A New Mars for a Lost Mouse 1
by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/M and M/F sex
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

As the flash of light cleared, Vinnie found himself in a what appeared to be a natural cavern reinforced by shiny metal support columns. The red rock of the cavern walls seemed somehow familiar, but the bright lights and hard rock emanating from a nearby building was even more so. Humans were going in, and coming out in fairly high spirits, though the ones coming out seemed more than a bit drunk or high or both. He seemed to be at the end of a street with other business that weren't open occupying additional building along it.

"Well, that's a nice change," the white mouse grinned widely. "Drop kicked somewhere they know how to party." He took a moment to take in what else was around, but was quickly drawn back to the bar. "See what's around Girl. I'll see about charming some info."

The bar's name was 'The Shaft' according to the sign above the door, and the crowd was fairly rough looking, in the way people who work at hard labor occupations often do. There was music pounding out of a high tech juke box. And there was a section of the floor that was fairly busy with energetic dancing, while on the far side several rough looking guys were throwing darts. The smell of alcohol was impossible to miss, as was something else intoxicating that Vinnie wasn't familiar with. The Bartender was a large muscular human with a black eyepatch and a wicked looking scar on the same side of his eye as the eyepatch. His other eye was a piercing blue that seemed to be keeping an eye on the entire bar, though he nodded when his gaze met Vinnie's before continuing his survey of the bar.

He smiled as he took in the mixed pairings around, delighted at the selection of male or female companions available as he stepped in and unconsciously started to cruise for something attractive and reasonably intelligent looking.

As he looked around a mid-twenties human with raven black hair, and very intelligent eyes met his gaze with an inviting smile. The man was attractive, and was dressed with a bit more care than a lot of the crowd, in casual clothing that fit well on his naturally athletic body. He was sitting alone, off to one side, with a large mug of a brown liquid with a foamy head, that Vinnie hazarded a guess was root beer or something like it.

That brought an even wider smile to the white mouse and he would through the crowd easily, barely cognizant that he was showing off his own athletically buff body to full effect.

"Hello, there." He smiled charmingly and relaxed against the bar.

"Hello, yourself." The human smiled warmly. "I know you're new here, cause I'd have noticed you before if you weren't."

"Very true," he grinned. "I tend to draw attention. Vinnie Van Wham," He introduced himself easily.

"Anyone dressed the way you are, with a body like yours does." The human grinned, and extended a friendly hand that was accepted. "Lex Maza."

"Well, Lex, are you much of a dancer?"

"With a partner who doesn't have two left feet I am." He smiled as he stood and got a challenging grin in return.

"I've been called many things, but that's not one of them," he laughed and moved out onto the dancefloor with his new companion.

"That's the best thing I've heard all evening." Lex grinned, and moved easily into the beat of the high energy song that was playing. It didn't take much for him to know his partner was experienced, if not a completely natural.

"You are good." Lex said with honest admiration as they moved into another song. "And dance just shows off that body of yours so well."

"Everything shows off this body well," he smirked and slipped his tail around the human to draw them closer, as much as the music allowed.

"Except maybe a Type-5 space construction suit." Lex chuckled, as he looked down at the tail and smiled. "And you'd probably even look good in one of those." He grinned, as the jukebox began playing a slow hard rock ballad. He took the opening and moved closer as he put his arms around the white Mouse and pulled him close.

"And nothing at all," Vinnie rumbled and moved even closer, rubbing fur against skin the way he'd learned most humans would die for.

"I'm sure of that." Lex grinned and ran his hands through the short dense fur. "You have a wonderful fur texture." He murmured softly as he was nuzzled and strong hands explored him in turn.

"It comes with the breeding," he grinned. "And a lifetime of living right."

"All the right parties, huh?" He smirked teasingly, as one hand reached up to run along the edge of one big ear with a playful tenderness.

"There was a time it wasn't a party without Vinnie Van Wham there," he grinned, though his expression gave no doubt he liked the touch.

"Somehow I can believe that." Lex grinned, as he repeated the caress on the other ear. "I expect you'll be making the parties around here too." He rumbled hotly.

"I expect I will be," Vinnie grinned against the willing human. "So are you really mellow, or have you met a Martian Mouse before?"

"Can't say I've met a Mouse before." He grinned. "But I was seeing this Dire Wolf Lupo a couple months ago." He chuckled. "I like fur."

"That's good, cause it's all over, and gets softer in a few spots," he murmured against Lex's ear. "Particularly over the hard spots."

"I'm sure it does." Lex almost purred. "So is it the same gorgeous white all over?" He asked, as he ran one hand down Vinnie's back to caress the curve of his ass, through his jeans, bringing their groins together for a less than subtle rubbing.

"Everywhere," Vinnie promised. "Perfectly snow white."

"Stunning." Lex breathed hotly against Vinnie's neck. "So, you have a place in the city, or shall we take this to mine?" He suggested, while nuzzling the Mouse's neck affectionately.

"Your place," he shivered in anticipation of a good fucking to settle into this place and relax this delicious human into talking. "Mine's sort of roaming around at the moment."

"Roaming around? Starship?" He asked curiously.

"Not so grand," he chuckled softly. "She just has a mind of her own and out investigating the new turf."

"Fascinating." He rumbled. "So shall we take this party private?" He whispered hotly in Vinnie's ear, as he nodded toward the exit.

"Definitely," he rumbled back and gave the human a light lick along the rim of his ear. "Doesn't seem like the public party kind of place."

"Nah, that'd be Flashpoint." Lex chuckled and led the way to the exit.

"Which is definitely for different leathers than I've got at the moment," he chuckled and pressed close as they walked out. "But this is definitely the way to break in a new world."

"Won't argue with that." Lex grinned as he led the way through the still busy, but not crowded streets. "And if you don't happen to have the right leathers, I can suggest a couple of good places." he grinned.

"I'll need them soon," Vinnie chuckled softly. "'Fraid my gear didn't make the trip."

"Not a planned trip then?" Lex asked curiously as they boarded an elevator.

"They usually aren't," Vinnie shrugged with a chuckle.

"So you travel a lot?" Lex asked curiously.

"Only when I have to," he chuckled with a bit of a dodge on the issue. "I haven't gotten many options lately."

"Traveling on business then?" He asked as the elevator slid upward quietly.

"Something like that," he nodded and relaxed back against the wall to pull the human close. "Higher ups that don't like to listen when I tell them I just want to go home with my Bros."

"Bros? Then you're traveling with friends?" He asked curiously, leaning easily against the Mouse's furry chest.

"I wish," Vinnie sighed softly. "Haven't gotten the chance to see them in way too long now."

"Well, let's see if I can take your mind off your troubles for awhile." He smiled softly, nuzzling the white Mouse's neck while his hand rubbed Vinnie's crotch through the denim of his jeans.

"Oh yeah, that's the way to start," he grinned and thrust into the contact shamelessly, his own hands and tale taking full advantage of the opening to feel his new human playmate up.

"Some things with guys are pretty universal." Lex rumbled, as he relaxed into the Mouse's touch, while he massaged his new playmate's crotch with more intensity. "How about the antennae, are they in play, or off-limits?" He asked politely, his breath hot against Vinnie's neck.

"Oh, definitely for play," he grinned, moving his tail between them to rub along the human's hard-on while he squeezed Lax's ass.

"That's good." Lex rumbled, as he reached his free hand up to gently trace up the side of one thick antenna. A sharp gasp and shudder met the action, bringing Vinnie to drop his head slightly into the touch with a resonant moan of pure pleasure.

It was right at that moment when the doors of the elevator opened, and a middle-aged man and woman boarded, pointedly without looking at them. Lex looked up and chuckled. "Our stop, hotstuff." He grinned and led the way down the row of small residential buildings.

"None too soon," the mouse breathed sharply. "They were about to get a real show."

"Probably more then they bargained for." He chuckled as he walked up to one fairly well kept building, and unlocked the door. "We can play undisturbed in here." He smiled invitingly leading the way in. The short entryway gave way to a medium sized living room, with a TV, stereo system, a couple of padded chairs, and a comfortable looking red and grey fabric couch.

"It usually is," Vinnie smirked and grabbed Lax for a hungry kiss and press of their bodies together. "I had a bed in mind, though."

Lex grinned as he tugged Vinnie through a door into the bedroom. The bed wasn't fancy, but it was large, and looked very comfortable. The rug was a deep purple, with a very deep, soft texture. Sticking out from under the bed Vinnie could see what appeared to be a pair of handcuffs.

"Oh, I think we're going to have lots of fun," the Mouse grinned widely and pushed his playmate onto the bed before pouncing on him for a playful tussle.

"I hope so." Lex laughed as they wrestled on the bed. Vinnie however had the advantage in both size and experience, and ended up on top, with Lex grinning up at him. "So, you prefer to be a top, bottom or no preference?" He asked with a broad smile.

"My preference is it all," he grinned down and pressed his advantage for a kiss while his tail worked on the human's belt. "As hard as it gets, as intense as it gets."

"Oh, you are a find." Lex rumbled, seriously aroused, as the kiss broke briefly. "Then I bet you play games too." He grinned lustfully.

"Oh hell yes," Vinnie licked his lips eagerly as he pulled Lex's pants down. "I saw some of what you have to play with too."

"Did I forget to put my toys away again?" He grinned playfully and lifted his hips to make it easier to get his pants off, listening as they hit the floor.

"Some at least," he smirked and unbuckled his own belt. "I think we're going to be having lots of fun before I head out."

"Oh, I'm sure of that." Lex grinned, as he slid his shirt up over his head, and dropped it to one side of the bed. He then turned to watch the white Mouse with lustful eyes as Vinnie's hard, aroused body came fully into view over him.

"Do you need lube for this?" He rumbled, stroking himself with his tail.

"Not unless you're gonna get as big as my forearm." Lex grinned.

"I could arrange for that," Vinnie's eyes glittered mischievously before he slid down to lift Lex's legs up.

"Maybe later, hotstuff." Lex smirked back, as he lifted and spread his legs invitingly. The hunk of a white Mouse over him didn't hesitate before plunging forward with a rumbling moan of being buried in a willing lover.

"Oh, yeah." The lean human moaned in pleasure, at the full feeling. "Give it to me, Vinnie."

"You got it, Lex," he grinned and thrust eagerly, grateful to let the growing pleasure and sex-saturated air wash his concerns away for the moment.

Lex moaned in pleasure, and gripped down on Vinnie's cock on the outstrokes trying to hold the pleasant full sensation as long as he could, and welcoming the hard Martian cock back into his body as Vinnie drilled into him with complete abandon.

"Oh god, Vinnie." Lex moaned, as he was driven to his limit by the skillful fucking Vinnie was giving him. "I'm gonna cum." He moaned loudly right before his body jerked, as his cock sprayed hot seed across both the white Mouse and himself. His moans were quickly joined by the slightly lower and much louder grunting howls as Vinnie's release was dragged from him by the tightening body around him and the scent of cum and sex all around him.

"Oh, fuck yeah." Vinnie grinned broadly, even as his body was still shuddering and jerking reflexively into his lover. "That is the way to start an evening."

"No kidding." Lex murmured, still breathing hard as he came down from his orgasm. "One hell of a way." He grinned loopily up at the panting Mouse.

"The best way," Vinnie grinned down and leaned forward to kiss him, still buried deep in Lex's ass.

It was a kiss Lex returned eagerly, putting his arms around Vinnie to draw him in for a passionate kiss. "So, what would you like next?" He rumbled suggestively.

"A return of favors," he raised an eyebrow invitingly. "If you're up for it." He played his tail along the throbbing length of human cock.

"Oh, I think I can be up for it." Lex grinned, as he looked over the white Mouse's muscular body, hungrily, as his cock began to harden. He unexpectedly burst into motion, and pushed the hunk of a mouse onto his back, though he met very little resistance beyond the moment of combat tension of surprise. "So, do you need lube for this?" He asked politely, though something said the Mouse probably didn't.

"Nope," he smirked, rubbing Lex's cock with his tail. "And you're even nice and smooth."

"Good." Lex rumbled, as he lifted the Mouse's powerful legs up, and buried himself deep inside the warm passageway. He began thrusting with a powerful rhythm that alternate between long, deep strokes and short, shallow ones.

"Oh, yeah. Fuck me baby," Vinnie's moan was long and ragged, his body hard and hungry despite its recent orgasm. As he thrust into the penetration, forcing Lex deeper, Vinnie doubled his tail up and pressed into his lover again, setting up a counter rhythm.

"Oh, yeah." He rumbled, as he shuddered with the new pleasure. As he continued to thrust hard into the willing and eager passageway, he used one hand to fondle and tease the Mouse's sheath, cock and balls.

The attention was welcomed as much as his cock, and each particularly good touch and stroke earned his cock a tight squeeze and eager moaning encouragement from the Mouse under him.

Lex leaned forward as he continued to fuck Vinnie. As he did so, he kissed him briefly while one hand reached up to stroke the sensitive antennae sensually. It was enough to draw a strangled scream of pleasure from the Mouse and almost immediately set off the pulsing contraction of a second orgasm.

As the mouse's passageway pulsed around his cock, Lex continued fucking him with increasing speed as he approached his limit. He moaned loud and incoherently, as he shot over his limit and came in muscular contractions that pumped his seed deep into the Mouse's hunky body.

They were both panting heavily and coated inside and out with each other's cum when Lex was gently pulled forward to lay against Vinnie's body. "Definitely a good way to start the evening."

"Best evening I've had in months." Lex smiled, as he lay against the Mouse's chest, catching his breath. "And it's still early."

"Quite early," he grinned back, stroking his sweaty bedmate affectionately. "So what made you think I was dropped here, and not something more normal?"

"I've never heard of a species that matches your description, and that's very rare." He smiled. "The way you talk also doesn't sound like someone traveling under normal circumstances. More like someone having travel inflicted on them." He said quietly.

"Not many I pick up figure it out," Vinnie smiled softly. "Hell, not many seem to notice I'm a mouse, even when I use the tail."

"How the heck could they miss that you're a mouse?" Lex said shaking his head in bemusement. "But the unusual and the bizarre is kind of my family's motto. Great Aunt Elisa actually dated outside her species before Earth had its first official contact with aliens. Of course, she was dating a species that's been on Earth at least as long as humanity, if not longer."

"I don't know, I guess most folks just don't look, when they aren't used to it." He shrugged a bit. "Most places I get dropped aren't used to aliens. You know where Earth is?"

Lex broke up laughing for several minutes under the infrequently disturbed glaze of his bedmate. "I should hope so. It's only about five hours away by interplanetary shuttle."

"Interplanetary?" Vinnie's voice was soft, shocked as realization hit him like a ton of bricks. "We're on Mars, aren't we?"

"Of course. The City of Seria Planum." He nodded. "Fourth sub-level."

Vinnie lay back, all the will drained from his body for a long time while he struggled with all that implied.

"Humans ... control Mars now," he whispered painfully, then shook his head hard and rolled off the bed and grabbed for his jeans. "No. That can't be real. Someone must have survived. Someone."

"Whoa, Vinnie." Lex said standing quickly and put a hand on the Mouse's shoulder. "Someone of who must have survived. According to the evidence we've found, Mars hadn't been inhabited for over a thousand years, when the first human arrived."

"My people," the white Mouse growled over the pain and abrupt loneliness rippling through him, his tail lashing almost uncontrollably in his distress. "I'm a Martian Mouse."

"Well, we've never discovered just who the native population that disappeared a thousand years were. So it's certainly possible. Unless, of course, you're in the wrong dimension and this isn't the Mars you came from." He said quietly.

"Can ... what year is this?" He tried to think and desperately wished Throttle was there. He was so much better at this.

"March 22, 2119." Lex said easily.

"Hundred something years," he shuddered and tried to draw a deep breath. "Can ... can you find out what happened to a human, from Chicago? 1990-something."

"I can try." Lex nodded. "The records from the later half of the twentieth century are pretty much all online now." He said, leading the way across the living room into a small study. He tapped a couple of keys to bring his computer on-line. "Chicago of the nineties. What was his or her name?" He asked gently.

Charley ... ah, fuck, I don't know her last name. She owned the Last Chance Garage."

"Hmm, that's a little more complicated. Have to cross reference city and county registries with females named Charley." He said typing with the ease and speed of one used to it. "It'll be a few hours, before we get an answer." He said simply.

Vinnie nodded, his natural impatience on bright display as he tried not to pace and tried to think of some intelligent way to deal with this. It probably wasn't his Mars. Not his Earth.

And it still hurt like friggin hell to think of a Mars without Mice. Hurt even worse to think of humans on his world. Even if it wasn't the Mars he grew up on and fought for, Mars belonged to Mice, damnit.

Lex watched the white Mouse pace, without moving. He knew that it had to be completely disturbing to find your homeworld belonging to someone else and your own people nowhere to be found. He was pretty sure he'd be torn up pretty bad, if he found Earth completely devoid of humans, and inhabited only by Mice. He gave the idea some brief debate, and then started typing again, maybe the brass wouldn't like him using the Company's resources for personal research, but he'd deal with that later.

"Can you see if a guy named Limburger existed in the same time?" Vinnie abruptly turned around, his voice low, still a little shaky, but focused in a way that was utterly unnatural to him. "He owned several big companies, tried to strip Earth of all its resources like they did Mars. We fought him a lot. I don't think anybody new he wasn't human, at least not last time I heard anything."

"Easy enough to add." Lex nodded, as he typed. His hands moved rapidly as he moved through the Company's better-connected and more powerful computer net. The information started coming back the way it usually did when the net-comps didn't have to get into secured or restricted files. "Nope, nothing on anyone by the name Limburger. Only references are to the cheese." He said quietly, and then smiled. "Here we go. Charley Davidson, owner of the Last Chance Garage, and founder of the Service Center chain of the same name. Born 1965, died 2057. Her daughter, Morgan Davidson is currently head of Last Chance Incorporated."

"Daughter?" He looked between the human and the screen, trying to process a concept that really blew his brain. "Charley-girl ... has a daughter." He steadied on it a little on it. "And no Limburger. No Mice." Vinnie closed his eyes for a long moment. "At least she had a future on one world."

"That she did." Lex smiled, as he stood up, and put a comforting arm around Vinnie's shoulders. "Actually, she had two daughters, and two sons. And I didn't count, but it looked like there are five or six grandkids as well. One of the leading proponents of Earth's entry into the Alliance. She was quite a woman."

"Yes, she is," Vinnie's voice dropped low, a mixture of intense grief and pride competing for his tone. "She took in three rowdy Biker Mice from Mars with barely knowing our names, and fought for Earth as well as any of us. Never knew anyone like her."

"You know, there's a memorial to her, here on Mars." Lex said quietly. "She really believed in the space program, that humanity needed to keep looking outward to survive. Her company was one of the corporate sponsors for the early colony cities."

Vinnie blinked as he had to reevaluate things again. "Company's that big?" He asked softly.

"She was one hell of a shrewd businesswoman." He smiled. "By 2017 when the Mars project really got rolling, her company was worth a little over a billion dollars, it's continued growing over the last century. Last Chance Inc. is significantly more than just a chain of service centers."

"Oh," he murmured quietly. "Would you show me that memorial?" Vinnie finally asked. "A map of Mars too. I've got some places to check out."

"Sure thing. The memorial is in Rockwall City, about three hours away by train." He said as he rolled open a detailed map of Mars on the table. It showed six major cities, a number of smaller settlements and numerous mining installations. All the settlements and cities were marked as 'domed', and there was an extensive network of tubes connecting them. "Just remember to get a breather, and cold weather gear before you go outside the domes. You'd freeze right quick, the way you were dressed when you walked into the bar."

"Helmet's for that," he shook his head, still mostly in shock as he tried to take in the planetary map and compare it to the one in his head of city ruins and rebel camps. Not much was the same, but history wasn't one of his better subjects. "We've managed reentry on Earth with them."

"Similar to a deep space survival belt." Lex nodded. "That's good."

"Will they let us in if we ride there?"

"Sure, there's no requirement that you take the train. Most people don't own private land transportation on Mars is all." He smiled. "It'll take a bit longer going cross country."

"Not that long, with Girl." He managed a weak smile, though he was still clearly badly rattled. "Check out a few spots on the way. Places I knew."

"You want to go now, or grab some sleep first?" He asked, as he typed a requisition order for mars-cycle into the computer.

"Girl can take us both," Vinnie caught the requisition. "I've got a spare helmet too." He paused suddenly and looked down. "Usually Charley's. I couldn't sleep, but we can catch a nap on Girl, or out there." He glanced in the general direction of outside. "I know this world."

"Okay." Lex smiled, as he blanked the requisition, and typed a quick note to tell the office he'd be out-of-dome for a while. And then grab a crystal that popped out of the desk. "If your bike can read this, it's the latest map with all construction and mining updated as of two hours ago."

"Cool," he managed a smile of thanks and accepted it. "She probably can. Haven't met much she can't figure out." Vinnie leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek. "Thanks, Lex. Let's get dressed and get out of here ... unless there's a shower?" He asked a little hopefully.

"Yeah, there's a shower." Lex smiled, and returned the kiss gently. "You prefer water or sonic?" He asked, leading the way toward the bathroom.

"Water," the white Mouse almost drooled. "Gods, it's been too long since I've had a real hot water shower."

"My preference too." Lex grinned. "I'm just glad we're not back when hot water showers were a luxury item." He said, as he opened the door into the light blue tiled bathroom. The shower was more than large enough for two, and could probably hold three if they were very friendly. "So, how hot do you like your showers?" He asked as he turned on the water and began adjusting it.

"They've always been a luxury to me," he murmured softly, one hand sliding down the human's side and the other in the water. "I like it hot, but I've got fur. Anything from here up."

"They finally stabilized the water supply issue about thirty years ago." Lex nodded, and set to a temperature he considered comfortably hot, that was above the point Vinnie requested. He stepped into the falling drops, and pulled Vinnie in after him. "Want me to scrub your back?" He asked, with soft grin as he ran one hand up the white Mouse's back.

"And I'll scrub yours," he promised softly, encircling the human's waist with his tail. "Thanks, man."

"Anytime, Vinnie." Lex smiled, as he squeezed some shampoo into his hand as began scrubbing it into the Mouse's short, dense white fur which seemed like it had been too long without a good thorough cleaning. Using circular motions like his ex had taught him, he worked the shampoo in, while he worked some of the tension out.

"Oh, yeah," he moan softly, forgetting all else but the incredible sensation of strong, caring hands working over his body and the incredible luxury of hot water soaking to his skin. "Oh, yeah."

"Has been a while, hasn't it." Lex said softly, as he worked his way down Vinnie's strong back till he reached the mouse's ass to very vocal approval. He spent more time than was strictly necessary scrubbing and caressing the globes of his playmate's gorgeous ass, before he continued working his way downward over twitching, appreciative muscles.

"Yeah, probably a year or more since it's been anything like this." He moaned softly, the tension in his body melting into tingling energy under the human's hands. "So good."

"Glad you like it." Lex just about purred, as he finished the mouse's legs. "Okay. Turn around and I'll do your front as well. You certainly can use the attention." He said gently, as he got some more shampoo.

"You'll get no argument from me," Vinnie managed a smile and kissed him softly as they faced each other and the water penetrated Vinnie's back, drawing more moans from him.

"Smart Mouse." Lex grinned, as he began scrubbing Vinnie's front, starting with his shoulders and slowly working down his chest in slow, sensual circles traced by strong, gentle hands. He watched and listened as Vinnie's body gave in after what had likely been months of sleeping light and minimal care.

By the time Lex reached the snowy groin, Vinnie was just barely standing on his own, his body had relaxed so much.

"Are you sure you don't need some sleep?" Lex asked gently, as he gently and carefully cleaned the furry sheath and balls before working down Vinnie's legs.

"Probably should," he mumbled softly, his eyes already closed. "Forgot how good this feels."

"Then let's get you rinsed off, and into bed." He said softly, as he helped Vinnie rinse the shampoo out of his dense fur. "Ever use warm air jets to dry off before?" He asked curiously, before actually turning them on.

"Oh, yeah," Vinnie moaned, in utter heaven. "When I was a kit."

"Well, good thing I had them installed then." He smiled softly, as the water turned off and the warm air wooshed up from the floor to dry them. He added gentle fluffing and rubbing to help the warm air remove the water from the white mouse's dense fur, leaving Vinnie all but whimpering in forgotten kinds of pleasure.

"Oh, gods it feels good." Vinnie shivered.

"Good." Lex smiled as he took his time getting the white Mouse dry. "Think you can walk to the bed?" He asked with a gentle teasing, once he was satisfied with the drying.

"Yeah, I can walk." He mumbled with a grin. "Bed's seriously messy though."

"Not by now its not." He smiled as he guided Vinnie out of the bathroom. "Wonderful little bit of automation that changes the sheets, and makes the bed."

"Seriously cool," he grinned and happily let the human guide him. His body was feeling good on a level sex didn't manage. "I would have killed for that when I had a bed."

"I never did like making the bed." Lex grinned, as they crossed the living room. "And my sign-on bonus was plenty to pay for it, and the deposit on this apartment."

"You have to go somewhere to work in the morning?" He asked, only sort of following the conversation.

"Tomorrow's Saturday." Lex smiled, as he pulled down the covers, and guided Vinnie into bed. "I don't have to work this weekend."

"Good," Vinnie murmured, moaning softly, then groaning at the luxuriant pleasure of a soft bed and clean sheets. After a bit of squirming and stretching in the caress of soft fabric his tail sought out Lex to draw him close.

Lex groaned in soft pleasure, as he snuggled up next to Vinnie with his face resting against the mouse's soft, yet muscular shoulder. This was working out to be one of the best short-term encounters he'd ever had.

The smell of a hot breakfast tickled Vinnie's barely awake senses. Not only was it hot, but it smelled good and there was definitely something sweet involved. That was more than enough to wake Vinnie, though a little out of order with his stomach and mouth harassing the rest to get up and driving his legs to follow his nose while his brain was still largely unconscious.

"Morning, Vinnie." Lex smiled, as he gave the white Mouse a kiss on the cheek as Vinnie walked into the dining room. "Sleep well?"

"Mornin," he mumbled back, drawn to the smell of hot food and still trying to blink his eyes open.

"Food's right here." Lex chuckled, and gently directed Vinnie to the broad selection of food. "Wasn't sure what you liked in the morning so I went for lots of options."

"Everything," Vinnie managed something of a grin as he instinctively went for the sugar-coated pastries and coffee to jolt his body and brain to a reasonable level.

"Not a morning person, huh?" Lex grinned as he picked up the coffee and Danish he'd claimed while laying things out.

"Ugg," the Mouse grunted, even after downing a half cup of liquid perk in one swallow.

Lex smiled and set to fixing himself a plate with some of the less sugary options, like the meat and eggs. He figured Vinnie could take what appealed, once he actually woke up. He was all but done with his plate when the Mouse finally made his appearance with a plate of real food and a slightly more than a 'walking living dead' expression on his face.

"Morning," Vinnie smiled at him and sat down before digging in with relish very similar to how he took in the shower the night before. "You cook too?"

"I wish." Lex chuckled. "Nah, I know some very good places to order from. Cooking for me, usually involves throwing something in the microwave."

"Even that would taste pretty good right now," he chuckled ruefully between hungry bites.

"Oh, microwave can be quite good. It's just not hardly cooking." He chuckled as he refilled his coffee and grabbed a Danish to go with it.

"You try living on blue dried goat meat and grasses for four months and we'll see what you think of it." He wrinkled his nose in real distaste.

"Oh my." Lex blinked. "And I thought field rations were bad." He shook his head sympathetically.

"I would have killed quite happily for rations," Vinnie shook his head, though there was no force behind it with his stomach full of real food and almost three cups of coffee.

"I take it whoever's causing these trips for you, isn't actually bothering to provide supplies." He observed quietly.

"You saw what I arrived with," he shrugged. "Just Girl and what I was wearing."

"Oh, since I didn't actually see you arrive, I thought maybe you'd secured your supplies elsewhere." He said quietly.

"Nothing so lucky," Vinnie shook his head and downed a meat link whole. "Just me and my bike."

"So, do you get any warning before you get moved to a new place?" He asked curiously. The security professional in him was worried about the implications of someone able to drop people at will wherever.

"Depends on if I'm away and looking the right direction," he shrugged. "Sometimes I just wake up someplace new. Sometimes I see it before we hit it, sometimes I don't."

"How long's this been going on?" He asked quietly.

"Haven't a clue, really. Couple years, by local times. Half dozen places."

"Any indication of why?"

"To fuck with my head?" Vinnie shrugged. "Nope, don't even know what it is."

"Strange. Ever have anybody give you a good look over, to try and figure out why it's happening?" He asked curiously, over his third cup of coffee. The look the mouse gave him was more than sufficient for an answer: are you nuts?

"No," Vinnie shook his head, his voice more diplomatic than his face for once.

"Just a suggestion." Lex backed off quickly. "Still we should probably pack lunches for the trip."

"Especially if it's going to be anything this good," he grinned and stole a quick kiss.

"We can stop at La Pastorelle on the way out and pick them up." Lex grinned. "I ordered them when I ordered breakfast."

"Awesome," Vinnie grinned and stood to move closer to the human. "But right now, I'm in the mood for a little early desert," he licked his lips and knelt, claiming a kiss on the way down.

"And what's on the dessert menu?" Lex asked playfully, as the fairly intense kiss broke.

"You, of course," he smirked and dropped his muzzle to the human's groin to nuzzle and lick it alive.

"Oh, yeah." Lex moaned quietly, and arched his back a bit pushing his slowly swelling cock toward Vinnie.

There was a loud hum as a bright green light played back and forth across human, mouse and cyberbike before the outer airlock opened allowing them access to the cold, dusty surface of Mars.

"Sweet Mars, it's good to see that again." Vinnie breathed out softly as he took in the familiar terrain. Girl rumbled her engine in agreement and rolled off.

Lex nodded quietly, as he looked across the bleak terrain he rarely spent any time in. As the unusual bike headed out, he held onto the very holdable Mouse in front of him. It didn't take him long to realize the pair really did know the terrain, moving with far more speed and accuracy than any map could warrant. It was a solid two hours out before he realized they were taking a slight detour on the way.

"So where are we going, Vinnie?" Lex asked curiously over the helmet mike.

"There are a couple places the resistance used early on. I'm going to check them out, since we're passing close by."

"Okay." Lex said easily, not voicing his doubt that the resistance Vinnie knew had ever been here. He fell silent and focused on the mouse in charge as the rocky planes flashed by and they eventually pulled to a stop around a low rock outcropping little different from the others to him. It was clear just in the mouse's body that it was hauntingly familiar to Vinnie however.

Vinnie silently slid off Girl when she came to a stop in a familiar location to both of them. Lex slid off after Vinnie, letting the silent White Mouse lead the way into a well hidden natural cave system. While not large, it was protected from the outside and could be comfortably stood in.

Vinnie stepped though the space, clearly familiar with it as his fingers moved over hard red rock walls, his footprints the first to disturb the dust in a very long time. Despite that, Lex could see traces of habitation, both primitive and technological, even the bare footprints that couldn't have been made recently.

"Another site." Lex said quietly, making note of the coordinates.

"There are thousands of them, even from early on. We built cities as great as any on Earth before they came too." Vinnie nodded as his eyes scanned for familiar and unfamiliar signs alike. He picked up the equally familiar scorching patters of both Martian and Plutarkian weapons, but it was the scattered personal remains that caught his attention the most.

"Unless they were deep underground, there's been no trace of cities found." Lex said quietly, as he watched Vinnie examine things. The mouse fell silent as something too familiar caught his eye in the red dust. When he knelt to pick it up, Lex saw a small stuffed animal, stained red with dust and time, come away from its ancient resting place.

"No, not underground," he murmured very softly. "Fishfaces probably stripped them to bedrock, like everything else."

"Fishfaces?" Lex asked quietly. He couldn't think of an alien race that fit that description, and he was up to date on the known races. Of course, he didn't remember seeing a mouse with antennae in the database, but then that might have been under the rare encounters section.

"Plutarkians," Vinnie elaborated. "They're the ones who wiped us out here, and are doing their best in my world, and that Earth. Limburger is one of them."

"Not a race I've heard of before." Lex said quietly. "Wonder why they stopped with Mars." He wondered aloud, as he bent down to examine some of the scorch marks more closely. "It's not like Earth was in any shape to resist at the time."

"It's not in mine either," Vinnie shrugged. "Three rebel mice shipwrecked from Mars and a human mechanic are all that was slowing them down."

"And somebody removed the Mice, from what you said." He said thoughtfully noting the type of damage to the rockface, and doing a rough estimate of the nature of the weapon that did it.

"We might have beaten them back, and not had the numbers to survive," Vinnie murmured softly, giving the best-case scenario he was used to having for his own world. His attention never wavered from the small stuffed animal in his hands.

"Possibly, though we've found nothing in the way of burial sites." He said quietly. "Not even enough genetic material to do a reconstruction. But the atmosphere a thousand years ago, wouldn't have supported life on the surface." He said quietly. "It still doesn't, not really even if the planet is healing with a little help from us."

He saw Vinnie shiver, the white body tightening in what could only be denial.

"Then you haven't looked in the right places," Vinnie half growled with a determination not to lash out. "My family buried our dead in Martian soil for a lot longer than that."

"There was a fair amount of volcanism about nine hundred years ago." Lex said quietly. "Not the entire planet, but large chunks of it. Maybe the burial sites got caught in that. It's difficult to get genetic traces out of volcanic rock."

Vinnie nodded at that, turning slowly to walk back to Girl with the stuffed animal in his hands and his attention very far away. Lex followed Vinnie silently, respecting the mood that had taken the Mouse. It really was one of the big mysteries of Mars why they could find technological and material traces of the inhabitants, but nothing that actually told them who or what they were. It was a silence that held all the way to Rockwall City.

"Here we are Vinnie." Lex said quietly, as they stopped at the marble obelisk in the middle of the careful sculpted and tended memorial garden. There was a gold plaque on the obelisk that read:

'Charley Davidson. Founder and Visionary. "The Stars are our destiny, but even destiny needs a first step."

Above the plaque was a holographic portrait that Vinnie recognized as Charley, even if she was almost 20 years older, though she didn't really look it.

"That's my Charley-girl." He murmured softly, the lump in his throat quite audible as he stared at the hologram.

"She was an amazing woman." Lex said quietly, as he hugged Vinnie supportively. "You were fortunate to actually know her." He said with a very slight touch of envy.

"She always will be," he closed his eyes against the grief he couldn't even put name too. "She had a real gift for making the best of everything that came her way, good or bad."

"Yes, she did." Lex agreed easily. "Turned a garage on its last legs, into a corporate empire that went to the stars."

"She's so beautiful," Vinnie murmured softly, extending a hand to brush his fingers through the open air of her image. "I never told her she was our Sis."

"I'm sure she knew. She was very intuitive about people." He said quietly, nuzzling Vinnie supportively and finding the way the Mouse smelled disturbing without understanding why.

"Yeah, she was," he murmured, his eyes fixed on the way the image warped and flickered around his fingers. He gently caressed her holographic cheek as he withdrew his hand. "She's a special one."

"Yes, she was." Lex said quietly. "Her kids take after her pretty strongly too." He said easily. "Grandkids too." He said with quirky smile that was much more personal.

"Hard to think of her as a mother." Vinnie admitted quietly, unable to picture her with the huge belly, much less doing it four times. "She had so much fire."

"From what I hear, being a mother didn't slow her down any." Lex smiled. "Despite what some competitors thought. I remember reading that she closed one of the crucial mergers when she was less than a month from delivering her first daughter."

"Yeah, that's Charley-girl." He smiled with a mixture of pride, sadness and longing.

"She really means a lot to you." Lex said quietly.

"She's our Sis, one of the gang," Vinnie nodded slightly, at a loss to explain what that really meant in the middle of the war to one who'd never seen that kind of need to rely on another. "One of us."

Lex nodded softly, acknowledging the depth of the feeling Vinnie was trying to explain. He kept his arm around Vinnie supportively, giving the mouse as much time as he needed.

"Sounds like someone is complaining about not eating." Lex chuckled softly when Vinnie's stomach broke the silence, well into the late evening.

"Yeah, I'm starting to get drearily serious like Throttle," he tried to joke, even if his voice didn't carry any real humor.

"There's nothing wrong with missing someone who means a lot to you." Lex said gently. "But why don't we go to the hotel room I rented for us, and get something to eat. We can always come back if you want to."

"That sounds great," he managed something of a smile and leaned against his companion. "I don't suppose DrewDrops are still around?"

"DewDrops?" Lex asked curiously. "'Fraid I don't recognize the name. Maybe its called something else. What is it, in general terms?"

"Party pills, uppers not much stronger than booze." He explained. "They give a really nice buzz that lasts about six hours on a good night."

"Sounds kind of like Lightning." Lex said simply. "Though Lightning is a lot more fun with a partner." He smirked playfully at the hunky white Mouse.

"That all are," he managed something of a real smile and pulled Lex close. "Know where to get some, after dinner?"

"Out of my backpack." Lex chuckled, as he nuzzled Vinnie.

"You are my kind of guy," the Mouse finally managed a real grin. "You pack party pills?"

"Next to my blaster and my comm-link." Lex grinned back. "But seriously, Lightning may be great fun at parties, but it's got a couple of medical uses as well."

"A human after my own heart," Vinnie grinned broadly and pulled him over to Girl. "What's it used for, besides fun?"

"It helps deliver a couple of medications, for controlling certain congenital nerve disorders." He said quietly.

"Stuff you take?" He asked quietly after mounting Girl.

"Since I was twelve." Lex said softly, as he mounted behind Vinnie.

"Oh," he nodded, filed it away and promptly dropped it from active memory. "So where are we sleeping?"

"Starfall Hotel. This level, section 7." He said, knowing that should pin it down for the bike, now that she had the maps he'd supplied.

Girl rumbled and Vinnie nodded before she pulled out and roared down the road to their destination.

The StarFall turned out to be a pretty high class establishment, with lots of lights, and glass and chrome, as they pulled up in front. Lex dismounted easily, and headed for the entrance. "Come on, Vinnie." He smiled excitedly.

"What about Girl?" He asked, looking between Lex and the bike.

"Well, there's a parking garage for vehicles." Lex said, nodding at the structure to one side of the hotel. "Or she can do whatever she was doing last night. Hotels aren't designed for motorcycles inside, even the smart ones."

A quick rumble from Girl and Vinnie nodded. "Just don't get arrested without me," he patted the seat affectionately and turned to follow Lex while the racing lined red motorcycle pulled out on her own.

"I'm not sure the cops would know what to make of a self-driving motorcycle." Lex chuckled. "It's not an application you find AI in too often." He said as they entered the hotel.

"It's the main one we used it for. Cybercycles have won quite a few battles."

"Wouldn't surprise me." Lex nodded, as they walked through the bustling main lobby, where Vinnie got more than a few appreciative looks from both male and female patrons. "Though technically, AI weaponry is illegal in the Alliance, but she's from outside so it's allowed."

Vinnie blinked, more surprised than he could say. "You're kidding. They're perfect."

"The Dreadnought incident of 2085 kind of changed the thinking on that." Lex said, as he passed the clerk his credit card. "An AI warship went insane. The death toll was in the hundreds of thousands."

"Oh," he nodded. "Never thought of putting them in anything that big. They're partners, not commanders."

"Thanks." He nodded to the clerk, as he took the room key. "Yeah, well it scared a lot of folks really bad. So they basically outlawed AI having any control over weaponry. There's still a fair amount of AI out there though, plus there's something called Digital Sentience that's been developing in Draconian circles." He said as they boarded an elevator. "I guess it's the next hottest thing in AI."

"Oh," he nodded, following the human. "Just how big is the Alliance?"

"Half-dozen major races, and maybe another dozen minor ones. Humanity is actually kind of the new kid on the block when it comes to space flight." Lex said as they got off the elevator.

"Mice of any kind?" He asked quietly.

"I'd have to double check the ADRC to be sure. I think there's a race of Mice, though they're probably not related. I don't recall them having antennae." He said as he unlocked the door to their room.

"Still, be nice to see someone who looks like me, at least a little." He murmured, fingering the stuffed animal in his hand as his gaze unfocused a bit.

"I'll see what I can find out." Lex said softly, as they entered the rather nice hotel room, with the large, comfortable looking bed, large TV and window looking out over the city. The bathroom had a large shower and a whirlpool bathtub big enough for two.

"Thanks," Vinnie kissed him on the cheek gently before waling to the window and opening it wide. His gaze roamed out of the domed city to the Martian sky and mountain beyond, memory giving him another vision and his hands and nose focused on the reminder of his youth, when Mars was still free and he had a family. The scent of the dust, the texture of the stuffed animal brought him back to a much happier time. One that never existed here.

Lex sat down on the bed, and pulled his portable computer out of his backpack. He quickly established a secure link to the Company's Rockwall node, and accessed the ADRC. A search, including classified reports, revealed the existence of two Mouse types. Lex blinked and punched up the first one, which was what he expected. A Mouse-morph race living on Gargarin 3, tech level 9 which was early 21st century Earth. His request for data on the second race simply got him a form letter response informing him that his request had been forwarded to he proper authorities. Wondering just what was going on with the ADRC, he shut the computer down and walked over next to Vinnie. "I was right, there is a race of Mice, they live on Gargarin 3."

"Thank you," he murmured quietly, clearly only a little in touch with what was around him. He made a strange sight there, a war hardened, partying Biker Mouse holding a little stuffed animal in both hands up to his nose and on the verge of crying.

Lex put his arms around Vinnie in a comforting embrace. He didn't say anything, he just offered Vinnie support without any judgment or expectations. It seemed to calm him a bit, and eventually the Mouse relaxed into the embrace, resting his head against Lex's.

"Never thought I'd see this." He finally whispered. "A Mars without Mice, Charley-girl a grandmother and gone." Vinnie shook his head, desperately trying to clear the morbid and depressing thoughts from taking control.

"Vinnie, you've jumped ahead a century and then some and into a different universe." Lex said softly. "Assuming you can find the way back, your Charley, and your Mars are still where you left them." He said gently, trying to ease the white Mouse's pain a little. "This is just an alternate path reality took."

"One I am so not ready for." He almost whimpered and half muttered.

"One I think you can handle, if you choose to." Lex said confidently, brushing his hand affectionately along Vinnie's cheek. "With a little help from someone who cares." He smiled softly.

"I'm a Van Wham, of course I can handle it." The reflexive brag carried none of its usual flair, even if it was believed in the very core of his being.

"Well, that's good to hear." Lex smiled. "Feeling up to dinner?"

"Dinner sounds good." He nuzzled the human. "So does getting completely wasted and fucked senseless."

"After dinner, we can work on wasted and fucked senseless." Lex chuckled playfully, as he picked up the phone. "Anything you'd prefer for dinner?"

"Pizza and root beer?" He asked hopefully.

"We can do that." Lex grinned. "Any preference for toppings on the pizza?"

"Everything," Vinnie shot back with almost a real grin. "Lots of everything."

"Okay, hope you don't mind if I leave the fish off." Lex chuckled. "You want the standard Earth root beer, or one of the more exotic brands. There's a import from Luperis Prime that you can actually get drunk on."

"I don't mind," he chuckled softly. "And that import sounds very cool. Drunk on root beer. I like thou sound of that."

Lex grinned. "Yes, room service I'd like two large pizzas with everything but fish, and two six packs of Luperis Root Beer. Thank you." He smiled, as he hung up. "Thirty minutes. Funny thing about the Lupo root beer, it ended up alcoholic cause of translation problems, and because Lupos like alcohol better than just about anything. They were seriously surprised when they found out that the original wasn't a beer at all." He chuckled. "But not half as surprised as the navy destroyer that had stocked up on root beer at a Lupo space station."

That brought a howl of laughter from Vinnie, his grin wide and honest. "Oh, man. I can just imagine that."

"I understand they had a very happy crew for awhile." Lex laughed along with him. "I mean the flavor is right on, but there's that extra kick."

"Oh, that has got to be pricelessly good." The mouse flopped on the bed, though he took an uncharacteristically careful movement to place the stuffed animal on the nightstand. "I think I have a new favorite drink."

"And the nice thing is that alcohol and Lightning don't interact the way some drugs do." Lex smiled as he flopped on to the bed next to Vinnie. "It's perfectly safe to have them both in your system."

"Same with DrewDrops," he grinned and pounced on the human playfully. "It's just for fun."

"If it's not fun, why bother?" Lex smirked up at Vinnie playfully, as he leaned up and kissed the white Mouse.

"Those are for other times," he murmured seriously and leaned down to take the kiss all the way to the bed. "Other uses."

Lex simply claimed a passionate kiss, while his hands explored the soft, dense fur that his hunky playmate kept on such blatant display.

"Yeah, I think it's going to be a good night again," Vinnie grinned as their mouths parted. "Worry about the morning when it comes."

"I like that idea." Lex grinned. "Though we may want to keep our clothes on till after the food gets here." He chuckled.

"Oh, I like a challenge," he grinned down and teased Lex's crotch with his tail.

"I'm so not surprised." Lex smirked, as he ran the fingers of one hand teasingly up one the mouse's sensitive antennae and earned an eager moan when Vinnie pressed his body and muzzle down and to give his playmate better access to the sensitive organs.

"So ever cum from someone just playing with these?" Lex asked with playful curiosity, just before he took the tip of one antenna in his mouth and ran his tongue around it.

"Yes!" Vinnie nearly screamed, his entire body trembling at the >unexpected onslaught of sensations. "Oh, gods, don't stop."

Vinnie didn't have to ask twice, as Lex continued his slow gentle sucking and licking of the sensitive appendage, while his hand ran the length of the other antenna with teasingly soft touches.

He didn't have to ask twice, as Lex continued his slow gentle sucking and licking of the sensitive appendage, while his hand ran the length of the other antenna with teasingly soft touches.

"Oh, yeah." he gasped, writhing a bit on top of his lover as the pleasure washed away thought. He gratefully embraced the mindless feeling good that it brought.

Lex was distracted from his reading in bed by a bit of movement from the white Mouse, who'd spent a fair chunk of the day curled up asleep with the stuffed animal he'd taken from that cave. While extremely cute, it was distressing to see the war-hardened Mouse sleeping like a small child afraid of the dark.

Lex set the pad he was reading down next to him, and reached a hand over, to gently brush the half of Vinnie's head still covered by short white fur. The Mouse he was looking at was so different from the one he'd picked up in the bar, and yet was the same. He smiled softly, as he realized that one he'd planned on being a one-nighter was becoming a bit more complicated than that.

Even with the contact and smell of strong coffee and sugar on offer, it took Vinnie a long time to manage enough coherency to make more than a vague realization that he was warm, in a soft bed and with a warm body next to him. He noticed just how good his body still felt from the night before next. Only then did the promise of a good meal get him to move, the toy still clutched to his chest.

"Here you go." Lex said quietly as he handed Vinnie a large mug of coffee, fixed the way Vinnie had done the morning before. He made sure Vinnie had it firmly in hand before letting go and watched as the Mouse downed most of it without thinking.

"Morning," Vinnie managed a much more normal smile for the human as he started to look a little awake.

"Morning." Lex smiled. "Want some more?" He offered, holding the coffee pot up.

"Definitely," he grinned and extended the mug, his other arm still curled around the toy. "That was incredible, man."

"Oh, that it was." Lex smiled as he filled Vinnie's mug. "I haven't been worn out like that, since Cazi was visiting."

"I haven't felt that incredible ever," he grinned back and downed more coffee before finally noticing that there was sugar on offer and sniffed around without moving much trying to spot the pastries.

Lex smiled and moved the tray of pastries over closer to Vinnie. "Honestly, I don't think it was that good with Cazi. You're really something else, Vinnie." He said, as he bent to gently kiss the white Mouse on the cheek.

It drew an uncharacteristically soft smile from him before he turned his attention on demolishing the pastries.

Lex smiled back and fixed a plate of the more solid breakfast food; bacon, scrambled eggs and pancakes, and set it where Vinnie could get it when he was done attacking the pastries. He then fixed a plate for himself, and sat down to eat. He was barely half finished when he felt the soft nuzzling of a furry muzzle against his neck.

"Thanks for everything, Lex."

"It's been my pleasure, Vinnie." Lex smiled, leaning into the nuzzling. "You've seriously brightened what I thought was going to be a dull weekend."

"Nothing is ever dull with a Biker Mouse around," he chuckled softly and embraced him from behind.

"I bet not." Lex chuckled brightly. "I can't see you putting up with dull."

"No way in hell," Vinnie snorted playfully. "If it's not interesting, it's my sworn duty to make things interesting."

"It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it." Lex turned his head to smirk at the white Mouse.

"And no one does it better than me," he boasted proudly. "I am the baddest mamajama party mouse in the land."

"Well, you sure as hell do private parties well." Lex grinned broadly.

"I'm just as good at public ones, with or without the private entertainment," he promised with a hot whisper.

"Have to work on that when we get back." Lex smiled lustfully. "My friends are just going to go crazy over you, party Mouse."

"That's just no surprise," Vinnie smirked, up to his full natural cockiness. "Any hot ladies?"

"Oh, most definitely." Lex smirked. "And some of them don't even have boyfriends."

"Never been an issue for me before," he chuckled with a smirk. "But it does make it even easier."

"I bet it hasn't." Lex chuckled broadly. "And I don't think you'll need to make it any easier, once they get a look at you. We may have keep them from fighting over you though." He snickered playfully.

"Don't worry, there is plenty of this hunky Mouse for everyone," he boasted without hesitation.

"And you're just in time for the biggest party season in history." Lex smirked playfully.

"You mean parting stops around here?" Vinnie looked at him in disbelief.

"No, but some parts of the year have more parties than others." Lex chuckled. "And some parties are bigger than others."

"Oh, that," he ginned, remembering New Years on Earth. So what's the big party coming up?"

"The Centennial." Lex said, before wondering if mentioning a celebration of a hundred years of humans on Mars, was a good idea. "One hundred years since the founding of Olympus City. The big party is January 14, but there'll be serious parties all year. There's a museum opening on January 4, but that's more of a memorial than a party."

It took several seconds for what Lex was talking about to actually register, and much longer for Vinnie to deal with it. Eventually he nodded, only a little subdued.

"Celebrating what Charley-girl made happen." He finally said softly.

"Yeah, that's what it is." Lex nodded. "There was a smaller scale version nine years ago, to celebrate the ninetieth anniversary. Of course, some people would claim that us Marsies will take any opening to throw a party." He snickered. "They're mostly right, too."

"Mars has always bred good parties, and partiers." Vinnie grinned, brightening again. "It's in the air."

"Oh, yeah. And this is the best half of the year. We kept all the Earth holidays when moved here, though we do party better than they do." He boasted proudly. "I know there's a double-full party this month, and next month is Halloween, which is on a Friday this year. And then there's the fall harvest party in November, and the week of winter holiday parties in late December. And of course, there's New Year's Day."

"New Years I remember," the Mouse grinned brightly. "And you are right about the parties being better here. The party pills are a lot better too."

"Lightning was discovered on Mars." Lex grinned.

"But of course it was," Vinnie murred and nuzzled his lover. "Anything that good must have."

"Well, there's a few good ones that weren't. The Dracons have this stuff called Chimra'shen, that's pretty amazing. Hard to get though." He smiled. "For a real wild evening get a few Ferrin and a bottle of Lightning." He grinned. "Of course, that evening may last a couple days."

"Oh, I like the sound of this," he rumbled. "What's a Ferrin?"

"Hmm. Do you know what a ferret is?" He asked curiously.

After a moment of thinking he nodded. "Like a weasel, but more hyper?"

"Yeah, that's a good description. Well, a Ferrin is basically a five foot tall, bipedal ferret." He smiled. "With more sex drive than any two beings, and that's when they aren't in heat."

"Oooh, this sounds *good." Vinnie literally lit up. "They hang out around here?"

"They show up here from time to time. Most commonly in winter." He said, thinking about when he'd seen the last group. "Majority of them don't actually like space travel though. So the ones who do show up, are the adventuresome ones." He winked suggestively.

"Even better," he licked his lips in anticipation. "Adventurous is good."

"You, me, a pair of Ferrin, plenty of Lightning, and a week off." Lex nuzzled Vinnie playfully. "Now that would be a winter holiday."

"Oh yeah." Vinnie grinned even wider. "One to remember."

"Well, three parts are easy and I've got a couple months to work on finding the Ferrin." Lex smirked.

"And in the meantime, you'll just have to keep me entertained all on your little lonesome," Vinnie grinned and reached down the smooth chest to fondle his groin.

"It's rough job, but I can handle it." Lex rumbled playfully. "And if all else fails I can get two or three hot, lusty friends to help out." He smirked as his cock hardened in Vinnie's knowing hand.

"I like your outlook on life," he chuckled and shifted around for a kiss.

Lex and Vinnie were snuggled up on the soft, plush couch watching action oriented cartoons with lots of explosions. There were a number of empty root beer bottles sitting on the coffee table, which attested to how long they'd been at it.

"Hey, Vinnie. What did you do for a living, before the war started?" Lex asked curiously. He'd never heard the mouse mention anything that sounded like a career.

"Playboy," he answered easily. "The Van Whams are old money. Titled family that figured out how to make business work for us."

"Hmm. That doesn't pay too well around here." Lex grinned. "Give any thought to what you'd like to do?"

The mouse blinked, the question so far outside his expectations the confused shock played clearly across his face. It stayed there as he tried to figure out just what the human was asking.

"Takes money to party and such, Vinnie." Lex explained gently as he realized he'd kind of lost his new lover. "I've got a decent job, but old money I'm not." He added.

"Like what?" Vinnie asked quietly, realizing he wasn't even all that sure what a 'job' was beyond something that Van Whams didn't worry about.

"Job is something you do during the day that someone pays you money for doing." Lex smiled. "For most planets, being military like you were during the war, is in fact a job. Being a mechanic, like Charley was at first, is a job. Usually it's a matter of matching what you're good at, with what people are willing to pay for."

"Okay," he worked on dealing with that concept and pushing down the near-instinctive distaste of it. "Party, look good and fight. It's all I've ever done," he finally said simply.

"Well, somehow you don't strike me as regulation military." Lex said quietly.

"Uh, no." He scrunched his nose up.

"But there are a number of different ways to get paid for looking good. Model and actor are the two most legitimate ones." He suggested.

"I dated a couple models," he murmured, trying to avoid the level of work he knew actor to be. "Dress up and pose for the camera, right?"

"Dress up, dress down. Depends on exactly what the pictures are for." Lex nodded, and then something kind of hit him. "Actually, there's another option if you don't mind spending a good share of the work day on your bike."

"Never have before," he grinned back, though inside he was very unsure about it all.

"You've got a fast bike, and you know the terrain well." Lex explained. "People sometimes want to get important packages and messages from one place to another quicker than the conventional methods. That's what private couriers are for."

Vinnie couldn't help the way his face screwed up in distaste for that idea for a moment before he caught himself. "Okay, model doesn't sound too bad."

"Work just isn't something you've ever had to think about is it?" Lex asked with a fond smile.

"No," he shook his head quietly. "My allowance was always enough to play with, and then I was a freedom fighter."

"Well, there's another possibility, if talking about your Mars won't be too much for you." He said quietly, remembering how hard finding the stuffed wolf had hit Vinnie.

"I don't mind," he shook his head and perked up a bit. "As long as they don't mind the occasional 'that's classified' for an answer. I'm not giving away our primary bases, not even to an alternate universe."

"Truthfully, I think they'll be willing to take that limitation. To some extent you'll be kind of a tour guide, so you get to choose what you show and tell." He smiled. "Mostly they're just looking to piece together a better picture of who was here before us. Especially with the opening of the new museum before the Centennial."

"That I can do," he grinned a bit. "It's the kind of thing I kinda figured I'd be asked anyway."

"Well, you would've been. But there's no reason for it to be a free ride for them." Lex grinned. "After all you'll be saving the archaeologists months, if not years of work." He said quietly, as he wonder if this was a mistake. He still hadn't gotten clear answers from the ADRC yet. "I'll talk to a couple of my friends on the Mars Survey Project, and set things up.

"Sure thing," Vinnie nuzzled him in thanks. "You handle the money part of this until I figure it out? Even on Earth all I dealt with was my own pocket money."

"No problem, Vinnie." Lex smiled. "And this way neither of us has to hear about you being my pet mouse." He shook his head, and then was quiet for a little while. "Don't be surprised if somebody from MIB shows up wanting to talk to you, in the next week." He said softly, not sure what to make of the abrupt flash of tension that ran through Vinnie's body.

"MIB?" He asked very uncertainly.

"Martian Intelligence Bureau." Lex said quietly. "Security and Counter-Terrorism Agency."

"Why?" Vinnie nearly demanded, every alarm bell in his mind doing off at once. "I haven't done anything."

"No, you haven't." Lex said reassuringly. "But when a Special Agent starts seeing an unknown alien, questions get asked." He explained quietly. "And yes, I know you're Martian, but not this Mars."

"They want to make sure I'm not trying to subvert you." He nodded, still very agitated, but calming down. "So what do Special Agents of MIB do around here?"

"Well, that depends on specialty." Lex said calmly. "I'm in cryptology and linguistics. Which means I spend most of my time trying to read things other people can't. I'm also on-call as part of the X-files division."

"X-files, hu?" He shook his head. "Any relation to the 1990's show?"

"Named after it actually." Lex chuckled. "We took all the weird happenings and otherwise unsolvable cases and made one division responsible for them. Though the weird happenings tend to be other-dimensional, rather than extra-terrestrial."

"Like me," he replied uneasily, trying to suppress the wave of suspicions that sprang to mind a little too readily.

"Nah, you're not a weird happening. Weird happenings do not make regular appearances at crowded clubs partying the night away." Lex teased playfully.

"That's true," he tried to relax, though he was still totally unnerved by the idea of having MIB, or security, talk to him just for being around. "And I do make it a good party." He joked, trying to get back to normal.

"You're way beyond a 'good' party, hotstuff." Lex said nuzzling the white mouse playfully. "You've been here a week, and already people are asking me to remember to bring the 'hot party mouse' with me." He grinned, clearly not minding in the least as Vinnie tried to settle himself and relax into the attention.

"You might want to have them do themselves a favor and arrange the meeting." Vinnie said quietly. "I tend to shoot and bolt at unexpected company."

"I'll talk to them on Monday." Lex said quietly. "Try to work on the shoot and bolt reflex though. I hate to have someone come looking for me, and get shot. It causes a lot of paperwork." He smirked.

"Who else has a key to the place?" Vinnie nodded, but asked seriously.

"Well, MIB doesn't. They'd knock at the front door." He smiled. "But Cazi and Rel both do, though neither is on Mars now."

"A knock I can deal with," he shook his head with a chuckle. "But a couple guys in suits and guns that just walk in on me are asking for trouble."

"They'd damn well better knock." Lex said darkly. "Or they'll be wishing you shot them."

"Oh?" Vinnie finally felt the majority of the tension knot let go and nuzzled the black haired human. "My big bad agent want to kick their butts himself?"

"Kick their butts back down to rookie agent." Lex grinned predatorily and more than a little serious. "Grandpa would kick my butt if I let somebody walk in on me like that." He chuckled fondly.

"He was an agent too?" Vinnie murmured with a slightly more interested nuzzled as his hands and tail got into the action.

"Grandfather was complicated." Lex said with soft, fond smile as he ran his hands down Vinnie's chest gently. "His sister was a New York City Detective, one of the best."

"Not someone to mess with," Vinnie chuckled softly. "I do remember that much." He suddenly cocked his head. "She would have been my contemporary, and Charley's."

"Well, he was at least as tough. Seriously independent." He smiled. "I really do need to get to Earth more often." He said quietly.

"He's still around?" Vinnie asked softly, relaxing against the hard muscle and smooth skin he'd grown quite fond of on Earth.

"He was a decade ago," Lex nodded. "Haven't heard anything through family channels so I'd guess he still is. He can still probably kick both our butts." He smirked.

"I don't know about that," Vinnie smirked before kissing Lex briefly. "I'm a tough one too."

"Oh, I can see that." Lex chuckled, and nuzzled the white neck playfully. "But so's he." He said hesitating. "Maybe a picture would explain better." He said, standing as the white Mouse relaxed back and watched him move.

"Would I be wrong in a guess he's not exactly human?"

"He was born human." Lex said quietly. "But events of the time changed him."

"Sounds like he managed to make a decent life of it anyway." Vinnie ventured. "I mean, grandkids that still talk to you are pretty good."

"Oh, he did. Though grandkids weren't really in his plans after it happened." Lex said as he walked out of the room, and came back with a small photo album. "That required some 'help' from a family 'friend'." He chuckled softly and he sat back down next to Vinnie to get nuzzled supportively.

"This is Grandfather before the change and his sister Eliza, the detective." He said, pointing a picture of the two, that looked to have been taken in the winter. "And this is Talon, after the change." He said pointed to the winged Panther.

"Whoa," Vinnie blinked. "That's one hell of a change. Looks kind of like a cat-Garou."

"Family enemy was trying to create his own breed of Gargoyles." Lex said softly. "It didn't work out quite as planned."

"Obviously. What's a Gargoyle?" He asked as he looked at the pictures curiously.

"Oh right. I forget that most people don't know what those are." He smiled and turned the page. "That's a gargoyle, his name is Goliath." Lex pointed at the picture of the big Gargoyle leader, with his arm around Eliza.

"Weird winged human," he nodded a little uncertainly. "With a serious thing for her I'd guess."

"Nope, not human. Though Goliath is one of the closest in appearance, and yes he does have a serious thing for her. Gargoyles are tougher than humans, and they turn to stone during the day. There aren't very many of them, mostly due to some very stupid humans a long time ago." He said quietly. "Gargoyle claws can penetrate stone, including concrete which is useful for getting to the top of buildings to glide."

"Did they have any kids?"

"Yeah, twins. Courtesy of a little help from the same family friend that helped my grandfather." Goliath has a daughter of his own from a previous relationship as well." He shook his head. "Puck just felt a need to help for a bunch of reasons, though largely his own capricious nature."

"Why do I get the feeling it gets stranger as it goes on?" Vinnie smirked teasingly. "You have unusual relatives.

"Yeah, I do. Great bunch though, kept Xanatos from taking over the planet until his son took over the business. Alex was much more reasonable." He said quietly, turning another page. "And that's Lexington." He grinned, pointing at the small, greenish gargoyle. "Mom named me after him."

"Any particular reason?" Vinnie cocked his head at the strange creature with wings like a flying squirrel.

"Her favorite uncle." Lex chuckled. "And mine as well, he looked after me a fair bit, back when my folks where living on Earth."

"You guys have a long lifespan for humans, don't you?" He asked quietly, looking at the pictures of all the strange creatures Lex called family.

"Well, a lot of them only live on Earth part-time. They've been living in a dimension called Avalon quite a bit. Time passes differently there. And I guess the gargoyles age slower anyway, and the 'Spell of Living Stone' slowed down there aging even further, even once it broke." He said quietly. "But me, I'm still not old enough to be sure. "

"How old are you?" Vinnie cocked his head to look at his lover.


He nodded a bit. "Older than I figured, but humans aren't my specialty." He nuzzled Lex gently. "I'm thirty-seven, by my best guess, but with all the jumping and different planets and such, that's probably only with a five year accuracy either way."

"Age isn't a big deal." Lex smiled, and snuggled in close to Vinnie. "And most people guess low on me. I get mistake for eighteen fairly regularly." He chuckled.

"I'm fairly sure," he murmured and drew Lex close against his chest. "Strange to think I should have had a son that old by now."

"You were married?" Lex asked gently, finding it hard to see the party mouse settling down like that.

"No, but I was going to be." He sighed softly. "Nice enough girl, and no objection to me continuing to play as long as I let her run the house as she pleased. Mom picked a good match for me in her. Then all hell broke loose and I ended up on the trigger side of a blaster rifle I'd never seen before. Found out the hard way I was good at the whole combat thing."

"I'm sorry." Lex said softly. "Nothing like a war to screw with your life."

"Yeah, not much use in getting all twisted up by it though." He shook his head slightly. "Shit happens. You have to make the best of the party offered or you're never going to live."

"Very true, Vinnie." Lex smiled, and kissed the mouse playfully. "Living in the past never got anybody anywhere."

"And I go places," Vinnie grinned. "A lot of places."

It was Tuesday afternoon like Lex had said it would be when there was a knock at the door. When Vinnie opened the door, he found himself looking at two rather attractive human females dressed in black business suits and sunglasses straight out of the movie. The business suits were well-tailored, and their hair was done fairly conservatively, at least as conservatively as the taller agents red flowing locks would permit.

"Vinnie Van Wham?" The shorter, dark-haired agent asked professionally.

"Of course," he nodded, wary all over again. "You'd be from MIB."

"Yes, I'm Special Agent Merosa." She replied. "And this is my partner, Special Agent Reynolds." She indicated the tall, buxom redheaded, who Vinnie thought he remembered from one of the clubs, but he wasn't sure. "We need to talk to you, it shouldn't take long."

The mouse nodded and half bowed them in, almost instinctively falling back on his earliest training, the manners he had to put on before he was allowed out in public with his name. "Lex indicated as much."

"Thank you." Merosa nodded, and came in followed by her partner, who took out a notepad computer, and a light pen. "You're from an alternate version of Mars, is that correct?" She asked politely.

"By best guess." He nodded and motioned them to the dinning room table. "Do sit down, ladies."

"Thank you." She said, sitting down across from Vinnie.

"Thank you." Reynolds said in a very pleasant voice, as she sat down at right angles to both of them. "How long have you been on this Mars, then?"

"A week and a half, roughly," he inclined his head to the buxom redhead. "I arrived Friday before last."

"Reason for coming to Mars?" She asked politely.

"I was dropped here by whatever has been bouncing me around creation lately." He explained simply and calmly. "A flash of light and when my vision cleared, I was outside the club I first met Lex in."

"Where were you before you arrived on Mars?" Merosa asked as she wrote in the notebook computer.

"Never got the name of it, but I spent local lunar months and some in a frozen wasteland with no tech last," Vinnie made something of a face. "Before that was a world called Rekutha," he pronounced carefully with a very odd accent, "don't ask me how to spell that. Nice place, if you like sleeping with wolf-morphs wearing leathers."

"Have you ever been in the territory controlled by the Mephit Empire?" Reynolds asked carefully.

Vinnie paused, running through his memories carefully. "Not that I heard of. What do they look like?"

"Like this." Reynolds said pulling up an image of a red Mephit and turning the computer so Vinnie could see it. "Not all are red, they come in a variety of colors."

"Nope, definitely haven't met of them." He shook his head, quite sure of himself. "This is the first world above twentieth century earth in tech that I've landed on."

"Were any of the worlds suffering from any plagues, epidemics or other large outbreaks of contagious diseases?" She asked, as she continued taking notes.

"Nothing I ran across," he shook his head.

"If you don't mind, we still need you to get a physical, since you didn't come through the normal customs ports. You can either use on of the MIB doctors, or one that you pick."

Vinnie nodded, hesitating as he ran various pros and cons around his head. "MIB, since I don't have anyone in mind."

"Okay, if you like you can have Lex show you where tomorrow." She suggested. "Are you visiting, or do you plan to remain on Mars?" She asked curiously.

"I will," he nodded with easier acceptance than he really felt. "Undecided, and largely not my choice. I probably will stay as long as I can."

"Very good." She nodded, making another note, and then looking over at her partner. The two of them locked eyes for a few minutes, and then nodded. "I think we have what we came for." She said, as the two of them stood. "Thank you for being so cooperative. Vincent." She smiled.

"I really prefer Vinnie," he said quietly. "How'd you pick that up?"

"Pick what up?" The redhead asked curiously.

"My name, Vincent." He replied in a low, neutral voice. "I haven't said it on this world to anyone. I've only used Vinnie."

"Our talent." She smiled. "We see the real person with time, and it usually includes the birth name, unless the person has truly abandoned it."

"Not abandoned, just far too formal to use much," he chuckled softly.

"Vinnie does suit you better." Reynolds smiled. "Especially on the dance floor."

"Anything suits me on the dance floor, and sometimes nothing at all," he smirked at her with a wink.

"I bet nothing does." She smirked back, as her partner nudged her. "Well, guess we gotta get back to work. " She chuckled. "Be seeing you." She grinned as the two left.

"Most likely," he smirked back at her, closing the door behind the pair after they walked out.

"Hey, hotstuff." Lex grinned, as he walked into the living room. "What's your preference, go out and grab something to eat, or order something in?" He asked, as he walked over to the white Mouse.

"Oh, choices, choices," he grinned back. "I think I feel like showing off before the clubs."

"You want to show off, before you show off." Lex chuckled. "Okay, give me ten to change." He grinned and headed for the bedroom.

"Or fifteen with me," Vinnie rumbled as he came up behind the dark haired human to embrace him and unzip his pants with his tail. "Or are you too hungry to feed me first?"

"Oh, I think I can manage to feed you first." Lex rumbled, as he turned to face the hunky Mouse, pulling him close to claim a deep kiss that was eagerly returned while the human was undressed by white hands and a mobile tail.

"Good," Vinnie grinned and sunk to his knees to take a largely smooth ball into his mouth.

"Oh yeah." Lex rumbled, and reached down to caress the sensitive red antenna, causing his lover to moan around the sack he was lavishing his attention on. Then he switched to the other and brought his tail up to spiral around the hardening cock to stroke and encourage it to full readiness.

It didn't require much more encouragement, as it swelled to full hardness under Vinnie's expert attentions. As he moaned and shuddered, Lex caressed Vinnie's ears and antennae with his hands, alternating between them.

"That's my boy," he rumbled as he shifted from balls to deep throat the hard length of flesh in a single smooth motion.

"Oh, you are good." Lex moaned as his hard cock was engulfed by the warm, wet sensations, then the fluttering tightening and suction of a well-practiced mouth and throat intent on bringing him off quickly.

"Oh, gods." Lex moaned, as his hips jerked while he pumped his cum into Vinnie's mouth. He put his hands on Vinnie's shoulders to steady himself as he came down from his orgasm and was licked clean and soft.

"Now that's an appetizer," he grinned and stood up to kiss his lover a little more softly. "Now get dressed. I think we have an unscheduled date tonight."

"You do make getting home from work, something to look forward to." Lex smiled, and hugged the Mouse before heading into the bedroom. "Unscheduled date? I know Cara was kind of hoping to see us at the Lone Gunmen this evening." He chuckled.

"Would that be Agent Reynolds when in a suit?" He asked curiously and followed the human.

"Yeah, that's her." Lex chuckled as he got out of the remainder of his work clothes, and changed into tight jeans, a black t-shirt and short leather boots.

"She was hitting on me on their way out the door," Vinnie shook his head with a smirk. "I'm sure he partner all but pushed her out."

"Cara's got good taste." Lex smirked, as he picked up his leather jacket. "If they hadn't been on duty, she probably would've suggested a threesome."

"I got that impression," he chuckled and relaxed back before getting a bit more serious. "They want me to have a physical tomorrow."

"I'm not surprised. It's just to make sure you aren't carrying anything contagious primarily. Normally we catch that sort of thing at customs, but you didn't come through customs." He smiled. "And Cara's the outgoing, party person of the pair. Marta's more of a private party person, and she has a very interesting playroom."

"I have no doubt," he smirked a bit, though the seriousness didn't leave his demeanor. "It would be best if you stay for it, even Girl if they'll tolerate her in there." He said quietly, tapping the metal side of his face. "This happened the last time a doctor touched me."

"Of course, I'll stay." Lex said reassuringly, putting his arms around Vinnie. "Unfortunately, Medical isn't designed for vehicles inside."

"Just so you know, I've got no real idea how I'll react." He said softly. "I've spent the better part of my life wanting to kill them."

"Make any difference if it's a male or female doctor?" Lex asked gently.

"Just might," he nodded as he considered it. "It was a guy who did all this, I might be okay with a girl."

"Doctor Sturges is one of the best, and she's a pretty blond to boot." Lex smiled encouragingly.

"Always a good distraction," Vinnie smiled, still very uneasy, but recovering his mood. "Though if I am contagious, they're going to have a hell of a time tracking down everyone I've had close contact with."

"We'll have to quarantine two whole cities." Lex grinned playfully. "And figure out where the military flyboys went."

"And any travelers I've played with too." He grinned and leaned close to kiss his playmate. "Ready for dinner?"

"Definitely." He smiled. "So, fancy place for dinner, burger and pizza joint or somewhere in between?"

"A nice meal someplace they won't mind us smooching seriously over deserted." He grinned and pulled Lex close to run his hands down the strong, shapely back.

"Motherlode is good for that." Lex smiled, as he ran his hands through the short dense fur covering the hard muscles of Vinnie's back. "And best of all, no waiters attempting to sing 'Happy Birthday' to people who are dying of embarrassment." He chuckled.

"Always a good thing," he smirked and nuzzled his lover. "Is it?"

"Nothing worse than a half dozen tone-deaf people trying to sing 'Happy Birthday' to someone who'd really rather they didn't." Lex shook his head. "Except maybe being seated next to a family that includes three or four screaming kids."

"I meant is it your birthday," he smiled slightly.

"Actually, it is." Lex smiled back a little (how).

"Then you're the one that should be making the choices tonight." He murmured gently with a long kiss. "I promise I won't try to sing, no matter what."

"Something you don't do exceptionally well, hotstuff?" Lex teased softly. "And don't worry, I happen to like Motherlode. They've got some cute waiters." He smirked. "Though nothing as good as you."

"Nothing is as good as me," Vinnie smirked down and gave him a teasingly explorative kiss. "But no, I can't sing. As Charley would happily testify to with road trip stories."

"That's okay, you other things well enough." Lex smirked and claimed a more passionate kiss before they broke apart reluctantly.

"You got that right, agent-man," Vinnie nuzzled him teasingly. "Shall we go show everyone up again, now?"

"Yeah, we better. Before we get involved in our own show and forget to go out." Lex teased as he headed for the door with Vinnie at his side and the slender mouse-tail wrapped around his waist.

"Hiya, Vinnie." Lex rumbled as he walked in a bit after lunchtime and late enough for the white mouse to be coherent, showered and fed.

"Hi," he grinned up from the couch and the ever-present cartoons. "Early day off?"

"No, but I told them you weren't likely to come in for your checkup, unless I came home and brought you." He said softly, seeing the sharp breath of tension wash over the mouse. "Sooner you get it over, the better."

"Yeah, you're right," he nodded, though it took him a bit longer to actually force himself to stand. His tail couldn't seem to decide whether to lash or wrap tightly around his leg as he forced himself to walk to the door and the human he was investing a level of trust in he wasn't completely sure he was capable of giving so quickly.

"Vinnie, I'll be with you the entire time." He said quietly as they walked outside. "It won't take long. Afterwards, there's a good hot dog and root beer place a coworker told me about, that we can check out." He suggested quietly to the agitated but tightly controlled mouse that almost managed a natural face in public. Lex new him well enough to see just how much of an act it really was, though.

"That sounds really good," he nodded. "And a serious Lightning party tonight."

"Sounds like a plan, Vinnie." Lex rumbled, as he ran his hand along the Mouse's back comfortingly and found him leaning into the contact.

"What is she going to do?" He asked quietly, clearly fighting almost his entire being to continue walking with Lex.

"She'll look you over, run a few scans with the medical scanner, and take a blood sample maybe two." Lex said gently. "That's all. She'll probably be curious about the mask, just to be sure that you don't have any residual pain around it."

"No, those nerves died a long time ago," he murmured quietly. "Getting molten metal poured on your face tends to do that."

"I imagine it does." Lex said quietly, still disturbed by thought of such monsters. "She'll probably offer reconstructive plastic surgery to fix the damage. But that'll be a possibility as long as you're in Alliance space, so don't worry about deciding today."

"Seriously?" He actually missed a step in surprise and stared at the human carefully. "The flesh and everything was stripped off. They can fix that?"

"They'd probably have to bring in a specialist, but I've heard of that level of damage fixed." He nodded. "It's not an instant fix, and would probably require a series of treatments, I think. I'm not exactly sure on the details, the doc would know more."

Vinnie nodded, grabbing onto the topic that took his mind mostly off the fact he was going in for an examination today. "That'd be cool, I think."

"As stylish as you've made that mask, I think you'd probably be even hotter with the damage repaired." He said gently. "Assuming that it's possible for you to be any hotter than you already are."

"It's not just the looks," he cocked a grin. "It's me that makes the gorgeous body hot."

"Oh, I know that." Lex rumbled, pulling the Mouse into a playfully passionate kiss. "That's why I'm not sure you can be any hotter. You'd probably be setting fire to things if you were." He grinned playfully.

"Now that could be interesting," he grinned back and wrapped his tail around the human's waist. Despite the gesture being affectionate and the mouse much calmer, Lex could still feel the tension in that expressive limb.

"As if you don't already burn up the dance floor." Lex chuckled playfully as they stepped out to the street where Girl was rumbling with agitation nearly equal to her rider's.

"When you've got it, you've got it." He shrugged dismissively with a smirk.

"And gods do you got it." Lex chuckled. "I think to keep everyone in a better mood, we ought to let Lady take us there." He suggested.

"Definitely," he nodded, patting the bike reassured. "She'd be coming anyway." He smiled fondly at her before mounting up.

"She's faster too." Lex grinned, as he grabbed his helmet off his cycle and got behind Vinnie.

"Of course she is," the Mouse made a fake surprised face at the very thought of it not being so and Girl rumbled her engine challengingly. "Hold on," he advised, wrapping his tail tightly around the human's waist.

Lex put arms around Vinnie's waist and leaned against the muscular back. His hold came not a moment too soon as the high Gs of takeoff nearly tore him off the cycle.

"Oh Yeah!" Vinnie's howl of joy echoed over Girl's powerful engine as she took a very literal direct route.

"Just stay out of the restricted areas." Lex shouted, as his helmet's radio found the frequency Vinnie's was on. "Sweet Mars, what a ride!" He shouted as he held on and the city rushed by at all sorts of strange angles from the roofs and sides of buildings as well as the road.

"Go through the security checkpoint." Lex advised as the distinctive towers came into view. "MIB headquarters is a secure zone."

"Got it," Vinnie called back as Girl altered course slightly to pout them at the main gate with all their usual flair.

As they reached the gate and Girl slowed down just enough not to get shot at, Lex pulled out his badge/ID wallet and showed it to the guard, who nodded and let them in. "Building 7C." Lex said over the comm-link.

"She's got it." Vinnie answered as they picked up speed again, though not to the crazy levels that had covered the city in a few minutes.

"Here we are." Lex said as he got off once Girl stopped at the right building. "Medical affairs." He said, as he took his helmet off and led the way in, a very less than enthusiastic mouse making himself follow, and Girl not far behind in a posture that was clearly a guard.

As they entered the building through the front door Lex turned to Girl. "I'm afraid the building just isn't designed for motorcycles, no matter how smart."

She rumbled angrily back, her on board radio clicking to life a moment later with a clearly agitated female voice that while not mechanical, was clearly not biological either. "Not stopping me."

"She can handle stairs easily enough." Vinnie added, already fighting his own bolt reflex again.

Lex thought about it for a moment. "Is it going to make it easier on you if she comes along?" He asked Vinnie quietly.

"Yeah," he nodded, to which she added a fervent rumble of her own.

"Okay, I guess the Doctor should see both of the aliens who arrived outside of customs." He said with a smile. "Just behave yourself, Girl. This is a medical facility." He said gently.

She rambled softly in reply.

"She'll behave as long as they do," Vinnie translated simply as a fair chunk of the tension slowly unwound with his tail. "Should be fine."

"Come on, this way." Lex said, holding the door open for Girl. "Head for the elevator."

Vinnie patted his bike and let her go in first as she wanted, then followed, though his tail never lost contact with Lex as he walked inside the high tech office building. They passed several waiting rooms, where coughing and general statements of discomfort could be heard.

"Wait a minute you can't bring a bike in here." A nurse at the central desk said as they walked past.

"That's not a bike, nurse." Lex said flashing his badge. "That's a class-15 lifeform, going upstairs to see Doctor Sturges for a standard immigration physical."

"Of course, Special Agent Maza." The nurse said reflexively as she watched the odd trio board the elevator.

"Class 15 lifeform?" Vinnie actually cracked a smile after the doors shut.

"Category for any lifeform not yet fully defined." He smiled as the elevator rose smoothly. "And if she's not a lifeform, I'll be very surprised."

"She's certainly spirited," Vinnie chuckled and nuzzled Lex a bit.

"Much like her partner." Lex smiled, and grabbed a quick kiss. He held it a few seconds after the elevator door opened for their floor, as if showing off, and found Vinnie quite willing to go along until Girl all but shoved them out.

"Does she usually do that when you make out in elevators?" Lex asked playfully as they walked down the hall.

"Only when she wants to get out ASAP," he smirked a little.

A door up ahead opened and a nine and a half foot tall bipedal Dragon complete with wings walked out. He was wearing a fairly simple leather harness that was clearly designed to hold a fair number of weapons that weren't there. The dark blue male made a short bow to the person standing in the door before he turned and walked passed the trio as Vinnie and Girl both shifted towards the outer wall and watched warily as it headed towards the elevator.

"What was that?"

"That's a Dracon. A warrior-pilot from the Shalkara, if I read his insignia correctly. Just out of the Dracon Academy."

"They grow lizards big in the Alliance." Vinnie shook his head with a soft mutter.

"He's not the biggest they get. I've seen them near eleven feet. And don't ever call them lizards, unless you're looking for a fight." Lex said softly. "They're descended from dragons, and are very touchy about lizard remarks. Nice folks though, generally speaking. Very honorable."

"I'll remember that," he nodded with a wary glance back. "That looks like it'd be one hell of a nasty fight."

"It would be. Even unarmed he's got retractable claws on hands and feet, and that tail may not be as versatile as yours, but it hits hard." Lex explained as he opened the door the lizard had just come out of.

"I bet."

"Hello, Lex." A pretty blonde woman in her early thirties smiled as she noticed the dark haired human. "Come on in."

"Thanks, Lisa." He smiled. "This is Vinnie, and the motorcycle is Girl. She's as much an alien as he is."

"I see." She said, as the two entered her outer office. "A pleasure to meet you Vinnie, Girl." She said with a smile.

"Hello, Lisa," Vinnie smiled with much more charm than should have been possible given just how much a bungle of nervous energy he was.

"Why don't the three of you come back into my office, and we can get the physicals out of the way." She suggested, opening the door into the large wood-paneled exam room. Lex led the way, holding the door open for everyone.

Vinnie passed him first, his combat experience and distrust of the entire thing showing as his eyes darted about, taking in everything, especially the ways out.

"Okay, Vinnie. If you'll just lay here on the exam table, please." The doctor asked politely with a warm smile, as Lex stayed close to Vinnie and Girl found a spot she liked with a rather direct line for the window.

Despite his unease, he complied, though there was absolutely no way to miss just how ready the hard body was to move at the slightest provocation.

Lex kept one hand on Vinnie's arm at all times, while there was a soft hum from table. "Okay, Vinnie you can sit up now." Lisa said gently after several minutes. "Have you had anyone look at the injury to your face? It is fixable with modern medical techniques."

"No," he shook his head as he sat up, instinctively positioning himself for the fastest way to Girl. "Lex thought it might be able to put my face back together again, though." He said quietly, watching her intently.

"Yes, it is possible." She nodded. "Not easy, there is a lot of damage. But it's doable. I can recommend a reconstructive surgeon, if you'd like to get a formal evaluation." She said, being careful not to get between Vinnie and either the bike or the door.

"I'll think about it," he nodded slightly, less tense and much less excited about it than he expected he'd be. Girl rumbled softly, a curious sound, and got a slight shrug in exchange.

"Any time you want the referral, just call me." She smiled softly. "At any rate, your clean to go. Your class-15 lifeform partner is too." She chuckled.

"That's it?" He looked at her, too surprised to take the offer of escape.

"Well, I can pull out some old-fashioned needles and draw a few blood samples if you insist." She chuckled softly. "But it's not really necessary."

"No, that's fine. No need to go out of your way or anything," he was off the bed in an instant and visibly relaxed a bit.

"Thanks, Lisa." Lex smiled, and led the white Mouse out of the office.

"Not a problem, Lex." She smiled, and sat down at her desk to do paperwork.

"See that wasn't so bad." Lex said softly, as the door closed, leaving them alone in the hallway.

"No, it wasn't." He admitted softly, still eager to get out. "Not what I'm used to in doctors at all."

"That's what they're supposed to be like." Lex said, as they boarded the elevator. "So, the hot dog and root beer place, or would you like to go riding for awhile first?"

"Hot dogs, then ride," he leaned against the human and nuzzled him. "Got the afternoon off?"

"Yeah, I told the boss if they were going to insist on this physical, they'd need to give me the afternoon off to calm you down." He chuckled softly and nuzzled the mouse back.

"Not too far off," he smirked and grabbed a quick kiss. "It'll take all afternoon to wear off the jitters, even the way you play."

"Food place is over in block 27 C, sub level 1." Lex grinned, as they walked back past the nurse who watched the trio with a great deal of curiosity. "She must be new." He said as they got back outside and Girl rumbled in decided pleasure, along with a real breath of relief from Vinnie.

"It's not that weird a scene to be walking in?" He chuckled softly and swung up to straddle Girl.

"Considering the number of aliens we get these days, not really." Lex smiled as he put his helmet on and climbed on behind Vinnie, putting his arms securely around the hunky Mouse. "A couple of weeks ago we had two energy beings and sentient piece of art walk in."

"Sentient piece of art?" Vinnie twisted to look at the human in surprise and real curiosity, stalling Girl's revving to take off.

"Yep, a crystalline statue from Drazor IX." Lex shook his head. "That was a strange one. Took three weeks just to get the translator working."

"Way cool. Mom would have adored something like that." He chuckled. "It thought of itself as art?"

"It thought of itself as 'beauty incarnate'." He chuckled remembering a few strange conversations. "It felt that it had a duty to show the rest of the universe what beauty really was."

"I don't know about that," Vinnie smirked and twisted in the saddle to pull Lex into a heated kiss with complete disregard for the suit or their location. "I happen to think it's in the arms of a very hot date."

"I happen to agree." Lex rumbled, during a brief pause.

"Like your in right now," he smirked and claimed the human's mouth again.

"No argument here." Lex rumbled, as his hand explored the White Mouse's back, while the kiss continued without any consideration of anything other than the two of them.

"Geez guys, get a motel room." A familiar saucy female voice said sarcastically after they'd been at it about ten minutes.

"Why don't you join in, instead?" Vinnie suggested sultrily to Agent Reynolds.

"Then we'd really need a motel room." She chuckled playfully. "But seriously, I'm on duty, Vinnie. If I wasn't." She smirked leaving it unfinished as she walked away.

"I guess we should, before someone less attractive comes by," Vinnie smirked and reluctantly shifted to face forward.

"And less understanding. Like Assistant Director Malthus." Lex shook his head, as he held on to the Mouse's waist. "There's lots of places we can play." He rumbled over the comm-link.

"Oh, yeah," Vinnie licked his lips as they rumbled off. "Like that club without the dress code you were telling me about."

"They don't open till after dinner." Lex grinned. "But we can go tonight, if you'd like."

"I think so," he grinned as the city rushed by at all sorts of strange angles. "I'd probably hurt you trying to burn all this off."

"Maybe." Lex smiled softly. "But I'm tougher than I look."

"Well, care to try for the challenge of a lifetime and wear me out all by yourself?" Vinnie rumbled, his tail getting indecently familiar with Lex's crotch.

"Dinner, and then home?" Lex suggested as his hands slid down to rub Vinnie's crotch. "That has all sorts of possibilities."

"Or just home," he moaned, eagerly rubbing into the touch. "You're dinner."

"That works too." Lex rumbled, continuing to rub the full crotch of Vinnie's jeans as Girl shifted course with a rumble that was probably in humor.

"Definite advantages to having the bike listening in." Lex murmured. "Makes it easier to fool around while traveling too."

"Yeah, she's good enough we could even fuck around." He audibly smirked.

"I'm sure she is." Lex chuckled. "But I'm not quite that bold yet."

"You're missing out, Lex," he chuckled deep in his throat. "There is nothing like being deep inside a lover with the Martian wind in your face and Girl rumbling between your legs."

"Well, give it a few days." Lex chuckled. "You're the first lover I've ever had who'd even consider such things, or had the equipment to pull it off." He smirked lustily.

"We're one of a kind, lover-boy. Enjoy it while it's here." Vinnie advised with a lusty laugh.

Lex thought about that briefly, and the rubbed the Mouse's crotch playfully. "You've got a point there, hotstuff." He chuckled lustily as Girl skidded to a sideways stop in front of the apartment building.

"Soon for much more than play," Vinnie grinned as he hopped off, all but pulling Lex along with his tail.

"Somebody's a bit anxious." Lex grinned playfully, as he caught up to Vinnie and pulled him into another passionate kiss in the doorway that was returned with the heated passion of desire's need.

"Somebody has more adrenaline in his bloodstream than blood," he chuckled as they parted and he pulled the human inside towards the apartment door.

"Well, we'll just have to work that out, won't we?" Lex rumbled playfully as he opened the door to his apartment and pulled Vinnie inside. The door was barely closed before Lex found himself pinned against the wall, his suit being carelessly stripped off him by tail and hands as his mouth was occupied with Vinnie's.

"Oh, yeah." Lex murmured, as he used his hands to remove what little Vinnie wore. "Bedroom?" He suggested between fiery kisses.

"Oh, yeah, I think so." He rumbled, rubbing his hard body against the expanse of soft skin. Suddenly he pushed himself away with a daring look. "Go."

"Okay, hotstuff." Lex smirked and headed into the bedroom.

"You alive?" Vinnie nuzzled the exhausted human after a half an hour of trying to stay still in the bed with minimal success.

"Of course, I'm still alive." Lex chuckled, and nuzzled the mouse back. "I was just seeing how long you could stay still." He smirked teasingly.

"Very funny," he pouted beyond his smirk. "Shower and head out, or are you good for another ten hours of activity?"

"Works either way for me." Lex grinned. "Though I might have to take one or two short breaks in a ten hour run." He smirked playfully.

"Then we're going out, or at least I am." Vinnie laughed and rolled out of bed.

"Oh, I'm definitely going with you." Lex laughed broadly as he followed the white Mouse into the shower.

"Would slightly more appropriate leathers be okay to pick up first?" He asked a little uncertainly.

"Sure, it's still early enough to hit the shops." Lex said easily. "Scrub your back?"

"Cool," Vinnie grinned and stepped under the falling water. "You're always welcome to scrub my back, and anything else."

"Good, 'cause I love the feel of your fur under my fingers." Lex rumbled, as he dispensed shampoo into his hand and began scrubbing Vinnie's back. "It's such a sexy contrast to the hard muscle underneath. Soft and hard at the same time."

"It's a perk of good breeding," he chuckled as he lathered up some soap to return the human's attentions. "Not all mouse fur is so fine."

"I bet it isn't." Lex grinned. "I just got real lucky to have one of the best drop into my life."

"Yes, you did," he smirked before stealing a fiery kiss; a firm reminder, along with his still-hard erection, that the Mouse was by now means worn out yet.

"So did you have one of those clubs where you can play in public, in mind?" He asked playfully, once the kiss broke.

"Yap," he smirked down. "A nice solid several hour orgy was the general concept."

"General orgy, or orgy with a bit of rough play and toys?" Lex asked playfully, as he worked on narrowing down the various clubs.

"Definitely play and toys," he rumbled eagerly. "Especially towards the end when it's just 'pin the mouse and fuck him senseless as fast as possible.'"

"Oh, I know where we're going." Lex grinned brightly, as he sensually scrubbed the Mouse's ass, taking longer than was needed. "Assuming you don't mind a few horny aliens, other than humans, getting involved." He chuckled deeply.

"All the better, some of them come with very nice tricks." He rumbled eagerly, winding his tail around them to tease Lex's ass.

"No kidding." Lex grinned, as he reached one hand between the mouse's legs to fondle his swollen sheath and balls. "Though the canines might keep you tied up for thirty minutes at a time." He snickered teasingly.

"Only the really big ones," he smirked. "Most knots don't get that big if I'm well stretched."

"And somehow I think you're going to be well stretched." Lex smirked playfully, as he slipped in front to scrub the Mouse's chest. "And I get to take you home with me." The dark haired human rumbled a touch possessively. "They're going to be so jealous."

"And have every right to be," Vinnie smirked back and went to work on that long dark hair. "Maybe one will even get lucky and come back with us."

"If they're really good." Lex chuckled playfully.

"And really, really cute," he added with a wink. "There is something for sleeping between two hot bodies."

"Yes, there is." Lex agreed. "Maybe we should bring two home, so we can both be in the middle." He teased playfully and got another kiss.

"You'll hear no arguments from me. And that way we can each choose who we like best."

"I like the sound of that." Lex rumbled. "Though I'd say second best." He smirked playfully. "I don't expect to find anybody that I like better than you tonight."

"That's a given," Vinnie chuckled and pulled him close for a lusty hug and kiss. "But I'm sure the offerings will present someone worth bringing to bed with us."

"Oh, they usually do." Lex rumbled, as he eagerly claimed the kiss.

"Hello," Vinnie answered the door to Lex's apartment while the human was at work.

"I'm Marsha Vail, with the University of Mars Archaeology Department." The short red-haired, and light brown skinned human said by way of introduction. "You're Vinnie, right?" She asked, figuring there probably weren't two white Mice on Mars.

"Yes," he smiled with a slight nod and stepped out of the way. "Please come in."

"Thank you." She smiled, and walked in. "I was told you had fairly detailed information on Mars, that we don't have. And were willing to consult on the subject." She said politely as he shut and locked the door.

"I grew up on an alternate Mars," he nodded and guided her gently to the living room and two comfortable chairs. "The sites I've checked out so far have matched up with what I know. Please make yourself comfortable. Root beer, soda, coffee, juice, water?" He offered in full host mode.

"Which root beer?" She asked curiously. "There's a lot of them out there."

"Terran, of course," he smiled. "Nothing better in the universe."

"I'll have that then." She smiled. "I didn't want to get a head full of the Lupo stuff while I'm working."

"Ah, true." He grinned and disappeared into the kitchen for a moment, returning with two open bottles and handed her one before he sat down. "Though it's quite good for the party night. Rather good for a knock-off."

"Yes, it is." She smiled, sitting down in one chair. "But party is one thing the Lupos do very well." She chuckled and took a drink. "What we'd like to pin down is the location of a city. Preferably one that we don't have a dome sitting on top of already."

Vinnie nodded and stood to fetch the holographic maps he'd been making notes all over for the last few weeks and activated it. The spherical Mars flashed up for a moment before zooming into a nearly flat map of the quarter world surrounding Seria Planum.

The first think that struck Marsha was just how many dots of various colors were scattered about. It looked like the population maps she'd seen of Earth from a century before.

"Okay, what would you call the most significant?" She asked curiously. "From a cultural perspective, not a military one."

"Mmm, that would depend on what angle you are after." He considered, zooming the world map all the way out. "Neulartin," he pointed out a flashing green dot on the far side of the world, "was the world capitol. Jaura the largest population center and one of the biggest business centers." He indicated another large green dot in the southern hemisphere. "Osia Bran the biggest vacation city." He pointed to a blue dot about a thousand miles to their west. "It has more museums, exhibits and institutes than anywhere. Great place to spend the winter.

"For the finest Mars had to offer, you'd want to check out Drumin." He pointed to a bright gold dot about three hundred miles from Jaura.

"Hmm." She said thoughtfully looking at the map. "That's outside any of our current domes, and in an area that hasn't seen much exploration." She nodded. "So Drumin had the finest Mars had to offer, huh? You wouldn't happen to be from there would you?" She asked with a curious smile.

Vinnie could only chuckle. "My family never counted any one place as where we're from." He smiled and leaned back with fond memories of his youth and adolescence. "Drumin was the center of wealth and the moneyed families. When I was fifteen it was estimated that two thirds of all the wealth of Mars passed threw its control in a year. If it was worth having an not in government hands, we chose where it went, and Drumin kept the best of it all."

"That does sound worth looking into." She smiled. "To see if this Mars worked similarly. Though so far our excavations have been disappointing at best."

"So far it's been to the letter, except for the dates." He said softly. "Even the little details."

"Are you willing to come out there and give us pointers, when we send a team out?" She asked politely. "If things have been that accurate, you could save us a lot of time in pointing out good places to look."

"Sure," he nodded. "I can show you a few places, and what happened, more locally. Places the resistance used early on."

"Well, that would be interesting too." She smiled. "I'll need a couple days to set up properly though. How about Monday?"

"Sure," Vinnie nodded agreeably. "There's a place only a couple hours from here if you want a preview."

"Well, if you don't have any plans for the afternoon, we could that." She smiled and got one in return.

"It'll give you a good taste of how Mars died." Vinnie said softly and stood. "I have a spare helmet, so there's no need for the rest of the survival gear."

"That'll be a relief." She smiled. "Breathers and parkas aren't my favorite attire." She chuckled as she stood to follow him outside, where a sharp whistle brought the sleek red cycle she'd heard about.

He handed her a helmet clearly designed for a creature like him with an open faceplate as the cycle rumbled a bit.

"Mount up." Vinnie nodded to her as he settled with relaxed familiarity in the saddle.

"Now, not too crazy okay?" She asked a little nervously as she put the helmet on and got on behind him. "I've never ridden one of these before."

"Lady, no one here has, that hasn't ridden with me," Vinnie grinned as Girl revved her engine and pulled into traffic with remarkable restraint.

Even as she registered the moment, she realized the faceplate of this helmet was a force field, and when it powered up, it was protecting her entire body.

"We're on comm link here, so you can talk if you want." Vinnie told her as she held tight and they help it to a reasonable pace on the way to the exit of the domed city. "Though if you want us to stay slow, it's a longer ride than I said before."

"Maybe work up to fast." She said beginning to enjoy the ride. "I'm just a terrible klutz." She admitted softly. "I fall off of bicycles."

"You won't fall off," Vinnie told her with far more seriousness in his voice than usual as he squeezed his tail around her gently. "We won't let you. Promise. Biker Mice honor."

She thought about it for a few minutes as they passed into the outside world, not sure about trusting someone she'd just met. And then she decided to actually take a risk for once. "Okay, I believe you." She said over the comm, as she leaned against his back. "And I like the seatbelt." She chuckled, looking at the tail.

"Rev it up, Girl." Vinnie grinned. "Steady and level to Cryssen Caves."

With the power of complete control their speed smoothly increased until the red dust was flashing by faster than she'd ever gone on the ground before. Even at this speed it was obvious they were headed somewhere this pair knew how to get to very well.

She watched the terrain flash by for a long time, probably half the distance to Rockwall City, before they slowed enough for her to actually be able to track anything but flashes of red at different levels. Eventually they pulled to a stop near a rocky outcropping that looked like all the others.

"This is Cryssen," Vinnie told her with a soft, haunted voice and slow movements so at odds with his previous grace. "One of the early hiding places they found."

"This place means something to you personally, doesn't it?" She asked quietly.

"It was the first place I saw what was happening," he murmured over the comm, closing his eyes for a moment as the memories rushed back. The stench of blasters and Martian blood. The scream his youngest sister gave when half her body was torn from her. The bravery she showed as she bled out into the red soil, telling him to get his tail to safety.

The rush of hope and determination as the rebel cycles roared in to save the few survivors.

The flash of rage and sudden exhilaration as he picked up a discarded blaster and joined the fray.

The words of respect and praise as the team leader consoled him when the dust had settled.

And the offer the tawny mouse with the strange green shades gave him, of a place on his team. A place on the Biker Mice of Mars.

"Thank you for showing me." She said softly, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder. "I can see it's not an easy place for you."

"There are good memories too," the buff warrior suddenly seemed years younger and so much more innocent. "Good and bad memories are anywhere you care to point." He said softly before taking a few steps forward to lead her inside, the footprints he and Lex had left the week before hard to distinguish from those a millennia and a half old except for the tread on the human's boots.

"Any story you want to tell, please feel free." She said encouragingly.

"I wouldn't know where to even start," he said simply, his fingers trailing over blaster scared rock as they stepped into the living quarters turned battle ground. He could even still see the deep black bloodstains where Mice lost their lives, young and old, fighters and innocents. It was the day he considered Vincent's death, and Vinnie's birth. He had never been the same after he picked up that blaster.

"The offer is always open if you ever find a place." She said softly. "Survivors of wars have often found comfort in telling their stories." She said, as she knelt down by one of the energy weapon scarred rocks and pressed her hand against the rock until she could feel the cold through the force field. Not the physical cold, but the emotional cold that was found wherever death occurred.

"Does your world have ... families whose wealth is such their children only need to worry about looking good and enjoying the best life has to offer?" He asked, his voice strange to his own ears as he knelt next to a huge bloodstain right where he remembered it.

Alternate universe or not, it couldn't have been more perfect if they'd tried. Even the things left and done years later when he returned here, trying to get back to camp and his Bros after a less than stellar mission.

"Mars doesn't really yet, but Earth, where I'm from, does." She nodded softly. "I even dated one once."

"Then you know a little of the Van Whams' world," he said quietly, his fingers caching a small handful of the stained dust and letting it fall back in place. "We were nobles, married into the royal bloodlines of a dozen countries and a powerful house in our own right. When the cities and industry came, we were one of the few who recognized it was not only here to stay, but that it was the way of the future, the way the new nobility would be chosen in centuries to come.

"We invested heavily in it. The lords at the time were brilliant, choosing well in what we pursued in the new order." Vinnie continued, not even questioning why he'd talk so freely to this human when he wouldn't say such things to Lex. "We kept our status when the other noble houses fell one by one into oblivion, or at least obscurity, as their nations merged and Mars became a single economy, a single society.

"In my lifetime, there was some debate whether it was the Van Whams, Burdani or Silverquick's that were the true leading family of Mars, but not even they doubted how important we were. How valuable Van Wham approval was, or the strength a good marriage with one of us was. Mother chose a beautiful silver shemouse for me. Fine blood, fine body and a playful personality that didn't mind if I stayed a playboy, as long as she got to run our house."

He closed his fist, the traces of green blood grinding into the leather of his glove as he remembered when he had seen her last. It had been so sweet, so innocent of what was to come. Neither had a clue it would be the end of their comfortable life. "We would have had such beautiful kits."

"I'm sure you would have, Vinnie." She said gently, standing to rub his shoulder comfortingly. "Dreams are one of the first casualties of war." She said understandingly.

"Innocence and the future fall first," he told her a little dully. "We ... I ... still have some dreams left, different dreams, but they're there." He stood slowly and led her further into the complex, well past what Lex had seen. "Even if they're only dreams of a flashy death and fish guts scattered across the galaxy.

"There were maybe a thousand mice here when they found us. Only a couple even knew which end of the blaster to point. We thought we were safe, that the war would be over soon and we'd have a place to return home." He let out a soft sound, not really a sigh, but not really anything else either. "I kept track afterwards. When I was a freedom fighter and not a civilian. Most of them where my kin, or friends. Within six months I was the only one left. Always tried not to think of why."

"There's no real 'why' to the fortunes of war." She said softly. "Survival is equal parts luck and skill, or maybe more luck. Mostly it just is." She added quietly.

"And really good Bros watching your back and pulling your tail out of stupid mistakes." He almost smiled. "Gods, they put up with a lot from me."

"Vinnie, what are the burial rites of your people?" She asked gently. "Burial, cremation, something else?"

The question caught him by surprise, making him think before he answered. "It depends on the family." He finally said. "The rites we have in common are the Remembering, something like a wake on Earth. It's after the body is dealt with. Most I knew preferred burial in a family sanctuary. Sanctified ground. There wasn't usually time for more than a quick ceremony, and more often than not there wasn't much of a body to dispose of."

"Do you know where any such sanctuaries could be found? We're not looking to disrespect the dead, but truth is we've found nothing of the sort so far. No corpses, not even bones."

"That's ... odd." he murmured, then nodded slowly. "I know where the ones for my social circle are, and a few the rebellion used when we could. Mostly around Drumin."

"I'll need to do some paperwork, before I can get expedition to Drumin approved. But I think that's the next step." She said thoughtfully. "There's a definite mystery here. And I never could resist a mystery."

Vinnie nodded, looking around. "Maybe it will even give a little peace to a warrior who lost his war." He murmured softly, trying to come to terms with what this brought up for him, good and bad and coldly terrifying.

"Maybe." She said softly. "I do want to thank you for sharing this with me." She added gently. "Can I take you to dinner when we get back to a city?" She offered with a warm smile.

"Sure," he managed a slight smile; still not nearly back to the smooth operator he'd been when she first saw him, but better than a few minutes before. "Do you want to bring anything back from here?"

"No, I don't have the proper materials for proper transport." She said simply. "But I know where I am, if I decide to make a proper survey of it."

Vinnie simply nodded. "You must have a very good direction sense, with the speed we were going."

"I wish I could claim that, but no." She smiled. "Global Positioning Satellites make it impossible to get lost on Mars these days."

That earned her an utterly blank look from the white mouse, but he nodded acceptance. "Want to look around some more?" He offered quietly.

"If you don't mind." She nodded.

"I don't," he said softly. "There are some good memories here, and a lot I shouldn't have forgotten in the first place. Anything you're interested in?" He glanced at her. "I know this base very well."

"The people really. What they did when they weren't fighting." She said quietly. "Who they really were."

Vinnie actually laughed a little, a strange smile crossing his face as he looked around. "They were just people. We told stories, traded news, cooked, took comfort in what we could as the war raged outside." He shoved away from the wall and walked rather purposefully towards the back of the cavern complex where it was carved out into more individual places.

"Just people to you." She said as she followed. "But to me, to us who we inherited Mars from. What's left of it. That makes them very interesting."

"I spent four years on Earth," he said softly, same Earth I watched from my Mars." He shook his head. "There wasn't much difference. There were parties and holidays and dating and families." He paused outside one of the rooms. "I guess I don't get what you want to know."

"I wasn't sure how things differed, if they did. Before now we knew very little about them. Just scattered artifacts that didn't tell us much. It would be like you trying to understand Earth by looking at a few chairs and a floor lamp."

"Well I'm willing to try to answer questions," Vinnie nodded before stepping into the room scattered with children's toys. "Chicago had its oddities, but it wasn't too hard to adapt to.

She nodded. 'Well, what was the oddest thing for you?" The researcher asked curiously.

"That no one seemed to notice I was a six foot tall talking mouse with antennae." He chuckled softly.

She blinked and then chuckled. "Just how the hell did they miss that?" She said in amazement. "I've heard of selective blindness, but that's a bit much."

"Beats me," he shrugged. "But only a few people I met seemed to notice. Though they were the smart ones, and those who already knew about aliens."

"Interesting." She nodded. "Okay, how about dating and relationships? Did you find any major differences between the two worlds in that area?" She asked curiously.

"Not really, though dating for most Mice and most of Chicago was pretty different from what I was used to at first." He said as he picked up a small toy from the dust. After a bit of rubbing the worst came off to reveal a dusty red animal made of some kind of hard material. "The resistance gave me a fast crash course in that before I ended up on Earth." He added and handed the long legged, long necked and flowing tailed creature to her. "That is a fairly good model of a racing nuri. It's a riding animal; the shoulder comes up to about mine. They came in all colors, but that reddish and a black were the most common. A lot had white markings on their legs called anklets and on their faces."

"So that's what those are called." She nodded, and made a note on her computer pad. "We found some remains of those, but we were pretty sure they weren't the dominant race." She smiled softly, as she looked over the toy.

"They were used a lot like horses on Earth, though the racers like that are the only kind I ever saw." He added with a nod. "Have you pieced together any other creatures?"

"We've pieced together a number of medium sized carnivore skeletons." She nodded. "All quadrupeds, bearing some resemblance to Terran wolves."

"Those would be Razorwolves, most likely." He said quietly. "They were intelligent too."

"Really?" She asked curiously. "How intelligent? Same as Mice, or not quite that intelligent?"

"Yeah, same as," he nodded, his voice low and soft. "Mars had three sentient races."

"Oh, kind of like Earth." She said quietly. "So what was the other one like?" She asked curiously.

"A shifter, half Mouse, half Razorwolf." He sighed softly. "Meanest thing on two legs when pissed off. What are Earth's?"

"Well, humans obviously." She chuckled. "Then there's the Gargoyles, as rare as they are. And in the last century or so we've actually had reasonable contact with Sidhe or Faerie Folk as some call them." She smiled. "There's also the centuries old rumors of werewolves and vampires having their own societies behind some sort of illusion that prevents humans from seeing them."

"I wouldn't surprise me," he chuckled. "Enough others managed it one way or another."

"Anymore it wouldn't surprise me either." She chuckled. "Current studies suggest that Mars had a more Earth-like environment in the past. Is that anywhere close to accurate?"

"True enough, though it's always been red." He smiled softly at something he remembered. "The survival gear wasn't necessary back home."

"That suggests that the environmental damage was more severe here." She said quietly. "A century ago, spacesuits were necessary due to the temperature and thin atmosphere. The terraforming has restored some of the atmosphere, and as a result it's not getting as cold."

"It also came about fifteen hundred years earlier." He sighed. "Plutarkians came here much earlier."

"And yet there is no trace on Earth, or in the rest of the galaxy, of these Plutarkians." She said quietly. "Another strange mystery connected to Mars."

"Or that Mars beat them back." He sighed, kneeling to run his fingertips through the red dust again. "Even if we lost Mars, we'd be on Earth, and you'd have found our bodies and theirs here."

"I know we've found no evidence of six foot tall Mice with antennae on Earth." She said softly. "So, how well did the three sentient races on Mars get along?"

"Depended on who, where and when," he said softly from where he knelt, absently tracing a pattern in the dust with one finger. "Among the nobility, we got along fairly well. Commoners ... sometimes I swear they didn't even realize the Razorwolves intelligent or Loup-Maru real beyond a handful of laws on the books and the occasional reference. Then there were some who definitely knew and hated, and those who knew and thought we were gods of some kind. It was strange outside of high society."

"The interaction between humans and Gargoyles has been similarly strange. Most never believed in them, some thought them demons and a few understood that they were just intelligent beings like ourselves, but different in physical form."

"So what are the laws with shapeshifters here?" He asked, his hand drawing away from the Biker Mice tattoo he'd traced in the dust.

"Same as the laws for everyone else." She shrugged. "Except that when they apply for ID, they have to have all forms photographed. Other than that, they're just one more race."

Vinnie nodded and stood, his eyes still on the design. "Rather fitting, in a way." He murmured, clearly to himself, before turning away to look at Marsha. "Is there any place you'd like to see?" He asked softly.

"Some place people went to relax and enjoy themselves." She said quietly, wanting to get away from places with blaster marks and the old bloodstains.

"There's nothing like that left anymore," he shook his head a bit. "None that don't know more blood and destruction at least."

"Then maybe we can do this some other time." She asked softly. "I'm too cold already." She added softly.

Vinnie simply nodded and led her out, back to where Girl was patiently waiting under the evening sun. "I got used to the cold too long ago. It's the only way to stay sane."

"I can handle it better, when I'm prepared." She said quietly. "Just wasn't prepared today."

"Sorry," Vinnie murmured as he swung a leg over Girl's seat and scooted forward to giver her space. "I didn't realize you'd feel it."

"Of course you didn't, Vinnie." She said softly as she got on and put her arms around him, snuggling against his back as if trying to get warm while his tail looped around her waist for security. "I didn't tell you."

"I don't think there's anywhere I can show you that's in much better shape, even if some aren't quite so personal for me." He said apologetically as Girl revved up.

"Vinnie, I can handle it, when I prepare first." She said quietly. "I've been working Mars for almost ten years now. I guess I thought you'd show me someplace that was different."

"It is different, to me," he told her over the comm as Girl got up to speed with the low acceleration of before. "There are actually some good memories there. Before I was a freedom fighter. It's as close as it gets."

"That's good." She said softly. "And maybe when I'm more prepared, I'll be able to feel that. But the cold is closer, and I can't see past it unprepared."

"What is your ability?" He asked, half curious and half just not wanting silence to think and remember in yet.

"I'm a psychometrist." She said quietly. "I can read things from objects and places." She explained. "If I'm not prepared all I get is the last strong emotion to be present, or a general chill if I'm in a place where there was a lot of death."

"Be prepared then," he advised quietly. "Where there was life here, there is a lot of death, or at least a lot of destruction."

"I know there is." She said quietly. "Normally, I am. I just let my guard down for once."

"It happens to everyone," he squeezed her waist gently with his tail as the terrain flashed by.

"I should know better, when going on to a historical site." She said quietly, enjoying the feel of his fur under her fingers. "Thank you for taking me."

"I'll show you others, if you want." He smiled softly, liking the unusual feeling he had now than the pain was subsiding. "When you're ready to look at them."

"I'd like that, Vinnie." She smiled. "You're good company."

"Thanks," he smiled, his helmet hiding the light green blush it brought to his face.

"So, where would you like to go to dinner?" She asked, as they got closer to the city.

"Somewhere quiet, private." He answered without really thinking about it.

"Any preference for what kind of food?"

"Not that I can think of," he sort of chuckled. "I don't think you serve rations here."

"You like rations?" She asked in curious disbelief.

"Not when they're a choice," Vinnie chuckled softly. "It's about the only meal I'd actually object too right now."

"Do you like pizza?" She asked curiously.

"Oh, yeah." He grinned broadly. "Pizza's great. Goes very well with root beer too."

"Well, it just happens I know this cozy little pizza place in the Italian neighborhood on sublevel three." She smiled. "And I can always get a table."

"Sounds great, Marsha." He smiled as the city came into view and they slowed down gradually enough the shockwave wouldn't do damage when it caught up with them in the too thin atmosphere.

"La Carvelle." She said. "If you've got a map of the city, it's listed."

Girl changed the tenor of her rumble for a moment and Vinnie nodded. "She's got it. We'll behave the traffic laws getting there too." He added, patting the sleek red bike consolingly.

"Sorry, I guess I should've talked to the person navigating." She chuckled.

"It's okay," Vinnie's voice was softly affectionate as they paused at the entrance to the city.

"Never met a smart bike before." She smiled, as she waited for them to get moving again.

"You'll never meet one like Girl again, either." he chuckled a bit as they stared rolling. "She's beyond just one of a kind."

"Considering her partner, I'm not surprised." Marsha smiled, pressing close against his warm back. "I can't see you on just any bike."

"Not a chance," Vinnie grinned, squeezing her gently with his tail. "We're perfect for each other."

"I can see that." She nodded, as they wound through the city, and down to the lower levels. "I just have cats." She smirked.

"What kind?" Vinnie asked, both curious and a little disturbed.

"A grey and white tabby tom named Chance, and a reddish-brown tom named Jake." She smiled.

"I meant what kind of cat," he asked with a soft chuckle.

"Oh, your average American shorthair." She smiled.

"Little cats then?" He hazarded a guess.

"Yeah, little cats." She smiled. "I've met a few big ones I wouldn't have minded keeping." She smirked playfully.

"Same here, two and four legged kinds," he rumbled at good memories. "They have their appeal."

"That they do." She smiled. "I could never afford one of the four-legged ones, and the two-legged ones I meet are always just visiting." She shook her head. "But they're fun to party with just the same."

"What is the point, but a good party and enjoying what you've got?" He chuckled softly and squeezed her gently with his tail.

"Having one that sticks around." She said softly. "Partying is fun, but there's a certain comfort and joy in knowing that person will be there in the morning, and when you need someone."

"Guess we learned to look for it in different places," he said very softly, missing his Bros all over again with an intensity that was only amplified by the day and his own confusion over his response to this human.

"Different worlds, different lives." She said gently. "It's not surprising there's a few other differences."

"And freedom fighting in a lost war is it's own reality that doesn't make sense outside of it, if that." He sighed. "Sorry if I'm not in my best form tonight. It's been a very strange day."

"I understand, Vinnie." She said softly. "Pizza and root beer will help cheer you up." She smiled. "And mozzarella sticks." She grinned. "La Caravelle's sticks are the best in the city, on the planet even."

"Ooo, I haven't have good cheese sticks in ages." His instinctive drive to perk up and at least play at being in a good mood snapping back into place.

La Caravelle was a relatively small restaurant but it was in a decent section of the city. As Marsha had said it was cozy.

"Marsha, it's is so good to see you again." The head waiter smiled as she walked up with Vinnie. "Table for two?"

"Cozy, private table for two Tony." She smiled. "And we'll start with a pitcher of root beer and the large order of mozzarella sticks. And let pappa known I'm here."

"But of course, Marsha." The tall, olive skinned human led them back to a cozy little table. "Your drinks and sticks will be along presently." He smiled, and left.

"Family?" Vinnie asked curiously as he relaxed into the comfortable atmosphere.

"When I took the job with the university here on Mars, my father decided to sell his restaurant on Earth and open one on Mars. He said Mars needed an Italian restaurant run by an Italian." She smiled. "With mama being dead less than two years, he didn't want us to be so far apart."

"Can't say I blame him," he smiled softly. "And he definitely smells like he knows what he's doing very well."

"Oh, he does." She smiled fondly. "Been cooking professionally for over forty years."

"I believe it," Vinnie murmured softly, his stomach and mouth reminding him he hadn't eaten in far too long.

"Here you go." A woman with bright green eyes and dark black hair said as she set down the pitcher of root beer, two mugs and a large plate of mozzarella sticks.

"Gina?" Marsha said in disbelief. "What are you doing here?" She said standing to hug the waitress who started grinning. "I thought you and David bought an antique shop in the Village."

"Long story sis." She smiled, though it was a sad smile. "Who's your handsome friend?"

"Gina, this is Vinnie." She smiled at the white Mouse who stood with something close to his usual charming grace. "Vinnie, this is my older sister, Gina."

Gina chuckled. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Vinnie."

"A definite pleasure, Gina," he smiled and gently caught her hand to kiss it. "I see than Marsha was not alone in your family in being gifted graciously by the fates."

"Oh, he's a smooth one Marsha." Gina smiled, and blushed lightly. "Where did you meet him?"

"At work." Marsha grinned. "You know, nothing but dull scientists and boring professors." She smirked teasingly.

"And a hunky white Mouse." Gina chuckled, before she looked at Marsha seriously. "Talk, later. I better get back to the kitchen before pappa yells." She smiled, and she turned with a fair amount of grace and left the room.

"Your quite a bundle of surprises, Vinnie." Marsha smiled as she sat down and poured the root beer.

"Pure reflex," he chuckled softly as he relaxed back. "She's pretty."

"That she is." Marsha nodded. "And she doesn't even have to work at it."

"I wouldn't be jealous of that," he murmured softly next to her ear, clearly meant only for her and very much the serious tone he'd bad back in the caves. "Some things are more valuable than looks."

"You are such a sweetie, Vinnie." Marsha smiled gratefully and kissed him gently on the cheek before sitting back with her mug of root beer.

"A serious one," he smiled slightly as he did what he always did and rolled with what his instincts told him to. He relaxed back and tried the breaded and fried cheese. "I ... like you."

Marsha smiled back softly. "I like you too, Vinnie."

She caught a hint of a light green blush under his pale fur before he smiled and kissed her cheek. "If the cheese is any indication, dinner is going to be incredible."

"Oh, it usually is." She smiled, and blushed lightly herself. "So, what do you like on your pizza?" She asked curiously.

"Everything but fish," he chuckled softly and shifted to gently wrap his tail around her waist with more care than he had on Girl. "Had enough of them for a lifetime."

"So how's everything?" Gina said with a smiled as she returned. "Ready to order?"

"Everything's wonderful as always." Marsha smiled. "Extra-large pizza with the works, but hold the fish."

"Sure thing, sis." Gina smiled at the two of them and got a playful wink from Vinnie for it.

"You actually like messing around in the dirt to figure out things that happened so long ago?" He asked Marsha curiously and a bit serious.

"Yeah, it's kind of an extension of my love of mysteries and puzzles." She smiled over her root beer. "Mars is the biggest mystery in the Terran Federation."

"That sounds so weird," he shook his head a bit and went for another cheese stick. "These really are very good."

"I'll let pappa know." She smiled. "Actually, we'll probably see him at some point in the evening. He checks out any guy I come here with." She grinned.

"Like any good parent," Vinnie chuckled softly and shifted a bit closer to rest his muzzle along her shoulder. "He doesn't have anything to worry about."

"He wouldn't be an Italian father if he didn't worry." She chuckled softly, as she inclined her head to brush against his gently. A hesitant, quickly gone touch of something left her cheek damp, even as she realized he was trembling ever so slightly.

"I don't doubt," Vinnie's voice was soft near her ear, and despite his efforts, gave away how uncertain he was.

"Marsha!" A tall burly dark haired and dusky skinned human shouted happily as he walked in. "You don't come nearly often enough. Spend too much time in the dirt and not eating properly." He said as Marsha stood and was swept into a big warm hug. "Gina said you were here with a new boyfriend." He chuckled as Gina set down the large pizza in the middle of the table.

"Pappa." Marsha smiled happily, leaning into the hug. "This is Vinnie Van Wham. Vinnie, this is my father Tony."

"Vinnie, huh?" He said looking at the white Mouse curiously while extending a big friendly hand that was accepted with the proud grace of a born and bred noble. "Good Italian name." He chuckled, and then looked at his daughter. "And to think you used to hop up on top your bed whenever Gino's pet mice would escape."

"Pappa." Marsha shook her head blushing furiously. "I was eight years old."

"And those were small mice," Vinnie chuckled with a sure smirk. "Marten Mice have far more appeal."

"They must." Tony chuckled. "Well, enjoy your meal." He said, hugging Marsha again. "And don't forget to order dessert. You're going to blow away in a good breeze, Marsha."

"Yes, pappa." She smiled as her father left. "He seems to approve." She smiled as she sat down, Vinnie a little further away as the pizza occupied his attention for three slices.

"He has good taste," he quirked a grin and reached for a fourth slice.

"That he does." She smiled, beginning her third piece. "So do you like chocolate?" She asked curiously over a sip of root beer.

"Oh yeah." Vinnie's grin lit up the corner. "Especially with ice cream or cake."

"Then you're going to love pappa's decadent black nebula desert. Triple layer chocolate cake, with fudge frosting. Neapolitan ice cream on the side, with hot fudge drizzled over the whole thing." She rumbled.

"Gonna have to save room for that," he rumbled eagerly. "Sounds fantastic."

"Oh, it is." She grinned before they returned to the pizza for a while.

"You didn't correct your father," Vinnie half asked rather quietly when the pizza had all but disappeared.

"Hmm. Correct him about what?" She asked curiously.

"That I was your boyfriend," he elaborated, uncertain all over again.

"Seems kind of true. At least for today." She said softly. "Tomorrow, I'm not making any assumptions about."

"Desires?" He almost whispered, realizing deep inside he was terrified of the answer.

"I like you, Vinnie. Really I do." She smiled gently and brushed a hand across his cheek, watching as his eyes closed and a light tremor ran down his hard body. "I just don't want to rush things. I did that with the last guy I liked, and now he won't even talk to me."

"I don't want that to happen," he nodded with a swallow, both relieved and more nervous than he could say about what this human made him feel, and the freaked-out jumble that came up with the thought of screwing up with her.

"Me neither." She smiled softly, signaling for two special desserts to her sister who poked her head in, and then backed out. "You're very special."

"So are you," he murmured, hesitantly sliding his muzzle along her shoulder again, bringing his bright red antennae against the side of her head as he settled.

The unexpected mental static charge made her jump a bit. "What was that, Vinnie?" She asked, intensely curious.

"Sorry," he murmured softly and adjusted a bit. "I don't watch myself much around humans."

"Oh, that's okay. I was just curious." She smiled. "Can you actually make mental contact with your antennae?"

"That's what they're for." He shrugged slightly. "Memory sharing, senses, knowing what's around."

"Memory sharing, really?" She asked fascinated. "You ever try that with a human?"

"With Charley once," he nodded. "Not something that's a recreational activity."

"Didn't think it was." She smiled softly. "But it can probably be a very intense experience to share with the right person."

"Yeah, it is," Vinnie smiled slightly. "So can sense sharing. It's incredible to feel both sides of a wild night."

"I'll bet it is." She said thoughtfully, looking him over again. The more she knew about him, the more she liked him. Not that she was looking to rush into another relationship, after the way things had ended with Carl.

"You could see some of what used to be out there too," he offered quietly, pausing as Gina arrived with two bowls of dark chocolate in many forms.

"That's very tempting, Vinnie." Marsha smiled as her sister disappeared again. "Maybe someplace where it's just the two of us."

"That's the only way I do it," he said softly. "Short of combat need."

"Good approach." She nodded, as she took a bite of the ice cream covered in hot fudge. "Oh, yes. Pappa hasn't lost his touch." She almost purred.

Vinnie couldn't help but laugh happily at that and dived in with relish, intent on enjoying every bite with her.

When they were finished, she powered two last mugs of root beer as well as any Mouse, and raised one. "It's been a wonderful day, Vinnie." She smiled. "Thank you."

"It has been a very unusual day," he smiled back and tapped their last mugs in a toast. "And a good one."

"I think I'm going to enjoy working with you, Vinnie. A lot." She smiled softly.

"And I'm going to enjoy giving some voice to what happened here, and the friends and family that earned a place in history." He murmured. "Are you really going to be putting information and stuff from my Mars on display?"

"Yes. The museum that opens ten days before the Centennial celebration begins, is for what we call 'Old Mars'. The Mars that came before us." She nodded.

"It's as complicated and rich as any world," he murmured, not with pride this time, but the simple reality of what he was starting to take on for himself.

"I'm sure it is." She smiled. "That's something that most of us who live here have always believed. " She added softly. "In a sense I guess we wanted to make peace with whatever ghosts were left from those who went before. Sometimes the best way to help a ghost move on, is to let them know that they haven't been forgotten."

"Less formalized kind of Remembering," Vinnie nodded, his voice soft and distant. "Some ghosts will never leave though. Too dedicated to their duties and world to let it go unwatched, even if it's only by a few lonely souls with no way to return."

"There's always a few." She nodded. "But usually those ghosts you can coexist with."

"Yes, the ones I know of would approve of what your doing." Vinnie managed a smiled and shifted a little closer to her now that they weren't eating.

"That's good to know." She smiled, and shifted over so she could lean her head against Vinnie's shoulder. He hesitated a bit before bringing an arm around her and let his jaw rest against her head in a light, affectionate touch.

"I never thought I'd feel this way about anyone," he admitted in a whisper; half scared, half embarrassed, and a fair bit grateful as well.

"How's that, Vinnie?" She asked very gently, enjoying the feel of his fur against her skin. She knew how she was beginning to feel about him, but it was too much to expect that he would feel the same.

The question held him silent for a very long time; trying to find words for something he'd spent his adult life actively not thinking about and his youth never worrying about. Eventually he settled on a half-truth he could at least articulate.

"I can talk to you, about stuff." He made an attempt he thought was terribly clumsy and still better than he'd expected.

Marsha smiled, thinking that was one of the better attempts she'd heard from a playboy at being serious. But then again, Vinnie was no ordinary playboy by a longshot. "Having someone you can talk to is always a good thing." She said with a warm smile.

"Not something I've had in a very long time, either." He murmured against her hair. "You're the first I remember that I don't think about sex or fighting first." He added in a bit of awed amazement.

"Sounds like something you've wanted though, even if maybe you didn't remember wanting it." She said softly.

"I made a point of not thinking about it. I think everybody did." Vinnie murmured with a slight tremor. "It hurts too much."

"Well, now you've got it." She smiled softly, feeling another light tremor run through his body and a tight squeeze as he tried to reassure himself this wasn't going to vanish just this second.

"Yeah, I guess I do." he whispered against her hair. "I just don't want to hurt you."

"So far I haven't seen much danger of that." She said softly. "Unless you think there's a danger of hurting me by being too nice."

"No," he chuckled reflexively. "There's just some really nasty stuff in my head, my memories and a few others."

"Vinnie, I've worked some of the darker spots on my own planet. I doubt you have much nastier than some of that." She said softly.

"That doesn't mean I won't worry about it," he nuzzled her hair with a bit more normal a tone. "Are you into the dark stuff, or is that just your luck?" He asked with quiet curiosity.

"Just luck, and the fact that a lot of the last images you find in historical sites are dark ones." She sighed. "Cultures rarely end on a happy upbeat note."

"The best you can hope for is assimilation, or simply drifting away." He nodded slightly. "Neither tend to happen bloodlessly."

"No they don't." She said quietly. "Blood and death are the two most common elements at historical sites."

"If you think about the length of history compared to a lifetime, even without it being an ending point, just about anywhere would have seen more death than life."

"Very true. The only good thing is that with effort I can peel back the death to see the life that lies beneath." She smiled.

"Which is why you really do this," he supplied with a hug and nuzzle. "So what do you do for fun?"

"Go to a lot of concerts, and clubs with live music." She smiled. "I love music."

"Sounds like Throttle," Vinnie murmured with a soft, private smile. "He kept it private though. I don't think he wanted anyone to really know what he was like inside."

"War does that to some people." She said quietly. "They pack their real self away, to protect it in the hope they'll be able to bring it out again when the war is over."

"It's a shame, he's such an incredible dancer. Poetry in motion."

"You really care for him, don't you?" She said quietly.

"He and Modo are my Bros," Vinnie sighed. "We're all any of us had most of our lives."

"At least you had them." She smiled softly. "Though it really sounded like you saw a bit more in Throttle."

"He's our leader," he explained quietly. "He's who I followed. He was a city-mouse too."

Marsha felt it was probably more than that, but prying wasn't something she did to people. "How long since you saw him last?" She asked sympathetically.

"Two, maybe three years." He sighed. "It's hard to tell with all the world hopping and no way to keep tabs outside my own time-sense."

"You miss them pretty bad, don't you?" She said softly.

"Yeah, them and Charley," he murmured. "She was really good to us and as dedicated as any to protecting her home."

"Charley? Another Mouse?" She asked curiously.

Vinnie shook his head. "She's the human who helped us when we crashed on Earth. Really good girl."

"With good taste." Marsha smiled warmly at the white Mouse, though he couldn't see it with their positions.

"Yeah, I guess so," he sort of shrugged. "Never saw much of it."

"I was referring to taste in friends." She said gently. "You're a good person, Vinnie. And if your Bros are anything like you, so are they. Not everyone sees that sort of thing clearly though."

"They're good guys," he nodded firmly, all but daring the entire universe to try and deny it.

"Will you show them to me sometime?" She asked gently.

"Sure," Vinnie smiled softly. "You might as well know who I'm always talking about."

"And I like to know about the people who are important to the people I care about." She smiled back as they snuggled in the booth.

"I'm not sure I'll ever get used to that concept."

"Which concept is that?" She asked gently, snuggling up against up him. She had her own suspicions but Vinnie surprised her often enough that she couldn't be sure.

"That you'd want to know about somebody you'll never face," he murmured softly. "It just seems strange."

"I make a career out of knowing about things I'll never actually see." She smiled. "So it's just a natural extension. Besides, who they are is part of what makes you who you are." She added softly.

"I guess so," he chuckled a little, then closed his eyes against a ripple of pain. "I really have been at war too long."

"You're not at war now, Vinnie." Marsha said softly as he got himself together. "Enjoy the break while it lasts."

"It's what I do," he chuckled, though it didn't sound very happy. "Enjoy the opportunities I get. It's not the same."

"Not the same as what?" She asked gently.

He let out a soft sigh. "Enjoying life isn't the same as wanting to remember people, know the past." He explained quietly. "I grew up knowing my heritage and every important family member and event we were part of since Tyris Van Wham founded the bloodline. I don't even know Throttle and Modo's family names, and don't particularly want to. It's not what we are anymore. It's the past, one that has a future."

"Your war wasn't going any better than the one here did, was it?" She asked softly.

"No, and it had moved on to Earth when we'd arrived."

"Something I'm grateful never happened here, for whatever reason." She said quietly. "I can see where it would be painful to think about the future, when you don't expect to have one." She said understandingly.

"Yeah, it is," he murmured, sighting the thoughts of it that came to mind now. "It's just a list of good things that will never happen."

"You're stronger than I am." She said quietly. "Without a future, I just couldn't be bothered."

"Either you learned to trick yourself into having one to believe in, realize you don't need it to fight back, or you die." Vinnie said simply. "It's just how things work in war."

"Guess so." She said quietly, snuggling against him quietly. "Unlearning it is the trick."

"Unlearning isn't too hard," he murmured painfully. "Convincing yourself it's safe to is the hard part."

"Anything I can do to help?" She asked softly.

"No," he murmured gently with a nuzzle. "I can get picked up and dropped onto another world at any time." He explained. "Most aren't nearly this nice."

"And what if you don't?" She asked quietly. "What if you've stopped bouncing?"

"Then I get to enjoy things here for a long time," he answered softly, relaxing in the warmth and her presence.

"That sounds good." She smiled softly, realizing that he was still too close to the battlefields. She decided he'd need more time away before he could seriously considering unlearning their harsh lessons.

"Yeah, it does," he smiled slightly and nuzzled her hair. "I'm looking forward to it."

"I'm glad to hear that." She nuzzled him back softly. "So, is there anything exclusive going on between you and Agent Maza?" She asked gently.

"Not in the least," he chuckled softly. "I don't do exclusive."

"Just checking." She smiled. "It's always a good idea to ask, seeing as most people do."

"They do?" He looked down curiously.

"Well, it's a pretty common thing among humans, and the other races do to some extent. Now the Felsin on the other hand are thoroughly poly-, the closest thing they have to marriage is anywhere from three people to ten or so." She chuckled. "And the canines and their pack structures are completely different."

"Marriage yes, but most consider that an exclusive arrangement?" He asked curiously.

"That's the human norm. Unless the couple agrees to handle it differently before hand. Open marriages are more common than they used to be, but to a lot of humans the word 'marriage' still means two people, no playing around with others."

"That is seriously weird," Vinnie shook his head.

"Not the way things worked on Mars I take it?" She asked curiously.

"Not my part of it at least." He consented to the fact he knew commoners did things differently, even if he wasn't too sure how. "Marriages were usually arranged. Genetic, political, social and sometimes financial choices by both families. The only loyalty expected by anyone was to be reasonably careful with pregnancies outside of it."

"Oh, like the old nobility on Earth." She nodded. "Yeah, I guess with arranged marriages there would be more interest in playing the field." She smiled. "Not that I'm really big on exclusiveness myself."

"That's a good thing in my book," Vinnie chuckled softly. "And yeah, it's a lot like the nobles of Earth. A good match is considered when the pair don't try to kill each other within ten years, and produce good kits."

"Nice standard." She chuckled. "I tried exclusive once, but it just wasn't right for either of us. And hell, we weren't right for each other."

"That does make it rough," Vinnie murmured sympathetically. "At least you could get out of it."

"We hadn't actually gotten married yet. We were just engaged to be married." She shook her head. "I think his family finally gave up when we started using portable amplifiers to hurl insults at each other across the family compound."

"Oh my," he couldn't help but chuckle. "That's pretty bad."

"Neither one of us was willing to let the other get in the last word." She shook her head. "On the bright side, his family used their influence to get me past other people with less qualifications but more influence than me, to get my first job with the University of Mars." She smirked. "One sure way to stop us from fighting; put us on separate planets."

"Apparently it worked," he nuzzled her, chuckling softly. "The commute would make it a bit more difficult to get in screaming matches."

"And screaming matches over interplanetary comm just aren't as satisfying." She smirked. "But I met this really cute Corgi the week I moved in, and I decided I wasn't so homesick after all."

"That is a very effective cure," Vinnie laughed softly. "Nothing like a pleasant distraction to take your mind off things."

"Sure was." She smiled and snuggled into his embrace. "I'll have to introduce you to him. He's a lot of fun."

"I'm sure," Vinnie smirked. "Hell, I might already know him if he's inclined for the club scene."

"Oh he's definitely into the club scene." She grinned. "But he lives in New Olympia."

"Then probably not," the white mouse consented with a grin and nuzzled her. "Is your place private?" He asked in a soft, intense whisper.

"Since I'm not living with anyone, yes." She smiled.

"Would you like to meet my Bros tonight?" He offered, his tone carrying the full weight of how much he was offering.

"If you feel up to it, I'd love to." She smiled softly, accepting his offer. A gentle hand on his acknowledged the significance of what he was offering.

"I do," Vinnie nodded with a soft smile and kissed the top of her head, his manner carrying the implication of how intimate the gesture was for him, even if it wasn't in both their cultures.

"Let's go then." She smiled and stood, Vinnie easily moving with her. "It's not far."

"Good," he nuzzled her gently.

"Night Sis. Night, Vinnie." Gina waved to the pair as they left the restaurant.

"Night beautiful," Vinnie smiled and winked playfully at her.

"Night, Sis." Marsha waved back, her attention really on the mouse at her side as they approached Girl. "Rising Star Apartments, Girl." She said politely. "There's a parking garage next door, if you want to stay indoors."

"She found the race track," he chuckled as the bike revved, eager to move. "She likes speed at least as much as I do."

"With lines like hers, I'm not surprised." She smiled and mounted behind him, feeling the now familiar tail wrap around her waist as the spare helmet was handed back to her.

"She was designed for it," he chuckled softly and put his helmet on.

"I can see that." She smiled as she put the helmet on and wrapped her arms around him, more because she liked having her arms around him, than the fear it had been on the first ride. Girl pulled out into traffic as smoothly and at the reasonable speed of before, though it was hard to miss how much an effort it was for both bike and rider to keep to it as they moved threw the late evening traffic to the apartment building.

"Thank you, Girl." Marsha smiled politely, as she got off in front of the apartment building. She handed the spare helmet to Vinnie once he dismounted and watched as both were secured inside a hidden compartment.

"Then let's go inside, while she has her fun," he suggested softly and slipped and arm and tail around her.

"This way." She smiled as they headed inside past a doorman who waved at Marsha politely as he opened the door. "Seventh floor." She said as they waited for the elevator.

Marsha's apartment was decorated in a very eccentric style. It was very colorful for one thing, with bright colors everywhere, except for the comfortable looking overstuffed couch which was done in black and white tiger stripes. There were several pieces of framed art, which made it clear that Marsha was partial to buff, furry males wearing little or no clothing.

"Nice taste in guys," Vinnie murred softly, appreciating the display on masculinity.

"Thank you." She smiled. "You fit in nicely with the collection."

"Even if I do overshadow them in perfection," he smirked and guided her to sit on the unusual couch, pulling her close in a loose embrace as they settled.

"Unless I'm in a mood for stripes." She chuckled, looking at the painting of a buff Tiger in a g-string that was hanging over the couch. She snuggled comfortably into the loose embrace, gently resting her head against his shoulder.

"This works best if you don't resist the contact," Vinnie murmured against her hair. "It can be very disturbing the first time."

"I've touched minds before Vinnie, even if not quite this way." She said softly. "I'll be fine." She said as she relaxing against him.

"All right," he smiled and pulled up a few images of his Bros, though he carefully kept the ones he treasured most, those of Throttle dancing in his room, to himself out of respect for his leader's wishes. He couldn't help the soft gasp as he touched his sensitive antennae to her head and felt the hair brush against them as he delivered the packet of information and backed off.

Marsha was quiet for a little while as she assimilated the new images and was struck by how photographic it was. The images were of excellent quality and spanned more than ten years by the mental dates on them, from late teens to war-scared and ravaged adults. Though they were enough she would recognize either of the other Mice better than Vinnie at this point, they had no emotional attachments to them. No notes, sensations, feelings ... nothing beyond who was present and roughly when it was. Even the emotionally charged looking ones were only images, not a trace of who they came from's response to what was being viewed.

"Odd." She said quietly. "I've never seen mental images with no emotional connections. Almost like looking at a scrapbook, with no notes in the margins." She said quietly.

"It's how I was taught to do it," he shrugged a bit. "Family history didn't need much," he choked softly and fell silent as the pain of knowing he was the last of his line settled and passed. "It only got in the way when passing military info."

"It wasn't a criticism, Vinnie." She said softly, and kissed him on the cheek. "Just an observation. It does make it useful for pure information passing."

"It was as much self protection too," he murmured. "A badly packaged Intel report could depress a strike team too much to function sometimes. Things you try not to think about, and just don't drop in another's head." He sighed softly.

"I understand." She said softly. "Another necessity of war."

"Yeah, something like that." He nodded, trying not to think about what else his mind refused to let him forget. What kept him in the resistance even more than Throttle or Mars or even survival. For a few shuddering breathes, the bitterly acidic shame of what had happened refused to let him go, it's sticky fingers wrapping ice painful tight around his heart as the voice of memory and knowledge he didn't want taunted him from a past he barely associated with himself outside of these moments.

"Are you okay, Vinnie?" Marsha asked quietly.

Not trusting his voice in the least he nodded, holding her off as he gathered the ability to speak.

"Memories I don't want."

"I understand." She said softly, hugging him gently. "There are always things we want to forget."

Vinnie could only nod and accept the support and try to remember the last time he'd had anything like it. She held him quietly for a while; gently brushing the fur of his back in what was clearly meant to be a soothing manner.

"Sorry," he eventually murmured into her hair.

"For what?" She asked softly. "You haven't done anything." She felt him startle, then settle a bit before he worked up to speaking again.

"Not how I'm used to thinking of it." He murmured softly. "Not proper, then just a bad idea."

"What is?" She asked quietly, having trouble following what he was talking about.

"Showing ... weakness, emotions ... like that."

"There's nothing wrong with that, Vinnie." She said softly. "Everyone needs support at some time in their life. No one is strong alone, forever."

"It's just done silently, or at least behind closed doors," he sighed softly as his chest began to thaw.

"We are behind closed doors, Vinnie." She pointed out quietly. "Nobody here but the two of us."

"You're not family," he said simply, trying to explain something that was simply known.

"No, I'm not." She acknowledged. "But sometimes you have to make do with who's available."

"Even when it's something that just isn't done," he sighed softly. "Some lessons stayed with me, even through the war."

"Of course they did." She smiled understandingly. "Sometimes the things we learn when we're young stay with us our whole lives. But sometimes we have to modify them, when they don't fit the current reality."

"Easy to say," he chuckled weakly, closing his eyes.

"And difficult to live." She said softly. "I know." She said sympathetically as he relaxed, the dress of the afternoon and promise of safety she offered finally draining him.

"May I stay tonight?" He asked very softly.

"Yes, though I'll warn you ahead of time that I get up early." She smiled softly. "I have a morning class to teach."

"I probably won't notice," Vinnie sort of chuckled. "I'm not usually conscious of anything before noon."

"Okay, just fair warning." She smiled. "You can either wait for me to get home, or let yourself out when you get up to that."

"I should probably be there when Lex gets home tomorrow," Vinnie murmured a little regretfully. "I did manage to tern a ten minute meeting into an overnighter without warning him."

"You can always come back." She said softly. "I was kind of hoping this wouldn't be a one time thing."

"No, but the guy's been good to me, it's just not right to just disappear on him like that."

"Nor would I suggest it." She smiled. "From what little I know of him he'd worry and come looking. And truthfully, he's more of club hopper than I am. My hours are less conducive to late-night partying."

"We'll just have to make it worth the time we have then," Vinnie smiled and nuzzled her, before hesitantly kissing her on the forehead. "I'm sure I can get the weekend free."

"I'm sure." She smiled up at him, and saw, really saw, a little something of the Mouse behind the battle scars and playboy attitudes. Someone thrown completely out of his reality and doing his best to adapt to more alien concepts in one day than most faced in a lifetime, "And I like the sound of that."

"So do I," he hesitating again, visibly deciding if he really wanted to continue. "Maybe share a little about ourselves."

"I'd like that. If you're comfortable with it." She added, leaving him a loophole if it became too uncomfortable that he nodded acceptance of.

"It's ... been a very long time since I thought about it." He admitted.

"I can see that." She acknowledged softly. "And I'm flattered that you're interested in doing so with me."

Vinnie smiled, almost managing his playboy grin, except it was softened by a real tenderness he didn't let on he was capable of much. "The last ... was my fiance." He said hesitantly, ducking his muzzle into Marsha's dark hair. "I ... I ...." he managed before his voice failed him completely.

"It's okay, Vinnie." Marsha said softly. "It can wait till you're ready to say it." She added very gently, and felt him nod, the lump in his throat preventing speech again as he worked his way out of the turmoil again. He hated himself for being like this with an outsider, but was also grateful in part of his mind that he was still capable of feeling anything anymore.

"Hi, Lex," Vinnie waved as the human came into the apartment the next afternoon.

"Morning, Vinnie." Lex teased playfully. "So, did you have a good time yesterday?" He asked curiously.

"Excessively strange, but it was good," he grinned and rolled up off the couch in a single fluid motion to pull him close. "Marsha is very cool."

"Marsha would be the archaeologist the university sent over?" He asked, as he kissed Vinnie playfully on the cheek and found his mouth claimed by a very eager lover.

"Yes, she is." Vinnie rumbled, working down Lex's jaw and neck as he worked to get him out of the suit. "If you think you can find other company, we were going to spend the weekend together."

Lex smiled as he slipped the jacket off and tossed it to one side. "You like her more than a little, don't you?" He asked curiously, as he ran his hands down the Mouse's back. There was no jealousy in his voice or body language, just curiosity.

"Yeah, she's a special one." He murmured, a soft chuckle at the sheer strangeness of the previous day, and how more strange the night had been. Sleeping with her had felt so good, smelling her hair at done incredible things to his body, and yet they hadn't even kissed, much less touched intimately yet.

"Vinnie, if you like her and want to spend the weekend with her, of course you can." Lex smiled playfully, nuzzling the mouse affectionately. "You are going to introduce us at some point, right?"

"Sure," he blinked in surprise. "I figured you already knew her."

"Can't say the name rings a bell."

"Then I'll introduce you before we take off to explore Drumin," Vinnie kissed Lex's neck before dropping to his knee to nuzzle the human's crotch while his hands worked on the belt holding them up.

"Sounds good." Lex rumbled as he ran his finger along Vinnie's sensitive antennae. "Aren't you glad I brought up the whole 'work' idea?" He teased playfully as his pants came undone and his half hard cock was taken into the mouse's mouth eagerly before Vinnie answered.

"Oh yeah." He shuddered in pleasure at the Mouse's skilled mouth, while he gently stroked both of Vinnie's thick, sensitive antennae. The moan he drew reverberated down his own shaft as it was worked with an eagerness of having waited far too long for a sexual partner.

That eagerness got Lex off even faster than usual, shooting the day's tension and restraint down Vinnie's waiting throat with a shuddering roar.

"Help me look a few things up?" Vinnie asked as he stood to kiss Lex after licking him clean.

"Sure, what do you need to know?" Lex said, after the kiss broke and he grabbed his sweatpants from a shelf where he'd left them.

"How ..." he suddenly felt very nervous, "what are the courting rites for Italians?"

"Much like humans in general." He said easily. "It's been a long time since we had anything so formalized at to be called rites, unless you're talking about someone in the upper levels of society. Mostly, it's a matter of time. You get to the know the person, find out if you have enough in common to make a permanent relationship work, and then find some romantic way to ask. It's traditional to present an engagement ring when asking someone to marry you." He said looking at Vinnie curiously. "You really do like your archaeologist, don't you?" He said softly, curious but not at all disapproving.

The Mouse simply nodded. "I haven't felt that ... good ... with someone in a very, very long time." He admitted softly. "Enough that one of those 'let's not rush this' conversations actually made sense."

"Have you gotten any sense of whether marriage is something she's interested in?" He asked curiously and pulled the sweat pants on.

"I'm not too sure," he admitted, crossing his arms across his chest to hug himself a bit. "Not unless she's very sure of it, at least. Last attempt ended badly."

"Well, don't rush it." Lex advised gently. "If she's been burned, she'll be that much more careful."

Vinnie nodded and flopped down on the couch, clearly stressed fairly badly. "She's not the only one. I can't remember that last time I wanted to screw someone, they did to, and we didn't cause it might not be a good idea to rush to bed." He shook his head. "I still barely believe I slept with her and we didn't do anything."

"First time for everything, Vinnie." Lex said softly as he sat down next to the Mouse, and quickly found his arms full of disturbed Martian Mouse. "But she wants to spend the weekend with you, which is a good sign."

"Yeah, I know." He murmured softly. "Her father likes me too."

"You've already met her father?" Lex asked surprised. "Well, that's a good thing that he likes you." He added with an encouraging smile.

"She took me to dinner for showing her that spot I went with you the other day. Ended up being her father's restaurant."

"Now there's a plus." Lex grinned. "A father-in-law who can cook."

"Father-in-law who can cook extremely well," Vinnie chuckled and nuzzled him. "Pizza, garlic bread, fried cheese, and fantastic root beer."

"Sounds like you had one incredible first date." Lex chuckled playfully and got nuzzled again.

"Yeah, it was. Strange, stressed the hell out of us both, slept with her without sex ... but damn, it was good." He murmured with more than a fair share of amazement in his voice.

"Good, I'm glad." Lex smiled, and kissed the Mouse playfully on the cheek. "Get any feel for how she feels about you playing with others?"

"Expects it," he grinned brightly and hugged Lex excitedly. "She's not into the one-mate thing any more than I am. Tried it and didn't like it. She was only concerned we might be."

"I've never been terribly exclusive myself," Lex admitted as he claimed a passionate kiss.

"No, really?" Vinnie snickered before pulling Lex down on top of him on the couch.

"Which makes things that much better. You're one the most exciting playmates, I've had in a long time."

"No one parties better than Vinnie Van Wham." He rumbled with his customary bravado.

"Speaking of partying, you already spoken for this evening?" Lex asked playfully.

"No," he grinned back. "What's on the offering?"

"Actually, I was going to ask if you wanted to go out clubbing or stay here and entertain ourselves." Lex smirked playfully.

"Clubbing, definitely," he grinned. "Back to Vandals."

"I'm so not surprised." Lex grinned back. "We should do something about dinner then, before we get dressed for it."

"Or undressed, as the case may be," he teased with a quick kiss. "Chinese?"

"Sounds good to me." Lex smiled. "That's one thing that I actually order. I don't usually have the ingredients on hand to do proper Chinese."

That made Vinnie blink. "You make Chinese?" He asked in a sort of bewildered curiosity."

"I know how." Lex smiled. "Don't do it very often. Hunan Garden does such a wonderful job I don't really feel the need."

"Well it all works." Vinnie grinned with a shrug. "Good food is good food."

"That it is." Lex smiled. "So how hungry are you feeling?" He asked as he picked up the phone to order.

"Plenty," he chuckled. "As always."

"Any favorites I should order?"

"Mmm, sweet and sour pork," Vinnie licked his lips eagerly.

Lex smiled, and ordered that and a fair variety of other dishes. It was fairly well established that between the two of them, they went through a lot of food, and enjoyed every bite of it.

"Ah, there you are," Vinnie grinned and hugged Marsha, pulling her into Lex's apartment with the motion after work the next day.

"You're in a good mood." She laughed and claimed a playful kiss. Despite the startled twitch that ran threw his body, Vinnie quickly returned it with a leisurely gentle one and closed the door with his tail.

"You're here," he murmured softly as their mouths parted, though their bodies didn't.

"After a long day of teaching undergraduate archaeology, I wasn't about to pass up an evening with you." She smiled softly, relaxing against him.

"That bad?" Vinnie murmured, gently supportive as his mind soaked in her presence by scent, heat, touch and that slight aura her mind created that he could feel threw his antennae at this range.

"Just fatiguing." She said softly, laying her against the short, soft fur. "Too many of them think Indiana Jones is a good representation of how archaeology is really practiced."

"Oh," Vinnie murmured, nuzzling her softly. "Then let's get introductions done, and we'll see about something restorative."

"Sounds good." She said agreeably, sniffing the air. "Your friend cooks, doesn't he?" She smiled.

"Yes, he does," he chuckled and guided her further into the apartment. "Lex has many skills."

"Including nice taste in decorating." She smiled. "And in Mice." She said, nuzzling Vinnie playfully.

"And party clubs," he chuckled and nuzzled her back. "Among other things. I got lucky when I set my eyes on him for information when I first got here."

Marsha laughed cheerfully at that. "You managed to set your eyes on a MIB agent for information. Good thing he likes fur." She smiled.

"Hay, he had it," Vinnie chuckled and showed her towards the kitchen. "And was willing to share."

"It's not like he was asking for classified information." Lex chuckled from where he was standing stirring a pot of sauce. "He's not that good, no matter what he thinks." He teased playfully.

"I'd never get you in trouble like that." He retorted with a mock insulted tone. "You're far too fun in bed."

"Which you definitely knew before you asked." Lex laughed broadly. "Since I don't think we did much talking beforehand."

"And it worked too," Vinnie stuck his tongue out teasingly. "You loosened right up, even let me move in."

"I'd always wanted a pet mouse, but Mom wouldn't let me." Lex snickered back teasingly. "And the tricks this one knows..." He winked at Marsha, who blushed lightly.

"I'm sure I don't know." She said with a shy smile. "Yet."

"Oh, I'll show you tricks he hasn't dreamed of yet," Vinnie promised her with a deeply resonate purr in his voice. "The special ones."

"The ones that don't work on guys." Lex smirked playfully. "You planning on introducing your friend at some point, hotstuff?" He teased as he checked the garlic bread.

"And ones only meant for those closest to me," Vinnie whispered in her ear softly before kissing her cheek. "Lex, this is Marsha. Marsha, Lex."

"A pleasure, Marsha." Lex smiled, extending a hand once the garlic bread was sitting on the counter in its pan.

"Likewise." She smiled shaking it politely. "So you're the one who put out the feelers to the university?" She asked curiously.

"Yep. Vinnie needed a source of income, and traditional work isn't his style, but he knows a lot about Mars." Lex smiled.

"That he does." She smiled and kissed the Mouse's cheek gently.

"And happy to share it," Vinnie smiled softly at her and nuzzled her neck affectionately. "Especially with you."

"And to think, I got the assignment because Professor Daystrom didn't want to be bothered." She chuckled playfully. "Sometimes being low person on the totem pole has advantages."

"His loss, our gain." Vinnie smirked. "It's your name that's going to be one the biggest discovers of the next three centuries on this world."

"Her loss." She corrected playfully. "And she'd never have gone on that wild ride with you."

"Maria Daystrom, granddaughter of Anton Daystrom?" Lex asked curiously. "The woman who was going to discover Atlantis twenty years ago?"

"The same." Marsha nodded. "You know her?"

"Only by reputation. She's gotten extremely conservative since the Atlantis debacle." He shrugged. "She's still expecting the Martians to be Greys."

"Grays?" Vinnie glanced between them, sure they weren't referring to fur color.

"Something of a fiction from the late twentieth century on Earth." Lex chuckled. "Small smooth skinned aliens with big eyes who reportedly abducted humans and performed bizarre tests on them. We've found no evidence that such beings ever existed, and the older spacefaring races have never heard of them either."

"Oh," he nodded, not all that sure about it. "Well, they aren't. And she's going to get a shock out of it."

"Yeah, the real previous Martians were much more attractive." Lex purred. "Even if the others were only half as attractive as you."

"Definitely." Marsha agreed, nuzzling Vinnie.

"Most were," he chuckled and pulled Marsha tight against his side. "Half as attractive as yours truly, that is."

"And probably none quite as modest." Lex teased playfully.

"Who needs modesty when you're as perfect as me?" He shot back in very good humor.

"You certainly don't." Lex winked playfully, as he drained the pasta. "But then that is how you caught my eye."

"And put on the right mindset to catch mine." Vinnie chuckled. "Now just who caught who?"

"Good question." Lex chuckled, as he set the pasta on the table and returned to start putting the garlic bread in a hand-woven wicker basket. "I'm not sure it matters though. Though I've had you tied up enough. But then again, you've done the same."

"And how howl so sweetly when you're helpless to me," he grinned and slipped his tail along Lex's groin.

"But you look so hot wearing cuffs and nothing else." Lex rumbled as he put the sauce in a serving dish.

Marsha grinned listening to the guys banter, as she made mental notes.

"Hay, I look good in anything, including nothing at all." Vinnie crossed his arms in a mocked indignity.

"Oh, that you do." Lex chuckled, as put the salad serving bowl on the table. "Or that really hot leather number you wear to Vandals. That just gets everyone drooling."

"But of course," he smirked. "How could they resist me when I'm showing so much of what's on offer?"

"Last I checked, they don't usually." Lex laughed. "You usually get what you're after." He smirked. "And we usually bring a couple home."

"Who are still glazed over come morning," he snickered. "You'd think they'd never been so completely fucked before."

"I don't think they had been." Lex chuckled. "What's every one want to drink?"

"I assume you've got root beer around here." Marsha grinned, playfully nuzzling Vinnie.

"Good Terran stuff," Vinnie chuckled. "Accept nothing but the best."

"Well, we've got you here, so I'd say we have the best." Lex grinned, as winked playfully at Marsha, as he got three bottles of root beer.

Marsha chuckled. "I'm going to have to go clubbing with the two of you some time. Just to find out what it's like."

"It's a blast," Vinnie grinned and pulled her tightly against his chest for a light kiss on the bridge of her nose. "Just make sure you leave your nervous streak and modesty at home."

"I think I need to leave it at my parents." She grinned playfully. "With you around."

"I'll never let you get hurt," he promised her softly but sincerely. "You don't have anything to be afraid of."

That caused Marsha to look at Vinnie seriously, and to notice that Lex was looking at the Mouse as well. "I'm not afraid of anything with you around." She smiled, nuzzling him affectionately. "Except maybe that dinner will get cold." She teased lightly.

"We'll just have to enjoy the cooking then," he cracked a grin and let her go. "He is a good cook."

"One of these nights, I'm going to have to do Chinese just to prove I can." Lex grinned, sitting down once everyone else was seated.

"You do Chinese? That would be novel, I thought it was all take-out."

"Someone has to cook it at some point." Lex chuckled.

"They just usually do it in restaurants," Vinnie smirked and happily served himself a large plateful of pasta and sauce.

"Well, I imagine some of those 2 Billion Chinese actually cook Chinese at home." Marsha chuckled as she tried a piece of Garlic Bread. "Oh, this is good. Are you Italian?" She asked Lex with a serious look.

"One quarter." He chuckled. "Grandmother was."

"I knew it." She smiled, as she made herself a plate. "Only an Italian could do garlic bread so well." She grinned, as she set to eating.

"It's a real compliment for you to say that, from what Vinnie tells me about your father's cooking." He smiled and fixed a plate, before turning his attention to eating.

"Just the truth." She smiled.

In another moment of uncharacteristic seriousness Vinnie drew Marsha into his arms and against his chest when they settled on her tiger-striped couch.

"I'm kind of winging things here," he murmured, actually more than a little embarrassed, "but part of how my family did things for breeding mates seems kinda appropriate."

"That's okay, Vinnie." She smiled softly. "As long as its honest and from the heart that's what's important."

He nodded and pulled her close, soaking in the physical contact and the willingness to talk, and remember, that it brought him. "Instead of taking years to learn about each other, we shared, mind to mind, what we considered the core of what wasn't going to change, what made us who we are, and a few select memories along with it." He hesitating, not very sure of himself. "Even edited to keep the worst of it out, I'm afraid it's not a nice ride anymore. Too much has happened, too much is part of how I think, to keep all of the war out of it."

"Vinnie, I won't claim my mind is exactly a picnic." She said softly. "I've experienced on a lot of things, through my work. And a lot of them are unpleasant, depressing and even revolting. Unfortunately, they're also part of how I think and perceive the world. Not exactly a nice ride either. Maybe not quite as intense as yours, but still there it is."

The white Mouse nodded and smiled slightly. "There aren't many that I'd believe that from. Or think that could take knowing what's going on in the background, behind the playboy show." He murmured and kissed her softly. "Probably not many that could see your scares either, and handle it."

"No, I don't think there are." She said softly. "Though you're the first it's actually come up with." She smiled fondly, reaching up to brush a hand along his cheek tenderly.

"So I'm impatient," he chuckled softly and shifted his face to kiss her fingers with the tip of his soft tongue. "It's not all an act, after all."

"I'm sure its not." She smiled, and kissed him gently. "What I meant was sharing memories, isn't an option with most of my own species."

"Mmm, yes, that does mean no shortcuts." He cracked a smile. "Fortunately that's not a restriction with me."

"I expect there are very few restrictions with you." She snickered teasingly. "Certainly, not the way Lex was talking."

"Not once there's enough trust there," he chuckled softly. "I'm not for bondage on the first date. You, you could probably get away with anything."

"I've never been one for bondage on the first date, either." She chuckled. "Unless the guy comes on stronger than I like, in which case it's a great discourager."

"Really?" He blinked in surprise a bit.

"A fair number of guys get a little intimidate when a girl pulls out handcuffs and a leather whip on the first date." She chuckled.

"I guess so," he nodded. "I take it as a good sign for the future."

"You're not like most guys, Vinnie." She said, kissing him playfully on the cheek. "Even the ones with fur."

"Well, yeah, there is that." He chuckled and gently tipped her face for a long, tender kiss that was remarkably chaste.

"And I got lucky enough to have you ride into my life." She said softly, after the kiss. "I must be doing something right."

"Or I did," he smiled and ducked his head to nuzzle her neck. "I'm the lucky one."

"I guess we're both lucky." She smiled. "Lucky you picked up an MIB agent at that bar instead of another Biker."

"That too," Vinnie chuckled and wrapped his arms and tail more tightly around her. "Though I was going for someone who looked like they knew the local regs, not just the streets."

"Always a good idea on a new world." She smiled, snuggling in close and felt him relax, apparently content to stay put and just snuggle for a while.

The smell of sugar and meat drew Vinnie from the warm, though otherwise empty, bed a bit earlier than usual, but they'd gone to bed with only a little kissing and holding much earlier than his usual.

"You cook too?" He asked as he turned the corner to look in the kitchen, comfortably naked, as he'd gone to bed.

"Kind of a necessity, living alone." She grinned. "Good Morning, did you sleep well?" She asked as she made French toast, something she often did on weekends.

"Yeah, very well," he smiled softly at her, taking in her curves visible even with the light robe she was now wearing and the casual body language of a relaxed morning before stepping up behind her to wrap his arms around her and kiss her neck. "I like having you there, smelling you in my dreams."

"I rather liked having you there as well, feeling your soft fur against my skin." She murmured softly as she shifted the battered bread around the pan to keep it from burning.

"Good," Vinnie murmured, nuzzling her neck. "I was wondering if you wanted to check out Cryssen and see the good times that lived there."

"After breakfast, I'm game." She said easily. "How far away is it?" She asked curiously.

"A couple hours," he nuzzled her. "It's where I took you before."

"Sounds good. Want to bring lunch, or wait till we get back?" She asked as she added the bread slices to the stack in the oven to keep warm.

"If you're thinking about that, maybe a picnic instead," he suggested softly. "I know a lovely place to watch the sunset."

"Oh, that sounds even better." She smiled warmly. "For all that playboy exterior, you're quite a romantic at heart." She grinned, as she turned to kiss him playfully on the cheek.

"Just don't let that get around," he chuckled and trailed a line of light kisses down her jawline. "You'll ruin my rep."

"You really think I want other females to know that sort of thing?" She teased playfully.

"I don't know, it's something some brag about," he smiled and nuzzled her again. "Breakfast?"

"Just about done." She grinned, as she took the stack of French toast and another covered dish out of the oven. "Grab the orange juice and the butter from the refrigerator, would you?" She asked as she took her load to the dining room table.

"Right," he nodded and turned to get them.

"There's coffee if you want some." She said as she came back into the kitchen in time to pull something out of what looked like a microwave, but a bit more complicate. "Cinnamon-pecan sticky buns." She smiled. "Every breakfast should have pastries."

"Oh yeah," Vinnie grinned widely and poured himself a large mug of the liquid perk. "Sugar is good."

"Sugar and caffeine. Don't start morning without them." She snickered as she set the tray of sweets on the table and sat down, lifting the one cover to reveal a serving plate that was split between bacon and scrambled eggs. "Eggs, bacon, French toast, pastries, juice and coffee." She chuckled. "Enjoy."

"Oh, you know how to treat a guy right," the naked Mouse grinned and sat down to serve himself, though he was careful to leave more than enough for her.

"I happen to enjoy breakfast." She grinned, as she served herself. "And I like spoiling boyfriends, when I have one."

"Well, you're going to have to work at getting rid of me," he chuckled softly. "I like being around you way too much. Speaking of which, what do you do at work?"

"I teach a couple of classes, and then the rest of my day is working with artifacts, and helping to set up the museum." She explained. "And I wasn't planning on getting rid of you, not by a long shot."

"What do you teach?" He asked as they ate, honestly a bit curious.

"This semester I've got Introductory Archaeology, and Introduction to Conservation." She shook her head. "The administration wanted to give me a light workload so I could focus on the museum."

"Mind if I tag along sometimes?" He asked softly, pausing to look at her as his tail slipped over to rest on her thigh.

"If you'd like to." She smiled. "Though I think you'll probably have to catch up with me at the university. I just don't see you getting up in time to make it to an 8AM class."

"No," he chuckled. "But I've been known to stay up late enough for one."

"So do some of my students, I think." She chuckled as his tail got a little bolder and slid up her leg a little more.

"No doubt," Vinnie smirked playfully. "What kind of things are in it?"

"As in what gets covered in lecture?" She asked curiously, as she ran one foot along the bold tail gently, not discouraging.

"Yeah, what do you teach," he nodded with a sly smile and worked into the part of her robe to stroke her side.

"Archaeology is the study of cultures through the artifacts that they leave behind. A lot of it is guesswork, trying to figure out what something meant in its original context. Sometimes the guesses are accurate, and some times they're not." She chuckled.

"Why does it matter?" He cocked his head. "I mean, I get knowing your own heritage and all, but why care what happened to something that doesn't exist anymore?"

"Archaeology started from the premise that cultures tend to repeat mistakes made by others, without knowing it. If we could understand the cultures that preceded us, we might be able to avoid those mistakes. It was also a matter of general curiosity, a need to understand the whole picture. On Mars that became a special interest since we were hoping to discover exactly what happened, and if it might pose a danger in the future. Plus, we really did want to know who'd been here before us." She said with a smile.

"I guess that makes sense," he nodded, though he didn't completely get it. "Historians without a recorded history to use."

"That's a good description." She smiled over sips of coffee. "So you're people didn't do that sort of thing?"

"We remember what happened," he shrugged slightly. "There was nothing to find out, no lost cultures. The few mysteries that showed up were sorted out fairly fast by asking either the ghosts or the land."

"Earth has lost many, many more cultures than have survived." She shook her head. "And consulting ghosts or the land wouldn't have been taken seriously by most archaeologists. Most of them wouldn't think it possible."

"That's just stupid," he couldn't help but snort.

"Perhaps on your world it is." She said gently. "Magic has only been making a comeback in the last century on Earth. It'd been displaced by science for the five or six centuries before that at least."

"That's really stupid." He scrunched his muzzle up. "Suppressing that many abilities. No wonder we had better tech."

"No argument here." She chuckled. "Religion leads to some of the dumbest mistakes."

That made Vinnie blink and think hard to pull up the relevant information. "At least when it's not handled right."

"And boy do humans know how to not handle it." She shook her head. "We still have the occasional fighting over religious disputes."

He could only shake his head. "That is just too weird."

"It's a human thing." She chuckled and shook her head. "None of the other Alliance worlds have quite the same issues involving religion."

"I would hope not," he made a face. "Why anyone would believe in something that couldn't exist is beyond me."

"Couldn't exist?" She looked at him curiously. "Once you accept magic, then everything becomes a possibility."

"Not even close," he shook his head, accepting the flood of long disused information he'd learned years before. "There are things that are still not possible, and quite a few so improbable no intelligent individual would actually believe it if they bothered to look. How can one justify believing in a set of words written by a mortal, at a known time, that proposes that the universe, world and everything else has a set timeline that is shorter than their own recorded history?"

"Well, that's getting into some serious theology there." She chuckled. "However, I know that the exact chronology isn't agreed on. And a lot of the text in question is recording of various moral and ethical laws of the time they were written in. However, the events detailed may well have occurred."

"And this makes believing in something that doesn't interact with the real world make sense?" Vinnie shook his head. "If they want to record their history and morals, that's one thing. Proclaiming it the will of an entity that couldn't exist as they describe it is quite another."

"The flawed timeline hardly is proof that the entity in question can't exist as described. In fact, there's no reason God can't exist as described." She shrugged.

"But why believe in a thing that has no interaction with you or the world around you and follow things written by other humans in it's name?" He pressed.

"Well, actually according to most records, there has been interaction." She shrugged. "And supposedly at least parts were written at its request. However much of it would be a matter of faith. Either one believes or one doesn't. However, its not something that's ever been fully proven or disproven."

"Back to the original question. Why have faith in something that doesn't interact with you?"

"Because faith, by definition, doesn't require interaction." She shrugged. "Faith requires no proof. And there have been miracles in modern times attributed to its presence."

"So why have faith?" He pressed, now utterly confused.

"Because believing in something larger than ourselves, gives a certain structure and meaning to life." She shrugged, trying to explain what she'd never really thought about. "Because it provides comfort in difficult times."

That only confused him further until he finally shook his head. "I always found the real things, that spirits go on and get reborn and the system exists well beyond Mars more comfort than things that never affected me or anyone near me. What's comforting about something that you can't know is real?"

"Well, I know God is real in here." She tapped her chest. "That's really all I need. I've felt his presence on occasion, enough to be sure." She said quietly. "And I guess I prefer knowing that life is only a one time trip, not a merry-go-round."

"You're be in for one hell of a nasty surprise when you die then," he shook his head, clearly both disturbed and very sad as he looked away. "Unless you manage to buck the system hard enough to be dissolved or whatever you believe in snatches you. Either way, I think I should be going," he murmured and stood, heading for the bedroom and his clothes. "I'm not sure this is worth it right now."

"If you think it isn't, you're probably right." She said softly.

"Not for what I was considering," Vinnie said as he moved away, pausing at the door with one hand on the sill. "I'm looking forward to my next life and meeting my Bros and family again. We can't be what I was hoping for, what I thought you were willing to conceder. I'll be back when I've sorted out what I can give to someone who only wants part of a lifetime with me."

"Honestly, Vinnie. If you'd looked into human beliefs at all, you'd know that a majority of them don't believe in reincarnation. Even those that do, don't believe that you'll actually 'know' anyone the next time around." She shook her head. "I bet you don't remember any previous lives."

"That's humans, something I'm not," he said simply. "And I do, mine and others. I've met people I knew before. That's the comfort I've had in how things are for Martian Mice. I just never thought it might not be that way for other races. I never cared if it was before." He closed his eyes tightly and shuddered at a fresh wash of grief the thought of what this meant for Charley if it was true.

"We get our comfort in different places." She shrugged. "I'm looking forward to seeing my loved ones in the afterlife."

"Good." He said softly and walked the rest of the way out of sight for a few moments before reappearing fully dressed and walked out. His expression was heartbroken, though he didn't look at her again.

A New Mars for a Lost Mouse 1

NC-17 for M/M and M/F sex
Het Level is LowHet Smut Level is Very Low
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Low
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

208 KB, Story is Closed-Unfinished, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written March 7, 2003 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Todd McCall

Setting: Biker Mice from Mars, Galactic Alliance, Haloeth

Primary Races: Dracon, Feline, Human, Loup Maru, Martian Mice

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). Fantasy, Romance

Pairings: Vinnie/Lex Maza, Vinnie/Marsha, Vinnie/Cazi, Vinnie/Carmel Van Sur

Notes: Universe: New Mars by Draconia

Blurb: When Vinnie's involuntary travels land him on an alternate Mars, he finds love, heartbreak and a little closure along with the usual parties.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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