of the incisions?"

"No, he'll be fine," Enamel promised.  He gave her a gentle smile.  "The antibiotics I ordered and the IV drip.  No other medicines unless I personally authorize.  He won't be in pain."  She nodded, putting a flag on the file for him.  "Thank you, dear. Are you busy later?"

She blushed.  "My husband would say yes."

"I had to ask, you're very pretty," he told her.  "That number can reach me anytime.  Make sure the ER has it on file."  He walked off, grabbing his trench coat to head out to his bike.  He saw the other ones and looked at them.  "Xander's fine," he assured them quietly.  "He'll be in some pain but not much.  Give him time to heal."  They all beeped at him.  His bike rolled up and he climbed on, heading back to his cell/apartment.  He was technically on house arrest at the moment.  Just in case they needed him.  It was a better fate than he would have had in prison, where they would have ripped his tail off.   He sped off, going to collapse in bed.


Throttle looked at Xander, then helped him stand up.  "Come on.  We can go."  Xander grinned at him.  "I okayed it, you're riding behind me on the way back."  Xander gave him a kiss and a goofy grin.  "Give me ten minutes, I've got you some sweats."  He went to find the bag he had dropped earlier and brought it back.  Xander went into the bathroom to change, coming out a few minutes later in the soft sweats and his sneakers.  "You ready?"

"There's usually paperwork."

"Cheese, this is always so complicated."  He pushed the button and the nurse came in with a wheelchair and the clipboard. "He can walk."

"It's hospital and insurance policy," the nurse chided gently.  She got Xander settled and checked his room, handing him the book that had fallen under the bed.  "There you go," she said, taking them back.  "These are yours," she said, handing Throttle the prescriptions. "Have those filled today."  He tucked them into his front pocket and followed her out and down.  She saw the bike waiting there and looked at him.  "Is that safe in winter?"

"I've been here for about six years," Throttle promised.  "We don't live that far from here and I can't drive his car."  He got on and moved his bike closer, handing Xander his helmet.  He shoved the papers down further in his pocket, then patted the arms going around his waist.  "Thank you, ma'am.  You took very good care of what's mine."  He revved the engine and took off, using his tail to move one of Xander's legs.  He was nearly asleep from the small exertion.  "Just a few more minutes, Xander.  I'll take the smooth streets."

"'Kay.  Love you."

"I love you too, Xan.  Give me ten minutes."  He sped up to go through a yellow light, heading down one of the cleaner streets in the city. Xander gave him a gentle squeeze so he slowed down, he didn't have to hurry home.  He just wanted to.  He finally turned onto the right street and pulled around back, going up the ramp to the lounge area.  Where his mate was promptly pounced by Meg and Vinnie had to pry her off so he could put Xander on the couch.  "Meg, no grabbing," Throttle said patiently.

"Yeah, they took out a gouge of his intestine," Vinnie joked.  He covered Xander up with the blanket from their bed.  "There, how's that?"

"Pillow?"  One was grabbed by Throttle and handed over.  Then he decided to move Xander and be his pillow.  He handed over the papers.  "What did they send me home with?"

"Tylenol, antibiotics, and a gel for the spots," Vinnie said, reading them over. "I'll go get 'em, bro.  Xander, Merle wanted a call when you woke up.  He didn't think you'd last too long."  Xander yawned and nodded.  "I'll be right back."  His bike came forward as he turned, letting him hop on as it moved and take off.  He had to retrieve one of the slips of paper, but they went into his front pocket and the drugstore was nearby.  He strolled in wearing his helmet, presenting them.

The woman looked at them, then at him.  "The patient?"

"Is in bed," he admitted.

"That's fine, sir.  Tylenol is in row eight.  Do you have his medical card?"  Vinine shook his head and pulled out cash.  "That's fine as well," she said with a small smile.  She took down the information on the slips, running them through the scanner.  She had found Mr. Harris in the database so it was fine with her.  She presented them to the pharmacist, who nodded and filled them.  She wouldn't wonder why they put on him infant strength antibiotics.

"Did he want liquid for the antibiotics or pills?"

"I don't know.  Sir," she called, catching Vinnie's attention.  "Liquid or pill form?"

"Liquid's fine," he assured her, sounding happy.  "Does it taste good?"

"Most children's medicine do," she promised, giving him a smile back.  She looked at the pharmacist, who was measuring out the liquid.  "It's nearly ready if you'd like to go down to the register."

"Can he have chocolate and that?  He likes chocolate and soda."

"I wouldn't give a child caffeine," the pharmacist said.  "It'll cause more problems if he gets used to it."  He handed over the final products.  "How old is this child?"

"Xander?  He's about twenty-four.  He's really sensitive to drugs though."

"Then it should be fine.  Make sure he eats as well, young man."  Vinnie nodded, hurrying to get the chocolates and stuff he'd want and a few sodas as well.  He paid for it all and then took the bag, heading back to his bike.  He found a meter reader looking at it, then the sign. "Sorry, I was picking up drugs for a friend."  He climbed on and kicked his bike to life, grinning at her.  "Problems?"

"No, just a reminder.  The blue marked areas mean no parking because a handicapped vehicle might need that spot, sir," she said firmly. "Technically you weren't in the handicapped spot so I have to let you go.  This time."

"Sure thing, babe.  Thank you."  He roared off, heading for the lair.  It hadn't been that long.  He walked up the stairs and presented Throttle with the bag.  "I got him the liquid stuff."

"Thanks, Vinnie."  He pulled out the bag with the drugs, looking at the instructions on the forms stapled to the front.  "Xander?" he asked gently, stroking his head.  "Here, your antibiotics."

"I'm not due for another hour," he complained.

"Sure," Throttle agreed, putting them aside.  "Vinnie got you treats."

"Love you too, big brother," he said with a tired smile.  "Caffeine?"

"Yup, two sodas and some chocolate," he said, giving him a hug.  Xander moaned so he eased up some.  "Sorry."

"No, that's okay."  He patted him on the back.  "Let me go?"  Vinnie chuckled and let him lay back down so he could use Throttle's thigh for a pillow.  "Can I have the phone?"  It was handed to him.  "Thanks.  Now go hug Charley."

"Sure."  He hurried next door.  Charley could use the good news and a hug.  He found someone in there and grinned.  "Our friend just got back from the hospital.  He's got his medicine and stuff."  He gave her a squeeze, then walked off to do something to help her.  "I'm going to vacuum."

"Sure, Vinnie, thanks."  She grinned at his back, then at the man waiting.  "He's in hyper- worry mode."

"I can see that.  Is he an albino?"

She nodded.  "Mostly.  He's a sweet guy, who brags."  She got back to the engine.  "It doesn't look too bad.  It looks like a split hose.  Let me see if I have one in stock."  He nodded, relaxing again, so she went to check.  She had one that was too big but she wouldn't do that to him.  She came back out.  "Unfortunately I don't have the right size but I can send Vinnie down for one.  It'll take about an hour.  Did you have something to do?"  He shook his head, sitting down.  "That's fine.  Let me take this one off."  She released the clamps and took it to the bottom of the stairs.  "Vinnie, I need a parts run."  He shut off the vacuum and hopped down the stairs, taking it from her.  He checked, then gave her a kiss before heading off with the hose. She walked back out.  "It shouldn't take that long. He's hyper and bouncing."

"So, are you planning on leaving this to your children?" he asked.

"I don't have any of those yet," she admitted.  He looked stunned.  "I decided to wait for a bit.  I'm not even thirty yet."  She went back to his engine.  "You take very good care of this beauty, sir.  She's in excellent shape.  Now I'm seeing some future problems starting but it's probably going to be at least six months before you'll have anything else to do."

"Really?  What's starting?"

"Well, I'm seeing some wear on the fan belt.  That's not critical for a while though. You'll probably need to change your oil within the next few months too, depending on how often you drive her this winter.  I'd change your filters at the same time, they're faded."  She looked around the engine, moving to the side.  "I'd say you were going to have to watch this one cylinder, it's showing a bit of sticking.  Are you misfiring?"

"Every now and then.  What would fix that?"

"Possibly some WD-40, but mostly likely it needs cleaned thoroughly or possibly a seal replaced.  Sometimes the rubber will melt a bit and stick if it's been too long."  He nodded, smiling at her.  "Again, something that's not critical for a few more months but you'll want to keep in mind."  She straightened up, hearing Vinnie come back.  "They had it?"  He nodded, handing over two boxes.  "Thanks, Vinnie."

"Welcome, Charley."  He looked in the engine and whistled.  "That's cleaner than mine is."  He grinned at the older man.  "Nice work, sir."  He went back to his chores, still bouncing and needing something to do before he pounced someone for real.

"He's very energetic."

"He is," she agreed, smiling at him before bending to replace the hose.  She felt a lurch in her stomach and gulped some air, straightening up a bit.  Then she clamped on the hose, giving it a gentle tug to make sure it was settled in.  "Okay, let's start this beauty and see how well it goes."  He got up, coming over to start his car and she watched the hose, nodding that it was good.  She shut the hood and backed away, smiling at him.  "That'll be twenty-three, sir."

"Thank you, young lady.  I hope your future children are as nice as you are."  He handed over the small amount of money and backed out carefully, not seeing the cat that had to dodge out of his way.  He beeped and waved before heading off.

Charley looked at the cat.  "Dumb of you," she said dryly.  "Xander's home."  The cat's ears perked up and she yowled, then ran for the lair.  Within moments, all but one of the cats was inside and that one was having to run across the power lines to get home.  Charley saw her and shook her head.  "How are you getting in from the roof?"  The cat got off on her building, and ran down the fire escape, heading for the house.  The door slammed and she smirked, shaking her head.  "Those creatures are insane.  We've got to get Tara fixed.


Throttle looked over as Xander shuffled back into their bedroom that night, lifting up the blankets for him.  Xander snuggled in with a sigh of relief.  "Needed a ride?" he teased.  Xander pinched him.  "Ow," he said playfully.  "You okay?"

"The stitches are yanking," he complained. "I ache and tylenol isn't cutting it."  He snuggled in.  "Can you help me fall asleep?"

"Sure, how can I do that?" he asked, stroking the soft fur on Xander's shoulders. That got a wince so he stopped.  "What can I do to help, Xander?" he asked quietly.

"I don't know, I just need help falling off."

"You want one of the allergy pills?"

"I called, I can't take them with the antibiotics except in an emergency."  He stroked Throttle's stomach.  "I don't know what I need."

"Hmm, then let's try what works with the babies we know."  He shifted down, picking up Xander's book to open it and start reading.  Xander yawned, settling in against his chest, one arm over his stomach.  One thigh stretched around his, and then the soft breathing evened out.  Throttle put down the book, marking his spot because he'd need it again soon.  Xander nuzzled him and finished drifting off.  Throttle smirked at him and picked up his book, which was a history of Harley on this planet, going back to his reading.  Once Xander was better, they'd have to start working on his flexibility.  It was nearly time.

The End.

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