Notes: starts around Valentine's day.  Missed that part in the regular stories.

It's Important, I'm Going!

Dawn walked up to Xander in the office, hugging him around the neck.  "Xander?" she asked pitifully.  "Can I have a few minutes?"  He grinned and patted her arm, saving what he was working on.  "You know I'm a senior, right?"

"What are you missing of the traditional senior package?" he asked.

"I've got my yearbook, my class ring is coming in next month."  She hesitated.  "Prom's in late May."

"You'd like to go and want to bring Rimfire," he agreed.  "Sure.  Have you got the details?"

"Yeah, and the dress code," she admitted.  "But I don't have a dress."

"We can fix that."  He grinned at her.  "Going to take Charley?"

"No, I want you and Vinnie, I want to look so hot that he has to pay for a good hotel room that night and we stay there instead of the lock-in."  Xander smirked at that.  "You don't mind?"

"Why would I?  Dawnie, I went with Anya to mine.  It'll be fine."  He patted her on the arm.  "Go get up the Velocity Atrocity and we'll go."  She beamed and went to get Vinnie up from his nap.  He had late patrol last night so he was making up for it now.  She came back with a yawning Vinnie.  "Got an idea which store?"

"Kinda.  There's only six that everyone likes," she said hesitantly.

"Only six?  The girls in Sunnydale went to designers if they could afford to," he snorted.  "The town had three places and a lot of girls ordered.  You could always tell those, they looked like they needed adjustments made."  He saved his latest project again, just in case, then got up and followed her out. "We'll take the car and the bike.   You can rent that night, Dawn."  She hugged his arm.  "Which order?"

She ran into her room, getting a list and bringing it out with the sheet that listed the dress code. "Um, this one," she said, pointing.  "It's the farthest off.  That way we can slowly work our way back."  He nodded, grabbing the camera on his way.  Vinnie was waiting at the bike.  "Thank you, Vinnie."

"I don't understand, but I'm guessing this is something special," he said tolerantly.

"Yeah, it's like a practice run for the wedding," Xander told him.  "One of those events girls remember for most of their lives."  He slid into his seat and Dawn got into hers.  "We need to stop and pick up film."

"That one's in a mall and there's a pharmacy there," she promised, buckling up.  "I'll try not to get something *too* expensive," she offered quietly.

"Like I care," he snorted.  "Nothing over three grand, but I don't care otherwise."  He started the car and headed off, letting Vinnie follow.  It was a pretty day for a ride anyway.  They got to the first mall and he went to get film for the instant camera, then they went inside the store.  He looked around, seeing all the orange and taffeta and shuddered.  "We'll have to take Rimfire to get a tux too," he told Vinnie.  "They're easier."

"It'd have to be," he said, grimacing at one dress.  "Not that one, Dawn."

She shook her head, then shuddered. "No, not that one."  She smiled at the saleswoman coming up, handing over the dress code sheet.  "I want to look movie star beautiful, so hot that even they beg for my autograph."  The woman gave her outfit of Rimfire's loose t-shirt and her baggy jeans a look.  "Sorry, I'm having a slob day," she said dryly.  She walked back to the changing area since it was more private and took off her shirt.  "I don't think being hot's the problem," she said at the stare.  "Please."

"Of course."  She read down the list.  "You are allowed to do strapless?"

"As long as it's not a plunging neckline. I'd want something tasteful and elegant anyway.  My sister went in pink and she could have looked better in my opinion, I am going to look better. I want to look like I came out of a movie."

The woman smiled and went to look through their classical collection, coming back with a few.  "I'm not sure about a wider skirt.  You don't need to, but they are more classic and you could do with something less frumpy I believe."  She let Dawn into a changing room.  "What are you wearing for shoes?"

"Everything comes after the dress," she announced.  "Including the hair."

"You'll have to make an appointment for that," Xander reminded her.  He drug two chairs over with his tail, sitting down.  It was going to be a long wait.  "She does look very nice in most corsets."

"I'll keep that in mind," the saleswoman said, looking at the other dresses.  "Is there a price range?"

"I'd prefer to keep it under three grand, but if it's the perfect one, no."

"Three grand?" Vinnie asked in awe.  "That's enough to buy her a car!"

"We have wedding dresses in here that sell for nearly triple that," the saleswoman told him.  "This is an event to show off at and it can be costly.  The green dress I handed her is a bit over that," she advised, going to look through some of the more modern looks.

Dawn came out in the first and looked at herself, frowning.  She shook her head, looking at Xander, who shook his head and Vinnie, who shuddered.  Clear enough.  She went to try on the next one.


By the sixth store she was getting depressed.  She didn't have anything she liked and that they liked.  They had almost liked one but she thought she looked fat and Vinnie had said she had a small belly pooch so she wasn't going there.  They walked into the last store and she groaned.  "Formals?" she asked.

"In the back, dear," the saleswoman said with a smile.  She was a slightly older woman.  "We don't do many that aren't matronly though."

"It's for my prom and I want to look hotter than lava."

"We'll see what we can find you."  She walked her back to the back room, leading her right to the rack that would fit her.  "If you like something not in your size we could probably alter it for you.  It shouldn't tamper with the design any unless it's heavily beaded."  Dawn nodded, flipping through the rack.  She saw one and held it up.  "You could do this one.  You do seem to have an impressive body under that shirt."

"Maybe, but I tried on something like that earlier and I need to do more situps apparently," she said grimly.  The woman chuckled and handed that one to Xander to hold.  She went to another rack and found a dress there, holding it up.  "That's kinda pretty," she admitted.  It was flashy and gauzy, slowly changing to a lighter color as it went down.

"Nope," Vinnie said.

Xander considered it.  "Maybe in the other direction for the fading."

The saleswoman smiled at Dawn.  "It's not every woman who has two such experienced gay men to help them shop."

"Vinnie's not," she said before Vinnie could complain.  "His woman's back at the garage."

"Oh. Sorry," she said with a small smile for Vinnie.

"That's okay.  I just happen to be a kick-tail clothing helper."  He leaned on a rack, looking at the ones she was looking at.  "I like that pink one," he offered.

Dawn pulled it out to look at it, then held it up against her.  It had a fuller skirt but not too full.  It was satin and was just pale pink, no designs.  The square top was strapless but didn't outline her chest at all.  "I'm not sure."

"You can try it on," Xander reminded her.  Dawn nodded, handing that one to him too.  She found one more in a deep red and went to try them on.  The guys sat down, it was going to be a while.  "When she gets married, I'm dying this dress white," he said quietly to Vinnie, who snickered.  He got a nudge when Dawn came out, shaking his head.  "Not the right shade of red."

"I like the style," Vinnie offered.  "But he's right, you're washed out in that."

She looked at herself.  "Do we have in this style in another color?"

The saleswoman looked at it and shook her head.  "Not really, miss.  We had a few others but they've been bought."  She looked at her.  "It is a bit of the wrong shade.  You need either a bright red or a blood red, like the goth girls wear."

"I'm not going as a goth chick to prom," Dawn told her, smiling at her.  "Not that I can't, but not exactly the image I want to portray."  She went back to change again, then came out in the pink one and everyone shook their heads so she went back immediately.  She came back out in the last one and Xander slowly shook his head, his lips pursed. Vinnie grimaced so she went to change back to her street clothes.  "Thank you anyway," she said politely.  "I guess I've got to look at other spots."

"Not today, sweetheart," Vinnie protested.

"No, not today," she promised, giving him a hug.  "Next weekend Max has to take me to DC for that interview," she offered as they walked out.  "Maybe she'll have a clue."

"Maybe, she has to do the formal thing now and then," Xander agreed, following behind her.  Even if he had to call Max and beg her to help Dawn, he would.  Actually, he decided to do that on the way out to the car, heading to the bathroom.  He pulled out his phone, calling the one he had listed for her, though Lorne answered.  "Lorne, is Max there?  It's a girl thing."  He listened to the report of her being out of town for the week.  "No, it's time to pick a prom gown and she needs help of a girl.  I'm going to go nuts and Vinnie's about to get hives from all the lace and beads.  Please ask her to take Dawn out when she comes up to get her next weekend? Please?  I'll give her my credit card, anything she wants, man, just please?"  Lorne said he was sure she could so he left it there.  "Thanks, man.  I owe you guys big time."  He hung up and headed out to his car after using the bathroom.  Hopefully Dawn would ask her or Max would bring it up.  He'd mail his card to Max later this week.  Just in case she found the perfect dress.


Throttle looked up as Lorne walked up the ramp on Thursday, nodding at him.  "I thought it was Max who was coming."

"She's stuck on assignment."  He looked around.  "Dawn?"

"Room.  She just got back from school.  Dawn!"  She came jogging up the ramp.  "Lorne's here to pick you up.  You packed?"

"Since last night.  No Max?"

He shook his head.  "She's off on assignment and got stuck due to a storm.  So I'm it."  He smirked at her.  "Let's go."  She nodded, running to get her riding jacket and her backpack, following him out to his rental.  Once they were on their way, he glanced at her.  "Any big issues coming your way?"

"Only the prom," she said grimly.  "I was hoping Max could help me find somewhere to browse.  Xander sent me with his card just in case I found something."

"I know a few places," he admitted.  "We have to do the formal thing now and then.  What's your budget?"

"Xan said under three thousand, but if it's perfect as long as it's not as much as a house."

"Then you're not going couture. Some of them are more than a house."

"Yeah, prom's important but not enough to spend half a million or more on a dress," she agreed dryly.  "Xander threatened to bleach whatever I find white for my wedding dress."

He snickered.  "He won't.  I'm pretty sure he won't."  He hit the interstate.  "Next time you'll be able to fly in on your own.  This time Micah said it was too dangerous."

"He told me but not why."

"There's a convention in town that's full of vampires and demons.  It's not making for happiness around the office.  We've lost two agents to their new masters."  She shuddered.  "We had to protect one of them's family.  She was going to turn them so they'd be with her forever."

"That poor family," she sighed.  "I hate it when things like that happen."

"Yeah, so did Micah.  He brought your sister in for a few days to deal with that.  Apparently one of the others was already in there for personal reasons."


"Yup, it was her," he agreed, heading down the airport exit.  "Buffy yelled at her for hours.  She's probably still yelling."  Dawn nodded.  "So we've got to stay careful about you while you're in town."

"I wasn't going to go anywhere outside of that browsing anyway," she promised.  "I don't club unless there's someone there to watch my back.  It's way too dangerous.  Besides, people like to kidnap me."  She looked over at him.  "Do *you* have any idea where I could look?"

He nodded.  "Look in the bag in the back seat.  I got you a few magazines."  She squealed and grabbed them to thumb through.  "Most of them are pretty available but a few are for some specialty shops."

"Cool!"  She wiggled a bit, flipping the pages.  She bent down a few, moving on.  She came to one, staring at it.  She waited until they had parked at the rental agency then held it up for him.  "What do you think of this one?"

He considered it.  "I'd have to see you in it, but not on your body.  That's for someone with a heavier body shape."  She nodded, double folding that one and moving on.  She followed him in, her jacket on and her backpack on her back.  "Are you checking that?"

"Not a chance.  They'll lose it again."

"Fine," he said, shaking his head.  Not that she didn't have a point, he had his luggage lost too.  He checked them in and took her back to the gate, watching as her bag got searched.  "Lighter?"

"Sorry, I was doing a protection and healing rite with someone the last time I used it.  That's why my robe is in there."  She shrugged and walked on with him, still flipping.  "Why is the big skirt look coming back?"

"It's classic ballgown design, it never really leaves," he said patiently.

"Yeah, but you can't fight in it."

He nearly sniffled, it was making him proud that his student was thinking that way.  "Max prefers to have those mermaid style ones."

"I tried one of those on but apparently I need more situps.  I have a belly pooch again."

"You do?"  He looked at her outfit of tight jeans and couldn't see one.  "Where?"  She patted it.  "That's not a belly, Dawn.  Those are muscles."

"In that dress it looked like a belly."  She grinned at him.  "I had Vinnie and Xander with me through six shops."

He nodded.  "Xander told me when he called to ask Max to show you around."  She grinned at that.  "If I can and you have the time, I'll take you to the mall."

"Thanks."  She gave him a hug and they checked in at the gate, sitting down in the chairs. "You'd think someone would design these for comfort," she complained.

"The chairs?  Why?  Then you'd never leave," he said dryly.  "The dresses?  Fashion isn't usually comfortable.  Any rules?"

"No plunging necklines, nothing above mid-calf, nothing that's see-through, nearly see- through, or clear.  Apparently we had a problem with someone in the past.  No duct tape dresses for that competition they hold yearly.  A few years back someone got stuck to a few other girls and it started a brawl.  No weapons masquerading as hair ornaments.  All hair sticks  have to have blunt ends.  No heels over three inches as a safety precaution and for those girls who strip on the side.  The last rule was that if it made a man want to pay you for it, it was not allowed," she finished with a grin.  "The beauties of Catholic school."

"It's still better for you, Dawn."

"Oh, I agree totally.  I've learned a lot this last year.  Including how to pick our locker's locks."  He gave her a look.  "I lost my combo one morning and my friend told me."

"Fine.  Don't use it unless you need to," he said tolerantly.  "We'll be teaching you that before you join."  She beamed at him.  Their flight was called so she gathered up her things and they headed in to their seats.

"Business class, I'm impressed.  I must really be an asset," she teased.

"Yeah, after a few years, Max and I get to quit and leave you holding the bag," he quipped back.  She beamed and nodded, so he chuckled.  "That'll be a while."

"Of course.  It's going to be at least six before I can join.  With a language degree, it's usually at the Masters level.  Unless I get to work on it while I'm working with you guys?" she asked.

He shrugged. "Ask Micah.  He's charting your progress."  He got comfortable, buckling up.  "Do the seatbelt."  She did up her seatbelt and went back to reading.  At least until he groaned and got up.  He looked at the stewardess and then at the guy who had just walked in, mouthing 'he's on the no fly list' to her.  She raised an eyebrow and went to check his ticket, then call the gate.  Lorne sat back down, knowing it was handled by someone else.

Dawn muttered something and handed it over.  "His wallet," she said simply when he stared.  "It's got his fake and his real ID."

Two cops came on and Lorne held it up.  "He dropped it, officers.  Both ID's are in there."  He shared a look with one.

"Are you FBI, sir?"

"Classified," he said simply.  That got a nod and they went to retrieve the man in question.

"Did you know that the first time Xander was in town he had to talk someone out of taking his return plane hostage?" she asked him, grinning at him.  "He hated electronics."

"Wonderful.  Don't try that."

"I wouldn't.  I can't confuse people that way," she agreed, going back to her looking.  She found one that made her squeal and held out the book.  "That one?"

He looked at it, then at her.  Then shrugged.  "You'd still have to try it on but maybe."

She triple folded that page and moved on.  "It's at the same store as the other one."

"Good.  Less traveling that way," he said as the man was led off by the cops.  There was a short wait and then they lifted off.


Xander looked up as Dawn came up the ramp Sunday night, yawning and carrying a large bag.  "You found one?"

"Yup, sure did," she said, handing back his card.  "Let me try it on.  Where's Rimmy?"

"In bed," Throttle told her.  "He's got a dawn patrol around the tower."

She nodded.  "Then I can try it on up here."  She took it into the bathroom and came out in the midnight blue silk dress.  It was form fitting, clinging to her curves, and then fell to a gentle hem that just brushed the floor.  The top was strapless but it was tasteful where it dipped and separated between her breasts.  She was putting her hair up in a quick bun as she walked.

"It's cute," Throttle said, staring at her.  "But it's not real practical, Dawn."

"It's one of those special occasions where you have to be formal," Xander told him.  He looked at it.  "I like it."

"Me too.  I nearly got the black one instead but this one made Lorne pant more."  She smiled and turned around, showing that the back dipped impressively down to the curve of her spine, then turned back around for them to see that part.  "Well?"

"I like it."  He called the garage since Vinnie was over there.  "She found the dress."  He hung up.  Vinnie came jogging over with Charley behind him.  "Well?"

"I *like* it," Vinnie said in awe.  "So much better than what we found."  He walked around her, nodding.  "Very nice, Dawn.  Your hair?"

"I was thinking a bun," she admitted.  "Something classy and decent."

Charley walked in to join them, looking it over.  "Prom?"  Dawn nodded.  "I like that.  It looks good on you, Dawnie."  She beamed at her.  "Where did you find it?"

"In DC.  There's a mall out by the Pentagon and I found it out there in a small shop."  She dug around in her bag, bending down to grab it, which made Vinnie look.  She found the picture and handed it over.  "That was the other choice, but Lorne liked this one better."

Charley looked at the picture, then at her.  "You're right, I like this one better.  That one needs a heavier frame to carry it."  She looked her over.  "Shoes?"

"Found," she said proudly.  "They're in my bag.  They came from the same place."

"How much was it?" Vinnie asked.

"Relatively cheap.  Only eight hundred," she admitted.  Throttle choked on the air.

Vinnie shook his head.  "Bro, that's cheap.  We were looking at things here in town that were around two grand that made her look dumpy or like a kid playing dress up.  This is one of those pre-wedding events that show you to be an adult."

"It's a right of passage.  It's your first formal event and it's to show that you're now a grown up," Charley agreed.  "I have a cousin and hers was nearly four thousand dollars.  That wasn't counting shoes, limo rental, the hotel room that night for her and her boyfriend, or their dinner out at a special place.  Eight hundred from a couture shop is *great*."

"It's technically leftover from last season but it's just so perfect and it's classical," Dawn agreed. "This year's collection was fifteen hundred and up."  Vinnie nodded.  "So?  We like?"

Charley showed him the other picture and Vinnie grinned.  "I do like this one better, Dawn.  Go change before you get fur or something on it."  She went into the bathroom to change back and he looked at Throttle.  "This is like our dance at the end of school."

"So, we've got to get Rimfire a tux?" Throttle asked.  Xander nodded.  "I'll have Modo do that with him," he decided, shaking his head.  "That's still a lot."

"There are some girls who have theirs designed for them," Xander told him.  "Theirs can go up to fifty thousand."

"That's more than her bike for graduation," Throttle pointed out.  Xander nodded. "You're kidding?"  Xander shook his head.  "Then eight hundred is really good," he agreed.  "Wonderful in fact.  I'm impressed."

"All for a single night that you're going to remember for years," Charley agreed. "It's supposed to be the second most important night of a young woman's life, right behind her wedding."

"What was yours like?" Vinnie asked.

"I didn't have a date," she said dryly.  "I didn't go."

He kissed her, pulling her against his body.  "Want to go out this weekend?"

"Vinnie, you don't have to," she complained.

"Hush.  It's my right to do this for you.  We'll go dancing and out to dinner and stuff."  He kissed her again.  "Find yourself something cute."  She smiled and nodded, walking him back to their place for the night.

"Massive style points," Throttle admitted.

"Would have been more if he had surprised her," Xander offered.  Dawn came out with the dress back in the bag.  "Go hang it up.  We'll tell Modo what he'll need to know."  She nodded, going to put the special dress in the back of her closet. "Let's hope there's no weight gain," he sighed.  "It looks perfect at the moment.  Like they already altered it for her."

"No, it didn't look like they had fixed it," Throttle offered.  He looked at him.  "Was the prom that thing where you were in the tux with Anya?"  He nodded.  "Why?"

"Why did I take her?  Because she said so and decided to latch onto me as her human."  He shrugged.  "It's not like I was planning on going anyway.  It's not like I had another option for a date."

"At least you looked okay," he offered, giving him a kiss. "Let's hope Rimfire can live up to her outfit."  Modo came up the stairs a few minutes later while they were kissing.  "Big fella, you need to take Rimfire shopping for a tux for Dawn's prom," Throttle said between kisses.

"Prom?  What's that?"

Xander pulled back to look at him.  "The second most important event in a young woman's social career.  Right after her wedding. She's wearing midnight blue, not shiny but a matte finish, and he'll need to look very classical and handsome to match her."

"Take Vinnie with you.  He's planning on taking Charley girl out for a weekend of specialness since she didn't get to go to hers," Throttle told him.

"Sure.  When is this?"

"May," Xander told him. "Late May."

"You have to plan these things that far in advance?" Throttle asked.  Xander nodded.  "Why?"

"Because you can't find dresses like that the week before," he said wisely.  "Plus time to alter them and time to make other plans, like limo rentals and things.  I'm allowing them to spend the night in a good hotel and to get a limo.  That way she doesn't get dirt on her dress."

"Point," Throttle admitted.  "I can't see some of those girls in her school waiting until the last minute."

"Some will but most have been thinking about this since earlier this year.  Some since last year."  Modo moaned, shaking his head.  "Seriously.  There's some girls who have theirs designed for them.  Dawn did good finding that dress."

"She looks stunning," Throttle agreed.  "I still can't see anyone spending a few thousand on a dress you'll only wear once."

"Wait until her wedding," Xander said dryly.  "They're usually more expensive, mostly white, and have a lot more decoration.  Not to mention the jewelry for that event, the ring, the reception, the hotel room for the getting pretty, the honeymoon, and all of that."  He stole a kiss. "I think the cheapest one I've had to go to or heard talked about was about fifteen thousand, without the honeymoon trip afterwards."

"On Mars, we wear a simple robe, have a simple ceremony, then a night out," Throttle told him.

"Here we have a huge production with a wedding dress and everything, then a reception, which is a dinner and dancing thing, then the couple goes off on a trip for a few days."

"If those two get married beyond the bonding, they're doing it on Mars," Throttle decided.

"We'd still have to have a reception and the big wedding cake," Xander said with a smirk.  "It'd probably feed the whole town, but it'd have to happen."

"Shit," Dawn said as she came up the stairs, looking at her hands.  "Broke a nail," she said at the odd looks.  "The hanger got caught under it."  She held up the bleeding finger.  "See?"  She went into the bathroom to clean it off and get a bandaid.

"That dress is hidden so nothing can get near it, even the cats, right?" Throttle asked.

"Yup, and it's still in the heavy plastic bag. I had a talk with Tara and mom and they're protecting it for me."  She came back, letting Modo put on the bandage.  "Did you want me to take Rimfire tux shopping?"

"No, I'll take him," he promised, patting her on the head.  "You sure you want to go through all this?"

"Prom is important," she said firmly.  "I'm going!"

"Fine," he said, backing away from the subject.  He might not understand, but Dawn in a snit was a very bad thing.  "When is it?"

"I'll give you the sheet," she promised, giving him a hug.  "Thank you, Modo."  She went back down to her room to get to her homework.  She had put it off until tonight and she did have to hand it in tomorrow.  Plus Micah had assigned another paper to her. She went to get the books for that, bringing them back to her room.  Demons were better than calculus any day.


Modo walked his nephew into the tux shop he had used once, his hand on his back to force him with Vinnie right behind them.  A salesman smiled at them.  "His girl's got a prom coming up.  She said to tell you she's wearing midnight blue, she wants him in something classic, and he's not to have anything like a colored bowtie.  She said he has to look better than James Bomb does."

Vinnie snickered. "She's fairly demanding.  She's wearing a darker midnight blue silk, not shiny."

The salesman nodded.  "I can see that.  Is that the only one?"

"No, I need one for this weekend.  Since my girl didn't get to go to hers, we're going to recreate it.  I need to look even more studly than I already do."

"I don't need anything, I'm just pulling escort duty," Modo offered.

The salesman smiled at them.  "Right this way, sirs.  I think I have something for each of you."  He found one and looked at Vinnie, then put it back and pulled out a bigger size.  "Here, try that one on," he said calmly.  "Did she want her young man in a colored tuxedo?  I do have a very nice midnight blue one."

"She said nothing colored," Modo told him.  He shrugged.  "I don't understand this prom stuff.  My school didn't have one."

"Really?  It's usually seen as a right of passage to mark the change to adult status," the salesman told him.  He found two somethings for Rimfire and handed them over.  "Try those on, young man."  Rimfire went to the other changing room and the salesman went to check on Vinnie.  "Are you all right, sir?"

"Yeah, fine," he said, coming out.  He looked at himself in the mirror, nodding.  "I like it, but it's a bit baggy."  The salesman went to find him something else, handing it over.  By then, Rimfire was out and looking at himself.  Vinnie peeked out.  "I like that."

"Try the other one on," the salesman told him.  "We can do better."  Rimfire shrugged and went to do that.  "You're all built very impressively."  He shooed Vinnie back in there to change, smiling as he came out.  "Yes, that's perfect," he decided, making him look at himself from the front.  "We can fix that tail spot for you," he promised.

"I look studly," he decided. "It definitely befits the baddest mammajammer in the six closest galaxies."

"Vinnie," Modo moaned.  "Must you?"

"Oh, hush," he chided.  "It's something special for Charley girl."

"Yeah, but we're in public, bro."

"So?"  He turned to look at his backside again.  It would look much better when his tail hole was done.  "Fine, I'll take this one.  How much?"

"We charge fifty dollars a night rental."

"That's cheap compared to her dress."

"It usually is," the salesman agreed, smiling at him.  Rimfire came out and he smiled.  "That's the one," he decided.

Modo looked at his nephew.  He did look very grownup.  He was fidgeting but so had he when he'd worn one once.  "You look good," he said.

"Good?  He looks nearly as studly as I am," Vinnie said with a grin for the young mouse.  "Hot stuff, Rimfire."

He looked at himself, raising an eyebrow.  "I look odd in this," he decided.

"Unfortunately it is one of those things that comes with the most special events," the salesman told him.  "At least we men have it easier than women do.  They have an endless round of trying on until they find the right one."

"Don't remind me.  Six shops and she found hers in DC," Vinnie said dryly.  "I never want to see another piece of hanging taffeta again."

"Hey, Vinnie, where are you taking Charley this weekend?" Rimfire asked.

"Out to a special dinner and then to a formal club for some dancing," he admitted.  "Then a romantic night at a hotel."  He flattened his lapels.  "They won't stay down."

"We can fix that as well, sir," the salesman promised, going to get someone to do the temporary alterations for them.  Fortunately tail holes would be on the seamline.


Dawn pounced Charley when she came back dressless.  "Couldn't find anything?"  She shook her head with a grimace.  "Come on."  She led her out to Xander's car, getting in to drive her where she had looked.  There had been one dress that would look great on her if it was still there.  She walked her into the third store they had visited, it was more of a free- thinking store and had less uptight people in it.  Except for the mother and daughter team looking at dresses.  She presented Charley to the saleswoman who had helped her.  "They're creating her very own prom since she didn't go to hers and her boyfriend said so.  She needs to look hot and stunning.  I tried on something that I *think* will be great for her.  Remember that jade dress?"  The woman beamed and went to get it from the rack, taking Charley into the changing area to let her try it on.

Charley came out.  "I can't zip it up."

Dawn came over to zip her into it, letting her look in the mirror.  She could see the hesitant look and did Charley's hair up for her, making her smile.  "I like.  You?" she asked the saleswoman.

"I do like it," she agreed.  "It suits her figure and her level of muscles."  She walked around her, nodding.  "Could use a bit of fitting in the chest.  The halter straps appear to be too long.  She'll need a special bra as well."  She nodded.  "I do like it.  You, miss?" she asked.

"I feel like I'm playing dress up."

"That's about half the point of prom," Dawn said dryly.  "So do I in mine."  She looked at the saleswoman. "I found mine in DC at the mall out by the Pentagon.  It's like a second skin."

"Congratulations," she said happily.  "Green?"

"Midnight blue."

"Well.  That must be very pretty," she agreed.  "You looked quite good in most of ours, but you could tell it wasn't perfect for you."

"It was a steal, only eight hundred," Dawn told her.  "Silk too."

"Then I'm highly impressed," the saleswoman agreed.  "Do you have the name?"  Dawn handed over the card she had carried so the woman could copy it down.  They always needed good suppliers.  She handed the card back.  "She'll take this one?  I can get the alterations done today."

"Please," Dawn agreed, handing over the card Xander had given her, hers.  Charley gave her a look.  "We're aiding and abetting Vinnie this weekend, might as well get used to it.  We're going bra and shoe shopping next."  She took the card back and signed the slip.  "Okay, fit it to her.  She's got to look perfect.  Vinnie's studly too."

"Of course.  Let me get our alterations girl."  She went to get her from her break.  It wouldn't take much, just shortening the straps around the woman's neck. Maybe thinning them out too since they were so thick.

The alterations woman came out and looked at it, pinning it in at the waist before she did anything else.  "I can do three things.  I can shorten the straps, which will leave them being wide.  I can roll them in and shorten them, which shouldn't look odd, or I can replace them with the velvet cords," she said, holding up a set.  "They'll be along the same lines as the current halter."

"I like those," Dawn admitted.  "Maybe chains?"  A set of those was held up but Charley shook her head.  "Sorry, it's that S&M part of me," she said with a grin.  "You'd look hot in my leather and chains outfit."

"I'll borrow it for this weekend," she said dryly.  "Since Xander confiscated it until you're eighty."

"It's not my fault I have such an impressive chest," Dawn quipped, grinning at her, then at the alterations woman.  "How soon?"

"If I replace them?  Tonight.  I can take off one of the straps right now so you can take it shoe shopping."

"Please."  She took Charley into the back to do that and to fit the velvet cords to the dress.  Then she drug Charley out of the shop once she was redressed.

The mother and daughter looked at her.  "I want something that makes my daughter look like that," she announced.

The saleswoman looked at the slightly lumpy girl and mentally sighed.  "How about something Elizabethan?" she asked, leading her to the empire-waisted dresses. It was the kindest thing she could do for the girl.

"I'm on a diet," the girl offered.

The saleswoman licked her lips and pressed on the girl's stomach, getting kicked.  "When are you due, dear?" she asked kindly.

"You're what?" the mother asked.  "How far?"

"I felt a kick," the saleswoman told her.  "By prom, she could have slimmed down again.  As long as she delivers by the first week of the month, she can shop then," she offered.  "We can do fast alterations."

"I think that'd be better," the mother agreed.  "Her chest will be growing too."  She grabbed her daughter by the wrist and walked her out, calling her doctor on the way.  They'd be checking into this before they made any more plans for the prom.


Vinnie let Modo fuss with his bowtie while they waited for Charley to come down from her room.  He was the first to catch sight of her, shivering.  "Ooooh, sweetheart," he moaned, walking over to take her arm and give her a quick kiss on the cheek.  "You look hot.  Much nicer than Dawn did in that."  He kissed her again, not minding the taste of lipstick.  "We've got to book.  The limo's waiting."


"You can't ride my darlin' in that," he said with a teasing grin.  "She's agreed to let Xander borrow her for the weekend so he'll spoil her rotten."  They waited while Throttle took pictures like the dad he could be, then he walked her out.  The driver got out to open the door and he helped her inside, using manners Modo's momma would have been proud of.  He tipped the driver with a wink.  "To the restaurant," he ordered before sliding in next to her.  He opened the champagne and poured out her glass, handing it to her.  "I'm told this is traditional," he said with a shy grin.  She grinned back and took a sip, then looked at it.  "They said it was the good stuff."

"This is really good stuff," she said in awe, kissing him.  "Thank you."

"Anything for you."  He stole a sip, then grimaced.  "Rootbeer's still better, but I'm all for special stuff tonight."  He sat back and cradled her against his side, letting her sip her champagne.  It was going to be a long ride.  They were going near to where Throttle and Xander had went their first weekend away for dinner, then they were spending the rest of the time at that same resort.  He had a silent hope that she'd turn furry too but he wasn't doing more than hoping.  She wouldn't be quite as special if she were a mouse. He topped off her glass.  "It's going to be a bit, we're going out of the city for the weekend," he said in her ear, making her shiver.

"I wondered why we were leaving so early for dinner.  It's barely two," she said with a small smile.  "Where are we going?"

"It's a surprise," he said with a smile.  "You've got a bag in the trunk."  He popped up the tv and put in a dvd, smiling at her.  "Something to stare at beside me."

"You're not turning it to the ballgame?"

"No.  You're more special than a ballgame. Besides, I'll get all the highlights from the bros."  He kissed her again.  "Go ahead and watch, sweetheart."  She curled against his side, watching the movie start.  It was one of her favorites and she smiled up at him.  "I like Die Hard."  He shrugged.  "Shoot me."  She chuckled and took his hand to hold and squeeze.


Marshall "Junior" Limburger looked at his people in disgust.  "I want those pulchritude posse of pleased puss to be wiped off the earth," he said grimly, running a hand over his mask.  He tossed down the newspaper special on proms and looked at Karbunkle and Greasepit.  "There's no reason for them to be so...happy," he finished with a shudder. "They're spending millions of dollars on this...prom thing and it's taking away from what's really important.  How can I take over the world when all those *happy* people are focusing on a *dress* and *shoes*," he sneered.  "Even if I were to stomp them flat with a stench cruiser, they'd only complain about their dresses."  He shuddered.  "I need a way to stop this prom disease.  It's not right."

"If I may, your melted cheesiness," Karbunkle wheezed.  "We could do something to the dresses."

"In the paper was a story about how a mother saved her daughter's dress over her younger daughter when robbed," he sneered. "I can't think of any villain who's tougher than an enraged mother."  He ran a hand over his mask's face again, then looked out his window.  "I don't like this.  We need to subvert this trend.  This must be the last generation for such happy-making events.  But how?"

"Those mousies have that one in school," Greasepit, stupid henchman for hire, stated.  "We should kidnap her and make her tell us what this is for.  I never had one of those in sixth grade."

"I'm not from this planet and my home didn't have these either," Karbunkle admitted.  "We could create something that would eat taffeta. It's a nauseating fabric anyway, your cream cheesiness," he offered.

"No, that's only a small portion of the problem," Junior stated, glaring out his window as a limo went by.  "What we need is to create a story that scares mothers into stopping this trend.  Mothers are always more worried about their children's health than fathers are.  We need to make an example of one of them.  They lose valuable slaves...children each and every year and it still goes on.  We need to make it horrific and evil."  He suddenly hit on an idea.  "Those runty-tailed, ruinous rodents, don't they have a minor in their possession?  Wouldn't she about the proper age?"

"Yes," Karbunkle said.  "She's said to be due to graduate this year from what we've found out," he offered, sounding confused. "Do you wish me to call someone to kidnap her and bring her back here for some fun torture, your sliciness?"

"That would bring them to our doorstep," Junior said grimly.  "I don't want their attention yet."  He considered it.  "Can we do it ourselves and not draw attention to us?"

"Duh, I could drive the limo," Greasepit offered.  "I drove your daddy everywhere once in a while."

"Hmm.  That may be what we need," he agreed.  "Then you can torture her, doctor."  He looked back at them.  "Find out when it is and if she's made any plans.  It won't do us any good at all if she's riding behind her *boyfriend*," he sneered the last word.  "Those wretchedly cute creatures annoy me."

"Your hard to sliceness, have you been watching PBS again?" Karbunkle asked.

Marshall reached over and hit a button on his desk, which made a weight drop down and hit Karbunkle on the head. "Keep your opinions to yourself, doctor," he warned.  "You're not the only demented scientist around these days.  You failed my father too many times for me to give you carte blanche."  He went back to his city watching, planning his next block to conquer.  He had to do it very quietly, unlike his father, but he was making some progress.  The High Chairman was very pleased with him.  He could learn from his father's mistakes.


Dawn looked up as her boyfriend came up the ramp on their fateful night.  She smiled at how good he looked, if he weren't drooling, and walked over to wipe it off for him.  "You look very handsome," she purred, kissing him gently.

"Cheese, Dawn," he gasped on awe.  "You're...."  He looked her over, unable to find a word.  "Wow."  She smiled at him and Throttle took their pictures before she walked him out to their Bentley limo for the night.  Xander stopped to give her a hug and then she was handed in by her gentlemanly lover.  He slid in next to her and she smiled.  "Where did you and Xander decide we're eating?"

"There's a nice place out by the lake," he said, picking up her hand to kiss the back of it.  "Go ahead," he told the driver.  The car was started and they drove off.

Dawn looked from Rimfire to the driver, then back at him and smiled sweetly.  Then she pulled the blaster out of her garter and coughed politely, holding it in plain sight.  "I would pull over at the company, Greasepit.  Before I blow your brains out.  The laser will go through the glass between us, but it won't shatter so your brains won't splatter us and ruin my dress."

"Mr. Limburger said," he started.

"Do I care?" she asked coldly.  "Drive us to the company, now."  He glanced back and she fired a warning shot.  It got him in the shoulder.  "I am a *very* good shot.  Vinnie made sure of it."

"Dawn, may I?" Rimfire asked casually.  He took the gun.  "You shouldn't have to deal with that."

"I may be a female, Rimfire, but I'm not going to the one who waits at home like Charley does on occasion.  Not now and not when I go to work at ECHO."

He nodded.  "I know.  You shouldn't have to deal with the blowback tonight.  Neither of us need the residue on our clothes."  The limo stopped and Greasepit got out, and he followed him, kicking him into the shop.  "I don't believe this was our driver," he said casually, putting up the gun.  "He demanded things from us and said he was kidnaping us.  Do you have another driver and is our original one all right?"

The man behind the desk nodded.  "Sure, kid.  You and your date all right?"  He nodded, smiling at him.  "That's fine, let me get one of our bodyguard-trained ones.  Nice piece by the way."

"One of her fathers handed it to her I think."  He went back to the limo.  "Who gave you the blaster?"

"Vinnie.  He said I was hot enough to need protection beyond your big, strong muscles."  She kissed him and he smiled back.  They were interrupted by a new driver coming out. "He was nasty and dirty.  You may want to put something down."

"Sure thing, miss," the man said with a British accent.  He went to get a seat cover then came back and put it over the puddle of oil, getting in to drive.  "Where to?"

She looked at Rimfire.  "El Carte," he said quietly.  "Thank you."

"Not a problem, kid."  He started the car and backed out slowly, heading for the lake.  "This must be your prom?"  Dawn nodded.  "You both look quite nice."

"Thank you," she said with a smile, which got turned onto Rimfire as she leaned into his arm again.  "El Carte?  We're going to a steak place?"

"No woman of mine will ever need to pretend to starve on that fancy, miniscule food," he said firmly.  "You can eat like a real woman, like my grandmomma."  She kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks, Dawnie."

"Welcome, Rimmy."  She snuggled in better, watching the scenery.


Limburger heard the announcement of Greasepit's arrest and groaned.  "Karbunkle, I need that backup plan!" he shouted as he departed to the lab. Those in-office elevators were very handy.  "Where is he?"

"He's being stubborn," he said grimly.  Suddenly a green skinned alien with a futuristic guitar came through the beam, growling at them.

"How many times do I have to point out I don't work for Plutarkians," he sneered, his accent more British than the driver's.  "I don't work for you, not any of you."

"My dear Hard Rock, we don't want you to work for us," Junior said smoothly.  "I want to give you a chance to spread your fame to this planet."  The alien rocker snorted in derision.  "Truth, my dear boy.  There's a high school here who could use an act tonight for a few hours and of course I thought of you."

"A high school?" he asked coldly.  "With my millions of fans, why would I want to play a bloody high school?"

"Because the adoptive daughter of one of those *mice* you like so much is having a special ritual dance tonight," he said calmly.  "I'm sure she and her boyfriend, who is also a mouse, would appreciate that."

"What's in it for me?  Or better yet, for you?" he sneered. He knew there had to be a plan and at the least he could help foil it if it called for him to destroy something.

"For you, you get more fans," Limburger said calmly. "For me?  I get the joy of them being bothered all night.  I wish to have a quiet night without destruction for a change."

"We'll see.  Usually things like that require special music and are booked in advance."

"Yes, well, their actual group had a small accident in town," he admitted casually.  "Something about their bus overturning and their drummer getting a broken arm."  Hard Rock winced at that; it was a horrible fate for any musician.  "You see, it benefits all parties involved."  He smiled.  "I can give you directions right now if you'd like."

"I still smell a rat," he said coldly.

"Perhaps one of those mice is in here again," Karbunkle said with distaste. "You'll have to hurry, the dance starts in an hour."

"Fine, but I'm not signing any bloody contract and you're not gettin' no royalties," he sneered, getting into his car.  "Directions?"  They were handed over.  "Thank you."  He jumped his special car out of the window, letting the jets cool his descent to the street.  "A bunch of high school kids," he said with a shake of his head.  "My fans would laugh."


Dawn was handed out by the driver, earning a small smile and a tip from Rimfire, who took her arm like a gentleman on the way into the school.  Dawn smiled at the teachers, nodding at them regally.  She heard a cheering section and blushed.  Xander and the others were there to hoot and holler for them.  She curtsied to the headmistress at the top of the stairs.  "Evening, ma'am."

"Good evening, Headmistress," Rimfire agreed with a smile.  "May we enter?"

She looked them over.  "You look positively exquisite, Dawn, and Rimfire you look quite handsome.  Go ahead inside.  The special act is starting up."  She let them inside, into the student's walkway.  The yearbook people were there to take pictures for next year's book and the newspaper.

Rimfire walked Dawn inside after paying for their tickets, pausing when he saw what was up on the stage setting up.  A green skinned alien with greasy orange hair and a very pointed chin.  He'd seen the pictures of him destroying part of Mars.  "Hmm, a two-part assault," he said quietly, walking her that way.  "Hard Rock," he said calmly.  "What brings you to Earth?"

The alien flinched and looked at him.  The mouse was clearly Martian and looked like he could take him, but the girl looked like one of those culturally fashionable young women who were just a bit softer than the average Freedom Fighter would normally date.  "I'm playing the dance so Limburger has a quiet night," he admitted.  "I've reformed, kid.  You can ask the others if they're still around."

"He has a name," Dawn said coolly.  "As do I, and a title with the local bureau for...immigration like yours," she said quietly.

"I'm not here to harm any," he promised.  "You can ask those others if you want."

"Easily enough done," Dawn agreed, opening her purse.  She pulled out her cellphone but someone caught her hand.

"You know the rules, no cellphones at dances," the headmistress chided.

"But," Dawn said, pointing at the alien on the stage.  "I need to check."

"One of your uncles is chaperoning," she chided quietly.  "Put it away and I'll bring him in earlier than he wanted.  He was going to wait so he didn't embarrass you."  She walked out, going to get Vinnie and Charley, who came back in dressed like they were going to the prom themselves.  "Dawn wanted your opinion on our performer tonight," she said gently.  "She thought there might be some conflict coming."

Vinnie looked in the gym, then at her.  "He's reformed but I don't totally trust him."  He walked in there, going up to the stage's edge.  "What are you doing here?"

"Getting back to my roots and increasing my fan base," he said dryly.  "I got summoned.  Certain people said they wanted a quiet night in."

Vinnie smirked.  "No destruction, right?"

"Not a thought of it," he admitted. "I was told this was some sort of ritual that said you were an adult.  I've got two twenty-minute sets and then I'm off again for a concert on Genesis Four.  My girl Darla's there waiting on me."

"It is, kinda," Dawn admitted.  "We'll explain it to you later."  She looked at Vinnie.  "Worry or not worrying?"

"Not worrying about him," he said with a wink. "Let us do that and enjoy tonight."  He kissed her on the cheek and walked out, taking Charley with him to where the others were chatting under the trees.  "Guys, Hard Rock is playing the prom," he said dryly, smirking at Throttle.

"Really?" Throttle asked, smirking back.  "Interesting.  Why?"

"Limburger said he wanted a quiet night in."

"I'm sure we can help him have the quietest night of all," Xander said smoothly.  "Shall we dance, love?"

"You sound like Spike when you say that," Throttle taunted, smirking at him.  "Let's head."

"That is *SO* unfair," one girl shouted.  "My father wouldn't rent me the Bentley limo, he said it was too much at a grand an hour!  Who *dared* get better than me?"

Dawn came to the door.  "Why, gee, Tiffany, Xander did.  He said he wanted my night to be perfect."  She smirked at her.  "That's what we who are worth more than you in every meaning of the word do for our children."  She walked Rimfire back inside once she heard the bikes take off.  "Sweet.  They're going to go blow up the tower I guess."

"Yes, but we'll have the more interesting night.  Rocking n' riding is great, but I'd prefer to rock the night away with you."  He stole a quick kiss, all they were allowed on school property and went back to dance to the DJ filling in. Rimfire noticed Hard Rock watching them and smirked at him, putting a possessive hand on Dawn's lower back.  He heard a cough and looked at the Headmistress.  "It's not her tail."

"It's not and I'm impressed," she admitted.  "Dawn, we'd like for you to pose for some photos, would you mind?"

"Not in the least," she agreed happily, walking Rimfire off to pose with him.   She was liking being the center of attention, she'd have to do stuff more often.  They went back to dancing and everyone was having a good time.  Then the first set came on and Hard Rock did some loud things and some softer stuff, but it flowed very well and he got some great applause.  The DJ came back on and they danced some more.  They were breaking to announce the queen and king when the goons broke in with their blasters firing.  Dawn looked at Rimfire, who sighed and nodded. A few of the students were protesting, claiming their parents could pay a ransom if they weren't killed.  Almost everyone else was just standing there like statues.  Dawn led the way through the crowd, checking her hair to make sure it was going to stay still. She found one pin coming out and pushed it back in, then one of the goons caught sight of her and sneered. "You want me, you come get me," she said smartly.  "Your choice.  Hunt or be hunted, darling?" she asked dryly.  The man lunged at her and she kicked him, then took his gun and hit him with it.  She shot the next two so they couldn't get blood on her dress, and Rimfire took out two more with well-timed punches.  They turned look at the last one.  He was cowering and babbling, shaking his head.

"I call him," Rimfire offered.  "He looks like a bleeder, Dawn."

"Then the easiest thing to do would be to shoot him," she noted, shrugging.  "I'm sure Bethany and her friend there could move."  They moved very quickly out of the way of anything messy.  Dawn balanced her weapon in one hand.  "I can take him, Rimfire."

"Yeah, but you've already gotten three, I only got two.  It's only fair."

A wail of guitar cut across the crowd, knocking that guy into a wall.  The wall cracked but held.  "You two kids were scaring him," Hard Rock said dryly.  "It's always better to do than to warn."  He put his guitar back over his shoulder.  "Nice work however. You didn't look that tough."

"Almost everyone underestimates me because I wear cute clothes," she said with a shrug.  She put the safety on the blaster and tossed it to the headmistress. "I believe we were dancing," she said, offering Rimfire her hand.

He looked at her hair and pushed in a pin.  "What did he use to hold that up?"

"I told him I didn't want it to move even if there was a hurricane that suddenly blew through here.  I did say not to use too much hairspray because I didn't want a helmet and I expected you to run your fingers through it after you help me take it down, but he pinned it death."  She moved back into his arms, dancing slowly, grinning at him.  "Not too bad."

"No, not too bad," he agreed, stealing a kiss. "No messiness to ruin the dress."  He stole another one with a wink for her.  "How much longer?  You know how you being so tough turns me on."

"Me breathing turns you on, Rimfire," she said dryly, smirking at him. "Music, people," she called, reminding the DJ he was supposed to be working.  He turned on a new song, polluting the air with rap music.  "Um, not what I'd call prom music," she said dryly.  Rimfire chuckled and gave her another kiss then a squeeze.

"Miss Summers, Rimfire, hands!" the headmistress snapped.  He moved his hands and she took hers out of his jacket.  "Thank you."  She glared at the DJ and he changed the song.  "Much better.  Please, children, get back to the spirit of the evening.  I'll have someone come clean up this mess."  The students slowly moved back onto the dance floor, some of them giving Dawn some very odd looks now instead of the admiring ones for her outfit.  The headmistress walked up to where Hard Rock was watching the couple and frowned at him.  "Friends of her adoptive family?"

"Kinda.  Wasn't my intention to be here tonight either, but I got sucked into it and I don't like the person who hired those goons.  Limburger is not nice."  She nodded.  "You've heard about him?"

"Every few days Dawn comes in and complains about him."  She looked over at Dawn.  "She is very well trained."

"She is.  You can tell the other mice took her lessons into hand."  She looked stunned.  "What did you think Rimfire was, ma'am?"

"I thought he was a bunny," she admitted.  "Though I suppose the tail would give it away."  She shook her head. "After the crowning, they'll have their dance, then we'll do your second set," she told him.  "Hopefully nothing else goes wrong tonight."  She went to retrieve the votes for Prom King and Queen, bringing back the official envelope.  She nodded at the DJ to stop after that song and took the stage, smiling pleasantly at everyone.  "Well, let's get on with the night's traditions," she said gently.  "I have in my hand the winner of King and Queen.  Would those who ran step forward so you don't have to push past people?"  The girls who were in the running stepped forward with their dates, and a single boy stepped forward too.  "Thank you."  She opened the envelope, looking at the tally, and smirked.  "We have the vote counted twice and it looks like we have Tiffany Therlson and Mark Kingston as our new Queen and King."  Everyone clapped politely as the trendy girl and the single boy walked up onto the stage, clearly not liking each other.  The headmistress lifted the crown to crown the king when the doors burst open and a few more goons walked in.

"Sorry we're late, but we had to stop and get gas."

"So, how was the Mexican food?" Dawn asked sarcastically.

"Oh, it was good and waiting on me when they broke me out, but that's not why we're here."  He smirked at her.  "I'm here to pick you up."

"Um, sorry, I'm dating someone and I never pick up strange men in bars, especially not greasy, nasty ones like you."  She looked up at Rimfire.  "Outside?"

"Yeah, we probably should.  I'll take Greasepit so you don't have to get dirty."  She smiled and kissed him on the cheek and he waved at the Headmistress.  "We'll be on the side lawn probably," he noted as they ran out, heading for the doorway with most of the goons looking too startled to do more than get out of their way.  Greasepit tried to grab him but he missed completely and Rimfire managed to get away with only a few dots of oil on him.  They made it to the side lawn, which had some dim lighting and some areas of shadow that would work in their benefit, and turned to let the goons attack.  It was only fair to let the lesser beings have the first move after all.  Greasepit advanced on them and Rimfire stepped in front of Dawn to take him instead, leaving her the others.  He had faith in her skills.  She wasn't the best, yet, but she knew how to whip tail pleasingly.  Greasepit laughed and lunged at him, so Rimfire caught his foot with his tail and yanked, sending him onto the ground and sliding off past them.  He turned to get the next goon in line, taking two of them from Dawn and clapping their heads together.  "More coming," he offered.

"Wonderful.  Just what we needed!  You know, if I'm too sore, we're only going to be bathing tonight."

"That's fine, any time spent with you is a wonderful omen of future bliss," he offered.

"Real smooth, mousie, your uncle teach you that?" Greasepit sneered as he returned.  "Get them!"

"Come and get it," Rimfire offered coldly.

"If you think you can," Dawn finished, sneering at him. "What's the matter, did you want the crown?" she said in her most baby-voice, condescending manner.  "We can put you into a dress and crown you something if you want."

"Dawn, I love you, but that's a nightmare image," Rimfire said patiently.  "A villain drag show is not what I want stuck in my head."

"Then, honey, consider what happened last week," she said smugly.

"Hmm, much nicer image," he agreed happily, nearly purring again.  He jumped Greasepit, making him sorry for daring to show up.  Dawn kicked the last goon in the chest, and that was all of them.  He took out his handkerchief and cleaned off the spots as they walked back into the building.  "Did I miss any?"

"One or two on your back," she offered, getting them for him.  "How's my hair?"

"Perfect, just like you," he said, stealing a long, slow kiss.  He heard a cough and looked at the former villain standing there.  "They're asleep," he said, walking her past him with an arm on her back.  "Just a smudge of dirt, babe," he said, using a clean spot on his cloth to wipe at it for her.  "There you go."

"Thanks.  Later, dude."  She waved back at him and walked back inside.  "They're unconscious," she told the Headmistress.  "On the side lawn."

"Thank you, Miss Summers, Rimfire."  She smiled at them.  "You know, had we been voting after the first attack, you probably would have won."

"Yeah, but I don't need a crown.  I'm his queen," she aid with a nod for Rimfire.  "He'd get really jealous if someone else had to dance with me."  Rimfire nodded, giving her a hard squeeze, which made her moan.  "How much longer?"

She considered it.  The rules stated students could not leave the dance without a parent picking them up, or parental permission to leave when the dance was done.  There were still about two hours left.  "Go ahead. Xander sent in your permission slip."  She smiled and danced with Rimfire for one last song, then they left together.

The limo driver smiled at them as they walked out.  "The Hilton," Rimfire said, grinning at him.

"That was nice work, kids," the driver offered.

"Thanks, we're still in training but we're much better than most people think," Dawn agreed with a shy smile.  She took Rimfire's hand, giving it a kiss.  "Thank you, Rimmy."

"For what, babe?"  He kissed her gently, making her lean closer to him.  "For having your back?  That's what I do."  She smirked and pinched him, getting a hiss.  "For taking on Greasepit?"

She shook her head.  "For not protesting leaving early."

"It's your special night.  If you wanted to leave early then that's up to you," he said practically.  "I'm a patient man, I could have waited."  He grinned at her.  "I just woulda groped a few more times."  She giggled and kissed him again and they were off to their hotel suite for the night.


Limburger glared at his failed, bandaged, broken, and limping henchmen.  "I suppose we'll have to try again next year to stop this vile excuse for happiness and overspending."  He sighed and shook his head.  "How could two *children* defeat all of you?"

Karbunkle looked out the window, then at him.  "I'd say it was because one was a mouse, your gooey string of cheesiness, but I believe the others are here to have a word with you."

Limburger groaned.  "Go defeat those meddlesome mindless morons and then come back here for your punishment."  The goons hurried out as best they could.  Limburger had learned his lesson however, he was already heading for his escape hatch.  He didn't want to be around when they destroyed the tower.

It was what always happened, but he could learn this lesson from his father as well.


Rimfire walked out onto their balcony with the room's phone, whistling over it when his uncle held the phone out.  "The usual place, girl," he offered.  His bike started and he hung up, going back to help her into her clothes.  They had sent a small bag ahead for this morning and their formal gear was safely in their bags too. He checked the room, handing her one of her hairpins on the way past the dresser, and walked her down the stairs to his bike.  It pulled up a few minutes after they got there and he climbed on, letting her scrunch her dress between them.  They'd be dropping it off at a dry cleaner's to be cleaned and pressed, then preserved.  His tux could get handed back on the way home.  Then they could go for a ride once they faxed in their report on last night's problems.   He felt her arm go around his waist and took off, heading for their first stop, smiling because everyone who saw them was grinning at them because they were so cute.


In DC, Micah looked up as a report hit his desk, looking at the pictures embedded in it.  "What's this?  Dawn did a trouble report on her prom?"  He sat back to read it, eyebrows going up at the description of what had happened.  It was very detailed and thorough, including the inter-girl sniping and what she had for dinner, and how many goons they'd had each fight.  At the end was a simple phrase.  "It was a lovely evening and we had fun most of it.  The end," he read.  "I've got to tell her how to write a real report," he complained, going to hand it to Lorne since it was his trainee.

"What's that?" Lorne asked, busy typing into his computer.

"Report from Dawn.  Teach her the formal style."

Lorne looked at the picture.  "At the prom?"

"At the prom," Micah sighed. "Tell her reports don't end like a fairytale even if the night did."   He walked off, heading back to his desk.

"Well, she said she wanted to be a princess," Lorne said dryly, taking it to read.

The End.

To Part 23

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