Xander looked at the board who were deciding on the designs.  He had just gotten done explaining everything in his to them.  "Are there any questions?"

"How big do you think the local population is, Mr. Harris?" one of them asked.

"At last best guess, I heard about ten thousand."  They gaped at him. "I also know that a good portion of those are families.  That's why I included family sized spaces and why it'd be easy to add on additional floors, either now or later on if you felt it was needed.  I also know that many of them will run instead of going to hiding spaces.  At last count there were five other bunker bars in and around the city."  He took a sip of his bottled water.  "There's also a few hotels who can and do stand up in the middle of a crisis.  That leaves approximately three percent by my calculations that are absolutely without anyplace.  This will hold that many and a few more.  Even if, in the event of a total disaster and witch hunt, you have to use the club to protect and house them it can be done.  The other design was cute, but it left no room for expansion.  It left no room for hiding even a tenth of the people who would be exposed.  Frankly, I've never seen a bunker bar done in country club pale creams and blues," he added sarcastically, "and it wasn't suitable for a club.  I'm not sure what demon clubs they go to, but the ones I do are mostly in older industrial spaces because they're big, they've got room for us who are differently shaped and sized, and they're mostly pretty grungy when you look at them.  A pale cream wall would be dirt brown and sweat gray within the first night.  Even if all it was holding were little kids.  Because even they like the mess."

One of the board members smiled at him.  "I can agree with that. My daughter managed to ruin ours within an hour."  He looked at him. "You're not demonic."

"No I'm not."

"What are you?"

"Classified," he said promptly.  The board stared at him. "Sorry, truth but sorry."  They all nodded at that.  "I can say that while I'm not demonic, I have lived in and among the demonic community for years.  Both as a hunter and taking refuge when the nightmares got to be too strong and I had to be somewhere I couldn't self-destruct."  They stared at him. "I'm from Sunnydale, gentlemen, and lady.  I used to help Buffy Summers."  That got a few gapes.  "And personally we only hunted those who were causing problems.  There wasn't time or energy for preemptive strikes.  When my memories started to weigh on me, I found a haven within those who I didn't have to hunt.  There was a nice place called Birogi."

A few of them nodded at that.  "It's the best sort of place when you need to bleed out anger, rage, pity, sorrow, grief, and all that stuff.  Again, those weren't the sort we hunted.  Have I been to vampire bars?  Yeah, there's one in the free-from-eating zone I set up and I go there all the time.  My boss is a vampire.  I can distinguish and I can give back to those who don't make me hunt them like that bull last night."  The female on the board shuddered.  "It was stop him or he was going to go through a children's hospital, ma'am.  Even if he was peaceful, it was necessary."  She nodded at that so he faced the board again. "I'm not going to lie to you.  I'm one of the city's protectors.  I'd rather see them protected and safe if something majorly apocalyptic were to happen.  The greater majority of demons in Chicago are pleasant, peaceful folks, and quite a few of them are families with kids.  I don't want to see them hurt."  He took another sip.  "I'd ask that you judge on the merits of each design."  He sat down and got comfortable.

The board mostly smiled at him. "Is this your first full design, young man?" the demon at the head of the table asked.

"Second. I designed the house I live in and implemented the plan after an emergency move."  He grinned.  "We're about to need to expand due to me acquiring Angel's book collection."

"You knew Angel?" the female member asked.  Xander nodded.  "How?"

"First from Sunnydale and then his crew later when they came up to help us.  Angel and I never really got along like best buds, but I could respect his goals and he found out he could respect me after he stopped seeing me as some goofy kid who followed Buffy around."  He shrugged, smirking at her.  "It was a friendly animosity most of the time to be truthful, but we had similar goals in life."  She nodded at that.  "Plus, Cordy was my ex, Wes came to be the Watcher on the hellmouth for a bit, and all that good stuff," he finished dryly, smirking at the rest of them.

"I heard there were some new Watchers in Cleveland," the other contractor said quietly.

"You'd have to take that up with them.  I know that there's two there but I'm on the bottom of their emergency contact list now.  I stay out of Cleveland unless it's a problem with my adopted daughter or another case of everyone in the city falling."  He shuddered.  "Yeah, that was me on the tape," he said dryly.  "It was necessary.  Buffy and the rest weren't able to respond."  He looked at the demon at the head of the table.  "I protect Chicago now with my spouse."

"I saw you pull up with him this morning," he admitted.

"No, that was Vinnie. He's like my big brother."  He grinned.  "My spouse will be picking me up if I'm lucky since we're supposed to be going to lunch."

"Are you gay?" the female member asked.

"Actually I'm bi, but I am married to a man, yes."

"I didn't know any of them were gay."

He snorted.  "You're assuming that they have the same social standards of this country.  Their homes aren't like it is here. Things are a lot different and it's not seen as the problem some people in this area see it as."  She tipped her head at that.  "Are there any other questions?"

"If we give it to you, since you are the crew lead, how much later would it make the start?" the head demon asked.

"The same time.  I'd still have to do the final ordering.  I gave them a head's up that we're going to be needing the basics, steel beams, concrete, things of that nature, but I didn't tell them an exact quantity.  So we've got an order on hold.  All I need is the final design and the outline plans to start off with.  I noticed that their design only came with external ones so I'd need an estimate of materials in a more detailed way than a final cost breakdown. "

"Which yours did have," the woman agreed.

He nodded.  "You should have more than a pretty picture to go on.  Pretty pictures are wonderful, but it doesn't give you a bottom line estimate of how many pounds of bricks you'll need or how many windows, things that have to be shipped in.  It can slow up work if you don't have that already."  He took another sip of his water. "This way you get everything of mine up front and in your face to consider.  Along with the pretty picture," he finished with a grin.

"What would you say this was if asked?"

"Private residential facility with a small commercial center in the bottom two levels."  He finished his water and tossed it at the garbage can, smiling when it went in.  "Sorry, missed breakfast."

"Not a problem, Mr. Harris."  The head demon leaned closer.  "What about those who would ask for an application."

Xander shrugged.  "We're not in a housing slump, sir.  Depending on who asked, I'd say it was either multimillion dollar condos or low income housing."  He smiled.  "You've never seen a rich person run until they realize they liked the look of the new projects."  He shifted down some, stretching his back.  "In the part of town you're thinking about it could be either.  Either that or I could be having one of my mean and snarky moments and tell them that it's for a new cult that's starting in Chicago and that they're looking to live together so they're not polluted by anyone or anything.  They're like deep Buddhists and unable to interact with the outside world without temptation."  That got a few laughs.  "Hey, it's worked in the past."

"It probably would," the female said, smirking at him.  "What about your crew?"

"The boss said I could have a full crew and we'd be at normal priority unless something happened.   I was working on Merle's crew before and he was generally satisfied with my work.  There were a few times when I got injured and couldn't come in for a few days.  There was that one time that I got caught up cataloging artifacts and forgot to call in, but we weren't in a critical phase either and most everyone was working on the external jobs that day.  I'm hoping I don't have any more car accidents, being pummeled by something, falling into that stupid gas project's holes, or the like."

"You did?"  He nodded, holding up two fingers.  The female member shuddered and the person beside her asked another question.  "Before or after the grating?"

"Before and after.  I'm the one who demanded that they bring in someone to investigate it as part of my settlement. Then I later fell in at another site and got caught in the grating when it broke under me.  I ended up with twenty-three holes in my body, one of them puncturing my intestine and one of them pressing into my lung."  He crossed his hands on his stomach.  "The first was at that clinic that fell in as they were moving materials in.  We had filled in the hole that developed under the new parking lot.  Then a new burp happened and a sinkhole developed under the building itself, taking out the center circle of support.  It mostly fell intact but there wasn't anything we could do to stop it or to predict it.  I'm glad this one is farther away."  Everyone nodded at that.  He stood up. "Are there any other questions?"  They shook their heads.  "Then I await your decision.  My phone number was put in with the forms and everything, plus it's on the Power Point presentation as well.  If you have anything else, I should be home later this afternoon or someone can call us if I'm out for a ride. I thank you for your indulgence."  He nodded politely and headed out to where he knew Throttle was waiting impatiently.  "Sorry I took so long," he said with a kiss.

Throttle looked at him.  "I wasn't here that long, it's the staticky radio."  He looked up at him.  "You felt me being impatient?"  Xander nodded.  "Interesting.  I remember Vinnie was explaining that stuff to Charley girl the other night.  Since you're here, hop on."  Xander hopped onto the back, putting on his helmet and grabbing on.  "Briefcase?"

"I couldn't find it this morning."


"Wearing it."

"Leather jacket?"

"Back of my usual chair at the table if I remember right," he said with a grin. "Come on, daddy, let's go play," he teased.  Throttle let it go and they sped off to go have fun.  "It's hard to believe it's been almost a year," he called.

"It has," he agreed, counting mentally.  "Do you want something for your anniversary of coming here?"

"No, I'm good."

"Sure."  He took them back to the lair since everyone was waiting to head to the courtroom for the first session of the custody case.  They passed Dawn and Vinnie, getting nods.  He pulled up outside and let Xander head inside to change to a more serious suit.  The dark blue suit and white shirt had looked good on him but he wanted to look a bit more dangerous for the court appearance.  Just in case something was tried.  He came out in his favorite suit, all black with a black tie, and got back on, and they headed off again.  They were going to lunch while Dawn and Vinnie met Buffy at the courthouse and had a lunch there, just to scope out the problems heading their way.  Throttle took them to his favorite Chinese place and got them a back table, settling them in.  Throttle looked at him, giving him a small smirk.  "You're sure you don't need a 'one year ago you moved here' gift?"

"Nah, I'm not big on anniversaries.  The important ones maybe, but not I'm not gonna cry and pout like Anya did when I forgot the first time she told me icky story about her former job."  He shrugged.  "I'm not quite that bad."

"Good."  He smirked at him. "So, what do you want for our real anniversary?"

"Not a clue, man.  Surprise me with something cute."

"I'm cute."

Xander beamed.  "You certainly are. And more cuddly than anything else on the earth. I'd take a picnic or a ride or something, babe.  Don't stress."

"I'm not, just trying to be thoughtful.  Carbine woulda been dropping hints within a month of the last one."

Xander snorted.  "Yeah, certain blondes were like that around me too, but then again I wasn't dating her."  He looked up as the waiter came over, smiling at him.  "Number six, easy on the sauce."  He nodded.  "Plus a soda, no ice."



The waiter wrote that down and looked at Throttle.  "For you?"

"I'll have the same, and no eggroll or rice."   He nodded and wrote that down, hurrying off.  "You sure you want to do caffeine?"

"Yeah, I'm tired of bottled water after the meeting earlier."  He shrugged and got comfortable, reaching over to tease the strong, tan hand.  "Did you want anything?"

"No, I'm good with what I've got," he admitted.  "Maybe a new CD if you find one."  Xander nodded.  "Thanks, babe."

"Not an issue."  He grinned as the waiter came back with their plates.  "That was quick.  Must have been on the buffet."  His soda was brought and then the waiter hurried off again.  "I'll know in a few days if I got the design work too."  He unwrapped his fork and put the napkin into his collar.  "Just in case," he said dryly, putting another one into his lap.  He dug in, eating heartily.  He hadn't had much breakfast due to his nerves.  Throttle gave his hand a squeeze and he looked up, raising an eyebrow since he was chewing.

"It'll be fine.  She's staying," he said quietly.  Xander nodded, grinning at him.  "Calm down and slow down."

"I didn't get much breakfast from my nerves."

"Point.  How did it go?"

"I think it went okay.  I had a full set of plans, including blueprints and a breakdown of costs and materials.  Theirs was basically a pretty picture and an idea.  I showed them where they could expand to give them more options if they wanted somewhere bigger or wider. I answered their questions and ducked the ones on Cleveland."  He shrugged.  "I think I did great.  They were smiling when I left.  My design was prettier and more practical.  They wanted creams and blues."

"In a sort of place like that one out in the industrial park?" he asked, looking disgusted. "It'd be filthy within a few hours."

"I pointed that out," he said dryly.  "Especially down in the club area. I can see it in some of the rooms."  He shrugged. "I accounted for every type of thing I could.  I put in good safety features for those places that needed them, like blinds for the light-sensitive and those neat polarizing windows and things."

"I liked your design, it was good. I'd go party there if they had good music," Throttle assured him, grinning at him. "Plus, I know how many of those rooms would be occupied a night."  Xander grinned and nodded. "I hope you get it, yours sounds like the better idea."

"Thanks."  He grinned at him then went back to eating.  "How long?"

Throttle checked his watch. "Forty minutes."  Xander dropped his fork and got up, heading to the bathroom.  Throttle looked at the plate, it was nearly empty.  His was still mostly full so he dug in since no one would do more than grin at him for making a hog of himself.  By the time Xander came out with his hair dampened down and slicked back, his breath minty fresh, and his hands shaking, he was done and had finished off Xander's as well.  He paid the tab and they got back on the bike, heading to the courthouse.  He parked and whispered at his bike to protect herself, then went to find Vinnie and Dawn.  They were having a picnic under a tree in front of the building with Buffy, Wesley, and Dawn eating while Vinnie kicked back. "No lunch?"

"He scarfed it like he was starved," Buffy said with a grin.  "Hi, Xander; hi, Throttle.  Cute look, Xan."

"Thanks."  He kissed Dawn on the top of the head.  "You good?"  She shook her head, finishing her salad.  "It's nearly time, we should pack this in."

"We've got about twenty minutes, Xander," Throttle said calmly.  "It'll be fine."  Xander gave him a look. "Okay, it'll be well enough for today.  Where's Gunn?"

"Already inside," Buffy told him, dusting off her hands and finishing off her remaining cucumbers, then covering it and tucking it away in her bag.  "Okay, I'm set."  Dawn was eating the last few bites of hers, then she got up to collect the trash and toss it out.  Wesley folded up the small blanket they had brought and it went into the car with Buffy's bag.  Then they headed inside together with Vinnie behind, walking beside Dawn like a guard.  He had promised Rimfire that she'd be perfectly safe today and it looked like it was being taken seriously.  They found the right courtroom and slipped inside to sit down.

Xander noticed the judge's funny look and stared back.  He went back to the case they were presently working on.  He looked at Dawn, who was jiggling her feet, laying a hand on her knee and giving her a calming look.  She took a deep breath and relaxed, nodding back at him.  She took Vinnie's hand to hold, clinging for a bit.  Finally the last case rested and theirs was called.  They moved forward and sat at the appropriate table, Vinnie right behind Dawn.  He looked at Gunn.  "We okay?"  He got a nod.  He looked at the other table.  "She and the guy in the dark blue were at my meeting this morning over that new bunker bar I'm building," he said quietly.

Gunn glanced over.  "They're London Wolfram and Hart," he said quietly.  "The man in the red tie is New York.  There's no one from the local office."  He cleared his frown as the judge asked them to come to order.

"Are both parties here?" the judge asked.

"Yes, your honor," Gunn said.  "I'm Charles Gunn for the minor Miss Summers and both sides of her family."

"We are as well, your honor.  We five represent the Wolfram and Hart team assigned to this petition."

"Very well."  The judge looked at them.  "Miss Summers?"  Both of them raised their heads to look at him.  "Which is which?"

Dawn raised her hand.  "I'm Dawn, the person in question.  The brunette beside me is my sister."

"Thank you, miss."  He smiled and she gave a weak one back.  "I'll hear opening motions?"

"Your Honor, we have no motions at this time," the head lawyer noted.

"That's fine, because I do," Gunn said as he stood up, handing copies to the bailiff and the other table.  "Motion to dismiss since the people involved in the custody don't want it changed.  Motion to delay if it isn't dismissed since I was only hired a week ago, motion to close the courtroom in case something odd comes to light so it cannot hurt Miss Summers, and motion to close the transcripts for the same reason."

"What could come to light?"

"Miss Summers is of a smaller religion and there are those who do persecute such as she, even in this area.  She's had problems with some of her schoolmates because they were in a cult and wanted to sacrifice her.  It's for the minor lady's protection, your honor."

He looked through them, nodding.  "Any objections?"

"We do object to the motion to dismiss.  We are acting in the girl's best interests."

"Really?  Considering Social Services, her sister, and her guardian all agree she's fine where she is?  Her sister never asked you to intervene either," Gunn noted.  "Nor does she want custody of her sister because she does work in the occasionally dangerous situation with some of the girls she mentors."   He glanced at Dawn, then the judge again.  "Between all of us we couldn't find a single reason for this action.  For that matter, we're not sure who sent Social Services to the house."

"I had to talk to her last night, she said it was in relation to the first time I got jumped," Dawn said quietly.  "Sorry, thought I had told you."

"No, but that's okay," he said with a grin.  "Sorry, she said she asked last night at her meeting with the social worker and she said it was due to the first time those cultists jumped her as a potential sacrifice."

"You say cultists, are you sure?" the other lawyer asked.

"That's what they said at their plea hearings for attempted homicide in the first degree," Gunn said dryly.  "They said their Dark God need a sacrifice of a powerful and strong woman who was as pure as could be.  Well, she's certainly those."

"She's pure?" the lawyer asked.

"That status of her sex life isn't at question here," Gunn told her.

Dawn stood up.  "Can I say something?  I know Gunn told me not to but I'm going to have a fit soon."  The judge nodded, waving her on.  "Thank you.  I'm six months away from my eighteenth birthday.  I'm more than old enough and reasonable enough to decide where I want to live.  I'm the one who initiated my move to Xander's care.  I'm the one who set things up so I could be adopted by him.  I'm the one who was the major push behind it.  I wasn't happy with my sister, her mentorees were brats who were going to get me killed because they did things like stash drugs in my car without my permission."  The judge looked stunned at that.  "She's back in jail now, your honor.  I found 'em and turned her in.  I went to the local cops here and turned her in and gave them every detail I could to help them get her friends.

"For that matter, I'm safer here.  That girl was dating drug dealers.  I don't have that here.  I'm very well protected."  She looked at the other table then back at him. "I have no idea what they're talking about in their complaints.  It was explained to me and I don't know why.  Can they give me a reason why they think I'm more wild *now* when I used to shoplift, dabble in drugs every now and then to see what it was like and drank at times to see what it was like?  Now, I train for my future, and I occasionally club.  My grades have went from a 3.2 to a 3.8 GPA.  I'm in a fairly safe school once those tw...brats were removed.  Yeah, I have a boyfriend, I've had two since I moved here. Yay.  I got some smoochies with the first and the second one was *such* a sweetie when I got jumped the last time.  I'm with a guy who *refused* an order from his grandmother and uncle, the people who *raised* him, to go eat to sit beside me and help me.  He helps me study and is learning the languages I am so I can call him names in it."  The judge smiled at that. "I have no idea what they're hoping to gain.  Buffy doesn't like 'em. I hate 'em at the moment and if it was in my powers to suddenly create a tornado it'd be in their lobby."

She looked at Buffy, then at Xander, then back at the judge.  "I'm going to be real candid here and my sister's probably going to cry.  Before my, our, mother died, she was the strength behind some of the group.  She was Buffy's strength and she was there for me.  She fell ill, a brain tumor, and Buffy tried, but she had a life that was getting worse and worse at the moment.  Xander stepped in for me.  He saw me doing stupid shit and he talked to me about it.  He did stupid shit when he was younger and he told me what it was like.  When I was dabbling now and then in the field's of 'what's this one do to me' he told me.  He gave me all the risks.  He sat me down and was brutally honest with me.  When things got too bad and I did some weekends drinking, he sat me down and bitched my ass out until I cried.  Buffy couldn't see past her own grief and I was reacting to mine. He's the one who got me calmed down.  When I started to shoplift, he's the one who kicked my ass over it.  He's also the one who held the group together.  He's the one who held me together.

"He taught me how to defend myself.  He taught me how to fix a faucet.  He put up with so much crap from some of Buffy's mentoring projects. When he left the group, I was left stranded in the middle of a sea of sharks who wanted to eat me. I had to defend myself against a few of the girls who wanted to play and prove they were the alpha bitch.  Fortunately, Xander taught me how to defend myself and Buffy listened.  When things got dangerous, I called Xander and I said I'm coming and he said 'tell me when you hit the city limits and I'll give you directions'.   The *only* reason I can see for them doing this to me is because my sister knows someone that they want to get back at, or because they don't like Xander because he's with a guy, or because they think I'm going to be useful and they aren't planning on handing me over.  Any of those cases, the answer is no.  I like his husband.  When I asked to be taught further self-defense training, I went to his husband.  He's better, and he's stronger, and he wouldn't baby me like Xander can at times."  She grinned at Throttle, then at the judge.

"They could care less what I do at times, things like going to the mall, what I bought, the average homework stuff some days, but I know they're there for me.  When they found out I had stopped a friend from shoplifting and still had evidence, they hit the roof.  Vinnie, who isn't even my adopted parent, hit the roof.  He and his wife both yelled at me.  Then they told Xander and Throttle, who yelled at me, even though they said it was a good thing, just bad timing."  She shrugged.  "Xander and Throttle are very tight.  I don't think anyone can say that someone my age might be suddenly corrupted into turning gay, my boyfriend would be fairly upset with me.  I already know who I am and it was Xander who helped me find that and helped me recover from my grief.  It says something that when I go out on the weekends, Xander and Vinnie actually help me pick out my clothes.  Sure, they're not much help when I've got problems in my Hindi language class, but I never go out looking like a ho."  Gunn coughed at that.  "Sorry."  She shrugged.  "Even if you sent me back to Cleveland, I wouldn't go.  I'm already financially stable.  I have a trust fund and we've talked with the people to make sure I can get my college funds from it if necessary.  It was Xander who pushed me to apply and reminded me to apply.  My sister doesn't even know what I took last year in school, when I was living with her."  She sat down.  "Please, make them stop.  There's no reason, and they're wasting your time and money and they're giving me an ulcer."

Throttle leaned over to give her a hug.  "Good job, princess," he whispered, feeling her relax.  "It's all right. You're always welcome."  She nodded, resting against his side.

Gunn stood up and waved a hand at her.  "That's the most eloquent reason I could ever state for a full dismissal.  She's loved, she's wanted, she's happy, she's secure, and she's overprotected by some very, very strong personalities.  I've spent the last week watching them interact by staying with them.  I'm an old friend of the family.  I had a sister and I've seen families that needed to be ripped apart.  Taking her from them is only going to rip her apart, not do anything else.  Xander's turned her into a strong, powerful young woman that her mother would be damn proud of.   I know I, and the rest of our friends, are."  He glanced at the other table then at the judge.  "This is heinous and unreasonable. She's right, it's wasting everyone's time and giving her an ulcer.  She doesn't need this.  She's doing just fine where she is.  Leave her there."  He sat down.

"Do you have a counter?" the judge asked the other table.

"We do, your honor.  While Miss Summers seems to think she's safe, we do have evidence that she is doing dangerous things that her ...parents may not know about.  She is dating a biker."

"We're all bikers," Throttle told her.  The judge gave him a look.  "Sorry."

"That's fine, sir.  Is her boyfriend here?"

"We thought it might look bad," Xander told him.  "He can come if you need him to."

"Why would it look bad?" the other lawyer pounced on the offered subject.

"Because you've stressed her out so much she'll cling to him," he said sarcastically.  "It's what people who are in danger do, they cling to those who can help them get out of it.  Rimfire's the most polite young man I've ever met.  Her first boyfriend, Phil, was a very nice, sweet guy with excellent manners and the sweetest disposition.  He biked too."  He smirked at her.  "Rimfire's even more polite, straight laced, and patient than Phil was.  Yeah, they go dancing.  Dawn likes to dance.  She wears clothes that we consider borderline and doesn't wear them out unless there's someone with her.  Besides, it's only him and her at their age level in the house right now. It's to get away from us older folk.  A great number of times, the rest of the group goes out to join them in the club because we need the stress break.  The fact that he rides something with two wheels instead of four doesn't make him a bad kid.  That makes you prejudice."  The judge coughed.  "Calling it like I see it."

"Fine. Thank you for keeping it polite."  He looked at the main lawyer.  "Continue."

"We have evidence that Miss Summers has drank since she's been here.  We also have these supposedly borderline clothes that she's been wearing."  She handed over a stack of pictures.

The judge looked at them.  "Young lady, come up here?"  Dawn got up and walked around the end of the table, coming up to see them.  "What's in that glass?"

Dawn looked at the outfit. "That could be the single time someone bought me a real drink and I did start to drink it before realizing what it was.  If so, it was a light rum and coke.  If not, it was probably coke.  That's what I usually get."  She looked up at him.  "A rum and coke, light on the rum, wasn't enough to even phase me. That was within my first hour in the club and I made sure he didn't buy me another one and that I don't accept anything from him again.  I only accept drinks from my boyfriend."  He smiled at that.  "My guy's about six-foot-tall.  There's not many problems."  That got a small chuckle.  "Did you need to know anything else?"

He flipped to a particularly risque outfit.  "When was that?"

"Actually, that was not what I started out wearing but I managed to get soda poured down me by someone running into me in the club. I went and bought that," she admitted.  "Usually I wear that with a shirt or a jacket."  She blushed a bit.  "Sorry, sometimes I do have some pretty outrageous taste in tops.  I know I'm pretty and I like it when others think I'm pretty.  Rimfire kept trying to put his shirt on me all night."

"I wanna see," Buffy called, holding out a hand.  Dawn brought the picture over and she looked at it, then at her.  "If you had pulled that at home, you'd have been grounded."

"Rimfire only told us that her other outfit had gotten messed up and that she had bought a new one," Xander said, glancing at it.  "She came home in a silk shirt over that."  He looked at Dawn, who 'eep'ed and blushed.  "You are so not going out this Saturday."  She nodded, trudging back there with the pictures.

The judge held up the other one.  "This one?"

"Borderline and tamed down a lot from what she wanted to wear," he admitted. "Again, that was a night when we were all going out.  Rimfire protected her from everyone and she was teasing him to death," he said, shaking his head.  "It was tons better than it could have been."

Vinnie leaned forward.  "I can't see."

"Want my contacts?"

"No."  He hit him on the shoulder.  "Which one?"

"Blue, leather, suede," Xander said dryly.

"Yeah, now she wears that skirt with a real shirt and that top usually goes under it," Vinnie admitted.  "We've got to be in a *real* tolerant mood to let her out in that one."

"You are?" the other lawyer asked.

"Vincent Van Wham."  He smirked at her.  He thought so hard about making a smart comment about how she wasn't worthy to be in his presence, but Throttle caught his eye and shook his head.  "I'm usually the one with Xander and my girl who help her figure out what to wear."

"And your *girl* does what?"

"She's a mechanic.  She runs the shop next to us."

"I see.  Miss Summers, are you learning how to be so...tough?"

"If I'm driving I should be able to take care of my car or bike," she said coldly.  "It's the way to respect your ride.  By the way, diss Charley again in my presence.  She's a damn sweet woman who actually only needed to hear it from Xander that I was okay to treat me like her kid sister.   She's also the one who lends me the motorcycle I occasionally ride to school on.  She's made sure I could handle it on ice and snow, and a car on ice and snow.  She's been there for me when I had girl issues and she's closer to me than Buffy is.  So no, don't go there," she finished, glaring at her. She looked at the judge.  "Do you need anything else?"

"No, go ahead and sit down, young lady."  He looked at her back.  "Are you seeing someone about your anger?"

"I'm not holding a grudge, it's only morons of the universe like those lawyers who cheese me off," she said bitterly.  "I've done nothing to deserve this.  I'm being punished for being good, and being better than I was before.  How is that right?"

"You're not being punished," the lawyer said.  "Your guardian is simply not fit."

"How would you know?  Can you point out which one he is?" Dawn snapped.  The lawyer hesitated.  "Go ahead."

"Please, do so," the judge agreed.

"We have Mr. Harris as being a white male with dark hair."  Xander wiggled his fingers.  "You don't have hair."

"I know, I cut it all off recently.  It was bothering me.  You can come check my roots if you want.  I'm sure I've got some stubble.  Wanna see my license?"

"Yes, I do," she snapped.  He pulled out his wallet, pulling out his Firearm Owners Identification Card, his driver's licence, and the official pass Micah had given him, which made her blanch.  She handed it back and moved back to her seat. "Fine, he is Mr. Harris.  He is a white male with dark hair starting to sprout again."  She flipped some of her own back.  "Still, he is not fit.  He's never home."

"He's on hiatus until his next job," Gunn interrupted.  "Xander is crew lead at a local construction company.  Yeah, he gets home at about six every night, but Throttle works in the garage next door.  Besides, she's seventeen, not seven.  She can spend a few hours alone in front of the computer or tv."

"Really?  And what does she do on that computer?"

"The last time I knew, I was surfing for smutty stuff to make myself feel better," Dawn told her.  "Again, I'm legal.  I can do that now.  I pay for my own passes and we worked it out so my stuff isn't bookmarked in Xander's work list."  Buffy coughed. "Sorry, I still have it in for certain jocks though."

"I can agree with that.  How much do you do that?"

"Not so much now that I have Rimfire," she said with a sly smirk. "Coming for dinner?"  She nodded.  "Good."  She looked at her. "Go on."

"Your honor, this is a mockery of the process."

"Actually, I'm seeing it as a very tightly knit group of family and friends. The only thing that the law may have a problem with is because he's gay and frankly, I've never liked that law if they're decent parents.  Which he appears to be.  He got this young woman straightened out and on the right path.  She went from probable juvenile delinquent to good student on her way to college.  Where do you see the problem in this?"

She gaped, then spluttered. "Your honor, she's in danger in their home. He has some very powerful enemies.  Mr. Limburger alone...."

"Whoa, hold on," Xander said, standing up to face her.  "This was due to Limburger?  That putz can kiss my ass.  You can tell him I said that or I will the next time he comes in to threaten our friend Charley to try and buy or steal the land we live on.  The man is a cretin with hygiene problems.  All he wants to do is play little kiddie games to conquer and destroy and I don't play that.  And yeah, I blocked him a few times.  Go me!" he said flatly.  "If I had the money, I'd buy him out and send him packing.  The man is a blight and he's the reason the neighborhood we live in is so damaged.  He's the one who had punks going around to tear down stuff.  He's the one who helped his daddy do that.  He's the one who made it so there's whole sections of the city you can't live in anymore.  If he wants Dawn, then I want a restraining order.  Against him and your employees.  Every last one of them."

"He can't be that much of a threat," the judge said patiently.

"Oh, he is," Xander told him.  "We were being security conscious the other night so we were basically clubbing in the garage.  He blew in the door, had thugs come in to try and hurt us, and when we fought back brought out weapons.  He made a threat to the owner of the garage, who is Vinnie's wife-to-be.  He made a threat against me because I own the mortgage, we never have transferred it back, and he threatened to demolish the place while we were in it.  If he wants Dawn, I want a restraining order.  I don't know why and I don't care why.  That man is scum and deserves to be put in the place where scum lives."

The judge looked at Gunn.  "Can you prove it?"

"Only with witness substantiation.  Most of the family was there and he was picked up by the FBI shortly thereafter."  Gunn shrugged.  "Ask the family here, sir.  They can all say the same thing."

"He did," Throttle agreed.  It was a slight stretch of the facts but not a real lie.  It was implied instead of stated what was going to happen to all of them. Vinnie nodded to back him up.  "We can defend ourselves but Dawn does have to do things like school.  If you could keep him from getting near her, any of his employees and any of Wolfram and Hart's employees, we'd be grateful for that."

The judge considered it.  "Yes, I believe I can."  He looked at the other side.  "Do you have any other evidence that he's not fit?"

"Look at him!" she shrieked.  "He's not a normal human!  He can't be, he's furry!"

"So?"  Xander shrugged. "I have a bit of extra hair.  Fortunately my man likes me like this.  He didn't mind when I didn't have any and he doesn't mind me now.  It's a good thing he didn't pick on physical beauty."

"You're very handsome, quit putting yourself down," Vinnie chided, smacking him on the arm.

"Ow, mean big brother," he said, frowning at him.  "Do that later!"

Throttle reached over and stroked Xander's ear. "You're more than pretty enough, Xander.  That's why I have to go into jealous person mode at the clubs.  They all want you instead of Vinnie.  They can have him but not you."

Xander beamed.  "You say the sweetest things."

"Gonna gag now," Buffy interrupted. "Serious things, people.  Mush later."   She grinned at Xander.  "You are prettier now.  Not that you were bad before, but you're prettier now."

Xander sighed.  "Thanks, Buffy."

"Welcome."  She grinned and batted him on the arm, making him wince.  "Sorry."  She shifted a bit away.  "Didn't mean to hit you that hard."  She looked at Throttle, who was growling.  "Sorry, didn't mean to do it that hard."

"I'll get you later," he said with a smirk.  She grinned back.  He would and she'd probably run all the way home by the time he was done with her.  Dawn snuggled up to his arm again so he calmed down.  He couldn't rip into her for touching his man in front of Dawn. It might traumatize her.  He looked at the judge, who was trying not to laugh.  "We'll stop her later," he promised.

The judge nodded.  "It's clear to see that Miss Summers is well protected, loved, and cherished by her adoptive parents.  Since no reasonable arguments have been given I'm going to dismiss this case and issue a restraining order. It will be in effect for ten years."  He smiled at the other side.  "Your group and all its employees, down to the lowest of the low or temporary hires.  Mr. Limburger's employees, again, down to the lowest of the low and any temporary employees are to not go within a thousand feet of Miss Summers for the next ten years.  Do you understand?"  She opened her mouth and he held up a hand.  "I don't care.  Do you understand?"  She nodded, sitting down.  "Good.  Case dismissed.  Miss Summers, I wish you much luck in college next year and many happy moments with your boyfriend.  It's clear to me that you like him quite a lot.  I wish you and yours a happy day."  She beamed at him and he smiled back.  "Go, have fun, it's a pretty spring day, child."  She nodded, getting up with everyone else when he left.

She hugged Gunn.  "I love you!  You're the bestest buddy!"  He groaned so she eased up on him.  "Sorry, weight training."  She grinned and hugged Xander and Throttle together, then pounced Vinnie for a hug.  "Thank you!"  She walked out with him, going out to his bike to head home.  "Hey, baby love, I'm staying," she said, petting the bike.  It beeped happily.  "Let's go home and have ice cream!"  Vinnie chuckled and got on, letting her get on behind him.  They sped out of the parking lot.

Throttle shook his head, glancing back at Wes and Buffy.  "Come over for dinner."  He led Xander to his bike, getting on and letting him settle behind him.  "I think I chose on beauty and brains," he said gently.  "Don't say that again or I'll have to spank and not in the fun way."  He started his bike, knowing Xander had the goofiest grin on his face.  He sped home, hoping that they had some cones for that ice cream.  That cone after the eye appointment had nearly driven him mad.  Especially when Vinnie tried to poach.  They stopped at the store and he ran in for some, then came out and let Xander keep the bag.  "Don't smash it, it's got ice cream cones."  Xander's wicked smirk was clear behind his faceplate.

They got home to find Stoker pacing back and forth in the living room. "What's wrong?" Dawn asked.

"Baby's born, it's a boy, it's white.  I need a name really fast, I've got to name him within the next day."

"How do two gray mice have a white mouse?" Modo asked from the kitchen.

"Her grandmother was white."  He ran his hands through his hair.  "Anyone got any ideas?"  He saw Xander and Throttle come up and got Dawn out of the way.  "I need a name for my son."

Xander only had to think a second.  "Spike," he said firmly, and for some reason it felt so very right.  Even more so than when they had named Anya.

"Spike?" Dawn asked, looking incredulous. "You hated Spike."

"Well, yeah, but he respected me.  I respected him, if he could have he would have ripped my guts out and used them to decorate Buffy's room."  He shrugged.  "First name that came to mind.  You wanted me to say Angel?"

"No, I like Spike, it sounds like a Martian name," Stoker admitted, shaking his head. "Thank you, Xander."  He went to call his wife back. "Spike," he told her.  "Former friend of Xander's since we seem to be taking names from his life."

Throttle looked at Xander.  "Wasn't he that bleach blonde vampire with the 'tude?"

"Yeah."  Dawn nodded, taking the ice cream and cones. "That's putting it mildly.  Really.  But he was *very* protective of what was his so if he's anything like his namesake, Anya's never going to have any boyfriends, he'll drive 'em off."

"I like that idea," Stoker agreed. "Can I see Spike?"  Xander nodded and shared those memories with him, making him chuckle.  "Yeah, that's just what I need," he agreed.  "He'll be more like me when I was younger, only not undead."  He went back to tell her about him.  That way she'd quit fussing. "You'll love him, Switch, he was just like me when I was younger.  Snide when the mood suited me, well balanced in a fight, and whipped tail very well."  She smiled at that.  "That okay?"

"I like that idea," she said, cooing at their new son.  "Anya, come see your new baby brother, Spike."  She bounced over to look at the baby in her walking chair, patting him on the arm.  Baby Spike, the white mouse, let out a wail of protest, which only made Anya chuckle and try to hug him.  "Oooooh!  They love each other already!" she cooed.  "Look, Stoker, they're already good together!"

"Yeah," he said proudly.  "My daughter will get along with my son and my son will be a lot like me.  She's got your gentle nature and he'll whip tail."  She smiled at him and he beamed back.  "Give me another day, Switch, and I'll be home.  I'm calling Micah and he'll probably release me today."  She nodded, cutting the connection.  He walked out there, taking his bowl of ice cream.  "Anya came over to love him already," he said proudly.

Throttle choked.  "Is he okay?" he gasped, wiping off his mouth.

"Yeah, she patted and hugged him.  She loves him," he said proudly.  "She's got her mother's loving nature. He'll be just like me and whip tail."  He smiled at Xander.  "That so fits perfectly, man.  Thank you."

"Hey, happy to help," Xander said with a grin.  "I called Micah already and he said book it home."  Stoker ran for his ship and Xander licked his ice cream, looking at Vinnie.  "If he's anything like Spike, there's going to be new versions of hellraising on Mars," he said fondly.  Dawn choked and spluttered, so Modo patted her on the back.  "You don't think so?"

"No, I think there will be," she gasped, letting Modo take her cone so she could take a drink.

Buffy walked up the stairs frowning.  "One of the junior brats just forced Andrew to breed," she complained, sitting down.  "Ice cream?"

"Kitchen," Modo's mother said, pointing behind her.  She looked at Wesley, who smiled and shook her hand.  "You are?"

"Wesley Wyndham-Pryce," he said with a smile.  "Her Watcher."

"Oh.  Then that's Buffy?"

He nodded. "She apologizes for not introducing herself first, she must have thought you knew who she was."  She smiled at that.  "May we help ourselves?"

"Go ahead, dear.  Such nice manners and a very cute accent," she shared with Throttle's mother.  Who nodded and smiled back.

Buffy came out and sat beside her sister.  "So, what's new?"

"Xander just got to name our mentor's new baby," Vinnie told her.  "The first one that popped to his mind was Spike."

Buffy looked at him.  "You named a mouse after Spike?"  He nodded, licking around the base of his cone.   "Do you have to do that?  I'm getting naughty images, Xander."

"You're the one with the smutty thoughts.  You'd rather I licked my fur clean of it when it drips?"

"You mean he doesn't for you?" Buffy asked.

"Only when he's good," Throttle said smartly.  "He was *very* good today too."

"Like, weekend at a place like in Texas good?" Xander asked hopefully.

Throttle considered it. "I might go for it, but only if I get something in return."

"What do you need that he doesn't give you?" Dawn asked.

"Hush, woman.  Go tease your own."

"He's out."  She licked off the top of her cone and then around the edges with little kitten licks.  She heard Modo groan and get up, looking at him.  "You okay? You sounded kinda achy."

"I'm good," he promised.  "Just tired.  I was about to take a nap."  He went to the bathroom and shut the door.   He pushed all those thoughts aside and stomped on them until they were flat and bloody, unrecognizable to anyone looking.  Then he used the facilities as planned and washed his hands before going back.  He flopped down again and his mother caught his eye.  She gave him a look and he shook his head, looking disgusted.

She sighed.  "Son, when are you coming home so I can fix you up with a nice mouse?" she asked him.

"The next time we can, momma.  Maybe this summer if possible but maybe not."  He shrugged. "I don't get to decide those things."

"Big fella, if you wanna go home for a few weeks, go," Throttle assured him.  "It's not like we're doing much and we just got a restraining order from Limburger or his goons coming here or to the garage."  He looked at his mother. "Guess who was behind this?"

"Really?  He spent money for this?"

"He probably offered them someone's soul in return for the favor," Xander said dryly.  He licked off more of the chocolate ice cream.  "Either that or they'll be coming back for something that they want him to dig up later."  He took a few more licks, glancing at his mate, who was staring at him. "You're dripping."  He leaned over to clean up his ice cream for him.

"Hey, mine!" Throttle protested, cleaning it up himself.  "Eat your own."

"I was, but you were dripping and then you'd have to lick your hands and wrist and arm."

"That's what washclothes are for," Throttle's mother put in.

"Where's the fun in that?" Vinnie and Xander asked her in unison.

"God, they're like twins," Buffy said, shaking her head.

"No, Vinnie's much more athletic and limber than Xander is," Dawn told her.  "Xander's just now getting to the limber portion of his life so he's been doing the yoga stuff and pretty soon they'll have to teach him how to leap, tuck, roll, and flip."

"Take gymnastics and ballet, that's how I did it," Buffy said dryly.

"Me too," Dawn agreed.

"I don't think I could handle all the shrieking little girls trying to pet my fine bod," Xander said dryly.

"You keep saying we've got to do something with all of Angel's books and weapons anyway," Throttle pointed out.  "Plus, we seem to need more rooms."  Xander whimpered. "It's not that bad."

"It is that bad."

"It's not, maybe you can build a basement in that one and you can put the weapons locker down there.  You could give Charley girl a workspace too."

Xander looked at him.  "Where are we going to put this mythical building?"

"Next door?"

"That's not available."

"The other side of the garage and put a walkway underground?" Vinnie asked.  "Or behind us in that wreck everyone lands in?"

"How do you propose I do that?"

"Buy the land, design it, have it built?  No rush this time so you can go slower and not do most of it yourself, Xander," Modo offered.

Xander considered it and it was a tempting idea.  It'd give them another landing pad.  They could have a real gym and somewhere to hang the heavy bag without having to put in a reinforcing bolt where it was now.  "I guess I could have a room just for weapons."  Throttle nodded.  "Plus a reinforced section for the poor heavy bag since it keeps falling down."  He looked at Dawn, who had snapped the chain last, somehow.

"Plus, more room for the kitties," Dawn promised. "Without them escaping again."

"True."  He thought about it.  "A basement with space to work out, the next floor up with weapons and books?  Maybe a few spare bedrooms?"  He looked at Throttle.  "Why can't we add onto the back?"

"At last count, over a year before we closed shop, there were over ten thousand books in our collection, Xander," Wesley offered.  "We can take some of the more obscure ones, but we can't fit many more in Cleveland."

"No," Buffy said, shaking her head. "No more books.  I hate books.  I hate shelving books. I hate dusting books and I hate books.  No more books."

"Ten thousand?" Xander asked. "There was only one truck!"

"There was one of those convoy, semi trucks that blow you off the interstate," Wesley said dryly.  "Not a small U-Haul like Gunn's.  By the way, we're taking him with us."

"Sure, go for it.  He'd probably feel more comfy with you guys anyway."  Xander went back to eating his ice cream cone, the ice cream was long gone.  "Ten thousand is a lot of books!"

"You said you wanted Angel's collection," Wesley said dryly.  He smirked at him.  "Wish granted, dear."

"Oh, that's so cruel!  I bet that you guys got all the good weapons."

"Fred's got her axe.  I've got a few swords and the like, but nothing else."  He gave him a smug look.  "We managed to save nearly everything from the Hyperion."  The phone rang and somehow he knew it was for him. "Yes, Fred?" he answered.  He listened to her wondering why this name was sparking something.  "He's a chaos sorcerer, former friend of Giles, did some things in Sunnydale.  Not to be trusted but can be turned and used for our aims at times."

"Tell Ethan I said hi," Xander told him.  "Watch him freak."

"Ask him if he's found any more Martian stuff like Xander found," Dawn agreed.

Wesley listened to her babble at him.  "Dear, tell him that Xander said hi and Dawn wanted to know if he had found anything like what Xander bought the last time the saw each other?"  He listened.  "Interesting.  No, have him bring it here.  Tell him it's cursed and the only way to remove it is to give it back to them.  He can give it to Xander or any of them here and that'll be good enough."  He smiled. "Of course.  Oh, we're having a guest.  I'll be driving back with him and Buffy.  So prepare one of the guest rooms, Fred.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "He's got some sort of large stone that he found.  It was apparently put around that Xander was looking for these stolen objects and that they were cursed if you used them and weren't of the original race of people.  Some sort of bookseller at the last book fair I believe.  So, since people know that Ethan and Giles know you, they've been dropping stuff off at their houses.  He's bringing a trunk full of odds and ends.  That's all right?"

"We love things like that," Throttle agreed, reaching over to stroke Xander's back. He grinned at him. "Thanks for being so scary, babe."

Xander blew a kiss. "I like being scary.  It keeps me out of trouble."  Vinnie giggled.  "You, behave.  I can't get into fights if people think I'm scary."

"Bullsnot," Dawn said fondly.  "You're just a scary, scary man, Xander.  Admit it."  She licked off the last traces of ice cream, smiling as her man rode up the ramp.  "Hey, Rimmy.  Buffy, this is Rimfire.  Rimfire, this is Buffy, my older sister."

"Hey, ma'am," he said, smiling at her.  He took off his helmet.  "Ice cream.  Did we win?"

"Yup, I'm staying and there's a restraining order against Limburger coming within a thousand feet of us or the garage, and against Wolfram and Hart too," she said happily.  "Hug?"  He got off and came over to hug her, making her moan with how strong he squeezed.  "Want some ice cream?"

"No, I'm good.  I've got all the sweetness I need in my arms," he said, sitting down beside her.

Buffy looked at him, then at Modo.  "If I ever find a man, can I bring him to you two so you can teach him to say things like that?"

"Sure, not a problem, Buffy ma'am," Modo agreed happily.  "Every man should learn how to say sweet things to their mate.  My gray furred momma taught it to me and we both taught Rimfire how to be sweet to his gals."

"Do you have any cousins?" Buffy asked him.

"A sister but she just had twins," he said with a gentle smile.

"Your cousin Rod survived," Modo's mother offered.  "He's fairly sweet and gentle but he's been having those horrible outbursts of anger and hitting trees and things."

Modo nodded. "I can see that.  I'd be doing it too, Momma.  He spent a long time being in that place and I don't blame him a bit."

"Neither do I, child, but he keeps knocking down all the trees around the house."  He smiled at her.  "You can plant new ones when you come back up."

"Of course."  He got comfortable, his arms behind his head and his feet stretched out and crossed. "Xander, if you do, can you build a new place for the bikes?"

"Sure," he sighed, nodding. "I'll do that too."  Throttle hugged him.  "That way we can have the house back.  The bikes can have the downstairs and I'll move that other stuff to the other spot, except for the weapons."  Throttle grinned and kissed him, making him moan.  "Thanks."

"Welcome, babe."

"Can we still have an underground tunnel?" Vinnie asked.

Xander nodded.  "Sure.  If I can find a good earth demon to do it."

"We have dwarves?" Buffy asked.  "Like in the Artie books?"

"No, no flatulent dwarves, but we do have a few earth demons my company uses for excavations."  He shrugged.  "We'll talk with Charley about it later."  Everyone nodded at that.

"I still can't believe you named his baby Spike," Dawn said, shaking her head.

"Hey, he'll fit in with Anya," Xander said with a smirk.  "Even though she was floating around in Texas."

"She is?"  Buffy looked confused.  "Why?"

"Apparently she wanted to do the theme park thing and told him it was fun to watch us the night before," Throttle said with a shrug.  "I didn't get to see her."  That got another nod and a confused look.  "I don't deal with that."

"I try very hard not to," Xander pointed out.  He got up and made an ice cream cone, taking it over to Charley, who was doing bills on the computer. "Here.  We won."  She took it with a smile for him and went to work on it.  "It was demanded that I put up a second building with more rooms and stuff for the library and everything."

"It'd be helpful," she agreed. "Where?"  He pointed at the other side of the garage.  "Won't that get inconvenient?"

"Well, we can't build up the present one.  Vinnie wants an underground tunnel.  I apparently have about ten thousand books plus weapons in storage.  I thought there were less than that," he said at her gasp.  He looked in the garage and waved.  "Hey, Max.  Do I need to kill someone?"

"No, I got him after he hit me.  Dawn?"

"On the couch."

"Thanks."  She walked that way, going to get the girl to get a report.  The bug in her cellphone hadn't worked because it had been left in a small lockbox at the front of the courthouse as a security precaution.  "Dawn?" she shouted, getting a running bundle of girl.  "Come on, we need a report."

"Do you need an ice pack too?"

"No, this was yesterday.  He's dead now."  She led her off to talk to her.

Charley and Xander watched them then looked at each other. "Buy the land behind us."

"I thought about that too," he admitted.  "That'd be one big building though."  She nodded.  "But then I could have my study back from the research room."  She patted him on the arm.  "So, you think an 'L' shape or what?  We'll need a garage for the bikes and the car.  We'll need the library, a play room with the heavybag and stuff.  Plus a few extra rooms and more room to land."

"Most of them will crash."

"If they do, they rebuild the reinforced walls."  She giggled and leaned against his arm, finishing her ice cream.  "So, straight back, L-shaped?  Curved?"

"Can you do a real curve?"  He nodded.  "Wow."  She looked at the empty lots.  Then up at him and sucked off more of her ice cream.  "How about an L-shape?"  He nodded, that would seem the most reasonable.  "One longer section and then a thick section?"

He considered it.  "I need some inspiration.  Wanna head out tonight?"

"Yeah, if you can get our mice to agree."

Xander grinned and winked. "Vinnie, I'm taking your girl out to get inspiration from dancing, that good with you?" he called.

A white flying blur came out a window and pounced him, rolling around to pummel him.  "My girl.  You've got Throttle, you can't have my girl too!  We can't be a quad so therefore you can't have her!"  Xander kicked him in the stomach but he only grunted and got him back.   Xander tried to get him off again but Vinnie pinned him and grinned down at him.  "My girl.  No more spoiling my girl, no more treating my girl to little presents, no more buying her candy, and no more taking her dancing."

Charley kicked him gently in the side.  "He can spoil me if I want to be spoiled."

Throttle came out and sighed, pouncing Vinnie.  "How many times have I told you not to pounce my mate like he's yours?" he demanded, pummeling him.  He got Vinnie under the chin and the white mouse laughed and landed a few of his own but Throttle got him again on the stomach. Vinnie moved and kicked him but Throttle got him in the stomach, making him wince this time.  "My man.  He's good at spoiling.  Otherwise he'd be rusty when I needed it."

"He's spoiling my girl!  That's my job!  Unless we're a quad!"

"You'd never walk right again," Xander said dryly.  He dove into the playing/rolling/ tumbling to pummel Vinnie himself.   "I'd do things to you that would make you beg for weeks."  He got pulled off by Throttle, who spanked him. "Ow!"

"Behave, Xander.  I'm trying to discourage him from pouncing you."

"Why?  I don't mind him pouncing me."  He got Throttle back by twisting around and getting him into a headlock and wrapping him up so Vinnie could get him back.  "So, Charley," he asked casually while Vinnie was making Throttle howl.  "We on for tonight?  I promise I won't push the quad thing that your mate so *obviously* wants.  But then, who can blame him with how cute my tail is?"

She laughed, shaking her head.  "You're so bad, Xander."  He beamed and nodded, grabbing Vinnie by the tail and pouncing him again, which freed Throttle to help him.  Once Vinnie was shrieking he hopped up and ran off before his mate could retaliate, taking Charley with him to her bike and taking off.

"Gee, he didn't look like a goon," Throttle said, staring at the retreating bike.

"He stole my girl!" Vinnie said, getting up.  He whistled and his bike came rolling out.  "Xander stole Charley, let's go."  He rode off and Throttle headed after him to save his poor man.  Vinnie found them outside the usual club and tossed a few bucks at the bouncer as he strode in.  Xander and Charley were dancing together, not really provocatively, but that was his fun.  He stomped down there and got her back, dancing to entice her away from his bro.  Xander moved closer and smirked at him.  "Dance off," Vinnie shouted, smirking at him. "She's mine."

"She can make that decision."  He started to dance a bit more teasingly, making Charley blush as Vinnie joined him. "Winner gets the park and loser gets the house with everyone there."

"Don't bother me any!" he shouted back.

"Guys!" she called.

They both moved closer and she was thankfully stolen by a tail and Throttle smirked as he danced her off. They checked the duo's dancing contest, noticing that they were both hard, but Vinnie was drooling.  Xander was about to unbutton his shirt when Throttle dove over there and stole him back, bringing Charley with him.  They ended up between the duo, getting teased to death by them. Somehow Throttle ended up being teased by Vinnie and Xander was dancing against Charley's back.  She was blushing hard.  He was pressed against her stomach and Vinnie was against his back.  He smirked at Xander over Charley's head and moved a bit closer, one of his hands on her hip.  Xander let out a smirk and put on a bit more of a show.  Throttle growled lightly in Charley's ear, making her moan.

Charley tried to move from between the lovers but they were pressed tightly against her.  She looked over Throttle's shoulder at Vinnie.  He smirked and a tail snuck around her, pulling her from between them.  She ended up against his stomach, one hand in his chest fur, the other on his hip while his hands were on her hips.  She could feel Throttle's tail against her tail, and she moaned because it was a nice feeling.  He grinned and ground against her front and then Vinnie's hand moved to grip her butt.  It pushed Throttle's tail out of the way, putting his hand in its place.  She grinned and he changed rhythm, showing her what he was going to be doing for her later.  Then the tail came back, and a butt was up against hers and it was pinning her against Vinnie's chest.  It was like a warm, living, vise filled with fur to cocoon her.  She glanced back and saw it was Xander behind her now.  So it was a white fur cocoon.  She felt a hand brush her but it was the back of a hand so it must be Throttle's hand.  It was rubbing and she tried to move but she was trapped between them.  So she put her head on Vinnie's chest and enjoyed the dual sensations.

Throttle looked up as Vinnie's tail tickled his ear.  "Hands off my girl's cheeks," Vinnie mouthed.  Throttle looked confused until Vinnie gave a pointed look down.  Throttle looked down and backed Xander off some.  "Thank you, bro," he mouthed, dipping Charley to kiss her deeply then pull her back up and go back to making her hotter for him.  He looked up and saw Xander all-but doing Throttle right there.  He gaped in awe.  How did the man do that?  He looked down at Charley and then got a wicked idea, doing the same things Xander was.

"Change back," Throttle yelled.  "You're going to hurt her."  He stole Charley before Vinnie could get too intense with her, letting him have Xander so he could cool off.  He had sweaty fur now.  "They're on fire."

She smoothed a few beads of sweat off, grinning at him. "I can see that.  Thank you."  He grinned and was doing his best to keep her hot and bothered for Vinnie.  Not that he wasn't hot, but he wasn't her mouse.  Her mouse was backed up behind her and his tail was teasing the inside of her thigh.  She squealed and tried to move away but it wrapped around her waist, still between her thighs.  She blushed bright red and hid her face in Throttle's chest.

Throttle flicked Vinnie's on the ear.  "Watch the tail," he complained.  Vinnie looked and smiled, wiggling it a bit.  Charley squeaked and he moved it, wrapping it around her waist and under her shirt so the tip could tease her.  Throttle shook his head but let it go since she wasn't saying anything.  Somehow they ended up shifting again, and Xander was back behind Charley and Vinnie was behind him.  The tail was gone from under her shirt.  Xander was brushing her backside and smirking at him, giving him that look that made him want to go through Charley to get to his tail.  He was sure Vinnie was doing the same thing.  He could feel him ready to explode as he rubbed against him.  He was pressed so tightly against her that she was blushing again and he felt like he was ready to lay her down right there. If he wasn't taken and she weren't taken he might, but he was taken and his mate was smirking smugly and licking his lips, then sniffing her hair.  Vinnie nipped Throttle's shoulder and Xander growled and moved closer.

"Guys, I'm going to be smooshed," Charley complained.  "I'm only with one of you," she tried again.  "Vinnie?"   He winked at her and stole her, kissing her deeply.  "Let's go!  Please!"

"Sure, doll face, let's go.  Park?"  He walked her out to his bike, looking at hers, then at her.  He looked at Throttle's bike.  "They're still inside, girl, and we've got one too many."  His bike stayed where she was.  "Fine."  He got onto his bike and let her settle behind her.  "Give me ten minutes and it'll be great, babe."  He sped off, going to the park for a dark spot.  Once he found a shadow under a tree he pulled her around and kissed her, working her jeans off.  His own were put across the tank too to pad her resting spot.  Then he dove into her, holding her up to lick her.  She was so hot, so ready, so his.  All it took was a few licks and she was wetting his tongue with fresh fluids.  He dove in to clean her up so he could get her dirty again. He finally let her slide down onto his lap, helping her sit up while he worked his way in and out of her.  She was clutching him, her nails digging into his shoulders.  She threw her head back, letting the quiet cries out into the night.  He was sucking on her neck and shoulder, making a string of love bites down to her nipple.

He slid out and had to put himself back in, pushing her down to plant himself as deeply as he could.  Grinding into her, teasing that small spot and making her get off again.  She was slick with sweat and he kissed her.  "Can I keep going?"  She nodded, grinning up at him.  "Good.  I need more."  He turned her over, sliding back into her.  She whimpered and he moved gently.  He didn't want to hurt her.  He leaned against her back, moving sweetly.  She moaned and pulled his tail around to tease and nibble on.  His breath hitched and he came, nose buried in her hair, his breath cooling the sweat on her neck.  He laid there for a few minutes, panting hard.  "Charley?"  She hummed.  "Just checking."  He sat back, helping her turn over so he could kiss her again, gently, just stroking her lips with his.  "You okay?"  She nodded, resting against his chest. He cuddled her, letting the slight breeze dry them.

"We should get dressed before we're caught," she whispered.

"Yeah, probably, but I think it's too late."  He looked over at the cop, shrugging. "She's mine, she's having my baby, and we were just at a club.  Sorry, thought the shadows were deeper."

"They're plenty deep, sir, it's just that you're loud."  He handed over the ticket.  "I could have been meaner," he said smugly, walking off.

"Thank you, officer," he ground out, tucking it into his pants pocket.  He kissed her on the head.  "You ready?"  She nodded, getting up and sliding into her pants. He slid into his and she came back to sit on his lap again.  "You sure you're okay?"

"I'm good," she yawned, snuggling in.  "We should stay out here for a few more minutes."

"Sure."  He grinned as she fell asleep against his chest.  He saw Xander ride past and Throttle chasing him and smirked.  "He's so going to get it for teasing that way."

"You're both teases, and you got poor Throttle and me good," she complained, turning her head in the other direction.  "Hush."  She heard a crash and winced.  "That had better not have been my bike."

"No, that was cars."  He listened then smirked.  "No, they're closer to the lake, where we usually sit."  He nuzzled her hair.  "You sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine, she's fine, and we're just tired, Vinnie."  She got off the bike and looked at him.  "It's not hurting me."

"Babe, I'm sore," he told her, smirking at her.  "I haven't had it that good in years.  When it's that good, it's a miracle."  He pulled her back across his lap.  He put on his helmet, put hers on he head, and took off like that.  He heard Throttle swear and went past their location, heading down to the next secluded area.  He stopped his bike and got up, carrying her closer to the lake, then lying down with her, letting her cuddle again.  "There. That's better."  She let out a tired chuckle. "Bike, guard us, we're gonna nap."  She beeped and moved closer.  Vinnie pulled her against his chest, letting her rest on his shoulder. "A comfy pillow, a warm, furry blanket, and the love of your life."

She smiled. "It's pretty good," she agreed, smiling up at him. She kissed him and snuggled in, closing her eyes.

Vinnie smiled as she fell asleep, one hand curled in his chest fur.  He looked over as Throttle joined him, nodding at him.  "You can come down here."

Throttle joined him, flopping down.  "Xander'll be here after he takes the ticket."  He put one arm over his eyes.  "At least you guys had fun."

"You didn't get to finish?"

"No, I did," he said smugly.  "The cop was standing there."

"Yeah, us too," Vinnie agreed.  "Fifty dollar fine.  You?"  He looked over as Xander came down to join them, parking Charley's bike beside Throttle's.  Xander trudged down and flopped down.  "Fifty dollar fine?"

"Three hundred fifty, public indecency.  Since we're both male it's worse and a higher fine."  He snuggled into Throttle's side, looking at Charley.  "She okay?"

"Just tired," he said smugly, then ruined it with a yawn.  He blinked a few times and found himself being cuddled. "I'm fine, cuddle your man."  He moved Charley closer, and Throttle stroked his back.  "Tha's nice."  He yawned again and slowly drifted off, very comfortable.

Throttle looked at Xander, nodding him to move.  Xander shifted but Charley whimpered. He whispered in her ear, stroking her hair until she calmed down.  He moved away again and Throttle slowly shifted away but Vinnie's tail caught him.  "Wrong body, bro," he whispered.  "She's in your arms."  Vinnie's tail went around her and he curled himself around her.  They moved back to sit by the bikes, watching them and the water, then the stars started to pop out. Throttle heard his radio start and reached up to grab it, putting it on his head. "We're at the lake, Vinnie and Charley girl are asleep," he said quietly.  "No, we'll get our own.  Go ahead."  He took it off, looking at the helmets on Vinnie's bike, then at Xander's.  "Helmet?"  He blushed.  "Xander?"   He pointed on Charley's bike. "Good.  Thanks, babe.  I needed that."  Xander kissed him and grinned at him. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm good."  He cuddled against Throttle's chest, stroking the open area where his vest gaped.  He heard a cleared throat.  "We're just guarding them."

"Thank you.  It's still not right."

Xander looked up at him. "Really?  Why?  Because I'm a guy?  Want me to go cut off my dick to make myself a woman?  That way the fine's lesser?"  The cop blushed.  "Shove off.  We're guarding them.  She's just recently found out she's pregnant."  He sighed and walked off.  Xander flopped down again, getting a grunt.  "Sorry."

"No, it's okay.  It's reasonable.  Just don't cut it off.  We'd both miss it."  Xander grinned up at him. He stole another kiss and heard that same tired sigh.  He pulled his gun and looked back, finding their doctor.  "Hey, come sit."  He shrugged and came down to join them.

"Hey, Enamel.  It was good for them," he said with a grin.

"I hope I'm taking that one wrong."  Xander nodded.  "Good.  She'd probably be too tired if it was all four of you at once."  Xander grinned and nodded.  "You guys okay?"  He looked at the cop walking past. "Evening, officer."

"Are you all going to do it now?  Just so I know how many tickets to write."  Xander glared at him.  "Watch it, sir."

"Officer, have you ever seen someone snap and go into a violent rage?"  He shook his head, smirking. "Do you wish to right this moment?  Unless the answer is yes, I'd go away.  You're disturbing Charley's sleep and she needs it."  He strolled off.  "I want his name and I'm going to report him," he muttered.

"What did his nametag say?" Enamel asked, glancing at Throttle.


"How did you see that?" Throttle asked.

"His pink one is pretty strong," Enamel shared with a grin.   "Which would be the nearest precinct?"

"Eighteenth," Throttle offered.  "We can easily stop by there to pay that fine."  Xander nodded.  "Once the happy duo wake up."  Xander grinned at him.

"Maybe I should check her over," Enamel said quietly.

"He's got PFS," Throttle warned.  "He doesn't like Xander to play with her either."

"PFS?" Enamel asked.

"Protective Father Syndrome," Xander explained. "He growls if I try to dance with her."

"Tonight he leapt out a window to pounce Xander for dancing with her. We all got into it while she complained, then Xander took off with her.  Vinnie took off after them before I could get off the ground."

"Then we went to the club and danced," Xander added with a grin.  "We ended up in some strange contest to turn on the significant others on."  He stroked Throttle's stomach, earning a moan.  "I'm not sure who won."

"You did, babe.  You got her, you got me, and we all got him riled up so he worked on her, then we helped her."

"I heard that," Vinnie called quietly.  "I won."

"Actually, bro, I think those of us who got you two won," Throttle told him, kissing the top of Xander's head.  Vinnie grinned back at him.  "We've got to get our own dinner."

"That's fine.  She could use some more spoiling."  He stroked his girl's stomach, then felt something and paused. "What's that?"

"Is it hard?"  Vinnie nodded. "That's a normal thing.  You were gentle, right?" Enamel asked.  Vinnie looked up and nodded.  "Then she's fine.  Remember, there's a big water sac around the baby. She'll be fine as long as nothing too violent happens."  He stood up, dusting his pants off.  "I was off trolling for a girl, so I'm going to go back to that.  I'll be up in a few days for the usual check, Vincent."   He nodded at Xander. "Be safe."   He walked back to his bike and took off, going back to his ride and trolling for a few hours fun.  He wanted what they had but it wasn't that easy to find.  Maybe someday soon.  After all, if Stoker could at his age, then he could at his age, which was slightly less.

Throttle kissed Xander again, hearing the stomach grumbling noises.  "Soon, babe."  He nodded, going back to resting on his chest, watching the stars pop out. They'd wait until Charley woke up, she needed the rest.  Throttle grinned as the younger mouse spoiled his girl, gently stroking her hair and her face, her stomach.  He was so tender with her and he would do anything to keep them together, even keep Xander away from them if they needed. He looked down at his mate.  "You don't want them, right?"

"Nope, it's a tease, and she knows that.  We're buddies and she knows that.  Vinnie knows it.  That's why he allows it."  He looked up and grinned.  "Jealous?"

"Insanely," he admitted, kissing him again.  "I'm a bit possessive, babe."  He stole another kiss then he relaxed.  He looked down at Vinnie, who was speaking quietly, twitching an ear to focus in their direction.  "Just don't think about the tease becoming real," he whispered.

Xander pinched him, hard, making him yelp. "I'm not like that.  You know I'm not like that."

"I know, just pointing out that he needs her."

"I know that."

"I know you do...."

Xander bit him on the neck, making him yelp.  "I'm.  Not.  Like.  That."  He looked at him and stood up, stretching.  He looked around.  "How much is the fine for skinnydipping?"

"About another hundred," Vinnie called.  "Apologize."

"For?"  He grinned at him.  "For taking your girl out to show her some fun?"

"For biting your mate when he became an overprotective boob again."  Vinnie looked at him, then at Throttle.  "I know he can't steal her, and we're not becoming a quad, though that would be interesting, but not my style.  I'm a one-on-one kinda guy.  So's Xander."

"It's like you warning me about drugs," Xander said dryly, heading for the bike.  "Where am I picking up dinner from?"

"I've got your wallet in my pants," Vinnie told him.  Xander caught it.  "Sweetheart, whatcha wanna eat tonight?"

She smiled and yawned up at him.  "Something I can eat with my fingers."  She looked back at Xander.  "Finger food?"

"Fries, cheese sticks, bloomin' onion?"  She nodded at that.  "Sure.  Guys, hotdogs?  No onions, Vinnie?"  He grinned and nodded.  "Sure.  Throttle?"

"Just you," he said quietly.

Xander walked back and kissed him.  "You have me but I'm not putting up with that sort of accusations."  He walked back to the bike.  "It'll be about a half-hour.  Relax."  He tucked his wallet down his shirt and started Charley's bike, heading off to find them dinner.  He swung by the steak place first, then heading to Chef Andy's.  He nodded, grinning at him.  "Hey, Andy."

"Hey, Xander.  Are you okay?"  He nodded.  "You sure?"

"I'm fine.  Throttle and Vinnie need some food.  He's curled up with Charley so no onions on Vinnie's."

"Sure."  He put some together and boxed them up.  "You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm good."

"Onions on Throttle's?"

He sighed. "I don't know.  He'll probably think I'm mad at him if I say yes."  Andy chuckled and fixed the rest of them.  He handed him a twenty and a wink, heading to the bike.  He found Modo in the parking lot.  "Hey, Modo."

He stopped him.  "Did you two fight again?"

"It's one of those thing he does that pisses me off.  It's like warning in advance about things that he knows aren't going to happen."  Modo nodded, letting him go.  "So I'm volunteering for dinner duty to give him time to calm down.  Why?  Did he call?"

"No.  You just looked down."  Xander grinned at him. "I know.  Everyone okay?"

"Yeah. Charley was about to go back to her nap on Vinnie's shoulder."  He nudged him and headed to the bike, settling everything together and keeping one hand and his tail on it as he took off.  He managed to save it during the one turn he had to make.  He parked in the clearing they were still in, getting off.  He handed Throttle one of the boxes, then went to hand Charley and Vinnie the rest of it.  He ruffled Vinnie's hair. "I ran into Modo at Chef Andy's.  Apparently the kids drove him out."  He went back to sit beside his man.

"Where's yours?"

"I nibbled waiting for her snacks."

Throttle gave him a look.  "You need to eat."

"I will when we get home.  I don't know what I wanted so I nibbled on some chips and fries."

"And you say our diet's bad," he teased.  He stole a kiss.  "You okay?"  Xander nodded.  "You'd tell me if you weren't right?"  Xander nodded again, snuggling down onto his thigh to watch the stars.  "Then why are we sleeping with the lights on?"

"More nightmares.  They're handled."

"You want me to help?" he asked, eating a bit of his first hotdog.  He smiled as Charley got up and ran for the bushes.  "Morning sickness.  Fun."  He finished that one and closed the box, putting them aside.  He saw Vinnie's frantic look. "Unless there's blood, it's normal," he called.  "It's called morning sickness."

"It's not morning!"

"Doesn't matter," Throttle assured him.  He stroked over Xander's scalp, earning a shiver.  "What nightmares?"

"Don't ruin the happy mood with that shit," Xander warned.

"Fine. I still wanna know."

"I'll tell you some day," he sighed, closing his eyes.  He was comfortable. He was soon asleep, curled up on his thigh.

Vinnie helped Charley back to sit beside them, then went to get their dinner, bringing it back.  "Got anything for her to drink?"

"Nope, sorry, bro. Looks like he forgot."

"That's fine, I've got my canteen and there's a fountain a few feet away," Vinnie said, hopping up to get her some water.  He came back a few minutes later and handed the dripping canteen over.  "I made sure it was cold and good first."  She grinned and took a long drink.  She put it down and capped it, giving him a hug.  "You're welcome."

"Only a few months of this," Throttle offered gently.

"Wonderful."  She looked at the food, taking off a leaf of her split, deep fried onion. She dipped it into the sauces, then ate it, smiling.  He had gotten her the good ones.  She dipped it again and held it out for her man to nibble.  He grinned and ate it, then kissed her once it was swallowed.  He heard the first whimper and moved everything of theirs out of the way.  Xander was a kicker and he didn't want to upset her.  He settled her in his lap so he could stroke her stomach while she ate.  He scarfed a hotdog while she was bent over. "You could let me down so you could eat."

"I can eat any time," he assured her. "You need to eat."

She nibbled on the next bit of her onion, offering him one.   It was only fair since he wasn't eating.  He'd need the strength.  Xander flailed for a minute and Throttle pulled him into his lap, joining their antennas to get in there and stop that.  She looked up at him and he grinned.  "Eat, Vinnie.  You're going to be tired by the morning since I don't have anybody but Meg's Civic."  He groaned and scarfed the other hotdogs in his box, then one of Throttle's.  She grinned at him and fed him another leaf of her onion.  "Have half of it."  He grinned and split it for her, taking the smaller portion.  Then he kissed her, grinning at her. She ate another bite, making him happy.  She decided she was hungry and did eat the rest and Throttle's remaining hotdog.  He came out with a gasp, shaking.  "You okay?" she asked gently, leaning over to touch his leg.

Throttle shook his head.  "Don't.  Please."  She pulled back.  He looked at Vinnie.  "I don't know what that was," he admitted.  Vinnie raised an eyebrow.  "I can't bring him back."

Vinnie sat Charley out of the way and moved over to help him.  They went into Xander's head, found the issue and that it was coming from outside of him, and that was something they could deal with.  They blocked it and made it manifest stronger, beating it inside Xander's head.  Then, it was gone and they could see the nightmare and Vinnie had to pull out and get sick.  "What was that?" he gasped.

Throttle shook his head, taking off his glasses to rub the bridge of his nose.  "Hellmouth battle."  He put his field specs back on and looked at him.  "You okay?"

"No!"  Vinnie got done and took his canteen of water, sipping it a few times before rinsing and spitting.  He went to get more water, coming back and sitting down next to his girl.  "That was what?"

"That was the battle that created that ripple we saw," Throttle told him.  "It was pretty realistic, but we know that two of those didn't die and that Anya didn't live."  He shook his head, watching Xander sleep.  He was snoring so it was normal again.  He looked at Vinnie again.  "Thanks."

"He sees that every night?"

"In rotation.  That's probably one of the most horrific."

Vinnie took a breath.  Then he nodded, looking at him.  "You saw it all, like that, like you were standing next to him?"  Throttle nodded.  "How many others are there?"

"That seems to be a standard deviation on the actual battle.  The wrong ones died."  Vinnie nodded, he'd had a few of those sort.  "It's just the severity of the battle."  He shuddered and Vinnie handed him the water.  "Thanks, bro."  He took a long drink and handed it back.  "Charley girl, you okay?"  She nodded, reaching over to hug him.  "Thanks."  He let her go and looked down at Xander, who had quit snoring.  "Not another one, babe, not tonight.  You need to sleep."  Xander groaned and he stroked his back and the back of his head.  Xander grumbled and drifted off again.  He sighed in relief.  Xander groaned and shifted, curling around his leg, using it like body pillow.  He went back to stroking him.

"Guys, back off," Charley warned.  "He will thrash."  She leaned down to whisper in his ear.  "Xander, you're in the park," she said gently.  "You're in the park and you're scaring Vinnie.  Come out of it. It's just a nightmare and it's not real."  She gently stroked his cheek.  "Come on, it's time to come out of the dream.  Come on, you can wake up."  Her wrist was grasped and she took a deep breath, going back to it.  "Xander, it's me."

Throttle pried his fingers off.  "Don't, it's not working and he could jump up and hurt you," he said gently.   He handed her back to Vinnie.  "Back off."  He nodded, backing them off. He slowly stroked his boy's arm, then down his side and gently poked him.  Xander mumbled.  He poked him again.  Xander mumbled louder.  He poked him again and Xander slapped his hand away and took a swing at him.  Throttle caught the hand, putting it back down.  "Xander."  Xander started to struggle.  "Xander!  Wake up!"

Vinnie moved back over, flipping him onto his back and sitting on his legs.  He looked up and Throttle nodded that he had his wrists.  Vinnie slowly ran his hands up Xander's neck and put his hands on either of his bro's head, pressing gently.  It was enough to cause mild discomfort, but not enough to cause real pain.  Xander jerked awake and Vinnie stared down at him.  "Hey.  Really bad nightmares.  We couldn't get you up."  He got off him and Throttle released him so he helped him sit up and gave him the canteen.  "What sort of creature can send nightmares?"

"There's seven or eight," he said before taking a sip. "Why?"

"Because you got stuck in one and we found something external sending it," Throttle said, stroking his back.  Xander flinched so he moved closer. "It's just me.  We blocked it. We can figure this out later.  Are you all right?"  Xander nodded, taking another sip of water.  "You're sure?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."  He handed the canteen back. "Thanks, guys."

"It tweren't nothin'," Vinnie said with a small grin. "We've had to do this for each other for a few years."  He ran his finger down Xander's nose, not minding when it was swatted away.  "You wanna talk about it?"  He shook his head.  "You could."  Xander gave him a look.  "Hey, the guy behind you saw it from your mind.  Seeing just a few seconds made me puke but I'd listen."  Xander shook his head again, standing up.  Vinnie pounced him, shaking his head.  "Not working this time."  He pulled him closer, holding him, making him face Throttle.  "Tell him about them.  That's what he's there for."

"Yeah, I know, but it doesn't help me any."  He yawned and wiggled free, standing up.  "We should probably head back."

"You're not riding my bike while you're that tired," Charley said, grabbing him by the tail.  Vinnie winced at that.  "Oh, give it up!" she said, glaring at him.  "He knows I don't mean it the same way as I do when I yank yours."

Xander removed his tail from her hand and shook his head. "Nightmares happen.  They happen to plenty of people.  I'm fine, but if you don't want me to ride your bike I won't."

She got up, getting into his face.  "You're overreacting, Xander.  We're worried about you."   She stroked his cheek.  "Tell me what it was about," she said gently.

He kissed her on the forehead.  "That one?  It was about a battle so bad that I can't block it out.  That's what happens when you walk into a situation where you're outnumbered a thousand to one."  He gave her a hug.  "I'm heading home."  He turned and walked off.

"Freeze," Vinnie shouted.  "You can ride with us."

"I need to think."  He kept walking.

Throttle looked at his bike.  "Go get him. Bring him back here."

His bike rolled off, cutting him off, blocking his path.  The bike herded him and Xander moved but the bike followed him.  He considered it, then dove over it and rolled, coming to his feet.  "I'll see you guys later."  The bike continued to follow and trying to block him.  He stopped, reaching down to pat it on the headlight.  "Babe, we love you, but I'm walking today.  I need to take a walk.  So go back to your pet and I'll be on you tomorrow.  Okay?"  The bike shook her front wheel.  "Now, please.  I'm going for a walk and you can't follow.  Someone might try to hurt you."  He moved, the bike moved.  He backed up and the bike rolled forward.  He considered it.  "Don't make me do stupid stuff."

"What's wrong?  It rabid?" the cop who had been bothering them all night asked.

Xander looked at him.  "No, actually I'm going to be asking if that's a real law when I go to pay this fine and make sure you that wrote that summons correctly."  The cop looked shocked.  "We'll see, won't we."  He looked at the bike, then up, then he sighed and pulled something off his belt, firing it up into the trees above them.  He waved and hit the switch to reel himself in, then hopped from tree to tree until he got to a cleared area. He saw the bike and shook his head, taking off his shirt and tossing it toward the path.  The bike turned and Xander leapt, doing a tuck in mid air, and nearly made it to the next tree.  He yelped, catching a lower branch, but it wasn't going to hold him either.  He fell, and was caught.  "Hi," he said, smiling at Modo. "They're that way," he said, pointing in the right direction.  "Follow the fuming cop."  He wiggled until he got down and looked at the bike his bigger friend was riding on.  "Hey, Lil' Hoss, can you maybe run some interference for me?"  The bike beeped, so he took off running.  Throttle's bike tried to follow and Modo had to stop his from helping the boy.

"No.  Throttle wants his boy back.  Let his bike go.  We'll follow."   They followed the bike and the boy, noticing the bike was trying to cut him off.  Xander was now heading over the fountain and into the water nearby.  He dove in and headed to the dock area.  The bike beeped, unable to see where he was going.  "The docks," he called. The bike beeped and headed that way.  He saw Xander change direction and come up too soon, grabbing him as he came out of the water, whistling at Throttle's bike.  They headed back to the quiet grotto the others were in, Throttle's bike leading.

"Hey, Modo.  Thanks for the retrieving job."  Throttle pulled Xander off his bike, looking at him.  "Why are you wet?"

"He went into the water to get away from your bike.  I caught him as he fell out of a tree."  He smiled at Charley.  "Comfortable?"  She was back in Vinnie's lap finishing her treat.  She nodded, grinning back.  "Good.  You look good there."  He got off his bike, patting her gently.  "Go ahead and play, girl."  She rolled off to talk to the other bikes.  "He didn't look too bad.  He needs more work flipping and rolling but it was okay."

"He's been skipping yoga too," Throttle told him.  "We'd have to do it with him."

"I hate yoga."

Throttle gave him a squeeze. "I'll do it with you."

"You'll hate yoga," Xander told him.

"Probably but a little work now makes it easier later."  He gave him another squeeze.  "Where's your shirt?"

"He threw it to distract your bike," Modo said smartly, smirking at Xander.  "Nice try.  It worked for a moment."

"Hey, I only needed a few seconds.  I needed a better launch pad."

"How did you get up into the trees?" Vinnie asked.  Xander pulled out his mini crossbow and tossed it over.  "What's this?"  He looked at it, then at Xander.  "That's a winch."  He looked at him.  "Been watching too much tv off USA?"

"Probably.  Give."  Vinnie put it down beside him.  "Vinnie."  Vinnie gave him a look.  "Vincent," he growled.  It was tossed back.  "Thank you."  He tucked it back in the special holster.  He stood up but Throttle pulled him back. "I can go for a walk!"

"Why?  We'd give you a ride," Modo reminded him.

"He had a bad nightmare and we wanted to let him talk about it," Throttle told him.  "He got upset and went for a walk."

"Hmm, that's why your bike was herding."  Modo looked at Xander.  "How do you usually get them out?"

"I don't.  They're kinda permanent, Modo.  That's why they're nightmares."  The big guy looked hurt so he sighed.  "Sorry.  I'm tired."  He stood up and dodged the grabbing hands and tail.  "I'm going for my walk to calm myself down.  Which was what I was trying to do before."  He looked at Modo.  "They happen.  Some nights they're worse than others."  He shrugged.  "It's part of my life anymore.  It's not like you can drill them out of someone's brain."  Modo nodded, smiling a bit.  "Not upset?"  He shook his head.  "Good.  Later."  He walked off.  He heard the whistle and shook his head, going back into the lake from the next grotto.  He swam off as quietly as he could, heading for a distant shore.  He had the stamina for that now.  There weren't any boats and he did stick out being white on top of the dark water.  He headed for the beach section, it was probably nearly empty.  Probably just some necking teenagers.  He heard a motor and dove down, heading on under water for a few feet.  He came up as slightly as he could and continued on.   He made it to a shallow section and glanced around, spotting the biker in the distance, so he headed off again.

He made it to the far end of the beach and decided he was tired of swimming and there were some nice, concealing rocks there so he got out and snuck behind them, turning to lean against them.  He saw a man standing there.  Big head, carrot colored hair.  Glasses.  Long white coat.  Wheezing. Goggles pinching his brain.  Tube running out of his head to his back. Smirking evilly.  "Oh, hey, it's you," he said, punching him and sending him flying. "So much for this hiding spot.  He got up and went to work it out in a fight.  He saw Greasepit heading for him and kicked him, then got him onto the ground.  He used the guy's shirt and Karbunkle's belt to tie him up, then put him on top of Karbunkle.  Maybe someone would find them.  He stood up and found another cop standing there, watching him.  "They kidnaped me last year.  They're still free.  Feel lucky I didn't kill him."  He walked over.  "Speaking of assholes.  Is it true that if I make out with a woman in the park it's only fifty bucks but if I'm with my husband it's three-fifty?"  He slowly shook his head so he fished out the wet ticket, handing it to him. "Then someone should probably tell Officer Timers that.  Fifty right?"  The cop nodded slowly so he paid it, putting them both into his shirt pocket.  "There, I actually paid it and I feel much better now."  He stomped off, heading into the shadows.

"Sir!" he yelled, turning around to look at him.  Xander had stopped, giving him a bored look.  "Did you make a report on your kidnaping?"  He nodded.  "Did we get it?"  He shook his head.  "Feds?" he asked hesitantly.  Xander nodded.  "Do you know if there's a warrant?"

"Yeah, it's with Agent Simms."  He dug out his wallet and handed over the card, then put his wallet back.  "Give that back to him when you see him."  He smiled.  "Thank you.  The dirty one is Greasepit and the other one is Karbunkle if it helps you any."

"Thank you, sir.  I'll have someone pick them up and call him.  I'm sorry about that discrepancy.  If there's a difference, we'll notify you."

"Sure.  Thank you for being so understanding."  He heard an engine and groaned.  "Sorry, escaping the overprotective husband for a walk.  Have a nice night, officer."  He headed off at a jog, blending into the shadows after a few feet.

The officer pulled up his radio, checking on the bound prisoners once the boy was gone.  "Dispatch, this is Henderson.  I'm at the rocks on the far end of the beach.  I've just witnessed a boy beating up two people who he said kidnaped him.  I need a car for the detainees and warn the captain that it's a fed case."  He hung up and walked over there to wait by them.  The kid had looked pretty good.  Maybe he'd join the department when he was old enough.


Micah walked into the lair the next morning, looking around.  He saw Charley and nudged her.  "Hey, it's nearly eight."  She yawned and got up, heading into the bathroom.  He looked down at Vinnie, who was staring up at him. "Where's Xander?"

He sat up with a small groan of complaint.  "No one's sure.  He went for a walk last night.  Why?"  He rubbed his eyes.  "New problems?"

"He beat up Karbunkle and Greasepit.  Gave the local officers my card, then jogged off into the night.  Some of the cops wanted to know if he was Batman."  He frowned.  "He never came home?"  Vinnie shook his head. "You're sure?"

"Reasonably.  Go ahead and look.  I didn't hear him and I would have woken."

Micah checked the office, then the other bedrooms, then up on the roof.  He found the boy curled up on the landing pad.  He walked over to him and watched the boy snap to alertness and hop up, and had to catch him before he fell.  "Morning.  You worried them sick and gave me more paperwork than I can do in a month."   He sighed as he looked at him.  "Another one?"  Xander nodded.  "Is this another of your 'not quite a prophetic one'?"

Xander shook his head.  "Just a standard nightmare.  I was studying how we're expanding."   He handed him the paper.  "What do you think of this?"

Micah looked at it, then at him.  "Do you need that much room?"  He groaned and nodded.  "Then I'd say have fun with it.  Will you get a discount if you use your own company?"

"Yeah, ten percent," he admitted, yawning a bit. "Sorry.  Did you not want me to have them arrested?"

"No, it's good that they were arrested.  We found their underground lab and their files with Hannah in it.  We checked but yours wasn't in there."

"It was a hope," he sighed.  "Not a real one."  He heard footsteps and grimaced.  "Laters."  He turned and jumped from their building to the top of the garage, then down the fire escape and off.

"Xander!" Charley yelled. "Get back here!"

Vinnie came jogging up.  "How did he get up here?"

"You relaxed from the bad times.  It's a natural reflex," he said, handing over the plans.  "He was thinking that for the back yard."  Vinnie looked at it and nodded, grinning at it. "He ran off again."

"We'll get 'im later," Vinnie promised with a grin.  "Thanks, Micah."

"Not a problem.  We've got some new information and we found another lab last night thanks to him."  He walked off, going to wake up Throttle.  If anyone should be finding the boy it should be him.  Throttle opened the door, sliding on his vest.  "He headed for the highway."

"Of course he did.  Any good news?"

"He kicked Greasepit's and Karbunkles' asses.  We found a new lab because he turned them into the cops.  Oh, your ticket was only sixty five, he gave them a fifty so you still owe fifteen."  He handed over a new card.  "He handed his to the cop."

"Thanks, Micah.  I'd better go chase him.  Where was he?"

"The roof."

Throttle shook his head. "Wonderful."  He went to where his bike was waiting, heading out on her to find his boy.   He found him hiding and panting in an abandoned building, and pulled up beside him.  "Well, you're dryer now. Feel better?"  Xander shook his head, still panting.  "Hurt?"

"Stitch."  He stood up, pressing on his side.  "I'm fine."

"Good.  Get on, let's go for a ride."  Xander shook his head.  "Now."

"I'm still working through it."

Throttle grabbed him and pulled him closer, looking at him.  "You're not.  You're avoiding it.  It's pissing everyone off.  Even Vinnie got upset that you took off instead of letting us help. This is what bros do for each other."

"Sorry, all I had were Buffy and Willow," he said bitterly, getting free.  "I'll be fine, I just need to finish thinking."

"Get on the bike," he said calmly.  "We'll go for a ride and talk about it. Where's your helmet?"

"Didn't you bring it home?"

"Yeah, probably.  We'll take the back roads.  Come on, we'll hit a nice, secluded spot and we'll talk.  You can work it out by babbling at me.  Then I'll explain to you why you shouldn't run from us when we're trying to help.  Right before I control my temper so I don't hit Buffy or Willow."

"Kinda hard to do, her spirit went to Plutark."

Throttle picked him up and put him in front of him.  "Stay."  He lifted the boy's eyes. "How long has it been since you've really slept?" he asked quietly.  Xander shrugged.  "Do you want to do this mentally?"

"That's like tampering."

"It's not, really."  He stroked the soft fur on his nose.  "All I ever do is look, like doing research in some ways."  He stole a kiss.  "It could be much worse. I could be the pushy sort, like Vinnie is."


Throttle joined minds with him, walking into him his mind. "Okay, this is what I do when I do this," he told him.  He pointed.  "That's where the nightmares come in.  Between you and them are you and your bros, who are willing to go through fire for you if they're true bros to you."  He looked at him.  "This is what bros do for each other. We're there for each other. We get between you and your worst instincts, like running away."  Xander hung his head. He lifted his chin. "I understand.  We all do it but when it gets to the point of a habit, it's time to get some intervention.  Which is what bros do.  Now, you wanna talk or do it this way?"

"Talk," Xander sighed.

"Good boy."  He nudged him out of his mind and woke up, looking up to see people with guns pointed at them.  "Huh.  Xander?"

Xander looked at them.  "Wonderful."  He looked at the skinheads.  "Sorry, were we in your spot?"

"You're not human."

"Really?  Prove it."

"You're furry!" one of them said in shock.  "What do you mean, prove it?"

"Prove it.  Don't you have body hair?"  The man looked confused.  "Don't you?"

"No psychological bullshit, man!" one of them yelled, pulling his gun back up.

"Sure, not an issue," Throttle assured him.  "Though he's right, you guys are furry too.  The only difference is that our tails never fell off before we were born and we're a bit more furry."

"You're mutants!" the guy in the back shouted.

"Bet me, moron. Do you see a special outfit?  I mean, *seriously*!  Do you not read the comics?  They all have better clothes than I'm wearing.  Shit, man, I was in the lake last night. That's why I'm furry, it's the damn pollution in the lake."  They looked at each other. "Don't believe me?  Go take a swim, man.  Let's see what you come up as."  They backed off.  "Up to you, really.  You can go test it for yourself. Maybe you guys'll have better luck than I did."  He knew he was starting to sound hysterical, but it was all part of the plan.  "Come on, let me show you!"  He took a step and they ran, one of them trying to shoot as he ran away.  Xander growled and pulled Throttle's gun, firing back and getting his gun.  "Don't shoot at me.  This makes me better."  That one screamed and finished running away.

Throttle took his blaster back.  "Good job."  He saw Vinnie ride past, going after them. He took off his helmet and sure enough his radio was on.  "I've got to fix that stuck button."  He looked at Xander.  "You okay ?"  He nodded, leaning against the wall, looking at him.  "Wanna talk now?"

"Not really."

"Fine."  He pulled him closer with his tail, bringing him back into his lap, going back in his head.  Xander struggled and tried to push him out but he wasn't doing it.  His shields were down.  That's what part of the problem was.  He put them back in that same spot, looking around the blank spot.  He concentrated and pulled Xander to stand beside him.  "So, let's talk."  Xander groaned.  Throttle pulled him closer, putting an arm around his shoulders.  "Okay.  Let's start with the basics."  He created two windows.  One showed Willow and Buffy.  The other showed them.  "Okay, those are girls.  Girls who didn't like you.  Girls who didn't appreciate you.  Even though they were there at times for you, and they're friends, do you expect them to come for you if something happens?"

Xander looked at him.  "I did for years."

"Good.  Did they?"  Xander shrugged.  "Honestly."

"Usually."  He pulled away.  "They tried.  For me, that was enough."

"Okay, what about me?  Do you think I'm going to try or be there?"

Xander considered it.  "You'll be there if possible."

"No, not possible. If I'm alive, I'll be there."  Throttle pulled him closer, looking into his eyes.  "If I'm alive and you're in trouble, I'll be there," he repeated more quietly, hoping it sunk in.  "The same as the other two will. The same as Dawn will and Rimfire will.  This is what family does and what bros do because they're as close as your family."  He saw one of the windows change, and realized who they were.  "Your family are not the tightest of all people.   They're not exactly well-wound and they're not the sort of family I mean."

"Oh, I know.  Did you know they found my mother's body?  Under the excavations.  Then the insurance company called to see why her body was found under about a mile of dirt.  When they found her there weren't any marks on her and she was laying on her stomach.  Now, they called me to see why she was under a mile of dirt, why I had claimed she was dead before then, and apparently did not read the file at all.  So I ended up screaming at them at work."  Throttle shuddered.  "And I went to the local office and laid it all out for them.  They called Corporate to yell at them for me.  Speaking of which, I put you on my life insurance."

Throttle was almost thrown by that change of topic.  He knew it wasn't a diversion it was just how Xander's thoughts went.  "Thanks.  Did they find your father?"  He shook his head.  "Any idea what's going to happen?"

"Yeah, the formal paperwork to have him declared legally dead is next week. I still don't know how they thought I had put her under a mile of dirt with no tunnels near there, under a big, heavy building that was still partially standing so they could tell it wasn't repaired, and somehow managed to teleport her down there.  The workmen found her during the day of digging.  It wasn't like they walked in and she was suddenly lying in the open hole.  They scooped up some dirt and saw her butt."   He started to pace and Throttle let him.  "I don't know what's going on."

"It's starting to build back up."

"Yeah, it is, I guess.  Stress over the new site and the design, stress over the hearing, stress over the hellmouth on Plutark.  If that goes sour, I'm going to have to go save Plutarkians from vampires.  If I don't then no one else will."

"That's why Wes and Fred came back," Throttle reminded him.  He looked at the windows, watching as the various scenarios started.  The recent nightmares had taken over the one that went from Buffy and Willow to his parents. "Do you have any other relatives?"

"A possible cousin but I haven't seen her since she ran away at twelve.  She ran away from my Uncle Rory and that's why he started to drink.  I have no idea if she's still alive or not.  If so, I'm betting she's going to show up with her hand out.  Willow filed her with that national place that puts up the signs.  After the hellmouth went I called them to update her file that her father was now dead and that I was the only relative."  He stopped pacing, looking at him.  "I don't know what's going on!"

"I do.  Turn around."  Xander turned and went pale.  "Each time one of the stresses was mentioned, the window changed. So each of those is starting off a new nightmare."  He heard Vinnie outside his head and shook his one in there.  "I think Vinnie's arrived."  He saw the other picture change and sighed.  "No, I know it's not really possible."  Xander gave him one of those harsh 'get real' looks.  "Okay, let me amend that since I need to be totally honest here to help you.  It's possible, but it's not probable.  You two would look good together.  I think the energy you would create between you would probably light the whole east coast for a few days at the least."  Xander grinned but shook his head.  "I know. It's one of those things that I keep getting stuck on.  Sorry but you'd look adorable together.  Twins are so rare on Mars that it's almost like touching something holy."

"Yeah, but I don't think about him that way!" Xander complained.  "I like him, I like him a lot.  Possibly, *possibly*, if we were free, we might try something but not without that being met.  I couldn't do that to her or you."

"Sometimes you're this gentle little nice guy and sometimes you're this violent force for destruction and protection."  Xander groaned and nodded.  "I like it.  It means you won't be boring to be with."  Xander snorted, shaking his head.  "I don't mind."  He pulled him closer, using one hand to cup his cheek so he could get a kiss.  "The reason I get stuck there is because I can see it.  You'd be good with them and for them.  Either of them would be good for you.  I can't say that you'd be bad with them.  I can easily see you making a trio with those two."  He stole another kiss.  "I don't want to lose you to them and that makes me a bit jealous and Vinnie feels the same way. Besides, she's his girl and that's his baby and the only one who should get anywhere near his baby is him."  He stole a third kiss.  "I know you don't get it and Charley keeps yelling at us for being cave mice."  That got a small smile and a nod.  "We're trying, Xander.  We've both lost most of everything."  He used his thumb to stroke the soft cheek.  "I'm glad you like my mother but can you relax about her hugging you?"

"I always feel like she's going to hit me."

"She noticed.  She hasn't swatted me since I was eight, honey.  It won't happen."  Xander nodded, relaxing some.  He heard Vinnie again and shook his head.  "He's getting impatient.  Wanna go back to the real world?"

"Not really.  It's kinda easier to talk this way."  He looked at him.  "Was he right?  Is there going to be a permanent bond? Like the other morning?"

"Probably.  I know I can feel when you're in trouble.  I have since the second car crash I think it was."  He shrugged.  "It's a good thing in my book.  Yours?"

"I don't mind," he admitted.  "It's good in a lot of ways but every now and then you pull out the dad act and I can feel the irritation and it just makes it worse."  He shrugged and suddenly felt himself be knocked to the ground, staring up at the grinning white mouse.  "It's his idea.  We're doing therapy."

"Yeah, I heard."  He beamed at him. "Your shields are *history*."  Xander stared at him so he nodded, still smirking.

"They are?"

"Yeah," Throttle admitted.  "They were totally gone this time."   He walked over and squatted down.  He looked at Vinnie.  "I know you're getting the same feelings I am about the four of us."

Vinnie nodded.  "Yeah, that it'd be cute and something else, but she's mine and he's ours and ... I mean yours.  Sorry."

"It's only natural.  We used to date, he and Charley are incredibly close.  You two are nearly twins. That connects us.  Then poor Modo has to sit there and watch it all."

"Eeeh, the next time he comes home, his mother's got a girl from him to meet," Xander admitted. "She was telling Dawn and Rimfire about her.  She sounds really sweet but with a slightly wild streak.  One of those who found her own way to do whatever her mom ordered."

Vinnie noticed the windows then looked at Xander.  "Can I?"

"Do you want to be bound with me too?"

"Bro, we're already bound," Vinnie told him, staring in his eyes.  "That's how we're nearly twins.  I don't know why or from what, but it's a rush."

"That's how you guys pull that twins trick," Throttle agreed.  He sat down to spare his knees.  "There's been a lot of stress.  They found his mother's body.  They're about to declare his father legally dead.  Then there's the hellmouth on Plutark."  The window changed and Vinnie shuddered.  "He saw that one lat night and puked, Xander."

"I'm sorry."  He looked up at his big brother.  "How did we get stuck?"

"Probably the time I was showing you the pools.  That's about when Throttle got stuck in there too."  He gave him a quick kiss.  "It may happen but I'm not looking for it."

"Me either."  He touched his antenna to Vinnie's and showed him how he felt about him.  Vinnie sniffled and crushed him against him in a hug.  He pulled back.  "Okay?"

"Great actually."  He grinned and pulled Throttle between them for a hug.

"I feel like I'm wrapped in a white, furry blanket.  Feels nice."  Xander snickered and squeezed him harder. Then Vinnie squeezed him harder.  "Okay, no more acting like a big snake," he groaned.  "Even worse than Modo on an emotional kick, guys," he complained.  They nuzzled him and he got kissed.  "Thanks, guys.  Can I get up now?"

"If you have to," Xander sighed, easing off.  Vinnie let go and Xander let him go so he was just lying between them. "Now what?"

"Now, you come out of here and go home to take a nap.  Not on the roof this time."

"Losing your patrol touch?" Throttle asked.  Vinnie pinched him so he smirked.  "You didn't hear him sneak up?"

"You didn't either, I came in and changed clothes," Xander told him.  "I can sneak."

"It's that ability that's polluting you and giving you those spots."  Vinnie poked him.  "Come on, you can come out.  We love you and we've got to take a nap."

"Fine.  Get out of my head.  I'll figure out why my shields are gone."

"Well, last night we did find someone trying to impose nightmares on you," Throttle admitted.  Xander looked at him.  "We blocked it, but you've got to rebuild your shields before we have to deal with a possessed you."  Xander nodded.

"I saw the plans and I liked them," Vinnie offered.  "Can we?"  He nodded.  "Good.  Then let's do that."  He pushed Throttle off and stood up, hauling up Xander and holding him still.  He grinned at him. "If it happens."

"If it happens.  Or if something happens to you."

"Hey, if something happens to our fearless leader and dad there, then you're mine anyway," Vinnie gloated.

"Will one of you sleep with me?" Xander asked, blinking a bit.

"Sure.  Let's go home."  They nodded and removed themselves, then Xander pressed and broke through the barrier in his mind.  He looked at it, then shook his head and went to the office area, flipping the switch to remove that barrier and then the switch for his shields. Then he woke up.  He blinked, finding Micah and Modo staring at him.  "What?  Not my idea."  He pointed at Throttle.  "Yell at him."

"How are your shields suddenly back?" Vinnie called from where he was sitting.

"I flipped the switch."  He craned his head back, looking at him.  "How long was I out?"

"Sixteen hours.  By the way, congratulations, you got the design and you've got a meeting on Monday afternoon to make any changes.  Bring your laptop."  Throttle threw down his cards.  "I hate three card stud."

"Hey, there's only one stud in this game," Vinnie bragged.

"Yeah, but I'm over here," Xander called.  He sat up and took the soda Micah was holding, gulping it.  "Bless you, you saint."

"You say that now, just wait," Micah said dryly.  He sat down beside him.  "Your lawyer has talked to the judge about your mother's body being found.  He said it doesn't have any bearing.  The insurance company said that you were still owed the money and she still disappeared at that time.  They're standing by their earlier decisions."  He patted him on the arm.  "We have a slayer dream from Cleveland about Plutark."  Xander's ears perked up and he looked at him fully.  "Martians don't taste good to vampires.  Not even those.  She said they were more than willing to eat the Plutarkians but not the furry people she saw."  Xander slumped.  "So it's cool, okay?"  He nodded.  "Good. Any other issues you're seeing?"

"Only the plans for the new addition.  Vinnie, do you still have that?"

"Yeah, it's in the study.  Oz was fiddling with the drawing program to do that."  He grinned at Throttle.  "You tell him."

"We held a meeting and we liked it.  Especially that partially covered lounging area. Are we planning everything to be the same height?"

"I was thinking one extra level up.  Put the library level to this level with the doorway on the other side of the kitchen.  Put another one downstairs. A ramp in the middle and one on the far end. Make that one two stories maybe?"

"Three works and it'd give us empty space for a change," Throttle offered. "I especially liked the workout area and how you could go from there to the outside."  He gave him a fond look.  "We'll work out final plans tonight, babe.  Wanna come play?"  Xander shook his head. "Hungry?"  Xander hesitated.  "Momma, Xander's up."  She hurried out, picking him up and putting him at the table, then Throttle's mother came out with a full plate and gave him a hug.  A very gentle, motherly sort of hug.

"You eat every single bite, Xander.  I don't care if you don't like it, you need it and you'll be eating it."  She patted him on the head and went back to the kitchen.

Xander looked at the plate, then at the mice, then shook his head.  "Hotdogs?" he mouthed.  Throttle nodded.  "Tofu?" he asked hopefully.   Vinnie nodded, smirking at him.  Xander shrugged and ate the first one.  At least there were enough toppings to cover the taste because these were those nasty meat hotdogs.  He dove into the chips after that.  He looked at the other two hotdogs, nearly whimpering. "Mom, can I have some pizza or something?  I'll make Vinnie eat these."

"Eat those Xander and I'll let you pick what you want to eat," she called.

"They're not tofu," Xander said, letting out a belch.  He gave Vinnie a look.  "Please?"

"I don't need swatted."

Xander looked, then pushed over the plate.  Throttle and Vinnie scarfed the other ones and he took the plate into the kitchen, pulling out one of the frozen pizzas.  "Thanks, mom."  He kissed Throttle's mother on the cheek and went back to the table.

"Why don't you like hotdogs?"

"We took a tour through a meat plant when I was younger.  You're lucky I eat any meat," he offered with a grin.  She chuckled and patted him so he went back to the table.  "Can I play?"  They nodded, dealing him into the next hand.  "Come play, Micah."

"Huh?"  He looked up from his book.  "I'm reading while I hide from Lorne."  He went back to his book.  Modo's mother brought him a few hotdogs, getting a smile.  "Thanks."  She gave him a pat on the head and went back to the kitchen.  Micah ate the first bite.  These weren't too bad for being tofu.  Apparently someone had gotten them mixed up.  He didn't care, it was good enough.  Xander chuckled and Throttle moaned.  "Play for favors, boys."

"Bike washings this round," Vinnie called.  "We're up to tiny shorts and a wax job."

Micah shook his head.  "Only you guys."  He took another bite and smiled.  At least he didn't have to hide from them like he did Lorne.  The main phone rang and he grabbed it, putting it against his ear.  "Yeah?"  He listened.  "Sure."  He hung it up.  "We've got another crash," he announced, changing the page.  "She'll be here in a few hours."

"Who?" Throttle asked.

"No name given."

Xander looked at Vinnie.  "Possibly another ex?"

"There's six or seven out of over six hundred thousand, those are pretty slim odds," Vinnie said dryly.  "Modo, we've got another crasher coming."

"Wonderful. I'll keep an ear out."

Xander looked over as Oz came out with a picture, looking at it.  "I like that. Are those mine?"

"Yuppers."  He sat down, taking the cards Throttle was shuffling to deal.  "Fish?"


Oz nodded and dealt, dealing himself in.  "Played on the ship to Tibet."  They got into it.  "Bets?"

"Last round was for washing bikes in tiny shorts," Xander said with a grin.  "The owe me.  I'll let 'em do their own bikes though."

"Gee, thanks," Throttle said dryly.  "I'll borrow your blue ones."

"Hey, I get to borrow his clothes," Vinnie complained.

"Guys, I'll buy you your own," Xander said, more to defend his poor clothes than to stop the argument.   He looked at Oz.  "You liked it?"

"I did.  It's simple, got too much room, and it'll be fun."

Xander grinned.  "Sure."  He looked at Throttle, who nodded.  Then at Vinnie, who beamed.  "Fine, you guys can even help the crew.  I don't think Merle's doing anything."  He grabbed the phone, calling the bank first.  His bank account was a bit emptier than it should be.  So he called Wesley.  "Did you take some of the Watcher money back?"  He got a negative response.  "Thanks."  He hung up and called the bank.  "I just checked my balance..oh.  How soon?"  He nodded.  "Thank you."  He hung up.  "Someone hacked the bank and took about two percent of the money.  Though, if they only took two percent I'm wondering where the extra came from."

"Interest."  Micah looked at him.  "It'll be returned by the insurance people tonight.  Merle's at home, you're right, his crew's done."

Xander called Merle at home.  "Hey, me.  We need more room at the house."  He chuckled. "No, I'm not asking if you could put up a few of us so you could hit on Vinnie."  Vinnie chuckled at that.  Xander grinned.  "Sure, I know I'm the only white mouse you like.  No, I'm planning an expansion project.  Because the family keeps growing and I just got gifted with a library and weapon collection."  He beamed.  "Sure.  Thanks.  Yeah, I did a preliminary and Oz prettied it up.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "He'll be over soon."

"Do we have to buy any of that land?" Micah asked.

"One piece and only about a hundred feet of it," Xander offered.  "I've still got to transfer the garage back to Charley too."   He got up and went to talk to her, finding her alone in the garage.  "Why didn't you remind me to transfer the garage back?"

"It's not a problem, I knew you'd give it back if I asked."  She smiled up at him.  "Finally awake?"  He nodded.  "Good.  Can I have a hug?"  He hugged her.  "So, how much were you going to be paying me for the encroachment onto the garage's property?"

Xander winked.  "What'dya want?  Fair property value?"

"That'd be fine."  She tickled him and grinned.  "We need to draw up those forms."

"I was going to call someone today to do that.  Or if you've got someone we can do it with them.  I've got to buy about a hundred feet of the people behind you too."

"Sure.  I know a lawyer, I'll call him to see if he's got a few free minutes."  He nodded. "Go eat."  He nodded, going to it. She checked her rolodex, calling the lawyer she did repairs for.  "Hi, this is Charley at the Last Chance, is Bob in?"  She smiled.  "No, just a bit of legal business.  A title transfer back to me and a small bit of property exchange.  Thanks.  Yeah, I'll be here.  Thank you."  She hung up and went back to her book.  It was too early for baby names but Vinnie was going to be stubborn if she didn't get it in sooner.  Her phone rang and she picked it up.  "Last Chance Garage."  She smiled.  "Hey, Bob. Nah, I had a friend who found out my mortgage was up for sale and bought it for me to make sure no one bad could.  Plus I'm selling a bit of the spare land behind me to the same guy for an expansion of their house.  Yeah.  Sure.  Anytime's fine.  Yeah, Xander, how did you know?"  She grinned.  "I didn't recognize you.  When did you cut off all your hair?"  She chuckled.  "Sure.  I'm here.  Thanks."  She hung up and shook her head, humming a certain disney song about the shrinking nature of the universe.


Xander walked into the bank, going to the people in the office he usually dealt with.  "Hey," he said, making her squeak.  "My funds back?"  She nodded, waving at the chair.  "Thanks."  He sat down, grinning at her.  "We're all set then?  It's all back and I can do what I need?"

"What do you need?"

"To add on some new rooms before we're cramped for too long."

"Ah."  She smiled.  "Okay, are you doing it as an auto-draft?"

"I don't know.  I know the guy's doing it very well, I used to work on that team.  I could do it up front.  I'll have to buy a few small pieces of land too."  She nodded.  "Are any of the ones around me up on the block? Just to check."

She typed his address into the search engine on her computer, finding one surprising thing.  "There's an order for no construction on that site," she said, frowning at it. "I don't know why."

"We're not near the gas project.  Did you put road instead of ave?"  She nodded, changing that.  "Did it fix it?"

"It's listed under your name."

Xander groaned.  "Why?"

"I don't know, it's the city, Xander."  She typed into the real estate finder, and smiled.  "There's two but none on the adjoining lots."

"I need about a hundred feet from the one behind mine and the one behind the Last Chance."  She clicked on those and wrote down the names and addresses, handing them over.  "Thanks.  Any idea which department put the hold on my construction?"

"Not a clue, Xander."  She went back to that screen and looked it over.  "It doesn't say."

"Okay.  It can only be one of two places."  He stood up.  "I'm off to City Hall.  Is everything in that one account?"  She nodded.  "Any problems with that?"

"No, Xander.  It's a good thing, you're fine, and you're doing good on interest too."  She smiled and he nodded, going out to his car.

He headed for the permit department, going to talk to them.  He walked in and got a smile. "Hi.  I just found out there's a hold on me doing an expansion to my home.  Why?"


"Xander Harris."

"Hmm."  She found his name on the list and shrugged, looking at his file.  "I don't know, sir. It was filed that there were structural problems."

"I just built it last year. We haven't destroyed it.  Who did the walk-through?"

"It's on hold until we do a walk-through," she admitted.  "Let me get an inspector."  She dialed to an office up the hall.  "Hi, Philip, this is Kelli.  I have a contractor here in my office wondering why his home expansion has a hold.  Please."  She hung up.  "He'll be right up, sir."

"Thanks."  He shrugged.  "I know I was thinking about it."  He pulled out the list and handed it to them.  "Can you see if they're in your system as on hold or on sale?"

"Of course."  She searched through the system, finding the addresses.  "They're not on hold.  They're both for sale.  As is the one on the other side of the Last Chance."

Xander considered it.  "Who?"

"Um, the city has them for demolition.  We bought it because it was so rundown.  Going cheap," she teased.

Xander nodded, considering it.  "The one behind me, behind the garage, and the one beside the garage.  Fine.  Let me call my bank."  He called her office.  "Well, I'm at city hall and they're for sale by the city for demolition."  He looked at the woman.  "How much?"

"If you're going to demolish, or do a promise to demolish within ten years, you can have it for fifty percent of market value."  Xander handed over the phone.  "Hi, we're looking at buying him some property.  With a promise to demolish..."

"Not an issue.  We can do that.  It'll help when I'm having an angry moment."  The other woman in the office chuckled.  The door opened and he looked at the man behind him.  "Hi, I'm Xander Harris.  Is the hold because I'm filing for a permit for expansion or was it something else?"

"The person reported that the building was poorly built."

"Fat chance.  I worked on it myself.  You can come and look if you want."

"Please.  That would remove the block."  He smiled at the women.  "Expanding onto another lot?"

"Yeah, I've got plans for an L-shaped one behind the present building.  We only built it a year ago and we're not that rough on it.  I even built it to earthquake and tornado standards."

"That's fine, Mr. Harris."  The woman over there chuckled and closed his phone, handing it back.  "Need him?"

"For ten more minutes.  Let me print these forms out and we'll get him to sign them to start the sale."  She finished typing and started the printing, handing over the stack.  "Sign on any blank."  He nodded, going through, glancing at all of them.  He looked up at one point.  "It's a standard clause."

"No, I agree totally.  We have a restraining order against him," he told him, signing that one with a bigger signature.  He went through all the forms, then went back and found a spot to sign before handing it over.  She looked them over and nodded, handing one back, which needed his social security number.  She smiled and stamped them, then handed him one with the cost and the details.  "How long?"

"Probably about three weeks, Mr. Harris. Thank you."

"You're welcome."  He tucked that one into his pocket, taking his phone off the counter and following the inspector.  "Need a ride?"

"No, I've got my own," he promised. "I'll meet you there."

"Sure."  Xander got into his car and plugged in his phone, calling the house.  "Coming back with an inspector.  Clear the bros," he said as he started his engine and took off.  "Sure."  He took off, heading for the garage and the house. He parked and got out, waiting for the other man to show up.  He looked at the garage wall and noticed a hole.  "Charley, do I need to patch something?"

"Please."  She came to the door.  "Enamel thinks Vinnie's too hyper and said he can't have sex for a week."  She grinned at him.  "Inspector?"  He nodded.  "Sure, I'll make sure he know's your fixing that one."

"I could expand the window."  She shook her head and ducked back inside.  He went to look at it, then got the patching wire and compound. It wouldn't take him that long and the inspector could look around.  They hated it when he hovered.  The inspector came out the back door and stared at what he was doing.  "Hole appeared last night from the neighborhood."

"Oh, that's fine.  You're good at that."

"It happens," he said with a smirk. "I'm trying to class up the neighborhood by being here."  That got a small laugh.  "So?"

"I don't see any problems.  That bottom bathroom isn't on the plans?"

"It was finished later but we had the drain and water lines already in place.  I checked, I didn't have to say anything to you guys to finish it."

"No, you didn't," he agreed.  "Very nice taste by the way.  Where are your plans?"  Xander took him up to the office to look over them with Merle, who smirked at him.  "There's a hold."

"I heard that and figured Xander would go to your office directly."

"I had to go buy land," he said, handing over the paper.  "We'll work on demolishing as needed."

"Thanks."  He looked it over, nodding.  "Good price."

"Thanks.  Did you know there's a clause saying that you won't sell to Limburger?"

"I hadn't but it makes me happy."  He handed over the plans.  "This is what he had planned."

The inspector looked them over, nodding.  "I like those.  It's simple, nice, pleasingly laid out.  What's with the roof?"

"We like to hold parties up there.  We have this one reinforced too."

"That's fine," he agreed.  "It looks good.  Have you filed the paperwork for new permits?"  It was handed to him.  "Ah.  Even better.  I'll file these for you.  You should hear back within a week.  Probably about the same time you hear about the land. I'm not foreseeing any problems.  I will make a note that Limburger has a restraining order against him in case he files a protest."  He shook their hands.  "Thank you, gentlemen.  Have a nice day."  He went back to his car to make his report and file those papers.  By the time he got back to the office, they were entered in the computer by the secretary he had called.  He popped into the first office.  "Hi, any problem with the Harris sale?"

"Not so far.  I did note that Limburger has a restraining order, as does Wolfram and Hart."  She smiled at him.  "Was it pretty?  He does good work."

"It is, it's very nice.  It's clear that they're cramped in there because there's dents in the walls and things, but otherwise it's nice."  He went down to his office to finish filing those for him.  Under the section of designed by he put Xander's name since it was clear it was his plan.

The End.

To part 25

To index