Throttle rode them back into the garage and found someone waiting on them, other than their friends.  "Grip," he said, blinking at her.  "How long have you been down here?"

"About ten years," she admitted.  "I went off after dumping Vinnie and got captured, then transported out.  I was in Ireland.  Come meet the twins.  Boys!  Quit pestering the cat!"

"She's funny and she loves us, mom."

"Can we bring her?" the other twin asked.


"Depending on which cat and if she wants to go," Xander said, getting off the back.  "Hi, I'm Xander."

"I know."  She grinned at him and hugged him.  "You're even cuter now."  She went to get her sons and bring them out.  "Here they are, Throttle."

"Hey," he said, grinning at them.  They beamed at him.  "Which cat?"



"Which means it's the brown one with stripes?" Xander asked.  They nodded.  "Technically his name is Booger, he likes to come up and lick your nose after you sneeze."

They giggled and hugged him then ran back to playing with the cat.  Throttle looked at Grip.  "They're cute."

"Thanks.  Their dad was a human, but ehh, not too picky anymore."  She grinned at him.  "So, liking the white ones now?"

"Yeah, but only this one."  His tail attacked Xander and got swatted so he smirked at him.  "What?"

"That's my line, get it right, honey," Xander said sweetly.  "Or be tied down tonight."  He stole a kiss and headed into the kitchen, then over to their place since he didn't find anyone.  "I'm back!  I'm wonderful!  I brought a t-shirt and pictures for some lucky mice!"

"I don't wear shirts," Vinnie called back.

"Fine, I brought you boxers then," he said as he walked up the ramp, pouncing him.  "Hi, big brother," he said smugly.  He winked at him.  "Did you have fun while I was gone?"

"Loads."  He pushed him off.  "Dawn's in her room."

"Why?  What'd she do this time?"

"She's doing her hair.  She and Rimfire have a date."

"Oooookkkaaaaayyyyy."  He looked up at Modo.  "Have I met your nephew?"

"He's a good kid," he offered.

"Not doubting that.  I wanted to scare the shit out of him to make sure he was going to be nice to her," Xander said, getting up and heading down there.  He found her room door open and a strange mouse sitting on her bed watching her curl her hair.  "I'm back."

"I heard, you're still loud," she taunted, putting down her curling iron to give him a hug.  "I only got a t-shirt?"

"Well, maybe a bit more, but it's being mailed."  He kissed her on the forehead.  "Nice hickey, Dawn."  She hit him and sighed, going back to her hair.  He looked at Rimfire.  "She told you how I had Limburger tower sent to hell, right?  And how I can do it again when I want?"  He then grinned his most sweet and kind grin.  Rimfire swallowed and nodded.  "Good!  Remember that."  He walked off, going to pounce his mate again.  "Hi."

"Couldn't wait?" Stoker asked from behind his book.

"Nope.  I just reminded Rimfire that I can send him the way of Limburger tower since she's got the most *massive* hickey on her shoulder.  Right here," he said, touching his matching mark.  Throttle's ears twitched and he got up, going down to talk to the boy.

"She does?" Vinnie asked.  "I can't see it."

"It's under a concealment spell," he said dryly.  "Someone can't heal bruises."  He sat up and looked at Stoker.

"Don't think about it."  Stoker crossed his feet.

"Why?  You never trained me."  He grabbed Stoker and pulled him onto the floor, finding the baby in his lap.  "Hi, Anya!"  She babbled and waved at him.  "Can I have the daddy to play with?"  She crawled over her father to kiss him then went to go hug Modo some more.  "See?" he asked, attacking him.  Stoker swore and tried to wiggle away but Xander had him pinned down.

"Help!  Punk!"

"Xander, don't make him leave a wet spot," Vinnie said patiently.  "That's not nice."

Xander sighed and got off him.  "Fine, take my fun."  He looked at Modo, who backed off shaking his head.  "Won't anyone play with me?"

"Forgive him, he hasn't had any caffeine yet," Throttle yelled from downstairs.  "Leave the nice mice alone, Xander.  Go terrorize the others."

Xander smirked and let out a wicked chuckle and went hunting for new prey.  He found Enamel in the library and got a point outside.  He smirked and headed out to go find his newest target.  He found him looking at a very sweet ship and pounced him, giving him a maniacal grin. "Hi, I'm Xander.  I kill slimy things and demons and I hunt bad things that like to eat people.  I like to hunt things that eat people.  Are you a good mouse or a bad mouse?" he finished with his most insane grin.

The general swallowed and looked up at him.  "You're not a full mouse either."

"No, I'm not.  I used to be a human, but I like being a mouse.  It's nice and warm, and Throttle's really great in bed."

Carbine coughed as she pulled Xander off him. "Don't scare him and no he's not."

Xander snorted, looking down at her.  "Honey, you were obviously missing the point then.  What that man does!" he moaned.  "Ooh."  He shivered. "All sorts of good stuff in many wicked, wicked ways.  He teased me all the way from Missouri last night."  He got free and walked off.

"I didn't need to hear that!" she yelled after him.

He turned to smirk at her.  "Your loss, sweetheart. *Definitely* my gain.  Did you know what he's like when he's having mental sex without the memories?  Or when he strokes your tail *just* right?"  He smirked and went to get some more for himself.  That bike ride had been a bit too long.

Carbine slammed her fist into the ship.  "I hate that I broke up with him."

"Maybe you should steal him back," the general suggested.  "After all, he's not a true mouse.  You are and Throttle is."

She gave him a look like he was diseased.  "I may hate the fact that I was too stupid and broke up with him, but I happen to like them together.  He makes Throttle happy.  That's important to me.  Remember that, General.  There's a reason why my office door at Headquarters used to have a body count of dead and missing."  She walked off, going to warn Throttle what he was doing.  She found Grip talking to him and coughed.  "Throttle, got a few?"  He nodded, giving her a hug.  She whispered in his ear.  "The General's on a pureblood kick and Xander's already scared him."

"No, he was just playing," he assured her smugly.  He let her go, smiling at her.  "So, how's the base?"

"Remember when you three got suspended for following orders?"  He nodded, smirking at her.  "Rimfire did the same thing.  There are idiots in charge."  He nodded, smirking at her.  "Can I get you and Xander to help me with that?"

"Sure!"  He looked down the hallway.  "Xander?"  He came out, grinning at him.  "Did you hear?"

"Yeah, I did, and I knew already," he said with a wink.  "Just wait."  He went back into his room to finish unpacking and find the presents.  He walked that bag up the stairs and sat down with it.  "Pictures!" he said happily, handing the stack of envelopes to Vinnie.  "And these are yours," he said, handing over the pair of boxers with roller coasters on them.  "And this is yours, Modo," he said, handing over the t-shirts he had gotten him.  "And these are Dawnie's, and those are Charley's, and how is she?"

"Fine.  Doing fairly well.  Sleeping in this morning."  Vinnie flipped through the photos, grinning at all the shots of the coasters.  "Whoa, that looks like fun!" he said, holding up that one.

"Until about ride ten," Xander agreed, smirking at him.  "We're going bungee jumping today, right?"  He nodded, going back to the pictures.  "Cool.  I'll need to hitch a ride with you.  Throttle refuses to even watch.  Someone told him what it was."  He pulled out something else, tossing it at Stoker. "Yours."  Then he came to a wrapped package and he went to hand that to Enamel, and the other half of it to Micah, who was lounging at his computer.  "There you go."  He went back to his bag, emptying out the thing to get the rest of the picture packets.  "There," he said, gathering them together and handing them over.

Vinnie chuckled.  "Who took all these?"

"Other tourists."   He beamed up at Modo, who had a little furry bundle on his back, rubbing her face against his new t-shirts.  "Did the mean unclie forget you, Anya?"  She cooed at him.  "Well, Unclie brought you back some peppers for you to share with your mommy."  Stoker let out a moan.  "And I'm sure your new baby brother will be a wonderful playtoy for you.  Yes, he will, and you can name him after me and everything!"

"Fat.  Chance."

"Oooh, come on, I'd like to see a baby Xander being cute with the baby Anya too," Vinnie told him.

"Those would be a cute pair of kids," Modo agreed.


Throttle came up the stairs, holding out a small gift.  "For the new baby.  Xander said it's going to be named after him."  Stoker gave him a look so he shrugged. "Or give it to Anya."

Stoker closed his book and looked at them.  "There's no way I'm raising a kid like the mini-punk.  I like my sanity."  Xander cackled.  "Can you *ever* behave?"

"Of course.  That has Anya's name on it."  Stoker took it to unwrap, smiling at the small leather bracelet, which he put onto his daughter's arm.  Xander beamed at Throttle.  "Vinnie and I are going bungee jumping later."


"Please? You can come watch."

"No.  Uh-uh."  He shook his head and took the baby, sitting down with her.  "Hey, Anya, want a story?"  She cooed and rubbed her cheek against his chest, grinning up at him.  "Some day you're gonna wreck hearts, little darlin'.  When that day comes, we'll stand there and clap."

"Don't wish that on my daughter," Stoker said firmly.  "She'll have normal relationships with very decent mice who will cherish her like the gift she is."

"Sure," Xander agreed.  "Someone will have to cherish her.  Anya was like that."  He beamed at him.  "Wanna go bungee jumping with us later?  Or at least come to take pictures?"

"Do I want to know?" Stoker asked Throttle, who shook his head.  "What is bungee jumping?"

"Jumping off somewhere really high with an elastic band around your ankles."

"Eeeh, no thanks."  He shuddered.  "I can't see me doing that."

"You could come take pictures."

"That would require me to see squashed people."

"There's not that many accidents a year," Xander complained. "Then I'm gonna head up in an ultralight."

"Fat chance, Xander."

Xander crawled over and snuck up his lover's lap, kissing him until he grinned.  "You can't stop me if you're not there, huh?" he asked smugly.  He looked at Vinnie and winked.  "Come on, it's nearly time."  He hurried off, going to grab Dawn since she said she wanted to watch.  "We're going bungee jumping."

"What's that?"

"Male stupidity," Dawn told him. "Jumping off somewhere very high with a rubber band around your ankles."


"Thrills and the rush.  Coming?  You can take pictures of us."

"Sure," he agreed, standing up and handing Dawn her jacket.   "Let's go."  She nodded, grabbing her helmet.  He got onto his bike and she climbed on after him, and they were off.  Vinnie was already well ahead so he hurried up.  That one was very odd and he knew now why she loved Xander so much and why everyone thought that he and Vinnie were related.  He heard another bike and glanced back, tapping the helmet radios.  "Vinnie, Throttle's coming.  Where are we headed?"

"State park," Xander called back.  "Laters."  They sped up with a wheely, and were soon out of sight.

"I'll get you for that, Rimfire," Throttle warned.  "He's my man and I don't like him doing dumb stuff."  He sped off, and Rimfire glanced back but Dawn waved a hand so they sped up too, chasing after the older generation.  They found the spot where everyone was jumping and saw a bouncing Xander waiting in line.  He was next.  Vinnie was right behind him.  The person in front of them needed a gentle nudge, then she was over and flying through the air with a scream of terror.  Throttle was wincing at that person's yelling all the way down, but he did pull out a camera for Xander's jump.  He was nibbling on his lip.  "Oh, please don't, babe," he pleaded quietly.  "Please?  Back down?"  Xander took a running leap and leapt off the platform.  Throttle took the pictures of him in mid- air, falling, and his bounce.  He could hear the giggling from there.  He shook his head as someone got Xander down and he waved from the bottom.

"Come down, it's pretty down here and there's cute girls!" he yelled up.

"You're taken and so am I," Vinnie shouted back.  He stood on the edge and looked down.  Very, very far down.  And all he had was a little rubber band around his ankles.

"Love you, big brother," Xander yelled.

Vinnie smirked.  He had some safety device, it was enough for him.  He tipped forward and fell, letting out a yell of pleasure all the way down.  He bounced a few times, then was caught by Xander and helped down.  "Let's go again!" they said in unison, earning a chuckle from the people around them.  They scrambled back up the hill, going to do that, gathering Dawn on the way past their position.  Xander stole a kiss too, then they were back in line.

"I don't wanna jump," Dawn complained.

"We'll go with you," Vinnie promised.

"But it's dangerous!"

"We're still here," Xander reminded her, grinning at her.  She whimpered.  "Think of it like jump training, which you'll need."

"Uh-huh!  Micah didn't say anything about parachuting!"  They moved up to the platform and she groaned.  "Fine.  This *once* and if it messes up my hair or my outfit, I'm swatting you both and taking your credit cards shopping, Xander."

"Sure.  You need better shoes anyway."  They moved up together and linked arms with Dawn, then the boys grinned at each other and jumped, pulling her with them.  She screamed all the way down, and the boys laughed.  Xander high-fived Vinnie.  "Yeah!"

"We should make Rimfire go," Vinnie said with a wicked smirk.

"Oh, no!  He might start to like it," Dawn complained.  "Get me down!"  Someone released her and she smoothed out her skirt.  "It's a good thing I was wearing underwear today."  She walked off, going back to cuddle her boyfriend.

Xander looked at Vinnie.  "Really?"

"Really.   Small blizzard overnight.  They were trapped at a hotel.  Bad wind storm so he comforted her."

"Cool.  I'll have to threaten him extra specially later."  They shard a smirk and went to get on his bike so they could go to the other spot.  Throttle tried to catch them but Xander wiggled out of the tail-hold and they were off again.

"Damn it," Dawn complained, shaking her head.

Rimfire kissed her.  "Wanna go watch?" he asked with a grin.

"Sure.  We were going to picnic anyway."  He nodded, and she climbed on the back of his bike to follow the others.


Modo took the pictures from Throttle, looking through them.  "He didn't have a parachute?" he asked.

"Just a tiny, elastic cord," Throttle said dryly.  "They're picking up dinner."

Modo shook his head and went to show the others.  "Dawn, why did you do that if you were wearing a skirt."

"Because those two morons frog-marched me up there and made me," she pouted.  "They're lucky I was wearing underwear."

"That's a bad habit we'd like you to keep," Carbine told her.

"Not my mother or my sister.  She's a bit more bitchy than you," she said dryly. Carbine glared at her so Dawn shifted slightly closer to Rimfire, earning a shocked look.  "Maybe we should invite her up to become a pinata."

"That's a mean thought, no more of those about her," Throttle said as he came up the stairs.  "The wonder twins are back."  He handed a picture to Stoker. "For your board."

He looked at it.  "What's keeping them from crashing to the ground?"

"A tiny cord around their ankles."

"Yeah, that's going up on the board of stupid things done on break."  He tucked it into his pocket with a headshake.  "Vinnie's got two others up there.  Now his baby brother has his first."

"And second," Modo said, handing over a picture of him in the ultralight.

Stoker looked at it and moaned.  "That fan is making them go?"  Throttle nodded.  That picture went into his pocket too.  "Any others?"

"Yeah, but I'm not sure if you want it since it's both of them," Modo said, holding up one with the bear staring at them.

"And that one should be captioned, "Vinnie asked if Xander meant this sort of bear at those bear clubs"," Dawn smirked. Rimfire burst out in giggles so she patted him on the back, giving him a nudge and a head shake. "Don't think about it.  I'm not that kinky."

"I never thought you were," he admitted with a grin.  "I walked into one of those by accident and everyone thought I was very cute, but in training.  I needed more sweaty hair.  Then one of them took my shirt off me and they gaped in awe and asked where I had gotten my fur implants."

Stoker looked at Throttle, who showed him the former reference point, then he burst out in laughs.  "I can see him walking in there in his bandoliers and being ...."  He fell down laughing, bouncing up and down.  "Ooh, Cheese!  That's so bad!"

Throttle nodded. "Xander suggested that his first time here."

"We needed a picture of him jumping out the window with nothing to stop him," Modo told him, smirking at him.  Throttle nodded.

Xander and Vinnie came driving up the ramp whooping and waving a new set of pictures.  "We had fun!" he shouted.

"Hush! The baby's sleeping!" Carbine yelled back.  Vinnie chuckled so she pulled her gun and Xander pounced her, making her very sorry by attacking her until she gave up and cried from it.  Then he got off her and strolled over to look over his mate's shoulder. "See, there I am on a bull, and there's Vinnie on the bronco, and then we switched," he said proudly.

Rimfire went over to help Carbine up, letting her limp into the bathroom to clean herself up.  "I never knew anyone cried from being tickled," he said as he sat down again.  "Bulls?"  Xander let him have the pictures next.

Dawn shuddered.  "Ewww!  Rodeo!  Ewww!"  She got away from them, heading down to her room.

"Was it fun?"  Rimfire asked.

"You may not!" Dawn shouted back.

"Sure, wasn't thinking about it," he called downstairs.  He grinned at his uncle and handed those over too.  "More for the board."

"Hmm."  He looked at them.  "Are there doubles?" he asked.  Vinnie beamed and nodded.  "More than one?"

"We have the negatives so we can make more," Xander promised.  "I have a special set of them just for Micah and one for our personal albums too."

Modo handed the stack to Stoker after he was done.  "For the board of stupid stuff to do on vacation."

Vinnie snickered. "I'm up there twice," he said proudly.

"Today, your little brother earned his first two and your first joint one before this set," Stoker admitted, looking through them.  Those too went into his pockets and he shook his head.  "She'll never believe me."

"The sad thing is, someone will want to top them," Throttle noted, looking at his spouse.  "You were gone way too long for that."  Xander sheepishly pulled out a covered photo, letting him have it.  "You did what?"

"Well, they were looking for male models," he said sheepishly, backing away.  "They asked to take a photo of me.  I didn't think it'd be harmful so I said okay since they said you could have the copy of the print."  He took another step back. "I didn't know they were looking for *exotic* models, Throttle, I promise.  I turned down his job offer to star in kinky porn."  He turned and ran.

Throttle gaped for a minute, then ran after him.  "You did what!" he yelled as he ran.

Vinnie picked up the picture and looked at it.  "Hey, better than the night we walked in on them naked and having a talk," he noted, handing it to Modo, who waved it off.  "Stoker?"

"I can't put that up on the board.  We've already got the one kid's tape case," he said dryly.  He glanced at it. "No wonder he can't sit," he said dryly, shivering and shaking his head.  "Keep that from my wife, okay?"

"Sure."  Vinnie slid it under the couch, then went to feed and watch his fish.  One had died, but the others were nudging it.  So he scooped it out and went to flush it, interrupting Carbine's shower momentarily.  "Sorry, fish funeral," he called, hurrying back out to watch the rest of them. They were attacking the food so he added a bit more.  "Hi, fishies!  Maybe you guys need a frog for company."

"No!" Modo said, putting his foot down, literally.  "No pets that make noise.  We have enough of that."  One of the cats looked at him and meowed.  "Yeah, I like you too," he said grimly, shaking his head.

"Why do you have fish if you hate the Plutarkians?" Thimble asked him, sitting next to him.

"I'm watching to see if they're going to try to take over their world too," he admitted, continuing to stare at him.

"Is that a scientific experiment?" Stoker asked.  Vinnie's tail waved the hand-code for 'bite me' behind the kid's back, making him laugh.  "Cute, punk.  Now, why do you really have fish?"

"Everyone says that there's more universes than ours, and that we can be a marble to another universe.  I'm watching the fish to see if they've got their own universe domination plan going or not.  Okay?"  He went back to staring.

"Do they?" Modo asked.

"So far they're muscling in on the crab's space and making them move and they were trying to eat the dead one to take back his nutrients and minerals.  I'm thinking yes but I'm not seeing any formal version of plans going.  It's like it's just bullying at times and others it's actually an assault."

Modo blinked and stared at Stoker, who blinked back.  Then they stared at Vinine.  "What?" they asked in unison.

Throttle came back dragging Xander.  "Did he share his version of why he's staring at the fish?"

"It's scientific," Xander whined.  "Can't I please go, Throttle, babe?" he asked, grinning at him.

"Nope."  He sat down and stuck Xander in his lap, holding onto him.  "Hey, Thimble, get him one of the red cans out of the fridge."  He grinned and went to do that.  "Thanks."  The boy sat down to watch the fish too.  Throttle held it up.  "You haven't had any, right?"  Xander gave him his innocent look.  "How many?"

"Seven Mountain Dews?" he said sheepishly.  Throttle put down the can and hugged him, holding him still.  "Sorry."

"Totally my fault, I wasn't keeping track," Vinnie offered, grinning at him.  "Then again, you can always wear him out, bro."

"That'll take me all day," Throttle reminded him.  "I've still got to wrap presents."

"We found a group who was wrapping things for charity and took the bags to them," Vinnie told him.  "We didn't peek but Dawn thinks she knows what one is."

Throttle nodded. "We knew that."  He gave Xander a squeeze when he tried to wiggle.  "No.  Sit still."

"Baffroom," he said miserably.

"Fine.  Then come right back here."  He let him go and Xander went in there, and a few moments later Carbine again yelled.

"Oooh," Stoker winced.  "That's the second one."

Throttle shook his head.  "She won't attack him, he'll get her again," he pointed out smugly.  "Xander's are like that as I'm finding out."  Vinnie snickered at Micah yelling downstairs.  "I guess he figured out that Xander bought him hotter chocolate covered hot peppers.  Enamel, yours is nuts, not hot peppers as far as I know."

"Yeah, they are.  Thanks, man."

Xander came out of the bathroom, holding all the towels and rushed off.   He was even nice enough to put them all in the washer, on hot, then race off to go play with Charley.

"Oh, no," Charley said, holding him off.  "Go play with the cats or Rimfire!  Not me.  I'll puke on you!"  He beamed and kissed her on the cheek, then got her bike keys and headed off on it.  "He's riding a bike," she said in awe.  "He's on my bike."  She went next door, walking up the stairs.  "Throttle, Xander just took off on my bike."

"Cheese, seven mountain dews," he complained, hurrying after his boy.

"Really?" Stoker asked.  "He look good?"

"Very good.  Kinda scary, but good.   Seven mountain dews?"  Vinnie nodded.  "No wonder he's scary."  She went back to work, she had this one last repair to do and then she'd be done for the next week.

Carbine peeked out the bathroom door.  "Can someone please get me a towel or something to cover myself with?  Xander seems to have stolen everything, including my clothes."

"Sorry, those were all the towels we have," Modo offered.  "I'll let you borrow a shirt."

"You didn't have anything in your pockets, right?" Vinnie asked.  She nodded.  "Then they're in the washer."  She took the shirt from Modo and put it on, then ran down to where the washer was to make sure.  She found most everything on top of the washer, but her picture of her and Throttle was missing.  She went into their bedroom and found it on their dresser, stuck in a picture frame.  She sighed and nodded, going back to the garage to find something to wear.  "Don't mind me, Xander stole my clothes and all the towels."

"Micah's up there," Charley called after her, but Micah was already coming down the stairs blushing.  "Xander's had a bit too much caffeine today," she shared.

"How many?"

"Seven mountain dews."

Micah shuddered.  "That should be enough to get them banned or put on single sale only in the city."  He went to make a note of that idea.  A few of his agents needed the help too.

Charley laughed, getting back into the engine.


Throttle followed Xander back into the garage a few hours later and Xander looked much calmer this time.  He looked at Charley.  "He's much better now.  Come see the bungee jumping pictures."

"And the one with the bear, and the rodeo ones, and the ultralight ones, ooh, and I got the ones from the parachuting lessons too," he said, holding out the photo.  "We did a tandem jump because Vinnie knew how."

She looked at the pictures of them back to back, and smirked. "I can see you two doing an aerial assault that way."  She handed them back and kissed him on the cheek.  "Ask next time, Xander."  He grinned and hugged her, sliding something into her pocket.  "What's this?"

"Our holiday present to you," Throttle said, getting off his bike.  "Go rest, dear.  I'll keep him from heading out again."  He gave his poor baby a pat, then grabbed Xander by the neck and drug him off.  He walked him up the stairs and sat down, this time on Xander.  "How did you two do that all at once?" he asked Vinnie, who was playing with Anya, and her tail, which was waving wildly around.

"The parachuting guys were with the ultralight guys, so we did that first since there was a wait to go flying.  Xander said he knew what to do and got the quick refresher version and we did a tandem jump.  I can see us doing a strafing run on the way down," he said with a grin.  "Back to back was good for us."  Xander nodded, grinning madly at him.  "Then we went flying and on the way back we saw the signs for the rodeo and that they were running a 'camp' of some kind so he wanted to go.  We went."  He shrugged and grinned. "It was fun."

"No more this week, Vinnie," Throttle said patiently.  "I wore out my bike chasing after him today."

"I'm not the one who gave him caffeine," Vinnie complained.  "I'm being good."

"Uh-huh," Throttle said, staring him down.  He looked over as Dawn came up the stairs in a new outfit.  "Uh-huh.  Go change.  You look like you're charging. Not a chance."  She glared at him. "Do I care? You're not going out in that!"

"I look good!"

"Hell no," Xander said firmly.  "Go before I feed myself more caffeine and *chaperone*."  She gave him a horrified look and went to change.  That dress turned into a top over one of her skirts and he looked iffy.  "That doesn't match, honey.  Wear the blue velvet if you feel the absolute need to look like a ho."

"I do not!"  She stomped a foot, narrowly missing Vinnie's tail, which hit her on the calf.  "Sorry.  Tell him I don't."

"No, you look like the girl at the bike show."  He went back to teasing Anya's belly with her tail.  She was giggling.  "Go put on the new one you bought yesterday with Charley."

"Fine."  She went down to change again, coming back in the black silk dress that clung very tightly to her body, and dipped a bit low in front.  Her heels were changed to something more demure and she held out her hands.  "Better?"

"I like it," Vinnie said with a grin for her.  Anya kicked him in the chin. "Hey!  I can admire her and you and still date Charley."

"Anya was a jealous woman, Vinnie.  I couldn't even *look* on the beach.  Not even at the fat women in the tragic bathing suits."  He shuddered.  "Yeah, exactly."  He looked at the baby.  "Behave."  She cooed at him.  "No, I've got one of those," he said, squeezing Throttle gently.  "Mine."  She fussed but then let it go and went back to playing with her current slave.

"Is she like the cats?" Stoker asked.  Xander shook his head.  "You're sure?"

"Yeah, because I saw her in Texas watching us after ride number fifteen on a really bad coaster," he shared quietly.  Stoker nodded and went back to his reading.  "Then again, there is the law of names."

"I figured that much out, Xander.  The next one's still not you."

"Sure, spoil my fun.  How else will there be a Xander junior?"

"Don't even ask," Dawn said firmly.  "Not happening."  Throttle gave her a long look. "I love you guys but I'm not surrogating for you.  Kids would ruin my figure."  She hauled Rimfire up off the floor.  "Dad, can I have some allowance?"  Xander looked at his wallet then tossed her a hundred.  "Thanks, pops."  She kissed them each on the cheeks, then left, dragging the dressed up Rimfire with her.  They were going somewhere nice for dinner. She was treating.

"You gave her that much allowance?" Stoker asked.

"She's dressed up and bored.  She'll either use it for a motel room for a few hours or they're going out for a nice dinner and a ride in the park."  He gave Throttle a grin.  "We could do that in my car."

"We just did that," he reminded him quietly, stealing a kiss.  "If you're good for the rest of the night, I'll make you howl later."  Xander beamed and nodded.  "That means no more naughtiness."

"Just naughty thoughts."

"Thank you."  He stole another kiss then got up and put Xander back in his lap this time.  Xander started to move and he kept him in place.  "You promised."

"I was going to play with the baby."

"Fine.  Don't wear her out either."  He let him go, watching as he went to the bathroom then came back to play with her.  He looked at Stoker.  "How did Anya get down here without her mother?"

"Her mother's napping in Charley's bed.  She had a headache," he said dryly.  "Something about a squealing kid the whole trip.  Mind much?"

"Nah, it's a family holiday, it should be family."  He watched his boy play with the baby and grinned.  "He's good."

"He is," Stoker agreed.

"I don't need one yet," Xander told them, grinning back at Throttle.  Someone pounded on the door.  "I don't believe it," he said, staring at Vinnie.  "If that's a slayer with a kid, smack her senseless."

"I'm not that brave."

Xander sighed and got up, going down there to answer the door.  He found, sure enough, a slayer with a kid, but not the kid's mother. It was Faith.  "What?  She's not mine."

"She is now.  The house was empty when I got back.  Everyone's disappeared but her.  I called her grandma, who didn't want her taken out of the city, but with daddy being out on bail for assault and battery and papers saying the baby comes to you instead of anyone else I can't do that."  She continued to hold her out.  "Xander," she said impatiently.  He sighed and took the baby.  "Any idea where Micah is? Lorne didn't know."

"He's around here somewhere."  She pushed past him, heading to check the house.  He looked down at the baby.  "Come play with Anya, Cara.  It'll be fine."  He checked, then grabbed the bag outside the door, taking her back upstairs.  He put her down on the floor, watching as she cooed at Anya, then grabbed her tail to suck on.  "Yeah, I thought you two might like each other."  He looked around.  "Micah!"  He came jogging in the back door, and Faith pounced him, he could hear her.  He looked at Throttle, who was looking confused. "The whole house was empty but her."

"Cheese, another one?" Vinnie asked.  Cara let go of the tail to crawl over to him and nibble on his, making him jump and remove it.  "Don't do that, sweetheart.  That's not for sucking on."  He glanced at Throttle.  "Except for some adventurous people."  He patted the baby and got hugged.  "Thanks, baby."  He patted her back.  "We'll figure it out.  Micah is very good at figuring out those problems."  Micah came up the stairs and took the baby.  "She's fine."

"She's not fine.  Whatever it was would have radiated off her.  Where's Dawn?"

"Dinner out."  Xander held out his hands, getting her to nuzzle and sniff her.  He looked at her, then grinned.  "They smell like lavender and incense."  He looked up.  "It's not ghostly or anything.  There's no power floating around her.  Faith, were the cats there?"

"Andrew was cowering but yeah.  Why?"

"Andrew wasn't named after him, he is him reborn," he said dryly.  "She smells like lavender and incense."

"Lavender?  That stench was all over the house."  She shuddered.  "I hate flowers."

"Okay."  He looked at Micah.  "Go get the big blue leather book in the library.  Then make a copy of the CD in my rack of books.  I'm pretty sure they were taken by a human doing a rite."

Micah nodded, going to get the book.  Faith went in after him, helping him by loading the CD and doing a search.  She found a few mentions of those two scents together and looked it over.  "It's a rebirth ritual," she decided, most of them were.  "Either that or they're summoning a very particular demon."

Micah looked over her shoulder, going to look at the hardcopy of those rites.  He agreed with her.  "They'd need some space for that and it'd have to be charged already."  He called Lorne.  "Cross reference places where people give birth that are large enough to hold them all.  Someone's doing a rebirth ritual.  Also, you're going to find blood there.  The blood and afterbirth of a mother."  He hung up and went to email those pages to Lorne's phone.  He'd need them to find the girls.  He sat back and waited, getting a text message from Max saying they had two possibilities and the cops were checking both.   Ten minutes later he got a confirmation that they had been found and were mostly fine. He relaxed and sent back a 'good work' then got up to find Faith staring at the fish.  "They found them," he said quietly.  He heard Xander sigh.  "As far as I know they're fine."  She nodded and gave him a friendly punch on the shoulder, then walked off.  He winced and rubbed the sore spot.

"Thanks, Micah," Xander said quietly.  "Her mom?"

"I don't know yet."  He typed that in, that they had the baby and Faith was on her way back.  Max sent back that the mother was injured but not much.  She was being taken to the hospital miscarrying.  He groaned.  "She's miscarrying."  The next message made him groan louder.  "Buffy's flying in tomorrow afternoon to get the baby."  He looked at Xander.  "Sorry."

"Not your fault.  She doesn't trust people with the kid, I don't blame her."  He looked down at the baby cuddled up to Vinnie's side, napping against his thigh.  "She comfy, bro?"

"Very," he said with a grin.  "These muscles are for more than show."

"I find them comfy too," Charley agreed as she came up.  She smiled at the baby.  "Are we babysitting?"

"Yeah.  That's a baby slayer," Xander told her. "Her mother needs her head examined, she was pregnant again and still slaying."

Charley shuddered. "I can't imagine that.  Especially with more than one on duty now."

He nodded. "Me either. They need more Watchers and the last one who could have done it died last year."

"Wesley?" Throttle asked.  Xander nodded. "You're sure he died?"  He nodded again.  "Positive?"

"I went to his funeral."

"Oh. I'm sorry, babe."

"So am I.  He turned out to be a decent guy once he got on his own."  He shrugged.  "I could have seen Fred doing it too."

"Don't make a wish," Micah warned.

"Not planning on it.  I don't say those words any more.  Remember, I dated a wish demon."  He nodded, getting that.  "If the Powers bring them back, that's on them, not me.  I can only make suggestions.  They need at least three more *good* Watchers.  Bob can't do the job full time, he's got other duties.  Giles is apparently going senile.  Why did I get *more* money?"

"Oz didn't want his."

"Oh, whine."  Micah shrugged, giving him a look.  "Fine.  Dawn got half?"  He nodded. "Good, then she can pay for her bike when she graduates."

"We're getting her one for graduation," Throttle reminded him.  He stroked his husband's back.  "Calm down.  It bites but it happens." Xander nodded, relaxing.  "They can't call you back as a Watcher."

"Bet me a major backrub that she won't mention it tomorrow," Xander said, staring into his lenses.  "Bet me."

Throttle kissed him.  "Sure, babe. I win either way."  Xander relaxed again.  "She can't have you.  I'm not letting you out of this city unless I'm going with you."

"You know that General is going to try to force you back, right?" Micah said quietly.

"Yeah, and I know he doesn't like anyone who isn't fully a mouse," he said dryly.  "He's already made that comment."

"There's a wonderful altar under the lake, we can do an underwater rite," Xander told him.  Throttle chuckled and gave him a squeeze.  "I'm not kidding!  I can and will!  He touches you or those kids of Grip's, over my dead damn body.  And it had better have been mutilated long before I died too.  He's not getting you."

"Calm down, Xander.  We can't leave with more Plutarkians coming this way," Vinnie said quietly, stroking the baby's back.  "Junior should be here any day now."  Xander shook his head.  "No?"

"No, I have the feeling he's already here.  I was out that way on my ride when studly here captured me.  There was a stench growing."

"You rode by yourself?" Vinnie asked, grinning at him. "Was it good?"

"I wobbled twice and nearly skid once," he said dryly.  "The last one allowed him to catch me."

"He still needs more balance work," Throttle agreed.  "Modo?"

"Not going, bros.  I might go back to visit, but I'm needed more here.  You'd never control Vinnie and Xander without me."

"See, we need to go up there, find you a good girl, then kidnap her back here when we come back," Xander told him.  "I'm sure your mom would help us by pre-picking a choice selection for you."

Modo grinned at him.  "That's sweet of you, but I'd rather do it the old fashioned way and date."

"Like Rimfire?" Vinnie teased.

Modo scratched his ear.  "I don't move that fast.  I'm a bit more old fashioned than that."

Carbine came up the stairs.  "We've got a problem," she announced.  "All of you are being recalled.  Even with a new Plutarkian menace."

"Fat chance," Vinnie told her.

"I pointed that out. They said it wasn't right anyway.  There's going to be a civil war now."

"No there won't," Xander said, shaking his head.  "Too many people have fought and died for this.  There'll be a sniper."   Everyone stared at him. "You've got a population of veterans who have seen some of the most horrific things and now they're being pressed into another service when they're tired.  There'll be a sniper."  The general came up the stairs.  "Unfortunately, if you look back, you'll probably see the same thing in history."

She nodded.  "It has happened.  We've already started a recall vote.  It's next week.  We're making it mandatory that everyone vote."

"A Plutarkian stench cruiser passed by Mars last night," the general said, looking at Throttle. "You're getting another one."

"We knew that.  Limburger Junior's coming."

"I still say he's already here," Xander told him.  "How late and how fast?"

"It'll probably be here tonight, boy."

"I have a name, I suggest you use it since you're in *my* house."

"I thought it was theirs."

"I own it, I built it, I designed it.  It's my gift to them.  Therefore it's mine."  He nodded, backing off that point.  "As for Junior, he's not going to be that much of an issue, is he?"

"He's coming with a crew," Carbine warned.

"Wonderful. Can we take them out?"  She shrugged.  "Can we try?"

"We can always try, but that's a few too many guards with just the four of us, Xander."

Xander looked back at him, then grinned.  "Going away party," he said slowly and clearly.  Throttle looked stunned, as did everyone else.  "Think they won't?"

"I think they would," he admitted.  He shook his head.  "We can't ask them to do that."

"Just the guards.  Leave the big smelly cheese for us.  If they can take down the ship, then we can do the rest."

"That we can do," Carbine agreed.  "Taking down a ship is easier."

"Sure.  Let them offload some stuff that we can snatch and send back with you guys, and then blow it.  He'll either be there or here.  I'm guessing here since he sounds like a manager sort."  Throttle nodded at that.  "Then they can do that on their way home, that way they can have New Years on Mars.  Start the new year off right."  Throttle kissed him.  "What was that for?"

"Because you're so good at that stuff," Throttle assured him.  He looked at Carbine.  "Can you arrange it that way?"

"Yeah, I can.  Plus, a show of force should move Limburger down here so we can take the ship."  She looked at the general, who waved her on.  "I'd stop the council.  I think he's right."

"He may be," he noted quietly.  He looked at Xander.  "I didn't know you were a strategy person."

"You never wanted to know.  I got that from the first moment."  He snuggled in harder, letting Throttle scrape his back with his nails.  "I've got to start work on the twenty- seventh."

"That'll be fine," Throttle promised.

"Yeah, no fun to bust 'em without a tower to destroy," Vinnie said with a grin.  "Good work, little brother."

"Does your family know you've claimed him?" Carbine asked.

Vinnie shrugged. "I haven't heard from any of them."

"If you see her, Carbine, I'd like a call from my mother," Throttle offered. "Please."

"Sure.  Should I bring up pictures and pop around to tell her the good news?"  Throttle smirked and nodded, that would make sure she'd call.  "I'll tell her Modo's mother knew about you two too, that'll keep her from trying to fix me up with Primer again."  She shook her head. "Any other new business?"  Everyone shook their heads. "Then it's dinner time."  She saw Vinnie scoop up the baby and held out her arms.  "May I?"  He nodded, letting her hold the little one.  "She's so small."

"She's just walking," Xander told her.  "She's about seven or eight months."  Carbine nodded, taking her to the dinner table.  Xander got up and hauled Throttle up.  "Does this mean I can meet your mom?"

"Sure.  I'd like that a lot," he agreed, walking him over there.

Stoker stood up with his daughter cradled in his arms.  Anya moaned and yawned. "It's time for food, little mouse.  Let's go eat."  She smiled, still mostly asleep.  He was followed by Vinnie and Modo.

It was a nice, quiet, peaceful dinner with a lot of laughs until Buffy showed up for the baby, then she got paired with Micah and was glued to his side.  Micah gave her a look. "Xander suggested you ask the Powers for more Watchers.  He said someone like Fred would have been great, or Wesley with how he was when he died."  She wrinkled her nose.  "You could use the help, kiddo."

"I'm not a kid."

"You're pouting, you're a kid."

"I'm the same age Xander is."

He almost said it, almost said that Xander had earned his right to respect because he had proven himself in multiple battles, many of which she wasn't aware of, and that her attitude was keeping her in the kid category.  But he was trained in diplomacy.  Unfortunately, Carbine saved diplomacy for those she liked.

"Yes, but Xander's a warrior.  He's fought many battles very well.  He's just planned another assault for us and could be a Freedom Fighter if he were on Mars.  You have a duty, which you keep sliding away from.  He never had the duty and he still took on your cause and then our cause as if they were his own.  That makes him older and wiser, even if he does act like Vincent."  She stared her down and Buffy glared back.  "You have the duty and the chance to make sure your world doesn't turn out like mine, Buffy.  I suggest you use it.  My world will take eons to rebuild to her former greatness.  Yours still has a chance and you've got more power than we did."  Buffy took a deep breath and nodded.  "Good girl.  Now, let's go back to eating."

"Did you pick up on the mom act because sometimes Throttle has to act like mine and Vinnie's dad?" Xander asked her.  She stared at him, looking confused. "The first time I met Throttle, he acted very dad-like.  When I moved here, he started the same way.  Did you pick it up from him or did he pick it up from you?"

"I picked it up from her," Throttle assured him. "Eat, Xander.  You need to soak up all that nasty caffeine you had today."

"You let him have caffeine?" Buffy asked.

"Let didn't come into it.  Sometime after bungee jumping and before he ran out of here, he had about seven mountain dews," Throttle told her.  "Sometime in between ultralighting, bungee jumping, parachuting, and then going to a rodeo camp to learn how to ride things that throw you off."  She whimpered.  He smirked.  "That's just the kinda guy he is."

"If you say so.  I'm glad the hyper Xander mouse makes you happy."

Micah casually reached over and neck pinched her, then picked her up and went to lock her in his car's trunk.  "Unfortunately I'll be driving her back to the airport later," he announced.  "Should I try to find Dawn and Rimfire on the way back?"

"Nah, let 'em go at it like bunnies," Xander sighed.  "She's been on the shot for a long time now.  She's very careful.  Besides, if she ends up pregnant, she'll be up on Mars for good, and then you can set her up as an official diplomat or something, Micah."

"That's a very scary thought, Xander," Micah said with a grin.  "I'll have to remember that.  Lorne and she would both shudder at that."  He ate another bite of dinner.  "Good job, Charley."

"Thanks, Micah.  Everyone eat.  We need to clear room in the fridge for dinner tomorrow."  Everyone tucked back in, even the babies.


Xander walked into the permit office on the morning of the twenty-seventh, looking a bit confused.  "I think someone put up a building without a permit."  The woman behind the desk gave him a long stare.  "I just drove past Limburger tower on the way to my site, and there's a building there.  It wasn't there yesterday when I rode past it."

"How would they put up a building overnight?"

"One of those inflatable ones?" he suggested, shrugging.  "I know it wasn't there yesterday.  I pissed in that spot during a ride around town on a borrowed motorcycle."

"We'll check that out, sir.  What's your name?"

He grinned.  "Xander Harris.  I'm an interior crew chief for Merlin Industrial Building Concepts."

"That's fine, sir," she said, writing that down.  "We'll look into it.  Thank you and have a nice day."

"Thanks."  He walked out, going out to Throttle's bike, grinning at him.  "We're set."  Throttle nodded and took off, taking him to the site.  "I still think it's inflatable."

Throttle glanced at the building.  "Looks like it's plastic."

"So can we dart it later?"

"Sure.  It'll make Vinnie laugh and he's moping over not having the kids to play with."

"He'll be a great dad."  They finally made it to the site and he got off, grinning at the guard.  "Hey."  He took off his helmet and shook out his hair.  "Later, babe," he whispered, stealing a kiss.  It earned a whoop from the crew and he waved a finger.  He stole a second kiss with a grin and headed inside, hugging Merle. "I'm back!"  He looked at his silent crew.  "Hi, guys."  They ran over to hug him, then grabbed coffee and went back to work.  He looked up at Merle.  "Paperwork?"

"Much of it," he admitted. "I'm behind in the payroll again.  You mind?"  He shook his head and they went inside to do that. "Did you know you had a bare spot on your shoulder?"

"Yeah, a baby ripped the fur out by the handful.  She didn't want to let me or Vinnie go.  Anya's a pisser, just like her namesake," he agreed as they went inside the trailer.  He heard a 'whomp' and ran back outside, looking at Limburger tower, which was slowly deflating.  He giggled.  "Someone popped it," he said, grinning at Merle.  "It was inflatable."  The building floated down, leaving a glass cage on a tube, but this time the being in there was trying to get down the tube.  He was stuck, but he was trying.  "Hey, guys, they popped Limburger tower," he called.  The crew came out to laugh and point, then got back to work after a few minutes.  Xander looked at Merle.  "Put your foot down?"  He nodded.  "Sure.  Let me go check in my crew for the day and then I'll be back to handle the nasty paperwork."

"Thanks, Xander. You make things go much smoother."  He grinned at the boy's back, watching his tail wiggle in the air to keep him on balance.  "Get your ears checked."

"I did, he said it was a growth spurt," he called back.  "I'll be fine in a few weeks."  He just needed a few more infusions of Throttle and he'd be perfect actually.

The End.

To Part 20

To Index