Vinnie walked his son into the pet store.  Both he and his son sighed in relief at the air conditioning.  The one at home wasn't working as well at the moment and Charley couldn't figure out why, and the repair guy wouldn't be out until the morning.  He smiled at the saleswoman.  "Fish?"  She pointed.  "Thanks.  Ours died."  He walked back that way.

"Bitch!" Vic shouted, grabbing for a fish toy.  Vinnie covered his mouth, smiling at the shocked looking parents.

"Third word, haven't quite gotten him to quit saying it yet.  Got any tips?"

One mother nodded.  "Treats.  Treat for the good words, take it away for the bad ones.  I used oreos with my son and the f-bomb he kept dropping."  She tweaked the baby's cheek.  "You're much too cute to swear, young man."  They walked off.

Vinnie looked down at his son.  "Don't say that again."  He noticed they were near the puppies and that his son was staring at the fuzzy things.  "Sure, you can look at the other furry things."  He walked him over.  "Doggy."  He pointed.  "Those are doggies."  A few of them came up to the window and did their best to get his attention.  "Like the doggies?  Can you say doggie?"  Vic barked and growled, wiggling a lot in his stomach carrier, his tail swishing wildly out the leghole.  "Eh, close enough," he decided.  He walked him on and his son whimpered and reached.  "You can see them before we leave, son," he said patiently.  The guy with the fish grinned at him.  "It's not like we don't have fifteen cats at home," he said dryly.  He looked at the fish and sighed.  "I had one of those," he said, pointing at one like his blue fish.  "It took over it's universe and ate or killed the others, except our hermit crabs, then either the cats proved to be a higher power and killed it or it committed suicide this morning and was nibbled on.  It was in the middle of the floor when we got up.  So I need new home fish."

The man smiled.  "Sure.  Let's see, Dawn ordered yours, right?"  He nodded.  "Easy to care for fish?"  He nodded again.  "And nothing like the blue one this time?"  Vinnie shook his head and his son barked.  "You're adorable," he said, patting Vic on the head.  "Want some new fish?  Have you cleaned your tank?"

"Throttle and Modo are cleaning it at home since they forgot to feed the blue one last night," he said with a smirk.  "Scrubbing gravel and everything like Dawn saw online.  The hermit crabs were okay when we left, I think they managed to survive the Plutarkian fish."


"Um, swear word where we come from," he said quickly, covering that up.  His son saw a toy and tried to get it, but couldn't reach because daddy was too high so he used his tail and grabbed it, cuddling the little lighthouse.  He looked down at his son.  "Until we leave," he sighed.  "He just started to crawl and speak.  He found the fish first."  The fish guy chuckled at that and grabbed a paper. "Can we get them delivered?  It's hot and I'm on my bike."

"Sure.  Not an issue, sir."

"Bitchpoof!"  The toy was taken away and Vic let out an awesome wail.  "Poof!"  It was handed back and he looked up at his father.  "Bitchpoof?"  It was taken away.  "Ohmygod!"  It was handed back.  "Poof?"  He kept it.  "Bit...."  It was taken away before he got any farther than that.  He scowled at his father, looking every bit like Modo when you woke him up too early.  "Poofpoof!"  It was handed back.  "Poof!"  He cuddled it, still glaring at his father.  "Bitch."  It was taken back and put down and Vinnie moved away this time.

"Hopefully it works," the fish guy said, chuckling a bit.  "He is adorable."

"He called his aunt that name, that's how we learned he knew it," he said dryly, patting his son's foot.  "Okay, so pretty fishies please.  Xander said so.  He's paying for it."

"Sure."  He started to pick out fish, writing them down on the form.  "How about these?  They're big, but they're loving fish.  Won't eat the others."

"That'd be nice," he agreed.  "They are pretty."

"Poooooofffffffffffff!" Vic shouted.

"Son, hush," he said patiently, sticking a finger in his mouth.  His son chewed on him for a minute then spit him out and sucked on his own.  "Thank you, son."  He looked over as someone walked up with a puppy, letting his son see.  "See, doggy."  The doggy struggled to get over to lick them both, loving Vic by how long he licked him.

"He's up for adoption," the salesgirl said with a sweet smile.  "Unfortunately we got him from the shelter and he's running out of time.  Usually people like the puppies first."

"Awww," he said, looking at the dog.  "You're not even as big as our cats."  He scratched the ears, getting the most pitiful, hopeful look ever.  He stared down at him.  "Now I know why Throttle said I shouldn't come alone."  Both salespeople chuckled at that.  "You're just a loving little guy, aren't you?" he asked, taking him to hold.  The dog went back to licking his nose and chin, getting his mouth a few times.  "You're just precious."  He tucked him in with the baby, where the puppy settled in to play with his new toy.  Vic gave him an alarmed look but then hugged him instead.  He sighed and nodded, looking at the fish guy. "How long?"

"Maybe a few hours?" he suggested, letting him have the clipboard.  "There you go, sir.  How's that?"  Vinnie looked and nodded, signing it and handing over his card.  He stopped to look in the dog stuff, picking up some puppy food and some dishes, plus a collar for him and the few cats that didn't have one.  He also pointed at the litter and nodded back at the fish, letting the salesgirl smile and add it to his order when he walked up there.

"Twenty pounds?"

"We have fifteen cats."

"Well, we do have some stuff that comes in thirty pound buckets. We can send over a few of those."

"Please," he agreed, handing over Xander's card.  "I'm authorized."

"I figured you were," she said happily. "He's almost big enough to play with that jingly ball we got you."

"That's a good idea.  I haven't been able to play with my balls because Modo hid them and the son wouldn't let me play with my balls, but now he can play with my balls and it'll be cute."  He grinned and signed the slip, and the contract for the dog, taking that bag home with him.  He found his tank set back up, with some of the old water still in there, but clean now.  His hermit crabs were in there again, his sucker fish were still alive, but one that was floating, and that one got flushed, and the rest would be okay.  He set the baby and the puppy down, putting out some food for him among the cats' dishes and the new water bowl too.  Then he went to find his jingly balls.  He found one, and it was a good one.  He brought it back, rolling it past where his son was trying to maul the puppy, getting his attention on the jingly, bright, plush toy.  His son crawled after it, barking, and pounced.  "I'm so proud," he offered, getting down to play with him.  "Soon, you'll be pouncing like a big mouse.  Yes, you will."  He stole the ball back and rolled it again, and this time the puppy helped.

Tara and Joyce hopped down from their hiding spots, coming down to sniff this new furry thing.  The puppy was batted by Joyce, but it whimpered and gave her that same pitiful look.  Tara sat down to bathe it's ears, earning a bark and a few licks, then the puppy went to chase after the ball again.

"Put that ball back!" Modo yelled.

"Vic's playing with it," he called, grinning at the cats.  "He was pitiful and about to get put to sleep," he said quietly.  They went to pounce the dog, hiding him among the cats for a nap.  Puppies were easily encouraged to nap.

"Did you remember litter?" Throttle yelled.

"Being delivered with the fish."

"Thank you."  He caught the ball as it came rolling down the ramp, tossing it back up before Vic could follow.  "Stay up there, little mouse."  He saw a tiny tail flick and head off after it.  "Good boy."  He heard a bark.  "What was that?"

"Vic, he saw the puppies and thinks he is one," Vinnie called, coming to the top of the ramp.  "Why?"

"Just wondering."  Throttle shook his head, he had wondered why he smelled a dog, now he knew.  Vic had probably played with some at the store.  He went back to his tuneup, and helping Modo with his tire change.   He heard another bark and shook his head.  Kids were just odd.


Charley came up for dinner, and found Vic playing with the catnip ball now, and Xander watching him on the floor, but there was a dark, new, slightly furry thing napping on the couch.  "When did we get a dog?"

"What dog?" Vinnie asked.

She looked at him, then swatted him across the back of the head. "The one laying on the couch, Vincent, is there more than one dog?"

He looked back, then up at her. "That's a cat."

"It's not a cat!" she said firmly.  "It's a dog."  The dog and her son both barked.  "See!  Did you just bark, Vic?"  He barked again and the dog did after him.  "Oh, no, we have enough pets and dogs take more work because you have to walk them."

"Which gets him out of the house more often," Throttle assured her.  "Tara adopted him."

"I don't care, I'm not taking care of a dog."

"We take care of the cats, I'm sure Vinnie can walk Vic's dog," Modo assured her.

"Or else the dog goes back," Throttle finished.

"He only had two days to live," Vinnie reminded him.

"Then I'd be taking care of him," Throttle reminded him.

"When does he get fixed?" Modo asked.

"I checked, he's already balless, he's fixed," Xander told him.

"They do what to dogs?" Vinnie asked.

"They pop out their little balls," he said with a shrug.  "Leave the sack but take out the balls."

"Ow," the male mice hissed, holding theirs.

"That'll be happening to Vinnie when he wants a second one," Charley said dryly, glaring at her spouse.  "A dog?"  Vic grabbed his new friend, hugging him and the ball.  "Fine," she complained, "but you're cleaning up after him and you're taking him for walks and you're feeding him."

"Sure," he agreed.  "Come see my new fish?  I didn't get a Plutarkian fish this time either."

"That's probably a good thing since it killed the others."  She looked at his fish, smiling at the lighthouse toy in the tank.  "They needed new toys?"

"No, Vic wanted a new toy," he said dryly.  "Ooh, watch this.  Got advice on the bad word problem.  Vic, want a cookie?"

Xander held one up. "Speak, little mouse."

"Poof!"  He was handed a cookie and grinned, sucking on the edge of it. "Bitchpoof!"  It was taken and he scowled.  "Pooof!"  It was handed back.  "Poof poof?"  It was his!  He started to suck again. "Bitch!"  The cookie was taken.  He let out a wail.

"You're smart, you can figure this game out," Xander promised.

"Poof!"  He was cookied.  "Ohmygod!"  He was handed another cookie.  Two cookies, all right!  "Bitchpoof!"  Both cookies were taken and he snorted, glaring at him.  "Poof!"  One was handed back.  "Poof?"  He kept it.  "Baddy!"  He got the second one back.  "Ohmygod!"  He got a third!  He stared at them, then at his uncle. "Bitch?"  They were all taken away.  He barked and got a cookie.  "Poof?"  He got a second one.  "Bitch?"  They were all taken.  "Poof!"  He got a cookie.  "Poof bitch?"  It was taken.  "Poof?"  It was handed back.  He barked, got a second one.  "Baddy!"  He got a third. He looked at his uncle. "Bitch?"  They were all taken.  "Ohmygod!" he wailed.

"So I take it the son is eating cookies for dinner tonight?" Charley asked sarcastically.

"Pretty muchly, yeah," Vinnie agreed with a grin.  "It's worked so far.  He's showing off for you to see if you agree with us."

She got down, looking at her son.  "Don't say bitch, keep the cookies. You're more than smart enough to figure that out, Victor."

He barked.  His uncle handed him a cookie.  He gummed it to death.  He barked again and got another one.  "Baddy."  He got handed a second and beamed at his mother for his brilliance.  "Poof!"  Another one was handed over, one for each hand. "Ohmygod!"  A third one was handed over.  He stole another one with a grin, that way he had extra in his lap, which the puppy sniffed and licked a few times but he didn't care.  He let out an evil chuckle and went back to gumming his cookies.

"I think he's had enough sugar for the day," Charley noted, picking her son and his slobbered on cookies up so he could have a bath.  He was probably chocolate covered under his clothes.

"I'm Special!" Anya yelled from downstairs.

"We're up here," Throttle called.  "Might as well put him down, Charley girl."  She sighed and put Victor back down with his cookies.

"He's only had half the package, he should be okay," Xander told her.

"You gave my son half a pound of oreos?" Charley asked, looking stunned.  "Are you trying to kill me when he doesn't sleep tonight?"

"Dawn'll be up," he offered with a grin.  "More reasons for birth control."

Spike strolled up the ramp, looking at the baby and his cookies in the middle of the floor.  Vic looked at him and growled, then let out an evil chuckle.  "Poof," he said proudly, waving a cookie.  Spike pounced him to hold him down.

"Yes, son, you found someone who speaks your language," Stoker said dryly, carrying his daughter up the ramp.  "Here, special girl."

"I am special, mommy said I'm very special because of the way I think," she defended, stomping her foot.  She heard a bark and ran to hide behind her father, looking at the strange little creature.  "Not a kitty?"

"No, it's a dog," Charley said dryly.  "A puppy actually."  Vinnie beamed at her, trying to separate the kids out.  "Oh, let him, maybe he'll steal some of Vic's cookies so he's not totally sleepless tonight."

"Baddy," Vic complained, pushing at Spike to get his cookies back.  Spike growled a pleased growl and let out his own evil chuckle.  Vic looked at him in awe.  "Poof!  Bitchpoof!"  Spike growled back and Vic swatted him with his tail, smirking back.  "Ohmygod!"

"He really is like a kid between Spike and Dawn," Stoker said, shaking his head sadly.  "That poor mouse."

"The other VanWhams will have him straightened out when he goes home to visit next time," Vinnie said patiently.  He looked at his son, who was sucking on Spike's ear, and Spike was using his son as a pillow, growling softly and contentedly.  "Hopefully."

Stoker looked and shook his head.

Anya looked and stomped her foot.  "Showoff!" she sneered, going to hug Charley.  "You're a pretty girl, like me.  You may hold me."

"You need an ego deflation," Xander said, staring her down.  She stuck her tongue out and cuddled up to Charley's leg.  Xander's tail snuck behind Charley's other leg and got her in the side.  She swatted at it and glared at him.  He smirked. "Think you're more evil than I am?" he taunted. "I staged a hostile takeover of my boss's company."  She glared.  "I'm so evil Throttle gives me worried looks."  He pounced her, dragging her onto the ground to make her squeal and writhe trying to get away from him.  She tried to capture his hands with her tail but couldn't quite manage it since his tail caught hers.  She slipped free and kicked him in the arm, running behind her daddy's legs.  She spit from the safety of his shelter.  Xander smirked at her.  "I can get you again you know.  He won't stop me."  She spit again so he whipped his tail out and grabbed her, pulling her back into his lap.  "See?" he said, smirking at her.  She gaped at him.  "That's what happens to little girls who *brag*."

"I'll be good," she promised weakly.  "I promise, Uncle Xander."  He let her go and she kissed him on the cheek.  "Can I still be a girl like Dawn?"

"Yeah, sure.  Dawn's more than cute clothes and good grades though," he reminded her.  "She's training very hard to learn how to fight and ride."

"Okay, I can do that too!" she said firmly, grinning up at her daddy.  "Can't I?"

"Yes, you can," he agreed.  "Dawn's a good rolemodel to look up to most of the time."   He grabbed his daughter to hold.  "Thank you, Xander."

"I wouldn't wish a girl like the real Anya on anyone," he said quietly.  "She's still hanging around to watch us having sex."

"What's that?" Anya said, pointing at the dog.

"That's a dog," Charley told her.  "It's a canine creature."

"Like the Tabernish," Throttle told her.

"You know, that guy who called the other day to see if we were ready to restart old alliances and stuff?"

"Oh, he was kinda big.  That one's really tiny," Anya said, wiggling down to go look at the beast who was sniffing her brother.  She sat down beside it and stroked down its back like she would the cat's. "You're kinda cute," she offered.

"It stays here, like the cats," Stoker said firmly.  He looked at Vinnie. "Your contribution to the pets?"

"He was gonna die if I didn't," he offered sadly.  "Come see, we had to get some new fish."

"I was wondering if your experiment had failed."
"No, the blue fish killed them all," Xander told him.  "So we got a harmonious universe of fish this time, no Plutarkian fish."

Stoker shook his head, walking over to take the obligatory look.  On the way he kicked the ball and Vic's head popped up.  The baby got free of Spike and went to pounce it, cackling evilly at his father.

"I'm so proud, son," he praised, stroking the back of his head so the fur would lay down again. "That was a very good pounce."

"It was," Stoker agreed.  "He'll be fierce in his old age."

Xander got up and found the other ball, rolling it past Spike, who glared at it and pounced it with a mean growl, going onto his back to fight with the big squishy ball that was nearly his size.  He was getting it with his toes and his fists, doing a very good job of getting that mean ball.

"Good, he doesn't like the jingling either," Modo said dryly.  "Can we send them back to Mars?  I'm sure some kids up there would love to have such good toys."

"My toys," Vinnie said firmly. "My balls and you can deal with it, Modo.  It's good for Vic to chase the balls."

"He can chase the catnip ball, it's quiet," Modo offered gently, grinning at him. "I hate bells.  Those are just more annoying than most."

"Tough!  I like the jingly balls."

"We can keep one and send one," Charley said, breaking into the argument.  "We do have that one at the garage, Vinnie."

"Fine," he pouted.  "It's better for him to crawl over here, there's no stairs."

"He can still fall off the ramps, Spike took a header off the bottom of one before," she said plainly. She looked at Stoker.  "That suit you?"

"I'm sure Momma would be more than happy to be driven insane by Primer's twins soon enough," he agreed dryly.  "Shot's first word was 'bike' and Detail's was 'faster'.  Your mother was going around that day muttering about making her churn go faster.  She was trying to churn butter."

"You need milk with the cream still in it for that," Xander told him.  "If she wants butter, I'll gladly send her some."

"No, she wanted to see if she could do it at home.  Cream?"  He nodded.  "Why?"

"It's the cream that turns into the butter fat."

"Oh.  I'll tell her."

"I can look up stuff for you if you want," Xander offered.

"Or we can find him a set of _Little House on the Prairie_ books," Charley offered.  "They do describe it in there.  That, smoking meats, making cheese if I remember right, and a few other old-style home tasks."

"If we had more green area, we could bring up goats or cows or something," Stoker said bitterly.

"We found tons of green area up in the Northern Mountains," Xander offered.  "Lots of former villages too.  You could probably set up some sort of communal farm for each city."

"We could, but most mice don't like to think about there.  That area has always been full of cranks and fanatics," Stoker told him.  "Why were you up there?"

"Um, chili hallucination," Modo admitted.  "Part of it.  There is a lot of green up there still."

"Plus the Amish mice who don't use technology," Xander offered, hoping to deflect the questions.

"That's where you found your bike," Stoker accused, looking at him.

"During the hallucination, we traveled up into the mountains, one of the ancient villages," Throttle told him.  "The spirits there told him how to get his bike and it showed up before we woke up."

Stoker looked at him.  "Huh?"

"Mass hallucination from whatever Xander killed to make chili with," Modo put in.

Vinnie nodded.  "It gave us all the runs too.  Did you know there's an old, working bathroom in the temple on Olympus Mons?  It's a communal one too.  The ghosts up there said they didn't mind if we used them since it was so desperate."

Stoker stared at him.  "Huh?"

"Speaking of, Xander, you need to do more work in those books," Throttle reminded him.  "Make Vinnie help you tonight."

"Yes, dear."

"Thanks."  He stole a kiss.  "What's for dinner?"

"Hotdogs, it's not Xander's turn to cook," Vinnie said promptly.

"Fine, make me something," Xander agreed, waving a hand.  "Or I'll make a sandwich."  Vinnie grinned at him.  "Where are those books?"

"In the locked case in the library," he admitted.  "They look kinda fragile.  I was going to ask Dawn if she knew a preservation spell."

Willow appeared with a sigh, handing him a small crystal.  "Put it with the book," she said patiently.  "They're missing Mars."  Vinnie hurried to do that before they fully disintegrated.  She looked at Xander.  "You fired Joanna's brother?"

"No, he ran for his life after lying to me about why his site was so far behind and wrong," Xander said plainly.  "He claimed someone stole walls, Willow."

"Well, I pity him when Joanna finds him later then.  Megan's going over tonight to look at the area.  Brad called to report his progress.  He got the deconstruction totally done since it was such crappy work."  Xander moaned.  "Most of the walls survived and he's going to start laying them again tomorrow once he has them all checked.  You're losing a few people to him next week and until he's done."

"That's fine.  How did he do on his first day?"

"He started out kinda wishy washy, then got tough about three, and then realized he sounded like an ogre so calmed himself down and apologized, setting out a work schedule for the next day with a few of the very experienced workers who showed up to help.  He's definitely not Dom material but he'll be okay.  He said this was harder than it looked and he wondered how much paperwork he had to fill out."

"Lots and lots," Xander said dryly.  "I'll drop it by tomorrow.  I'm sure the guard knows who was working today so he can do the paycheck forms."  She nodded.  "Good."

"Megan gave him the sheet to fill in already.  She faxed it over and he's already copied it and sent the first day's back.  She said it'll be fine.  Will your site suffer with you not being there full time?"

"I figure I'll do rounds early in the morning, from eight to ten, then head to my own," he admitted.  "That'll make it easier and I can do most the paperwork here."  She nodded.  "You can tell her I said so or she could come over."

"I'll tell her.  She's too tired today.  The Pentagon called six different times today, wanting to make sure you didn't run that part of the stuff.  Joanna had to repeatedly remind them you did the construction company and not the electronics firm or the weapons facility."

"Weapons?" he asked, his ears perking up, his tail tip waving a bit.

Willow grinned.  "You can ask Boris when we get him back to play in there.  For now, concentrate on the construction company stuff.  They have the rest of it.  They wanted to know if you really wanted them all to move."

"No, I want someone to fix that building so it's not about to cave the second floor in," he said dryly.  "It'll be the next thing done I might add."  She nodded at that. "He should have known better.  You guys can go hide for a few weeks."

"Why are you down here?" Stoker asked her.

"Because they needed me since the vampire me and Xander are here," she said dryly.  "Not to mention the fact that Xander is now running Boris' companies.  Faith staked him during an early mood swing.  She's sorry by the way."

"Once we get the regeneration stuff done, we're keeping it for the rest of the pregnancy," Xander said firmly.  She laughed and nodded, disappearing again.  He took a deep breath and looked at Throttle.  "At least you'll know where I am late at night."

"Yeah, you'll be sleeping at your desk," Vinnie snickered as he came out of the kitchen.  "I put some hotdogs on."

"Thanks," Charley said, getting down to help Spike with his ball.  "Are you stuck?"  He growled and snatched it back, going to kill it some more.  "Sure," she said with a fond grin, patting him on the back since he was on top of it at the moment.  "You kill the ball so it won't bother Modo anymore, Spike."  She grinned at the chuckling father, who sat down at the table.

"Poofpoof!" Vic yelled, crawling for his father.  Spike looked at him and snickered, earning a light swat from Xander's tail.  Vic saw the moving tail and headed for it instead. "Poof!" he said, catching it, grinning up at his uncle.  He opened his mouth.  "Poof!" he demanded.  A cookie was handed down, making him a happy baby.  And one happy puppy since it got to lick more stuff off the baby's face and fur.

"At least he doesn't know what it means," Xander said, grinning at Vinnie.

"He'd better not," he said dryly.  "I happen to be a lady's man, unless there's no ladies around."

"How many women have you had, bro?" Modo teased.

"A real mouse never tells," he said firmly.

"You sound like every bragging virgin in every high school across this country," Dawn taunted as she came up the ramp.   "Does he act like one, Charley?" she teased.

"No, he's obviously had some practice," she admitted dryly.

"Yeah, stud, how many have you had?" Stoker taunted with a smirk.

"More than you have," he said dryly.  "And I had to pay for it a lot less times too."

Stoker growled and Xander got out of the way, letting him pounce Vinnie to pummel him.

"No destroying the new fish," Dawn ordered.  Anya tugged on her hand.  "Hi, sweetie."

"Can I hang out with you?  I want to be a girl like you when I grow up."

"Sure," she agreed happily, picking her up to hug her. "I'd be more than proud to teach you how to be a girl like me.  I'm only doing girly girl stuff this week, except for studying Russian because Lorne said so, but you can help me do that stuff too."

"You have your martial arts class too," Xander reminded her, nodding at Spike. Who was back on top of the ball and growling as he tried to rip it apart with his teeth.

"Oooh, that's so cute!" she squealed, reaching down to pat him on the head.  "You're such a cute vampire mouse."

Xander grabbed his wallet.  "I think we have to go to the mall for something.  Spike, wanna hit the mall with me?  Leer at the pretty girls?"  Spike looked over, his ears wiggling a bit.  "Really.  We can ride on my bike and everything.  We've got an extra snuggling carrier.  You're big enough to be on my back."  He nodded, getting off his ball.  He stepped over Vic and hugged him, biting him on the neck. "Gee, thanks," he teased, grabbing the extra carrier to put on.  He put it on, letting Charley help put Spike in there, then he headed out to his bike.  "Like him?  He's a babe," he told Spike.  "We're going to the mall so you can leer and if you're a good mouse, I'll buy you a treat."  He got on and the bike lowered his backrest.  "Thanks, babe.  Let's hit the mall."  He started the engine and roared away.

Stoker shook his head.  "What was his hurry?"

"An idea," Throttle said smugly.  He kicked at Vinnie's foot.  "Shouldn't the dogs be done?"

"Yeah," he agreed, getting free to do that.  Xander could get his own dinner.  He dropped more in and carried out the first batch.   "Why are you in town, coach?"

"Xander's birthday is this Saturday, right?  Spike wanted to come."

"We've got to finish planning his party," Throttle admitted.


Xander walked up to the t-shirt maker and grinned.  "I need some shirts for this little guy on my back," he said, turning him so he could see Spike.  The guy grinned at him and nodded.  "He needs a few shirts.  I'm not sure what size he is."

"A child's medium should be good for at least a year," he offered.  "I've got that in a lot of colors, sir."

"Cool."  Xander beamed.  "He needs one that says 'I'm evil, what else did you expect'.  He needs one that says 'I growl, therefore I am', and he needs one that says 'studly vampire mouse'."  He handed over his debit card.  The guy ran it and looked at him so he sighed and handed over his real credit card.  "I'm checking on that while you make them."  He looked at the colors.  "Which color, Spike?  Black?  Gray to match your fur?  White with red lettering?"  Spike pointed at one shirt that was black with silver letters.  "Okay.  Want sleeves or like Rimfire's?"  Spike bit him on the neck.  "Ow!  I'll get you a burger too."  Spike chuckled and pointed at the man's own ripped t-shirt. "Without sleeves?"  Spike nodded.  "Cool.  How long?"

"That one's a bit long.  Want the 'therefore I am' on the back?"

"However looks best to you, you're the artistic one," he said with a grin.  "We're going to get a few burgers.  They're having hotdogs at home."  He walked off, going to get his own dinner and get Spike some ice cream for dinner.  Vic needed someone who could keep up with his half-pound of oreos.  Spike cackled when he saw the sundae, digging in before it could be taken by the big mouse.  "So, how's it going?"  Spike looked up at him and beamed.  "Good.  Making new friends still?"  Spike nodded, going back to his eating.  "Are you and Ramjet still getting along, Spike?"  He chuckled evilly and ate another bite with the butterscotch topping.  "Cool.  I'm sure she enjoys you and Thruster, plus Piston as well."  Spike nodded, eating another bite.

"Let me call the bank."  He pulled his phone off his belt and called the bank's number from the back of his card, inputting his card number.  "Am I broke?" he asked the woman when she finally came on.  "My debit card just got declined."  He listened to her reading about his monthly allowance.  "Oh, that. I had forgotten I had done that.  Makes sense but I never think I spend that much."  She offered to start the paperwork to up it for him next month.  "No, I'll do that at the actual bank if I have to," he admitted. "Thank you, ma'am."  He hung up.  "I made myself an allowance.  I'm bad at spending too much.  Eat, Spike."  He dug back in, stealing a french fry to dig into the ice cream with.  "Sure, you can do that around me.  Vinnie does worse, that's why I tease him that he's pregnant."  Spike cackled and dug back in, stealing the spare burger to take a few bites out of it before going back to his sundae.  "Eat whatever you want," he offered.


Stoker looked up as his son came sauntering up the ramp in his cool toddler style, looking at his shirt.  "I'm evil," he read.  Spike turned around.  "What else did you expect?" he read, bursting out in mild chuckles.  "That's cute, Spike. Where's your uncle?"

"Getting the other stuff off the bike," Xander said, coming up with two bags.  He handed one to Dawn.  "Your smelly crud was in."  She swatted at him.  "It was."  He handed the small bag of t-shirts to the proud daddy.  "Since it looked like you didn't bring a bag."

"Where's mine?" Anya demanded.  Xander handed her a bag that said 'Claire's' on the outside.  She pulled out the small tiara and beamed, putting it in her fur.  "I'm pretty and a princess.  I'm going to be the next Miss Mars," she said proudly.

"I'm sure you will be," Dawn cooed, giving her a hug.  "You're a beautiful mouse, Anya.  Nail polish?"

"I didn't get her anything but that," Xander defended. "She seems like the sort to wear her daddy's t-shirt more often than not."  Stoker chuckled again and hit him on the arm.   "Ow," he complained, rubbing that spot.  "Which one got me that?"

"The studly vampire mouse one," he said dryly, holding it up so Throttle could see it and choke.  "I think they're adorable," he said, grinning at Xander.  "Any special instructions?"

"Yeah, turn 'em inside out when you wash them, and cold's fine for them.  Easy care shirts."

"Thanks, man."  He punched him on the arm again, going to play with his son.  He may not understand his daughter but Spike was his son all the way.

Throttle looked at him. "You're so bad."

"What did he have for supper?" Anya asked.  "We had hotdogs and rootbeer."

"We shared a few burgers and a sundae," Xander told her.  He had a whole two bites to finish off the sundae for Spike, about as much burger as he had eaten.

"He got ice cream?" she pouted.  "Why?  I didn't get any."

"For not going up that one girl's really short skirt," Xander said dryly.  Dawn chuckled at that.  "Some girl about your age, I think, was wandering around in a latex miniskirt so short I could see her panties. He tried to get a closer look."  That had been after the sundae, but it had been funny.  "Then again, the girl's voice was pretty low so maybe he was checking to see if it was a girl."  Spike nodded, beaming at him.  He kissed his father on the cheek then went to pounce his sleepy friend, the puppy.  It barked and ran around with him, chasing him and being chased.

"Whoa!" Throttle yelled a few minutes later.  "Very loud, guys.  Way too loud."  Spike spit at him and pounced the dog, hugging him as best he could.  The dog rolled over and licked his face, getting off the rest of the ice cream the napkin hadn't.

"I need to do that so I don't have to have a bath," Anya complained.

"Oh, honey, baths are *good*," Dawn assured her.  "I lay in my bath for *hours* with a book and stuff.  Girls like me love our baths.  I've even got some new bath stuff since Xander picked it up.  I'll help you take your bath tonight."

"Can I wear my pretty crown?"

"Once we've done your hair and ears," she promised with a grin.  "Otherwise it'd have to be washed too."

"Okay."  She took her hand and the bag of sacred girl bath stuff, privileged to be taught this new girl stuff by her idol.  Dawn led her down to get her into a bath and then into her t-shirt for the night.

"We don't have smelly bath stuff on Mars," Stoker yelled after her.  "Except for mineral springs."

"That'll change," Xander said dryly.  "She and her mommy can both use it now and then.  Dawn's got stuff that's too flowery and makes us sneeze, expect to smell the lilac stuff."

"Don't torture me that way, mini punk," Stoker threatened.  "I will get you back someday."

Xander beamed at him.  "Ya think?"  He went to steal a kiss.  "I'm going to bed.  It's late and I'm tired."

"Sure, Xander," Throttle agreed, patting him on the butt as he walked away.  "It really would help us if Anya and Switch took those.  We're allergic to it."

"Fine," he said dryly.  "I'm sure Switch wants to do something so women can feel pretty now and then."

"Have her reopen one of the old spring and spa places," Vinnie offered.  "Make it open spot for the next few years, you just have to sign up or if you get special tokens for doing good stuff.  It's time to start spoiling people for good stuff."

"Yeah, maybe," Stoker agreed.  "Right now we've got a motivation problem," he sighed.  He looked at Throttle.  "I've got sixteen units of Freedom Fighters who don't really see the point in training."

"Take Vinnie's cousins, get them hyped on muir berry juice.   Aim them at the cliffs and tell them to find the stuff hidden in them," he said dryly.

"Have Carbine look at the rest of them and tell the others in those units that if they don't find more than my cousins do, then my cousins get to run their training for a week while hyped on muir berry juice or worse.  We do have stronger stuff down here," he said with an evil smirk.

"Some would probably give up," Modo said dryly.  "No one can match that many white mice on muir berry juice.  Cell would laugh her tail off and ask Momma 'if three bored white mice are a planetary emergency, what's ten hyped white mice'."

Stoker burst out giggling.  "I can see that!  Thank you!  I'll suggest that!"  He beamed at him.  "How many are reactive?"

"Only half of the sixteen," Vinnie admitted dryly.

"You have sixteen cousins left?"

"Yeah, Aunt Kismet has a few kids left.  Mom just had me but Aunt Turnpike had like ten kids.  Four of hers are still around.  Uncle Mortality had six or seven of his own and I think one of them survived if she's the one I think she was."  He shrugged.  "We had a reunion to introduce Charley girl and Vic.  They all adored him and there's two other babies in the family.  Kismet is pregnant with one and Bullet's wife was in labor with her second.  Chassis knows which of us are reactive."

"I'll ask her," Stoker agreed.  "Thanks, punk."

"Welcome, coach."  He looked at Spike.  "Did you have more burger or sundae?"  The baby mouse smirked at him.  "That's what I thought.  You and Vic can keep each other company when you keep getting up."  He looked at his cards and put down his hand, smirking at Throttle. "Gin."

"Brat," he said mildly.  "What was that one for?"

"Freedom from dishes," Vinnie said smugly.  The dryer buzzed and he went down to get the clothes he had popped in earlier.  Vic needed more clothes done.  So had he.  He made sure none of the little clothes were sticking to his boxers again.  It had been odd to put on his boxers and feel something soft and plush down there.


Xander walked onto his site Monday morning, looking around.  "Hey, did Brad steal all the interior guys?"

"Yeah, they're going great so I agreed," Trisha admitted.  "You can work with my crew if you want."

"Sure.  Is my new schedule working for you and Merle?"

"Yeah, working well for us," she admitted, looking at his new clothes.  "Present from the hubby?"

"Birthday this weekend," he said with a grin.  "From Stoker actually.  He got me the jeans and the t-shirt.  Said they're the night ops version of the Freedom Fighter uniform.  I got two or three from him, then Throttle and Vinnie both got me new jeans and Modo got me a new jacket to go with my baby."  He beamed at her.  "It was pretty cool overall.  Oh, Vic's crawling and talking," he said proudly.  "It only took us six days to get him to quit saying the word bitch."

She burst out in giggles.  "That's not what I'd expect from Vinnie's kid."

"Me either, it was his third word.  He started out on 'ohmygod', like Dawn does and what he calls his mother and her, and then went to 'poof' for me, his daddy, and any other boy mouse.  I'm starting to worry that he's got some sight problems."

"Babies don't see very well," she reminded him.  "Maybe that one guy should come up to look at him."

"I thought about asking him but he'll be checking him soon anyway."  He looked at a nearby wall, running a hand up it.  "Is this right?  I don't deal with adobe much."

"Yeah, that's how it's supposed to look before it's fully cured," she admitted, leading him to where they were waiting on them.

"Surprise!" the entire crew yelled.

Xander squealed and hugged Merle and Trisha.  "I love you guys!" he shouted, hugging most of them, at least the ones who didn't flinch away from him. "You guys are so great! You guys can have a really long break today and everything!"  They all laughed.  "Well, we are ahead," he said smugly.  "Thanks, guys, I adore you guys so much!"  He beamed at them and blew out his candles, which relit as he watched, making him giggle. "I like those!"  They were plucked out and handed over, letting him hold them as he cut the cake.  They all got their pieces and went to sit down and nibble, Xander being one of the guys.  He put the candles in his hair once they had went out for good, making the guys grin at him.  "I like these," he defended with a grin.  "You guys are so great!"

"Hey, we had to do something to cheer you up," Trisha called.  "We're going to go over budget, boss.  The group just changed some things."

"Then they know they're going to be paying more," he said happily.  "What did they change?"

"Style of windows.  They wanted leaded glass."

"Good, then that company can come put them in, right?"  She smiled and shook her head.  "Oh, damn.  Heavy glass windows?"  She grinned and nodded.  "Do we have a glass team?"  She beamed and nodded.  "Good, then they're still paying for them," he said happily.  She laughed and nodded, making the others crack up.  "At least this one's not our fault."

"Nope, not our fault," Merle agreed, clapping him on the back.  "How's Brad doing?"

"I popped around today.  They've got it all reframed, the pipes and wiring are being run today.  The exterior is brick and stone and that's going up today as well.  The roof will be done by next week and then the interior finishing stuff."  He ate another bite of cake.  "The other guy had the house oriented in the wrong direction."  They all groaned.  "Yeah, so Brad had to deconstruct and then reconstruct the house fully.  At least he got to save most of the stud walls."  He shook his head and dug back in.  "I did arrange for them to have a truck, right?"

"Yeah, ours is going over there after first break and heading back for our lunch since he's calling lunch at about noon.   She was more than happy to do that."

"Good.  They deserve it.  Those guys are hauling ass this week.  The same as we did on my site.  If I had known where to get one then, I would have."  Merle smiled at him.  "Hey, we did good work on our house."

"We did," he agreed fondly.  "How's it holding up?"

"Modo put a hole in an interior wall while playing basketball but it's only through the wallboard.  They used to put tons at the scoreboard."  He straightened up and ate another bite of cake.  "Merle, if you were W&H and doing their sacrifice and needed to prove they were still going on, where would you hold it?"

"Somewhere the senior people could watch."

Xander pulled out his phone, dialing Meg.  "Check something for me.  The sports arenas.  Any in use tonight?"  He listened and groaned.  "They're resodding the Nub's field?  I have the feeling it's there.  We might want to post a guard there tonight, even electronically."   He hung up.  "Sorry, but they had to move it back to tonight due to us four days earlier.  Tonight's the last night they can do that this year and I'm going to stop them again."

"Sure, Xander. You have a duty to stop those idiots from sacrificing people."

"Who is?" one guy asked.

"Wolfram and Hart.  The same people who have been sabotaging the company all summer," he told him.

"Those guys you blew up?" another asked.

"I didn't blow them up," Xander snorted.  "I was in there getting my personnel file but I didn't give the love tap."

"Love tap?" Trisha asked.  "With the way it fell?"

"Their central support tower was cracked," he said dryly.  "It had a few cracks.  All it would have really taken was one car running into it to crash it."  He finished off his cake and grinned at Merle.  At least until his phone rang.  He checked the number.  "Yeah, Meg?"  He grinned.  "Really?  My hunch was right?"  He chuckled.  "Yeah, I expected that," he admitted.  "It only made sense and all.  Sure, you helping or watching?  Taping's fine.  I'm sure someone would like that."  He hung up and beamed at the other managers.  "I may be a bit late tomorrow.  They've already got guards there."

"If you need to, you can leave early tonight too," Trisha offered.

"No, I'll be good," he said smugly.  "More than enough time."  He beamed at the other guys.  "I adore you guys."  They grinned back.  "But we've still got to do some work today.  Ten....well, maybe twenty more minutes," he offered, taking the present Merle has holding. "Cool."  He opened it and beamed, holding up the leather picture album. "I've got tons of pictures that could go in here, guys.  Thank you."  He hugged it until Trisha handed over hers.  "Vinnie got us a dog," he said happily as he worked to unwrap it.  "Oooh!" he squealed, hugging the 'manly super stud' t-shirt.  "I love this!"  He hugged her then did another round of hugs, ending up with Merle.  "Okay, maybe another ten more minutes," he offered with a grin.  His whole crew grinned back.  A happy boss was one that let them slack off on a Monday.


Xander looked at the two cops who Meg had said had demanded to be there.  Then he looked down at the group of roped and gagged people struggling to get free and the altar being set up.  "We wait how long?" he asked quietly.

"Not much longer.  We have to have proof that it's not a hoax," Vecchio said grimly.  "Recognize any of them?"

"Four or five," he admitted, pointing at one.  "That one's from Cleveland.  She's a slayer."  He looked at Dawn, who was shielding them from being noticed until they were ready to attack.  She shrugged and nodded at the altar being set up.  He nodded that he would take it out. They watched as the altar was finished, candles were set up precisely, being measured out according to a drawing, and Xander snickered.  "The guy doing the measuring is one of the company's construction guys.  Guess who's not going to have a job tomorrow?"  Vecchio grunted at that bit of levity.  "We've done this stuff before, detective, relax."  He glanced at Modo, who was closest to him, getting a nod back.  The other mice were in place.  Xander waited until the first person was brought forward and cut free of the line, looking at the detective.  "I'm not letting them kill her," he said quietly.

"All we need is proof," Vecchio reminded him.  The person was laid on the altar, the knife was grabbed, and Vecchio pulled his gun, getting the guy holding the knife while Kowalski got the knife.  "Now we can go."

Dawn dropped the illusion, showing everyone gathered in the seats.  The lawyers down on the field swore, a few yelling 'fuck' very loudly as they tried to run.  The bikers gathered them and herded them back toward the waiting cops, which there were more of now.  Everything was going fine until one of the demons in the group started to change.  Xander stared in horror.  "Oh, fuck me," Xander said in awe.  "Another one.  In my lifetime."

"What's that?  What's going on!" Kowalski yelled, pointing at the growing demon.

"That is an ascending demon. He's moving to a higher class of people eater."  Xander looked up as it continued to grow.  "The problem is, we don't have a handy school to blow up."

"You blew up a school?" Vecchio asked, looking very confused.

Xander looked at him and nodded.  "We lured the demon into one, then blew it up while it was in there.  It was about the only way to kill it.  We need a big Willow spell of destruction," he sighed, looking at Dawn, who was frozen.  "Willow?" he called miserably.  "It's an ascension.  We need to destroy the big snakey demon again and don't have a school handy, or even explosives!"

The vampire Willow appeared with Xander clinging to her hip.  "Wow," she said, staring at the demon.  "He's a big worm."

Xander snorted.  "Not as big as mine is."

Vamp Willow elbowed him, making him yelp. "Behave, Xander."  She looked at the other Xander.  "She said to light it on fire."

"I'm not the witch she is," he said dryly.  He looked at the demon again.  "Okay, lightening?"

"Won't be strong enough," Willow said sadly. "I'd like to break that thing so much," she moaned.  "It's so pretty and malleable.  I could do great things to that demon."

Vecchio gave her a horrified look.  Xander tapped him on the shoulder.  "She's a vampire, she's like that," he explained.  "She likes her toys a lot.  So's the human me."  He looked down at the demon again, then sighed and looked up.  "Okay, you wanna do it your way," he offered.  "I'll weather the headache this time."  He looked at Willow. "Remember the string 'taunt the Cordelia' game?"   She beamed and nodded.  "We're doing that, you take the end, I'll do the middle."  She nodded.  "With fire."  She beamed brighter and cast the fire rope, letting him catch it and head down to play with it.  He looked at Vinnie, then at Throttle. "I'll be sore tomorrow," he warned, heading to play with the demon.  "Someone get the people!"  He ran for the demon, ducking the lunging mouth, but letting it have the fire rope.  Then he went to the far end and grabbed it, wrapping it around the thing.  By the time he had made the demon too dizzy to eat him, the slayer was untied and armed by Throttle, and the vampire him was cracking his knuckles.  "Okay, let's rip it!" he yelled.  The vampire him smirked and dove down the demon's throat, going to do it from the inside.

The slayer shuddered.  "Ewww!  That's disgusting, Xander!" she complained, going to cut him an opening.  No one should get eaten by a demon! She made the intestines, watching as they spilled, then moved higher, finding the lump of vampire and cutting it out.  The demon roared and tried to bite her but the mouse Xander shot a lightening bolt at it's nose, making it howl for different reasons as the delicate hairs in the nostrils lit.  He went after the mouth, adding power to the rope of fire, which made Willow chuckle with glee as she tightened it like a bit.  The vampire Xander tumbled out onto the ground laughing happily.  Apparently it had been a good thrill ride. Xander sent a few more bolts of power into the demon's stomach, making him howl and writhe.

"Coordinate, people," Stoker yelled.  "Xander, mouse Xander, go for his head again.  You, the vampire Xander, you take his stomach.  You, girl, go for his head, help the mouse, you, witchly one, help the other vampire."

"In other words, divide and meet in the center?" Xander taunted, going to help with that.

"We needed this during graduation," Martian Xander yelled.

"Who ascended then?" Willow demanded.

"The mayor."

"That paltry little germ-phobic imbecile?" she demanded.  He grinned and nodded.  "That bastard!  If we go back, remind me to rip him a new one, Xander."

"Sure, Willow.  Let's do this now!"  He ripped out a chunk, and the mouse one of him tossed another chunk at him. "Oooh, hey, dodgeball!"  He threw one at the slayer, who only screamed and wiped the ick off her.  He chuckled evilly and went back to it, playing with them.  By the time they were done, the demon was mostly a big divot and spine, but it was dead.

The slayer was giving her outfit a disgusted look and was starting to strip right there when Kowalski stopped her.  "I'm not staying like this," she said firmly, nearly demanding.

"Sure, but we've got showers available in the locker rooms and you don't wanna be naked out here, right?"  She shuddered and shook her head, going to find a shower and at least a towel for now.  She heard a bike and accepted the tossed t-shirt from the older gray mouse, nodding at him.  Kowalski looked around. "This is a big mess," he complained.

"Eeh, you said you were bored," Meg said, coming down to present the tape to them.  "For evidence.  If anyone would believe it," she said smugly. She looked at the mess.  "Hey, someone's going to have fun picking that up or burning it."  A piece moved and she shrieked, backing away.

"Okay, I've had enough of this!" Dawn yelled, raising her hands.  A large ball of green and blue energy came down, frying the pieces until they were burned to a crisp.  She panted, glaring at the field.  "I agree with Tanya.  Eww!"  She stomped off.

"Wow," Willow said, staring at her.  "What is she?"

"The Key," Xander said dryly.  "She was given to us to protect.  So I'm letting Rimfire do it for me," he said smugly, grinning at the younger gray mouse, who headed after his girlfriend.  "Though I do agree, this is nasty," he admitted, looking around, then down at himself.  "Looks like I need a bath too."  Throttle coughed and nodded.  "Fine.  Drive me home naked?" he asked with a grin.

"Start by getting into the shower with your clothes on," the other Xander offered.  "Worked for me after I took out some aggression on some demons."

"Good point.  I've done that in the past too," he agreed, heading to find a shower for himself.  After all, it was only a few miles, he'd be dry by the time he got home.  Good thing he had changed into clothes he hated.  Even his underwear was stuff he hated.  Just in case he got hurt too much.  Yeah, he didn't want to show up in the hospital without wearing any underwear this time.  Enamel would laugh at him again.  He found an empty shower and walked into it in his clothes, looking over at the slayer next to him.  "I'm going to have to walk," he said dryly.

She nodded.  "Probably, Xander.  You okay?"

"Yeah, fine."  He grinned his goofy grin at her.  "I'm just fine and I've got time to go home and sleep tonight."  He heard a bike and leaned back, grinning at Vinnie. "I'm trying."

"I can see that.  It's nearly as good as a wet t-shirt contest." Vinnie offered.

The slayer looked out at him.  "Take another peek, you won't have to worry about a *second* child, mouse.  I will fix you."  She went back to getting her hair clean.  "Buffy won't believe this."

"It was a lot more fun than blowing up our high school was," Xander agreed, skimming a hand over his clothes again.  "I'm as clean as I'll be before I get home."  He walked out and found his mate leaning against the opposite wall.  "Am I walking?"

"If I made you walk, someone would steal you to get the tight tail in the wet jeans," he said plainly, staring at him.  "Get on the bike, Xander."  Xander gave him a goofy grin so Throttle pulled him closer to kiss.  "Get on my bike," he repeated.  Xander nodded, heading for his bike.  Throttle shook his head, following him.  Xander felt someone swat him and looked back, giving Stoker a grin.  "Mine," Throttle reminded him.  "You have Switch."  He moved closer, walking Xander to his bike.  He knew someone would be stealing him if he didn't watch him closely.  Everyone wanted a Xander of their own, it was like the hottest toy on the market.  He got Xander onto his bike and climbed on, handing him back his helmet.  "Your bike's going to be pissed."

"I saw my bike, he's around here somewhere," he admitted, whistling sharply.  His bike peeked around a corner.  "Want me to ride you or ride with him?"  His bike beeped and moved forward. "Get in a few shots?"  It beeped happily, letting him get on.  Throttle looked at his bike, then got on behind Xander.  "You're riding with me?"

"Yeah, someone will steal you," he said dryly.  "I won't have that.  Guard us, girl."  His bike beeped and rode beside them the whole way back, being the perfect guard.  Throttle walked Xander inside once they got home, taking him right to the shower.  He still stunk and he could see little bits of demon in his fur.  Even if he had to scrub him, Xander would be clean soon.

Switch knocked on the door and stuck her head in.  "Megan said he doesn't have to come in tomorrow if he's hurt. If not, he needs to check on Sarge."  She closed the door, wrinkling her nose.  "What did they get into?" she asked, sounding disgusted.  She waited for everyone else.  "Throttle's scrubbing Xander's back."

"And head, and arms, and feet," Vinnie added dryly, smirking at her.  "They ripped a big demon to pieces and played dodge ball with it," he told her, still smirking.

"Eww," Switch said.  "Don't tell Spike that, he'll pout about missing it."  She walked off, going to make sure there were enough towels this time.  Someone was probably going to need to be dried off soon.


Tanya walked into the slayer's house the next morning, noticing Buffy was up eating breakfast.  "You never said the demon during an ascension was so eww-ific," she said in disgust, stomping off.  "Xander and Xander are both insane and they were nasty!"

"Xander and Xander?" she asked, sounding confused. "Huh?" she called after her.  "Tanya, two Xander's?  Is the world ending?"

"No, they stopped the ascension," she called back.  "One dove down his throat and the other one helped rip it to shreds.  Then Dawn fried it to bacon bits."

"Eww," she agreed, shaking her head.  "Two Xander's and the world's not ending.  Why not?  It should be ending.  Two Xanders would be a bad thing.  I'm wondering if Throttle is a Xander sandwich yet?" she mused, digging back into her yogurt.  Wesley walked in and looked at her.  "There's two Xanders around and the world hasn't ended yet," she reported.  "Tanya said they stopped an ascension."

"Two Xanders?" he asked, looking mystified. "Why would there be two?"

"I don't know.  Tanya said the two Xanders stopped the ascension and that the demon was eww-ific and that it was handled but that the world wasn't ending.  I was wondering if Throttle became lunch meat yet."

Wesley groaned and walked off, using a finger to clean his ears.  He hadn't wanted to hear that thought and he certainly didn't want to imagine it!  "Go practice!" he shouted back, unable to get that picture out of his head.  He called Micah's desk, getting his voicemail since it was fairly early.  "Why are there two Xanders and why won't you take Buffy to work with her for a bit?" he asked patiently.  He hung up and went to find something to take that image out of his mind.  Fred stepped into the hallway and kissed him, making him smile.  "Thank you, Fred."

"You're welcome.  The other Xander is the vampire Xander from Cordelia's wish universe.  So's the Willow."  She went to find her own breakfast, needing it really.

"Hmm, I wonder if we could get him to work with us," Wesley mused, heading to wake up Gunn and tell him another crisis had been averted without his help.  He was still fairly exhausted all the time.


Micah listened to the voicemail again.  Then he looked at Lorne, who had been listening as well.  Lorne walked off shaking his head.  "Bring me back something when you come back," he called after him.  "I didn't get breakfast."

"I quit!" Lorne called.  "I mean it!"  He slammed the door behind him.

"Fine, I'll come get you at the bar later and make you pay for lunch," Micah said dryly.  "Max?"  She came up the stairs, already looking pensive.  "Go find out why there's two Xanders from Dawn and collect a report from at least one of the locals."

She put something on his desk.  "Meg emailed it, and some news, and Dawn said the second one and the vampire Willow are both from Cordelia's wish universe.  That second one's a vampire too.  They handled an ascension and Wolfram and Hart this weekend."

"Wonderful," he agreed, leaning back to read it.  He paused at the first paragraph. "Meg's pregnant?"  She grinned and nodded.  "Well, I guess we need more from Dawn then.  Get her account as well as Rimfire's."  She nodded, going to do that. The kids wouldn't be up yet anyway so she had some time to goof off. Micah called Lorne's bar.  "Look at your boss and say these magical words.  Meg's pregnant."  He chuckled at the shocked noise.  "No, it's not his, she's a friend of ours, a coworker."  He listened as the bartender said that and Lorne hit something breakable, then wandered off talking about a retreat to Tibet.  "Tell him if he does, I'll want reports in triplicate about the situations there and what the Chinese prison he'll be in was like."  He hung up.

Lorne called a few minutes later so he put him on speaker phone.  "I hate you.  I hate that you got me back into the business, and I especially hate you even more now.  Chinese prisons are better."  He hung up again.

Micah chuckled.  "He'll be stopped at the gate," he said fondly, making sure of it.  The guys at Homeland owed him bigtime for not making them deal with this or NID ever again.

The End.

To Part 49

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