Vinnie drug Xander up the ramp and presented him to his spouse.  "One white mouse, fully unbored and scared of women."

"Why?" Modo asked from his usual seat.  He opened his eye and looked at Xander.  "You're also a wet mouse."

"We hit the water park last and I didn't quite dry off on the ride home," Xander said sheepishly.

"You've been wet for over an hour?  How?"  Throttle asked.

"It's raining," Vinnie told him.  "Or at least it was up there.  He was doing a happy dance for the rain when the women decided to come up and bring him home with them because he *obviously* needed them.  Dawn and Rimfire were behind us but they were stopping to get themselves some dinner from Chef Andy.  We agreed they could hide in her room tonight and watch tv."

"She has a tv in her room?" Modo asked.

"She took the smaller one out of the library," Xander admitted.  "They've been watching movies."  He wandered into the bathroom, coming out with a towel and wearing less clothes. "I needed that."

"You did, but everyone on the face of the planet now thinks I'm a very tolerant and nice lover who let you drag me to the park," Vinnie said dryly.   "We weren't even together and they thought that," he said with a smirk for Throttle.  "Those three were on a ride already when I got there because I had to stop for gas.  I walked up to show my pass and the ticket girl asked if I was joining my spouse.  Then the ride operators all asked if we were together and a lot of women there cooed at us being together."

"It was like gay day at Six Flags, but not," Xander admitted as he sat down next to Throttle, curling up against his side. "We only got sneered at by one guy and he didn't like us because he thought we were odd.  He hated Rimfire more though.  He didn't like people not like him."

"Hmm.  He figure out you were fuzzy?" Modo asked with a small grin.

"Yup, sure did, and he hoped that any non-human comic book characters failed as well, even Superman.  If they're not human he wasn't interested and he told us so.  His son just gave this little sigh and the traditional 'dad, must you' before dragging him off and promising to check out Meg's comic book."

"Even his wife got tired of him and took the kids off to have fun without him, leaving him standing there miserably watching his family leave him.  Which he blamed on us too."

"The security guys were kinda cool about it too when the kids told them what had happened."

Vinnie nodded.  "They were."  They both grinned at Throttle.  "They also said that if we're not together, he's wondering how you leave us alone."

"I trust you both," Throttle reminded him dryly.

Xander burst out in giggles, hugging him.  "That's what I told him, he said you must either want Vinnie too or you like to watch us together."  He gave him a kiss on the cheek.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome.  Did you wipe your bike down?"  He nodded.  "How?"

"My shirt before I came up."

"Fine."  He gave him a gentle kiss.  "Behave, please?"

"I am."  He grinned at Modo.  "So, we get to take Staff for her first trip this weekend, right?"  Modo nodded.  "Good!"  He bounced a bit.  "She could use some fun and anti- stress too.  She's worrying too much about the bike factory going up."

"She wants to go back there," Modo admitted.  "I wouldn't mind working with her, but she wants to go back and work in the machine shop."  He stretched.  "Staff, Xander's back."

"I heard.  Yes, we can go Saturday and he's right, I could use some less worrying times."  She came out and kissed him on the cheek, handing him a soda since she had just been in the kitchen.  She and her sandwich sat down next to Modo's chair and he reached down to give her ponytail a little yank so she grinned up at him.  "What?" she asked innocently.  "I like sitting beside you."

"Around here, the tradition is more in his lap," Xander teased.

"Yes, but I'm a good girl, Xander, and he's a very good boy.  We only cuddle in private."  Throttle and Vinnie both snickered at that.  "You two don't have the right to laugh either with how you two go at it in public too."

"Hey, he only claimed me once," Xander defended.

"He...claimed you?" Staff asked, blushing bright red once again.  "In front of others?"

Throttle nodded, giving Xander a squeeze.  "Traditionally done after a night at the club.  Vinnie and Charley did too, but hers wasn't intentional, she just got too hot one night."

"Don't worry, my momma always thought that was a rude tradition.  You only have something like that in front of others if you wanna share."  He gave her hair another teasing yank.  "I'm many things, but sharing isn't one of them."  She beamed at that but ducked her head to take a bite of her sandwich so she'd quit blushing.

"I wanna go to the club tonight, see if it got fixed," Xander said, looking at Throttle.  "I know I'm banned by myself but I don't think the group is."

"They banned you for you getting jumped?"

"They thought it was safer if I wasn't there alone again, that way I had someone to protect me.  Like Dawn only wears the really trashy clothes when Rimfire goes armed."

"We could do that," Modo agreed.  "The kids are still grounded so they can watch the house.  Or would you like to go for a ride?" he asked Staff.

"Either's fine with me."  She grinned up at him.  "Or we could head to the biker bar."

"We did that last weekend," Vinnie reminded her.  "I doubt we can peel Vic from Charley tonight.  He's already down for a nap."

"We could go without you guys," Modo reminded him dryly.  "I don't need the backup, no one's gonna steal me.  I can guard my lady well enough so no one'll steal her too."

Throttle shrugged.  "Up to you, big guy.  We can tell you where we're going if we are banned."

"Oooh, oooh, the place where we got into that fight?  They seemed to like you guys," Xander offered.

"They did," he agreed.  "But I'm not in the mood for a fight tonight."  Vinnie nodded that he wasn't either.  "We'll see where we end up.  Go get changed, Xander."  Xander got up and went to put on real clothes, coming back a few minutes later in his green pants and his darker green muscle shirt.  Staff whistled and he beamed at her.  Throttle was just happy that he wasn't wearing his leathers or something tighter. The cargo pants looked good on him, even if he did have stuff in the pockets.  "Are you going armed?"

"Yeah.  With NID after Micah that way, hell yeah.  Oh, Modo, that farm houses a research lab that the military just took over and we just learned there's an NID lab around here too.  So be really careful out with her."

"Sure.  I thought Micah took them over."

"Doesn't mean they're listening yet," Xander said dryly.  "One last hurrah and all that."

"One for the road," Throttle agreed. "I can see them getting vindictive."  No wonder Xander was armed.  He stood up.  "Vinnie, Charley?"

"Said she's sleeping in since Vic just started to, but I'm coming."

"Good," Xander said with a grin.  "We'll awe people with our cuteness yet again."  He hauled Vinnie up.  "Am I riding behind you or on my own?"

"Ask your bike," Throttle reminded him.  He waved at Modo.  "See ya later.  We'll try to be at the usual place, but if not we'll call to tell you where."  He walked down the stairs and found Xander checking his bike over.  "He okay?"

"He says he's tired.  He wants a nap."  He stood up, looking down at him. "You sure?"  His bike let out a few patient beeps and shoved him toward Throttle.  "Okay, I'll ride with my man tonight.  Not like I mind, I just didn't want to insult you or anything."  He gave him one last pat then grabbed his helmet and sat on the back of Throttle's bike.  "Let's go."

Throttle got on, deciding to go a bit faster than usual.  Xander clearly needed more excitement since he was wiggling already.  He hoped he didn't get into a fight tonight, he and Vinnie didn't need that.  They needed a quiet weekend.  They pulled up outside their normal club and the bouncer gave them a look.  "He allowed back in?"

"Not by himself, but as long as one of you four is there with him, it's fine with me," he admitted.  "The boss said the work went really well and he mailed back the remainder of the check Xander sent to clear the damages.  We needed a new mirror anyway, the thing had a small crack."  He watched as they parked and got off, letting them inside.  The others behind the ropes groaned. "They're special.  The owner likes them."  They sold drinks when everyone watched them.  The owner *really* liked them for that, and the fact that they were polite.

Vinnie headed out onto the floor with Xander, dancing with him.  Throttle shook his head and got them a soda, heading out to reclaim his boy.  Vinnie could go dance with someone else for a bit.  Instead he found himself between the two white mice.  "Didn't we agree not to do this without Charley?"

"Yeah, but she's tired," Vinnie reminded him.  "Besides, I only dance with the studliest on the floor and that's you two tonight."  Throttle laughed and Xander blushed but continued as the song changed. Then suddenly the music stopped and they all looked to see where the fight was.  Two girls were struggling, pulling hair and screaming at each other.  Xander walked over there, picking them both up since they were both tiny, toothpick women, and handed them to the guard, who tossed them outside as a group.  Then he went back to Throttle's side, going to move with him again one the music had started.  A few girls tried to cut in and Vinnie got taken for a few minutes but he came back.

Throttle finally tail-swatted him.  "My mouse."

"Fine," he said with a grin.  He danced off again, leaving them to dance together.  A few girls instantly took pity on him and danced with him.  He was soon surrounded and was a happy, studly mouse.

Xander grinned at Throttle, moving a bit more seductively to try to turn his mate on.  "No wild rides tonight, Xander," Throttle warned.  "The only ride you're getting is at home."

"Sure," he agreed, moving even closer to brush them together.  "Love you even when it's only at home."  He stole a kiss and moved back a few inches, just enough to graze their bodies together.  A tail went around his waist and he looked back to find Enamel and Shell standing there.  "Hey!"

"Did you eat today?" Shell asked.

"I pigged out at Six Flags," he said proudly.  "I was a Dawnie chaperone."  He pulled her closer to dance with her, making her blush but move with him.

Enamel looked at Throttle.  "I'd offer but you'd kill me."

"Why?  You might as well be one of the group."  He shrugged and continued to dance, letting him join in.  Vinnie came back a few minutes later, joining in as well.  "He does good teaching her how to dance."

"She'll be blushing for days," Enamel offered.  "But I'll have fun."  Vinnie chuckled at that.  "What?  I enjoy her when she's shy."  He went to steal his girl back from Xander, dancing her off to one of the sides of the floor. "He's good."

"I don't see how he doesn't kill Throttle in bed," she called back.

Even Enamel blushed at that one.  He knew how the guy did it and kept Xander from bouncing him to death too.  "I'm sure he can handle him."

Shell kissed him gently, wrapping her arms around his neck as they danced.  "I prefer more quiet mice anyway," she offered, before kissing him again.

Enamel smirked.  "That's me, one quiet mouse."  They ended up in a bathroom before too much longer, but then came back out to go some more.  His girl was apparently in the mood and Xander was a wonderful aphrodisiac.


Faith wandered up the ramp, pouting at Modo.  "Does Xander not use his answering machine?"

"Not usually," he admitted.  "He ignores it unless he's recording a conversation or just when we get home."  He looked around. "I haven't seen his cellphone recently either."

"No wonder.  Boris wanted to meet with him tonight."

"He, Throttle, and Vinnie went clubbing."

"At the vampire club?" she asked hopefully.  He shook his head.  "Shoot, I'll never get into their usual place.  I'm way too hefty."

"Have Dawn go in and get them," Staff offered.  "It'll only take a few minutes."  She grinned at her. "How are you liking motherhood?"

"Not too bad so far, but I'm tired of missing bodyparts.  They'll come back in about a week but I'm still tired of it.  Anal sex is not my thing."  Both of them blushed. "Sorry.  Shared too much.  Can I borrow Dawnie?"

"Sure, go ahead," Modo agreed.  "She's in her room with Rimfire watching a movie."

"Cool.  Thanks, Modo."  She walked down there, tapping gently before sticking her head in.  "I need someone who can go in and get Xander out of the club.  Boris wants to talk to him."

"You can't go in why?" Rimfire asked.

"Because I'm fat, Rimfire.  I'm a hefty girl now and not the sort bouncers let inside."

"I'll go.  It'll only take a few minutes," Dawn sighed, stopping the movie and giving Rimfire a kiss as she climbed over him.  She looked down at her pajama pants and t-shirt, then shrugged and followed Faith out to her car, getting in to drive since she probably didn't know where the club was.  She parked, a bit up the street, and got out, heading to the door.

"Not exactly within dresscode," the bouncer said dryly.  "And you know you're not allowed in alone either, Dawn."

"I'm not here for that.  I have to give Xander a message and drag him out here.  Of course, I can get the pregnant woman and have her come in with me if it soothes your soul," she offered with a grin.

The bouncer looked at Faith, who had gotten out, then at her.  Then he sighed.  "Give me a minute to have someone get him."

"Thanks.  We'll be by the car."  She went back there, going to lean against it with Faith.  "They'll get him."

"Didn't think they'd let you in like that."

"No, they had a pajama themed night.  I smoked in mine," she said happily, grinning at her.  "Shortie shorts and a tank-top.  That was while Rimfire was grounded though so I took Vinnie instead."  They looked over as the bouncer walked Xander over to them.  "When's the next pajama themed night?"

"The boss is really wary after some of those girls wore nothing but some glitter."  He handed over Xander.  "For you."

"Thanks."  Faith looked him over.  "You're cute in that.  Boris wanted to see you.  He wants to offer you your old job back.  He said he's got four sites that are falling behind and he needs you back.  He left a tear-jerking message on your machine and you ignored it."

", huh."  He looked behind him at where Throttle and Vinnie were.  "Boris wants a confab."

"You could use something to do all day," Throttle pointed out dryly.

"Yeah, a bored Xander is a dangerous Xander on this city," Dawn agreed, nodding quickly.

"You mean he hasn't been working?" the guard asked.  "Independently wealthy?"  Xander nodded, holding his fingers close together.  "Hey, all the better. No wonder you come in all the time."

"Sometimes I get bored," he admitted.  Throttle and Vinnie nodded, cracking the girls up.  "When did he want to have this meeting?"

"Tonight sometime.  You know he's going to be up," she said dryly.  "It was supposed to be yesterday but you didn't check your machine."

Throttle nodded at them.  "I'll make sure he gets there."

"Thanks, boys," Faith said, getting up with a groan.  "I'm not liking this extra weight stuff."

"Have one of the fathers wander around after you like a bodyguard," Dawn snorted.

"They already do," Xander assured her, pointing at someone across the street.  "I'm not touching her," he called. "She's just dropping off a message for Boris."  He waved.  "We're going back inside.  You girls behave.  Take Dawnie home."  He kissed her on the cheek, then patted Dawn on the hair.  "You've got knots."  Then he jogged back inside, going to have some more fun before the serious stuff.

"Who's this Boris?" the bouncer asked.

"His former boss.  He owns a construction company," Throttle said.  "He's a nice guy but wants in Xander's jeans too."  He walked back inside with Vinnie.  "You coming with us then too?"

"Probably should, just in case he tries to steal him or something.  I wouldn't like Xander nearly as much as a vampire mouse.  Though, Spike would probably enjoy it."

"Spike needs to finish making new memories," Throttle said dryly.  "Stoker won't put up with the rampaging wrenchead he was."  He grabbed his boy and pulled him away from Enamel, dancing him off again.  "We're both coming with you, just in case."

"Probably not necessary."

"Do I care?" he asked.

"No," Xander admitted, grinning at him. "Thanks."

"Welcome."  They watched as some guy took a swing at Vinnie, who ducked and tripped him with his tail.  "I wonder what that's about?"

"Oh, that's the guy with the girlfriend who goes out to tease so he can get into brawls.  Vin, man!"  He waved him over.  "They're doing it on purpose."

"I know," he said with a grin, getting behind Xander to dance with him there.  Throttle gave him a look so he gave him a smug look in return.  "He offered."

"My mouse," he growled.

"Not sayin' he's not, bro," Vinnie agreed cheerfully.  "He'll be wearing you out for ages!"  Xander slipped off, leaving them to be together, and found someone new to dance with.  Vinnie moved closer to cover the gap.  "He knows I'm not stealing you from him."

"We were over long ago, bro.  He doesn't have to worry about that."

"Yeah, well, you worry too much about what's not happenin',' Vinnie reminded him.  "I've got my girl. You've got your boy.  If the four of us ever fall into bed together, it'll be an end of the world moment."  He beamed.  "After all, we were in the same bed and nothing happened."

"Point," he admitted, looking around.  He saw where Xander was and growled at the girls he was dancing with.

"Chill, bro, he likes and needs to be admired.  He knows where home is and he's fixed.  He's not going to go out and tomcat the neighborhood."  He gave him a gentle kiss.  "It'll be okay.  Loosen up.  This was what broke us up too, remember?"  He went to steal Xander, putting on a show for Throttle's benefit.

Throttle kept himself from going over there to steal him back for about ten minutes, then a girl tried to get between them and that was all he needed.   He walked over there, stealing his Xander back to kiss and glared at the girl, who got the hint and went to try to hit on Enamel instead.  He took his rightful place between them, letting Vinnie get his back.  Xander grinned and moved closer, pressing him between them.  It was a great place to be.


Xander got off the back of Throttle's bike at the vampire club later that night, taking off his helmet and shaking out his short hair.  "I can go in."

"Fat chance," Vinnie snorted.  "He might try to steal you from Throttle, then we'd have to take him down."  He followed the couple inside, going to sit down at the table while those two got a soda from the bar.  "Hey."

Boris looked at him.  "He needed an escort?"

"Of course.  Otherwise people might try to steal him."  He smiled and took some of the pretzels out of the bowl on the table.  "They feed you guys here?"

"I got it for your little brother."  He smiled as the couple came over.  "He's a very fierce guard mouse."

"He is," Xander agreed, sitting next to Vinnie so his man could have his other side.  "So, you wanted a conference?"

"No, I want you back," he said honestly, pushing over a contact.  "I've got six sites that are so far behind they may never catch up.  I've tried every incentive and I don't know what's going on.  Merle's actually fired some of his guys for slacking, none of your former crew, but they all got moved to the job that is now the furthest behind.  We need you back, Xander.  I'll pay you what you were making as crew lead, I'll let you pick which job you want to go to.  We've got one massive job once Merle gets finished that's going to end up him and Chloe, but I'll gladly switch it to Trisha for you.  You'd have a double crew under you but I know you can handle it.  We've *got* to get that one done on time and perfectly.  The others just need a foot up their asses, but I know you can get those other ones done in time.  I think we've got sabotage going on but I can't prove it."  He patted the contract.  "All the details and the perks.  I'm desperate and I need you, Xander."

"As long as you only need him for that," Throttle said dryly, taking the contract to look over.  Xander gave him a look as he took it from him.  "Sorry," he said with a grin.

"You're just wondering about my salary," he teased. He read it carefully, then looked at him.  "You need me on this new site when?  I'm not an investigator, I'm a handler."

"I need an investigator on the other sites," he admitted.

"Have you asked the cops?" Vinnie asked patiently.

"They don't handle this sort of stuff," Boris sighed, looking defeated.  "I have gotten a few cops' relatives on some of the sites.  They're the ones thinking it's sabotage."

"Wolfram and Hart?" Throttle asked.

"Can't prove it, but it's a possibility," he admitted.  "They're a bit pissed at us since I wouldn't sell out to them and I had the contract to do some renovations changed to take out the soul clause. Oh, you were part of their contract.  They wanted us to hand you over to them.  I took that out too."

"Thanks," Xander agreed.  He went back to reading.  Then he put it down and looked at him.  "If it's Wolfram and Hart, they've hired mostly the demonic.  Maybe human looking ones, but they're pretty muchly demonic in origin. They don't like to hire humans because we're unpredictable."  Boris nodded.  "Have the halfies checked."

"I have.  Those sites are demonic free.  I had a sorcerer come in to check and make sure."

"That's just odd," Vinnie decided.  "They can do that?"  Xander nodded.  "Wow."  He took another pretzel and the shared drink to sip.  Then he handed it back at Throttle's look.  "What?  We shared while we were on Mars."

"You got to go?" Boris asked, grinning at Xander.  "How was it?"

"Hot.  Dusty.  I got my own bike now," he said proudly.  "I got to do a lot of sightseeing.  I got to nearly kill everyone by making chili out of an animal I caught in the desert.  We found some books to plug my gaping opening for spirits."  He sipped the drink and let Throttle have it.  Then he took it back to sip it again, frowning at it, then the bartender.  "Did we need the liquor?" he called.

"Sorry, Xander.  I forgot you don't drink," she called back, bringing over a clean one while she took that one back.  "At least I made it light on the booze."

"You did."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "Know who's sabotaging his sites?"

She nodded.  "Wolfram and Hart.  They hate them and they hate you.  This way they get you back and when you come back they can get all of you at once."

"Cool," Xander agreed.  "Thanks."

"Who's sabotaging?"

"You know that gang you've hired the majority of?" she asked dryly.  "Them."

"Bring them here, I'm sure they can be scared straight," Xander said sweetly. "Or turn them and then scare them straight."

"We've turned most of them," Boris admitted. "It's still happening."  Throttle gave him a cool look.  "They rumbled with some of the younger sets and the younger set decided to snack on them after the fight," he admitted.  "The winners basically had a snack.  Things got slower after that."

The bartender looked at him, then snorted.  "You've got bigger problems.  Have a hacker hit them."

"We know a few of those," Xander admitted.  He looked around.  "Can I have the phone?"

"It's three am, Xander," Throttle complained.  "Meg should be asleep."

"Oz isn't, it's the full moon."  He dialed Boris' phone, getting Oz on the first ring.  "We've got another W&H situation," he said quietly.  "They're going after my former boss and he wants me back.  That means I'm about to be attacked again.  We need to know who they've got in their employ and which way they're moving.  Do you know a hacker who could do that?"  He grinned.  "Micah's still in the hospital.  No, General.  Sure, let me know.  Please."  He hung up and handed it back.  "He's meditating on how much trouble that could get him into.  He'll call tomorrow after he asks his morality monitor, Meg."

"Meg?" Boris snickered.  "Morality monitor?  The last time I saw her she was wearing chainmail."

"Last time I saw her she was wearing a nightie that was see through because she was working on something about nymphs."

"Have we met this girl?" the bartender asked.

"Meg?  The one I used to date.  She's Oz's girl now," Xander said with a grin.  "Got anything else?"

"Sure.  Look at that other group, Boris.  The one on Trisha's site."  She strolled off.  "Try it tomorrow actually."

"Please," Boris begged Xander.

"I'll go guard Trisha.  I'll talk to the others tomorrow about the contract."  Throttle handed him a pen.  "You're sure?"

"You need something to do, or else you'll be a bored mouse all the time."

"Yeah, I'm amusing but not that amusing," Vinnie agreed dryly, taking another sip of the drink.  "Much more normal this time."  The bartender smiled and walked off.  He handed Xander the drink.  "Sign."

"Signing," he sighed, signing the contract.  "When does the new one start?"

"Two weeks."  He grinned at him.  "I've still got everything else of yours.  I'll try to get hold of Trisha tonight and tell her you're coming but I can't promise.  She's had her cell turned off again."  He stood up.  "I'll send the stuff on the new site to you.  I've already done the ordering and everything.  Anything else?"

"Where's Brad?"

"Working as second in command under Merle."

"Good," Xander agreed.  "He's good at it."  He looked at him.  "Two weeks?"

"Two weeks.  I'll have the profiles sent to you.  You'll get full indoor crew choice.  Merle will be crew lead, but you'll be interior again."  Xander nodded at that.  "You're sure?"

"Yeah, where's the site?"

"East Third."  Xander nodded.  "Thank you, Xander.  We'll renegotiate after this new job."  He walked off.

Xander looked at the other two.  "We need to spin by there, check it out."

"Sure," Throttle agreed.  "Finish the drink and let's go."

Xander finished the drink and took a handful of pretzels, following his man out.  They got on the bike and headed for the new site.  Xander got off and walked up to the guard, popping another pretzel as he watched the guy nap.  He coughed between bites, looking at him.  The guard stood up and stared.  "Hey, Carlos."

"Xander," he said in awe.  "Are you back?"

"Actually, I'm here to handle the sabotage.  Anything going on tonight?"

"No, sir, I'd have woken up," he admitted.

Xander grinned.  "Good."  He ate another pretzel.  "Can I?"

"Sure."  He watched as he walked onto the site, looking around.  "Um, those beams weren't down before."

"Cool.  Get Trisha up."  He looked scared so Xander headed for the trailer, going to bother whoever was in there with the lights on. He opened the door and threw one out, making him scream.  The other just saw him and screamed in horror.  "Morning.  Carlos, stop him," he called.

Vinnie looked at the guy trying to run, cracking his knuckles.  "I've got him."  He headed after him, pulling up alongside the running man.  "Going for a jog?" he asked, catching him with his tail.  He hung him upside down on the way back, handing him to Throttle, who knocked him out.  "Nice shot."  He looked at the one Xander was dragging out by the ankle.  "Need help with him?"

"No.  He'll be good."  He looked over as cop cars screamed up to the site.  "Hey, guys.  I'm one of the crew chiefs for the same company.  I was asked to check on the site tonight.  I found them in the office."

The cops stared at him, then at the guard.  "I was napping, I admit it," he told them.  "There's some damage and Xander found them in the office.  I've worked on sites with him before."

"Call Trisha," Xander repeated.  He nodded, going to the office to do that.  Xander looked at the guys and shrugged.  "The boss said someone's been sabotaging the site.  There's a ton of damage going on but the exterior chief should be here within minutes.  She lives about six blocks away."

"I can't get her," Carlos called.

Xander whispered in Vinnie's ear.  "Go there, get her up.  She'll be cranky."  He nodded, spinning his bike and heading off.

"Who are you?" one of the cops asked.

"Xander Harris.  I had problems worse than this on an abuse shelter site."  He handed over the one he was dragging, then the other guy was picked up and held out.  "They were in the office, which is firmly off limits, even during the day."  The cops only nodded, continuing to stare at him until Vinnie got back with Trisha.

"GOD DAMN MOTHER FUCKING HELL, WHAT THE FUCKING SHIT IS GOING ON!" Trisha yelled as she got off the back of the bike.

"Ow, sweetheart, I have very sensitive ears," Vinnie complained lightly.

"I figured that's why you've got white fur," she said, giving him a pat on the arm.  Xander pointed at the back of the cop car.  She stared and opened one, pulling him out to beat him herself.  She actually got a few blows in before the cop stopped her.  "He trashed my damn site, he needs to be beaten to death!"  The cops pulled her off, handing her to Xander.

"Not really my flavor sensation," Xander joked, grinning at her.  "So, I hear you, I, and Merle are working on one together in about two weeks."

"We are?"  She got out of his arms, looking at him.  "Why are you here?"

"I got begged and pleaded to death to come see what was going on."  He shrugged.  "Then I agreed to take interior on the new job coming up in two weeks.  Boris said it had be done on time.  So I'm getting you, Merle, and me."

"Sure," she agreed, going to look at the site.  "Get your asses in here!" she shouted at the cops.  "They caused property damage too!"  The cops trudged after her.  "Xander, I'll pop around tomorrow afternoon.  We'll be too busy tomorrow to do much damage," she said grimly.

"Sure."  He got back onto the bike, grinning at the cop looking out.  "Needed me?"

"No, sir, I'm not sure what's going on but the vampire wannabe is probably a bit more knowledgeable than you at the moment.  I don't want to have to describe you to a jury some day."

Xander beamed.  "Sure.  Have fun, guys, good night."  He put on his helmet and Throttle took off, Vinnie behind them.  Xander snuggled up behind Throttle, teasing his stomach with a grin. Throttle swatted his hand but he knew he was grinning stupidly.  They made it into the garage and Xander jumped him there.  "Hi," he purred once their helmets were off.

"Bed," Throttle groaned, leaning back since Xander pulled him back so he could nibble on his ear.  "Bed," he repeated when Vinnie came in and got off his bike, heading back to the garage to crawl in with Charley, grinning the whole way.  "Xander."

"Yes, I am," he said smugly, going back to nibbling on his sensitive ear.  "It's me."

Throttle got free and stood up, pulling his mate with him.  He walked them into their room, slamming the door behind his mate's tail so they could have some privacy.  Xander had teased all night.  It was time for him to pay up.


Throttle came up for breakfast the next morning, smirking at the gathered family.  "Xander is now reemployed," he announced.  "He starts in two weeks but he's playing muscle before then."

Modo clapped and cheered.  "He need help?"

"He might," Throttle admitted, sitting down.  "From what we think we know, Wolfram and Hart are trying to sabotage the company.  They'll be trying more when he starts to work on a project with Trisha and Merle."

"Sure, can we get a hacker to find a list of their employees?" Dawn asked.

"He asked Oz, he's thinking about it."  He took the bowl of eggs.  "You were busy this morning."

"I was bored," she defended.  "Someone needs to go grocery shopping.  We're out of everything but pepper, salt, and jalepenos."

"Then Xander can do something today," Vinnie said smugly.  "Have fun last night, bro?"

"A lot."  He dug into his eggs, sipping his milk, which was about to go bad.  He put it down and went to look for something else to drink, coming out with water.  "Milk tastes bad."

"Sorry," Dawn offered.  "I tried."

"You try very well," Modo promised, patting her on the arm.  "Where's Rimfire?"

"Doing a parts run for me," Charley told him.  "He already ate.  I could use some groceries too."

"Not a problem," Throttle offered.  "Xander still has his car."

"I'm not sure he can do a rootbeer run in the car," Modo said.

"Then he can always go rent one," Vinnie joked.

Dawn yawned and stretched.  "I'll ride with him if he has to."

"Maybe you should go back to bed," Throttle told her.

"I can't.  It's noisy."  She looked at Charley.  "Where was that explosion?"

"Next block over.  They were taking down one of the wrecks."

"Xander's been doing that with some of the wrecks we own," Dawn admitted. "He's been doing the insides.  That way if we have to hide a lot of family, we can do that."

"Sounds good to me," Throttle agreed.  "Keeps him out of trouble."

"Yeah," Vinnie agreed.  "Explosions?"

"Not really," Dawn told him.  "More crashing the things that are half crashed anyway."  She yawned again.  "Sorry."

"Not a problem," Charley agreed, yawning herself. "I can't believe they blew that building at six am."

"I can't believe they used that much explosives.  What was that, the wild west?" Xander complained as he came up the ramp.  "I know TNT is cheap, but spend a few cents more so you use less."  He flopped down in his chair.  "I swear, I don't know who that crew belongs to but I want to hurt them today."  He yawned.  "What am I doing today?"

"Going grocery shopping," Vinnie told him.  "Both places need it."

"Sure, give me a list."

"Get the usual stuff," Charley told him.  "I'm not looking for anything special this time. Mostly lunch."


"Could use a new can," she admitted.   She dug into her breakfast.  "Think your car can handle it?"

"Hopefully.  I've got a decent trunk.  If not, I guess I'm renting another SUV for the day."  He shrugged and looked over as Modo's bike came up the ramp.  "Needed help, Lil' Hoss, or just spoiled?"

She beeped and went to nudge her rider.

"I think she's bored too," Modo offered.  "We'll go for a long ride today."  Lil' Hoss beeped.   "Staff asleep in the garage again?" he guessed.  The bike beeped, sounding like she was laughing.  "Other problems?"  That got a few rapid beeps.  "Okay."  He walked down, going to stop Rimfire's bike this time.  It was nudging Dawn's bike but not attacking her yet.  "Stop it," he warned. The bike let out a pitiful beep.  "I know, but she loves you just as much. Where's your rider?"  Rimfire's bike shined a light up the hall.  "Bed?"  The bike beeped.  "Think you can behave?"  The bike beeped and nudged her bike again.  "No, girl, she's not alive.  She's a human bike, not an AI like you."  He stroked her handlebars.  "She's just a bike, not smart."

The bike nudged her again, then went back to hang with the other girls and Xander's bike, leaning next to Xander's sleeping bike.  Xander's bike nudged it back but let it cuddle up.  Xander came down and grinned.  "Are you lovin' the Rimfire's bike?" he teased.  His bike snorted.  Rimfire's nudged him then revved for a moment before getting comfortable again.  "Well, at least you're not attacking Dawn's today.  Listen, I've got to hit the grocery store so I've got to take the car.  Are you going to get jealous?"  His bike snorted and turned to look at him.  "Rimfire's got mad at her riding in my car.  I'm just making sure."  His bike snorted again and went back to his nap.  "Thanks, babe.  Be back in a few minutes.  Gotta hit the bank first too."  He headed for his car, finding his wallet and cards where he had left them.  He started the car and sped off, heading for the bank, where the women at the drivethu gave him a very happy smile once she saw his balance.  She wrote it down for him and he winced at the level.  He should have more but he guessed he had fees, plus that stupid repair of the club.  He'd have to take it easy on his debit card.  He wrote another check and recorded the new balance and sent it through as well, shrugging a bit.  "So I don't have to hit the ATM."

"Of course," she sent back.  "In any denominations?"

"At least two hundred in twenties.  The rest can be fifties for now."  She nodded.  It came back to him and he grinned, waving before he took off.  He headed for the store, finding two kids outside begging for money.  He tucked the money into his wallet, keeping out about two hundred in his pocket.  Then he got out and locked the car.  "Hey, guys, you that desperate?"  They nodded.  "Okay.  I've got to shop for two houses, I'll pay you guys twenty bucks to push the other cart and follow me around."  They looked at each other then nodded and followed him inside, getting a second cart.  He handed back the twenty, and walked on, going to the canned good section first.  They needed some supplies.  A few things went into Charley's cart once they got to the baby food aisle, then they went to the meat area.  He looked and sighed, then looked at the guy behind the meat counter.  "I'm buying for Charley and us."  The guy smiled at him.  "Last Chance Garage?" he tried.  The guy nodded and went back to grab the big boxes of hotdogs.  "Not tofu, right?  I nearly got lynched last night."

"No, not tofu," he admitted, handing over the boxes.  "How many you need?"

"Two boxes each house."  He got another set and put them in his cart.  "Thanks, man."  He went to look at the other stuff, finding some chicken, some steaks, some pork chops.  Then more pork chops.  He really wanted pork chops for some reason.  He tossed in another pack and headed down the line.  Two packages of american cheese and a brick of real cheese were put into his cart, then the bread, milk of both kinds, and the juice were added.  Then he drug them through frozen foods.  Their cart got pizzas that were on sale.  Charley's got a few too.  At the end, he looked at the carts, he sighed and headed for the soda aisle.  "Last stop, guys, and it'll get heavy."  He looked at the cases of rootbeer, then started to load up both carts.  The kids groaned as he emptied the rootbeer display and went for the bottled stuff, adding in some diet by accident.  He pushed his cart with a groan, heading up to the regular checkout.  The woman behind the register gave him a look as she finished with the guy in front of him, shaking her head.  "Two houses."

"Do you guys drink anything but soda?"

"Rarely," he admitted, starting with those.  He handed over his savings card and kept going.  "We need to keep the two carts separate."

"Sure, whatever you want," she agreed, watching as he finished dropping everything onto her conveyor and he pushed that one ahead.  He separated them out with the plastic bar and started to unload the other one with the kids' help.  She smiled at them but continued to go.  "All on one bill?"  He nodded.  "Separate houses?"

"Yeah, Charley can't get out to get her own today."  He lifted the last pack of diapers and looked, finding something wedged down in there.  "Nail clippers.  Okay."  He put them on the belt, not sure if they were his or not.  They probably needed them anyway.  He decided to toss those onto his pile, which was nearly done, then he grinned, moving that cart forward.  "Just out to the car, guys?" he asked when they disappeared.

"I can have one of the guys do it for you," she promised.  He loaded his cart, patting himself down.  "Wallet?"

"Missing," he said dryly.  "Had about a grand in it," he said bitterly.

She called out over the radio.  "I have a customer who just lost his wallet.  It's brown?" she asked.

"Leather, men's wallet."

"It's a brown leather man's wallet.  If found, please bring it to register eight."  A kid trotted up with it a few minutes later, so Xander checked it and tipped him a twenty, making him beam and run off.  She smiled at him.  "That was nice."

"I try to be nice," he admitted, putting it in his front pocket this time.  Then he had to pull out the cash to pay the bill and finish loading everything.  She waved over one of the bag boys, who grinned.  "Thanks," he said, taking the receipt and the bit of change.  "Have a nice day."  He pushed the heavier one out, it was going in the trunk.  He popped the door open, tipping the front seat down.  "There's some space back there.  Start the soda there and move anything fragile up front."  The guy nodded and went to work helping him load.  Xander got everything into the trunk, barely, and closed it, then handed off the cart and helped the guy load the front seat and footwell.  "Thanks, man," he said, tipping him a few bucks.  Then he slammed the door and walked over to get in and drive.  He had to shift a gallon of milk out of his way, but that was fine.  On the way home, he made a stop at a really good magazine store, going inside to pick up the monthly subscriptions.  He carried the stack up, putting them on the counter.  The register girl smiled at him and let him pay for it, bagging it up for him.  Then he went to move that gallon of milk again and head to one last stop.  He wasn't cooking after this.  He pulled into Chef Andy's, getting out to walk inside.  "I'm tired of food.  I just got done grocery shopping," he said with a grin.  He noticed two punks in there and coughed.  "Chef Andy, you okay?"

"I'm fine, Xander.  They're no trouble today."

Xander looked at them and one sneered so he popped him in the nose, then looked at the other one.  "There's a lot of bikers in this city who would be *very* upset if something happened to Andy.  Starting with me.  Remember that, kid.  Before I have to get upset and wear out my boredom on you."

"What, outta work?" the boy on the ground taunted.

"No, just bored.  Now, unless you wanna get your tail kicked by this gay man, I'd leave."  The guy on the ground looked horrified.  "Really."  They got up and ran out.  "You tell me if they come back!" he demanded.  "I don't care who these punks belong to, if they're bothering you, I wanna know."

"They're mostly good kids, Xander.  They were actually getting lunch."

"Then I'll pay for theirs too and you can have them come back to pick it up.  But I'm serious.  If someone bothers you, then they'll be getting what they deserve.  Besides, that one kid sneered at me.  I'm not putting up with it."

"Sure," he said with a small grin, making the usual for them.  "Grocery shopping?"

"For us and Charley," he sighed.  "Car's full of food and I'm too tired and lazy to cook."

Andy chuckled and handed over the bag, accepting the fifty from Xander.  "It's not near that.  Let me get you some change."  He turned but Xander was already outside and pulling out.  "That boy," he sighed, smiling at his car as it pulled onto the street.  He called up to the boys' house.  "He's gone.  He's just very protective over me.  He paid for your lunch though.  Come back and pick it up.  It's ready."  He hung up and finished fixing their sandwiches, smiling at the mother who came in.  "Xander thought they were threatenin' me, ma'am."

"He still hit my son."

"Your son sneered at him.  He could have done a lot worse.  He only knocked him down.  He did say to apologize to him."  He handed over the bag, waving off the money.  "He paid for it too."

"He's sorry he did it?"  He nodded. "Why did he do it?"

"The boy with the bloody nose sneered at him when he asked if I was havin' troubles.  Xander's a big guy with a good heart.  Thinks he's Batman now and then," he admitted with a grin, "but he's a good guy who was tryin' ta protect me."

"Fine.  I'll let it go this time.  He better not try it again.  I will talk to the boys about not looking like thugs though."  She walked off, going to yell at her son about taking on seriously deranged people in public.

Xander pulled up into Charley's garage, getting out and looking at her and Vinnie.  "Front seat, back seat.  The rest goes next door."  Vinnie grinned and came over to unload with her, while Xander handed Charley lunch.  "I ended up hitting a kid who was in there being menacing."

"You bought lunch after buying groceries?" Throttle asked as he came to help.

"I'm too tired to cook," he defended. "The trunk is ours and it'll explode."  Vinnie got the last bag out and checked the backseat, lifting out the sodas to put on the floor for now.  Then he closed the door and patted it.  "Gee, thanks."  Xander slid back in and drove around to park behind the garage.  "Come help me unload or I'm never feeding anyone ever again!" he yelled, popping the trunk from inside.  He grabbed the magazines and put them on the workbench before going back to start on the groceries.  "I mean it!"

Modo and Staff came out with Rimfire behind them. "You're loud, bro.  Some of us had to put on shoes," Modo complained.

"Yay," he said blandly.  "I got to make sure no one's going to try to rough up Chef Andy this year.  He said they weren't after they ran."

"Poor kids.  Did you hit one?" Staff asked.  He held up a finger. "Xander!"  She swatted at him. "Bad!  Naughty!"

"He was a thug and he sneered at me," he defended, grabbing some bags.  Throttle came over to help with these, shaking his head at all the food.  "Yes, and there's three things of cheese in there for me too.  By the way, we're having pork chops for dinner.  If pigs offend you, I'm sorry.  Tough, but I'm sorry."  He carried some of them up to the kitchen.

"I take it it's his turn?" Modo asked.

Throttle nodded. "Apparently he's craving pork chops by how many he bought."  He carried up his double handful of bags.  Modo got most of the sodas with Staff's help, leaving the last few for Vinnie when he joined them.  Charley checked the car, then closed and locked it, going to put Xander's wallet and keys on the workbench with the magazine bag.  She found hers and carried the rest up to the lounge area, laying them out by whose they were. "Staff, you've got a bunch of new magazines," Throttle called when he found his stack.  He sat down to read them, grinning at the biker mag and the pictures of Sturgis.  "Hey, they caught my side," he said, leaning over to point at his thigh and tail in the picture.

Charley nudged him by shoving on his head.  "Naughty mouse," she teased.  "Lunch?"

"Coming," Modo called, bringing the bag out.  He found his few magazines.  "Thanks, Xander."

"Welcome."  He came out to get his lunch, going back to putting things up.  "Charley, I got you diapers, some cereal, some food, and other baby stuff too."

"I saw.  Thanks, Xander.  He's not old enough yet, but it's good to stock up."  She grinned at Vinnie as he sat down beside her, grabbing his Mad magazine and the other comics.  "Got them all?"

"Not all, but the last one won't be out for two weeks," he admitted, settling in to read.

Staff came out and brought the food over, sitting down to share the ones with Charley, then she got handed her stack by Modo, making her grin.  "Thanks, Xander."

"Welcome, Staff.  This way you and Charley can compare techniques."  He came out with one last bag.  "It's full."

"So's mine," she admitted.  "Frozen stuff?"  He nodded, looking unhappy.  "Can it be dinner?"

"No, we're having pork chops for dinner.  I'm craving pork chops and we're having pork chops."  Everyone nodded at that, Xander did that to them still.  "It's two pizzas and the butter."

"I call the pizzas, popcorn, and some movies," Staff offered.

"Sure," Xander agreed.  "Movies?"

"We've got a few in our room," Dawn admitted as she came up the stairs.  She got her languages, her Renaissance magazine, and her beauty magazines.  "Thanks, Xander."  She sat down to flip through them.  "Rimfire, aren't you hungry?"

"I'm checking on my bike," he called, bringing up Xander's keys and wallet.  "Went big spender?" he asked with a grin.

"Yup.  I'm tired of ATM fees.  They're breaking me."  He tossed it onto the coffeetable and settled in to look at his Guns and Ammo.

"Can I have your Harper's when you're done?" Charley asked Dawn.

"Sure."  She finished flipping through the ads and handed it over.  "I'll get the articles later."  Charley grinned and she held up her new 'leather gear' catalog. "I'm guessing someone thinks I need a third jacket?"

"It was with the beauty magazines.  I thought you might not mind," Xander admitted.  "You need new leather pants."

"Sure," she agreed, settling in against Rimfire's arm to browse, letting him see.  He grinned at one and she shook her head. "Won't look good on me."  He sighed and she picked out something else and he leered so it was good with him apparently.

"Nothing trashy or Xander will have to confiscate it," Vinnie reminded her.  She held up that picture and he looked.  "The top, not the skirt."

"Sure," Rimfire agreed.  "Works for me."  He grabbed the phone when it rang.  "Harris House of Insanity."  He grinned.  "Hey, Micah, you ready to come lounge for a few days?"  He listened.  "Sure, when and if he stops here.  Sure.  You need anything?  No, you'll have magazines when you get out in a few days."

"When?" Xander asked.

"Two days," Rimfire reported.  He listened some more.  "Sure, I'll tell 'im.  Have fun hitting on the nurses."  He hung up.  "There's an uptight guy coming with files.  You're not to read them, you're only to bring the guy to the hospital if he shows up here. You're not to beat him up and you're not to pick on him," he repeated. "Just drive him over, drop him off, and only grunt at him."

"Sure, if that's what Micah wants," he agreed. "When is he due in?"

"Any hour now."

"Sure.  Someone go get the movies, the pizzas can thaw.  I'll cook 'em in a few minutes."  Everyone nodded, finishing their lunches and a few going to do something for a few minutes.  It was halfway through the first movie when the guy showed up, walking up the ramp.  "Hey," Xander said, nodding at him.  "Here for Micah?"

"Yes, and there was no answer next door."

"I put up the sign," Charley said, "on the garage doors."

"Oh. I didn't see it.  I'm sorry."

"Not a problem," she admitted, getting up to check on those.

Xander looked at him.  "You wanna wait an hour or do you wanna go now?  Micah said I'm to drive you, only grunt at you, and not pick on you."

"Who are you?" he asked, staring at Dawn. "I still remember you and your boyfriend."

"Fiance," she corrected blandly, "and he started it."

"Dawn, enough," Throttle said coolly. "You too, Xander."

"Yes, dear."

"Oh, you're him," Hendrix said, looking him over.  "You're not the typical agent."

"No, I'm a construction worker," he joked.  "Save my spot.  I'll go drop him off."  He got up with a groan and Rimfire stopped the tape.  He nodded, leading him down to the car, then coming back up to get his keys and wallet.  Then he went to drive the guy, only grunting at him as ordered.

Hendrix, head of the Investigative Federal Unit, just watched him.  He got out at the hospital, bringing the briefcase locked to his wrist up to the nice, private room.  "He's an odd choice for agent, and for someone who has Omega Seven.  But he did follow orders and only grunted after greeting me."

"He thought it'd annoy you more," Micah said blandly, taking the handcuffs from him.  "Thanks.  Any problems so far?"

"Not yet.  I'm doing a security review of the NID since it's about to change gears."

"Please do.  Please give me a list of all the torturing bastards so I can toss their asses in jail and laugh."

Hendrix looked at him.  "Torturing?"

"Remember a cross-referenced file in Xander's on something called the Initiative?"  He nodded.  "That and worse."

"Fine."  He looked at the files.  "The Pentagon liaison wanted to know when you wanted to interview him."

"I want to keep him in that job," he admitted.  "They know him and they'll work best with him."  He looked at him. "Know anything about that project?"  He shook his head quickly.  "Wonderful. More aliens."  He went back to his browsing.  "Anything else happen?"

"Max paid all the bills for the rest of the year in advance."

"Needed to be done," Micah admitted. "Since they're part of us anyway.  I'm also going to be consolidating and things.  How did the search for someone to head the labs go?"

"No one yet.  Max said she's got some, but they're not qualified and can't pass security."

"Hand me the cell," he ordered, pointing at the one the nurse had moved on him.  It was handed over and he dialed Cleveland.  "Fred?  I'm now over the NID, I need someone who can pass a security check and who can straighten the bastards out."  He listened to her squeal.  "Yeah, fully.  As in they'll be going back to research instead of torture, and I need them this week."  He listened to her say something about one of her teachers and his ethical values.  "Would he take the job?"  He snorted.  "Of course not, people with ethics wouldn't.  Can you get him to send me a list of names today?"  He nodded.  "Thanks.  No, broken leg.  Max and Lorne are in charge.  Yeah, thanks, Fred."  He hung up and dropped the phone beside him.  "She'll have a list by tonight."  He looked at him.  "Fred's got a teacher who has high ethics in research, but he's too ethical to work for the government."

"That's the way it usually works," he agreed.  He looked at the contraption holding Micah's leg up.  "You're going to need a wheelchair."

"I know.  I've already got one waiting on me when I'm released.  I'll be spending the rest of the week with Xander, then coming home.  If I have to fly, I'll rent a new one once I get home.  If I can use their teleporter, I'll pop into the office."  He pulled out a pen and started to underline things.  "I hate these things."  He called Max.  "Have the liaison waiting on me when I get back in about a week," he ordered through the pencap.  "Yes, Max," he said, taking the pencap out of his mouth.  "It's me.  Two days here, then a week at Xander's working with Dawn and Rimfire."  He snorted. "Fine, send them today.  No, he can stay there if he wants, but I want to keep him. You can call him and tell him that, but I want briefed by the end of my first day back."  He listened to her.  "Good."  He hung up and looked at Hendrix.  "Going well.  She forgot to send someone to Vegas to confiscate the mouse hair samples."


"Xander's a mouse.  They spent an overnight in Vegas on their roadtrip and then there was a crime about a month later.  The crime lab out there found some hairs and is getting inquisitive."

"I can do that."

"You'd scare them," Micah reminded him, staring him down.  "I'll send Dawn and Rimfire.  They're bored and able to do minor field things, plus she can make up a good lie on the spot."  He smirked and went back to his files.  "So, what did you think of Xander?"

"He's not the usual sort of agent.  He's a bit loud and odd."

"Yeah, but he's a problem solver.  He's a leader and he's a good strategist for small group combat," Micah admitted.  "Remember, if you push the standing rules before Thanksgiving, ECHO goes to him."

"The rule change was to take him out of succession?"

"No, to move him down the list.  He was supposed to be my second in command with his clearance.  Did Lorne's raise come through?"  He nodded quickly. "Good. That helps some things.  Anything else?"

"Not as far as I was told.  Lorne said to tell you everyone there was bored but looking forward to NID coming in. He said everything else was normal."

"Good."  Micah looked at him.  "Got a ride back to the airport?"

"Not really," he admitted dryly.  "You're sure that's Harris?  His file has him being a normal human."

"He changed when he and Throttle got together due to Willow Rosenburg's interference.  She wanted him to be happy with whoever he ended up with. In this case it made him about ninety percent mouse.  I haven't heard about any problems when he was recently on Mars so I'm assuming he didn't have any.  I know Throttle's and Modo's families both adore him already.  Speaking of, any news on when the next diplomat's coming?"

"Not that I heard."

"Good."  He grinned at him.  "Aren't you glad it wasn't *your* agency?"

"Definitely," he said grimly.  "I'm just glad I didn't get sucked into Homeland.  Our two agencies and Omega are very lucky."

"Yeah, well, we've got to work outside the system too often," Micah reminded him.  "You'd have been hindered in investigations and I'd never get anything done filling out the paperwork.  One Eye feels the same. I saw him the night I got hurt.  Xander had met his great-granddaughter and the horse she was protecting."

"We wondered why you were calling around about a horse."

"One Eye took them in with the family.  They were going to move to Utah, next to an NID base.  I didn't like that idea any more than he did.  Speaking of, anything on the guy who tried to get me?"

"No.  I pulled his files and his research.  I'm not sure why he was tracking you that night."  He grimaced.  "He was working on the alien/demon thing however.  Maybe it was because he had seen Xander?"

"Possibly," Micah admitted. "Victory thought Xander and Vinnie were the perfect thing to restart the space race and get girls involved."

Hendrix snorted.  "I'm sure they would.  Overly muscled furry people would appeal to every teenager out there."  He crossed his arms over his chest.  "Need me?"

"Not really.  You can watch over Dawn and Rimfire if you want but I doubt they're going to have any problems."

"Sure.  I don't have anything to do today.  My agency is pretty much bored.  The next conference has been cleared and everything has been set up for the annual CIA/KGB golf match next month.  Did you want to caddy this year?"  Micah shook his head.  "They're sending over your former counterpart."

"Let her deal with One Eye.  I'm not doing it anymore.  Lorne's brother?"

"The traitor?"  Micah gave him a stare.  "Yeah, I know, he wasn't really, it was a ruse, but it still sucks.  When is he coming back?"

"Next year sometime.  We got that ready?"  Hendrix nodded.  "Thanks for the help on that.  Anything else?"

"The president is still offended that our best defenders are gay."

"Yay," Micah said bitterly.  "Not my fault.  Personally, I think his stance would make more of them shout and become more visible."  He smirked at him.  "His fault.  I like Xander dating Throttle.  His former girlfriends were all evil and tried to end the world a few times."


"Yeah.  Lots and lots of evil demons and part demons in his past."  He smirked at him. "Think about that security nightmare."

"No, I like him being with his man.  Much easier on the paperwork.  What about the others?"

"Vinnie and Modo were fellow Freedom Fighters."  He saw the light go on beside the door.  "Nurse coming."  Hendrix moved away from the door and Micah closed the files in the briefcase again.  The nurse knocked and came in.  "We're good."  She smiled and came in to check on him, giving him more pain killer.  "Thank you, dear."

"You're welcome, Mr. Simms."  She smiled at the other man.  "Your family?"

"Coworker.  He brought me some files."

"Oh, that's so nice of him," she said sarcastically.  She patted him on the head. "You still need to rest."  She walked out, closing the door behind her.

"She's pretty.  She the one you kissed?"

Micah smirked and nodded.  "Yup. She's single too."  He looked at the light once it went out.  "I'll probably try to hit her up for a real date once I'm out of here."  He looked at him again.  "They've got equal clearance and Xander usually gets their help.  They're a team.  Charley too."

"She passed the clearance," he admitted.  "One arrest for protesting something.  Nothing too major.  Who bought her mortgage last year?"


"That's fine, we were wondering.  I'll put her in the alpha levels, just in case something happens.  I know she's highly involved with them.  Her child is a son?"  Micah nodded.  "Good.  Just making sure we had our facts correct. I'll finish those tonight and send them to Cash or London.  Anything else you need done?"

"Check the liaison's status.  I don't want to have to fight over that."

"Done, he's Omega blue.  Lowest level."

"Fine. Good even.  Less work for me to worry about.  Any other problems you're seeing?"

"One.  NID has a lot of small bases spread around."

"Probably not for much longer," Micah admitted.  "Maybe some home workers, but some of those projects are going to be shut.  We might get to fully congeal them into a few places."

"Sure.  How much do you think you'll be cutting from their budget?"

"Probably at least ten percent.  Depending on how long your list of torturing neo-nazis is."

"Sure.  I'll get started on that tonight, after I make sure Dawn doesn't out ECHO or the projects."  He nodded politely and left, going to catch a cab to the airport.

Micah sighed and shifted, trying to get more comfortable as he went back to his self- briefings.  At least these guys were set up and running smoothly.


Dawn answered the house phone this time.  "Yeah?"  She grinned. "Hey, Max.  What's going on?"  She listened and nodded. "Sure.  Make my reservations, I can be there in about an hour and a half.  I've got to change and shower still."  She hung up and looked back at Throttle, then at Modo. "Rimfire and I are going to Vegas to pick up some suspicious samples from the crime lab and make some bullshit explanations.  I'm for a shower.  Make sure these get back today."  She stood up and walked downstairs to shower. Rimfire jogged down a few minutes later to take his own shower and find some clothes of his own.  He was wearing a cutoff t-shirt with the arms torn off and a pair of cutoff jeans shorts.  They'd have to look a bit more professional.


Dawn walked up to the front desk and smiled at the receptionist.  "I was sent from Washington DC to pick up some suspicious samples from the Crime Lab.  Can you please call the manager or whoever out?"  She held up the badge that had been at the airport here to meet them.  The paper that had been with them was in her purse.  The receptionist smiled and called back there.  She smiled sweetly as a slimy looking man wearing glasses came out.  "Hi, Dawn Summers.  I was sent from DC for some samples."

"I don't know what you're talking about," he admitted with a small grin, taking her hand to shake and then her arm to lead her off.  "But let's go to my office to discuss it."

She looked at the paper.  "I'm told I need to speak to Gil Grissom and a Greg Sanders?" she suggested, looking at him.  She smiled sweetly.  "My partner is outside waiting on me."

"They're graveyard, they're not in yet," he admitted.  "What sort of samples?"

"Classified," she said immediately.  He smiled at that.  "If you're not already aware I'm not allowed to disclose that information, I'm sorry, sir.  Your name is?"

"Ecklie.  I run the labs."

"Oh, good," she agreed, mentally making a note of that name.  "When are they due in?"

"I'm sure I can find them for you.  If not, there's probably someone who can and he should be in.  Hodges!" he yelled from his doorway.  "My office, now!"  He smiled sweetly.

A middle aged guy who was just starting to have a receding hairline walked in a few minutes later.  "You wanted to see me?"

"He thinks you might know about some samples I'm here to pick up from a Greg Sanders or a Gil Grissom?" she said, standing up and shaking his hand.  "Dawn Summers."

"Hi."  He shook her hand.  "Hodges, I do sample identification and classification.  Mouse samples?"  She smiled.  "Right this way, ma'am, and I'll call Greg or Gil in.  They said they thought someone would be here sooner."

"They were due out a few days ago but he got into it with NID and his leg ended up broken.  He's in the hospital."  He gave her an odd look.  She just smiled.  "They were in the wrong.  They've been handled," she assured him smugly, winking at him.  He grinned at her.  "So, samples?  Like carpet, or like body fluids?"

"Non human samples mostly," he admitted.  "Paint, animal hair, carpet, and things."  He let her into his lab.  "Let me call them.  I've got them on speed dial."

"Sure," she agreed, looking around.  "Can I sit on the stool or is it too close?"

"No, go ahead," he offered, watching as she sat.  Then he called his boss in.  "Gil, it's Hodges.  There's someone here from DC for those samples.  Ecklie was giving her tasty looks.  No, a Dawn Summers?"  She nodded, handing him the summons.  "She's got official paperwork as well."  He read it over.  "Yeah, it's official.  Sure.  She's in here with me.  I rescued her from Ecklie.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Just a few minutes.  He doesn't live that far away and I'm sure he'll be calling Greg in as well."  He looked at the paper and lifted off a hair, holding it up.  "I take it you know where these come from?"

She grinned.  "Yes, but if I told you, I'd have to have someone kill you.  Blood is so messy," she quipped. "It'd ruin my nails."

He chuckled.  "It is.  We find a lot of that around here.  Especially after people think they've gotten rid of it.  Are you interested in Forensic Science?"

"No, I'm just on the injured list.  Technically I'm a training agent for field training.  Me and my partner."

"Oh, that's interesting. You train others?"

"A bit of both," she admitted. "I'm doing my languages degrees.  My partner is experienced and we're all kinda learning from each other. I'm a short-term veteran of small group combat situations in survival training. My partner's an experienced intelligence and combat veteran, just not for very long.  We transferred."  She looked over as an older guy drug Rimfire in.  "'Scuse me."  She got up and opened the door. "Would you mind letting go of my partner, who is a federal agent," she snapped.  The guy let him go and turned to stare at her.  "Thank you."  He raised an eyebrow.  "Here for samples.  I've got our badge and papers if you need them."

"No, that's okay," he said, staring her down.  "He's your partner?"

"Yes, he is," she said firmly.  "Rimfire, back to the car."  He nodded, shrugging and heading out the nearest exit.  She glared at him.  "There's a reason I had him out there."  She walked back in and closed the door.  "I hate people who get pushy.  I'm trying to be and stay nice."

"You're doing an excellent job of it," Hodges agreed, waving Gil Grissom in when he walked past.  He handed the paper to him.  "She and Brass just had words."

Dawn smiled and wiggled her fingers.  "He didn't like my partner."

"Who was furry," Hodges said.

She looked at him.  "You know, saying such things tends to get people in trouble."

"Oh, I don't want trouble," he admitted, smiling at her.  "Just noting it for future reference."

Grissom looked at her.  "You are?"

"Dawn Summers," she said, holding out a hand for him to shake.  "Sent from DC."

"By which agency?"

She sighed and pointed it out on the forms.  "Highly classified."

"Ah."  He nodded. "Come to my office. You too, Hodges. Bring a chair.  Greg's on his way in too."  He led her off, going to gather the samples for her.  Once Greg had come in with his coffee, he locked his office door.  "Did you tell Ecklie anything?"

"I told him if he didn't know I couldn't disclose that," she admitted. "I'm sorry if he nibbles your tail about this."

"No, he shouldn't," he admitted, staring at her for totally different reasons than Greg was.

"You've, um, got a hair," Greg said, picking it off and handing it to her.  She tucked it in her purse.  "The hairy guy outside looking at his tail is with you?"

"He's my partner."  She looked at him.  "Technically, this is a classified matter, gentlemen.  The source of those samples were in town overnight right before the Sturgis rally.  It's a horribly complicated genetic defect."

"To be mice?" Hodges asked.  She gave him a look.  So he snickered.  "You're really new to this."

"Hey, it was me or IFU, who would have come in and 'convinced' you to forget about it.  I'm the nicer one.  Rimfire would have just growled and made threats.  We do ask that you forget about it."

"I would, but I got an answer back from Chicago's CSU unit," Greg admitted, handing it over.  "They know about this stuff apparently."

"We know they know and we know they're going to keep it quiet except in official cases.  The boss already had a talk with them."  She grinned at him.  "I know, it's a big pain in the ass to forget about these things, but they weren't here during the critical time for your crime."

"If you're correct about when they were here, they weren't," Grissom admitted. "Are you sure about the time frame, Miss Summers?"

"I am actually.  The two were on their way from San Francisco to Sturgis on a road trip and spent the night over because one of them wanted to see a show.  I debriefed him about it before getting on the plane to make sure."

"We have a third set of samples," Greg told her.  "Which is problematic.  This one's gray?"

"Gray.  There's so few of those," she admitted dryly.  "Do we have a genetic workup?  Or can I give you one and you test it against it?"

"Sure," Greg agreed.  She took out a few baggies and handed them over.  "Which one?"

She looked and found the three most probable.  "Here.  Should have been one of them."  He nodded, going to do that.

Grissom looked at her.  "You're very young."

"I'm partially trained and I'm working on my languages degree."

"Where are they from?" Hogdes asked.  "There's chemicals in those samples that defy earth chemicals."

"Probably all the hotdogs they eat," she quipped with a smile.  "What makes you think they're not from Earth?"

"An organic sample would carry some of the substances from the environment.  That's why trees from here are different than trees from California."  He grinned. "I'm guessing by your accent."

"Used to be."  She got comfortable.  "I can't really tell you anything more, guys.  I wish I could."

"No, we do understand," Grissom told her.  "As long as they're ruled out."

"Depending on which sample comes up as a match, I can call and ask."

"That's fine," he agreed.  "Your partner could come in."

"I doubt Rimfire would want to come in here and wait. He gets...restless easily."

"Your partner is experienced, or so you said, and he has no patience?"

"It's been a few years, and yeah, he's not that calm and quiet at times.  None of his family are.  Polite, but not calm.   We're talking people who believe in bodychecking during basketball games with guns."  Hodges chuckled at that.  "No kidding.  My former guardian is one of them."

"So, they're mice," Grissom asked.  Dawn gave him a look.  "We knew that much."

"They are," she admitted.  "But again, I can't give you information."

Someone knocked on the door and opened it.  "Her partner is presently arguing with the hookers who thought he was a cute and polite boy."

She got up and followed him, going to beat the snot out of the creatures trying for her man.  She grabbed one and turned her around, hitting her.  "My man, bitch.  Back the fuck off before I shove my fist up your twat and finish stretching it out.   No one touches my man!"  The others backed off at her glare and that one crawled away far enough to get up and run off.  Her friends followed.  Dawn blew on her knuckles and looked at him. "Can't you behave?" she teased.

"She asked me what time it was and if I was here with someone."

She sighed. "Rimfire, those were hookers, honey.  They're prostitutes."  He blushed and groaned, ducking his head.  "Do you want to come inside?"

"Please," he agreed.  "Benefits outweigh the risks this time."  He got out and locked the door, then looked at the keys.  She sighed and walked over to open the other door and take the keys.  "I don't deal with those," he defended.

"Rimfire, behave and think about how you're helping me celebrate my birthday tonight."

"Sure," he agreed, following her.  "What's the holdup?"

"They found a third sample.  I'm making sure it's one of the group's so we can rule them out."

"Sure."  He walked into the office after her, nodding politely.  "Sir.  Other sir," he greeted Hodges.

"Welcome," he said, taking his hat off.  "You are a mouse."  He looked at her, then at him.  "Are you from Earth?"

"Classified, sir."  He sat down beside his girl, kissing her on the cheek.  "Thank you for beating up on the woman for me."

"Welcome."  She patted him on the knee.  She looked over as Greg came back. "One of them?"

"Yup, this one," he said, showing it to her.

"I know her."  She pulled out her phone and dialed Enamel's.  "Hey, doc, where's your lady?  Because her hair showed up in Vegas and I've got to know when she was here."  She listened as he brought the phone to her.  "Hey, Shell.  Need to know when you were in Vegas.  Yeah, it's important."  She listened to her recounting her trip.  "Thanks.  No, small issue."  She hung up.  "She was here about two weeks after the first couple was."

"That's about a week before our crime," Greg admitted, handing her back the samples and everything else they had in the file and all the samples they had.  "That's all we gathered."  He looked at Rimfire and closed the door again, he could hear someone whistling.  "You're not human."

Rimfire looked at him.  "That's still classified."

"I get that," he agreed happily. "Can we at least know?  You're talking to a roomful of curious people."

Dawn dialed another number and handed the phone to Grissom.  "My boss."

"Hello?" he asked, sounding pleased.  "Actually, yes, she is, but her partner was found in the parking lot and invited in after some local working girls tried to hit on him. No, we just wanted some information for our own curiosity and she said she can't and won't.  She has managed to exclude all three samples we had from the crime.  No, sir, thank you," he agreed happily.  "Sure, I agree fully and we only wanted to know for our own benefit.  Thank you."  He handed the phone back.

Dawn took it, listening.  "All of them, Micah.  Sure.  No, we're heading out to celebrate my birthday a week early."  She grinned.  "Thanks, Micah.  No, they wanted to know to satisfy their curiosity.  No, I told him if he didn't know I couldn't disclose it.  Sure.  Thanks."  She hung up.  "I may tell you some things but it is extremely classified so I can't tell you anything where others could hear.  I'll leave it up to you."

"I wanna know," Greg admitted.  "If you're staying tonight, you can use your room.  We'll follow."

She looked at Rimfire, who shrugged and nodded.  "Works for me," he admitted.  "Micah said they cleared?"

"No, he said that there's a family who's moving here.  They said it was safer than having everyone in one city and the new diplomat wanted to be here."

"New diplomat?" Grissom asked.

"Very quietly and yes.  We're in the Palms in a junior suite.  I'm not sure which room yet."  They nodded.  "We'll head there now.  I'll leave you to police your people and make sure this information doesn't get out."

"I'll come alone," he offered.  "That way no one else can let it out."  She nodded and stood up, shaking his hand.  "Thank you as well," he said, shaking Rimfire's.  He waited until they were gone to look at his people.  "It's interesting, but I'm guessing there's a national security issue coming our way.  I'm hoping that's why they're telling us."

"Someone has to know locally," Hodges pointed out.  "Especially here in case it comes up again."

"Yeah, if we've got some moving here, then they're going to be spotted again," Greg pointed out.  "There's going to be others who'll notice."

"Yes, but Vegas is the place to hide strange things," Hodges told him.  "I doubt anyone here would look twice at a six-foot-something mouse.  They'd think they were in a show."

"Probably," Grissom agreed.  "Whereas putting them in DC would draw a lot of attention from the media hogs."  He stood up.  "Go back to work.  Make sure everything was handed over.  If not, I'll try to get a contact address to send anything else to."  They nodded, going back to their spots.  Grissom got up to head over to the Palms resort.  He wanted to know what was going on.  It was going to drive him insane if he didn't.  He got there and they were called, and he was allowed up once they verified it was him.  Once up in the suite he found a dark haired man in there with them.  "You are?" he asked, holding out a hand.

"Hendrix, IFU."

"I see," he said.  "I've always wondered if the acronym in that agency's case had another meaning."

Dawn snickered.  "I like you.  Tailpipe will too."  She looked at Hendrix.  "You heard what I told him."

"I did, and you did good, but you're not used to dealing with scientists.  They're harder to drive off the truth."  He looked at Grissom, then at Rimfire.  "You're sure?"

"I called Tailpipe, he said it was fine.  He said it'd be a good idea to have someone in the local department to know something."  He got comfortable.  "What do you really want to know."

"Where are you from?"

"Mars," Dawn told him.  "I'm from Sunnydale originally."

He looked at her.  "I heard of that town.  What happened there?"


"They're real?  I always took them as a metaphor."

"No, they're real, but you don't have many here.  There's a resort around here somewhere but they mostly keep to themselves."  Grissom nodded at that.  "What else did you need to know?"

"Are you doing a mass migration?  How many are going to be here?  Are we going to be running into them?  What do I need to know to protect them?  How often should we have to worry about these hairs?"

"The helpful file," Dawn said, handing it to him.  "Charley faxed it over with Xander's permission.  Common drug allergies and things.  You'll need to hand that to Tailpipe.  He'll be landing tonight, or we hope he'll land.  He might crash.  Male mice seem to do that a lot."

"Gee thanks, Dawn," Rimfire said dryly.

"I love you even though you do crash," Dawn said with a grin.  She grinned at Grissom again.  "Yes, we're compatible.  Actually, we go *though* birth control.  Even hormonal methods and condoms get burned through, which will burn their partner. In there is also our home number and the garage's number as a second contact.  If you can't get Tailpipe and have to deal with a mouse, you call us.  We'll let Micah know, but we'll probably know them.  There was just a revolution on their world against the people trying to destroy them.  Rimfire and others were Freedom Fighters against them.  We know most of the ones left."

Grissom nodded, flipping through the file.  "I see we've got typical problems as well.  Do we have a doctor?"

"That would be Enamel."  He nodded, finding that number.  "He's a doc who's banished but he was trying to help and got caught.  He's not a bad guy, just fairly arrogant now and then."

"That's fine," Grissom agreed, flipping to the last page.  "All right, there's a FAQ sheet here."  He smiled at her.  "You're engaged?"  She nodded.  "How long have you worked for this agency?"

"Within the last year.  I volunteered to work with Micah.  I like Micah, I respect him.  He can still kick everyone's butt and most of his people would do it with him. By the way, he's also over NID now, so if you see any of them around Tailpipe or his two kids, we need to know immediately."


"Yeah, Tailpipe's a single father. His wife died during the war of a fever.  I've seen pictures of one with Stoker, who is Micah's usual contact."

"Sure," he agreed.  "I'll keep that in mind.  How much of this is common knowledge?"

"None of it," Hendrix told him.

He nodded. "Then I'll tell my two employees the barest of bare facts.  Should I alert anyone else that this Tailpipe will be here soon?"

"You can mention that something strange will be going on," Hendrix admitted, handing over a slip of paper.  "They'll be living here."

He looked at it, then at him.  "That's not the best neighborhood."

"They'll be moving in about a month, once we've got something else set up," he admitted. "That's temporary."

"Sure."  He tucked it inside the folder. "I'll let the detective we work with know.  He's a good guy, very reliable, and he'll understand.  He was trying to bring Rimfire in earlier from what I understand."  Rimfire groaned and nodded.  "Just for sitting there?"

"For not talking to him when he came up to ask me why I was there.  Dawn snapped at him."

"I'm sure it surprised him.  Anything else?"  Hendrix shook his head.  "Then you can count on me if something happens.  I run graveyard CSI."  He shook hands all around and went back to the office, getting followed once he walked down the halls by a few people.  "Ecklie, it's still classified.  I made sure they had all the samples once they cleared the reason for the hairs being here during the crime.  Greg, Hodges, my office.  Greg, find Brass as well."  He stopped, turning to look at the sheriff and his boss.  "Did you need to know anything else?"

"She was a Fed?" the Sheriff asked.

Grissom nodded. "She was.  I also talked with someone from the Investigative Federal Unit as well.  We exchanged minimal information so I could make sure they were cleared of the crime.  They weren't here during it.  Anything else?"  They both glared.  "Thank you.  All those suspicious samples were handed over."  He went into his office and closed the door, locking it.  Greg looked at it, then kicked it suddenly, making someone yelp. "Thank you."  He pulled out the FAQ sheet and handed it to Hodges, but it was stolen by Greg.  "We're getting an ambassador soon," he said quietly, staring at Brass until he shrugged.  "A very unusual one."

"Unusual like those hairs?"  He nodded.  "Where were they from?"

"A few people who were in town over a week before the homicide."  He pointed at the sheet.  "If it matters, I have a contact number, common allergies, and the name of their doctor if the new ambassador or his children need it."  He sat down behind his desk.  "I also have where they're going to be living in case it becomes necessary."  He nodded at the door and Brass kicked it this time, smirking at the new yelp.  "So, we had a good reason to have them in that room."

"They're from Mars?" Hodges hissed.  "How?"

"Apparently the destruction we see was caused by a war, against which they were fighting.  Someone was trying to take it, they fought back.  They're Freedom Fighters who're left. The ambassador has two kids who're coming with him."

Greg looked at him.  "Schooling?"

"I'm hoping they'll be home schooled," he admitted.  "So if we run into this again, I have the contact number for Miss Summers and her fiance."

"I thought it was her partner."

"Both.  They're apparently working together.  Do we have any other questions?"  Hodges shook his head and handed Brass the FAQ sheet.  They walked out together.

Brass read it over, then handed it over. "I'll keep my ear open for it.  Just watch and listen for them?"

"As far as I know.  They said someone had to know locally."

"Sure.  I'll keep it in mind," he agreed, heading off to go back to work.  He didn't want to know, but he'd shove it to the back of his mind in case something popped up again.


Dawn smiled at Rimfire as he toasted her.  "Thanks, babe."

"Anything for you," he promised, kissing her across the back of the limo.  They didn't want to deal with things tonight and were going out to dinner.  He looked around, spotting a lot of chapels.  "Is this a religious center?"

"No, this is the home of the quickie wedding," she said with a smile.  "You can fly in, go register for a license, get married, and go home within eight hours."  He looked stunned.  "Or less."

"I've seen one that was about three hours total," the driver offered.  "There wasn't a line at the office that day.  They did a drivethru wedding."

Dawn shook her head.  "Weddings should take longer than it does to get a burger.  I'm all for quick marriages, but that's a bit too fast for me."

The driver snickered.  "This is the place, right?"

"Yeah, this is the place," Rimfire agreed.  "Thanks, man."

"Not a problem.  That's what I do."  He parked and got out, letting them out of the back of the car.  Rimfire paid him and tipped him gently, then walked his girl inside.  He went to pick up another fare, sure those two would be calling back later to see if he was free. If not, they'd be too involved and just go back to their room and have a lot of sex.  They seemed to be that way.

The End.

To Part 45

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