Meg all but danced into the garage, pouncing Charley for a hug. "One of the great ones is coming to the computer expo," she said excitedly. "I've got full access passes to his speech on AI's and on pseudo-reality gaming and programming. The God of VR is coming and I'm so happy!" she squealed. "I cant *wait* to meet Jack in person."
"McCyber?" she asked. Meg beamed, nodding quickly. "Wow. I haven't seen him in ages."
"You know him?" she asked in awe. "I didn't think you were into gaming that way."
"He's my ex," she said fondly. "We broke up because he loved his computers more. Tell him I said to come over for dinner or something if you get that close to him. He hardly ever lets anyone within his personal space."
"Okay." She beamed and went to pounce her Oz, telling him the great news, that they had tickets to the whole expo, especially that event and the hacking lectures.
"Jack's going to be paranoid now," she said dryly. She went back to work, smiling at the nice, simple first job she had. Apparently news had gotten around and everyone was taking it easy on her for a few more days. A simple oil change wasn't anything too difficult and the baby could help her with it. Vinnie came in a few minutes later to steal him and get a kiss. "Jack's in town for a computer expo. I told Meg to order him to show up for dinner."
"Sure, sweetheart, always willing to show off the kid and brag," he said smugly. "Come on, Vic. The Unclie Xander said we have to go listen to the radio all day. Yes he did." He flipped on the radio in the office, sitting down in the desk chair to hold his cuddlesome son, grinning down at him. "Hey, how's that sound to you, Vic? Is that a happy noise? You'll learn to love heavy metal soon."
"And this one goes out to one of my bros," the DJ was saying, sounding really happy about that. "I hear his new baby's having his first week birthday today and his uncle decided he needed to learn what good music was. So a classic for the new bro, dance with him, Vin- man, teach him how it's done. By the way, I want pictures!" A classic song that usually made Vinnie grin started and he went to put it on the bigger stereo so he could dance with Charley too. He grinned down at her, winking a bit when he saw the door open but didn't know who it was. The baby cooed and snuggled between them, a happy baby with a happy set of parents.
"Xander requested it specially for him."
"We need to find Xander a new hobby," she teased. He nodded, then kissed her once the song ended. "You going to find him pictures?"
"If I know Xander, they're already down there," he said tolerantly. He grinned at the man in the doorway. "Hey, Jack."
"Hey, Vinnie. Charley." He grinned at them. "Long time no see."
"Yeah, and you look tired, man. Come sit." She nodded at the bench against the wall. "Let me plug this and pour in some oil and I'm done." Jack walked in, looking at the thing in Vinnie's arm, suddenly smiling and taking the baby to hold. "He's a week old today."
"I was wondering why you hadn't told me yet," he said as he sat down. "Hey, little guy. I'm your Uncle Jack. Yeah, you're Vinnie's baby."
"And then some," she agreed dryly, pinching Vinnie. "You can't help."
"I can so." He got under the car to plug the oil valve, then got back out so she could pour the oil in. "See, I can help. I'm very good at helping." He grinned. "I'm very good at many things."
"You are," she agreed with a small pinch. "Get me a soda?"
"Sure. Jack, want a rootbeer?"
"Please." He was still staring down at the baby, until they were alone. Then he looked at Charley. "You're so lucky," he said quietly. She smiled and nodded. "Have you taken him out to show him off?"
"Vinnie did some of that. He took him to see Chef Andy and a few other friends. I was thinking we'd take him out Sunday night because Modo was coming back and he was invited to the Low Rider." Jack nodded at that, he knew that place. She heard a squeal. "Expect to be pounced by an excitable redhead programmer," she warned quietly. Oz rushed in and hugged Jack. "Not the one I was thinking about."
"You're a God, man," Oz said simply, giving him another hug before stealing the baby. "We're having cake."
"Let me finish pouring in the oil," Charley said tolerantly. Oz nodded, walking the baby off. "You can go over if you want."
"Yeah, sure. Upstairs?"
"Next door. The rest of us live over there," Oz told him. "But me and Meg." He led the way, going to stop Vinnie from putting out more soda. "Time for cake."
"Sure." He shoved the rest of the case in there, handing Jack the last cold soda, and taking his son back. "One of his other uncles is a bit mushy," he explained. "We're celebrating his first week."
"You should celebrate that one," Xander reminded him, taking the baby to cuddle. "Yes, you should. That way you can get all the stuff we didn't have when you were born. Then the first month, which is around your first major growth spurt, then at six months, when you've outgrown everything, and then your real first birthday," he finished with a coo, getting happy baby noises. "Yeah, you'll like that one. We'll make you messy food. You can put it all in your fur. It'll be wonderful. Yes, it will," he cooed, walking him off. "We've got a guest," he called.
"It's me," Jack called as he walked up the ramp. He looked around. "This is a nice place," he admitted.
"Thanks, I designed it," Xander said with a grin. "I'm Xander." He shook his hand.
"Jack, Charley's ex."
"Cool. Welcome. Throttle, isn't it done yet?"
"I'm still fighting with the ice cream," he complained.
"Run hot water over the scoop," Meg ordered, going in there to help him. "Sometimes muscles aren't everything. Otherwise teenage guys couldn't work in cone shops."
"Don't remind me, please," Xander called in there, flopping down. "Any word from Modo?"
"He called a few minutes ago. They're going for the second day of shows. She didn't want to see the first band this morning so they slept in and had a nice breakfast," Throttle offered as he came out with the bowls. "Here," he said, handing one to Jack. "Ice cream cake."
"Thanks." He sat down, still staring at the baby. "He's cute, Vinnie."
"Yeah, he looks a lot like his momma." He sat down and took his ice cream, watching his son be spoiled rottener. "He'll have her hair color as his fur color too." He looked over as Enamel came up the ramp. "Hey. Just in time."
"I pulled down a bowl for you too," Throttle promised with a smirk.
Enamel got off and took off his helmet. "No Modo and Staff? I'd expect them to be mushy over the baby."
"Xander won them the last set of tickets to the mega-music festival this weekend," Vinnie said proudly. "Then he got them a suite near there this weekend, with two rooms."
"That's one hell of a first date," Enamel said in awe. "Man, and I only took Shell for a few drives."
Xander grinned at him. "If I had thought about it, I might have helped," he offered. "Oh, we got you guys passes to Six Flags too. It was cheaper if we included you than if not. With you two we got the bigger group discount."
"Sure. How much?"
"Decent. That's an admission and a half for season passes," Jack told him. "How many went in?"
"All of us, Charley, Dawn, Rimfire, Meg, Oz, one for the baby or guests if he doesn't need one, and these two," Xander said with a nod toward Enamel.
Meg came out of the kitchen with a bowl and paused, then squealed like Dawn and hugged Jack until he was blue in the face. "I love your work! I based one of my games on it!" she squealed, hugging him again after letting him catch his breath. "Oh, my God! You're so one of the great ones! I've gotten all your stuff and I've got full passes to the expo!"
"Let him go," Throttle said patiently. "The man has to be able to eat his ice cream cake."
Meg let him go and blushed a bit. "Sorry, it's not often you meet one of your heros, ya know?"
He nodded. "Yeah, I do actually." He grinned at her. "Which one are you?"
"Fiery Amazon Wench. AKA Meg. Oz's girl," she said with a nod for Oz.
"I'd share, but she'd beat me," Oz quipped.
"I don't need shared with, kid. It's all right." He grinned and ate a bite of his cake. "Baskin Robins, I'm impressed."
"Me too. It didn't melt on the way back," Xander agreed happily. "Eat, make with the happy baby presents."
"You've already gotten him everything he could ever want, much less need," Vinnie said patiently.
"Bet me, bro," Throttle snorted. He tossed something over. "Special ordered it a bit ago."
He opened it, putting his bowl aside to pull out the little biker outfit, grinning at his bro. "That's so adorable! We'll have to go for a ride later, Vic." He held them up. "See what your Uncle Throttle got you?"
"And Uncle Modo got him one of yours," Xander said, nodding at Modo's present. "He made sure we had it before he left with Staff."
He tore that one open and cooed at the little miniature Vinnie outfit, complete with helmet. "Oooooh! Charley, come see! They got him a baby Vinnie outfit!"
She came up the ramp, grinning at the two new sets of clothes. "No leather vest?"
"No, not quite," Xander said, handing her his present from the stack. "He needed something more covering. He's too young to like the wind in his fur."
She opened it, finding the baby leather jacket like Xander's in there, grinning at him. "It's adorable! Where did you find these things?"
"At the bike shop," Throttle offered, letting her have his chair. He went to sit in front of Xander and take the baby. "Hey, Vic, wanna start wearing your new biker stud clothes?" The baby cooed at him, he liked his voice because it was always soft, low, and husky. He got him out of his present outfit, changed his diaper because it needed it, then got him into his jeans and mini-Vinnie bandoliers. His father stole him to hug and cuddle, nuzzling noses with him.
Rimfire and Dawn roared up on her bike, with her driving, and stopped beside Enamel's bike. "I knew you were going to start without us when I heard the song," she said as she got off. "I dropped off my copy of the pictures since Georgie asked, Vinnie." She came over to look at the baby. "Ooh, aren't you so studly dressed as your daddy!" she cooed, kissing him on the nose. "This'll go very well with what the Auntie Dawnie just picked up for you. Yes it will, snookums." She handed him the present and took the baby to cuddle with her boyfriend in the same chair. "Hello, baby mouse. Yes, it's the auntie and unclie, yes it is."
"Dawn, headache," Charley complained when she broke into baby babble.
"But he's so cute!" she whined.
"Just think, in a few years we'll be able to give it all back," Xander said, smirking at Dawn.
She stuck her tongue out. "When I finally get around to having kids, you'd better come worship at the altar of cuteness that is my kid."
"Ours," Rimfire said patiently. "Unless you're dumping me?"
She kissed him. "Hell no! You're mine, studly, and you're staying mine." She looked at the new person. "Hi, I'm Dawn. You?"
"Jack McCyber, one of Charley's old flames," he said, reaching over to shake her hand.
"You're a damn god," Rimfire said in awe, shaking his hand. "Rimfire, sir. Modo's nephew. Freedom Fighter for the last four years...."
"Enough," Throttle broke into his recital. "Please, enough." Dawn smirked at him. "You need to clean your room, Dawn. There's some funny smells coming from in there."
"Yes, Throttle," she said patiently. "I'd have to anyway so I could find something to wear tonight. We're going out to the club."
"Rimfire's still grounded," Xander said firmly. "He's damn lucky Meg got those music files back since most of them were rare demos."
"Sorry, Xander," he said sheepishly. "She can still go out. I'll stay in."
"That's no fun," Dawn complained.
"Yay," Vinnie said dryly. "I'd say I'd take you but I think we're staying in tonight too."
Charley nodded, digging into her ice cream cake, cracking everyone up. "I'm still sore. The oil change wore me out." She ate that bite and looked at Vinnie. "You're still sleeping on the floor, hotshot."
"Wherever you want me, sweetheart."
Jack shook his head. "You guys are insane. I should pop around more often."
"There's no Plutarkians in the city," Charley offered with a grin. "It's safer."
Rimfire gave him a smug look. "Intergalactic secret, sorry."
Throttle looked at him. "I'd like that answer too please," he said dryly.
"Ask Stoker," Dawn retorted, eating a bite of her snack. Then stealing a kiss. "I'll need something demure for tonight."
"Yes, you will," he said firmly, smirking at her.
"Why is it that you can go out dressed nearly as scantily as any ho on stroll, but let you go out by yourself and you dress like a Catholic school girl on vacation?" Oz asked.
"Because when I'm with someone, I have someone to watch my back. I'm not taking that risk when I'm alone. Even being able to fight, it's too risky for me to go out in that black leather outfit I wanted to wear out tonight without a guardian." Rimfire nodded, kissing her again. "Rimmy," she moaned. "Ice cream and party first, then snuggles."
"Grounded," Throttle reminded them.
"Shit," she complained, glaring at him. "We're engaged."
"Fine." She settled into her boy's lap, eating her cake and part of his since he was so slow. At least until he hit her with his spoon and finished it off. She grinned at him and he kissed her, passing her the last bite. She moaned into his mouth.
Xander pulled the squirt gun out of the ice bucket and sprayed them with it, making her shriek when the ice cold water hit her back. "Thanks for stopping the floor show."
"You have better manners than that," Charley agreed.
"We were that young and that hot for each other once too," Jack said fondly, grinning at her. "Or don't you remember embarrassing my mother totally at dinner one night?" She blushed and nodded. "So does she. She still asks why I don't bring you back." He glanced at Vinnie and the baby. "I've got a better reason to tell her this year I guess."
Vinnie grinned at him. "You sure do. The next person who steals my girl will be pounded into a flat, messy spot, and our son will coo for my skills."
"And mine," Xander reminded him.
"And his," Vinnie agreed, nodding at Xander. "He's my little brother."
"I can tell. You two look a lot alike."
"Sorry to interrupt, dudes and dudettes, but the Mayor has a big announcement and that's the rules. We'll go back to the bitchin' tunes from the 80's hour in a minute."
"Totally tubular," Xander joked, cracking Dawn up and making Charley and Meg groan.
"You're odd," Jack told him. "I like you for that fact alone. That and you spoil these guys."
"Horribly spoil us," Vinnie agreed.
The mayor's voice came over the radio. "Late last night we had a letter delivered to the City Council from our former citizen, Laurence Limburger." Everyone was now staring at the radio. "In it, he stated his love for this city, his admiration for the lovers of this city who were just as in love as he was with his husband, and that he wanted the city to prosper. Therefore he gave all his property back to the city and wanted us to turn it into a beautiful park where his former plaza stood and the rest put to good use for the city. As such, we will be auctioning off ten of the former industrial lots and honoring his wishes for the main plaza area. We thank him for his generosity and hope his son lives just as happily in memory of his charity as we will. Thank you for your patience and please, if you want anything from those lots, contact Melinda at the City Council's main office. She'll be taking bids. She'll also have contact information for those who want to put in bids to do the contracting work. Have a nice day and enjoy this pleasant sunshine."
Georgie Brown's voice came back. "Whoa, the big guy was *really* generous. He owned a great portion of the city. For his memory, I'll play a special song. Later, bros, and I'll be right back." Queen's _March of the Black Queen_ started to play.
Throttle looked back at his mate. "You need a new job or a new hobby," he said quietly.
"That wasn't me, it was Lorne, I think," he admitted, taking a bite of his cake. "Eat people. Ice cream cake should not be wasted." He picked up the nearest phone, dialing ECHO. "Hey, Max, tell Lorne it was a nice job, nearly as good as mine. Nope, first week's birthday party. Sure. We'll send pictures to you guys too." He grinned and hung up. "Sorry, still not mine. My next one is Halloween since we've got to take Rimfire and Vic trick-or-treating for the first time."
"We're taking Rimfire out for candy stroll?" Dawn asked. Xander nodded. "What're you going as?"
She chuckled. "He is a mythical being in many ways," she agreed. Rimfire giggled too. "We'll figure out what he's going as soon enough so we can work on it."
"What is this Halloween?" Rimfire asked.
"A traditionally pagan holiday that got adopted," Dawn told him. "It's one of the major candy holidays. Valentine's day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas are the candy holidays we usually celebrate. Halloween's usually for little kids."
"Is there a significance?" he asked.
"Yup, Halloween, or All Saints, or Samhain depending on religion, is the night when the barrier between this world and the world of those passed on is the thinnest. In some places they celebrate the dead and have dinners with them, here we go out and bug our neighbors for candy or else we'll play pranks on their houses." She ate another bite of ice cream.
"Oh. Okay. We dress up for this?" he asked. She beamed and nodded. "Why?"
"We dress up like ghouls, ghosts, witches, famous characters and stuff while doing this to celebrate. I'm not sure if the dressing up in costumes is the old way, but the party certainly was," Xander told him. "It's one of the major Sabbats, or celebrations in the Ancient ways. We kinda do a mix and hold a lot of prayers against chaos sorcerers in this group."
Dawn nodded. "I heard." She smirked at him. "Don't worry, we'll keep you from having problems this year."
"Thanks, it'd be appreciated," Xander said dryly.
"Was Halloween the soldier or the hyena?" Throttle asked.
"Soldier." He stuffed his mouth full, shrugging at Jack's curious look. "I deal in that stuff. Sorry to confuse or annoy with it."
"No, it's okay," he admitted. "I was in Mexico last year during the Day of the Dead." Dawn grinned at him. "It was pretty intense."
"I want to be in New Orleans one year during one," she admitted. "It'd be pretty neat."
"It's a vampire ball," Xander said dryly. "They all gather since no one thinks anything'll happen. Unless they went to Sunnydale." He ate another large bite and Throttle stroked his leg. "Thanks, babe."
"Welcome," he said gently.
"We need to go to the movies that night," Charley said with a twinkle in her eyes.
"Already got the tickets," Xander said proudly. "They're in the locked drawer of the desk. The same as I've already rented my costume because I make a great Rocky."
"You in the gold speedos would be cute," Dawn agreed. "I call Magenta in the corset."
"Sure," Charley agreed with a grin. "I'll be Janet, I'm more modest."
"Huh?" the mice and Jack asked in unison.
"We'll explain it that night," the humans assured them with evil smirks.
Micah looked over as Lorne came up the stairs. "Xander sent another letter."
"No, I did," he said smugly. "I thought it was fitting and it would give the city some closure and allow them to do what was necessary to fill in all those gaps. Did they like it?"
"They did. The former tower and plaza's going to park, like you wanted. They're auctioning off some areas too." He gave him a dry look. "Did you slip your body and go possess Xander this weekend? That's a very Xanderish smirk on your face."
"Not that I know of," he said happily. "I can be naughty, Micah. Sometimes the mood takes me to do something a bit out of the ordinary. I thought it'd help." He shrugged. "Next case? Or am I going to help Dawn find Giles and Rayne?"
"Help her find them. I want that issue closed and dead as soon as possible."
"Sure." He went back to his searches, happy that it was an easy day for once.
Max pinched him on the arm with a grin. "You're so bad."
"Yeah, I am," he agreed smugly. "Thanks for forging the note."
"Not a problem. He deserved it anyway for making us stink so much when we ran into him." She went back to her desk, going to search a different area for those two sorcerers.
Lorne sat down to do the more common searches: hotel rooms, flight records, credit card records. The usual stupid places to look.
Ethan read the morning paper, combing to the announcements section. He was supposed to be looking for an obituary, but instead he found a more cheerful announcement. "Bloody bollocks," he complained, calling his cohort. "He didn't die."
"How could he not die? He was due to be stuck in there and die."
"Mr. Alexander Harris, kind and generous near-uncle, announces the birth of a son to Charlene Davidson and Vincent Van Wham. Their son, Victor, who was born at home, is perfect in every way and was born at 2:39 PM a week ago today weighing in at a modest eight pounds, four ounces. The proud parents are still beaming at their son and wish their friends to hear about it, since they didn't have the energy to send out personal announcements," he read grimly. "There was a sacrifice, I felt one," he offered.
"Just not the right one. The world could end, Ethan."
"It won't. Any sacrifice could have been good enough," he pointed out.
"No, no it's not. Xander's not one of the protectors any longer. He no longer hunts or hurts what is necessary for the rest of us to survive. It had to be him, the spell needed the power."
"I checked the globe, it has plenty of power to trap the opening portal," he soothed gently. He stood up. "I'm heading there now, Ripper. Wait on me. Since there's no funeral around here, I shouldn't have to stay around." He hung up and began to pack things, then felt a sudden, sharp pain to his side. He looked down at he blood pouring from his side, gasping from the pain. "Who?" he moaned. He fell down, clutching at the phone to hit the redial button but he couldn't reach it anymore.
The demon in the corner uncovered himself, walking out into the open. "No, he's not needed," he said with a smile. "You'll never get me with that pitiful globe either, Rayne. You of all of them should have realized that. An innocent's life is very powerful, but not enough. Neither would that boy have been. Oh, well. Toodles and all." He left, taking the globe with him.
Ethan groaned and muttered a spell, breaking every mirror in the room to get him some help. Plus, so the demon couldn't come back and torment him through them. That's how he traveled, through the looking glass. Someone pounded on his door. "Help," he croaked, just loud enough. Security rushed in and he was found, being taken to the hospital before he could die.
Ethan woke up with a gasp, looking at the nurse holding his hand. "I don't deserve that," he whispered. She nodded. "No, I don't."
"You're human, you deserve a bit."
"No," he moaned. He pulled her closer. "I must get a message to the local defender. It's imperative that he knows what's coming." She got free and left, bringing back a cop. "You must get a message to the local defenders," he gasped, grabbing his hand. "You must. He must know."
"You're one'a those fruitcakes, ain't ya?" he asked grimly.
"No, he's serious about this," the nurse told him. "He woke up to tell us this."
The man sighed and opened his book. "What message, buddy?"
"In my things, there's an ancient book written in a language you'd never understand. It must be brought to Xander. He must have it. He'll understand it once he gets it. Tell him he must stop this creature, Giles said it was his duty to stop it. Otherwise the world will end. That's what was so important that he was turned on." He gripped the cop's wrist more firmly. "Tell him to read it. It gives instructions for the project to stop it. It must go to him. He must find the globe and he must stop the creature."
"Fine. Where can I find this...Xander?" he asked.
"The Last Chance," he moaned, going limp.
"Sorry, I can't bring him back out," the nurse said gently. "I've done all I can, the rest is up to him, officer."
"Hey, whatever you did at least got us some information," he said with a small shrug. "Any thoughts on what attacked him?"
"Something with claws or a really nasty looking knife," she said tiredly. "If you'll go, I'll make him comfortable." The officer nodded so she smoothed the blankets out and did her observations. This patient was back in his coma and her healing powers were at an end. She left, going on her lunch break early. She needed it and her boss knew why.
The cop looked up the Last Chance in the database, finding a few entries where reports went for car crashes. "Oh, hey, a garage," he said, opening the various files. "Alexander... Alexander...Alexander... I'm guessing I found the Xander guy he wanted to have that book." He copied down the address and got up, heading down to Evidence and the CSU area to see if he could get the book. "Hey, the vic said that old book that we can't hope to understand has to go to some guy named Xander, that it's important, life or death, will stop a horrible creature, and I think he's a fruitcake but the nurse thought he was serious since that's all he managed to gasp out before lapsing again," he said quietly to the lead guy. "Done with it?"
"Yeah, he turned it over to this guy?" He got handed the sheet from the officer's notebook, reading it. "Xander. I know that name." He looked around. "When did we run into a Xander?"
"Harris, protected that woman, multiple gunshots to his car, and the protected person and the cop dying," one of his people yelled from her lab. "Last year, at the start of that abuse shelter project, he was managing it."
"Thank you." He handed it back. "Let me look up the records, maybe we have an address."
"I've got the one for the Last Chance," he offered.
"Yes, that's where we sent his car after we pulled all the bullets," the head CSU admitted, looking at the file once he found it. "Oh, he lives next door." He looked up. "Apparently he built next to his friend's garage."
"Thanks, man. Anything else strange in there that he might twig and give us a new clue about?"
"Ask him about the mirrors being broken," he told him. "We're still not sure why they were broken." He handed over the book. "Have fun. The file's marked that he's very strong willed, has a FOID card because he shot back and presented it, and he's a bit jumpy. Said a lot of stuff about survival."
"Wonderful, one'a them nuts," he said grimly, heading out with the book and the sheet of notes, going to the autopool for a temporary car. He checked one out and headed for the address in question, finding the garage pretty easily. The building next door was silent, like nothing was going on and no one was home, so he went into the garage since there was noise in there. "Ma'am?" he asked politely, making the mechanic jump. "Where can I find Xander?"
"Xander? He's out at the moment. Why?" She came out from under the hood, looking at him. "What's happened, officer? Is it his mate?"
"No, ma'am, something really odd and someone came off their deathbed to send me to give him this book and a message."
Vinnie came out of the office. "You can give it to me."
The officer looked at him. "He said to talk to Xander. I don't know nothin' about this crap."
"I know a bit," he admitted patiently. "Xander'll be back in a bit and I'll have him call if he's still confused."
"Probably won't help much since I am." He handed over the book. "This guy, vic in a hotel room stabbing, came out of his coma to say to hand this to him, tell him it's his duty to stop the *creature*," he said, adding emphasis, "and that Giles said it's his duty to stop it and that's why he was turned on." He shrugged. "That's all the whacko said before lasping again." He shifted some. "I don't got a clue, I don't know why. All I know is that the vic was stabbed in a hotel room. All the mirrors in the room were broken, and that the whacko wakes up and demands that I do this."
Vinnie looked at the book. It was obviously a magic text, it felt like the ones Dawn was hiding in her room. He looked at him. "What's the exact message?" The paper was handed over. "This is it?"
"He was awake for maybe two minutes," he admitted. "The nurse made him wake up somehow. He's in County if it helps."
"What's his name?" Charley asked quietly.
The officer checked his book. "Rayne by the check-in." He looked at her and shrugged again. "Sounded like a foreigner."
"He was. He's also a bad guy," Vinnie said grimly. "Fine, I'll give the message. He'll be back soon. Got a card?" One was handed over and the cop looked at him. "We have not a clue. Ethan's one of Xander's enemies and he recently attacked us."
"Okay. If you say so. This case just gets weirder and weirder," he complained, heading back to make notes on what little more he now knew. He didn't want this one anymore, maybe someone would switch with him.
Vinnie picked up the handset to the radio. "Throttle, get Xander back here ASAP," he ordered. "Ethan's in a coma, he woke up long enough to send a magic book and instructions to stop the creature or the world will end. Giles said it was his duty."
"I'm. Going. To. Kick. His. Fucking. Ass," Xander said coldly. "Where is he?"
"County, in a coma. The cop just brought the book and the note. It's a magic book, I can feel it."
"On my way," Dawn agreed. "Meet you there, keep it *out* of the buildings, including away from your son."
"Of course." He went and tossed it in their lounge area outside. It was outside and no one was going to touch it there. He sat down, waiting on everyone to return. Modo and Staff showed up first, making him smirk at them. "Have fun?"
"Tons," Staff said with a happy smile. "It was so boss, Vinnie, you would have *died*. We had front row seats," she moaned. "I could see up people's noses and a kilt or two." He grinned.
Modo noticed the book on the center table. "What's that?"
"Magic book Ethan Rayne sent to Xander from his coma at County. Everyone's heading back. Might as well sit and share highlights," he said with a grin.
"Magic?" Staff asked. "Like Dawn?"
"Like the nightmares?" Modo asked. Vinnie nodded at that. "Can we burn it?"
"Ethan said that Giles said it's his duty to stop the creature. I'm assuming that's the instructions," he said, pointing at the book. "I'm not sure if we should burn it yet. Later though. I'll buy the lighter fluid." Throttle's bike came around the alley between the two buildings with Xander driving and stopped neatly next to the tent opening. Xander got off and Vinnie handed him the notes. "From the comatose one."
"Fuck him and the bitch he rode in on," Xander said coldly. Vinnie gave him a look so he snatched it, reading it. "What?" He reread it. "This makes *no* goddamn sense!"
"Xander, language," Modo ordered. "Staff's not used to swearing."
"There are times to swear, Modo," he said patiently. "This is one of them." He sat down and picked up a stick from their small firepit to open the book, flipping through it. "It's in Latin. It's a demon," he said, reading the first few paragraphs. "It's a sacrificial manual," he said, picking it up and throwing it at the new addition's side. "That's why we had the nightmares." He got up and stomped off.
Dawn came around the house on her bike with Rimfire right behind her on his, and she saw the book first. She walked over to pick it up once she had parked, flipping through it. "Oh, fuck me," she said grimly. "Xander! Who sent this?"
"Ethan. He said Giles said it's his duty to stop it," Vinnie said bitterly. "Why?"
"Because only a sacrifice of power, as pure as possible, can keep this demon from being reborn and brought back into the world."
"Too late," a quiet voice said from behind her.
Dawn rolled, coming up with her mini-crossbow and the book tucked under her arm. "Xander! Demon!" He came back outside with a sword and a mirror. "What's that for?"
"To cut off his hand," he said grimly, tossing Modo the mirror. "Come on, you seem to want me, you come get me."
"You won't stop me, boy. No one can or will. The sacrifice of innocence wasn't enough."
"No, but I'm sure I can sacrifice you," he sneered back. "Many demons think I'm not good enough. They're all dead too."
"You can't stop me, I've got the globe," he sneered, holding it up. Dawn shot it out of his hand and he shrieked. "You can't do that! You're not part of this! Unless you want to be mine, girly, I'd butt out. You're not a slayer," he sneered.
"No, you're right, I'm not. I'm the sister of one," she sneered back, reloading her crossbow. "Xander, someone, get the globe. The message said we needed it." The demon tried to make a grab for it but Throttle shot it away from him and Charley picked it up. "Not you." She tossed it to Throttle. "Thanks." She looked at the demon again. "I'd go, buddy. Enjoy your last few nights on this plane."
"Give me her and I'll go, for now," he sneered at Xander. Xander lunged and caught him on the arm, making him howl and fade out. He made a lunge for the mirror but Xander saw and broke it, making him shriek and zoom off for the nearest one.
Xander looked around, then at Modo. "Go take down or cover every single mirror in both houses. I don't care how small. Even Dawn's compacts are to stay closed. It travels through them." Modo nodded and he noticed Staff looked scared. "Don't worry, it won't be coming back and I won't be here if it does. It wants me, it's going to get me somewhere far away from you, Charley, and the baby."
"Fat. Chance," Vinnie said firmly. "We can ward her and the baby."
"We can't ward the baby, the baby's too young," Dawn told him. "We need another week before we can do more than use external wards, like protection amulets. Which I can make. Rimfire, I need the blue book from under my bed." He nodded, going to do that. "Bring me the red case too, babe. I've got something in there to use. I was planning on one to keep the vamps away from him." She looked at Xander. Then she handed over the book. "What is that thing?"
"The first paragraph reads: "Woe unto ye who is vain for the creature in the mirrors which is vanity is thine reward and thy price. Any who would court him woe upon their souls, their heads, and their bodies, for they are no longer their own and are slaves to a darker master. The globe ye will need, a sacrifice of power, purity, and strength, a protector or a slayer, will fill. Innocence be not necessary and will only make thine demon pant harder at thine's loins and draw him deeper into you. Perish the virgin slayer and all is lost. Perish the virgin watcher and all is lost. Perish the virgin protector and all is lost, but perish the protector or watcher who is great and randy, then all is saved and the souls will depart with the demon back to his darker plane of mirrors and illusions. This is a Chronicle of how we, Matilde and her watcher Horace, defeated thus an enemy and how we must do so again through our future souls."
"Hey, at least most of the slayers are sluts," Dawn offered dryly.
Xander shook his head, but he was groaning. "Dawn, read the message," he said, handing it over.
"The nightmares, he was trying to sacrifice you," Throttle said quietly. Xander looked at him and nodded. "You're still not leaving."
"If I don't, you're all in mortal peril."
"I was bored anyway," Vinnie assured him. Charley gaped at him. "I was! I haven't been in a good fight in weeks!"
"I doubt you can fight him," Xander said tiredly. "I'm guessing here but physical fighting was tried and not successful." He sat down with the book, starting again. "I hate Latin."
"At least Giles made you learn, I had to do it on my own," Dawn complained. She took the stuff from Rimfire when he came out, pulling Vinnie over to help and to teach him this. He'd probably need to know it someday. "Fairly simple, fairly powerful, fairly easy," she told him. "About the only good thing Puritans ever created, it's a talisman to ward off all evil spirits and to make them manifest so they can be fought." He nodded, watching as she opened the book to the right page. She looked at it, then at Xander. "He took pages out of my book."
"It's in my journal," Xander admitted. "Bottom drawer of my dresser. Or it's in the maroon leather book that we got when I first moved here."
"Sure, Xander," Dawn agreed, going to find his journals.
"You keep a dairy?" Staff asked.
Xander smirked at her. "I'm working on my own Chronicle. I have been since that first possession. That way if I totally lose all my memories I can rebuild my shields and not suck in every single demon and ghost within a ten mile radius." He went back to reading, frowning at this. "Yup, physical fighting just made him want more sex with more victims," Xander said, shifting some so he could put his feet up. He looked at the note from Ethan again and groaned. "Globe?" It was handed over and he looked it over, cracking it open to let out the former spirit in it. "No sense in making him more horny by keeping that bound," he sighed, going back to his study.
Vinnie looked over at him, then at Dawn, who was grimacing as she sat down again. "You okay?" he asked quietly.
"Yeah, still sucks. Gonna kick me a Giles' ass when I find him," she said blandly. "There's better ways. I'm sure of it." She glanced at Xander, then back at Vinnie. "He'll do it if it's the only way," she said quietly. Vinnie shook his head. She nodded. "Yeah, he would have." She went back to working, sighing in defeat. She worked the mixture together, stabbing it a bit. "Here, you stir. It's being too strong for my wrists."
He nodded, working the contents together. "This is worse than dough. Can't we use our hands?"
"You could, you're the father. I can't since I'm not related."
"Sure." He gave her a nudge. "I'm sorry."
"Not your fault and it wasn't time," she said quietly.
"Dawn, he wanted me. You were an accessory," Xander reminded her quietly. "Just work on protecting the baby and Charley. She's still got shielding issues." She nodded, starting on a second batch. "He'll be paying for you for years," he promised her. "Even if I have to use him as the sacrifice."
"Sure, Xander. Can we?"
"That would be wrong," Throttle said firmly.
Dawn looked at him. "If it comes down to a 'him or Xander' choice, which one do you want?" He looked stunned. "It could. We've had those before. Glory made it a me or Buffy choice once. This one's not that strong but I'm not going to rule it out. I'd rather lose the bad guy in that situation. I hesitated last time and my sister died because of it."
"No, Dawn," Xander said quietly. "You're a protector, it won't happen."
"I'm not!" she shouted.
"You are," he said, glaring at her. "If I fall, you're the city's protector. Get over it." She nodded, calming herself. "Besides, you couldn't have jumped, she would have stopped you. Hell, I would have stopped you and I couldn't do magic then." Dawn started to cry and Vinnie pulled her closer, letting her cry on him. "Buffy did what she had to," he reminded her. "She'd already been dead once. The only real fault with that was Willow pulling her back." Dawn nodded, sniffling into Vinnie's chest. "Let it go, kid. You can't carry that pain around. It's not good for you. You didn't hesitate, you were stopped. She stopped you." Dawn shook her head. He nodded. "She did. She stopped you. I saw her stop you from moving. She stopped you. That was not your choice to make. It was her choice of you or her. She chose to sacrifice herself instead of you," he said gently. Dawn sniffled and nodded, clinging to him now. He looked at Throttle. "I blocked you from seeing parts of that," he admitted. "That was the first time I felt the power come up to help me." He went back to reading, letting Dawn come curl up in his lap when she was ready. He kissed her on the head, stroking her back.
"It was her choice," she agreed softly. "I was going to take it from her."
"Yeah, well, it's her job to do the stupid stuff," he reminded her blandly, looking down at her. "It wouldn't have mattered. We all know it wouldn't have mattered, Dawn. She would have done it anyway. She was about to self-destruct. She was depressed, suicidal long before then, and drowning in a life that she didn't have but she desperately tried to emulate. She picked the best moment. She would have sacrificed herself at some other demon to get Willow or Riley away," he said gently, giving her a one-armed squeeze. "We all saw it and Willow was in denial. That's why she brought her back. That and all the problems in Sunnydale. Which probably would have slowed down after Samhain."
She nodded, staying where she was. "I hate this life."
"I know, me too, kiddo. I'm sick and fucking tired of the fucking demons trying for me and mine. If I had my way, I'd go to the main hell plane and kick ass." He kissed her on the top of the head. "Better?" She nodded. "Good. Then it's not happening. There's got to be another way around this demon. Horace was pretty thorough for a watcher but it's been centuries since this started and things are different now." She nodded, letting him go back to reading. "I hate Latin." She chuckled at that. "I do, it gives me a headache."
"Yeah, me too," she agreed, giving him a squeeze.
"What are we doing for your birthday?" he asked.
"I don't care. Clubbing?" He nodded. "Cool. Thanks. Nice dinner?"
"I think that should be Rimfire's thing. We'll have cake and snacks, then head," he decided. He felt her smile. It was good for her to be thinking about other things. Distraction worked to keep them all from dwelling on the situation.
Xander looked up as Throttle joined him in the library, nodding him closer. He finished making his notes on what had been done before, then closed the book. "What's up?"
"I don't want you to do this, Xander," he said quietly, staring him down.
"If it's necessary...." he started. Throttle shook his head. "I'm not sure yet, Throttle. They were pretty thorough in the traditional methods and that's all I'm skilled in."
"Xander, you can't," he protested. "It'll destroy Dawn. Not to mention the rest of us."
He stood up. "Babe, if Mars could have been saved by a single sacrifice, where would you have been?"
"At the front of the line before the altar, shoving Stoker out of the way," he agreed, pulling his mate over to hold him. "If it comes down to it, please let someone else do it?" he pleaded.
"If it comes down to it and I can grab Giles, I'm shoving him in the thing's direction," he said dryly. Throttle gave him a look and he sighed. "I don't want to, Throttle." He gave him a long, deep kiss. "But if that's the only way to protect you, and Dawn, and the baby, and all the future babies, then I will. At the very least it'll keep him in his dimension for another century."
"It's not worth it."
"Yeah, but I don't know how to destroy his powerbase and unravel it from there," he said coldly. "If I could do that, I'd do that. That's *chaos* fucking magic though. I'm being held back by my own good guy nature. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't do that this time, not without *years* of study." Throttle shivered. "I'm guessing Ethan knew this. I'm also guessing that he and Giles tried or they're the ones who freed it for shits and giggles. I should go sacrifice Giles, not the other way around, like he *wanted* to do. By the way, did you know I'm now a traitor to the slayers? I got that in an email earlier from Wes. That's what Giles called me when he called Wes and Fred to tell them what was going on and to get their help in sacrificing me." He turned and picked up the book, throwing it at a wall. The spine broke and he sighed, going to pick it up and take the dagger for the ritual out of the broken area. He held it up. "They included it so it could be stopped faster."
"Xander, there's got to be another way."
"Yeah, I'd like to think that too," he said dryly. "If I wasn't such a good guy, he'd already be gone. I'd already have Giles tied down and ready to be bled." Throttle shuddered at that. "Aren't ethics wonderful?" he asked bitterly, leaving out the nearest door. "I'm heading for a walk."
"Sure," he agreed, going to pick up the book, noticing Xander still had the dagger. He'd have to take it from him later. He sat down with Xander's notes, reading over them. They looked pretty thorough. Fighting it made it stronger and more deadly to those it attacked. Innocence being sacrificed to it made it hot and want more victims. He heard a footstep and looked around, finding Vinnie in the doorway with his son. "He can't be near the book."
"He can," he told him, walking in. "That's why he's got the amulet." He looked around and went to take down the mirror that had been left in there. He looked at Throttle. "Did Modo miss one?" Throttle shook his head. "What do we have?" The notes were handed over and he exchanged them for the baby.
Throttle sat there and cuddled the comforting little creature. Vic was almost as good as Xander at calming him down again. "He's got the dagger with him," he said quietly. "It was in the book."
"Yeah, this guy sounds pretty prepared," he admitted, reading it over again. "There's a gap and I don't know what," he sighed. He looked it over again, taking it to the computer to call Mars. "Hey," he told the answering person, Carbine. "I need to speak to the Highest of High of the M'dreth, like right now."
"Don't ask. Oh, don't come down, it's going to be a while before it's safe. Tell Stoker that and make sure the kids stay up there. We've got a new demonic enemy." She shuddered and nodded, putting him on hold, transferring his call. A lit globe came on as the picture and he snorted. "Cousin, not cute," he said dryly. The globe flashed. "Fine. Be that way then. We've got a demon who travels through mirrors. We've got watcher's notes from the past saying it needs a sacrifice of a protector. We're missing something and I don't know what."
"You want to return to the path of the Goddess?" the globe asked.
"No," he said honestly. "But I do have a witch down here who's starting on the path and she could use the books. Dawn's got her shrine set up and she's past the second book."
"Dawn?" the globe asked. "Summers? The one who wrote the report for our edification and amusement?"
"Yup, her," he said bitterly. "And since Throttle's mate is the top protector in this city and it's been targeted at her, my son and I are now in danger. I'm calling in that favor for saving you from drowning."
"Which book, cousin?" he asked, invoking the sacred relationship of one who practiced, but was not of their path. Their path would have been a sibling.
"It's brown leather, written in Latin by a Watcher Horace and his slayer Matilde."
"Ah, I know of that book and the demons. They forgot to test nature's fury against it." The globe flashed a few times dimly. "Fine, we will send down the books. You will train this witch?"
"She's doing it on her own. We all know I gave that up. My son won't be doing it either."
"Very well. We will send her the sacred books. Even though she follows the Goddess instead of our ways. A full set if possible."
"I had hopes but I doubted that there was a full set around."
"There are personal copies," he admitted. "We have some who hid their sets in caves and the like. We will send them. Who do you wish to trust them with?"
"No one personally. We can't hazard another person in harm's way."
"Then we will send the spirit down. She is untouchable. Give us a few days."
"Thank you, cousin."
"You are welcome. Shield your son better, Vincent. He is very open, as is your wife still." The globe went dark and the connection was cut.
Vinnie sat back with a sigh, looking at the lounge area. He saw Staff out there. "I dabbled," he admitted.
"So?" she mouthed.
"They're sending books down for Dawn and some help for this current crisis."
"She follows a Martian path?" He nodded. "Why?"
"Ask her," he said with a grin. "That's a personal decision." He stood up and went to find the shielding books he'd need. He would not let his son turn into Xander. Or his wife. He walked into the library. "Dawn's getting a teaching set off Mars and M'dreth."
"Why?" Throttle asked.
"Because they have an idea of what we're all missing," he said simply. "Expect to see Willow soon."
"You rang?" Willow asked as she walked out of a wall. "Where's Xander now?" She concentrated and he came flying through the door. She took the dagger, then snorted and tossed it aside. "Poser weapons, Xander?" she asked with a smirk. "DAWN SUMMERS, GET YOUR MAGIC USING ASS UP HERE!" she shouted. "BEFORE I TELL YOUR SISTER THAT YOU'RE PRACTICING MARTIAN MAGIC AND TAMPERING WITH PLANETARY FORCES!"
"Damn, you're loud," Xander complained. But he was smirking. "It spoke to her. She's trying to help rebuild."
"I know." She tossed a small box at him. "The dagger you'll need, and the instructions to bypass the sacrifice. It's risky and a fight." He nodded, sitting down to look through it. She looked around. "Nice. Angel's crap?"
"Cool beans." Dawn and Rimfire walked in, looking fairly pissed. " Good, brat." She pulled something off her back and dumped it out, letting the books fall to the floor. Then she pulled out a ball of power. "I should burn them. You promised to give up magic."
"I'm being helpful, I'm not destroying the world," she said firmly, arms crossed over her chest. "After all, I'm the reason you got the book on weather magic."
Willow nodded. "Point. You follow which path?"
"The Goddess of Nature and Fertility. Why? Having fun playing with the chaos?"
Willow nodded. "Actually, the seal is sentient and it plays gin very well." She tossed the ball of power at Rimfire, watching as he caught it and it morphed into an image of Mars. "At least you've got a protector and someone who can stop you. I had that and then Tara died," she sighed, shaking her head. She handed over the bag to Vinnie. "To store them in when you take them from her."
"As long as she doesn't do what I did and nearly blow up a village, I'm not going to complain," he noted, handing it to Dawn. "She's a big girl who can make her own decisions. We trust her."
Willow stared at him, then at Xander. "You do?" He nodded. "You're certain? You know what's in her books?"
"The creation stuff? Yeah. I cleaned her room last." Dawn blushed and Rimfire pinched her. "She can't, Rimfire. She's powerful, but not that powerful. Is she, Dawn?"
"No, she's not," she admitted. "At least not down here. We'll see what I can do when I get to Mars. At the very least I may be able to create one of those crystal roses that anchor storms."
Xander nodded. "Sounds good to me." He looked at Willow. "Where's the rest of them?"
She sighed and shivered, pulling something out of her stomach. He summoned another two books and handed them to Vinnie, and she handed the other stack to Throttle. "Thanks, Willow," he said patiently. "Got any clue about this demon?"
"That's the best I could find," she admitted, pointing at the box she had handed Xander. She looked around. "There's a few mediums around here."
"Actually, we're all either extra large, or very small," Vinnie taunted, smirking at her. "How's Mars?"
"Good. As you'll find out when you get to come back for your vacation," she said dryly. "By the way, your cousin wants a non-emergency call. He said it was mean to call in that life debt over this. After all, it's only half Martian." She winked and walked over to hug Dawn, then Rimfire. "I'll be back when they're on Mars. Laters, all." She took a running start at the wall and disappeared.
"Huh," Dawn said, staring at the wall. "I wonder if I can do that." Rimfire pinched her again. "Ow! It would be astral travel in case of an emergency while you're all up there."
"I'm staying," he reminded her. "We won't need to call them."
"I agree, no astral travel, Dawn. You might run into Anya or someone and get stuck in a gossip-fest."
"Point," she admitted, picking up her books to put them on the table. Then she took the ones from Throttle and handed them to Rimfire. "Room."
"Fat chance," Vinnie ordered, pointing at a clear spot. "That's your bookcase. No more hiding it, Dawn."
"Is that what stinks in her room?" Throttle asked.
"No, she brought in a deli sandwich, roast beef, and it got lost under her bed," Xander said dryly as he looked at the new notes. "Much easier," he said fondly, grinning at Dawn. "You up for sex magic and a bit of blood magic?"
"Hell no," Vinnie said, snatching the paper. He looked up and they were gone. "Xander!"
"Is this one better?" Throttle asked.
"That depends. Do you want us to summon the demon, trap the demon, give it an infusion of one our's blood, then Xander's?" he asked dryly, handing it over to him. Throttle read it over, his eyebrows climbing. Vinnie smirked at him. "Yeah. Workable but dangerous."
"Sounds like we're going to a hotel for the weekend," Throttle told him. Vinnie snickered at that. "We're not doing that here. He might stay."
"With any luck, he'll be trapped."
"I'm still wondering how a half-Martian, half-demonic entity came to be?"
"Probably with the same M'dreth priestess who came down here and got chummy with the Druids," Vinnie quipped. Throttle kicked at him for that. "She did other things."
"True," he agreed, getting up to go find his mate.
Vinnie got up to shelve the other books in the correct order. By path and then by number on the spine. He'd be watching Dawn to see which ones she went for next. She and Rimfire brought up the rest of theirs and he shelved them in their right spots, keeping her from taking a black book. "No. No chaos theory."
"I wanted to see if they had anything on making new things from chaos," she protested.
He handed her the first book from her path. "Tough. Learn your real path first and then branch out, brat," he ordered, giving her a fond look. "Don't be like me."
"Vinnie, if I destroy Chicago, we're all in trouble," she said dryly. He tried to pounce her and she smirked at him. "Ooh, what's wrong with the widdle Winnie baby mouse?" she taunted, using baby talk. "Did the widdle baby mouse man wanna play?"
He got her around the ankle and brought her down, glaring at her. "Not really, but I can still whip your tail, Dawn." He started to attack her, and she got him with the book, but he batted it aside and kept on. She was going to be sorry for picking on him.
"Rimfire, help!" she shrieked, laughing a bit. "He's trying to be mean and scary!"
"You're on your own," he said, shaking his head sadly. "You're the one who picked on him. I learned long ago not to pick on Vinnie, he retaliates."
"Guys, some of us would like to be able to have sex and you're making more noise than we can ignore," Xander called from the doorway. "Can't you gag her, Vinnie?"
"Hey!" she protested, but Vinnie had gotten her flipped over and was tickling her while she shrieked and tried to get away from him. She finally got him with her heel in the right spot, then knocked him over to pummel him, then went in for the tickling torture. He'd be pissing himself before she let him up if she had her way. Which she didn't because Rimfire pulled her off and carried her over his shoulder back to their room. "Fine. He started it!"
"You picked on him, you got what you deserved," he said patiently. They ran into his uncle and Staff in the hallway and he shrugged. "She picked on Vinnie, he got her back."
"Fine," Modo said tolerantly, smirking at them once they were gone. "Do we have a plan?"
"Yeah, Willow delivered one," she called, waving at them from her spot, then she grabbed Rimfire's tail and bit it, hard, making him yell and drop her. She got him onto the ground and sat on his back. "Bad, bad, Rimfire. Don't put me over your shoulder! That's not how you carry your girl around. Your uncle would not approve."
"Uncle Modo, can't I carry her like that?"
"Only when she's in danger or being annoying," Staff told him.
"Fine," he complained, getting up under her to give her a piggy back ride. "I'll do it this way then. But I will be getting her back for that tail bite."
"Use a silencing spell, kids," Vinnie yelled. "I mean it!"
"Fine," they complained.
"Do you wonder what Sunnydale was like when those two were younger?" Staff asked, taking Modo's arm to squeeze. "There were more of them then."
"No, I figure it was like it is now, more or less," he admitted, giving her a quick kiss. "I'm sorry about the strange stuff."
"Not an issue. I'd almost expect it to pop up now and then," she admitted with a smile. "After all, Xander's not exactly the most *normal* mouse."
"Point," he agreed happily, giving her another kiss.
"Oooh, I'm thinkin' there's going to be another claiming soon," Vinnie teased as he walked out of the library with the book he wanted to look over. Modo looked at it, then at him, opening his mouth. "I'm helping defeat this one, not taking it back up. Willow did bring a full teaching set though."
"Wonderful," he said dryly. "Are they fighting like the priests used to?"
"No, not yet." He shrugged and went back to bed to read beside his wife. She was asleep, she wouldn't keep him sleeping on the floor tonight. He snuggled up next to her back, settling in to read, but he was quickly bored with the religious tone of the text. It only took about two paragraphs before he looked at his wife and tossed the book aside, going to sniff her. She still smelled so good. She was wonderful. He still wanted to celebrate the birth of their son. He would be celebrating the birth of their son soon. He moved to lap at a nipple and she kicked him off the bed. "Ow, sweetheart."
"No sex for a month means no sex for a month, Vinnie. I'm barely unstretched from having him!" she complained. "Go crawl in with Throttle and Xander. Let them take care of that." She laid back down, covering herself firmly with the blankets and tucking it around herself as an added protection.
Vinnie huffed, standing up. "Fine. A whole month?" he whined. She nodded. "Why?"
"Because I'm sore! Think about how big that hole normally is!"
"Fine," he whimpered, trudging next door to go interrupt the couple. They'd let him at least sleep in their room so he wasn't tempted. He heard a happy moan and sighed, tapping gently. "Guys, Charley said to come sleep in your room. That I'm being jumpy."
Throttle opened the door, looking at him. "Tried it again?" He nodded, looking miserable. "Get in here." Vinnie walked in and he shut the door, going back to playing with his mate's tied down body. "Xander, Vinnie can sleep in the swing, right?"
"Sure," he panted, arching up into the teasing mouth. "Have fun, it's comfy and got a head rest."
Vinnie looked at the leather seat in the corner, then at him. "You can sleep in that?"
"I have," Throttle admitted. "That was mostly exhaustion." He went back to teasing Xander. He didn't care if Vinnie watched, he was going to make sure his boy did not do something incredibly stupid and brave so he'd lose him. He was not losing Xander. He'd help him sacrifice Giles first. He looked up at him. "If it comes down to you or Giles, I'm going with you to help get him," he said, staring into his eyes.
"You'd commit homicide for him?" Vinnie asked. Throttle nodded, not looking at him. "Wow. That's one strong love." He slid into the swing, getting comfortable. This was fairly comfy but he didn't have any support for his legs. He considered his options and let them hang on the outside of the straps. He heard Xander moan. "What?"
"Nothing," he said, kissing Throttle. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He kissed him again, then glanced at Vinnie, then back at his mate. "He does look cute in that," he admitted with a grin.
"It was your nightmare."
"Point." He called Charley's room. "You wanted us to do what to your husband? No, he's in our sex swing since I've got Xan tied to the bed." He grinned. "I wouldn't care, but Xander might," he said, looking at him. He got a shrug and a grin. "Sure, Charley. How long?" He nodded. "Fine." He hung up. "She said you're staying over here for at least the rest of the week."
"No fair!" he complained.
"She'll come sleep in Rimfire's room with the baby if you stay in here," Throttle assured him. "That way she's protected and everything."
"Fine," he complained, wiggling a bit. He moved his legs to hang off the end. "You need more leg support."
Throttle got up and went to get the leg holsters they had found, attaching them to the hooks in the ceiling, then he gave him a smug look and put him into position. "There, better?"
"Yeah, but now I feel kinky," he admitted with a grin.
"Well, it's for kinky sex," Xander said dryly. "Throttle, if you play with him while I'm tied down, I'm going to get mad."
"Charley said she didn't care what we did to him as long as he didn't bring his dick anywhere near her for the next week and a half, her words," he offered.
"Um, guys?" Vinnie asked. "I'm not sharing that way. I'm not a toy you can let someone borrow."
"No, you're much better built than most blowup dolls," Xander assured him with a grin. He looked up at the handcuffs, then at his mate. "You were making me sorry for being noble."
"I was," he agreed, coming over to go back to that. He knew from experience that Vinnie wouldn't be getting out of that without help. He couldn't and neither could Xander. He heard the moan but shrugged it off mentally, going back to pleasing his mate. Xander needed to be begging to be walked around in his arms tomorrow. Not that he'd be getting that far away from him for a while. He had a cold lap and someone to warm it up. Xander moaned and arched up into his mouth when he moved down to tease the hard cock, making him smirk at him. "Feel good?" he asked before going back to his teasing. "What's the lesson for the day?"
"I'm not the only good guy and I'm not the only brave one," he gasped, trying to get back inside the mouth instead of just being teased with his tongue. "Babe, please!" he begged. "You know I didn't want to consider it!"
"Yeah, but you still did," he reminded him, going back down on him. He gave Xander a bit of what he wanted then pulled back to go back to teasing his stomach fur. Xander hated it when he messed up his fur.
"Hey! You make me smooth your fur when I mess it up." Throttle messed it up more, this time adding finger trails sideways to the rebrushed fur. "Meany. That itches!"
"I'll fix it if you help me get down," Vinnie offered. "Please?"
"Nope," Throttle said firmly. "Not until I'm done with him." He went back to teasing the hard cock, making Xander groan and start to babble nonsense while he tried to push up into his mouth again. He chuckled and Xander tried again to get deeper but he wasn't letting him. At least until the handcuffs exploded and then Xander pounced him, flipping him onto his back to take his pleasure from him. Throttle moaned, doing the best he could, watching the evil smirk on Xander's face turn back into tense, horny joy. Xander finally got off and went limp across his body so Throttle got him onto his back, smoothing out the tracks in his fur. "Xander?" he asked quietly. He got a snuffled moan. "Xander?"
"How did you make the handcuffs explode?" He shrugged and smiled, mumbling something before going back to sleep. A blanket slowly drifted down to cover them, and it was Modo's so someone would have to go give it back.
"Do not mess that up!" Modo yelled. "My momma gave that to me!"
"I know. Come get it," Throttle yelled back. He got up, taking the blanket, checking it carefully before he opened the door and handed it out. "He made the handcuffs explode too."
"I don't want to know that stuff," Modo complained, heading back up to his room. Well, their room actually. It wasn't like she was going to get to sleep alone again.
Throttle looked at Vinnie, who was still hard, still trying not to touch himself, and had this glazed look in his eyes. He came over to move his legs, helping him out of the swing and between him and Xander on the bed. Vinnie groaned and rubbed against Xander's limp body, getting off fairly quickly. "Where's mine?" Throttle complained.
"Do whatever you want. You deserve it," he panted, putting his head down.
"I should but he'd get mad at me if I took you."
"Only if he wasn't awake," Vinnie joked lightly.
"Actually, at all," he sighed. "Xander knows that the foursome idea isn't going to happen, Vinnie. Even if something strange does force it now and then." He put an arm over their bodies, nestling up against Vinnie's backside. "Let me do it the same way."
"Throttle, I don't care. I'm so needy."
"You always were, bro," he teased, stroking his stomach fur. Vinnie's breath caught and Throttle gently thrust against his tail, getting off a few minutes later. "There, better." He kissed him on the back of the head. "Just relax and sleep. We'll talk with Charley girl tomorrow. Hopefully she'll let you back soon and you can wear this all out on her."
"She'll be too sore for him to jump that way," Xander said quietly, shifting to put an arm and a leg over Vinnie's body. "She's still going to be tender in a few weeks. He's going to have to be very gentle and very soothing. No hard thrusts, no demanding action, nothing but a gentle, soft sex."
"I'll try," Vinnie promised. "I really will."
"That's why she sent him in here to us." Xander gave him a squeeze with both limbs over him. "I hate to say it, but she picked the wrong mouse this time." Vinnie looked hurt at that. "Vin, I think of you like my big brother. That means that's like having sex with my big brother. That would be incest and is wrong in every single human population," he said plainly. "The fact that I think about you like that and I still am worried about this means that I'm creeping myself out a lot these days. I don't like to think about that subject, I don't want to think about that subject. But apparently my mind keeps popping up this little sign that says 'sleeping with relatives is wrong, look at the poor kids' from doing it."
Throttle reached over to stroke his mate's side. "It's wrong among us too, Xan, but it's not like you're really family. We're bros, not brothers. Even though you two joke about it, you're not really."
"Yeah, but in my mind I am."
Vinnie gave him a cuddle. "Does this bother you, Xander?"
"No. Then again, this is comforting."
"This and this," he said, stroking over a hard nipple, "aren't that far apart. You're right, I feel like I'm your big brother. I've had that same thought, mostly when you decided to try to stroke me in the pool the last time we were in there. It's creepy, yeah, but...." He groaned because Throttle shifted against his tail. "It'd be like foster kids sleeping together. Not really wrong but people would look at us funny."
"I get that," he agreed. "I'm still feeling wigged and dirty. Like I should be bathing in bleach for having these thoughts about you."
Vinnie smirked at him. "It won't make you any whiter." He stole a quick kiss. "Just rest. Nothing's going to happen. I can control myself with her. I will control myself with her. That way she'll let me at least cuddle up to her tonight." He put his head down against Xander's shoulder. "What'll happen if one of them falls?" he whispered.
"Then I'll work it out," he admitted. "I'd be more than happy to do that then." Vinnie gave him a squeeze. "I'm sorry, I'm messed up."
"Yeah, but it's in a good way. You're trying really hard not to hurt me. That's a nice change." He nuzzled his throat. "Sleep, Xander. I need sleep, you need sleep, and the son'll be screaming soon if he's over here with the mommy." Throttle moaned at that. "I'll get up and take care of him."
"Remember to unlock the door," Throttle offered, cuddling up to Vinnie's back, looking over at his boy. "You okay?" he mouthed. Xander nodded. "With this?" Xander shrugged. "We'll talk tomorrow," he said quietly.
"Sure." He snuggled in, getting comfortable in the strong arms. They were nearly as nice as Throttle's were, but just a bit different. It was that difference that kept waking him up each time he shifted, and then each time Vinnie shifted. He finally gave up and went to take one of his allergy pills, needing the rest. They had a lot of work to do to defeat that demon and he'd have to be in top form. He laid back down and Vinnie pulled him closer, wrapping himself around him. Xander relaxed and let the pill work, doing the same once he was nearly asleep.
Throttle looked over at them, smirking at the pair of cuddled white mice. Nearly a matching set. It was almost like twins and he felt really naughty at the moment since twins were so rare. He looked around, finding Willow behind him and gave her a dirty look and a glare.
"Oh, no, we like them together," she assured him quietly, smirking at him. "They're cute. You know he's basing this on not hurting *you*, right?" He shook his head. She nodded. "He is. He doesn't want to hurt the good things in his life. He's justifying it to himself because of you. So you talk with him and get him fixed. I want to see the cute white mice together too some day soon." She handed him something with a wink then left.
Throttle looked at the box, then frowned, sniffing it. He opened it and yelled, getting out of the bed and getting it away from the pair in the bed. "Willow!" She came back, looking confused. "What's this?"
"Um, not a clue."
"You were just here."
"I've heard that before, that's the Seal," she told him, taking the box. She poked it. "Demonic. Not Martian demonic, but Earth demonic." She felt it then nodded. "Someone who's been stalking Xander. It holds a twisted love for him."
"Merle?" Vinnie asked.
"Nope, not him. I like him. He seems nice." She checked it again. "No, it's not that fond of him, it wants to possess him." She shrugged. "It's dead now," she sighed. "No more stalking things around the Xander and I'll have a talk with the Seal," she promised.
"You'd better. I don't need those sort of presents," Throttle said firmly.
"Hmm?" Xander hummed.
"The Seal sent you a heart of a stalker," Willow told him.
"Why?" he asked through a yawn.
"Because the stalker wanted you."
"No, and not Carbine either," she said dryly. "Demonic. Probably a snot demon."
"Hmm, know him. He keeps stalking me when I'm shopping near the mall." He yawned again. "Nighty night." He kissed Vinnie, then looked at him through his barely slitted eyes. "Sorry."
"I liked it," he said with a small shrug. He heard his son let out a loud wail and jumped up, remembering to unlock the door when it wouldn't open at his pull, heading for where his son was screaming. Which was back at the garage. He found his son in his crib, still wailing his head off, and no mommy. "Did she sleep through this noise?" he asked, picking him up. His son calmed himself as he was changed and carried in to sleep with mommy, but mommy wasn't in the bedroom. Vinnie headed to the bathroom, then to the kitchen. "Not now," he prayed, heading for Rimfire's room. She was there, sound asleep, curled around a pillow. He let out a sigh. "Thanks, Goddess," he said quietly, laying down with her. She swatted at him. "The baby was screaming," he said quietly.
"He's not hungry, he needed changed." He let the baby down in her arms, making her smile and sniff him. "You left him back at the garage."
"Did not," she said sleepily.
"Did too," he said with a small grin. "It's a good thing I've got big ears." He stroked her back and she drifted off again. Their son latched onto the mommy, sucking hard, making his daddy proud. "That's the only good sneak attack, son. Remember that. Van Wham mice do not sneak. We're too studly and skilled to sneak."
"Which means he'll be an accountant," Modo said from the doorway. "You forgot to lock the doors."
"Sorry. Did you?" Modo nodded. "Thanks."
"Welcome. He okay?"
"Yeah, but she's still exhausted. She forgot him in his crib." Modo grinned at that. "So we'll have to move it back over here for a few days."
"He can sleep in the playpen," Staff said from behind Modo. "One of my nephews did for nearly six months. He'll be fine, it's still a comfy nap spot, just one that travels." She pulled Modo off, taking him back to bed. "You'll be an excellent daddy some day."
He beamed at her. "I hope so. Not this year though." She chuckled and shook her head. "Good." He gave her a gentle kiss and led her back to their bed, getting in a good cuddle.
To part 35