Charley looked up as a dark sedan parked in front of the garage and two people got out, mentally wincing and hoping Xander was working somewhere without windows.  "You wanted something?  Or are you having car trouble, gentlemen?"

"No, we're here to see you, Miss Davidson," the general said genially.  "There's a bit of a sticky situation and we do have to resolve it peacefully, or at least I hope we can be peaceful about it?"

"Maybe.  Then again, that depends on you guys, doesn't it?" she asked dryly, crossing her arms and leaning against her car lift. "Let me guess, you're going to apologize and then beg for me not to tell anyone else about my kidnaping?"

"Well, that would be an ideal solution," the general offered.  "But we also have to make restitution for the sore spot of that check.  Unfortunately our budget got cut about that time and it was an oversight."

"Yet, I tried to tell you and you never said anything. You threatened a judge to keep that matter quiet too."

"That was a different administration, ma'am," the general's assistant said plainly.  "We weren't in power then."  She gave him a cool look and he took a step back, remembering quite well what had been done to others on her behalf.  "Please don't hurt us, ma'am, we are trying to be friendly about this."

"I don't think she's the one you have to worry about," Xander said from the doorway to the kitchen.  He was leaning on the swinging doors.  "But I'm sure you knew this already."

"Down, boy," Charley ordered.  "Let them speak, then we'll see if more torture is needed."

"If I must," he sighed, looking like he regretted it totally.

The general looked at him.  "Mr. Harris, I assure you, I have no desire to deal with you at all.  You were trying to protect your family and that's an honorable thing in my book.  I'm sorry you had to torture them."

"Actually, I kinda had wanted to do that to Graham for a few years," he admitted, smirking at him.  "I owed him for the Initiative stuff too."

"Yes, well, if we had been in power, that would have been stopped.  Torture is almost always wrong, son," the general said firmly.

"Yeah, but it's fun," Xander said with a smirk.

"I heard it can be very stress relieving," the assistant offered.  "But I never heard fun."

"Xander," Charley snapped.  "Down.  Now."

"Fine."  He went back to staring at them.

The general coughed and snapped his fingers, getting a briefcase.  "We should have honored that check then.  We are prepared to do that now, ma'am, if you'll not press charges against the guys who took you."  She quirked an eyebrow up.

"There is that pesky torture charge to some covert ops agents," the assistant reminded them.

"Shit, the seal had fun and you can't prove how she did it," Xander said dryly.  "You may think it's a tie, but if you can't prove it, you can't really charge anyone with it.  Even in those handy secret courts."  He grinned again.  "Then again, I can show you how stress relieving it is, Captain."

"No, that's quite all right, Mr. Harris," the general said calmly, looking at Charley.  "I don't want to hurt you, ma'am, I just want to sweep this into a dark, deep closet and leave it there.  As far as I'm concerned, we don't know you exist."

She looked at the briefcase.  "The same amount as the check?"  He nodded, looking a bit eager.  "And this'll never happen again?"

"Not in the least.  Though we would like to know the final disposition of the bike."

"Ask Micah Simms," Xander said dryly.  "We sent her off.  She needed a vacation. You guys nearly killed her."

"Xander!" she snapped, not having to look at him to know he flinched. "Forgive him, he's frustrated."

"Yeah, my newest console of artillery doesn't quite mesh well enough," he sighed.  "Unfortunately I'm under orders not to mock-up any more and put them on top of the garage ever again."

"You design weapons?" the Captain asked.

Xander beamed and nodded. "It's a hobby of mine."

"What do you do for a living, son?" the general asked.

"I'm a construction foreman.  Fortunately my boss also owns an electronic company and he likes me enough to take my designs and make them pretty for others."

"Interesting.  We'll have to see if anything's useful."  The general looked at her, giving her a pleading look.  "We're very sorry.  Those who were over your kidnaping were stopped and those who took the bike project are even sorrier than I am.  Please," he offered quietly, handing her the briefcase.  She took it and closed it.  "Thank you, Miss Davidson.  You have a nice life.  You as well, Mr. Harris."  He went back to the car, his Captain walking behind him with his hand on his gun.  He heard a noise and drew, but Xander muttered something and his gun landed in his hand.  The captain squeaked.  "Son, may he please have his gun back?  He's my bodyguard and my wife's on a rip about the newest grandchild.  He'll need it to protect me from her."

Xander looked it over, then tossed it back once he had put the safety on.  "I've got better," he noted smugly. "Plus you're two bullets short of a full load."

"Thank you, sir," the captain offered, running back to the car. He got in to drive, backing out quickly.  "Sir, how did he do that? I thought we had the guns."

"We did, son, but Mr. Harris is from Sunnydale.  He helped bring down the Initiative.  He's just odd and we're going to go reinforce his 'do not engage' rating.  Just forget you ever saw him, Captain."

"Yes, sir."  He headed for the airport.  He wanted out of this city.  He could have sworn he just saw another furry biker on a parallel street to their route.

Charley looked at Xander.  "Xander, they weren't going to hurt me."

"Bull."  He leaned more heavily on the doors.  "They like to hurt others.  They've proved that to me yet again.  I'm not letting them hurt you.  Do not complain or I'll whine to Vinnie."

"Xander, your pack is fine," Charley said firmly.  "You're overreacting and we're all fine.  We're not moving, we're not migrating.  So just calm it down and behave.  I can protect myself."

Xander stomped off, considering going to Mars to talk to his mother-in-law but she'd never understand.  She still didn't really get him all that well, she just tolerated him because he made Throttle happy.  Then again, he couldn't hit Mars anyway, the only place he had to go was a temple and that would upset someone so he didn't want to do that.  He got onto his bike and rode off, going to pout in private.  He was driving aimlessly when he saw a shootout going on and groaned.  "Why me?"  The bike beeped inquisitively.  "Sure, it's been a bad day.  Go ahead and we'll help."  She roared up and he shot two of the guys in the ankle, making them scream and give up as he went riding past. So what if the cops had seen him, at least he was being helpful this time.  About ten minutes later, he saw the flashing light and sighed, pulling over.  "What?" he asked, looking up at the officer walking over.  "Oh, hey," he said tiredly.  "Are you having a bad day too?  Is that why you're doing Traffic?"

"No, I was having a bad day and then you shot two people for me," Ray Vecchio said dryly, looking at the kid.  "What happened?"

"Charley made fun of me," he said bitterly.  "It's not my fault I got possessed or anything and she made fun of me for it."

"So you're out sulking around while going for a ride?"

"No," he defended, but he knew he was pouting.  "She's supposedly a friend and she made fun of me.  Just like my last ones did, man.  It's horrible and I hated that they did that.  That's why I ended up leaving them."

Vecchio shook his head.  "I doubt she meant it, Xander.  I really do."

"Yes, she did."

"Was she frustrated?"  He sighed and nodded, hanging his head.  "Sometimes we say things we don't mean.  Don't you do that?"

"No, if I blurt shit out, it's stuff I've been keeping inside," he said bitterly. "Which just makes it worse.  If she's thinking like that about me, then I don't think she really ever wanted me around or anything like that."  He sniffled.  "I'm going to go back to my ride.  If I'm not in trouble?"

"Head off," he offered, watching him go.  He went to get back into his car, dialing his cellphone and putting in the earbud before hitting send.  "Charley, aren't you usually more delicate with fragile people than to make them have flashbacks to their former friends?" he asked bluntly.  He heard her gasp.  "Yeah, well, I just saw a certain very pale being on his bike and he was ready to cry.  So whatever you said, which he didn't tell me, you might want to think about apologizing for.  No, I figured you snapped in the heat of the moment and said something stupid.  Apparently he's the sort that only blurts out repressed stuff and he thinks you're just like his old friends.  Therefore, I'd talk to the boy.  No, he's fine.  His bike is taking him off for a ride.  Yeah, I noticed. It likes to stare at my car."  He smirked at her blustering.  "Don't start, Charley.  Just fix it.  Before he runs away for good.  He's a nice kid, but I don't wanna do his job too, 'kay?"  He hung up and went back to the station to check in their new problems.  His boss looked at him, holding up the preliminary report one of the others had done.  "What?"

"Backup shooter?"

"Person who got pissed at the traffic jam," he said blandly.  "He's a damn good shot.  Three hits and three ankles."  He grabbed one by the scruff of his neck and sat him down at his desk.  "Do not make this more difficult on yourself," he warned at the protest starting to come out.  "I'll let him come back for the rest of you."  The guy shut up and curled up some.  "Good boy.  Now, name?"


Charley walked up to where the guys were sitting, flopping down between Throttle and Modo, letting Vic crawl to his daddy.  "I upset Xander," she said quietly.  "I followed the Seal's advice and he all-but went off to cry."

"Where is he?"

"Riding.  I don't know, I can't track him."

"Uh-huh," Vinnie said dryly.  "And this advice would be....?"

"To tell him his pack wasn't leaving and that he could quit fussing anytime now," she admitted bitterly.  "He gave me this horrified look and stomped off.  At least he's on his bike, but he's not responding to calls and he's not able to be tracked."

"Including the one I put in his jacket?" Throttle asked.

"He's not wearing his jacket.  He was wearing a pair of jeans and sneakers, no shirt."

"Oh."  Throttle grimaced, considering his mate.  "I'll look for him this afternoon."

"Thanks.  Bring him back so I can apologize, okay?"

"Sure.  Hey, Vic, want a hotdog?" he offered, holding out the end piece of his last one.  He was full anyway.  The baby beamed and came over to gum it for him.  "Hey, Vinnie, where is he?"

"Probably still out riding," Vinnie reminded him.  "He hasn't really picked a place to sulk yet, other than being somewhere alone and abandoned. Good luck with that.  Call me when you find him so I can come help."  He looked at his son, holding up a french fry.  "Want a chili fry?" he asked with a grin.  His son crawled back to him to get the fry and smoosh it with his piece of hotdog to gum together. "Good boy."

"Pretty soon he'll want a bike of his own," Modo said with a grin for the toddler.  "Then we'll have to chase you and Xander around."

"Bet me.  No one's hurting my son like Xander got hurt," Vinnie said firmly. "If I find someone hurting him like they hurt Xander, I'm killin' 'em and having fun with it."  His baby let out a copy of his own battle howl and he beamed.  "I'm so proud!  We've got to show your cousins!" he said, picking him up to cuddle.  "You're a great son, Victor."

"Yeah, just like his daddy," Charley agreed dryly.  "Including being messy and needing a bath now."

"He's a boy, let him finish getting dirty first," Modo said laconically, grinning at her.  "We do that."

"So I've noticed.  He's already had one since he was playing in some spilled oil."

"We've got to figure out what to tell him about Greasepit someday," Throttle said suddenly.  "I don't think the full story's appropriate for a kid his age."

"No Plutarkians or cheese around my son," Vinnie said firmly.

"I'm not going to worry about the Plutarkians coming back," Charley told him, "but I would worry about cheese.  He likes to eat Auntie Dawn's cheese sandwiches with her."

All three big mice shuddered and Vic let out his evil chuckle, going back to licking the dirt and food off his hands.


Xander rode onto the site, nodding at the guard.  "I know it's my day off," he sighed, heading inside.

"Xander, are you all right?" one of his crew asked.  "You look pretty down."

"Yeah, I am," he admitted, shrugging a bit.  "It happens, even to me."

"Wanna go to the gym with me?" he offered gently.  "It's where I go to think. It's a gay place, but you'll only be drooled over."

Xander considered it.  "Sure.  How far away is it?"

"About ten blocks.  I'll even go unpaid."

Xander snorted.  "Like I care at the moment?" he asked dryly.  "You're keeping me from going to hit the side of the trailer."  He nodded at his bike and the guy nodded, grabbing his toolbelt and heading off with him.  Xander looked at the guard.  "Tell Trisha or Merle that I have him. He's showing me around his gym and I'll have him back soon."

"Sure, Xander," he agreed, making note of that.  He watched them ride off together, handing that note to Trisha when she came back from her lunch nookie.  "Xander said so."

"Fine," she agreed, reading it. "What happened?"

"He was pouting, I'm guessing some sort of thing with his man."  He shrugged. "I'm not gay so I don't know how they do those things."

"I'm betting those two have fantastic makeup sex," she offered with a grin, heading inside.


Xander looked around the gym.  This was a place he could learn to appreciate.  He smiled at the girl behind the desk.  "Hi. I'm with him," he said, nodding back at his worker.  "I'm his boss and he's showing me around."

"That's fine," she agreed happily. "Sign in please?"  He nodded and filled out the small form so she got one of the trainers over.  "This is Xander, he's being shown around by one of his guys at work.  He's looking to build muscles."

The trainer looked him over.  "Well, you've got a good start but you need definition.  How many calories are you doing a day?"

"Four thousand because my doc said I had to.  I work way too hard otherwise."

"That's fine, we'll work on burning fat and increasing mass then," he offered, leading him to the changing area.  "Do you have anything to change into?"

"He can borrow some of mine," the buddy said.

"I'm good in what I have on," Xander offered.  "I work construction in 'em."

"Sure," the trainer agreed, smiling at him as he led him to the first machine.  "Go ahead and sit down.  We'll start here.  How much can you lift in one go?"

"Just plain off the table?  About eighty comfortably.  A hundred if I have to."

"Good, we'll start you at sixty for your first few reps, see how it does for you," he offered, setting the weights on the machine.  "Now, push out," he said, smiling as Xander grabbed on and did it correctly.  "Do you belong to another gym?"

"No, I used to when I lived out in California," he offered, doing another rep. "That's been a few years.  I'm thinking about rejoining though, I need somewhere to go when the world craps in my frosted mini wheats."  He did another slow, patient rep.  "This is good to think during."

"It is," he agreed.  "Plus, you're not that hard on the eyes and I seriously doubt anyone would do more than drool on you."

"My husband would appreciate that," he said dryly.  He looked up at him.  "Have you had these days?  When even your friends are against you?"  The trainer nodded, looking like he understood.  "Yeah, one of my friends basically said something to me that she knew would upset me and was like the stuff my former friends used to say about me, which is so very untrue and why I left them.  She know how much it bothers me," he complained, looking back.  "This is really light, go ahead and up it."

The trainer set it a bit higher.  "Try it now."  He pushed and nodded.  "Now, remember, the secret to building muscles is repetition."

"Yeah, I know," he agreed, doing more.  "But this is giving me some resistance, the other wasn't."  He shrugged and looked up at him.  "How many reps are we talking about? I do have to work, I can't just spend all day in the gym, that would be hiding."

The trainer smiled. "We have a few who do spend a few hours each day in here, but you should be able to do an hour maybe three times a week if you're doing other cardio stuff."

"I work construction.  I get plenty of cardio all day long."  He did a few more and put the machine slowly back into the resting position.  "Let's move on.  You've got stuff we didn't have the last time I was in a gym."

"Sure.  We also have a naked yoga class two nights a week and one tai chi.  You don't strike me as the sort to want aerobics, cycling, or tae bo."

"I can already box and I'm pretty good at fighting," Xander admitted with a shy grin.  "Naked tai chi, doesn't that mean parts get in the way?"

The trainer chuckled and nodded.  "Very true.  I usually just wear my jock strap.  It's clothing optional, but it's really more naked than not."

"Interesting.  I wonder if I could talk the husband into it."

"Maybe.  Some people do go as couples and going to the gym with a buddy means you get support during your workouts."  He led him on, taking him the machine in the corner, letting him get in and setting the weights.  "I'm going to start at sixty again."  Xander tried it and winced.  "Okay, let's go back to twenty.  Are you looking for body building sort of muscles, Xander?"

"I'd rather have drool-inspiring muscles, but I could see myself that cut eventually.  Not this year," he said with a small grin.  "But some year."

"I can see you doing that too," he offered.

"Whose motorcycle is that outside?" one guy called from the doorway.

"Mine," Xander called.  "Is he blocking you in?"

"No, man, it's a sweet ride.  Where you get her?"

"Him, and he's a custom job," he said with a grin.  "I had him hand built."  The man moaned.  "He's a great guy and doesn't usually mind being petted and stroked."

"Thanks.  I did and I noticed it wasn't alarmed."

"Oh, it is, just against mean people.  Since you're obviously not mean...."  He trailed off into a grin.  "Pat and admire away.  He set me back a ton of energy."

"Wow.  Did you do the custom work?"

"No, but Charley, at the Last Chance, did some."

"Thanks, man."  He went to look that place up.

Xander looked up at his trainer.  "And I'm a really nice guy, because I'm still sending people to her, even though she said mean things to me."  He did another few reps. "Maybe I need to get out and meet more people."

"Watch out for the guy in purple," he warned, "but otherwise we're pretty nice here."  He winked.  "If you ever feel like leaving the old man, let us know.  If you walked in an announced it, I'm sure you'd have a date that night."

"Sorry, I promised one of my fellow supes at work a shot if we ever broke up.  He made me promise."

"That's okay, just putting it forward," he offered with a grin.  "Come on, do five more.  You're too manly to do such girly reps."

"Sure, but most of the women I know are tougher than the men."  He went back to working on his legs, feeling the burn in them.  "I'm gonna ache later."

"Probably," he agreed.  "That's not great, but after your first workout in a few years not unreasonable."  When Xander had done those five he moved him on to another machine, helping him with that one.


Throttle rode onto the site, giving the guard a look.  "Did Xander stop by?"

"Yes, but he took one of the guys to his gym."

"Why?" he asked, looking confused.

"He looked upset, like life was crapping on his head again.  I'm guessing they went to work some of that out on the machines."  He shrugged.  "He said he'd be back soon when he called about thirty minutes ago."

"Thanks.  Any idea where this gym is?"  The guard shook his head and shrugged.  "Then I'll wait.  How're things?"

"Fine.  No damage recently.  It's like everyone got tired of that game and moved on.  Merle's inside the trailer if you wanted to check on your boy."

"Sure."  He parked in Xander's spot and headed inside, going to talk to Merle.  He tapped before walking in.  "Hey.  I heard Xander took off with one of the guys for the gym?"

"Xander was stressed, the guy offered him an alternative to going and pounding things into the walls too hard."  He looked at him.  "What did she do?"

"How did you know?"

"Because if it were you, you wouldn't be here.  You'd be waiting on him at home to beg and plead for forgiveness.  Were it Modo, he'd be here looking sheepish.  If it were Vinnie, he'd come up and take Xander off to chat with him.  Since you're here, they're not, and she's not, I'm guessing it was Charley."

"She brought up something that made Xander hurt," he admitted.  "I don't know what's going on.  All I know is that it's dumb."  He sat down behind his mate's desk.  "I'm here to apologize for her."  Merle shook his head.  "No?  You don't think it'll work?"

"I think she's gonna be upset with him for a bit.  From the way he looked, it was just like after last Thanksgiving. Do you remember about a week after that trip?"  Throttle groaned and nodded.  "So I'm guessing she said something like his former friends used to say and now he's pissed.  You're going to be lucky if he goes home tonight."

"He will.  He'd miss being slept on."

Merle gave him a long stare.  "Throttle.  The boy doesn't stay with you for the sex," he said plainly.  "Now, don't get me wrong, you probably speak normal Xander very well, but I think this time she's put her foot in it and hurt him a lot.  Think about who was his friend first."

"Point," he admitted softly.  "He's back."

"Good.  Then talk to him, don't try to apologize or rationalize it.  Just talk to the boy, let him vent.  He needs to vent."  Xander came in a few minutes later, grinning at them.  "Have fun?"

"Yeah, I did actually.  Hey, Throttle, wanna go to naked tai chi with me?"

"Um, no," he said, looking at him.  He took a sniff.  "Where were you?  You smell like someone rubbed a few in-heat men on you."

"The gym.  They drooled very appreciatively," he said smugly.  "All I did was get sweaty."  He stared at him.  "Why're you here?"

"To talk."  Xander gave him a cooler look.  "Just to let you talk, man.  Nothing else."

"She sent you?"

"She was worried about how you took off," he admitted.  "She did come to us and tell us how she screwed up with whatever she said to you.  I thought you might want to talk and ride for a bit.  Since it's your day off and all.  We haven't had a nice, peaceful ride in a while."

"Sure.  I could use a ride," he agreed.  "I rode in."

"I figured you did," he admitted, standing up.  "Need him before I sweep him off?"  Merle shook his head.  "Thanks, Merle."  He walked Xander out, sniffing him.  "Did someone rub up against you?"

"Two or three guys.  It's a gym," he said with a small blush.  He walked over to his bike, who was leaning against Throttle's.  "Lovin' her, dear?" he asked, stroking his handlebars.  "He even got loved at the gym. One of the guys came in saying how studly he was."

"He is," Throttle agreed.  "Can I have her back?"  His bike snorted and snuggled in.  "We're going for a ride with him."

"If you want to, you could ride with me," Xander offered.  Throttle's bike beeped at him.  "Sorry, thought you wanted a rest, dear."

"She's not that old," Throttle said, patting his seat. "Are you, girl?"  She beeped smugly then snuggled back in.  "We're not doing this here.  We're going for a ride and then you guys can cuddle.  So let's go."  They untangled and Xander got on his, heading out.  Throttle smiled, watching him ride.  For a guy who used to protest that he couldn't and shouldn't ride, he had a very natural seat.  He got on and followed his mate out, letting him pick the direction.  He pulled up next to him, glancing over at him.  "Outside the city or inside?"


"That's fine with me. Just somewhere quiet."  Xander nodded, riding without thinking.   Throttle looked around.  "We're going out by Cheesyland?"

"Yeah," Xander called.  "There's a nice spot out there."  He glanced over at him, then he lifted his face shield.  "Why did she come complaining to you guys?"

"Because she was sorry she said it," he said honestly.  "The Seal told her to say it, or so she said.  She didn't tell us what she said."


"Us.  We were having a picnic."  He shrugged a bit, pulling a bit closer.  "She's sorry, Xander, but I don't want to talk about her.  I'm here for you this time."

"This time?" he asked dryly, glancing at him and swerving to avoid a piece of metal on the interstate.

"As in this time you need me."

"Oh."  He continued to ride, heading to a small spot he knew of.  The people who owned it had told him he could come sit on their hill anytime to watch their cows.  He waved at the farmer as he rode past, getting a smile and a wave in return. He smiled back, he liked this nice demon couple.  He pulled up onto his usual hill, parking his bike in the shade.  "There you go, go cuddle."  His bike moved over to entwine handlebars with Throttle's once he parked.  "Stay in the shade. You know you overheated the last time," he reminded him.  He checked his usual spot before sitting down and looking out across the fields.  "They moved the cows."

"Cows?" Throttle asked as he sat down too.  "Why cows?"

"Because the demon couple who owns this far raise cows," Xander said simply, looking at him.  "It's nice, they only come up and try to lick me.  I drove off the demon dog trying to eat one last time and they said I could come back whenever I wanted."

"It's one of my favorite things too," Throttle agreed, leaning over to lick the tip of Xander's nose.  "See?"  He rested against his side again.  "You wanna talk?"

"No.  Because I think you'll take her side."

"I'm not taking any side and I don't really know what this is about."

"She said something that was just like the slayer twats would have."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "I figured it was something like that."  He stroked the firm thigh, noticing how tense it was.  "I can stop."

"I'm still tense from my workout."

"Sure.  You going to join this gym?"  Xander nodded.  "Did you already?"  Xander nodded, looking at him.  "That's fine.  Just wondering.  Can we go?"

"Sure, but it is a gay place. You will get ogled and one person did try to stroke my tail."

"I'll make sure they know they're not allowed to do that the next time," Throttle assured him.  He looked out across the fields.  "That's a cow," he noted as one wandered into the field below them."

"It is," Xander agreed happily.  "Here comes the rest of the herd."  He leaned against his mate's shoulder, getting comfortable.  "I know she meant it," he said quietly.

"I doubt it.  What did she say?"

"That my pack was safe, that I was fussing."

"Well, you have been fussing," he admitted, "but I never heard of mice moving in packs.  Gangs on occasion but that's mostly stupid kids."  He put an arm around Xander's back, stroking his farther arm.  "It could be worse.  She could have said something else that was actually mean."  Xander snorted.  "Babe, I think she wanted you to calm down, that's all.  You have fussed a great deal.  You have taken steps so no one in the family can leave you or kick you out.  Like the thing with the electric and water meters."

"We're together anyway.  It saves money."

"We are and I got that when you did it.  It didn't bother me at all, but Charley's used to living on her own.  Even Vinnie don't get to stay with her all the time because she yells when he tries to hover. She's an independent woman and she hates being mothered, which you do do now and then."

"That's just the kinda guy I am.  She should be used to it by now."

"She should be, but every now and then she breaks back out in independence and makes Vinnie come back to sleep at the lair too."  He gave him a kiss on the ear.  "It'll be fine.  She feels really badly that she hurt you, babe.  She didn't want to make you pout."

"I'm not pouting."

Throttle snorted.  "You are pouting.  We don't have lips and your muzzle is pouting."  He gave him another squeeze.  "I'm surprised you didn't go talk to my mother."

"I thought about it but that would make her take sides."

"She's had to do it before, even against me."  He went back to his stroking.  "Come on.  Let's go home.  There's a last weekend at Six Flags event this weekend and we needed to plan on how to do that and do Dawn and Rimfire's shopping for college."

"They have everything."

"They need a computer of their own."

"Point."  He looked up.  "Sales tax free weekend is this weekend too."

"So we'll go do that and clothes shop then," he agreed. "A full weekend."  He smiled as a dog came trotting into view.  "Look, not just cows."

Xander pulled his gun and shot at the dog.  "Leave the cows alone, demon beast.  Go eat the muggers in Chicago!"  It growled and he glared back, making it yip and run off.

"Thank you, boy," the farmer called, waving up at him.  He grinned at his wife, who was helping move cows.  "That's a nice set of demons."

"He said they're Martian."

"Really?  Well, close enough for me," he decided.  "He's very nice."  He checked the herd over, making sure no one had been bitten this time, then took them in for milking.


Vinnie looked up as Xander walked in, then picked him up and took him into his special pool room, starting the water going.  Xander gave him a hurt look.  "You need cuddled."

"Yeah, but your wife's gonna get more pissed."

"Fat chance," he snorted.  "She told me to come in here and cuddle you until you forgave her for making you pout."  He stripped down and looked at Xander.  "Do I have to strip you?  Usually you're naked and anxious by now."

Xander stripped and sat on the edge of the tub, looking at the premixed jars Vinnie had made up.  He pointed at one.  "Can we do that one?"

"Sure," he agreed, putting in the low sulphur mixture.  "How's that?"

"Good."  He swung his feet around, getting in with a sigh.  "Oh, this is nice."  Vinnie grinned and climbed in next to him, handing him a cold rootbeer from the mini fridge.  "Thanks, big brother."

"You're welcome."  He pulled him closer to cuddle, using his tail to turn off the taps.  Someone pounded on the door.  "I have him.  Go away."

"My mate."  Throttle walked in and closed the door, then stripped and climbed in too, getting Xander's other side.  "This is a nice treat."  He smirked at Vinnie.  "Mind much?"

"He's your guy," he said dryly.  "What's on for this weekend?"

"Six Flags has a weekend event and then school shopping for the kids."

"Cool.  I could use some new jeans too."

"Yeah, me too," Xander agreed, taking a sip of his soda.  "How is Rimfire going to explain to his teachers about being a mouse?"

"He's already talked to most of them, dropping hints about genetic disorders.  He's only missed one and he did leave a detailed note for the guy, but he expects him to say something the first day."  Throttle let Xander cuddle into his side, getting very comfortable.  Then Vinnie shifted closer to get his own cuddle.  "Is she ignoring you?" he teased.  He nodded, snuggling against Xander's back. "Fine, I'm a good pillow and cuddle."

"You're a very good cuddle," Xander agreed.  He looked up at him.  "I'm sorry."

"Not your fault.  She didn't realize she was doing it.  Just let her apologize later," Throttle ordered.  Xander nodded, wrapping him ain his arms and tail.  "Did you need more than held?" he teased.  Xander nodded, getting comfortable on him.  "Having problems getting back into the old mindset with less problems?"

"Yeah," Xander admitted.  "I need to finish calming down.  It's like I'm expecting something to happen and then nothing does but I can't stop being tense and waiting."

"You can relax," Vinnie reminded him. "Your body just needs to remember how to relax."  He stroked the tense back, making Xander wiggle a bit.  "You're still tense in here?"

"Things have been tense for the last few weeks," Throttle reminded.  "The kidnaping, the taking her back, the weapons designing that then got stomped on."

"I didn't mind that," Xander offered quietly, looking up at him.  "I'm ... I guess I'm just waiting for the next thing to happen. Most bad things don't happen alone."

"I know," he agreed quietly, stroking him on the back.  He smiled as he messed up some of the fur, making Xander wiggle, but Vinnie took pity on him and smoothed it back down.  "Sorry."

"No, I don't mind you playing with my fur.  I like it when you play with my fur."  He looked at his mate.  "Can you....maybe...teach me more Martian?"

"Sure."  He grinned at Vinnie.  "You might wanna take a nap for this, bro."

"Not really," he said, smirking a bit.  He was definitely amused by this.  He said something and pointed at the fridge, watching Xander shiver.  "Well, we knew you liked rootbeer, Xan....."

Xander got him one and even popped it open for him, grinning sheepishly.  "Sorry.  Maybe later?"

"Nope, sorry.  You need to learn it.  The playbook is written in it, Stoker will expect you to know it by then.  I'm sure he thinks we're drilling you extensively in it anyway."  He took a sip of his rootbeer and put the can in the cupholder he had installed beside where he normally lounged.  "Okay, we're up to what level?"

"About year two," Throttle told him.  "What you'd normally expect a toddler to say."

"Wow.  That's almost impressive."

"Hey, I got a 'D' in French, okay?  I'm not Dawnie, I don't pick up languages well."

"It's a good thing this one makes you hot."  Vinnie snuggled up against Xander's back, looking at Throttle.  "So we're doing food, numbers, or verbs?"

"I was doing verbs. Then again, that was a bedroom game," he admitted sheepishly.  Xander blushed a bit, but grinned at him.

"Hmm.  Okay, let's go back to the mundane so I can help.  Modo'll wanna help too ya know."

"Um, no," Xander said, shaking his head quickly.  "Not with how I react he won't."

"Point," Vinnie admitted.  He pinched him on the tail. "I'll warn him beforehand."  He leaned his chin on Xander's shoulder, getting comfortable, letting Xander wrap his tail around his waist.  "Food words.  I'm sure you've went over the basics," he offered.  "How about meat today?" he suggested.

Throttle nodded. "We went over it a bit.  We can start there and move to vegetables and fruits."  He said something.

"Pork," Xander said triumphantly.

"Good job," Vinnie agreed.  He said something.


"Close enough.  Hamburger."  Xander repeated it.  Vinnie grinned and said something else.  Xander looked confused.  "Beef," he told him.

Throttle said something and Xander looked really confused.  "Mutton?  Like lamb."


"Sorry.  Spike liked it."

"Spike's not a picky eater, he tried to eat someone in the mall when I took him for those shirts.  Well, her underwear, but he did try to eat her too."

"Stoker's going to have a problem when he gets older.  All the girls are going to be bedded and flirted with," Vinnie said happily.  "Someone can go for my record!"

"Mr.-I-slept-with-a-whole-unit-over-a-weekend-before-an-away-mission-without-them- realizing-it, I don't think that's something he wants his kid to do."

"He said he laughed when they compared stories later that week," he said smugly.  "Just another sign that I am the studliest mammajammar in the universe," he said proudly.

"Yeah, right," Xander snorted.  "I'm cuter, and the girls want to pet me more because I'm softer," he said smugly, sticking his tongue out at him.

Vinnie leaned over and bit him on the neck, making him howl.  "Behave. You're softer because you're smaller.  It's to make up for other defects."

Xander shook his head.  "Not even, Vincent.  I'm bigger than you are."

"Yeah, but you're not as good a rider as I am."


"Fine, yet," he agreed.  "When you do get that good, I'll be ancient so you can hold my title for a few years until you get too old."  He grinned at Throttle and said something, making Xander shiver.  "Hmm, knows what that is.  I wonder why."

"He was making me repeat it over and over while he did it to me," he said, shivering again, all the way down his back, which wiggled Vinnie against his back and butt.  "Um, big brother, maybe you should move a bit."

"Not a chance," he teased, nuzzling an ear.  "You can control yourself.  All the big mice do."

"Yeah, I'm still at the horny teenager stage."

"Ooops.  Oh, well," he said smugly, smirking at Throttle.  "How *do* you put up with those urges and lack of control, sweetheart?"

"With a huge smile, Vincent," Throttle retorted.  "Hands off the man's body."

"No hands," he promised, wrapping his tail around him.  He watched as Throttle shivered, then winked at him, saying something extremely dirty, which made Xander blush when he repeated it in his ear in English.  "Now tell him that."

Xander stumbled over the words, but Throttle was blushing bright red by the end.  "Except for saying 'fish' in there, it was a good try."

Vinnie whispered something even worse, and Xander repeated it and Throttle ducked his head, his ears straight up and his tail swishing through the water.  "What did I just say?"  Vinnie told him and he blushed and kissed his mate.  "Sorry.  He's making me do this."

"You needed work on your pronunciations anyway," he agreed.  He pulled Xander onto his lap, which drug Vinnie closer.  "Say it again, like before."  Xander repeated the first one, more properly this time and Throttle grinned.  "You sure you wanna make me do that?  That sounded like an order."

Xander hummed as he considered it then nodded quickly, grinning at him.  Throttle kissed him, making Xander moan and arch into his body, letting him run his fingers through the soft fur.  "Bro, don't care if you watch," he panted.  "But you're in the way. Move!"  Vinnie slid back, watching as Xander was flipped around and planted back on his mate's lap, moaning as his little brother did.  Xander was clutching Throttle's arms and leaving nail indents on them as he moved and wiggled to get him deeper, eyes tightly shut.  Vinnie looked at Throttle, then goosed him, making him move for his little brother's pleasure.  They were off and he grabbed his can of rootbeer to get comfortable, throwing out random phrases to help the poor white mouse along.  Now that he knew this about Xander, he was going to tease him mercilessly.  Even while he was at work.  It was a very nice floor show.

Charley stuck her head in after a very brief knock.  "Watching?" she asked dryly.

"Helping Throttle give him Martian lessons," he said with a smirk. He nodded her in and she shut the door, stripping down to her underwear.  "You know better.  No cloth in the pool.  You'll ruin it anyway."  She blushed but finished stripping down.  He even put aside his rootbeer to grab her and put her into his lap, letting her sink down onto him.  She moaned the whole way down and he smirked a bit, kissing her gently.  "Love ya, sweetheart," he offered as he started to move.

"I love you too, but this is really dirty for me."

Vinnie smirked and started to talk to her in Martian, watching her eyes go wide and her body shiver and shake at what he was saying.  Throttle swatted him a few times with his tail but Xander was moaning loud enough to cover up the sound of the doorbell and someone running up the halls.  Rimfire peeked in, then eeped and left, heading back to tell Dawn that she had to handle this issue instead of Xander, since he was...busy.  Vinnie ignored the interruption and went back to what he was doing, nibbling on his girl's neck and making her sore and tired after she went limp.  He loved her when she was tired and limp, she liked to cuddle then.  Xander let out a loud, intense moan and panted, gasping for air.  Throttle was pulling him back to rest against his chest, whispering in his ear, stroking his stomach.  Vinnie came not long after that, holding his girl in place once she was done.  He nipped her hard and looked at her.  "Say you're sorry," he whispered.

"Xander, I'm sorry," she offered.  "I didn't realize it would hurt you."  She reached over, stroking his cheek.  He gave her a hurt look.  "I'm sorry, Xander."

"Don't do it again?"

"I won't do it again.  I also won't say what the Seal tells me to ever again."

He nodded. "Okay. As long as you don't do it again."  He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek, then went back to cuddling his man.  He liked to cuddle.  He looked at his mate and said something in Martian, making him laugh.  "I got that wrong, huh?"

"Yeah, you just said you wanted to eat the fish and drink the water in the lake."

Xander groaned and kissed him.  "Love you."

"Love you too.  We'll work on it this afternoon."  He looked at Vinnie, who was smirking at him, saying something back at him, mimicking him earlier.  "I should swat you for offering like that."

"You should," Xander agreed.  "If he was offering, it's a naughty thing."  He looked up.  "What was he offering?"

"To help you along when I passed out."

Xander looked at Vinnie, shaking his head.  "You'd need the hospital by now if you had tried."

"You can't beat me in a fist fight, Xander," he reminded him.

"Who said I fight with my fists?  I'm a weapons guy.  I don't ever brawl without something."  He smirked evilly.  "Though, I could use some help in the gym when I go back."

"I get to go first," Throttle demanded.  "That way I don't get jealous because you come home smelling like horny humans rubbed themselves against you."

"Sure.  Can we go tonight?"

"Sure, babe," he agreed, kissing him gently.  "For now, relax.  Maybe you'll get a backrub later."

"Maybe.  I did promise Modo I'd give him one.  His back's really tense."  He grinned.  "I give very good backrubs."

"I'm sure you do," Charley agreed.  She grinned at him.  "Was this a planned event?"

"No, we were working on his Martian lessons," Throttle admitted.

"If French had sounded like this, I would have gotten an A-plus," Xander said dryly, snuggling back in.  Someone pounded on the door.  "What!" he snapped. "I'm relaxing!"

"Xander, bullets?" Stoker yelled.

"Bunker, next to where the old weapons case was.  Combination's on the shelf if it's locked."

"Thank you," and you heard him hurrying off.

"We should help."

"We should," Vinnie agreed, getting up and putting Charley down in his spot. He picked up his can of rootbeer and grabbed a towel, handing one to Xander on their way out.  "You two relax."  They ran into Stoker coming back.  "Need help?"

"Yes!  I need really good shots."

"I am," Xander reminded him, taking half of the bullets to load into the rifle he was carrying.  Automatic rifles were so nice.  They walked out of the transporter and he retied his towel, heading out after him.  There was a big ship, right in the middle of the town square.  Xander looked at the little ugly Torians and took aim.  "Carbine!" he yelled, making her look up and then blanche and move out of the way.  He fired.  That one died.  He fired again, another died.  He caught his towel, then shrugged and put it over his shoulder before going back to it.  Vinnie groaned and tied it for him, then took the gun and did his own, his tail holding his up.  Xander wasn't fully using his tail yet, he'd have to show him how later.

Stoker looked at them, then shook his head and went back to firing.  Eventually the aliens got the point and ran back into their ship, taking off again.  "Damn, some escaped," he said bitterly.

"Only about twenty of them," Xander noted, handing over the rifle.  "I'll come get them if we need 'em.  But I was soaking after really great sex."  He smiled and headed back to the transporter, sending himself back home.

Vinnie looked at him.  "We really were, coach.  Oh, he wanted to learn Martian, but it's a bit of a struggle. He's got bad pronunciation.  But it's kinda fun.  Did he tell you Spike went crotch diving at the mall?"  He walked off, whistling happily, having to catch his towel as he walked up the stairs into the building.

Stoker looked up.  "Why me?" he asked the sky.

Carbine came over, spluttering.  "What was the meaning of that!"

"They have the bullets that work," he defended.  "They were soaking and didn't waste time coming to help."

"Obviously!" she screeched.  "They were naked!  Xander's towel fell totally off!  I saw much more than I ever wanted to see of him!  Or of Vinnie's tail just now!"

"Not my fault, they're the ones who didn't waste time, like we needed," he said patiently.  "Yell at them for soaking."  He walked off, taking the rifles to put in a closet, just in case.  They'd send them back if they didn't use them again within the month.  He saw his son sitting in his chair, growling unhappily at the fact he was tied to said chair.  "You did what at the mall to that girl?"  Spike growled at him and he narrowed his eyes.  "You went and sniffed some girl's tail?"

Spike snorted and shook his head.  "Tried to bite her," he told him smugly, smirking a bit.

"You are so getting it when we get home, young man.  That's something you do when you're Xander's age, not now.  You're much too young and you don't know where she had been!"  He untied his son, took his daughter out from under his desk, and walked them off, taking them home. Along with the dog following them.  The little yapping one was still following him around.  He rode home with them and walked into the house, presenting his precious son to his wife.  "He crotch dove at the mall when Xander took him."

She looked at her son.  "Son, there's a very old tradition of arranged marriages.  Unless you want me to pick someone I know you'll hate, you'll wait until you're old enough to have your own bike at least."  She hugged both kids and petted the dog resting her husband's arms.  "Was Xander naked for a minute?"

"They were soaking," he defended.  "They didn't waste time going for clothes."

"You're very good and you keep telling yourself that," she cooed, kissing him on the cheek.  "Because we all saw Xander naked and Vinnie's naked tail too."  She walked the kids off, talking about dinner.

Stoker shook his head.  "Why do I even try?" he wondered.  The dog licked him and he put him down, stomping off to head back.


Vinnie walked out of the transporter.  "Throttle, Xander needs more practice with his tail.  He couldn't keep his towel up," he called as he walked toward his pool.

"Yours didn't stay up either," Xander yelled, sounding outraged.  "You mooned everyone!"

"Yeah, well, you went full frontal, little brother.  I'm sure a lot of women now have some very good dreams and thoughts that'll get them through the next few weeks.  I didn't realize you had that impressive of thigh muscles."  He heard the transporter go off behind him and looked, waving at Shell as she came back.  "Back already?"

"Yup.  You guys obviously need me more.  By the way, Vincent, there's betting on who's bigger and he's winning."  She drove her bike off, going back to her man's side so he could take those mental images from her for a bit.  Or maybe they'd both get off on Xander fantasies tonight, he was kinky like that at times.

Vinnie pouted.  "I am so bigger!" he yelled after her.

"Unless you want *me* to pull out a tape measure, shut up!" Dawn yelled.  "Because we all know I'm going to laugh at the puny things anyway because Rimfire's bigger than you both!"

"Bet me," Vinnie and Xander called back.

"Dawn!" Rimfire called at the same time, a very strangled sounding yell.

"Oh, momma," floated down from the kitchen and Modo, who must be bright red.  "Some of us don't need to be part of this conversation!" he called. "Please!"

"Sorry, bro," Vinnie called smugly.  "Yell at Dawnie."

"Hey, I'm sticking up for my man and volunteering to settle the debate," she protested.  "Yell at Xander for dropping his towel while shooting."

Throttle looked at where Xander was pressed against his chest.  "Happens to the best of us," he promised, gently stroking his back to calm him down again.  "They can dream, I've got the original."

Charley looked over, bright, cherry red.  Then she shook her head.  "Can't we drop this subject?  He's impressive, but I'm figuring I don't need to know."  Vinnie strolled in, smirking at her.  "You *mooned* Mars?"

"The towel slipped as I was walking up the stairs.  Give a guy a break," he complained. He dropped his towel, making her 'eep' and look away.  "Sweetheart, you've seen it before."

"Yeah, but not after you mooned everyone!"

"Only those in the park outside the Council building.  Besides, Xander's full towel fell.  He did a bit more than moon everyone."  He saw her look and smirked at her, kissing her hard.  "Eyes on the prize you've already got, sweetheart."

"I'm not so sure it's a prize at the moment," she said sarcastically.  "At least Xander's embarrassed."

"Yeah, but that's because he's not as cut as I am," Vinnie said smugly, showing off some muscles.

Carbine stormed in and put down some pants.  "From now on, keep real clothes in here!  I did not need to see that!  I did not need to compare!  I did not need to figure out that Xander is bigger than you or Throttle," she complained at Vinnie, stomping off again.

Xander blushed a bit brighter and slunk down a bit.  "Well, I guess that settles that," he said weakly.  "Independent opinion and all that."

"I doubt it," Throttle growled, glaring at the doorway.  "Tape measure, Vinnie?"  Charley got out and ran away before they could even think about moving to find one. He sighed.  "Babe, can you summon a tape measure like you do the remote?"  Xander gave him a look like he was insane.  "I know I'm bigger."

Rimfire walked in, blushing bright red, as bright as Vinnie's bike.  "Here, Dawn said you needed the smaller tape measure," he said, then he ran out before Vinnie or Xander could pounce him.

"We can't measure this soon after sex," Vinnie complained.  "We've got to do it hard, like morning hard."

Throttle nodded.  "Sure.  Or right before bed hard."

Vinnie nodded. "I like that idea.  I'll pop over to your room tonight."  Xander got up and fled, taking the tape measure with him.  "Hey!"

"We can easily get another one, bro.  There's a few around here, including in his toolbox."

"So, did you get to pick on him about his reaction to Martian yet?" Vinnie asked.

"Not yet.  I was planning on calling the site soon and having Merle or Trisha repeat something at him, see how long it took him to take a long lunch."

"I was thinking morning break, see if he made it to lunch, that way you could see if he needed work on his self-control."

"He's got more than you do.  He'll be fine."

"I have plenty of self-control," Vinnie protested.

"Sure you do.  Who was it that slept with an *entire* unit? And who was it that ate all the dessert that one night?  And who was it that held the record for the most bar brawls on Mars for the last decade?"

"I do not," he protested.  "Starlight does."

"Uh-huh," Throttle said dryly.  "Sure he does, bro.  So, right before bed, so you can go jump Charley girl afterward?"

"Sure," he agreed happily.  "You get your boy, I'll find a tape measure, we'll meet in there right before bedtime."


Trisha looked up as Xander came wobbling in the next morning, giving the bag in his hand a funny look.  "What did we run out of?"

"New tape measure," he said dryly, sitting down with a wince and a hiss.  "Sorry."

"Not a problem.  What happened to your old one?"

Xander looked at her.  "Husband."

"Throttle?  Did he rip it up or toss it?" she asked with a grin.

"Neither.  I had the misfortune to head back to Mars for a few minutes yesterday with Vinnie, to help handle an assault."  He blushed.  "It was while we were soaking and we didn't have time to put on clothes, so we went in towels and mine fell off.  Then Vinnie's fell off as he was coming back.  Then Throttle's ex complains that she didn't need to see that because I'm bigger."  He gave her a look.  "I'm not touching that old tape measure again."

"Who won?" she asked with a grin.

He blushed and ran out.  "I did."

She stared after him.  "If I had her number, I'd call her to see if anyone had saved it so I could make myself a copy.  That's a sandwich that I wouldn't mind being in the middle of.  Him and either of them."  She grabbed her tool belt and went out to work.  She needed to do something with her hands before she pinched him.

The End.

To Part 53.

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