Rimfire hung up and went running up the stairs to the phone, which didn't work.  He found Dawn's cell and it was uncharged.  He found Xander's and it was charged, working, and had the number he needed.  He called ECHO.  "Get me either Max, Lorne, or Micah on the phone this instant.  It's Rimfire, we've got incoming.  Yes, now, moron!"  He got hung up on and called back, this time finding the number for Max's phone.  Which was out of service.  He found Micah's home number and dialed it, getting Lorne.  "We've got an assault force heading for earth.  A stench cruiser just landed on Mars, Stoker said one out of an armada heading this way.  That means we've got about two days at their usual traveling speed.  Yes, I know that's short notice, Lorne.  Sorry!  The rest of my people are presently fighting off a stench cruiser's crew!"

"Calm down," Dawn said as she joined him.  She took the phone.  "Lorne, babe, me.  Yeah, I'm really certain.  Because they also had Torians.  Stoker said so.  Xander was attacked by something and so were Vinnie and Throttle.  We've got to mobilize now, man.  I don't care!  Gee, Star Wars work yet?" she asked hopefully.  "That's fine," she sighed.  "No, we have no power for me to recharge mine.  This is Xander's phone and he's down to two bars and probably well out of minutes.  Sure.  Thanks, Lorne."  She hung up and looked at Rimfire.  "They're calling the necessary people.  Go over to the garage. It's got a traditional phone that may work.  Some of them won't work when the power's out."  He nodded, running over there to check.  She looked up.  "Okay, Goddess, you wanted drama and action today apparently.  Whaddya want me to play?  Witch, warrior, or bitch?"  She sent up a silent prayer and went to check on everything.  This would be a fall back position, she knew it would be.


Xander woke up a world of unnecessary colors and pain.  He hated pain.  He and pain were on casual sex terms but that didn't mean he liked the psycho bitch.  Pain was sorta like his ex, only worse.  But the swirling colors were pretty.  He looked to his left, seeing a pink/blue/white swirly mouse with a green face mask, then to his right, seeing a pink/blue/green mouse with tan polka dots and sunglasses.  "Acid trip.  Alll right," he said dryly, mimicking Keith Richards as best he could.

"What?" a female voice asked.

"Please get pain off me," he suggested in a hoarse whisper. "I hate the bitch.  I'm tired of her ass.  Just get pain off me and make the colors go away.  Vinnie looks funny in pink."

"He's babbling," she called.

"He does that," Throttle groaned.  "Xander?"

"Present.  Unfortunately."


"And I have casual sex now and then, sorry, babe.  She's obsessed with my tail and keeps coming back.  It's worse than Anya."  He heard a snicker and tried to open one eye.  "You're puke green," he said in greeting.  "Are you a doctor?"  The puke green mouse nodded.  "Cool.  Pain killer?"

"I don't know what won't kill you," she admitted.

Xander lunged up and grabbed her by her collar. "Then get my damn doctor up here," he said slowly and clearly, glaring at her.  "I'm tired of this relationship with pain and the pretty colors she's making this time."

The nurse got the doctor undone and made him lay back down.  "That's not nice," she chastised.  "Do you do this to your doctor?"

"My doctor doesn't let me suffer.  He's sworn he'd hot shot me if I'm in that much pain and I'm dying," he said coldly.

"Babe, please calm down.  I already have a headache," Vinnie complained.

"Fine.  Just make it stop itching!"  He reached back but the nurse and daughter caught him.

"I wouldn't tie him down," Throttle warned.  "Someone tell Stoker to get our doctor up here.  It'll solve that.  No sedatives, he quits breathing," he ordered calmly.   Then he kicked the needle.  "The medical board has his file."

Vinnie took the direct route.  "STOKER, GET ENAMEL THE HELL UP HERE NOW BEFORE THEY KILL XANDER!" he yelled, then he winced and grabbed his head.  "ow," he whispered, covering his eyes.  "I think I'm going to nap now."

"Sure, I'll watch him, bro."

Stoker stuck his head in.  "What?"

"Get Enamel up here to help him," Throttle ordered.  "They're trying to sedate him.  He's in pain and itching."

"That means they left some teeth in."  The doctor glared at him.  "I speak from personal experience, doc, get away from him.  He saved a lot of people and you don't need to kill him for fighting back."  They stomped out together.  "You sure, Throttle?"

"Now," he said clearly, his teeth gritted.  "Before he starts off scratching."

"Fine.  Going."  He closed the door and waved two guards over.  "Until I get back with their doctor, no other medical staff goes in there. No drugs, no sedatives because it can kill him. Just let them sleep."

"Yes, sir," the guards agreed.

Stoker headed off down the hall to his office in the Council Chamber, going right to the transporter.  "Anyone care if I bring up Xander's doctor for a visit?  I promise I'll escort Enamel right back to Earth," he asked as he typed it in.

"Is that wise?" one of the men asked.

"You wanna see him dead?"


"Then it's wise."  He got Enamel, who wasn't really dressed, but at least had managed to grab his bag and his trench coat.  "Xander got bitten by a sucker fish.  He's got a few grazes too.  Throttle and Vinnie both got hit by Torian output."

"Wonderful.  Where?"

"This way, then I'll escort you back."

"Good luck. There's another power outage.  Shell's going to be really pissed that I'm missing our bath."   He put on his jacket since he was only wearing pajama pants and followed him up the hall.  "How bad?"

"Still itching.  Doctor tried to sedate him when he grabbed her and complained about the pain and the pretty colors."

"Good!  Why were there sucker fish on Mars?"

"An assault," he said grimly.  "A full stench cruiser.  Didn't Rimfire call?"

"He may have called Micah but I'm not on the mobilization list until the bottom.  Doctors come right before shrinks and clean up crews."  He nodded at the guards.  "Move, don't come in."  He pushed open the door, watching Xander try to get to the itchy spot on his back and leapt on him, holding him down with his knees.  "Hey," he said in greeting.

"You're purple.  Why are you purple when the other gray mice are puke orange?"

"I don't know, maybe because you like me so much more," he suggested with a grin.  "We're going to roll you over and I'm going to pin you down again.  If you try to kick me in the balls, I'm going to have to be mean and use real alcohol instead of just rubbing alcohol.  Got it?"  Xander nodded, biting his lip.  "Good."  He got off him and flipped him over, then took off the top they had him in.  "Eww.  That thing got pretty deep.  You try to bang it off, kid?"

"Yeah," Xander admitted.  "I finally got it off and shot it."

Enamel looked at the returning nurse.  "On the creature, how many teeth were missing?"

"What?  Who are you?"

"His doctor," he said blandly.  "FYI, babe.  A sucker fish has two hundred-twelve poisoned teeth.  When you see a bite, you count how many are left and how many you pull.  If you leave any, you leave them to be poisoned longer because it's the tooth itself that's poison to mice, not something in it."  She looked confused and he sighed.  "Student nurse?" he asked.  She shook her head.  "Then go get your head.  Now," he growled.  She ran off.  "Obviously need retrained," he muttered, pushing gently on the bite marks.  "Yeah, he's still got teeth.  I need a pair of tweezers, metal.  A metal plate or bowl to put them in, they will eat through glass or ceramic, and I'll need rubbing alcohol, some bandages, and the normal shit.  Got it, Stoker?"

"Going."  He went to do that, pulling that nurse, the head nurse, and the doctor from earlier in.  "Here, the head nurse and the two who tried to kill him."

"We don't know what would kill him," the doctor defended.

"Did you ask the medical board if they have his file?" Enamel asked calmly.  "I sent it up for a reason, honey."

"Are you a doctor?"  He glared at her and she went pale under tan fur.  "You're a banished one!"

"No shit, bitch.  I'm his doctor on earth.  I've been watching over him since he got down there.  Now, this is basic medical science, honey, my girl's a shrink and she knows it.  When you get bitten by a sucker fish, you count teeth.  It should be two-twelve.  They're poisonous you know," he said dryly, pushing to find more.  Stoker got him the stuff he needed and he started to yank them out, making Xander hiss.  "If you lay still and let me do this, it'll make it all better."

"The last guy who said that to me wanted some ass so he'd fix my car cheaper," Xander said bitterly.  "He was in the same position too."

"Why was he trying to do your shoulders?"  He pulled another tooth.  "How many teeth did the beast have remaining?" he demanded.

"One-ninety-eight, one broken and jagged.  It's in the file."

"Okay, that one may not be in here.  It could have swallowed it if it's like that.  Their teeth are designed to pull out in a victim's body."  He went back to yanking, pressing around the bite marks.  "How many?  I lost count."

"You need two more for a complete set with that one broken."

Enamel sighed and calmed himself, going back to doing little presses.  He found one and yanked it, having to grab a scalpel to reopen it.  He kept the scalpel in his teeth for when he found the other one.  He was right and he found it, then went back to pressing.  He found the last bit and pulled it from a gash in his side.  "That's it?"

"That's it," Stoker agreed after a recount.  "Now what?"

"Now, antitoxin," he sighed, reaching a hand back.  "Shot," he said plainly.  The doctor handed it to him.  "Thanks, babe."  He looked at the back underneath him.  Then at the ceiling above him. Nothing for him to grab onto if Xander bucked him off.  "This'll hurt," he warned, just before jabbing it in the middle of the bite marks.  Xander thrashed but he held on and got it all in there before moving quickly to crawl backwards and get off the bed.  "Okay."  He looked at the chart and wrote down the specifics he had memorized, for later use.  Then he wrote down a prescription.  "You still got these?" he demanded of the head nurse.  She looked and nodded.  "In that strength, in that way."  He handed it to her. "Get these two retrained, they didn't even count teeth."

"They never taught us that in medical school!" the doctor defended.

"Really?  They taught it everywhere in my day, which was about twenty years ago, but anytime during any war with any Plutarkians they were teaching that one.  Maybe you missed that day.  It's only an hour long."  He looked at the head nurse again.  "Need me for anyone else?"

"I've got a pediatric patient with something wrong."

"Sure, lead on," he agreed.  He followed her to where the mother was stationed, nodding politely at her.  "I was called for one of the earth patients.  I oversaw his change when it was done to him."  She gaped and stared in horror.  "Up to you, ma'am.  I'm still a pediatrician and fully trained."

"Please," the father begged.  "We don't know what's wrong.  It's been like this for the last few days."

"Sure."  He pulled his pouch out and took out his instrument, making the mother weep.  "They have my other one to replicate.  It's slow going," he offered.  He looked at her stomach, then nodded.

"Enamel, he's thrashing!"

"That stuff burns," he called back.  "Give me ten."  He looked at the display, then waved the mother over, pointing at what he saw.  "You should seen these in her output," he said gently.

"Worms?"  He nodded. "How?"

"Desert?" he suggested.  "Some creatures out there to carry their larva and when they bite you, they can infect you.  There's stuff to give her."  He looked at the doctor behind him, waving him closer.  "Worms."  He showed him.


"Basically, yeah," he agreed, smirking at him.  "I've got to go back to see Xander again.  His file's with the medical board. You need to retrain that nurse and doctor."

"I saw and heard.  Thank you."

"Not an issue. I like Xander.  If he didn't have Throttle I'd steal the boy for my own use."  He took his equipment back and wrote it on her chart, smiling at the mother.  "It's probably making her stomach hurt but it could be worse."  She nodded, shaking his hand.  "Don't thank me, it's what I do."  He went back there, going to stop Xander from thrashing by opening his eyes and staring down in them.  "That's eating the poison.  It'll take about an hour.  Then no pain, no pretty colors, and you'll be able to lay on your stomach for days and recover."

"I hate pain!" he shouted.

"Not like I like it," Enamel said calmly.

"Pain's like my ex!"

"Well, yeah," he admitted.  "From what I've heard, she is a bit obsessive about some stuff, namely fucking your life over.  You should be used to that by now," he said dryly, smirking down at him.  "So give it an hour and it'll be fine.  I told them which medicines and in what strength to give you.  It'll be okay.  Want Throttle?"

"No!" he whimpered.  "I'll hurt 'im more."

"You won't hurt me, I've got a headache," Throttle admitted, sliding over to get into bed with his mate, who cuddled up to him and sobbed on him.  "I know it hurts," he soothed, "you'll be okay.  I promise you'll be okay.  The pain'll go away in a few minutes."  He looked at Enamel, who nodded.

"As long as all the teeth are out, the anti-toxin is doing it's job if it hurts and burns.  That's eating the poison, which is causing the pain."  Throttle nodded at that.  "He'll be fine.  You?"


"Damn.  What an assault.  I'm told we've got some heading for earth and I'm guessing either Shell or Micah should be looking for me.  He should be getting child's strength pain killer and an antibiotic every four hours.  Make sure of it."  They nodded, even Vinnie. "Good.  Then I'm going to go back down there and prepare.  Maybe I'll get to raid a Walmart."  He grinned.  "How many?"

"Sixteen other ships."

"'Kay, I'll pass that on to the paranoid people.  Need anything else?"

"Yeah, Switch has a 'scrip she's got to fill," Vinnie said tiredly, looking over at him.  "Something about nobby bumps in the wrong spots making her infertile?  She's got it written out and Stoker said it's basically viagra."

"That we can probably get you guys by the case," he said dryly.  He waved.  "I'll check in with Stoker and then let him send me home."  He checked Xander again, soothing him by stroking his head fur.  "Poor little mouse."

Xander looked up at him.  "Meany."

"I know, but I had to.  It's the only way.  Give it a bit longer and it'll be fine, Xander."  He nodded, settling in against his mate's chest.  He saw the head nurse come in and checked the medicines, nodding that they were correct.  "Whaddya need from Earth most at the moment?  I've probably got about a day."

"Bandages.  We've had to wash some of the older style."  He nodded.  "Alcohol swabs.  Sterile equipment and pads."

"Easily obtained.  Anything else?"

"The Medical Board has a whole list of drugs," she admitted quietly.  "Our plants are gone."

He patted her on the back.  "I know, Pats.  I know.  Take care of my boy.  His file's with the medical board and I'm heading there at this moment."  She nodded, letting him go.  He walked up the hall, heading from the infirmary back to the main Council hall.  He found the Medical Board on a wall plaque and walked up to that office, tapping gently before opening the door.  "I just got called up on Xander Harris' case. You have his file sealed somewhere."

"We were told to release it to the hospital and to make sure they were treating him well."

"Good, because the doctor and nurse there didn't even look for missing teeth in his back."  They shuddered.  "I've been asked to get some supplies.  I need a list beyond bandages, alcohol, and sterile gear. Also, what did Switch need?  We have viagra out the ass down there."

"Viagra?"  Enamel wrote it out.  "That cures those little lumps of flesh in the uterus!"

"The humans use it to get hard," he said dryly.  "Like I said, we've got it out the tail."

A doctor looked at it.  "There's one difference, it should still work however.  Tell us when you give it to her, Enamel," she ordered.  He nodded.  She handed over a list.  "The back has what we can trade the recipes for.  I'm not sure if the humans can use them or not."

"A broad spectrum antibiotic and an antifungal.  Possible.  I'll get with Micah later."  He looked at the front side, nodding.  "I can do that.  We can't take some of their antibiotics, they're based on mold.  It'll have to be fully chemical ones, which are stronger."  He looked at them and they shrugged.  "Deal."  He nodded.  "I'm going home, I'll call Stoker tonight with news."

"Be safe, Enamel.  We need more like you," that woman said.

"You need to train them more like we were," he pointed out.  "That one doc was a dumb bitch."  He walked off, heading back to the chamber.  "I'm back.  Heading back.  It should be fine.  I've got a list of stuff to ask about."

Stoker pointed at the chamber.  "All set, pull the lever and step in.  Do you need to come back?"

"In case of seizures, mental breakdown, or other bad problems.  He should be fine for the rest of his vacation."  He grinned at him.  "It felt good to slap down the stupid again."  He pulled the lever and got in, heading home.  "Honey, I'm back," he called.

"Good, sweetie," Micah called.  "Where were you?"

"Mars."  He handed over the list.  "The back is what they can trade for, the front is what they need desperately.  Xander got bitten by a sucker fish and was hallucinating and being poisoned because of stupid people.  Oh, there's sixteen ships."

"Wonderful.  Anything else?"

"You might ask Stoker."

"Hard to do without power."

"Xander has a generator."

"Really?"  Enamel gave him a look.  "Fine, he probably would.  It work?"

"Needs gas probably.  Should run the computers at the very least and I've got to send up some medical supplies later."

"Fine," he agreed, standing up and putting away his gun.  "You're not running?"

"In pajama pants and my jacket?"

Micah looked at his outfit, then snorted. "Fine.  You're not running.  Would you?"

"Not unless every other mouse down here did," he sighed.  "Mars isn't my home, Micah.  Here is."

"Thank you.  We'll need support.  The president feels sorry for them."

"I don't.  Can we call another Bringer here?"

"No.  Buffy doesn't have the scythe to kill it," he sighed, heading out to go to Xander's.  If he had power, he could call people and get more information.  Plus find out what had happened this time.


Throttle nudged Xander, giving him a gentle squeeze.  "You okay with the assault stuff?" he asked gently.

"I hate wars.  I hate people who create wars and I hate the fact that those guys were willing to starve and die before survival," he admitted quietly.

"News flash, little bro, none of us like it," Vinnie said dryly from his bed.

"You can come over."

"Sure."  He came over and crawled in behind him, giving him a cuddle.  "What he wanted to know was are you going off the deep end over this?"

"Not the first time," Xander sighed, looking back at him.  "Just sucks worse this time. Oooh, yay, I get more nightmares," he finished sarcastically. "I did what was necessary and nothing more, Vinnie.  I'm not a hero, I was being stubborn.  They're gonna tell someone I snapped at them for being stupid for not taking the food that was there first off."

"Were you?" Throttle asked.

Xander shook his head.  "I admire them for having such strong morals but I can't help but feel that something was out of whack there.  If you can't survive then why have the morals?  I've never understood that.  I probably never will.  Morals are great and all but if you're gonna die, if it's you or them and you're gonna die, I put mine aside.  I don't like to kill but I'd rather live this week.  Pain and all."

"Which you did," Vinnie agreed, giving him a gentle squeeze.

"I'm proud of you for it," Throttle added, giving him a gentle kiss.  "Did you eat anything?"

Xander snorted.  "Me eat?"

"Point.  Hey, nurse?"  One stuck her head in.  "Can he get something to eat, maybe even some soup?  He's got trouble eating when it's hot and it's been about four days since he's done more than drink."

"Yeah, his smell's still off," Vinnie said through his yawn.

"Should you two be on his bed?"

"I'm married to him, ma'am.  It's either here or he's in mine.  I'm keeping him off his back."

"I'm his big brother.  He needed a cuddle," Vinnie offered, grinning at her. "My wife and spawn?"

"Your spawn is presently screaming in his godfather's arms up the hall and your wife is screaming at Stoker that they need to get back there for that assault."

"That one'll be somewhat political and they've got the whole US military behind them," Xander said dryly.  "If they need me, something's wrong in the military.  There's nearly a million soldiers there, they can do it.  Hey, if Stars Wars actually worked instead of just being a crack pipe dream, we could blow them out of orbit," Xander said dryly. "That would be more fun anyway."

"You're mean, Xander.  He's hungry," he said at her odd look.

"What?  I agree," she admitted, going to find him some food.  She came back with two mugs.  "Here, it's baby-concentrate strength muir berry juice."  Vinnie's eyes widened.  "Even the babies get it and they don't bounce," she promised.  "Plus some Torshian egg soup."  They helped Xander sit up and drink them both while she watched and checked him over.  "His back's looking much better," she offered.  "Most of the puss has quit coming out already and he's starting to scab over.  He should be ready to go within a few days."  She took back the first empty mug, watching as he drained the other, then broke out in spots. "Oops, looks like he's allergic to those.  Let me get him something for that."  She hurried off, making a note in his chart about Torshian eggs while she got him the allergy medicine.  She brought it back at a quick trot, and left a bucket too, just in case.  He popped the pills and she smiled, patting him on the foot.  "I'm sorry, dear."

"That's okay.  Not your fault.  I didn't know about that," he admitted, yawning again.  "Can I sleep on my back yet?"

"No, dear, not until you're healed."

"Fine."  He yawned again and laid down on Throttle's chest, then couldn't get comfortable so flipped over onto Vinnie's and pulled Throttle over him like a blanket.  "Thanks."

"You're welcome."  She went to tell the attending who had taken over his case.  "Sir?"  He looked up, smiling at her.  "Small complication.  Mr. Harris just had an allergic reaction to Torshian eggs soup.  I gave him the standard antiallergy dosage and noted it in his chart," she said, handing it over.  "I also gave him some baby concentrated muir berry juice."

"That's fine.  It's a good sign that he's hungry."

"They said he has trouble eating when it's hot.  It had been a few days.  His back's starting to scab over and there's less puss.  He's presently sleeping on his big brother with his husband cuddling him."

"As long as they're comfortable," he agreed, smiling at her.  "I'll pop around in about an hour.  Leave a bucket?"  She nodded.  "Good girl.  Thank you."  He signed off and handed it back.  "Give me an hour to deal with the worms and then I'll be in there to look him over again."

She nodded, going to check on everyone else while he mixed the paste for that one child.  She popped her head into another room.  "Hi, Mr. Modo.  The other three are awake, though Xander is napping again.  I accidentally set off a small allergy in him with some food.  But the others are awake and wondering where the child was."

"I'll see 'em in a minute," he said quietly, giving her a gentle smile.  Then he looked at his niece's body again.  "She's fine, right?"

"Just fine, sir.  Just a bit banged up.  The baby's fine too as far as we can tell."  She came in to check her over and smiled. "She's just sleeping at the moment.  I can wake her if you want?"  He shook his head.  "Then why don't you go up the hall and come back in about an hour.  She should be awake then."

"Thank you."  He got up carefully, taking his nieces and Vic up the hall to see the others.

"Oh, bro, Primer?" Throttle asked.

"Banged up.  Sleeping.  She hasn't woken yet," he admitted, "but the nurse said she's just sleeping."  He put the basket on Vinnie's bed, letting him have his son over Xander's back.  "How is he?"

"Better.  Less puss.  More scabbing.  No puking from the soup."  Throttle grinned at him. "You okay?"

"I'm fine," he assured him, patting him on the arm.  "Vinnie?"

"Just perfect, headache only," he admitted, looking at the baby.  "Hey, Vic.  Miss me?"  The baby cooed and flailed at him, making him grin.  "Yeah, the daddy missed you too."

"Modo!" Charley yelled.

He stuck his head out of their room.  "In here, Charley ma'am.  Is she awake?"

"Now," she offered with a grin.  He hurried back and she went in to spend some time with her husband.  She closed the door.  "Micah finally got through.  He said they've got it.  It's diplomatic.  He told the president that if they landed he'd be supporting terrorists.  He suggested they go to Siberia."  She took her son back, but then handed him back at the pout.  "You haven't held him yet?"

"Modo hasn't come until today," Throttle assured her.  "You okay?"

"Just fine.  I spent most of the assault refueling and refilling weapons.  A few major dings and scratches, a few dead brains.  That's where Staff is at the moment, working on them.  Both mothers are worried sick but not allowed in yet.  Not until he's all better."  She stroked Xander's ear and he twitched it.  "He's okay, really?"

"He's fine," Vinnie assured her, handing back their son.  "He's making hungry sucky faces."

"Yeah, well, Modo's had him for the last few days straight. I barely get a chance to feed him.  I've been expressing and handing over bottles to him and the twins."  She sat down beside the twins to feed her son, blushing when Throttle stared at her.  "Should I move to the other side?"

"I've never seen that before," he admitted quietly.  "It's pretty and natural.  You look great doing that, Charley girl."  He kissed the back of Xander's head, getting a sleepy complaint.  "I know.  Charley's here and feeding Vic."

"Nap time.  Cuddle baby then."

"Sure."  He grinned at her grin.  "He's allergic to Torshian eggs."

"I'll tell the mothers tonight. They're both at your mom's, Throttle.  It's closer."

"Not a problem.  There's always the floor if we have to.  We should be getting out soon."  Xander gave his arm a yawn and wrapped his tail around him.  He chuckled. "I'm not leaving you.  I'll stay until you can get out."  Xander relaxed his deathgrip and he looked at Vinnie.  "I'm sure you won't mind?"

"Nah, not at all," he assured him with a small grin.  "It's time to celebrate living through another one."  Throttle nodded and Vinnie grinned back at his girl.  "You sure you're okay?"

"I've been fine. The Torians didn't target me."

"I want to know why they targeted us," Vinnie complained, rubbing his head.  "How much longer does this headache last?  It's been three days."

"Last time for you it was a week," Throttle offered. "But we kept knocking you out whenever you whined."

"Can we, please?"

"Sure," Throttle said, punching him in the jaw to knock him out.  "Another problem solved."

Charley chuckled. "I'll have to remember that when he wants a second kid."

"You just ask, Charley girl.  Either of us will stop that one for you.  Any word on Caroline coming to us?"

"Her mother's awake but not all there.  Faith still has her at Boris's house.  Apparently Fred like diapers too."

"Shouldn't she be toilet trained by now?" Vinnie asked sleepily.

"Yeah, but Fred's put her back in diapers because she keeps having night wetting."

"Sounds like Boris needs a real nanny," Throttle joked.   Xander hummed something that sounded like 'the hills are alive with the sound of music' and he glared at him.  "If you break out in show tunes, I'm getting you psychiatric drugs," he warned.

"Love you more than drugs," Xander whispered, blinking up at him.  "Love you."

"Love you too, brat."  He kissed him then smiled. "Look, it's a napping mouse."

They 'aww'ed over Vinnie then Charley giggled, breaking the mood.  Modo came back.  "Primer's fine.  She's fully awake.  Wondering how her kids are."  He grabbed the twins.  "Let me take them back and I'll be right back."  They all nodded, watching as he walked off again.

"That was whirlwind Modo," Xander teased.

"Yeah, that was one stressed mouse," Throttle agreed.  "Hot springs?"

"Vinnie promised to take me."

"Sure," Vinnie complained stretching some.  "Hey, my head doesn't hurt."

"That's good," Throttle agreed.  "The next time you have a headache, we'll just knock you out."

"Saves on drugs," Xander quipped.

"We love you and your rotten sense of humor," Vinnie promised, hugging him hard.  Xander winced so he let go.  "Sorry.  Back?"

"Ribs.  Why do my ribs hurt?"

"You have a few grazes and scratches," Throttle said dryly.  "Never noticed?"


"Well, you probably will soon, once your back's healed."

"Can I go home and heal?"

"No," Charley told him.  "Not allowed."

"My momma can put up with a lot of stuff, but you, me, and Vinnie whining would drive her to kill us all, babe," Throttle offered gently, giving him a kiss.  "Can you let me go so I can go to the bathroom?"

"As long as you don't disappear."

"Sure.  I won't get kidnaped from here to the can or back."  He got unwound and stood up, heading for the bathroom at the end of the hall. He saw the guy there with the gun and gave him an odd look.  "I promised I wouldn't be kidnaped."

"I'm guarding the prisoners," he said grimly.

"Oh, okay then.  Who?"

"One brainwashed mouse, one rat with information."

"Better you than me, kid," he noted, tapping on the door before entering.  He walked in and sighed in relief.  It was clean today.


Xander was finally released and he nearly bounced out of the hospital.  In fact, he didn't wait for anyone to show up.  When they told him he could go, he took the standard Freedom Fighter replacement uniform and left.  He padded up the hall in his slippers, looking around the new building he had passed into.  He saw one that said 'Council' and headed that way, figuring he could pop in on Stoker or something when they were on break.  He heard his name and stopped to listen, then grimaced and shook his head. "I don't want one," he called, running off slowly. He wasn't up to high speeds yet.

Stoker came out of the chamber and looked each way, then grimaced.  "Spike, go hunt Uncle Xander.  You too, Anya."  They toddled out and padded after their uncle, going to find him one way or another.  They hadn't seen him in days!  Which wasn't very fair since he was nearby.  They found him trying to get out a locked door and grabbed onto his legs, making him squeak and look down.  "Good job. You guys get grandmomma cookies tonight."  He picked Xander and his kids up, walking back there with them, sticking Xander in the middle of the chairs.  "Stay there."  He sat down and his kids played guard very well.  It made him so proud he almost sniffled.

"They've got a good future as guards," one of the guys joked.

"They do," Stoker said proudly.  "I'm so proud!  You can each have two handfuls of cookies tonight."  They grinned and hung on tighter.  "Mommy sized ones even."  Xander winced at how they were squeezing him.  "Good.  Now you can't move."  He grinned at him.  "Thank you for finding Spike some friends.  They slept with him that first night.  Piston was really scared so Spike pounced him and babbled at him and the other two came in to pounce and hug them both because Ramjet's very persuasive."   Xander grinned at that.  "Now, you do deserve a reward."

"I don't want one.  That's not why I do things."

"Tough, suck it up," Vinnie said as he strolled in.  "You guys are good," he praised the kids, handing them each a book.  They beamed at him.  "Can I have the Xander back?"  Spike let out a menacing growl.  "Throttle wants him back, Spike."

"Spike can let him go in a minute.  We've still got to figure out how to reward him."

"Banish me?" Xander asked in a little voice.  "Please?"

"No, son, I'm afraid we can't do that," one of the council men said with a smile.

"I'll go out and cause more property damage if I have to."

"No," Carbine snapped. "Suck it up, Xander. You're a veteran, surely you were given awards before?"

"Not exactly noted for being in the real military, Carbine, and no, my friends pretty well brainwashed me into being a slave and soldier," he told her.  "At least according to Shell and Throttle."  Vinnie nodded at that.  "See?  I'm lucky if I got a cookie or a pat on the back for what I did.  I can run home if you want."

"Sit," Stoker ordered.  Xander gave him a hurt look. "Fine, then stand, but stay."  He leaned back in his chair, smirking at him.  "Vincent, how many brave, yet stupid, acts did he perform?"

"He got the kids out of the daycare, he went back for that last class and any stragglers, he got a few elderly people inside too.  He grabbed Spike and Piston from where they were staring at the skies."  He took a breath.  "He came and volunteered to go round up more people, getting demanding when you tried to stop him.  He went and rescued about twenty- eight people's lives, the last few of which by running them on foot during the battle beside the battle while firing with ever weaker guns.  He kept the majority of Sand Raiders from joining the battle.  And he shot the plutarkians who found the cave that led to where the kids were hiding."  He took a deep breath.  "I lost count in there but he's up to about eighty someodd lives he saved."

"I'd say at least ten," Carbine offered.  "Plus all those lives.   So that's what?  Thirteen medals?"  Xander let out a whimper and she smirked at him. "Payback," she mouthed.

"Bitch," he said, shaking his head.  "You'd do this to me because I got him after you dumped him?  Mean, bratty bitch.  Worse than a slayer bitch," he complained quietly.

"Use that language in front of my kids again and I'm going to swat you myself, Xander," Stoker said firmly.  "Make that fourteen, for standing up to Carbine just then.  That deserves a medal on her best days."  The other council members laughed at that. He looked him over.  "You look good in our uniform, Xander.  Even with the hospital slippers on.  We should give you a commission."

Xander looked down at the kids, then suddenly they weren't on him and he was running out the door, heading for Vinnie's bike.  He jumped on it.  "Let's go before they make me a commander, give me money, and give me medals for saving people," he ordered.  She started and took him off, taking him back to Modo's momma's house, apparently where everyone was.  He carefully parked her and went inside, going upstairs to where he could hear Throttle, hiding under the covers with him.  "Save me."

"Did Greasepit come back?" Modo teased.

"They wanted to give me a commission and fourteen medals," Xander said from Throttle's stomach.  He wiggled and got down beside him on the narrow bed, then pulled his mate overtop of him to hide him. "Stay there."  He conformed his body to his mate's so no one would know he was under him.

Throttle's momma peeked in.  "Is that Xander under you, son?" she asked.  He nodded, smirking at her.  "Vinnie's swearing at him about taking his bike."

"Stoker threatened to give him a commission and fourteen medals," Modo told her with a grin.

"Ah, no wonder he's hiding.  That's fine, dear, just don't hurt yourself.  We'll protect you from Vinnie."  She went back downstairs, frowning at Vinnie when he stomped in.  "He's hiding."

"I have no doubt he's hiding, I'm going to whip his tail."

"Why, dear?" she asked sweetly.  "You run from medals too.  Like big brother, like little brother."

"That's true, blood tells," Modo's momma told him.

"Yeah, but he took my bike and didn't even wait for me!" he complained, heading up the stairs.  He stuck his head into their room. "That makes fifteen since you did magic and made Spike say an actual sentence.  Don't steal my bike again, Xander.  Not without me on it."

"Sorry," he squeaked.

Vinnie looked at Throttle, who pointed underneath him.  "That isn't how you have sex," he noted dryly.

"He sat me here, apparently he wanted to try a new position."

"Not funny."

"Sorry," Throttle said, shaking his head.  "Was it that bad, Vinnie?"

"Stoker offered a commission.  Said he looked good in the uniform, and fourteen medals, the last one for swearing at Carbine and calling her a bitch.  After he ran out, that other lady suggested bike calvary and the position of commander."  Modo shuddered.  "With pay," he added with a grin.  "Just so we'll stay here."

"Fat chance," Xander said.  "I'm leaving if they're going to keep it up and you'll have to drag me kicking and screaming back up here."

"He'd need his ears fixed first, bro," Throttle offered.

"No!  No way in hell!  I'll spaz out and need psychiatric drugs.  I can't see me leading an official army unit."

"Police Academy One would have nothing on that unit," Modo joked.

"Ooh, bro," Throttle winced.  "Bad thought.  Tackleberry up here?"  They all laughed at that.  "Hey, maybe we could set him up on a date with Carbine.  He seems her sort."

"If it wasn't for the wedding in part two I'd say he was with Mahoney anyway," Xander said dryly.  "He keeps stroking his gun and likes weapons as much as I do."

"Xander, you're a very bad mouse," Throttle chastised.  "Now I'll have that thought the next time we watch it."  He shuddered and squeezed his eyes shut.  "Eww."

"Hey, at least he'd understand," Vinnie offered.  He looked down at where he could see a slipper poking out, coming in to take them off.  "We can keep you hidden from them for the rest of the trip, Xander, but that means you'd have to go sightsee and stuff."


"Sure.  Let me see if the plans I wanna do are open," he promised, grinning at Throttle.  "Bathing in the springs at Mons, then up on top at the end of the day?"

"I like that idea and I said I'd take him that way anyway," Throttle agreed.  "I said we'd stop by those temples."

"Sure," Vinnie agreed.  "We can do that."

"We?" Modo asked.  "Or you four?"

"You and Staff can come," Throttle offered.  "We'll make it a family roadtrip."

"Now I'm having flashbacks of European Vacation."

Throttle got off Xander's back and uncovered him.  "I'm not Chevy Chase."

"No, you're cuter," Xander assured him.  "But I'm not."

"I'd spank you but it might put you back in there.  How did you get out?"

"The nurse said I could go.  I ran," he said with a small shrug, grinning at him.  "I was hoping Stoker would give me a ride."

"Yeah, well, instead you stole my ride and I should punish you for that," Vinnie said, hands on his hips.  "I should tease you and leave you hanging and tie Throttle down so he can't help you."

"I'm not that mean to you," Xander defended.  "I didn't hurt her or anything.  She agreed.  She started.  I told her how desperate it was and she started."  He gave him the puppy eyes.

Vinnie sighed. "Fine, I forgive you, but we've got to get you your own bike."


"Ears and all," Vinnie said firmly.  "We can find someone to fix those for you."  He hauled him up and carried him down the stairs.  "We'll be back."  He walked him out to his bike and got him on the back, taking him to the local clinic.  He walked him inside.  "Our doctor says his ears are crimped."  He handed him to the nurse.  "We're bikers."

"Ah.  Let's look at him," she agreed, taking him back to a back room but letting him walk.  "You're a very well built mouse.  How have you survived this long?"

"I'm slowly changing," he said miserably.  "I'm twenty-four in human years and about twelve in mouse years."

"Then it's well past time for this problem to be looked at," she agreed, sitting him down.  "What were you?"

"Human.  My records are at the hospital thingy attached to the council hall."

"His full record's with the medical board," Vinnie told her, crossing his arms over his chest and staring Xander down.  "He needs his own bike.  He refuses until his balance is fixed."

"I understand.  Let me look at two things," she offered, putting something on his ears that looked like headphones. "High, squeaky noises, sir."  He winced but they went up and down and she switched inputs, finding out how far it was needed.  Then she switched to another one, which made him wince more, but it gave her the precise measurement she needed.  She lifted the outside edge of one, making him wince again.  "How does that feel?"


"Sorry."  She let it back down slightly and he turned green.  She let him go, watching as he puked.  "Hmm.  An ear lift may not be the answer.  It's nearly in the right spot. But not quite."  She found a needle in her drawer, looking at it.  "Botox?"

"That freezes muscles," Vinnie said.  "Women on earth use it to freeze muscles so they don't show wrinkles."

"Interesting."  She ran her computer over it and grinned, coming over to help Xander stand up again.  "Hold him down," she said firmly, going into his ear to stop that extra tube.  She injected it and stepped back.  "He's got an extra tube in one ear.  I'm guessing it's leftover from him being human.  It's on the same side as his brown eye.  Go ahead and stand up."  He did so and wobbled greatly.  "Feel worse?"  He nodded, turning green and going to puke in the sink again.  She came over and pulled his ear into position and it made it worse so she lowered it some and he groaned, but that made it better by her readings.  So she knocked him out and went with the readings, lowering his ear an inch and doing a small tuck of the skin behind it.  She checked the other side and did that one.  Then she smiled at him.  "There you go.  Very pretty.  That loose skin should absorb soon."  She cleaned up after herself, noticing Vinnie was still staring.  "What?"

"Waiting for him to wake up," he admitted.  "Just in case.  I drove us here."  She nodded, patting him on the shoulder as she left, going to make note of that Botox stuff for later use.  Vinnie nudged him, grinning at the goofy grin he got back.  "You okay?"

"My ear is tingling."

"It should be.  You got Botox in it."  He helped him sit up, then stand up, looking him over.  He wasn't wobbling.  "You really okay now?"  Xander nodded, then beamed.  "Good.  Then let's go home so we can find you your own bike.  I'm tired of you stealing mine."  He walked him off, taking him out to the bike.  Where he let Xander get on behind him and felt him automatically find his balance when he stood it up.  "Maybe it fixed it."  He started his girl and sent her back to Modo's momma's house, trying a small jump on the way.  Xander just grinned and held on tighter.  He parked outside the house and walked him inside.  "Fixed.  Botox and an ear fix."

"They lowered it," Throttle said.

Vinnie nodded.  "That fixed it better."

"But they lowered it."

"Yeah, but it fixed it.  He didn't even wobble on a jump here.  A little botox in that extra ear tube and they fixed it."  He clapped Xander on the back.  "Now he can have his own bike and quit stealing ours."

"Yes!" Modo said happily, high-fiving him.

"I'm good to your bikes," Xander defended.

"You are," Throttle agreed. "Mine gets jealous."  He kissed him and watched him.  He didn't wobble then either.  "Maybe you are fixed."  He kissed him again, dragging him backwards up the steps to their room.

"None of that," Modo's momma called.  "He needs to eat!"

"Momma, did anyone tell you Xander was allergic to Torshian eggs?" Modo asked, spying them on the table.

"Yes, dear, but Primer's not and she wanted some," she said, pinching him on the cheek.  "You're a good boy but don't try to save them.  Throttle, bring that boy back down here now!   He needs to eat!"

"Cheese, momma.  Five minutes," he complained, slamming the door.  Xander yelped about four minutes later and woozily walked down the stairs after that, sitting down at the table and giving them all goofy grins.  Throttle strolled down the stairs.  "He needed rewarded for being a good boy and coming home."

"Fine," she sighed.  "Sit and feed him."

"Sure, always a pleasure," Throttle agreed with a grin. He sat down beside Xander and picked up something.  "Open."  Xander opened and grinned at him, eating the bite he gave him.  "See, good food.  Eat and we can run away tomorrow for the next few days."

"Sure."  He ate another bite.  "How do you pick a bike?  Is it like being Chosen?"

"Used to be," Modo offered, sitting down on his other side.  "You'd go to the factory around when you were sixteen or so.  One of the guys there would give you a few tests, then input the answers.  Then a few bikes would come out and they'd look you over and you'd mutually choose.  It took me nearly a whole day to choose Lil' Hoss."

"Took me nearly a week, I slept there with mine," Vinnie offered.  "There were only two but they were both so perfect."  He sat down on Throttle's other side.  "I don't know how we'd do it now.  Staff?"  She came out of the kitchen.  "How do we choose bikes now?"

"Best guess."  She looked at Xander. "They lowered your ears."  He nodded, then he grinned because he wasn't dizzy.  "Cool.  Can you sit still?"  He shook his head, grinning at her.  "We'd have a problem choosing for you anyway.  You're so complex that it'd be hard.  Usually we go with the dominant personality.  That's why Lil' Hoss is so laid back.  Why Vinnie's is so fast and over-armed.  But you're split a bit too much," she pointed out.  "You're equal parts warrior, lover, doting uncle, and caring parent.  I'm not sure how we'd fit you.  It'd be a challenge.  You'd be there for weeks probably. We'd end up doing a life review and still have problems choosing."

"So I can't walk in and say 'I want that one' like I can on earth?"

"No," she sighed. "It'd be easier if you could do that with the body, but the body is part of the personality matrix."

"So, basically he'd need me and Vinnie to have a kid and become a bike?" Throttle asked.

Staff giggled and nodded.  "Yup, that'd about be right."

"Hey, Vinnie, you up for carrying one?" Xander teased.

"Fat chance, lil' bro," he said firmly.  "This studly bod will not stretch that way.  Let Throttle's less studly bod do it."

"I like his body the way it is," Xander defended, stroking Throttle's abs.  "They're very nice and comfy, plus he's got very strong thigh muscles."  Throttle blushed and even Vinnie blushed at that so Xander smirked.  "So there."  He stuck his tongue out too. "Yeeh."

Vinnie shook his head.  "You forgot playful kid, Staff," he said, handing her some food.  She giggled again and kicked him under the table.  "I'm being good, he's the one who stuck his tongue out."

"Behave," Modo's momma sighed.  "Eat, boys, and girls."

"Yes, ma'am," they agreed, digging in.  They'd need energy to play later.  When Stoker pulled up a while later, they all ran out the back door to hide, well before she could realize who it was knocking.

She got up to answer it, letting him in.  "They're gone," she offered.

"Hmm, I can see that."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "Tell Xander we'll be nice if he'll promise to come back every now and then."

"I doubt Throttle will stay on earth forever," she chastised, pinching him on the cheek. "He's not that sorta boy."

"Fine," he agreed, grinning at her.  "They can have his momma's house when she passes some year."  He glanced around. "Which way did they run?"

"Out the back.  Toward the old factory."

"Wonderful."  He shook his head.  "The trouble those four get into it. I thought it was bad when it was just Vinnie."  She laughed and swatted him so he grinned.  "Here, give Xander this," he said, handing out a scroll.  "It's merely a formality.  Doesn't come with any pay or anything.  Just in case the next time."  He shook his head.  "I'd better go before Spike tries to eat Carbine again."  He walked off, heading back to his job.  He hated his job, but sometimes he got to have fun, like scaring the mini-punk to death that way.

She looked at it and shook her head, tucking it away.  That boy would freak some more and then up back underneath Throttle again.  He didn't need that with his injuries.  "I bet he's still wearing slippers," she said with a frown.  "That boy!"


To Part 41

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