Xander stomped into work the next morning, not a happy camper in the least. Trisha gave him a look. "Don't ask," he said firmly. "Just don't ask. I doubt you want to hear about the succubus."
"Succubus? Man, you have a more exciting sex life than I do," she said dryly, smirking at him. He didn't even crack so she sighed. "You okay?"
"It went after Dawn's guy and for some reason she went into instinctual overdrive to protect him by keeping his attention the old fashioned way. She got to miss school today because she had rope burns." She winced. "She tied herself up!" She shuddered. "Seriously! A succubus came after Rimfire, she went into super-sexual-protector overdrive and just stayed there all night. Just so she couldn't get near him. Did she say something was wrong? No!" he shouted dryly. "She reacted in a primal and dangerous manner! I'm going to get my ass flamed when Throttle wakes up because he didn't get to see this!"
"Chill, Xander. Is the kid all right?"
"Yeah, and the succubus got drug off by her hair," he said grimly. "I tossed her outside." He glared, tapping his foot. "Needless to say, it was not a happy night."
"I'm sorry. You need a nap?"
"I got about an hour," he admitted, stomping outside. He looked at his crew, noticing two were missing. "They later than I am?"
"One has today off and the other one called in," one of his guys called. "You okay?"
"Fucking succubus hitting on my family," he growled, going to start on the walls again. Maybe some pounding would help his temper. Nothing else was. "Sorry if I scare anyone," he said as he pulled his hammer. "It's not intentional and not meant toward you and yours." He found a stud wall that was crooked and looked at everyone. "Did I do this one?" Everyone shook their heads. "Whoever did this one, get with someone to teach you better. It's crooked, I won't accept that." He started on the new wall a few people were working on, going to drive nails through the wood. Usually in two hits it seemed.
Trisha came out and looked at the people. "That wall is shoddy, whoever worked on it yesterday redo it better. Leave Xander alone, his adopted daughter went into protective mode when her boyfriend got hit by a succubus on the prowl." Most of them shuddered and went to work, a few guys sheepishly working to fix that wall. "I mean rebuild it," she ordered. "That won't stand up to a body-slamming demon."
"Yes, ma'am," the guys said, bringing it down to do it over.
Throttle woke up and stretched, noticing the bed was very cold, so apparently Xander hadn't been in last night. He got up and stopped to sniff, walking down to Rimfire's room. "Dawn!" he shouted when he saw her in there. "Out!"
"Quit, Throttle," Modo said from behind him. "He got attacked by a succubus. She went into protector mode. It kept him from being taken. It was instinctive." He handed over Xander's note. "Here, from your man."
"At work." He shrugged. "He got about an hour's sleep and I gave him a ride because he was still so pissed." He closed their door. "He put protections on them, that's what the funky fungus smell is."
"Fine." He read the note, groaning. "Well, at least he's protected." He handed it back, heading in to take a shower. Last night had been a long night. He found someone in there and went upstairs, finding Vinnie on the couch. He shook his head, deciding it was probably Micah in the shower down there. He started his own, quickly hosing off the sweat from the last few days. By the time he was done he could smell someone had cooked so he came out, looking at the doctors sitting at the table. "Which one of us needed the shrink?" he asked dryly.
"All of you," she said, staring him down. "If only to get some of the PTSD from the war gone, Throttle. We came to check on Xander. I had to step in and tamper last night." She sipped her soda, one of Xander's. "You need to watch for a sudden personality change to wild behavior. It'll calm down in a few days but it could happen."
"Why were you tampering?" he asked calmly. He didn't even realize his arms were crossed over his chest or that he was looking quite stubborn. At least until Enamel sighed and he looked at himself. "Sorry. Long, strange night."
"Not an issue," Shell promised. "If he were mine, I'd be defensive too. It's not everyone who can help someone heal from brainwashing."
"He was?" Modo asked. "To do what?"
"By those girls," Throttle said flatly. Shell nodded.
"Oh, by them. Weren't they his bros?" Modo asked, looking confused.
"As close as he ever got," Vinnie said tiredly from his cot. "Trying to nap." He pulled his blanket over his head.
Throttle looked at him. "How deep did you go?"
"He's trained to be their servant," Shell told him. "To go with them when they go shopping, to ferry them places, to be there no matter what they do to him." Throttle nodded, he had seen that. "You saw?"
"I didn't think it was that bad. It looked like his choice."
"It was subtle," she agreed. "But ridicule and shunning have worked for years to change behavioral patterns. They slowly and carefully molded him into the friend they wanted and then changed it so he was their servant and later, a useless tool."
"Which he hates being called," Vinnie offered.
"Sorry, Vin man," Throttle said quietly, moving closer to them. "It's fixed?"
"I made it less prominent in his mind," she admitted. "I used a minimizing technique to basically put it out of the center of his mind. So now it's like they did it but it wasn't the only thing he had going in his life. He might become a bit more violent given his history and what he used to do. I wouldn't worry about it, he'd probably just want to start hunting again. Were you aware of the fractures in there?" she asked quietly. He nodded. "From what source?"
"Prior possessions," he said very quietly. She sighed and nodded. "How were his shields?"
"Vinnie knocked them down again," she said with a small smile. "He wasn't really trying to shield against him. I felt the strength. When something comes back for him, he'll be ready." He nodded, accepting that. "So all you have to do is weather a few rocky days, most likely. He may want to go hunting demons again, he may not. He may suddenly start to go wild and want to do thrilling things."
"He took Vinnie bungee jumping."
"Never mind," she said, shaking her head. "If he's already like that it may be something else, like tattoos, piercings, things like that." He nodded. "Does he ride?"
"Not by himself unless we let him borrow a bike."
"That's fine, I was going to suggest a few easy days."
"Well, we just blew up Junior's new plan to get the city. Some sort of flaming drill that was blowing up the sewer system."
"I saw. Very good work." She patted him on the hand. "You three have done an incredible job healing after what happened to you, you can point at the road signs for him." She gave him a small smirk. "Not that I think he'll need it. His mind snapped into focus right after I was done. He's a strong kid."
"He's nearly twenty-four," Throttle admitted.
"When is his birthday?" Enamel asked. "I have no idea."
"Early fall. August." He shrugged. "It's a neat thing he doesn't pay any attention to."
"Why not?" Shell asked, flipping some of her hair back over her shoulder.
"Because he hasn't really had a birthday party in years. We didn't know last year until afterward or we would have celebrated." He accepted his plate from Modo. "Thanks, bro. I'll do lunch."
"Lunch is out, Xander told me so," Modo said smugly. "You can do dinner so we don't have to deal with odd food."
"Sure." He gave him a nudge. "Rimfire okay?"
"Fine now. Apparently Dawn turning him into a puddle of goo protected him mostly. Momma would not be happy with that demon, but she'd coo Dawn to death for protecting him."
"Then I'll reverse the grounding and possibly give her back some privileges from the original."
"Xander's already done that. He kept the original but she's allowed to help him clean up his bike." He went to look at Vinnie. "I'm cooking."
"I can smell. I've got her morning sickness," he groaned.
"Sympathetic sickness isn't that uncommon. Have some ginger ale and it'll be fine, Vinnie," Enamel offered.
"Yay," Shell said dryly. "You need it, Vinnie. Otherwise you're going to be Mr. Hurl all day."
"Fine." He got up with a groan and headed into the kitchen, where they had stashed some of the vile soda for Charley. He opened a can and sipped, grimacing and shuddering. Modo walked in and opened a cabinet, handing him a bag of Muncho's chips. He nodded, taking them out to the table for breakfast. "How long should this last?"
"In humans to the fourth, possibly into the fifth month," Enamel offered. "In us, it could be all the way to the sixth month on and off."
"Should we start buying hot peppers?" Throttle asked.
"Why would you?" Shell asked.
"That's what Switch ate on *everything*," Vinnie said between bites of the chips. They weren't that bad. "Xander even found her a pint of hot pepper ice cream." Shell shuddered. "They're not all like that?"
"Well, when I was pregnant, I liked Torshia bulbs," she offered. "They're sickeningly sweet if you've never had one. About like eating a spoonful of honey." The male mice shuddered. "It depends on the person. What has Charley been craving?"
"Cheese," Vinnie said darkly. "Lots and lots of cheese."
"It's phase and it's making the baby stronger," Throttle soothed. "She doesn't eat it around you." Vinnie was still grimacing but maybe it was his latest sip of ginger ale. "It could be worse, bro. I walked in on her eating directly from a block of cheddar the other day. She saw me and put it away until I had gone."
"Yeah, at least she's not making us watch her eat cheese," Vinnie agreed, but he wasn't happy.
"Hey, it's not Limburger cheese," Modo joked. "Just mozzarella and cheddar."
Vinnie nodded. "Fortunately. No stinky cheeses." He ate another chip then put both of them away, going for something to cut the salt on his tongue. Ginger ale was bitter and bubbly but it wasn't good for him. He'd just have to tighten down on his stomach. "Where's Xander? He still sleepin', Throttle?"
"I took him to work," Modo told him. "Want food?"
"I've got it. This way you don't have to wait hand and tail on me," he said with a grin. Modo snorted and walked off, going to talk to the other mice. Vinnie started his own breakfast and walked back to the doorway. "Enamel, how do you have some sort of strange Xander sensing power?"
Throttle spit his drink of soda. "What?" he asked, taking the napkin to wipe his mouth and clean up the mess. "Wanna explain that comment?"
"The last three times Xander was bummed, he found us," Vinnie told him.
"Lack of sleep does good things for his mind," Modo said in awe.
Throttle shook his head. "Musta whacked it when he jumped from his bike to the car going two hundred miles an hour."
"Two-ten, thank you," Vinnie said proudly, smirking at them. "It's a record I believe." His bike beeped at him. "I'll clean you up after I eat. That good with you?" She snorted and settled down again.
"Chasing after Xander when he wants to go away tends to wear out the bikes," Throttle said, shaking his head quickly. "I'm foreseeing a long day at work."
"He said we can come pick him up for lunch," Modo told him. "That'd be at one."
"Sure," Throttle agreed. "Where are we eating?"
"He gave me forty."
"So, hot dogs?" Throttle asked. Modo nodded and he looked at Vinnie, who nodded. "Your breakfast is burning." Vinnie went to take his bacon and sausage out, then put in eggs. He came out a few minutes later, sitting down in his spot to dig in. "How's Charley doing?"
"Cranky probably. After all, she didn't have her best and favorite pillow," he said smugly before taking a bite of his breakfast. He looked at Enamel. "You never answered."
"Just lucky I guess," he offered. He stretched and yawned. "I didn't mean to interrupt. We were out for a quiet swim alone."
"What were they doing?" Throttle asked.
"Curled up talking on Xander's hood," Shell told him. "Vinnie makes a good big brother." She smirked at him. "I almost thought something else but I was told I was wrong." He nodded, eating another large bite.
Charley came up the ramp and stopped, turning green. "Sorry, I'll come back."
"Hold on," Throttle promised, shoveling the last of his breakfast and taking Vinnie's plate back to the kitchen. He came back with milk for the three of them. "Okay, no more food, Charley girl." She turned back around and looked a bit better. "You okay?"
"Fine." She sat down and took the extra glass of milk. "Someone came to the garage looking for Xander and I referred them to the site."
"Who?" Throttle asked. She shrugged. "He didn't give a name?"
"Nope." She took a drink of milk and grimaced, pushing it away. "Is it bad?"
"No, but you may not want milk. It's the way cravings work," Shell soothed, patting her hand. "I had that same thing, and couldn't drink milk after that." Charley grinned at her. "My daughter still hates milk."
"You have a daughter?" Throttle asked. "I know you said you had a kid."
She nodded. "She's still alive. When I was captured, my father took her and my infant son in. He got a fever and we lost him about a year after I was captured, but my daughter is about to graduate from school and is going for healing. She wants to be a nurse."
"It's a good, solid job," Enamel agreed. "You said she's worked in the clinics before so she's at least got a clue."
"She does," she agreed with a smile. "I'm very proud of my daughter. She's a great little girl." She grinned at Charley. "Yours will be too."
"Daughter?" Vinnie's ears perked up. "We're sure?"
"Too soon to tell," Enamel reminded him. "Two more months." Vinnie slumped a bit. "We'll see. It'll be fine."
"I've got to figure out if I'm getting her...it..the baby motocross stuff or dolls."
"She can do motocross," Charley assured him. "You won't be turning my child into some girly girl. She'll be just as tough as I am, and she'll be the one who'll make you see that women can be in combat."
"But it's dangerous," he complained. She glared at him and he piped down, slumping a bit even. "Sorry."
"Yeah, until the next battle."
"You're not going into battles while you're having the baby," Throttle told her. "Sorry, but no. Even if we would let you, Xander would tie you in a closet. He's decided this is as close as he's getting to a kid of his own." She nodded, letting out a quiet sigh. "So let's behave and it'll be fine. After the birth and after the baby's weaned, we'll consider helping you train to get back into shape."
"I'm not going to be that far out of shape."
"You can't lift weights, but you can do arm and leg exercises," Enamel offered. "Some yoga with Xander so he has to do it." She shook her head. "It could help with the birth. There's a lot of humans who say so."
"Yoga is not my thing. I don't listen to Enya either."
"Yeah, who wants to get bendy and calm?" Vinnie snorted, shaking his head. "That's a Dawn thing."
"Yes, but Xander needs the work on his flexibility, his nature is starting to encourage him to do acrobatic stuff like jumping through the trees. I can't imagine how miserable he'll be if he isn't caught the next time he misses."
Throttle shuddered. He'd seen Xander with a cold. That was enough for him. A sick and helpless Xander was a torture on others. "Fine, we'll start doing it with him once a week and Charley girl can join in more often if it helps her and she wants." He shuddered again. "Eww."
Dawn wandered up the stairs and hissed as sat down. "Ow. Never doing that again." She leaned against Charley's arm, getting a hug without having to ask. "I hate succuba."
"What happened? I thought you were grounded," Charley asked.
"A succubus came for Rimfire and she protected him by making it impossible for the succubus to latch onto any sex drive," Throttle told her. "So said Xander. He did something to make sure she couldn't come back but Dawn protected him very well."
Dawn yawned. "I'm so glad I'm on the shot."
Shell picked up one of her hands to look at the bandages. "Did it drive you insane?"
"I tied myself down and fought to get back to him. I knew something was wrong, I'm never *that* desperate." She yawned again. "Can I die?"
"Go soak, it'll help," Throttle said gently. She shook her head. "Yeah, it will."
"No, no hard surfaces, nothing that'll make my butt ache," she complained. "Please?"
"A warm, hot bath will ease those aches, Dawn," Shell assured her.
"I don't care. I sat down, that's good enough. I'm not moving. I'll replace the chair if I have an accident, but I'm not moving."
Vinnie got up to start the bath water going, and Modo picked the girl up and brought her into the bathroom. "Need help getting undressed?" Dawn gave him a hurt look. "Into the water. It'll help. I've done that to girls in the past, honey." He helped her stand then they left.
Dawn looked at the water, wincing when she bent down to stop the water at a good height. She slowly eased her way into the hot water, hissing and wincing, and at one point crying out. "Ow!" She was nearly in there when Charley knocked on the door. "Not yet."
Charley stuck her head in. "You okay?"
"I'm rubbed raw," she said flatly. "No."
Charley came in and helped the girl stand, giving her a once-over. Even she winced. "You've got a small tear too, Dawn." She helped her into the water again. "Should we stick with a liquid diet for you?"
Dawn looked up at her. "Was that a subtle way of asking if we butt-sex?" Charley nodded, giving her that patient look. "You look like my mom when you do that."
"Thanks, kiddo. Want some juice?"
"Then I'd have to pee and that would hurt. Can't I just have a catheter and an IV?"
"We'll see." She pushed her hair back, then grabbed a scrunchie and put it back for her, earning another wince. "I didn't take him for a hair puller."
"He's not usually but he had the grip of death in there while I was going down on him last night." She rubbed her scalp. "Can I have drugs and maybe I'll try to drink the juice too?"
"Sure, sweetie, let me get that for you. You know, we're proud that you protected him, even if we think this was a bit extreme."
"Instinct. Pure animal instinct. Can't say I didn't have fun though," she admitted blandly. "Just never again and not for at least a month." Charley smiled and went to get her a bottle of apple juice and the tylenol.
"She all right?" Shell asked. Charley shook her head.
"Rimfire hurt her?" Modo asked.
Charley looked at him. "Have you ever had enough sex that you rubbed someone raw?" He blushed and shook his head quickly. "She did." She delivered the necessities. "Yell if you need help. I'll let Vinnie fuss over you for a few hours." She winked at her. "Good?"
"Oh, excellent," Dawn agreed smugly, "but damn, seven times was more than enough and that was right after I tied myself down. We went another eight or ten because she was urging him on!" She sipped her juice. "I love my man, but if he can get it up in the next week, I'm going to run screaming and have him checked for possession!"
"Shh, it'll be fine," Charley soothed, patting her on the head. That got another wince. "Watch your bandages and we'll see you when you get out." She pulled the curtain to give the poor girl some extra privacy then went back to the table. Vinnie was eating in the kitchen. "You can come out."
"Give me a minute."
"Bring it with you, my stomach's settling down again."
He came out without his plate. "I'm done anyway," he promised with a grin. "She okay?"
"Fifteen times," she mouthed. He gaped and she nodded. "She'll be fine."
"I've never done that, but I'm imagining that she's going to be drinking lunch?" Throttle asked. Charley nodded. "Necessary?" She nodded again. "That's fine then."
"How would you do that?" Enamel asked. "I'm good, but not *that* good!"
"The demon was egging his system on," Vinnie told him. "She was complaining about number ten or so last night."
"I get that many in a weekend," Throttle said in awe. "In one night?" Vinnie nodded so he got up and went to hug Dawn. "If you need anything medical, all you have to do is ask. You did good, Dawnie. You protected and saved him." He kissed her on the cheek. "Good girl." He went back to get her another non-acidic juice.
Charley grinned at Vinnie. "Expect to be doing that after the birth for about a week."
"Whatever you need, I'm there," he promised. "Unless I'm back on Mars."
She smirked at him. "If you're back on Mars while I'm giving birth here, you're in deep, Vincent."
"It wouldn't be my fault," he complained.
She gave him a look. "Do you think I'd care?" He groaned and shook his head. "Exactly." She smiled at Throttle. "No plans for that, right?"
"No, we're going to make Junior stinkybutt go away for that whole month around when you're due," he promised. "Even if I have to taunt him away and send him to Jamaica. He's not going to be bothering you at all." They heard a thump and went to look outside. A large stack of bricks had just been dropped. "Eww. Moving those today."
Charley nodded. "Yeah, right off that person's foot too."
Vinnie opened the window and stuck his head out. "Merle, do you need help?"
"No, we've got it. Stay up there."
Vinnie pulled his head back in and shook it. "He's fine." He picked up Charley and sat her in his lap as he sat down. "There, now I can talk to the future hellion." He stroked her stomach. "Hey, little Vinnie."
"If this kid is a clone of you, it's an only child," she said flatly.
He nuzzled her neck. "If that's what you want. Any kid of ours would take everyone to raise anyway."
"We'll try, bro, but making a miniature you a reasonable mouse would be really hard," Throttle taunted.
Vinnie smirked at him. "Jealous?" he asked sweetly. "There's probably a magic something that can make Xander have one."
Throttle had the instant flash of a heavily pregnant Xander and shuddered. "Eww!" He got up, heading to find something to take that image from his head. "Make it stop!"
Modo slapped him gently. "Think about Momma," he encouraged.
"Both our mothers would coo!" he complained. "You know she would."
"Point," Modo admitted. "Then think about a race."
"Yeah, to the hospital," Vinnie snorted. Charley pinched him on the nipple, making him wince. "Easy on the merchandise. You don't want bruised goods, do you?"
"I'm already dating someone who is," she taunted.
"I should pounce you for that, but instead I'll do this." He patted her stomach, then blew a raspberry on her neck, making her swat him. One hand hit an antenna and he moaned and gasped. "Ow."
"Sorry." She kissed it. "I didn't mean to hurt these."
Throttle looked at them. He started to say something then thought better of it and went into the study, where Micah was doing something on the computer. "Doing NASA research?"
"Filing stupid reports," he complained. "Any luck getting through to Xander?"
"Nope. I didn't get to see him when he came back." Micah looked up at him. "I didn't. I apparently slept through a lot of stuff." He shuddered again and Micah handed him a magazine, which made him gape in awe. "Where?" he asked.
"Came for Modo. I checked the mail on my way up here." He smirked at him. "Not quite a pinup calendar."
"Not that he'll care." He walked it out, handing it to the big, gray guy. "Micah said it was yours and in the mailbox."
Modo looked at it, then flipped through slowly, his face slowly turning red, his jaw opening, his tongue coming out to lick his lips. He finally looked at the tag on the label, then shook his head. "I never ordered this."
Charley peered over at it. "You got one of those last month too, it said it was a gift subscription. I don't know from who."
"It's possible it's from his mother since she wanted him to start dating again," Micah said as he joined them. "I hate paperwork. Where's the used launcher?"
"Still in the car," Vinnie told him.
"I'll get it in a while then," he decided, sitting down. "Whoever got you that one has good taste," Micah told him. Modo stuffed it under the couch, still blushing. Micah grinned at him. "There's no shame in appreciating the naked body. That's why there's art."
"Yeah, but my momma taught me not to stare at art like that," he complained. He shivered and shook his head. "Next time, just send 'em somewhere else."
"I've got my very own pinup girl," Vinnie said happily, giving her a squeeze. "I don't need a calendar or a magazine."
"You will once I get too fat."
"I don't care if you're one of those people who you have to lift with a crane," he whispered in her ear. "You're mine now and I'll help you slim back down. I'm thinking a lot of celebrating." He kissed that ear gently, earning a shiver as his whiskers brushed her cheek. "Want something to nibble? We've got some really gentle, salty chips. I had 'em for breakfast because I caught your morning sickness." He stroked her stomach. "Anything for you two."
She gave him a look and smiled. "Sure, I wouldn't mind."
"Mind what?" Modo asked.
"He was saying I could share some of his chips."
Modo got up before Vinnie could and grabbed them and the open can of ginger ale. "Here you go, Charley ma'am."
"Thanks, Modo." She grinned at him. "You guys are going to spoil me."
"No more'n you deserve with one on the way." He grinned at her and sat back down, going back to what he had been looking through.
Throttle looked toward the bathroom. "Dawn, need anything?" He didn't get an answer so he went in to check on her, finding her on her side in the tub, asleep. "Aww." He left again, closing the door as gently as he could. "She's asleep. We'll have to do a bandage change on her wrists."
"Those succubus must be really strong," Shell said, shaking her head. "I only fought like that when I was captured."
Enamel gave her foot a gentle nudge with his. "She's a strong girl. She'll be fine." He winked. "Want to head out?" She nodded. "Lake?"
"Sure. I could do that. Don't you need to examine Charley?" He nodded, getting up and helping her stand, leading her to the spare bedroom. Shell looked around. "What's that thumping?"
Xander looked up as someone yelled his name. "Coming!" he yelled back. He climbed out of the hole and headed for the front gate. "Yeah?" he asked, looking out there. He saw the man standing there. "Hi. Did you need to see me?"
"Yes, I do," he said, moving closer. "I'm Lindsay." Xander quirked an eyebrow up. "You have some things of mine from Angel."
"Ya know, he told me about you," he said dryly, staring him down. "Tough. It's Angel's, he had it and I got it when he died."
"There was no will."
"Who would have upheld a vampire's will?" he asked sarcastically. "Besides, Wes and Fred said it came to me too since I wanted them."
"They're dead, kid."
"First, I'm not a kid. I haven't been a kid in a very long time," he said snidely. "Secondly, they were recently called back into Service. They're in Cleveland. You can go check on it if you'd like. If Wes or Fred says you can have it, I'll find it when we unpack and hand it over. *IF* you can prove you own it." The man glared at him. "Think I'm kidding? Get off my site, now."
"I'll have this site stopped and ruin you. Wolfram and Hart...."
"There's a restraining order against any of you coming near me or Miss Summers. Craig, can you please call the law on this nice gentleman?"
"Sure, Xander." He reached for the phone and something stopped him, wrapping a long, sticky tentacle around it. "Um, Xander?" He pointed at the small creature on the wall. "Small problem."
"Not really." He picked up a brick and slammed it into the creature, making it fall off. "It's a bug." He handed over the brick. Then he looked at Lindsay again. "Your choice how you leave. On foot or in handcuffs?"
"That would expose what you are," he sneered.
"I could kick your ass too," he said dryly.
Lindsay rubbed something. "You think so? I want my things."
"Then I'd tell Wes and Fred that. I'll listen to them. To me, you're a pissant. A meaningless nothing that's allowing me to take a water break." The man continued to rub something. "If that's for a certain succubus, she kinda died last night for fucking with Rimfire and Dawn." Lindsay's eyes went wide and he backed off. "Now then, Mr. Happy. Unless official word comes from Cleveland that it's yours, you're SOL. Since you're such a stuck-up, pitiful excuse for a man, that's shit outta luck." Lindsay pulled something else out and Xander batted it away, watching as it splattered. "Out, moron. I'm the city's protector."
"You're not a slayer though," he said with a sneer. "I'll get it or you'll die from that demon's hands."
Xander looked at the demon forming from the liquid, then rolled and dove for a two-by- four. "I need a sword!" he called. Everyone stared. "So much for a supply cabinet." He concentrated really hard, muttering while he went after the demon with the wood. It'd do for now. He felt something hit and block his calling and groaned. The sword was in the weapons cabinet. He started to summon it again, hoping someone heard the banging and let it out. Otherwise he'd have to improvise. He took another swing, ducking a bat by the heavy hand with claws, then jumped to avoid the return swat and grip it was trying to do. He finally felt the sword respond and finished calling it. It landed behind him and he flipped back, grabbing it and rushing in again. Now the demon was in for it. It wasn't an easy task but he needed to let go of some extra anger still, so it was fun...for him. For the demon, the many stabs and cuts made it howl and shake, then finally dissolve when he got it in the right spot. He hadn't known where the thing's brain was. Now he did. Live and learn every day. He looked at the minion and smirked. "Next?" The man backed off. "Craig, have the cops come find this filth before I turn him into mulch too." The security guard pounced him and got him handcuffed, then called the cops on him. Xander drug the demon away, taking it to the back shed, then sprinkled some sand over the spilled goo. He picked up his sword as the cop car showed up, waving at him. "He threatened me. There's a restraining order against Wolfram and Hart and their employees being anywhere near me or the garage or our house. If he's here it's in violation."
"Thank you, sir. That's a pretty sword."
"I'm working on getting the stuff off it for someone's collection," he admitted. He found a rag and wiped it off, holding it up. "I'm going to have to polish those scratches out too. Fortunately we've got something here with a polishing wheel." He grinned at the cop staring at him. "Wanna see?" He handed it over correctly. "I learned how to use one back in high school. Our librarian showed us. I prefer battle axes."
The cop struggled to lift it, looking at the blade in the light. "That's very pretty, and those scratches aren't too bright." He handed it back and Xander put it on his shoulder, the flat of the blade caressing the edge of his shoulder. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. They're trying to intimidate me. This one said that some stuff I inherited was his. I told him who to go see and he refused to leave. He got very nasty with me, officer. He's also taking me away from my job."
"That's fine, sir. We'll take him away. At the very least he'll be gone." He headed after his partner and the person being drug to the back of their car, waving his wrists. "That sword was heavy!" he said. "I don't know how he does that."
"Practice." His partner got in to drive. "Let's go."
"Of course." He got in, doing a visual check of the prisoner. "It'll be a short ride, sir. We're nearby."
Xander walked into the lair with his sword over his shoulder, putting it back in the open. "Stay," he told it. Just in case it moved back into the weapons cabinet.
"Sorry, we moved it because of Grip's kids," Vinnie said. "What was it?"
"Big, snot yellow, and slimly when I punctured it numerous times. Fortunately one of our night crew knew what it was and how to get rid of it." He shrugged. "I need a shower."
"Yeah, you do. Your boss called you to the vampire club tonight. With Throttle." Vinnie smirked at him, leaning against the wall. "Go shower, you smell."
"Fine." He headed for the bathroom, finding the shower already running. "Whose is this?"
"Yours," Throttle yelled. "What did you make explode?"
"Big, snot yellow demon," he called back, stripping off. Those went into his special hamper and he got into the warm spray, sighing in pleasure. This was really nice. He got clean and then got out, wrapping a towel around his hips. He paused at Dawn's door. "You okay?"
"Just sore. Rubbed raw," she admitted. "My wrists aren't as bad as they seemed. Have fun and don't turn into a vampire mouse." She grinned before going back to her book.
Xander walked into his bedroom, finding clothes laid out. "Thanks."
Throttle gave him a kiss. "I agree, no vampire mice. That would be really scary and not something I could stand to hold or let ride with me." He handed him the jeans, getting a look. "What? I'm taking you out to dinner later and you look good in these." He shrugged and went back to fixing his hair.
Xander slid into the jeans. If his man didn't want him to wear underwear, who was he to complain? He tugged on the tight t-shirt too, then grabbed his comb to do his fur. It was all messed up. He ran into an antenna and hissed, but went back to doing the fur between them. Throttle pulled him closer and got it for him, and the knot on the back of his head. "Thanks, I guess I need more practice."
"I still hit mine," he assured him, kissing him on the back of the head. "Boots?"
"Stink," he said dryly. He slid into a pair of soft leather moccasins and looked down at them. "These go, right?"
Throttle shrugged. "If you think they do then I'm not going to complain." He stole a real kiss, getting a grin in return. "Hungry?"
"Starved. I worked through lunch." Throttle gave him a look. "I was still pissed so I was pounding it out with the compactor after I finished some paperwork."
"Ah." He walked him out to his bike. "Come on, babe, let's go." He got Xander onto his bike and slid into his spot, then handed back his helmet. "You ready?"
"As I'll ever be. So, will it bother you if I get fired?"
"Not a bit. More time for cuddling and you can take those lessons you were thinking about." He started his bike. "We'll be back."
"That's not a threat," Xander added with a smirk for Dawn, who was shaking her head from her doorway. "Bed. Let him baby you."
"Then go talk to the mouse." They took off and he grabbed on, snuggling up against Throttle's back. "I needed this. It's a good finish to the end of a long day."
"It is," he agreed, "but the night's still young. Want to go to the club later?"
"Nah, I'm good." He rested his head against his man's back, comfortable for the first time all day. It was like all the anger was gone suddenly. They pulled up outside the club and he slid off, putting his helmet on the handlebars. Then he realized they were only at a light and climbed back on, putting back on his helmet because people were staring. "Sorry," he muttered.
"Not an issue," Throttle assured him, nodding at the people, who let it go and they left when the light changed. He parked. "Now we're here."
"I'm sorry I'm such an idiot."
"It's not a problem, Xander. At that place they'd probably expect it was a costume. Speaking of, we're going to make Rimfire go trick-or-treating this year. What're you going as?"
"Modo," he said with a grin. Throttle laughed and they strolled past the bouncer, who gave them an odd look. "Sorry, but he attacked me first," Xander whined at the bouncer.
"Not that. You never brought this one in here before. The last time we saw another of you it was that perpetual motion machine, the white one."
"That's Vinnie. He's like my big brother." Xander gave Throttle a hug, grinning at the bouncer. "This is Throttle, he's mine. As in I will hurt people who try to pinch mine."
The bouncer laughed. "Never a boring moment with you around, Harris. Go ahead in." He opened the door. He looked at the next demon coming up to him a few minutes later. "He's already here with his man, who he threatened to defend from pinches. I never knew mice could be that well built."
"They're all very well built," Xander's boss said smugly. "Are they dancing?"
"Nope. Sitting and drinking. Xander needed a drink. Long day at work you know," he added with a grin. "What attacked him?"
"Some big, snot yellow demon. He had to drag it into the shed so it wasn't in the open." He walked inside, heading to the table he could see the mice at. "Where's Carbine?"
"Mars," Throttle told him, shaking his hand. "Hey. Thanks for letting Merle do our job."
"It's only fair, he did the first one and he's got a bunch of new kids who needed the practice before a major job."
"We know, they dropped a wall," Throttle shared. The boss shook his head a bit. "It was fixed. Merle got onto them and had Belnif work with them." Xander snorted, shaking his head. "They learned."
"They did. The guy carries a mini whip in his pocket." He grinned at his boss. "It was attacking me, honest. Lindsay was a lawyer for Wolfram and Hart."
"I know. I also had words with him when he was released. The cops said they couldn't quite keep him, no matter how much they wanted to." Xander nodded. "You okay?"
"I got a bit slimy, but I was in a bad mood anyway. We had a succubus come for Rimfire, Dawn's boy."
"She's a bit sore. She went on primitive instinct to protect him," Throttle added. "You took off all the grounding?"
"No, I lowered it to she could get rides to and from school, she's still grounded this weekend, and she can help him fix his bike if he wants her to help polish it. I doubt she'll be in the mood for dancing or sex anyway with how sore she was."
"She told Charley they went about fifteen times."
"I can't do that even when I take those drugs," Xander's boss complained. "How?"
"The succubus was prompting him to perform," Xander sighed. "Most mice are multi- orgasmic." Throttle gave him an odd look. "Vinnie said so," he added with a smirk.
"With the way he plays around, he'd probably know," he admitted. "So, do I get my boy full time?"
"Hell no," the vampire snorted. "I'm not losing him. I don't care if he kills his whole crew for slacking off one afternoon." He looked at Xander. "How's it going?"
"Just fine. Trisha and I work very well together, and we look kinda cute together too."
"Trisha?" Throttle asked.
"My exterior chief?" Xander reminded him.
"Oh, her. Yeah. Goth girl." He nodded. He stole a kiss. "I agree, you two set each other's dark parts off very well." He stole another kiss. "After this, we're hitting dinner."
"Sure." He grinned at him. "Are we going to Andy's?"
"If you want. I was willing to splurge."
Xander ran his thumb across his mate's mouth. "I'm only going to get pushy one meal out of ten. Earlier was my treat so that was it. If you want hot dogs, we'll have hot dogs. Or you'll have hot dogs and I'll have a burger," he admitted with a small grin. Throttle shivered and pulled him closer to kiss.
"Boys," the vampire said tolerantly. They broke apart and Xander was blushing. "I'm glad he makes you so happy, Xander. Now, how are you staying part time?"
"He's part time?" Throttle asked.
"Not this week," Xander snorted. He looked at his boss. "I thought I was going to be part time on my last job."
"Nope. We don't need you to wear yourself out."
Xander gave him a long look. "What is it and when is it happening?"
"Word is that Limburger wants to blow up a good portion of the city."
"He tried last night by blowing up the sewers. We kicked his tail and made him cry," Xander told him.
"I heard. That was very impressive work with the weapons." He smiled at him. "The main reason I want you part-time is because I want you to take more architecture classes. You're very good. I liked your design a lot and I want you to continue with that training, Xander. You're wasting your talent behind a hammer."
"I like construction."
"You could be so much more."
"How am I going to take classes when I'm a mouse?"
"That was my question," Throttle admitted.
"Easy, online education," the vampire said smugly. Xander looked stunned so he pulled out an envelope and passed it over. "There. All paid for even so you have to take it and no backtalk." Xander sniffled and hugged him. "It's all right, Xander. I like you being great. Of course, once you're fully trained, I'm moving you to the design crew. Some of them need some reality." He patted him on the back of the head. "Now, my boy, let's talk about happier subjects. You do magic?"
"I can summon things," he admitted. "It's most handy with the remote since my sword was locked up."
"You're lucky Shell heard it," Throttle told him. "Vinnie popped the safe and it flew off."
"It needed steel to die," the boss quipped, waving a hand. "It was very good." Throttle jumped like he had been pinched and Xander growled at the vampire behind him. "Let's not anger Xander," he chided coldly. "His mate is his and he's quite protective."
"He tastes good," the vampire purred, leaning against Throttle's thigh. It was a midget and not very tall even for one of them. "He tastes like hot dogs."
Xander got up and picked up the vampire, punting it across the room to the bar. "He needs to be cut off," he called over the clapping. "My man, ain't no one touchin' him! Get it right now!" He sat down amid the clapping. He grinned at his mate. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." He gave him a gentle kiss. "You're very overprotective tonight."
"I take moods like that, like your possessive moods."
"Hmm," the boss said, staring at them. "You two do look very pretty together. Throttle, can you help him get more definition?"
"Be more than happy to once our new gym is up." He stroked up Xander's arm. "Picnic?"
"Then I'd probably ignore you for the food," he admitted. "After dinner we'll have a dessert picnic." He wiggled his eyebrows. "We can go bust the son of a succubus in the park."
"That cop is?" Throttle asked. Xander nodded. "How did you know?"
"I scented him earlier today when he was doing a patrol by the site. It was pretty obvious what he was since about half the crew reacted."
The vampire lifted his glass of blood. "You're one of a kind, Xander. Never change." Xander beamed and sipped his soda, winking a him. His tail was slowly moving to tease his mate. "Yes, I want you on as part-time. Trisha knows this. This week is fine. Next week cut back to about thirty. We won't need you wearing yourself out."
"If I'm not there and working we're short a worker, boss."
"I don't care, Xander. What's your mental timetable?"
"Three months? The official one of four months was considered optimistic."
"Not by me." He shrugged. "I think they can do it."
"You're on one of the slowest crews, Xander. You're hoping for too much." Xander shook his head with a grin. "Where are you now?"
"On the beginning of the second week's work." The boss gaped. "Like I said, I get in there and work with my guys. Today I worked extra hard. So did Trisha. And then we went and kicked butt after lunch too. The guys went home mostly on time. I called clean up at five till so most of them left by twenty after. The paperwork was done during lunch for payday. Everything's cool."
"You shouldn't skip lunch. You more than anybody needs to eat more often," Throttle reminded him gently. Xander nodded. "Next time get something and bring it back to your desk."
"I started to but there was about everyone in line ahead of me. I forgot by the time the line cleared." He looked at his boss. "At the end of the first month, if we're more than two weeks ahead, can we get subsidized lunches? Give them up to three bucks?"
"I can see that," he agreed. "That gets them something, right?" Xander nodded. "That'll also help with the cooler issues and possible food poisoning." Throttle shuddered. "We had it happen last summer and the guy shared around his casserole, not realizing there was cheese and milk in it. We lost nearly a week of most of the crew."
"I know, I filled in," Xander sighed. "Is that acceptable? I'll announce it tomorrow if it is."
"I like that idea," he agreed. "As long as the quality stays high." Xander snorted. "I'm not saying you would, and you check every day so I don't worry about you guys." He patted him on the arm. "I'm very proud, Xander. Good work and keep it up." He got up and went to find his childe and repossess her for his own pleasure. "Megan," he said with a smile. "Having fun?"
"Not yet," she offered, moving closer to him. "No Carbine?"
"Not yet, dear." He kissed her and started to dance with her.
Throttle took the envelope and tucked it inside his vest. "You wanna stay for a bit?"
"Not unless you wanna eat here."
Throttle shook his head, standing up. They had already paid for their drinks so they could go. "Come on. We'll go feed your belly." He grinned as Xander beamed and bounced, taking his hand to walk out with him. A large demon stepped into their path and sneered at them. "Did you need something?"
"We don't like your kind here. This is for vampires and those like them."
Xander looked up at him. "Then why are you in here since you're a hellborn spawn?" he asked. The demon stepped back. "Hi, let me introduce myself. I'm Xander Harris." The demon looked clueless. "From Sunnydale. Her *knight*." The demon turned and ran. "Thank you." He led Throttle to his bike, grinning at everyone. "Off to dinner," he announced. "I'm going to eat so much he'll get to roll me around later." The few demons congregating outside snickered at that. "Watch out for the cops in the park, one of them is a succubus spawn. He keeps busting those having sex." He grabbed his helmet and planted himself on the bike, grinning at Throttle. "Can I drive?"
"Nope." He got on in front of him, putting on his own helmet. "We'll get you your own in a while, Xander. You can wait until then." He started his baby, listening to the engine. He revved her and then winced. "Time for a tune up when we get home."
"I'll help." Xander snuggled against his back, stroking his stomach as they took off. "Please feed me before I use you for food?" he begged cutely.
"I didn't need to know that much about your time together," Modo called over the radio.
"Call Carbine and tell her my helmet keeps coming on," Throttle complained, closing the connection. They pulled into the diner and parked the bike. "It appears your chuckle- headed brother is here. You sure you wanna stay?"
"We can eat with them," Xander said gently. "Then you can have me all to yourself later." He pulled their helmets off to give him a kiss and let him have another stroke to his stomach. Modo whistled and clapped and Vinnie hooted. He grinned at them. "I like him enough to protect him from midget vampires, I can kiss him here." He got off and headed for the order window. "Hey, Chef Andy."
"Hey, Xander. Whatcha need, boy?" he asked with a grin.
"Food. I haven't eaten all day and I'm about to eat Throttle."
"The four mega burgers special?" he suggested.
Xander considered it. He hadn't finished one of those but he was starving. "Sure. I'll bring the rest home like usual if I can't finish it. Only ketchup, pickles, and cheese please."
"Of course, Xander. What about for your boy?"
Xander beamed. "The usual, no onions. Babe, can I get rid of the relish tonight?" Throttle nodded. "And no relish if you haven't put any on."
"Not yet, Xander." He smiled at him. "It'll be a few, I've got to do your burgers." He nodded, going out to the table to sit down. He smiled as he worked. That boy was something else and very cute.
"It'll be a few minutes," Xander told Throttle, grinning at the others. "So, I hear we're going out on halloween."
"I figure I'll drip some blood and put in a fake knife, go as a ghost," Vinnie told him. "You?"
"I'm going as Modo." Modo spluttered. "What? We're supposed to go as some fantasy creature and you *are* a legend that no one can match."
Modo blushed. "Shucks," he said bashfully. "Thanks, Xander."
Xander leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. "You're welcome. We'll work on my costume together." He sat back down, grinning at Throttle. "What're you going as?"
"A studly and cool mouse."
"If I have to dress up, you have to dress up," Vinnie demanded.
"We'll see," Throttle told him.
"You could go as Fozzy Bear," Xander suggested. "All you'd need are ears and the clothes."
Andy came out with a tray for them. "Here you boys are. No Charley?"
"Morning sickness," Vinnie said simply. He beamed at him so Vinnie grinned back. "I'm just glad I get sympathy sickness in the mornings. I'd starve all night otherwise." He dug into his food, as noted by it being his special creation.
Xander looked at his hot dog. "Are you sure you're getting *sympathy* sickness?" he teased. Vinnie poked him with his tail.
"Kids," Throttle said, shaking his head. He handed Xander his plate of hamburgers and dug into his own food. He looked at Xander, who was already through his first and was starting on his second.
"Wow, you weren't kidding about being starved," Modo said in awe. Xander shook his head and finished that one.
"Drink too, Xander," Throttle said, pushing his soda closer. Xander gulped it and panted, then gulped some more and dove back in.
"Looks like someone's hitting another growth spurt for real," Vinnie said smugly. "He's got that tenderness too, Throttle. Might want to be gentle."
"I'm always gentle. Even when I've got him tied down and begging."
Xander looked at him, then shook his head. "You're bottoming tonight." He dove back in, going into his third one. He was really starved. He was so starved. He finished those off, all his fries, and most of Vinnie's when they were pushed over with a tolerant smirk. "Thanks." He finally felt full and leaned back with a sigh. "Better," he said in a dozy, cute voice.
"Just don't fall asleep or you'll puke," Throttle warned. Xander nodded, leaning against his side.
"I thought Vinnie put away food," Modo said in awe once Xander was asleep. "I don't think I've eaten like that since I was growing." He ate another hot dog in a few bites.
"That brings up a question we came up with last night on the race back. Is he going to gain height?" Vinnie asked.
Throttle shook his head. "Not that I've seen. Why?"
"Some of his jeans are getting a bit shorter." He sipped his soda, looking around. "Where's Rimfire? I thought he was coming out."
"Dying of mortal embarrassment," Modo said dryly. "He's a sensitive boy."
"He'll be fine," Throttle assured him. "He'll be babying Dawn within days." Modo nodded. "How's she doing?"
"She was sitting on a heating pad the last I knew," Vinnie admitted. "Even for being gentle with her, that's way too many times to go for it. I'm surprised Rimfire woke up today. He's got to be exhausted."
"I had to make him eat lunch. He was depressed that he had hurt her," Modo shared. "He'll be fine in a few days, but she'll have to break him down and see that it wasn't his fault." He looked at Xander. "I still don't know what he did. He didn't say anything like Dawn does when she casts something. He didn't do more than mark stuff on them and then look up and mutter a few words."
"That could have been the spell," Vinnie offered. "I've flipped through her nature magic books a few times. Some come with a lot of ritual but not all of them."
Xander yawned. "What's the DT? Sorry, Throttle."
"I like being your pillow. It's when I'm used as the mattress that I get annoyed," he teased. Xander blushed at that. "Modo wanted to know what you did last night?"
"A protection. Then I put myself in front of him. If she wants to get to him again she'll have to go through me." Vinnie gave him a long look. "It's the only way and they're repulsed by me."
"Why? Something Anya did?"
"No, I taste like chaos according to the one I accidentally went out with," he admitted, looking honest. "That was on the run for Cleveland, while we were overnighting in LA." He looked at Throttle, picking up a napkin to get a spot of mustard. "Goes with your fur, but not my favorite flavor sensation. I much prefer an unmustarded you."
Throttle finished his dinner. "Go pay." Xander patted himself down then looked at the bike. "I didn't bring it."
"Where's my phone?" Xander asked. "I know I had it when I came in."
Vinnie snickered and tossed them over. "You left 'em in the bathroom. We figured you'd want them sometime. Cleveland called and it was Fred."
"Cool. I'll call her tomorrow. Oh, I'm still being sent as part time." They shrugged. "Any more lit farts from Limburger?"
"Lit farts?" Modo asked.
"Oh, you've never done that. Kinda hard with the tail," Xander said thoughtfully. "Basically, you blow one onto a lit lighter, and watch the pretty flames shoot outta yer butt."
Modo stopped, then shuddered. "Singed fur big time."
"Oh, it's kinda fun," Vinnie admitted dryly. "I did one near a flamethower once when we were cleaning out those nests of creepers."
"Yeah, and we had to bandage your tail," Throttle reminded him.
"Well, yeah, it's always hard when you've got fur there or a tail." Xander took his wallet up to the window, grinning at Andy. He looked back at Throttle. "Can I have a small cone?" he asked, handing over enough money to cover all of their dinners.
"Modo got the others, Xander. Don't worry about it." He gave him change for the remainder and the cone, with a wink. "Now, you eat it here then race off. Give the others a good show, make Vinnie go tease Charley some more." He went back to cooking the next order.
Xander took his cone out, tucking his wallet down the front of his pants. It always fell out of these pants. He sat down at the table, eating the cone with delicate licks.
"Not this again," Modo moaned. "I had to watch Dawn do that earlier."
"I like ice cream. It's good. Want a lick?" he asked, holding it out. Modo shook his head. "You sure? It's very nummy." Modo shook his head. "Vinnie?" Vinnie leaned over and took a long lick, making Throttle growl. Xander took it back and went back to evening it out since Vinnie had taken such a huge dent. He glanced at Throttle, who was staring at him. "You need to finish up."
Throttle handed Vinnie his hotdogs and the ice cream, then took Xander off, sliding the phone into his pocket for him. He took the wallet and put it into his other front pocket, then got the boy onto his bike. "No more teasing. You were getting some anyway."
Xander kissed him. "I wasn't teasing. I wanted ice cream." He stole a second kiss. "Come on, let's go take a ride and then I'll give you a ride you won't forget." He winked and grabbed his helmet, putting it back on. "Later, guys."
"Sure, Xander," Vinnie agreed, waving at them as he finished off the ice cream. "He's got good timing. Plus, Vanilla makes Throttle think dirty thoughts about white mice."
"Did that to him?" Modo taunted.
"Mars didn't have ice cream, but I used to use that nice pudding. Licking the spoon and all." He took another long lick, then a few short ones to clean up the other side.
Modo moaned and shuddered. "Eat that like a normal mouse."
"I am, this is how you eat ice cream." He licked off the top and moved down it quickly to spare Modo temptation. Then he ate the other hotdog. He put on his helmet and listened to those two talk. Xander was teasing him and making promises about strapping Throttle down. Apparently they were heading right home. "Wanna go watch more fertilizer hit the fire?"
"Sure. I still don't get the point of lighting farts."
"It's a young guy thing," Vinnie told him, clapping him on the arm. He heard Throttle moan and shook his head. "It's on, guys," he broke in. He heard a crash and winced. "You guys okay?" Xander's voice told him he was fine but Throttle would be back to pick up his helmet later. Then his voice cut out. Vinnie snickered, leaning against Modo's arm. "He threw his helmet."
"At least we won't have to listen to it until we get home." He got free and got onto his bike, heading for a ride. It was a nice night and perfect riding weather.
Vinnie rolled around giggling. Those two were so bad!
To part 27