Xander looked over the paperwork, letting Micah read his copy since he had faxed it over when he had finally gotten up this morning, and then looked at him.  "I don't like that deal."

"Me either."  He emailed something over.  "Try that one.  It's got the destruction clause and the higher price with all the money going to Mars."  He leaned back and grinned.  "You look tired, are you all right, kid?"

Xander blushed.  "Really great sex last night.  I need a new bed."  He opened the email and read it, then snickered.  "You're so bad, Micah."

"I am.  But they deserve it for interrupting twice last night from what Dawn said.  Is everyone okay?"  Xander blushed brighter and nodded.

Vinnie came in and hugged Xander, grinning at him.  "Is he telling you how he drove me out of my mind last night and then went primal to wear out me and Throttle, then broke the bed and the sling?"

"He did?" Micah asked.  "How?  I want lessons in how to do that!"

"Well, first you get possessed by a hyena, and then you accidentally date a succubus and have her decide you should be one of them so she figures out how to bring out the primal beast during sex," he offered dryly.  "Then you have a naughty bro who needed it badly last night and you start out by teasing him by stripping, then you take care of him and have your mate pounce you," he finished dryly.  "When he brings out the primal beast in you, then you too can break a lot of beds."  He was still blushing and looked back at Vinnie.  "We have got to go bed shopping in the next hour to make sure we have one for tonight."

"Charley said you're sleeping with us tonight over at the garage."  He kissed him again, making Xander moan.  "It's my turn to get you back for not being able to sit today," he said happily, then went to bug Wrench for a bit to catch up on the current clan news.

Xander shifted and tried to will his blush away.  "Sorry."

"That's okay.  Let me up that amount for interrupting really great sex."  He corrected the document and sent it back.  "There, use that one."

Xander read it and blushed bright red, then printed it off and hung up, going to hand it to Throttle.

"What's this?" he asked, looking it over.  "Oh, for the tower."  He blushed when he came to that clause as well.  "Uh-huh. Who wrote this?"

"Micah," Xander squeaked.  Throttle used his tail to pull him into his lap and cuddle him.  "Vinnie said it's his turn tonight."

"It is if you want it to be.  I'm too sore to do more than suck gently."  He kissed him and Staff went scurrying past.  "Sorry."

"Not your fault.  I should have waited five minutes."  She slammed the bathroom door.  By the time she came out, they were gone and she was able to quit blushing.  "What did they do?" she muttered, going to find her mouse.  "What did they do?" she hissed in his ear.  "Throttle just said he was sore!  None of them have walked right all day!"

Modo blushed and kissed her.  "Xander's a bit wild," he reminded her.  "He's used to bondage and things like that for bad boys."  She hid her hot, flushed face against his chest, warming it up for him.  He smiled and stroked her back.  "It's a good thing my gray furred momma raised me a good boy," he offered. She looked up and nodded.  "Besides, I like what you do to me."  He kissed her again and led her back to their room.  He wanted to play with her and the baby.  She blushed when he moved to lick her but he didn't mind.  He liked doing this for her as much as she liked doing it for him now and then.


Xander handed the papers over to the receptionist at Wolfram and Hart.  "That is the only offer I'm accepting for the rude behavior your partner showed last night by continually interrupting me. Should he show such rude behavior again, I'm increasing the price.  You can tell him either they take this or I'm destroying the tower and evicting the residents permanently."  He walked out, heading back to his bike.  Throttle smirked at him from behind his helmet.  "Let's go bed shopping.  We'll need one soon."

"Sure.  The usual place?"

"I don't care," he admitted, following him out into the street.

The receptionist found the note about the giant white mouse bringing in papers and called that office.  "Sir, that note you left for me about the mouse?  He just brought some papers back and said that's the only offer he'll accept due to rude behavior.  He also said if whoever was rude to him again, he's going to raise the price.  He said either you accept his terms or he's going to evict and then destroy the tower.  Yes, I have them in my hand, sir.  Please.  I don't know, sir, but do all giant mice walk that funny?"  She smiled and hung up, rereading the terms of sale.  She was a law student and she didn't know you could up the price more for interrupting sex.  He came off the elevator and snatched them with a frown.  "Sorry, sir, but he's already left.  He left with a tanned gentleman on another motorcycle."

"Fine."  He went back upstairs, reading the contract as he rode the elevators.  He came off with a blush and went to present it to his boss.  "Sir, the counter offer from Harris and he said he's firm about it due to our," he cleared his throat, "rude behavior last night.  He said it's either this or eviction and destruction of his own.  That might upset our ally even more."

The senior partner looked over the contract, only smirking a bit at that clause.  "I see."  He tapped a few things on his computer, watching the security footage from the drop-off then looked at his minion.  "How rude were you?"

"I simply went to drop off the agreement after we finished sir.  The first person told me off because they were having sex and wouldn't accept the papers so I had to try again about twenty minutes later.  I got Mr. Harris himself and he told me off that time but I didn't retort."

"That's fine.  I'm sure he was...busy.   You may go. I'll bring this to Limburger personally."  The minion ran back to his office. "Such a young thing, still scared of sex," he said dryly.  "I'll have to have him work on that succubus case to get him more worldly.  I can't have blushing virgins on my personal staff."  He made a note of that and faxed the papers over, then called.  "Limburger, Harris has countered the offer.  I faxed over his version just now.  It's not too outrageous, but then again...."  He smirked at the ranting as the younger Plutarkian read it.  "Well, he is a vital and energetic young man," he said dryly, smirking a bit.  "Yes, he said he was firm.  It was either accept that or be evicted and he'd destroy the tower. Oh, he also said should you interrupt his sex life again, the price would go up again."  He hung up and snickered at the ranting that had been going on.  "Such pitiful creatures.  Our Lord and Masters would love them as toys."  He considered it.  "Perhaps we should buy the tower and all the contents, including the souls, for their pleasure."  He typed that into the senior circle, getting an answer back of 'if possible, do so'.  That pleased him so he drew up a contract that covered Xander's desires and their own standard clauses.  Then he sent it on with a note at the top about revisions. After all, they wouldn't be needing a new building for quite some time, if ever.


Xander crawled up from the foot of Charley's bed, kissing her gently.  "Are you sure you want to host us tonight?  We might break this bed too."

She smiled and stroked his cheek.  "I doubt it.  We reinforced it today."  She kissed him and let him cuddle up next to her.  "What's wrong?  Missing girls?" she teased.

"I wanted to see if you tasted different," he admitted shyly.  She blushed but nodded, spreading out a bit for him.  He moved down to her neck, teasing and tasting her sweat there.  He heard Vinnie and Throttle come to the door, and one of them shoo off Vic back to bed, but kept going.  She tasted wonderful!  He moved down to taste her breast, moaning at the milk that came out.  He tried the other side and it was nearly as good, so he suckled a bit before moving down.  Her stomach made her wiggle and push on his head so he went further, making her arch up and swear as his tongue caressed and worked her.  He was in heaven, he hadn't done this in quite a while.  Anya hadn't liked oral sex that much.  Cordy had only allowed him oral sex, and the sex fiend he had dated while on his road trip had taught him how to do it better.  He reached up to hold her stomach down while he worked, letting the baby kick him.  She came and he licked her clean, then licked off his face, grinning at her.  "Can I do more?"

"No, babe, lick me instead," Throttle ordered, coming in to lay beside Charley.  Xander switched over to kiss him and then go down on him, allowing Throttle to play his fingers through his hair.  Vinnie just smirked at his wife, arms crossed over his chest. "Does that mean she's ours tonight?"

"If she wants."  He came in to kiss her himself, then went to taste her.  Xander hadn't left much for him to taste but he could fix that with a few moment's work.  She was wiggling and calling his name when the door opened again.

"Guys, we've got Vic," Enamel called.  "Be gentle with her!"  He walked out, shutting the door hard.

"Why does he keep interrupting?" Vinnie sighed, looking at Xander.  They shared a kiss and got back to their respective partners.  It was going to be a nice, gentle night tonight and that's what they both wanted.  Their tails were teasing each other and Xander was humping the leg he was laying across.  Vinnie was humping the bed until he couldn't take it any more and had to have her.  He pushed in slowly, being very careful and gentle, and worked them both off.  Then they cuddled and watched Throttle get his boy off gently and cuddle up with him.  "This is nice," Vinnie admitted.

"Every now and then," Throttle agreed.  "But we'd need a bed the size of Modo's to do this every night."

"I can cuddle," Charley said through a yawn, curling up against Xander's chest and falling asleep.  Vinnie was against her back.  Xander had an arm around her stomach.  Throttle had an arm over both of them.  She felt loved and protected.  She didn't even hear the gunshots outside.  Or Rimfire answering them with his own.  She didn't even get to wake up at the explosion and neither did Xander.

Vinnie and Throttle had woken up but Rimfire apparently had it and Dawn was cheering him on.  They waited until it was done, but no one called for help and they heard the dune buggies retreating again.  So Rimfire had won.  That's all that mattered for the night. They drifted off too, snuggled up next to their mates.

By the time Vic came to get them up, everyone was on top of Throttle.  Vinnie had his left side.  Charley had his right shoulder.  Xander had his right stomach, and her stomach on his back.  He was being held down by two strong white arms and an arm around his shoulders, and he didn't really care at the moment because he felt loved.  He saw the handle wiggle again and quickly pulled up the blankets, blinking at Vic as he came in.  "Hey, little mouse," he said quietly.  "You're up early."

"Why you here?" he asked with a scowl.  "Daddy's mommy!"

"Our bed broke so we cuddled up together last night," Throttle said quietly, reaching over to pet him.  "You're right, your mommy is your daddy's wife.  We'd never break them up.  You never have to worry about it.  We're just cuddling."

"Me cuddle?"

"Well, we're not fully dressed," he admitted.  He heard muttering and suddenly his boxers were back on him, Charley was back in her nightgown, and he could feel both white mice had on boxers too.  "Sure."  He lifted up the corner of the blanket, letting the boy cuddle up between him and his daddy.  "You're a lucky little mouse, Victor.  You have a very good daddy," he said when Vinnie cuddled him like he was a teddy bear.  Vic chuckled and patted his daddy's nose, getting a sleepy grunt. "Vinnie, bro, the baby's in your arms."

"Naked," he moaned, lifting his head.  He wiggled.  "I thought I was. Who dressed me?"

"Xander, just now."  He nodded at the sleeping mouse.  "Vic wanted to make sure his mommy was still yours."

Vinnie kissed his son's head.  "Yup, she's mine all mine, kid."  Vic grinned up at him.  "Who dressed you this morning? You look like Wrench."  He sniffed him. "You smell like Wrench's aftershave too.  Did you cuddle him?"  Vic beamed and nodded. "Did you tickle him?  He needs to be tickled."  Vic wiggled out and went downstairs to attack his cousin.  Wrench shrieked, bringing the others running, but Vinnie only laughed from the bedroom. "Good job, son!"  He snuggled back in, getting comfortable again.  "Thanks for last night, Throttle."

"Welcome."  He stroked his head.  "We still love you, Vinnie.  It's a mutual thing."  Vinnie nodded and relaxed, falling back asleep. Throttle waved when Enamel walked in, disc already out.  "We were gentle and nice last night."

"Yay."  He checked Charley over, then snorted and headed off shaking his head.  "She's fine," he called as he shut the door.  He found Stoker in the kitchen watching the two mice play.  He stepped over them to get some coffee, waving his cup before he poured it in.  "Get you something?"

"No, not really.  Where's Throttle?"


"Why?" he asked.

Enamel turned and took a long sip. "Because they broke their bed so Charley offered them the chance to become pillows.  She's got the baby resting on Xander's back and is curled up on Throttle's shoulder.  Vinnie's got the other shoulder."  He took another long drink.  "They're fine."

"Good, I'm glad.  I don't want to know the details though."

"You and me both," Wrench gasped, getting away from his cousin.  "Vic, you're a champion tickler.  I'm going to have to get you to get Chassis soon."  He kissed him on the head.  "Want breakfast?"  Vic beamed and nodded.  "What do you want?"


"Are you a turtle?" Enamel asked fondly, smiling at him.

"Unca Xanner make pizza for breakfast.  He need it, he holding up baby.  He very strong."

"Yeah, he could probably use some good food too," Wrench agreed, getting up to find the frozen pizza stash.  He knew Xander had one over here.  He found a few and put them in the oven, turning it on.  "There, that way you and he can have pizza for breakfast.  The rest of us are probably having something else."

"Pancakes next door," Enamel offered.  Vic went running, making him grin.  "It works every time.  He likes syrup."  He set the oven timer to turn it off in ten minutes then went back there with the others.

Charley woke at the sound of the timer, looking confused.  "The oven, Vic said we should have pizza for breakfast," Throttle told her.

"My son is a white mouse in the wrong colored body," she complained, getting up and hitting the bathroom then going down to take the pizzas out and cut them up.  She carried them back upstairs with some sodas and curled back against Xander's back, going back to sleep.

Throttle smiled, there was time enough for food later.


Xander looked up as someone sat down next to him that night, nodding at his former boss.  "Hey."

"Hey yourself.  I haven't seen you recently."  Xander handed over the stuff he had been working on and Boris handed over a check.  "We still owed you some from the liquid explosive."  He flipped through them, then looked at his favorite mouse.  "Been distracted?  That one gun looks a lot like a penis."

Xander groaned and nodded.  "Very distracted, sorry."  He blushed a bit. "So use it in a movie or something maybe."  Boris laughed at that.   "We're leaving before the next prez takes his oath of office."


"Because it's not looking too nice if we're here.  One might try to leash and pet us.  The other would probably try to reform the NID and have us as experiments."

"Ah.  Understood."  He clapped him on the back, watching as he wiggled a bit on the edge of the landing pad.  "Better balance today, I'm impressed."

"It's a new botox injection in my ear," he admitted.  "Sorry about that one. You can give it back if you want."

He smirked.  "Not a chance. I know someone who'd love the illustration.  I'll have someone color it in so it's lifelike."  He shook his head and put them into his interior jacket pocket.  "What about work stuff?"

"I keep saying I'll take the next crew you've got," he said dryly.

"Well, we've got an open spot but it's an all demon crew."  He looked down as someone parked. "You're dealing with Wolfram and Hart?"

"No, somehow I ended up owning the land that the current Limburger tower is standing on and they're in partnership together.  So we wrote up a contract to let them buy it back, but it's got a 'destruct immediately' clause in it," he offered with a grin.  He looked down at the lawyer.  "What?"

"They didn't like it, sir."

"They either accept it or I'm destroying it while they're in it.  You can tell them I said that.  You can also tell them if they don't sign it immediately, the price goes up by another ten million tomorrow at this time."  The lawyer blanched. "Up to them really.  I like destroying things."

The lawyer got back into his car and headed off.

"You're being mean, I always liked it when you're mean," Boris said, giving him a fond grin.  "So, you're really moving all the way up there?" Xander nodded.  "Will you be okay with that?"

"I should be.  I can still head back to do a yearly shopping thing through Micah's office or something.  I might come when there's snow so I can enjoy it a lot again."  He formed a small snowball and tossed it at his boss with a grin.  "I'll miss having cable but it's sucked recently, and the 'net has a lot of odd things.  Someone wrote a story about me and Modo online, one of Meg's friends."  Boris blushed at that.  "I wrote the author to point out I was with Throttle, which one he was, and that it was excellent sex so therefore I would never leave him and Modo was too nice for me anyway since he didn't believe in bondage.  She sent back a purr," he offered with a smug grin.  "Then I showed Staff, who 'eeped' and went to hide on Modo and tell him.  He just laughed and said he was that hot and he was proud that I had told her first so he wouldn't have to have his mother spank me."

Boris shook his head. "You're so bad some days, Xander.  So very, very bad."

"Yes, he is," Throttle called, coming up the ramp.  He sat down on Boris' other side.  "So I'm supposing he told you that we're moving?"  Boris nodded.  "We'll be putting this place up for grabs once we're all home.  It's got some nice lots that someone could do a lot of stuff with and still protect the garage."

"I'll think about it," Boris offered with a smile.  He pulled out the illustrations and showed him that one.  "I think that one should share both your names."

Throttle blushed and looked at his mate.  "Did you need something that day?"  Xander just smiled and nodded.  "At least the new bed is set up."  Xander pounced him, kissing him hard. "Not in front of people," he moaned when the mouth moved down to his neck. "Or in the snow!"

Boris laughed and stood up.  "There's a check for him in his back pocket, Throttle.  Be safe and well.  I'll try to find something for him to do this spring once business picks up."

"Thank you!  Vic's learning a lot and the kids are loving the rope course, but Xander needs more things to take his attention before he makes me a pregnant mouse."

"You guys do that?"

"No, but it won't stop him," he said dryly, pushing Xander's head off his nipple.  "Xander!"

"Sorry," he said with a totally unrepentant grin.  "Hey, boss?"  He looked at him.  "I've got to buy building stuff to take to Mars.  Can I still use the company discount?  It's for our house up there."

"Who's building it?"

"Me.  I was going to use it to teach others how to do construction."

He considered it.  "Ask me when it's time, Xander."

"Sure, this time next year," he offered with a grin.

"Fine.  How soon before there's no more Plutarkians?"

"Probably a year by my time table."

"Try to work faster, kid.  They're annoying me with their stench.  They moved closer to Faith's house."  He headed off whistling.  He loved watching Xander play.  His own personal vampire Xander was waiting for him in the car, already naked and tied up for his pouncing pleasure.  "Home, Fred, and follow all traffic directions and signals.  If you break the law, I'm making you sit out tonight."

"Yes, sir," he said happily, putting the car into gear and taking off.

Throttle dug out the check and looked it over, then at his mate.  "What was this for?"

"The liquid explosive I did for them."  He pounced him again and then got up to drag him inside.  He didn't want his fun to catch cold.  The check was tossed at the table as they walked past it and he waved at everyone.  "Heading to bed!"

Oz blinked at their wake.  "I'm guessing he's horny?"

"And then some," Vinnie sighed, shaking his head.  "We wound Xander up the other night and he's been jump happy since."  He winced at the crashing noise.  "Don't tell me they broke this one already!"

"Are you okay?" Meg called from the top of the ramp.

"Swing broke!" Xander called back.  "He's fine, I'm soothing the booboos."

"Xander, give a mouse some warning!" Throttle said a few minutes later.  Then a long moan.  Then a scream and a crash.  "Shit!"

"No, I think that was the bed," Vinnie said, getting up to go check on them.  He found Xander still buried in Throttle but both of them knocked out.  "Enamel!  They did it again!"

"Did what!" he complained as he came down the ramp.  He looked and moaned, going in to check them over.  And to see how Xander had done it, because no regular mouse with a regular penis could do that to two beds within a week.

"I'm hoping he knows you can't just run out and buy new beds on Mars," Vinnie joked, shaking his head as he walked off.

"They're firmer and have less things to break.  He'll just wear them out."  He looked again, then separated them and started to treat the small bumps and bruises on their heads.  They had not only broken the box spring and frame, but the headboard had fallen and hit them both.  He was sure Xander had deserved it, but poor Throttle would have to deal with the headache and Xander.


Stoker looked up as Throttle came out of the transporter, taking the report he was carrying.  "How are things going?"

"My husband's a sex maniac," he muttered as he walked past him, heading out to go to his mother's.  His bike hadn't wanted to come, it was being spoiled by Vic and Dawn with a detailing, so he was wandering.  Slowly.  And limping a bit.  He had to walk past the daycare and Spike came out to get a hug so he paused to hug him.  "Don't turn into Xander.  You'll need more than one wife or husband," he complained.  Spike just gaped so he walked on.  He walked into his mother's house.  "Momma, make Xander quit having sex with me!" he whined.  "I'm sore!"

She came out to look at where he was laying on his stomach on the couch.  "What?" she asked.

"My husband is a sex maniac.  I can't sit. I had him last night and I still can't sit.  Make him stop?"

"Dear," she said patiently, coming over to hug him.  "Are you sane?"

He looked up at her and nodded.  "Yes!  But we broke three beds in the last week and I'm sore! I can't even ride!"

She patted him on the back. "It's all right, dear.  Why don't you let Vinnie wear him out for a bit?  We all heard about the lust ray and I'm sure he's more than willing by now."

"I have!  He wore out Vinnie first!  He's worn out Vinnie, Charley, and me, and Wrench thinks it's funny."  Momma started to laugh and he groaned. "It's not funny."

"Yes, it is, baby. If it were anyone else you'd be laughing at the pitiful whining you're doing too."  She patted him on the back of the head. "You rest, baby.  I'll fend him off for a few hours if he comes up."

"Thanks, momma.  I need a rest.  Besides, I didn't want the knowing smirks from the bed guys again. Twice was bad enough."

"You really broke the bed three times this week?"  He nodded. "How?"

Throttle looked at her, looking entirely serious.  "Do you really want the details?"

She considered it, then shook her head.  "No, honey, I don't want to imagine you having sex with Xander.  As much as I like the boy, I don't need that mental image."  She looked over at the comm as it beeped, showing Carbine.  "Yes, dear?  Did you need something?"

"Part of the report seems to be in baby cooing and talk.  Does he have a fixed version?"

Throttle looked over at her. "Call Xander, give him something to do besides leer at me."  He put his head back down.

She just stared.  "What did he do to you?"

"We broke three beds this week, Carbine, consider it.  I'm sure you can have pretty mental pictures about how we did that."

"I don't think the whole of Mars needed to hear that," Stoker called.  "I certainly didn't!"  The connection was cut.

"Pain in my tail old fart," he complained, putting his head back down.  "Momma, do you have anything to drink?  Something to kill the salty Xander kisses?"

"Baby, did he do something mean to you?" she asked, coming back to cuddle him.  "Was he mean to you?  Did he bite you or something?"  He shook his head, yawning a bit.  "Then why are you so upset with him?"

"Momma, I haven't slept in four days," he complained.  He looked at her.  "He's using me to wear himself out so he can think and plan about getting us up here in the next few years.  His mind's running too fast so he's using sex to slow it down.   Vinnie, Charley, and I can't sit and Wrench and Enamel just keep laughing it off," he said miserably.  "They think I'm complaining for no reason."

"If it's just sex, I'd say you were, but he should be more thoughtful of you, dear."

"Momma, you know how pregnant woman go through that stage?  The one that keeps making Modo blush recently?"  She chuckled and laughed.  "Well, Xander's got his own like that.  This is it."

"Should I go complain for you?"

He looked at her again. "He might pounce you, momma.  Then you'd try to steal my Xander from me."  The comm came on again.  "What?" he demanded.

"Baby," his momma chided gently.  She looked over.  "What's wrong, Exhaust?"

"Why is there suddenly an extra six hundred million in Mars' bank account on Earth?"

Throttle sighed.  "Because Xander found out he owned the land Limburger tower is currently sitting on.  He made them buy it back from him and he put a destruction clause in the contract," he said bitterly.  He put his head back down.  "I'm trying to take a nap, call Xander to get the contract's details."

"Fine.  Are you feeling all right?"

Throttle looked at him.  "Xander's in hyper thinking mode and his mind won't slow down."  He hissed and Throttle nodded.  "That's why I'm taking a nap up here."

"Sure, I'll let you get back to it.  I'll call Xander personally.  Anything else that could help him?"

"Send the kids to wear him out," Momma suggested.

"Everyone but Spike and his crew are already down there," Throttle admitted.

"I'll get Spike and them to go down," Exhaust promised, hanging up.  He looked at Stoker.  "Xander's thinking too hard and needing something to wear him out."

"Fine."  He called Ramjet's mother.  "Xander needs someone to wear him out.  Would you mind if I sent the kids to play on his agility course?"

"Will they come back more funny colored?"

"I hope not.  I'd hate to have to whip his tail if Spike came home purple or something."  She smiled at that. "I'll make that clear."  She smiled and nodded.  "Thanks."  He called Piston's father.  "Xander needs someone to wear him out.  You mind if your son goes down with Ramjet and them?"  The father shook his head.  "I'll make sure there's no more fur dye incidents."

"That'd be nice, but he's fairly cute.  He spilled some on his arm so it's now teal."  Stoker groaned and shook his head.  "So I'm good with the fur dye.  Just keep him from eating too much sugar please."

"Sure.  Thanks."  He called the daycare, getting their monitor. "Please send Spike and his whole crew and Anya here?" he ordered.  "Xander needs worn out.  Their parents already agreed."

"Of course.  What happened to their arms?"

"Fur dye.  It's temporary.  It's supposed to wash out in about two weeks."

"Oh, that's good.  Some kids picked on Piston about his green arm.  He said it was cool and he was hip."  She grinned and hung up.

Stoker put his head down with a moan.  "Tell me when they get here," he complained.  "I'll send them through with orders."

"Sure," Carbine said, smirking at him.  Then at Exhaust.  "First Throttle and now the kids?"

"I sincerely *doubt* Xander will be doing the same thing he did to Throttle to those children," Stoker growled, glaring at her.  "I will whip your tail to death."

"You'll try."

Xander came up and stuck his head out of the transporter.  "Did my mate wander this way?"

"Yes, and you're going to get the kids in a few minutes so he can nap," Stoker said.  Xander just gave him an odd look.  "He said you needed to be worn out so you can think.  Therefore you're getting the whole group, including Anya."  Spike slammed open the doors with Ramjet and Thruster behind him, and Piston behind them with Anya reading as she walked behind him.  "You guys get to go play with Xander.  He needs to be worn out so he can think.  Throttle said so," he said when Spike looked at him.  "No more fur dye and no sugar."

Spike looked at Xander.  "Didn't you have that before Glory?"  Xander nodded. "Okay.  We can handle that again."   He pointed.  "Go wear him out.  We're working with the agility course."

Ramjet looked at him.  "Why are you in charge?" she demanded.  "I'm older!"

"Oh, hush, bint!"  He walked off shaking his head.  "You'll understand some day."  He looked up at Xander.  "Can we use the big course?"

"Not until you can show me you can, son," Stoker said firmly.  "Use the small one to practice."  He sighed and nodded.   "Ramjet, he thinks he's in charge because he thinks he can do better than you.  If you prove him wrong, you'll get to have it some of the time."  She smirked and raced past him.  He looked over as Racer came in and nodded at him, heading after the kids.  "Keep them out of trouble please," he called after them.  Racer waved a hand. Stoker looked at Carbine, then reached over to hit her.  "I'm going to kill you later."

"Is that enough to get him arrested?" Carbine asked.

Vinnie came off the transporter and smiled sweetly, grabbing Carbine by the hair and walking her out of the chamber.  The doors closed and she screamed, then he walked back and back through the transporter.

"I believe someone heard her accusation," Exhaust said dryly.  "What did you think about the plan to let Xander sit in a seat?"

"I can think of many bad things that would happen if Xander took a seat on the council," Stoker said honestly.  "One of them being that half of us would go insane when he has a bouncy day."

"Yes, but he's very good for Mars," Exhaust offered.

"So's water, but I wouldn't put it on the Council. He's an *advisor*, let him advise someone.  Like Modo maybe," he offered with a smile.  "Even that punk Vinnie would be better.  At least they could work together."

Mirror looked at them. "I'm sorry, I had a change of thought last night," she announced. "I could suddenly see the problems that Stoker can, but I would be more than willing to let him come up when he's older.  Once he's settled in on Mars for a few years and the like."

Exhaust looked at her.  "I'm retiring before I get much older, dear.  I want to go enjoy my life."

"Nominate your younger brother then," Stoker suggested.  "Or someone reasonable."

"Wrench could do it," Mirror suggested. "He's very reasonable and steady most of the time.  He's also tied very heavily to Mars.  He's done his duty in the Freedom Fighters.  He knows the struggles of the soldiers coming off the pain of the war."

"I'll run first!" Wrench's voice called.

Willow appeared, blushing.  "Sorry, I had to tell him.  He's not a happy Highest," she offered sheepishly.  "He's really not.  He was going to ask Xander to help him get back at you guys for suggesting that actually.  I'm so sorry."  She held out a plate.  "Cookies?"

Stoker took one with a nod.  "Thanks.  It was just a suggestion. You can tell him that.  Before I have to sic Spike on him to get him back if he tries."  She smiled and faded out, leaving the cookies on his desk. "Okay, back to the real business.  Exhaust, give us a list of at least ten people so we can meet with them and talk with them before they're put on the ballot.  That way we can petition and push for our favorites."  He finished that cookie and ate another one.  "Anyone want one?"

"Sure," Mirror agreed, getting up to get the plate.  Someone else opened the door and she looked, smiling. "Grip, dear."  She hugged her.  "How are you!"

She smiled.  "Fine.  I came to ask Stoker something and I figured you weren't doing anything by the babbling going on."  She smiled at Stoker.  "Got a minute?"  He nodded, getting up and walking out, getting her a cookie.  "Thanks.  Who made these?"


"She's here?"

"She's with the M'dreth," he offered.  "That means she's usually around Wrench somewhere.  So, what's up?"

"I think I...um, found someone," she said sheepishly.  "I need someone to tell me I'm not insane."

"Sure, bring him and the kids over this weekend.  It'll give Spike and Crankshaft someone to play with and you can tell Anya she's a brilliant artist."  He hugged her.  "I'm happy if you are."

She smiled.  "I want to be, but I'm wary.  He's just too...good!"  She shrugged.  "He's hiding something and I don't know what."

Wrench and Willow came back and Willow squealed, hugging her.  He smiled at her.  He shared an image with her and she looked horrified.  "I know him. He's one of mine.  You might tell him you know about that crap."  He grinned.  "He mentioned you.  Come over the next night to visit with her so she'll let me go on dates."  He looked at Stoker.  "If you put me on the Council I will yank your metallic tail off and beat you with it," he said seriously.  "Then I'll let Xander have you."  Stoker smirked at that.  "Seriously.  And remember, if I get on the Council, then the strange stuff picks up.  That's beyond the fact that I'm forbidden by my vows to become involved in politics.  If I wasn't, then every strange creature on Mars would have to come visit me here instead of the temple.  Including Willow and the Seal as my assistants."  He shivered at that.  "Good idea, huh?"  He nodded, fiercely.

Grip giggled.  "You're still odd, Wrench.  We love you."  She hugged him.  "He's one of yours?"  He nodded.  "Then I probably know more than they think."  She smiled.  "Sunday fine?"  Wrench nodded.  "Stoker, Saturday?"

"Perfect.  That's Crankshaft's birthday."  She grinned and hugged him again then headed off.  He looked at Wrench.  "What did Vincent do to Carbine?"

"He had a quick talk with her that involved her head hitting a wall.  She's probably getting
an ice pack."  He smiled.  "It seems he was a bit pissed at that accusation."

"Him and me both," Stoker admitted.  "I'm going to be having a word with her later."

"You should remove her," Wrench growled.  "Before someone in the clan removes her.  Willow saw Chassis and told her what she said."

"Oooh, shit," Stoker winced.  "She's going to go make an apology now."  He went toward the hospital, finding her coming back.  He grabbed her by the arm.  "Chassis overheard your comment.  You'd better apologize publically or else I will let her have you."  She winced.  "Now!"  He walked her back to the chambers.  "You need a real vacation, Carbine.  I will not put up with his cranky, bitchy behavior any longer.  You will either reform your attitude or else.  I will make your life a living hell.  I don't care if you do hate yourself for dumping Throttle.  You will not dump on Xander any longer.  It was your decision to dump him instead of giving up some of your duties.  Your fault, your mistake, you deal with it and move on.  Before I take you out into the desert some night at midnight and dump your body."  He shoved her inside.  "I believe Carbine wants to apologize for her sense of humor lacking decency a few minutes ago."

"I'm sorry.  I know very well Xander would never harm a child, especially not like that.  I was out of line," she admitted, sitting down with her ice pack.  "I'm tired and my mind was going without my conscious control."

"See that it doesn't happen again," Exhaust told her.  He subtly turned off his console, cutting the connection to Earth.  He looked at Stoker.  "Do we have anything else today?"

"Just any weddings coming in.  Perhaps Carbine should go nap since she's so tired.  Since you can do weddings and all.  I'll stay to witness if that's fine with you?"  Everyone else nodded.

"Have a good nap, Carbine," one of the other city's council members offered.  Their liaison duties were considered the easiest jobs but it was nice.  She had thought their people were bitchy at each other!

"Thank you."  She got up and headed home to think.  She knew her attitude was out of line and she knew she'd be dying soon if she didn't reform.  She had no doubt the whole of the VanWham clan and any of Modo's family would kill her horribly for continuing this.  She nodded at one of them as she rode past, head ducked down.


Throttle woke up and yawned, smiling happily since he wasn't pounced.  He grinned at his mother when she brought him a rootbeer.  "He never found me?"

"He did, baby, but he said to let you nap.  He'd pounce you later."  She helped him sit up.  "The kids went to play with him and Carbine went home to nap after she made a remark about Xander molesting the kids.  She apologized," she said at his glare at her wall.  "Vinnie had a talk with the poor, deluded girl before she apologized.  She needed an ice pack."

"She'll need more than that when I stick my foot up her tail."

"Oh, I agree," she soothed, patting him on the leg.  "Are you up to it though?"

"I'd better be.  I doubt those kids wore him out enough."

"Spike said something about Glory. I'm assuming he understood," she said dryly.  "Is he like the cats?"  Throttle nodded and opened his soda, drinking most of it in a few gulps.  "Slow down.  Want some dinner?"

"Please, Momma, if it's not any problem."

"Not a problem, dear.  After all, you and your little boy try to stock my cabinets fuller than any market on Mars."  He smiled at her.  "Son, do you know how many people want to send their sons to earth?"

"Let 'em. They just have to come back by the time we do.  There's going to be a problem with the next president we think."  He finished the can and got up to put in the recycler, smiling a bit.  "Hey, I'm not sore."

"That's one of those benefits of sleep, son," she noted patiently.  "Sit."  She got up and went to get him something to eat, coming back with plates for each of them.  "Here."

"Thanks, momma."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "I'm sorry if I embarrassed you earlier."

"Dear, I once said the same thing to my own momma, of course I was pregnant at the time."

"Xander said he'd look horrible as a pregnant mouse, momma."  He ate a bite and had to get a new soda.  "Is Switch pregnant again?" he asked.

"How did you know?"

"The hot peppers, momma.  The hot peppers."  She switched plates with him, just smiling.  "Thanks. I don't have a cold any more either."  He grabbed a tissue too and blew his nose.  "It's been months since I had one of those."

"I find them invigorating, son.  You should eat more of them."

"Maybe when I'm as old as you are, momma, but not until then," he said.  He winced as she flicked him on the ear.  "Sorry, momma."

"I'll forgive you this time, even though they did tell Carbine she should have more fun because I still did."  She dug in, eating heartily.

Throttle ate a cautious bite but continued to eat.  You didn't refuse food on Mars unless it was poisonous.  Even if it was eating the inside of his mouth with the fire it contained.


Throttle pulled up in front of Carbine's building and got off his bike.  He had come out after helping his mother with some chores and found her waiting on him.  "Wait here, girl, we'll be right down."  He walked up the stairs and pounded on her door, then grabbed her and pulled her outside, taking her with him.  "I think it's time we had a talk, dear."  He got her onto his bike in front of him so she couldn't get off and took her away from the people.  He almost decided to take her to a local bar and offer her up to anyone who could please her but she probably didn't need that sort of reputation.  He parked in the dunes, a spot they used to go to talk.  Then he shut off his bike and picked her up, turning her around even though she was struggling.  He sat her back down, using his tail to hold her hands.  "What's your problem?"

"I don't have one!"

"Bull.  You do have one. You always have had one.  Wasn't I supposed to move on after you dumped me?"

"Our duties...."

"And yet, I managed to find someone who supported my duty and loves to help me with my duty, Carbine.  It wasn't the duties totally.  It was also the distance and your attitude.  You didn't want to be anything other than a general even when I was around.  Well, you got your wish, honey.  As Xander and Wrench say, wish granted."  She flinched at that.  "Now, what's your malfunction?"  He stared in her eyes.  "You lost me because you were a bitch to me most of the time," he said quietly.  "Even when I was around you didn't want me.  Therefore I moved on once you let me go.  It took me a few years to find someone but I wasn't looking for it.  I got given a gift in Xander and I'm not letting you run him off."

"He's not a gift!  He's a burden!"

"Prove it."  She stared.  "How is he a burden?  Because he takes care of me?  Because he spoils my mother by sending her enough food to get her picked on?  Because he's already designed our home for when we move up here in the next few years?  Because he adopted Mars as his own family and he's been doing what he can to help?  Tell me how he's a burden, Carbine."

"He can't understand you."

"Why?  Because he wasn't a Freedom Fighter or because he wasn't born a mouse?"  She glared and he leaned forward, showing her some things he had learned about Xander.  "That boy fought as hard, if not harder, than you and I ever did.  He took on things by himself that could have easily killed him.  He did it without any awards, without any medals, and with people telling him he was worthless.  That boy could have given up years ago and didn't.  I admire him for his strength. That's what drew me to him the first time I met him.  That and I thought he was mildly insane and needed protection from himself."  He shifted and let her hands go, staring her down again.  "I refuse to let you ruin my relationship with him or with Stoker and his family.  You were a great general but Xander plans just as well as you and I do.  Let's face it, we saved Mars and he saved Earth just as many times.  Him, one little blonde girl, and Willow Rosenburg.  We couldn't have done that and I doubt you'd be able to face down what he did."

"I could so!"

"Willow?" he called softly.  The Seal appeared, giving him a dry and blandly amused look.  "Think you can make her be Xander for a bit?  Let her see if she could really face that down?"

"I can do it in her own mind but not for real.  Sorry, the only vampire haven still on Mars is deep within a cavern complex I can't get into."

"Fine.  That'll work.  Maybe something like one of his solo hunts?  Maybe like the one after the halloween with the soldier?"

"Sure.  I remember that one well."  She leaned forward and blew in Carbine's ear.  She looked at Throttle.  "We like his plans for the new house.  You do, right?  He's really worried.  She's just about torn him up again, Throttle."

"Yeah, I love the new plans.  I'm not sure about some of his other ones, but I love the house plans."  She smiled. "I know that's part of it, Seal.  Do you have a name?"  She shook her head.  "Not at all?"

"No. I was never living before Willow bonded with me.  Therefore I was never given a name.  I was called the Seal of the First, but nothing else."  She shrugged.  "Naming something inanimate, or thought to be inanimate, is considered dumb by most people. They didn't even used to name pets."  She looked over as Carbine fell off the bike shivering, wrapping her arms around her body.  "Ampata," she said simply.  She smiled at him.  "Part of the bounciness is this insecurity but not all of it, dear.  Xander has always over- thought things and he's worried about getting too complicated with the plans.  That touch of insecurity was what made him stumble a lot on patrol.  Which he got picked on for."  They both looked down as Carbine started to cry and the Seal kicked her on the arm, bringing her out. "You still think you're better than Xander?"  She looked at Throttle again. "He also thinks he really hurt you."

"No, I just couldn't sit.  My tail was sore."

She smiled.  "I know.  We let Willow go down to spy on you guys together.  Vinnie saw her but he thinks he was hallucinating."


"Because she wanted to make sure that you were making him happy.  That's all she wanted. She wasn't too sure that lust ray wouldn't spoil things for him and you'd get mad at him for it."  She moved closer.  "She's relieved now.  She thinks you're all very good for Xander.  He needs people who love him, even when he stutters and tries to hide stuff."  He nodded at that.  "So be good to my poor little magnet.  I can't wait to see you guys on Mars.  He's gonna have so much fun!  He'll get to set up the new temple and he'll get to train and all sorts of good stuff."

"Sure," he agreed, nodding.  "I'm guessing he went with the daughter?"  She nodded.  "That's fine.  I don't mind the occasional foray into magic, just not constant magic floating around night and day and making my fur stand on end with static."

She kissed him on the cheek.  "We love you, Throttle.  You're very good to my magnet. By the way, there'll be a big shock year after next.  Remember it wasn't his idea.  It was all the girl's."

"He's going to be attacked?"

She grimaced. "One of the slayers picked off some shedding hair, remember?"  He nodded.  "There's things you can do with hair."  He slumped a bit and sighed.  "Including giving someone smart DNA to make a baby with it."  He glared and she nodded.  "Just barely.  They implanted it today.  When it's closer, I'll tell Wrench and them. I don't know what's going on. It's outside the cards as I knew them.  I'm not sure if this is the daughter he'll be allowed. If not, he'll be on Mars full time by the time the baby's born.  Just don't freak on him."

"I'd never do that," he promised her.  "He's not due to come up for construction stuff for the next sixteen months."

She smiled. "It's not going to work the first time but it will work.  She'll be born just after halloween that year.  Just around this time of year."  He nodded at that.  "Like I said, I'll tell Wrench when it takes and it's time to see the baby.   We'll need him to see if it's the one he's allowed."

"Thanks, Seal," he said quietly.  "What about her?  Got any idea who I can drop her off with?"

She smirked.  "I do as a matter of fact. Willow's hot on a matchmaking trail.  There's a very nice mouse up the street from where she presently lives.  Willow made him want to move closer to her," she said with a wink.  "He likes to watch her apartment and her."

"He's a threat," Carbine said quietly.

"He's not.  He's in lust, he doesn't want to kill you, just kill for you," she offered.  "He's willing to change for you, Carbine.  Take the offer."  She looked at Throttle.  "Drop her off there, he'll protect her."  She stroked across his forehead.  "Protect my magnet and make him happy, Throttle.  He's the closest I ever came to a family."  She faded with a smile.

Throttle looked down at Carbine.  "Now that you know, I'll expect you to lay the fuck off him, Carbine.  I mean it."  She nodded, bursting out in tears.  He rolled his eyes but picked her up to pat her on the back.  He hated it when she cried.  "You're fine."

"I couldn't do that," she sobbed.  "I had warriors and people with me."

He nodded. "I know.  We three bros on Earth fought together in a small group for a long time.  It's not that easy."  He got her settled behind him and headed back to the city.  The Seal had shown him where the guy lived.  He scoped out the apartment on the way, noticing him staring outside.  He stopped and got off, picking her up and carrying her up to his door, kicking it.  The dark gray mouse opened it, bracing between the frame and the door.  "Yours.  The Seal said you loved her.  Treat her well, she needs someone who can understand.  Watch out, she's jealous now and then too and she's a stubborn bitch at times.  Let's hope you work out better than we did."  He walked off, heading back to the chambers to send himself home.

The guy looked at Carbine, smiling at her.  "Hi, General."

"Thrust."  He closed the door, pulling her inside.  "I still think this is a bad idea."

"The Seal is a smart woman," he admitted, stroking her cheek. "I've wanted you for years."  He walked her to the couch and put a blanket around her shoulders, then went to make her something warm to drink.  He handed it to her and sat across from her. "I'm not going to touch you until you're ready.  You're worth more to me than a quick night of fun."

She swallowed the drink, it was plain coffee.  Then she looked around.  He had her picture all around his apartment.  In one corner there was a shrine to her.  She looked at him and pointed.  "I'm not one of the Ancient Goddesses."

"No, you're more special to me. Your voice and image got me through the eight months the Plutarkians had me."  He moved over to kneel in front of her, taking her hand.  He kissed the back of it.  "You saved what little of my sanity I retain.  Watching you be miserable has made me ache.  I knew you needed me and that is something I can give you.  Anything of mine you want, it's yours."  He kissed her hand again, staring up at her.  "Whatever you need."

She put down the cup and stroked his cheek with the back of her free hand.  "We should start small.  I only remember you from mission briefings."

He smiled. "I have loved you longer than that.  Simply being able to touch you is enough for me for now.  Later I'll let you complain about being sore and stiff from overexertion."  She blushed at that and he grinned. "You're beautiful and your mind is equally as dangerous as your beauty, Carbine.  You're all I wanted in life."  He leaned in to kiss her gently on the mouth.  "Would you be my special one?"

She nodded. "Slowly, Thrust."

"Of course."  He sat beside her after arranging her blanket better. "There, you should be as warm as your nature.  Before you say it, it's only the stress of your position and your regrets that make you cold, my love.   The real you is warm and vital and living.  I can help you refind her again."  He patted her on the knee.  "You should rest. You've got a heavy schedule tomorrow."

"You keep track of my schedule?"

"I sent you your assistant," he said with a smile.  "How is he doing?"

"Quite well.  He's very efficient.  He makes sure I make it home most nights."

"I knew you needed one.  You were always working too hard to save us all."  He stroked her knee again.  "You lay down and rest.  I'll be in the bedroom."  He stood up and headed that way.  "You can borrow a shirt tomorrow if you desire."  He smiled and closed his door.

"Most men at least try to woo me," she called.

"If I did, I wouldn't be able to stop," he called. "If I scared you, I'd have to hurt myself greatly.  I can't face that image so therefore I will let you come to me."

She finished the coffee and stared out the window toward her apartment.  Someone was moving around.  "Damn it!"  She got up and he was beside her.  "Someone's in my apartment," she said, pointing.

He looked and nodded.  "That's Anya.  She's done that a few times.  She believes you're evil for hating Xander and making Throttle miserable so she's trying to find ways to make you just as miserable."  She looked at him, looking confused. "I asked."


"The first time she did it.  I can see why others look up to him but that child has him as a hero.  She agreed not to do anything too nasty to your apartment but she decided she might redecorate ."  He drew her back to the couch.  "I have made sure that Spike knows I will punish him if he tries anything and will gladly do the same with Crankshaft when she's old enough and tries."

"I don't want to be hated," she said bitterly, looking at her hands.  "People used to like me."

"Yes, and then you became a general, dear.  They have to do the hard things and that wore on you.  Eventually the real Carbine was buried under stress and duty.  That's what drove you from Throttle's side.  I can help you find the real you again.  It would be my pleasure to help you learn how to relax and enjoy the life you helped us save."  He smiled and kissed her on the antenna.  She grabbed him and kissed him, making him smile.  "Now, now, dear.  Slowly.  You need to take it slowly. Any drastic change and you'll second guess yourself.  We've got all the time in the world to help you refind yourself."  He stroked her cheek with the back of his hand and headed back to his bedroom, locking the door this time. "Good night, beloved."

"Good night, Thrust," she called quietly, settling down on his couch.  She thought about what they had told her and decided he was right.  Throttle had been right and Thrust was right and possibly even Willow.  She decided a tactical maneuver was in order and got up, going to pick the lock and sleep next to him.  She was still pretty cold.  She found him wearing clothes and looking uncomfortable, but she still slid in next to him.  He only cuddled her and held her, warming her up.  It was a nice feeling.  She could get used to this feeling.


Throttle came off the transporter and got off his bike, giving her a gentle pat.  "There you go, girl.  Home again."  He headed for his bedroom, finding it empty.  He headed to the next likely spot, the office.  He found Xander on the couch staring at the tv, watching a show he hated.  He picked him up and put him over his shoulder, spanking him lightly as he headed back down the stairs.  "Now that I got some sleep, I want to cuddle," he said at the odd wiggle.  He opened the door with his tail and walked in, kicking it shut. He put Xander on the latest bed, looking down at him.  "I was only tired.  I'm sorry."

"I hurt you."

"No, no more than usual.  You're a big guy, Xander," he offered with a grin.  "My tail needs to rest between bouts."  He laid down next to him.  "You didn't hurt me for real.  You just made me kinda sore.  It was cured with a good nap."  He kissed him and curled up on his chest. "How are the plans going?"

"I think you're right and I over planned."

"I don't.  I got a better idea of what you were thinking earlier and I like it."  Xander let out a small, confused sounding grunt.  "Really.  I think that'll be just enough to get us through that first year."  He looked up at him.  "Micah agreed we could come back to do some shopping."  Xander was still looking unsure so he decided to be a bit more honest.  "If you want me to be honest, I think you underplanned the food.  I doubt we won't have half the families over most of the time, plus you'll be needing to feed the kids you're teaching construction to.  That means you'll need more, not less.  The materials for the houses seemed right by what little I know about construction.  Anything leftover can be donated.  Our personal stuff won't fill a shipping container so you should pad it with other stuff that can be used or donated."  He gave him a little squeeze.  "I think you're right on track but I still think it'll take you longer than you think to build our house.  Maybe you should get another experienced person up there?  Maybe Modo or one of us?"

"No, we need you guys down here in case something happens and to wrap up all the loose ends.  Charley will need stuff and you guys have known her longer than I have.  Someone'll have to take her to see her dad's grave and all that stuff."

"Good point, plus we'll have to say goodbye to some spots too."  Xander nodded, stroking his back.  "Is any of this other worries?  I know Carbine's been riding you and I took the time to go chew her a new tail opening."  Xander tugged on his ponytail so he looked up at him. "She deserved it for many of the things she said, including today's."

"What did she say today?"

"We assumed you knew since Vinnie came to hit her a few times. She made a suggestion you were going to hurt the kids.  Vinnie came up and slammed her face into a wall a few times. Stoker about killed her for you, dear," he said when Xander started to move.

"I've got to go thump her myself."

"I straightened her out and she apologized in the same room she said it in."

"She said it in council!"

Throttle nodded.  "She did, and then she apologized about ten minutes later.  Said it was lack of sleep and a bad joke.  She had an ice pack because of Vinnie and Stoker was going to let Chassis have her."  Xander just growled.  "Hey, they're your family, that's what they're supposed to do.  The same as I am.  That way you have an alibi in case she reports the assault."  Xander gave him a dirty look.  "I had fun reaming her a new one.  I'm sure Vinnie did too."

"No wonder he was flexing his fingers," he said grimly.  "He came out and gave me a hug for no reason."

"That could have just been for no reason," he admitted. "He can be cuddly now and then, just like you," he pointed out with a gentle poke to the stomach.  "We got her back, Xander.  I promise.  You won't have to worry about her any more."

"Should I deny knowledge of the body?"

"No.  I had a talk with her in the desert with the Seal.  She showed her a scene from one of your solo hunting trips and made it seem like it was her doing it.  She decided she couldn't do that."

"You did what?" he asked flatly.

"Just an average hunting moment," he promised.  "Nothing personal, nothing private.  Though I think she said something about Ampata, but that could have been your decision to face her down, make her make the tough call again."  He shrugged.

"Seal!" Xander snapped.  She appeared, looking sheepish.  "How deep did you send her?"

"A bad solo hunting trip, the one after you got the soldier.  You weren't there, just the situation with her doing the hunting.  The decision against Ampata and the thing with the assassin guys, the bug guy."  Xander groaned.  "Nothing that private, Xander, I promise.  She didn't even see you.  I told her I was generalizing when I did it.  She can't be sure it was your memories and it broke her.  She's decided you're stronger.  At least she had support and an army behind her."  She moved closer.  "Plus, Willow found her someone who could love her cold little liver.  Throttle dropped her off to make the introduction and she's presently curled up with him.  She's changing for the better."

"It's still an invasion."

"We did it because we love you and we don't want her sniping at you any more," Throttle said gently. "Each time she hurts you I ache and want to go kick her tail down into the desert and strand her there."  Xander sighed and nodded.  "I'm sorry if you're mad."

"I'm not mad," he sighed.  "I guess it was the only way.  As long as it wasn't anything really personal."

The Seal shook her head.  "Nothing more personal than Ampata's decision not to turn you."  She leaned down to kiss him on the cheek.  "I still think of you like an odd son, Xander.  We love you and we want you happy.  You can't be happy with a harpy snapping at your tail.  Now the foul bird is learning better manners and her man is going to make her happy any way he can."  She grinned.  "By the way, Anya's decided to repaint her apartment road sign orange."  She faded out, still grinning.

"That'll definitely upset her," Throttle admitted.  He kissed his mate.  "Sorry."

"You were trying to help, I can forgive that," Xander admitted, flipping over to cuddle him.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome.  Now, what else was causing the bouncy mood?"

"I keep feeling like I'm forgetting something in the plans to move."

"Generators?  Supply of gas?"

"There is that," Xander admitted.  "Will we be able to get power out there?  I was figuring we'd have to do a septic tank anyway, but what about power?"

"You'd have to ask Stoker," he admitted, considering it.  "No one else would live out that far."

Xander sighed and nodded.  "That's what I still need to work on.  Alternative energy sources.  A generator for backup but how about solar power?"

"If it's one thing Mars has plenty of, it's sun and sand," Throttle joked.  "Some wind now and then too."

"We'll have to be able to power the whole compound," he sighed, thinking hard.  "The last I knew, most solar powered systems were a water heating style, that would give us plenty of hot water all the time.  That'd probably be easiest of all alternative systems.  I'll have to look into septic systems that are meant to recycle too.  That way it's not just sitting there stinking."  Throttle nodded at that.  "What is the main city's like?"

"I have no clue," Throttle admitted.  "You can go ask tomorrow."  Xander nodded, giving him a squeeze.  "What else haven't you considered?"

"We'll have a finite water supply but we can always do something about that with a filtration system.  Meg found plans for one and she's had one of the guys on the network see if it works.  It's basically the system they use on the space shuttles to reclaim water."  Throttle shuddered at that.  "We won't be using it directly for that, dear.  That'll go into the greenhouse after it's filtered.  Ours would be coming from the river underground.  If it can separate out urine, it should be able to weed out some heavier chemicals."  Throttle nodded at that. "You'll need to file the land grant stuff.  That way we can set it up to make sure it won't block and clog at the heavy chemicals."  Throttle nodded again.  "Can we take Stoker and Exhaust out tomorrow?"

"Sure, if you want.  What else did you have planned tomorrow?"

"Not a whole lot," he admitted.  "The kids all have their school admittance tests.  Racer's got a test and Momma said she'd whip his tail if he skipped again today."  He grinned up at him.  "He did *really* good today.  Even Modo said he did really good on the adult course.  He said he'll be flipping and tumbling in no time like Rimfire and Vinnie do."

"And you.  I've seen you do it too," he reminded him gently.  "You're every bit the mouse Rimfire and Vinnie are, Xander.  Even if you do have a few things left from being a human.  If you weren't, you'd never be close enough to Anya to make her want to paint Carbine's apartment road sign orange."  Xander relaxed against him again.  "I know, there's still some doubts and others will doubt you too, but you're more mouse than Vic is and they're going to accept him.  There are wrenchheads in every corner of the universe.  Mars has their share.  Though I hear most of them live in Omega City."  He gave him a squeeze.  "Are you going to teach Wrench to strip?"

"Wrench and Enamel.  He wanted to do something special for his lady.  We think he's just started baby number two," he shared.  "That night in here he went home and jumped Shell and she came out walking funny and she's got that sickly sweet smell again."  Throttle smiled at that.  "What'm I gonna do for the few months I'm up there by myself?  I'll miss out on all the little stuff."

"First of all, you'll be hooked up to the 'net because you'll be staying with Wrench or someone else in the family," Throttle said patiently.

"If I stay with Wrench I'll never get to sleep.  Willow will come in and chat with me all night."

"No she won't."

"She did the last time."

"After a week or so I'm sure it'll be less than all night," he said patiently.  He stroked the strong back.  "Did you eat today?"  Xander nodded.  "Are you sure?  You're feeling pretty thin again."  He could feel the heat of the blush.  "Ah, that sort of work was done," he teased. "Maybe next time we should both nap more often."

Xander kissed him.  "Not a chance."  He laid his head back down. "Are we keeping this bedroom suite?"

"We probably should.  At least the frame survived this last week."  Xander chuckled at that.  "Momma wanted to know if we were pregnant.  She thought we were in that stage."

"No, I'd look horrible as a pregnant mouse," Xander said dryly.  "But if you want, we could have the first baby next year," he offered quietly.  He stroked the soft fur next to his nose.  "I wouldn't mind and it'd give me someone else to spoil and teach since Modo said I'm not allowed to spoil his kids."

"Why can't you?"

"He said only his momma gets to spoil 'em," he said, pouting at him. "I told him I'd do it anyway and he said then his son would be more like one of Vinnie's clan and not his.  Therefore I can't spoil his kid."  He put his head back down. "I'm going to have to be sneaky about that one."

"I'm sure he was just joking, Xander.  We'll all have to spoil Modo's kids so they turn out more like him than Rimfire.  I love the kid but sometimes he can be more like a member of Vinnie's family than Modo's.  That's because he only had the mommas around him.  I think he was the good twin so they ignored him while trying to fix Primer and make her a true woman of the family.  I think a few more hours a week with his uncle or other guys would have calmed him down a lot.  After all, Modo's a lot like his daddy from what little I remember about him. If I remember right, he died when Modo was about eight or nine.  Rimfire and Primer lost their daddy when they were five or six.  We tried to be around as often as we could, but it wasn't the best of times in our lives.  Then we got captured and it was kinda only Stoker and a few other people that Momma knew.  I think a few more years with a daddy would've calmed Rimfire down too."

Xander nodded.  "I guess.  Did Vinnie have a daddy?  You never hear him talk about his daddy."

"His daddy and your daddy had a lot in common before he was killed."

"Oh, okay.  So, Vic will be a calmer mouse when he's older too?"

Throttle shrugged.  "Possibly.  The calmest mice we knew all had daddies for most of their lives."  He stroked Xander's head, smoothing down the fur.  "I think you're doing an amazing job with Vic and Spike, Xander," he said gently.  "I really do."  Xander gave him a squeeze but he could feel how happy he was with the compliment. "I can't wait until we have kids for you to spoil and raise.  My momma will swear they're perfect and adorable."  Someone tapped on the door.  "No!"

Rimfire stuck his head in, grinning at them.  "We're heading out for a long, stress-relieving ride.  We'll need someone on watch."

"Whose turn is it by the schedule?"

"Vinnie's and he's sacked out already," he offered. "He's got that 'second trimester is good to a daddy' glow about him."  Throttle smirked at that.  "Should I wake up Uncle Modo or do you two want it?"

"How long are we talking?" Throttle asked.

"We've both got finals tomorrow," he admitted.  "Early finals.  We'll be pulling an all nighter to make sure we get up on time.  Maybe two hours?"  Xander nodded. "You're sure?"

"Sure.  If Modo's not up, we'll be up.  I can always go cuddle him up on the couch since we both took long naps."

"You did?" Throttle asked.

"Yeah, I had a late dinner, right before you came home. I napped from when the kids went home to about an hour before you came home."

"Sure, we'll go cuddle on the couch."  He got up and hauled Xander up, grinning at him.  "Someone's working on a filtration system," he told him.

"I heard but we don't know if it'll work on the underground river.  So far it works very well."

"Once the land grant is filed and accepted, I'll be setting up a trial system on the grounds," Xander told him.  Rimfire nodded at that.  "Go, have fun. You're only young once.  Just don't forget your tests so remember to set your alarm just in case when you get back and your watch alarm in case you fall asleep on the bike."  He nodded, doing that as he walked away.

Throttle looked at him.  "Where are we moving if we can't get that one area?"

"There's a nice spot toward the old temple path.  Just barely in the mountains.  I'd do the Pern thing and make us a house in them."  He walked up the ramp, heading to cuddle on the couch.  "Call Stoker to ask him and Exhaust to come out tomorrow?"  Throttle nodded, detouring to send up that message to the night comm person, one of the messengers that served the Council.  He came back and curled up with Xander under the covers.  "I still have to go holiday shopping," he sighed.

"Me too," Throttle admitted.  "I've been avoiding it like the measles.  The mall is horrible this time of year."

"I was thinking about doing it online but I'd never keep stuff from everybody and I can't find what I wanted.  I know just where they are otherwise."  He looked back at him.  "All but you.  What did you want?"

"I'm pretty good.  I've got you in my arms, a future I'm looking forward to, and almost everything I could want."

"What's the almost?"

"I could use a rootbeer," Throttle admitted with a grin.  Xander summoned one and handed it back.  He tapped it before opening it.  The last time it had gotten shaken in transport.  "Stoker said they're working on plans to open a bottling plant for rootbeer."

"Good!  It'll save us having to come back so often.  Let's hope they do real soda too.  I can't live without my caffeine and neither can Enamel."

"I've noticed that about you two," Throttle admitted, giving him a squeeze.  His rootbeer was put where he could reach it and Xander summoned a straw so he wouldn't have to sit up so often.  Then he yawned and Throttle watched while he fell asleep.  Modo came out of his room and he looked at him.  "There's no way on this planet or Mars we're not going to spoil your kids, Modo.  Deal with it already.  They'll turn out like you because they've got you for a daddy and you'll be there for them like yours was."  Modo opened his mouth.  "I mean it.  We're spoiling your kids too."

Modo sighed. "I just want my kids to grow up normal.  Vic's already doing magic."

"So?  Spike isn't and he's not quite normal, but we're doing good with the normal kids in the family.  Besides, it'll take all of us to counteract Rimfire's influence."  That got a small grin.  "So we're doing it anyway and Xander's still doing the early education stuff."  Modo nodded at that.  "Thanks, big fella."

"You're welcome.  Shoot, I only wanted a kid like me."

"You're calm because your daddy was calm and nice while you had him.  Rimfire lost his daddy sooner and they had to spend more time with Primer.  We'll be there to make sure your kids don't run wild in the desert the way he used to.  There's no reason why we can't make even little Victor normal."

"He'll never be a normal mouse, bro.  Wrench just told the others today that he's the clan's heir.  He's going to be one cosseted little mouse."

"He won't be," Throttle told him.  "Vinnie wasn't and he was the heir at about the same age.  Him and Wrench both.  Wrench was the punk of the family."

"True.  I guess it's all in how they raise him," he admitted.

"The same as it is for your kids," Throttle said gently.  "By the way, you're getting your own apartment in our house.  So you can live with your momma or with us.  Whichever you need and want at the time."  He grinned and nodded, heading into the kitchen.   "Bro, make me a few PB&J please?  Momma is on Switch's pregnancy diet and I about died earlier."

"Sure," he agreed fondly.  He brought out a plate for them and an extra can of rootbeer.  "I'm not sure he ate earlier.  His plate's in the fridge."

"He said he ate something."

"Maybe half of it," Modo said, shaking his head.  "He's worried about something, bro.  You should find out what."  He headed back into the kitchen.

"I know what, we were talking about it earlier.  We're finalizing the plans for the move and he's worried he's forgetting stuff.  Which he kinda did but a question made him work that out within minutes."  He snagged a sandwich with his tail and brought it up so he could hold it, eating it quietly.  Xander was still snoring and he grinned at that.  At least until he got licked by Tara.  "Hey, babe.  You're going to Mars, you know that, right?"  She meowed and cleaned her paws, then smirked at him.  "Fine.  You'll be happy to hunt the creepers I'm sure."  He finished his sandwich then patted her on the head.  "Are you okay?"  She meowed and laid down on his side, getting comfortable.  "Thanks, dear.  We love you guys too.  Remember, Spike's got Angel so you might get to deal with him now and then too.  Or go live with Wrench to chat with Willow if you wanted."  He patted her a few more times then settled in to snuggle.  Since Modo was up for the moment and Tara was watching.

Modo came out and saw the couple snoring, grinning at them.  "I'll watch, Tara.  It'll be fine."  She meowed silently and settled in to nap.  He brought his lady her snack and settled in to watch her eat it.  At least she didn't want hot peppers.


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