A New Mars for a Lost Mouse 2
by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/M and M/F sex
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Five sunsets. Then ten. And another double handful of them Vinnie rode Girl with no care for where they went, as long as it wasn't within sight of any of the new owners of his world. A race that may never comprehend the beauty of the world as it once was with everything alive and lush with the cycles of birth, life, death, spirit and birth.

He tried to think. He tried desperately not to think. It hurt like steelfire either way.

The one creature since the battle at Cryssen Caves that he had started to let close enough to touch his soul, to recognize and be drawn back together in their next life, and she believed in things so contrary to what could be touched, talked to, known and quantified that she would likely never be reborn. Like the cursed and those with unfinished duties, she'd remain a spirit until she stopped rejecting a new life.

And she wasn't likely to change her views. If she could believe without proof, no proof of any kind would change her mind unless she chose to accept it on that same faith that brought her to where she was.

If he'd bonded to her as strongly as he'd been inclined to, she may have even prevented him from it. How could he *talk* to her when they didn't even look at the future in the same way? Could he really open himself up knowing that if he miss-stepped he may never see his world, family or Bros again?

She wanted to never know touch or life or fun again.

It was enough to shut his mind off for hours every time he ran across that concept.

It was just too damn terrifying to go very close to.

Still, he cared for her. It ached to leave like that. It ached to be apart from her.

The reality that he could never be as close to her as he'd permitted himself to hope made his vision blur and his chest tighten in a coldness more bone-chilling than the lifeless environment around them.

Ten more days saw him on a ridge overlooking Drumin to no evidence of activity other than a small survey team that had already left.

He gave a last look over the lost land of the Martian nobility and turned Girl around, heading back to Seria Planum at speed. Despite his not having the heart to really rush anything, she had enough concern to get him back to people that just might care if he ate well or not.

Lex's late morning Sunday TV watching was interrupted by a half-hearted knock on the apartment door.

"Vinnie?" Lex said, more than a little surprised. "Gods, I wasn't expecting to see you." He said, though he clearly wasn't displeased at the Mouse's presence. "Have you eaten recently?" He said opening the door, in the gesture Vinnie knew meant he should come in.

"Not enough according to Girl," he said softly as he stepped in and turned to nuzzle the human gently. Though he was still visibly depressed, it was fairly obvious the worst had passed and he was pulling himself together again.

"Well, I've still got the Sunday morning staples; sugar and caffeine." Lex chuckled and nuzzled the Mouse back. "Give me a little time, and I'll get you something more solid."

"Thanks," he smiled, relaxing a bit. "Getting a month's worth of road dust off will keep me occupied in the meantime.

"Two months, but who's counting." Lex chuckled. "Try a quick shower with the pulsating jets, followed by soaking in the whirlpool. Works great for getting things out of fur, I'm told."

"Thanks," he shifted from his step away to kiss Lex quickly. "I still think in Martian time. We have a much longer month, and year."

"Yes, the Martian year is close to twice that of Earth." He chuckled an kissed Vinnie back. "But we got into the habit of using the Earth calendar during the early years when we depended on Earth for everything, and things had to be carefully coordinated."

The Mouse could only shake his head and headed for the bathroom, stripping as he walked. "That had to been nerve wracking."

"That's what I've heard." Lex said. "I can't imagine being that dependent."

"Me either," Vinnie called back before he was too far into the living room for the conversation to continue reasonably.

When Vinnie came out of the bathroom freshly cleaned, he could smell bacon, eggs and pancakes in the air.

"Oh yeah, you know how to treat a weary Mouse." He grinned, his stomach gaining a sharply renewed interested in being full.

"Especially one I've missed." Lex smiled softly. "Now sit down and eat." He ordered with an impish smile. "Don't need you passing out where you stand."

"Right-to." Vinnie smirked and eagerly dove in, using his tail to draw Lex close for attention and occasional kisses between bites.

"For someone who'd only been around two weeks, I sure did miss you." Lex said softly, kissing Vinnie gently on the cheek.

"I missed you too," he murmured, leaning against him. "Missed Marsha bad." He sighed softly, closing his eyes. "I wasn't ready for what she said."

"I spoke to her about a week after you left." He said quietly. "She was really upset, and confused too. Kept saying something about she knew you weren't lying, but couldn't figure out how what you'd said could be true." He shook his head. "Never could quite get an explanation of what that meant."

"She prefers faith over knowledge," he tried to explain, his voice soft and accepting if completely bewildered and a bit hurt. "I believe and trust what I know, what has been experienced and proven. She believes in what makes her feel good. They ... I can't risk being stuck a spirit because I've linked with a soul that so firmly doesn't want to pass into the next life. I want to go home, see my family and Bros again. I can't if I let her hold me here in spirit."

"I don't think it's so clear cut." He said quietly. "She prefers what she knows, and what has been part of her culture for hundreds of years. What has been proven to you, has never been proven to her." The dark haired human explained gently. "Except that she has enough empathic talent to know when someone is telling her the truth. I think maybe she's having what is commonly called a 'crisis of faith'."

"While I was having one of the heart." He murmured, loosing interest in the food for a moment. "I ... I'd really gotten used to being alone for the rest of my life. I wasn't ready to hear that from her. I was ready ... to show her ... everything."

"I think maybe you showed her something she wasn't ready for." Lex said softly, nuzzling the Mouse supportively as Vinnie leaned into the contact. "Try to imagine believing something your whole life, and then suddenly having it called into question. It's an unnerving experience at the very least."

Vinnie paused, remaining silent for a long time as he tried to find an experience in his life that could correlate. He had times when everything he counted on was taken from him; the loss of his family, the knowledge of what had happened, that moment when he picked up the blaster and became a warrior, what he was in the middle of, loosing his Bros.

None he'd consider unnerving, though. Painful; yes. Life-altering; without a doubt. Even terrifying on occasion.

"I don't believe in anything like that," he finally shook his head. "If it's real, it's real. The rest doesn't matter."

"Real to you." Lex said softly. "Until now she's had no reason to believe that reincarnation was any more real than her own beliefs." He said quietly. "Religion to humans can be as important, as *real* as anything else. And losing it is frightening. It'd be along the lines of you discovering that one of your Bros was working for the invaders."

Vinnie's entire body jerked tense, the denial rumbled before the concept was even full heard, much less the idea it was used to explain processed.

"How could something you haven't *experienced* possibly be that set in your mind?"

"Faith in the divine very rarely has any proof. It's something that comes from inside you, that voice inside that tells you that it's *true*, though you have no proof. It's the experience of personal revelation." He said quietly. "Or at least that's what my grandmother used to say, I've never been so sure myself about such things."

"If it works for them," he shook his head a bit and focused back on eating. "It's not how Mouse culture worked."

"It works for many." He said quietly. "But when it stops working, is when you run into problems."

"So why believe in something that will stop working at some point?" He looked over in utter confusion and quite upset by his lack of understanding. "Why would you want to believe in something that can't be counted on?"

"Because if you believe in it, you don't think it will stop working." He said gently. "It's been the cornerstone of societies for generations. Made them strong in the face of terrible adversity." He explained. "But I've never really believed, so I see what happens to others when it does fail."

Vinnie could only shake his head, frustrated and upset. "I don't get it. I just ... don't."

"I know." Lex said quietly, putting his arms gently around the Mouse from behind. "Just try to understand that Marsha has lost something important to her, and she's trying to figure out what to replace it with."

"She lost faith because of what I said?" He frowned, even more bewildered than before.

"Because she knew you were telling the truth, and that truth was in conflict with what she thought she knew." He said gently. "Faith or not, Marsha is at heart a scientist and evidence is something she can't just ignore."

He sighed softly and shook his head again miserably. "I don't get it."

Lex sighed. "Can you get that she's seriously considering that you might be right about how things after death work, and it confuses her? Humans have never had any real solid evidence about what happens after death, that's why we have so many different beliefs regarding it."

"Sort of," Vinnie murmured and slid his face down between his hands to rub his eyes. "It's like not understanding gravity though. She touches the energy flow every day and understands how to read imprints we leave. Been trying to sort that out for a month and all I get is a sore head."

"That's not a common talent among humans, though it's becoming more so." Lex nodded, and gently brushed one hand along Vinnie's cheek. "It relates to how she realized that you were telling her the truth. I wouldn't be surprised if she's out there somewhere, looking for something concrete to convince her fully one way or the other. She doesn't seem to be the type who likes uncertainty."

"She'll find what she wants to," he shrugged slightly. "Her choice of what to believe doesn't change anything for me now." He looked down, not really seeing anything. "I hate it when my mother is right about this stuff."

"I don't think she knows what she wants to find." Lex said softly. "Right about what?"

"About how bad an idea it is to get serious about someone outside our society." He murmured, his face still buried in his hands. "She meant commoners then, but it applies even more now. It'll only get you hurt."

"Perhaps." Lex said quietly. "You're not the only one hurting you know." He added gently, resting his head on Vinnie's shoulder. "But reaching out always has the risk of getting hurt. That's just part of life."

"The best reason I've ever heard not to do it," he shook his head and dropped it to crossed arms on the table. "We were both enjoying life till I let her close hoping for something that hasn't been possible for years. Now we're both hurting and trying to figure our hearts out."

"Vinnie, no risk yields no gain." Lex said softly. "You've been in the military, or as close to it as you get without uniforms. The missions with the most to gain, always carry the highest risk, don't they?" He asked softly.

"Most of the time," he nodded easily. "And the smart leaders knew some missions simply weren't worth the risk and when to pull out with it incomplete. I screwed up her nice, comfortable life just being what I am. I don't remember the last time I hurt this bad. Everything was great until I got stupid and let myself hope for something impossible."

"Not impossible Vinnie, just difficult." Lex said quietly, nuzzling the Mouse reassuringly and felt him lean into the contact eagerly. "Growth and change are never easy, but it was almost inevitable for her to run into what you believe. Sooner or later, she would've encounter evidence of it at some site."

"What are you trying to talk me into?" He finally just asked.

"I'm trying to talk you out of giving up because you hit a serious snag." Lex said softly. "I could see how happy you were with her, and I don't want you to give it up without at least a second try."

Vinnie remained silent and still for a long time, trying to find the words to describe just what the human was asking of him. Eventually he just shut his eyes and sighed. "I was happy before I got ambitious about it. *She* was happy before I screwed up her life with my curiosity. I have to talk to her anyway, I said I would. We'll see what happens."

"Just give things a chance. That's all I'm saying." He said softly. "So, you want to do something a little more mindless than all this thinking?" He suggested, wanting to keep them both from getting too maudlin.

"Definitely," he grinned up, though it was a bit weak. "What's on the menu?"

"I was thinking maybe doing our own Godzilla-fest, complete with root beer and popcorn. And maybe ordering pizza later on." He grinned. "And if that gets tired, I'm sure we'll come up with something else."

"Animefest." Vinnie snickered. "I've got a day or so before Girl will let me out. I get on her nerves when I think too much."

"We can do that too." He grinned back. "So your bike grounded you, huh?"

"Something along the lines of 'get in there and don't come out until you remember how to smile for more than three seconds at a time.'"

"Well, then we should throw some less serious anime in as well." Lex chuckled. "Nobody can stay serious through a few episodes of Ranma 1/2."

"That is one seriously fucked up situation," he shook his head with a chuckle. "I can't believe he doesn't take full advantage of the options.

"He probably would if he liked guys." Lex snickered. "I believe there was a fan vid called Ranma X 1/2, where he did."

"Given a hundred and something years in existence, I have no doubt at least *somebody* made one." Vinnie snickered. "I like Dragon Pink too, and Honey Love."

"Neon Genesis Evangelion is quality material, with a lot of potential they didn't exploit. But it's definitely not something to watch when you don't want to think. Every character has a seriously fucked relationship with his or her father and/or mother." Lex shook his head. "Gundam Wing is good for cute guys, explosions and serious combat mechs."

"It's all good but thinking," Vinnie grinned and nuzzled him, all but pushing Lex onto the couch to snuggle. "Gundam was pretty serious though. Hard to laugh at that kind of war flick." He went serious for a moment. "I identify with them too well, kids as special ops and doing it well."

"Good point." He nodded. "Record of Lodoss War is better for not serious. It's all swords and sorcery stuff." He added, snuggling against Vinnie while the Mouse snagged the remote control and pulled up the anime list, selecting Slayers before relaxing into the warmth of physical contact with a friendly person when a battle, injury or sex wasn't imminent.

Vinnie's usual afternoon television watching was interrupted by the doorbell. With a light grumble he shoved himself off the couch to answer it and put on his best face in instinct before opening the door.


"I'm Jeff Sallas. I'm a photographer with Galactic Biker magazine." The human smiled. "I saw you and the exquisite bike of yours at Vandals the other night, and I thought you'd be perfect for the cover of our annual technology issue. So, I was wondering, have you ever done any modeling? You certainly have the looks for it."

"Not yet," he chuckled and stepped aside to let him in. "Though it's been a consideration."

"Really?" Jeff said surprised, as he came in. "Between your looks and moves, you seem like you've been in front of cameras before. And this is a serious offer." He chuckled, and pulled a copy of Galactic Biker out of his pack. "That was our Road Warrior issue from two months ago. You'll see my name in the credits."

Vinnie nodded and took the offering as he casually closed and locked the door with his tail. "I spent my adult life on the battlefield, the only cameras were the ones you *didn't* want to see you." He half explained as he checked out the magazine, both cover and interior. "I don't see that the commitments I have to the Centennial efforts will interfere with this, though."

"Oh, I wouldn't think so." Jeff nodded. "This a just a single issue photo shoot, shouldn't take more than a day or two, maybe eight hours total."

"No, that won't be much at all," Vinnie smiled as he guided them to the living room chairs and relaxed in what was clearly a comfortable environment for him. "I *seriously* doubt Girl will object either."

"So is your bike really an AI?" Jeff asked curiously, as he sat in one of the chairs.

"The finest cyberbike Mars ever produced." Vinnie grinned proudly. "Yes, she is, all cyberbikes are."

"That's very cool." Jeff smiled. "Definitely the perfect coverbike for the high-tech issue. So what's the fastest you've ever gone on her?"

Vinnie had to pause to think about that. "Faster than the fighter jet chasing us." He finally decided.

"Impressive." Jeff nodded. "Do you do your own repair and maintenance work?" He asked curiously.

"Of course," he grinned. "And usually did the work on Lady and Lil' Darlin, my Bro's bikes, too. You can't afford not to be able to take care of your own gear out there."

"And way cheaper than a good mechanic." Jeff smirked. "Well, if you want to do the shoot, there's some paperwork that we need to do first. Just so everything is on the up and up."

"That too," he chuckled. "I'm definitely interested."

"Excellent." Jeff smiled and pulled out a sheaf of papers. "Okay, this first one is probably the most important, it's the model release form. Gives Galactic Biker rights to the pictures taken during the shoot, in return for money paid at the completion of the shoot." He explained. "If you're not familiar with entertainment law, you may want to have a legal advisor who is." He suggested evenly.

Vinnie nodded and let his mind snap into the more serious mode he'd been taught for business when he was young. "I will be." He said as he skim-read it to become familiar with the language before he tried to talk about it.

"If you want, you can take these and go over them with someone, and give me a call when you're ready." Jeff suggested, putting a business card on top. "We just need to do the shoot sometime in the next two weeks."

"I will be," he nodded and set the stack on a coffee table nearby. "And that shouldn't be a problem. I will be in touch." Vinnie smiled and stood, offering a hand to him.

"Good." Jeff smiled as he stood and shook the hand. "It's been a pleasure meeting you, Vinnie. I'll be looking forward to hearing from you."

"And dazzling those cameras with us." The Mouse cocked a grin and saw the human out, then went for the phone to call Lex.

"Martian Intelligence Bureau, Special Agent Lex Maza speaking." He answered crisply.

"Haya, it's Vinnie." The Mouse chuckled softly. "What do you know about Galactic Biker magazine?"

"The highest volume motorbike magazine in the Alliance." He chuckled. "And I think they have subscribers in the Independent Worlds as well."

"They want me and Girl on the cover of their annual technology issue." He grinned behind the phone. "I just wanted to have the contract checked out by someone with a clue about these things."

"You need a lawyer who does entertainment law." Lex nodded, grinning on his side of the phone. "I've got a friend, Jasmine Drexler, who does entertainment law. You want me to have her stop by when she's got time?"

"Yeah, that would be great." Vinnie almost purred. "This is going to be so cool."

"I'm definitely going to have to pick up the technology issue." Lex chuckled. "I'll give Jasmine a call. This is very cool, Vinnie." He added enthusiastically.

"Yeah it is," the Mouse rumbled excitedly. "I'm going to make that cover look *so* good. And we can celebrate tonight. He saw us at Vandals."

"Vinnie, you could make Better Homes and Gardens look exciting." Lex teased playfully. "I'll see you after work."

"I'm sure I could, and make it the best selling issue in history." He rumbled back hotly. "I'll see you then."

Lax and Vinnie's after work, pre-appointment, post quickie snuggling was interrupted by a knock on the door.

"That'd be the lawyer." Lex grinned. "One of us should answer the door." He said, not all that eager to move from where he was, snuggled against Vinnie.

"Then I guess I'm the one that has to do the unpleasant," he muttered with a smirking grin and squirmed out from the embrace.

"You're Vinnie, right?" The dark haired human woman in a carefully tailored business suit smiled when Vinnie opened the door. " Jasmine Drexler, my cousin said you needed a lawyer who knows entertainment law."

"Yes," he smiled and nodded, stepping aside to let her in. "Galactic Biker left a modeling contract for me."

"Galactic Biker? Well, you're off to a good start in the modeling business." She smiled, as she walked past him. "Hi, Lex."

"Hiya, Jas." He grinned as they settled back down and Vinnie handed her the contract. "How do you like my Mouse?" He smirked broadly.

"What's not to like?" She chuckled and started looking over the papers. "You always have had a knack for finding furry hunks."

"And he's got one of the best right now."

"Well, that's a matter of taste." She grinned. "I'm more inclined to cats myself. Though you're hotter than I figured a Mouse could be." She chuckled as she read over the contract.

"Cats can be very sexy," Vinnie agreed with a chuckling grin. "But I'm Vinnie Van Wham."

"That's what the contract says." She chuckled, earning her rolled eyes from across the couch.

"What else does it say?" He asked a bit more seriously.

"General summary: In return for pictures to be taken by a photographer of Galactic Biker's choice, you'll get ten thousand dollars, and a one point five percent cut of the profits on that issue."

"Anything about refusing a shot?" He asked, now completely serious.

"Depends on your reason for refusing. It does state that pictures will be non-nude. Any other shots that come to mind that you'd want to refuse?" She asked, equally serious.

"Nudity I don't mind," he chuckled softly. "No submission, no victim, nothing that will embarrass my family name."

"This isn't a contract for that sort of photo shoot." She smiled. "That would require a sex pictures contract, which this isn't. Not to say that the pictures won't be sexy, but they aren't sex pictures, if you catch the difference."

It took him a bit to work that threw into a context that made sense, for the most part. "So the sex pictures one is required, even if the pictures aren't about sex?"

"Nope, its only required if they were going to do sex pictures." She nodded. "Which Galactic Biker doesn't do."

"That still leaves victim shots." He replied seriously. "I realize that's probably not their thing either, but I don't go down without it being a real fight. Van Wham's do not loose for the camera, or *anyone*."

"Oh, I guess I was think of those as some sort of submission fetish shot." She chuckled. "And honestly, I think that's the only way a victim shot is going to come up. Which means they'd need the sex pictures release. 'Sides, why waste a hunk like you on a victim shot, you make a much better dom."

That made Vinnie crack a grin, though his mindset remained remarkably serious. "There's always been a serious market for the hunk to be beaten down, with or without him getting back in the end."

"Hmm, not my interest, but I'm sure you're right." She chuckled. "If you get any actual sex contracts, we'll just make sure there's a clause to keep you out of the victim role."

"Definitely." He nodded sharply. "So Galactic Biker doesn't do any contest or battle shots?"

"Not in the issue you're posing for." She smiled. "There is the 'wargames' issue which comes out in the summer."

"What are the rules regarding writing extra clauses into these contracts?" He asked, leaning back slightly. "It's easier for both sides if it's not going to create a breach of contract if they ask something I won't do."

"Extra clauses are added at the end of the contract, and don't become binding until both sides have signed off on them." She said simply.

"Good," Vinnie smiled and relaxed further. "Would I be correct in that that would be part of your job?"

"If you're adding clauses yes." She smiled. "Their lawyer would add for them. And then you and whoever is authorized to sign for GB would sign them."

"Then that is something we need to hash out in the next couple days. Expected to be unnecessary or not, I don't want to set up a situation that could go badly. My name does mean something to me."

"That's your prerogative, of course." She nodded. "And I don't expect they'll have a problem with the extra clauses."

"If they do, it's not a shoot I'll want to be on, since I messed up their plans." He said seriously. "And I would walk out before I knelt."

"It's really not that kind of shoot, Vinnie." She said seriously. "I can see that from the language in the contract."

"You're *sure*?" He focused on her sharply, his body language on the boarder between threat and acceptance of her word.

"Yes, I'm sure." She said fixing him with a look that distinctly didn't like his suggestion that she wasn't telling the truth. "Deliberately misleading a client is a good way for a lawyer to lose her license. This isn't a complicated contract as entertainment contracts go."

"All right," he nodded slightly, still debating internally to some extent. "How is the language different for a contract that might have violence or defeat shots?"

"Basically there's no mention of 'combat' or 'violence' in the contract." She explained. "Also the contract is specifically for solo shots, with motorcycle, that are in keeping with the style and format of the technology issue of Galactic Biker." She added. "Neither violence nor defeat shots fit in the style and format of the technology issue."

"Oh," he nodded. "I'm not that familiar with them to know that."

"That's what a good lawyer is for." She grinned. "A defeat shot in the technology issue, would be like an S&M scene in some children's cartoon."

"That would be *way* weird." Vinnie admitted with a chuckle. "Cause a fit among folks too."

"Same principle." She chuckled. "Honestly though, GB isn't a mag that does a lot of 'role-playing' shots. They do a lot more with tech, travel, and fashion."

"That and sexy, and it's right up my ally." Vinnie grinned and relaxed back. "Not that those shots can't be sexy as all getout."

"Oh, they can." She grinned. "And other mags do more of that sort of thing. If this was a shoot with Leather & Chrome, I'd definitely add a clause specifically mentioning that submission/ defeat shots weren't allowed."

Vinnie nodded and relaxed fully. "I'm sure there will be a few of those to add." He chuckled. "I have no doubt I'll catch their attention too."

"Oh, I'm sure you're going to catch lots of peoples attention. From clothing catalogs to skin mags." She grinned and saw his natural charm and pride flash that much higher in an instinctive display. "You have a very natural presence that a lot of models have to work at."

"When you've got it, you've got it." Vinnie smiled at her with his full charm in place.

"And man does he have it." Lex grinned, and leaned over to kiss Vinnie playfully that turned rather serious before the Mouse let him go.

"So I've noticed. I'd say a career in acting was a definite possibility, if that interested you at all." She said seriously.

"Too much work." Vinnie replied with a bit of a shrug. "They don't seem to ever have any time for fun."

"It is a lot of work." She nodded. "Though they do have time for fun. Just look at all the trouble they get into." She chuckled. "But I think you'll do just fine on the photo shoots alone."

"I'm sure I will." He smirked back. "That and playing tour guide to the university types."

"You'll just be a very busy Mouse." She grinned. "At least when you want to be."

"And the rest of the time is for attracting for attention to this incredible body of mine." His eyes glittered in excitement. "Vandals is so much fun."

"It's certainly a good way to catch the eye of photograhpers." She grinned.

"Ah excellent." A young, pretty blond woman with bright green eyes said as she noticed Vinnie. "You're right on time, so let's get the two of you into preparation." She smiled when he nodded an obligingly came up to her, willing to follow her lead and unconsciously already showing off to best effect.

"Okay, now David will take care of making sure Girl looks her best for the shoot." She indicated a dark haired man, not much older than her self, and the sleek red cyberbike cooperatively zoomed over to him.

"I'm going to have a seriously spoiled cyberbike at this rate." Vinnie chuckled under his breath at the set-up the man had.

"I do try." David grinned, as he set to work doing a very thorough exam looking for anything that might make Girl look less than exceptional despite her serious primping and polishing before they got there. He had enough polishes and other maintenance touch items to handle just about anything.

They continued across the big open indoor area with lots of lights and cameras already present and more being set up. "Cindy and I will get you ready." She smiled. "I'm Amber, I handle make-up, and Cindy handles wardrobe."

"I'm sure," he smiled charmingly at her.

"This way." She smiled, leading him into a room with lots of mirrors. "Hi Cindy, this is Vinnie. Vinnie, this is Cindy." She smiled at the darker skinned, blue eyed human about the same age.

"A pleasure Vinnie." Cindy smiled. "Now, this may be the technology issue, but our readers still expect a bit of a thrill. Though I daresay you can manage that no matter what you're wearing."

"That has been my experience," he grinned teasingly at her. "Though the less the better seems to be a rather universal preference."

"I'm sure." She grinned back. "And what you're wearing now is pretty good, but I think we can do better." She smiled, and turned to look through a wide selection of biker gear, a majority of it leather.

"I have no doubt," Vinnie chuckled and looked to Amber for where she wanted him.

"Vinnie, while Cindy is looking for something even sexier for you to wear, come over here and sit down." She said indicating a chair in front of a large lighted mirror. "You look like you did a pretty thorough job of making yourself look good, so I'll just have to do touch up work." She grinned as he gracefully settled in and sat with the slightly stiff but relaxed body of one well accustomed to being groomed and done up by another.

"You don't leave a girl much to do, Vinnie." Amber grinned, as she touched up a few spots here and there. "You're very good at doing yourself up."

"I've had far too much practice," he chuckled and flashed her a charming grin. "I wasn't sure how much you did here either."

"Oh, I've started with guys who'd just come off of two months traveling across Mars and put them on magazine covers." She smiled. "If necessary, I'll bathe models if necessary."

"I'm sure you can," he grinned. "I had a week to clean up from my last trek, and I *like* being clean."

"I can see that." She nodded, as she took a closer look at the polished and gleaming metal half faceplate. "Your fur is very well taken care of."

Vinnie smiled, real pride flushing his cheeks a light ting of green. "It takes good breeding and a lifetime's work to have a coat this fine."

"Well, I'd say you got them both." She smiled back.

"Oh, very much so," he rumbled, nearly a purr. "Van Wham is one of the finest bloodlines Mars ever produced."

"And you're probably the pick of the litter." She grinned. "Oh, looks like Cindy wants to start with the ever popular black leather biker jacket. It's a big hit with the readers, it just radiates that James Dean rebel aura."

"But of course," he grinned and winked playfully at her. "And black sets off against my fur and Girl's skin strikingly well."

"You could make a floral print mumu look sexy." She chuckled, as Cindy came over with the jacket.

"Here, Vinnie." She said handing him the jacket. "Try this on."

"Of course I could, particularly as it came off." He grinned teasingly and slipped the fine black leather on, settling it across his shoulders with comfortable ease.

"Oh yeah." Cindy almost purred. "Definitely, where we should start the shoot. Maybe go with black leather pants later." She said thoughtfully.

"Just remember we're shooting for Galactic Biker, not Galactic Bondage." Amber snickered.

"Oh, but I look *very* good in black chaps, with or without the jeans." Vinnie grinned, clearly egging her on and enjoying himself.

"I like the sound of without, myself." Cindy smirked. "But that's not quite what this shoot is about. Which is something to add to the list of photos to do."

"Cindy, you're incorrigible." Amber laughed.

"Hey, it's not like I invited him home to show me how the chaps looked." She said with a playful wink at Vinnie.

"And why not?" He huffed in mock indignity. "It's such a better show there, or Vandals."

"Cause I'm not supposed to pick up models during shooting sessions." Cindy said in playful but mocking tone.

"She usually waits till after shooting stops." Amber chuckled.

"Better not wait to long," he grinned playfully at her. "I've got a hot guy waiting to celebrate with me after all."

"I meant literally, when the shooting stops." Amber grinned. "So this hot guy isn't an exclusive relationship is it?"

Vinnie chuckled, shaking his head a bit. "Lady, where I'm from, that lines means something *so* different. And definitely not exclusive. I just don't do that."

"Oh, that's good to know." Cindy nearly purred.

"At some point, we should probably get to the set. The photographer is probably wondering where we are." Amber chuckled.

"Arranging after work entertainment," Vinnie snickered, grinning at them. "I'm sure Girl's enjoying the attention too. She hasn't yelled at me yet at least."

"I'm not surprised." Amber smiled. "David's a real expert with bikes, and making them look good. If only he handled women as well."

"Amber, that's just ex-boyfriend grumpiness." Cindy poked her. "He's a good guy, even if the two of you weren't compatible."

"It happens," Vinnie said softly as Marsha came sharply to mind and he wondered when she'd get back from Earth. "Not everybody is suited for each other."

"Oh no. No getting serious." Cindy said firmly. "You need to keep that air of carefree biker for the photo shoot."

"Right," Vinnie grinned at her, shifting his concerns far enough into the background with an ease of long practice at not thinking about unpleasant things when a party was in the offering. "No moping."

"And after the shoot, I can keep your mind off moping if you like." Cindy nearly purred, at which Amber rolled her eyes.

"At least until Lex gets off duty," Vinnie grinned and trailed his tail down her neck.

"Okay, you two." Amber chuckled. "We'd better get out to the set."

"Of course, my lady Amber." Vinnie grinned and half bowed to her in pure showmanship. "Lead the way."

"This way, imp." She smiled playfully as they went out to the big open area where the cameras where set up, Vinnie politely at her side, showing off as much as he did in the clubs when he was out to pick up everyone who was worthy.

"Hey, Flash!" Cindy yelled causing the photographer to look up. "We got your Mouse ready."

Jeff looked over and grinned. "Good job as always, Cindy. I think I'm going to need heat shields for my camera, Vinnie. You're just too hot." He grinned.

"What can I say, when you've got it, you've got it." Vinnie grinned back at him and moved his tail to drape over Girl's seat when she rumbled up.

Jeff laughed. "So you do." He chuckled as he adjusted the holographic stage to be a cityscape from inside the dome. "Okay, Just stand right over here." He instructed and he stood at a point in front of a nightclub. "Girl, would you park here?" He asked politely indicating a spot just behind where he'd asked Vinnie to stand.

"Right," the Mouse nodded and hopped up to pose, Girl pulling in behind him and positioning herself to best show them both off to the cameras.

"Perfect," Jeff grinned. "Damn, are you sure you've never done this before?"

"I'm just a natural," Vinnie smirked with a smoldering look for the camera, moving and positioning himself for best effect with extremely little encouragement or direction. "Are we doing to do any action shots?"

"Of course, we have to show readers just how good the two of you look in motion." He grinned. "We do those once we finish getting the stationary shots."

"Right," he chuckled for a moment before stilling again to show off the powerful curves of his legs and arms, visible even threw denim and leather.

"Excellent, really excellent." Jeff just about purred. "Okay, take five while I reset the backdrop for some outdoor shots."

Vinnie nodded and hopped off the strange holographic stage with girl not far behind, though she didn't bother to use the ramp built in for vehicles. "If you want action, we really should do one going up a building, and outracing a jet."

"I'd need to get a permit for the building." He smiled, nodding to one of the stage crew who ran off toward the office. "And Girl may be the hottest bike to hit Mars, but I doubt she'd outrun the local jets."

"Maybe not the locals, but we've beat the ones we've met," he chuckled. "Broke mach three once on open planes to pull it off, but when it's that or die, you get the lead out."

"Local jets supercruise at mach five." He smiled. "However, showing Girl pacing one might be an interesting shot." He said with a nod to another assistant.

"True enough," he grinned with a teasing smirk at the bike, who rumbled at him. "Though she'd rather not do that mach three run again without one hell of an upgrade in exchange."

"What kind of upgrade did she have in mind?" Jeff asked curiously.

"The system replacements to take her up to mach five," he chuckled and batted the bike playfully with his tail. "That mach three run had her in the shop for almost four months fixing the damage. But seriously, is the extra couple hundred miles an hour worth it? We can hit mach two point something without straining."

"Well, If a bike can be made to run that fast, I'd be willing." He smiled. "Most bikers I know don't like to go over Mach one. But then they don't have a cyberbike either."

Vinnie chuckled with a teasing smirk on his muzzle. "I happen to love it, but I've survived on it too. If you want to get her upgraded, we'll make the show of the century for you with it."

"I'm sure." Jeff grinned. "I've got contacts with some of the hottest names in the motorcycle R&D world. I'll see what they think about mach 5."

"From the racetrack around here, she might just be more than they're used to working with." Vinnie chuckled and leaned back against the bike, who rumbled in agreement. "We're definitely interested in seeing what they think they can do with the finest cyberbike Mars ever produced."

"Well, I'm going to consult a few of my off-world friends as well." Jeff chuckled. "Mars isn't the center of R&D when it comes to single person transport. I think the Lupos have the edge there. They drive like mad dogs too." He chuckled.

"And party like no one's business." Vinnie grinned eagerly. "They're quite the hot dogs, and just as good to eat."

There was a general groaning and rolling of eyes at the bad joke. "Only hot dog that will eat you back." Jeff snickered.

"I've never found reason to complain yet." He grinned even wider." "That long muzzle is useful."

"Yeah, that it is." Jeff grinned broadly. "And they are enthusiastic."

"So what's the next shoot?" Vinnie changed the subject, enjoying posing for the camera far too much to let it be forgotten fore long.

"As soon as my assistant brings it up." Jeff chuckled. "We're going to do some still shots with Martian landscape backgrounds, and then a set on a beach setting. That one will involve a wardrobe change according to Amber." He said, at which Amber winked playfully at Vinnie.

"Into what?" He grinned at her. "Or is it out of what?"

"Something about a Mouse Swimsuit edition. I believe." Jeff chuckled. "Out of what you're wearing, and into not much from what I've seen of her taste in swimwear."

"I'm sure it would be into nothing if she though she could get away with it." Vinnie smirked at her, though it was clear he was completely willing too.

"However, that's not the kind of publication Galactic Biker is." Jeff chuckled, though he was quite serious. "Not that we don't get requests for nude shots from our readers."

"I'm sure," Vinnie smiled, relaxed about it all. "I'm sure others give them that material."

"Most definitely." Jeff nodded. "Lots of them. Some of our models have even gone on to do work for the others."

"Much to the delight of their fans, I'm sure." He grinned. "The market for attractive smut is as strong as anything I've heard of, except maybe weapons in a war zone."

"Or attractive smut in a war zone." Jeff chuckled, then spotted his assistant.

"So true. Smut and money make the universe go round."

"That a hot set of wheels." Jeff grinned. "Looks like we're ready for the next set of pictures."

"Cool," Vinnie grinned. "Where do you want us?"

"Same set, just position yourself on the plateau so you have the plains falling away behind you." He said, pointing out what he thought was the best spot.

"Right," Vinnie nodded and hopped up, Girl finding her place behind him and was quickly incorporated into a very arrogant pose offset by the white Mouse's grin.

Lex barely had a chance to open the door before the taller white furred body all but tackled him for a fiercely happy kiss and pulled him inside.

"I take it you had a good time at the photo shoot." Lex laughed cheerfully, when their lips finally parted with the door closed and his back pressed against it.

"Oh yeah." Vinnie grinned widely and kissed him again. "It was a *blast*. And they want to actually pay for Girl to get upgraded to mach five cruising capabilities just for a shot of her pacing a local jet."

"Mach five on a bike?" Lex blinked. "Well, they are just about the biggest cycle mag out there. They'll probably get the upgrades paid for by advertisers who are going to see this as one very high sales issue." He grinned. "I'm glad you had a good time. So what do you want to do to celebrate?" He asked, kissing the Mouse playfully. "Cause you definitely need to celebrate if you're going to get any sleep."

"Vandals," he grinned firmly. "And she can already hit mach three."

"I'm not surprised." Lex chuckled. "And she can?" He was seriously surprised.

"On a flat plane with a good reason." He nodded. "Two point something almost indefinitely."

"That is serious wow." Lex said with a smile. "So, you want to go out somewhere to grab dinner before we go Vandals? Or shall I fix something here?" He said playfully, leaving it completely up to Vinnie.

"Mmm, go out. Something new. Unusual." He rumbled softly and nuzzled his lover. "I doubt I'd leave you along long enough to cook here."

"Well, there's the restaurant next door to Vandals." He smiled. "Gaslight I think it's called. I've heard the food is good, if you like steak and seafood."

"That works," he grinned and stole another kiss. "Shower, change, and head out?" He suggested hungrily.

"Or maybe play in the shower, shower, change and head out." Lex grinned, as he reached his hand down to caress his lover's ass through his jeans and felt his belt being undone by a talented tail.

"Something like that." Vinnie chuckled and kissed his way down Lex's neck. "Definitely something like that."

"Oh, you are fun, Vinnie." The white fox fem rumbled as she lay her head against the larger Mouse's chest. "Good endurance too." She grinned tiredly.

"So are you," he smiled back, holding her in his arms and wrapped his tail around Lex to include the human in the embrace. "Definitely a good night."

"Oh yeah." She smiled. "So Vinnie, did you actually model for Galactic Biker, or was that just pretty boy talk for the club crowd?" She asked curiously, as Lex snuggled in closer against Vinnie's back.

"Girl and I are on the cover of the technology issue." He grinned, all but vibrating with the excitement again. "You'll see it in a few months."

"So, is this a one shot thing, or would you consider posing for other mags?" She asked curiously.

"Oh, hell yeah," he laughed. "That was a blast."

"Well, I've got a photo shoot to do for Outlaw Wear day after tomorrow and the model they booked for me decided he wanted to be an actor instead." She shook her head. "And you're much better looking. Interested?"

"Sure," his grin widened. "What's it for?"

"Leather-wear catalog." She smiled. "From basic biker wear to stuff like people wear at Vandals." She smiled. "The outfit I was wearing tonight was out of our last catalog."

"Ohh, kinky." Vinnie grinned even wider. "Stuff I didn't get to show off for Galactic Biker."

"Oh, most definitely." She grinned. "You'll look so hot in some of our black leather dom wear." She nearly purred, then suddenly found herself on her back with him on top of her, pinning her down and grinning.

"You better believe it."

"So, I'll have the papers sent over." She smiled up at him as his tail slipped inside her body. "Do you have a lawyer to look over contracts for you?"

"Yeah," he chuckled and leaned down to kiss her soundly, working his folded tail in and out of her as his cock hardened. "I', here to look good."

"And you do it so well." She shivered at his attentions and moaned when the tip of his tail snaked out of her body to circle her slicked clit. Then he shifted forward to straddle her chest, his tail not missing a beat and guided her muzzle up to take his half hard shift in.

"Got on more in you, handsome?" Vinnie looked at Lex with smoldering eyes and raised his tail out of the way without withdrawing it from Carly.

"Oh, I think so." Lex rumbled, as he sat up from lying next to Vinnie. "You just inspire more, hotstuff." He chuckled playfully, as moved behind the Mouse, his hardening cock rubbing across Vinnie's ass.

"Oh, yeah." Vinnie moaned at the combined attention and let his head fall back slightly in appreciation and to make his antennae that much more accessible to his lover.

Lex gently slipped his cock back inside Vinnie and he reached one hand up to stroke the sensitive antennae. It drew the expected trembling moan as the mouse reveled in the intense pleasure of all the contact.

"Oh, yeah. Suck me Lex, give me everything." He groaned hotly, apparently oblivious to the sexual excesses of the last few hours.

"Oh, you are in a good mood." Sara Peller grinned at her boss when Carly walked into the office the next morning.

"Well, remember that problem we had with our model for the holiday issue backing out?" The white vixen grinned at her human secretary. "I solved it last night."

"Oh, excellent," she brightened considerably. "Where should I send the contract?"

"Vinnie Van Wham, Epsilon Way number 23. He's a lot hotter than the model who backed out on us." She grinned playfully. "And quite insatiable."

"Vandals?" She chuckled knowingly and started pulling up the one-shoot contract papers out of their cabinet. "What race?" She asked curiously.

"You know, I'm not sure." She said curiously. "He's a snow white Mouse about six foot three give or take, with these red antennae that are *really* sensitive, and a really handy prehensile tail. He's one seriously buff hunk."

"Oh, sounds like the guy who did a shoot with Galactic Biker yesterday." Sara chuckled softly. "Amber said he was quite fun and the flirter. And kept making cracks about not showing off enough fur."

"Yeah, same guy." She chuckled. "He's definitely in love with the camera. He just about jumped at the chance to get in on another shoot."

"Sounds like one who won't complain about not getting top dollar." Sara smiled. "Hopefully Tammy will find him as easy to work with as Jeff did.

"So we can't match the buckets of cash GB throws at people." She chuckled. "But he likes the idea of the kinkier stuff, especially the dom-wear."

"Sounds like he'll be back." She chuckled and grinned back, filling out the delivery information on the package. "He knows about the deadline?"

"Yeah, and it won't be a problem. If I'd had the photographer there with me, he probably would've started right then." She chuckled. "Oh, tell Tammy to forget about showing any of the submission wear with him, he just won't go for it."

"Right," Sara nodded and made the mental note for when she saw their photographer at lunch. "Pity, he'd look way hot in it."

"It's a big issue with him. Something about not disgracing the family name." She smiled. "It was a big enough issue, that not only did he tell me he wouldn't do it, but his MIB boyfriend reminded me before I left."

"Oh my," her dark eyes went wide. "That is serious. At least the rest should go well if he's half the hotdog he's supposed to be." Sara smiled as she regained her slightly slipped composure. "I understand his primary gripe about swimwear was it didn't show enough fur, and this was stuff Amber picked out."

"Oh dear." Carly chuckled. "The stuff Amber picks out is barely there as it is."

"Very true," she nodded. "I think he was trying to do nude shots in GB."

"It would probably boost their sales, though might offend some of their older subscribers." She chuckled. "I'm sure he'll do nude shots for someone eventually, probably several someones."

"No doubt," Sara grinned and stood to put the package the special delivery bin for the day. "Any inclination to film?"

"Nope. He thinks acting is too much work and not enough fun." She chuckled. "Which is a shame because he's got real natural presence."

"Well maybe that idea'll change if he gets a taste of it," she chuckled to herself and sat back down at her desk to bring up the rest of the day's schedule. "Some of the more adult films don't require much work, considering where you found him."

"Maybe, and it'd be interesting to see what adult film directors would do with that very agile and talented tail of his." She grinned.

"Do tell," Sara grinned. "This I haven't heard much of.

Marsha glanced up from her backlog of mail piled on the kitchen table when there was a knock on the door. She almost didn't answer it, as focused on what she was doing as she was. But she got up and answered it after some delay.

"Hello." She said before her brain registered who she was looking at. "Vinnie?" She asked, more than a little surprised since after over two months she really hadn't been expecting to see him again.

"Yeah," he smiled hesitantly at her. "How'd your trip go?"

"Very different." She said quietly, and stepped out of the way. "Come on in."

"Thanks," he nodded and stepped inside, not at all his usual cocky self. "Lex said you were troubled by what I said."

"It gave me a lot to think about." She said quietly, an elaborate earring reflecting the light as she led him into the living room, and sat down. "Things I never really thought about, just accepted."

"I didn't mean to mess up your reality." Vinnie murmured apologetically.

"Maybe it needed it." She smiled weakly. "And everything happens for a reason, at least that's what Mother told me."

"Maybe," he nodded, still standing uncertainly and watching her. It was one thing to say he couldn't stay with her when it was only Girl and the wind to hear his thoughts. Going face to face with her was a very different reality to try to get it out in.

"I spent most of the time with my mother's people, or more accurately my Grandmother's." She said quietly. "Mother had wanted me to after high school, but I always had better things to do. A very different set of beliefs from my father, from what I'd grown up with."

"Oh?" He blinked, curious and uncertain all at once. "How?"

"They're much more in tune with the supernatural. What other people consider myth and folklore has always been a very solid part of their reality." She said quietly. "They see behind the veil that hides all the fantastic things from most people. I actually met a werewolf last week. Not some overdone Hollywood creation, but a real, in the flesh werewolf."

"Urrr, you didn't think _Werewolves_ are real?" Vinnie's jaw dropped in shock and utter inability to comprehend that one.

"Most people don't, Vinnie." She smiled softly. "Given I'd never seen one, and no one I know had ever seen one, why would I?"

"They're that rare?" He focused on her, something inside him glad for that tidbit.

"Not according to Felix, that's the werewolf I met, but there's something called the Veil, that keeps humans from seeing werewolves and most of the other supernatural races." She said quietly. "I'm still learning how to 'keep my eyes open' as Grandmother puts it."

Vinnie stared at her for a moment, then shook his head. "Way strange. We don't have anything like that."

"Humans have an incredible capacity for self-delusion." She chuckled, shaking her head. "As far as I can tell the Veil is just a fancy way to point out that humans often don't see what they don't want to see, unless its pushed right in their faces. Which is something the various weres don't do."

"Do you know if any weres have come to Mars?" He asked, abruply very serious and very uneasy as he put two and two together and realized he must be talking to Werewolf-kin."

"I didn't ask, but its possible." She said simply. "But not too likely, they're pretty attached to Earth, at least that's what I got from Felix." She smiled. "Really cute guy, even if the Crinos form is seriously scary."

"Yeah, it is," he shuddered lightly before controlling the reaction. "Hard as hell to kill to."

"Hmm, yeah I guess it would be." She said thoughtfully. "But that was just kind of the beginning of learning how much I didn't know about the world and how it works."

"No doubt," Vinnie nodded and sank into a chair nearby. "You really didn't know about the supernatural parts of the universe?"

"I thought it was all myth and folklore." She said with a sheepish grin. "Stuff only primitive backward people would believe in. I was convinced that everything in the universe could be explained by science, even what little magic humans have reclaimed seemed to be explainable."

"It is," he told her simply. "Rather easily so. At least we never had any trouble sorting it all out."

"Yeah, but it doesn't sound like your culture ever decided that science and magic were mutually exclusive." She shook her head as his jaw slipped loose again. "Once you make that 'decision' it complicates everything." She said, fingering the one earring absently.

"How ..." Vinnie scratched his head, then shook it. "No, we didn't. It was there, so it had to have an explanation, even if that meant 'a power that can manipulate reality is causing it' was the final one. But then we never doubted there were things in the universe that could do that. We'd met several of them."

"Well, humans had that little religion complication to screw things up." She shook her head. "Which made life difficult for those who knew better."

"I guess so," he nodded slowly, badly weirded out by the entire conversation. "How did you ever notice there were other races out there?"

"I'm not exactly sure about that, but I think its because they aren't really supernatural like the werewolves or the others." She said thoughtfully, still trying to get an exact handle on everything again.

"What makes it supernatural?" He asked, his headache reaching a very noticeable level as he tied to work on this.

"Werewolves have a certain level of inherent magic, and a strange tie to human mythology. It's that combination that makes them 'supernatural', which is almost a contradiction in terms since they're very much a part of nature." She chuckled softly, and played with the one earring again. "You know, any museum would pay a small fortune for these." She said thoughtfully. "But somehow I don't think I can part with something that's been given to me in three different lives."

"Someone showed you your past?" He asked softly, focusing on her and not the lingual braintwister.

"You might say I did." She smiled softly. "I left myself a few notes on these, the last time I owned them. Grandmother gave them to me while I was visiting, said my uncle had bought them at an estate sale for her, but she'd never worn them because she knew they weren't for her."

"Oh," he nodded. It was an odd way of doing things, but whatever worked for her. "It's that difficult for your race to remember the past?"

"Normally, we don't remember at all." She said quietly. "Some of us can with difficulty but most of us need help of some kind. Apparently I wanted to avoid that the next time around, cause I put a fair bit of 'magic' into making these notes stick, and making the earrings something most people wouldn't want to wear."

"Oh," he nodded slightly. "That's sad."

"I'm still deciding on that." She shook her head. "Remembering people I cared for and probably won't see again, hurts a lot."

"If folks remembered without such trouble, you would see them again." He pointed out quietly. "It's thinking death is the end that makes it hurt."

"I know." She sighed. "But the reality is that folks don't remember for the most part. Being one of the few who does, isn't much comfort."

"So make a point of making friends with races who aren't psychically stunted."

"Or with Dracons who will still be here when I reincarnate." She chuckled. "But seriously, that's what scared you off wasn't it? That I was psychically stunted."

"No," he shook his head. "That you'd keep me from going on again with your determination to stay put. I've got a lot to go back to."

"Well, now you're just going to have to put up with me turning up wherever you do." She chuckled teasingly and got a sharp look for it before Vinnie caught himself.

"It's not nearly that simple," he explained quietly. "Not even in the simplified version I was thinking of before I realized the kind of mess it might create. Keeping that close to someone takes a fair amount of effort, and a lot of trust. In each other, and in a future I'm not so sure about anymore." He looked away and down, trying to pull himself together after the intensity of the pain passed by to an extent.

"The future is what we make of it." She said gently as she got up and put her arms around him from behind the chair, nuzzling him gently.

"Yes, it is." He said with a certainty that only caused him more pain.

"So did you just get back?" She asked curiously.

"Umm, a few days ago." He said after backtracking to go with the new topic. The memories caused him to smile with a trace of the excitement of the last week. "Girl and I are going to be on the cover of Galactic Biker's technology issue, and I'm going to have a shoot for Outlaw Wear's holiday issue in a few days."

"Well, sounds like an issue I'll have to pick up." She chuckled, and hugged him. "You really like being in front of the camera, don't you?" She asked, clearly happy for him as he leaned into the contact, his will to hold back largely broken.

"Yeah, it's a blast." He grinned happily. "They know exactly what I deserve to be treated like."

"And you do look so hot in leather." She just about purred and got a nuzzle and lick for it.

"I look hot in anything, and especially in nothing." He smirked eagerly.

"But some things do work better than other." She chuckled. "I'm sure you'd look hot in a bright pink ballerina costume," Vinnie instantly made a face, "but you look much hotter in black leather."

"Very true." He nodded. "No one is getting me in something like that. Vinnie does not wear pink."

"It would look very silly, even if hot." She chuckled. "And the frills lack a certain dignity."

"They don't even look good on the girls who wear them well," he shook his head. "I will never understand how that outfit got accepted for such an elegant event."

"I don't understand that one myself." She shook her head in amusement. "But then fashion often makes no real sense."

"Even when you follow it," Vinnie snickered. "But I know much of it on Mars was based on whoever was the hot name that season and who was setting trends among the wealthy. Purely a social status issue; imitating what you want to be associated with."

"Works much the same on Earth." She nodded as he drew her gently into his lap and held her close. "No matter how tacky what they're wearing really is. Some of the stuff that was the 'hot fashion' for this year, I wouldn't be caught dead in. Well, maybe being dead would be an excuse for having it on."

"I remember a few of those, though they tend to be female fashion more than guys for some reason."

"Women's fashion seems to change more radically year to year." She nodded. "Whereas guys fashions seem to change kind of glacially. Suits were in fashion twenty years ago, and they still are. The exact cut and color varies some, but it's still a suit."

"Only in some areas," he chuckled and nuzzled her as his tail curled up around her waist. "Club and leather are a couple kinds that change pretty readily. When the hip folks wear."

"Well, that's true." She smiled. "Somehow I expect fashion follows you, and not the other way around." She chuckled as she nuzzled him back, only to be drawn into a very gentle, lingering kiss as he gave up trying to hold back.

"That is true," he smiled softly as their mouths parted. "At least a couple of scenes did. Mother had the old lady fashion scene though."

"Well, I don't see you following or leading the old lady fashion scene." She chuckled playfully. Instead of a reply, Vinnie kissed her again and slid his hands up inside her shirt to caress bare skin.

"I missed you, a lot." He murmured throatily against her neck while his hands moved up her back. "I don't think I'm ready to marry again, but I missed you too much not to try to find a middle ground for us if you still want to."

"Marry?" She looked at him curiously. "When did that come in? We've known each other all of a week." She smiled gently. "I had one near miss in that game, I'm not rushing in there without some serious thought first. I'd say we both need the middle ground." She said softly. "And I missed you too, Vinnie. More than I thought I would."

"It came in with what I was thinking," he murmured softly. "I knew you weren't ready, but I still ... it was just what I was starting to look at."

"Give such things time, Vinnie." She said gently. "Let's enjoy the getting to know each other part first. Dating can be a lot of fun."

He looked at her blankly for a long moment. "Dating ... oh, right."

"You've never dated?" She looked at him seriously surprised.

"Well, no." He shook his head slightly. "Mother chose my fiancée, everyone else is a playmate. It's just how we did things."

"Well, us commoners do it a little different." She smirked at him playfully. "Since our parents don't decide who we're going to marry, dating is necessary."

"Right," he nodded, wondering once again just what possessed him to fall for someone so far outside his reality. "So ... a beginner's guide to dating?" He asked quietly and hopefully.

"The basics are that you spend time together getting to know each other better." She said simply. "How you spend that time depends on the interests of the couple, though at least some of it should be quiet together time at home. Gift giving gets involved at some point normally, usually around the Winter Holiday, your partner's birthday, and Valentine's day. Spontaneous gifts in between are allowed, but unless you're trying to buy a relationship don't get too carried away. First anniversary of dating is considered an appropriate time for gifts as well. This is a two way thing nowadays, not one-sided like it was at one time."

Vinnie nodded as he absorbed and correlated it to things he knew. "Rather sounds like a honeymoon, or courting a second Kahvi." He said uncertainly.

"Well, a honeymoon lasts a couple weeks for most humans, maybe a month or two if you're rich." She chuckled. "And it's mostly about sex. A lot of first children are generated during their parents' honeymoon."

"We did it very differently, except for the sex and first kits part." He chuckled and nuzzled her. "My parent's lasted almost two years in a world tour. Mine would have lasted at least a year, probably longer given Carmel's tendencies combined with mine."

"Well, maybe the really rich do things like that." She smiled softly. "But most of us can't take a year or two off from work."

"Maybe I'll have to see about that for you then," he murmured softly and kissed her neck before pulling her against his chest and settled a little better in his lap. "Maybe not in the grand style of my parents, but I a few more successes like Galactic Biker and we can do whatever we please."

"You're amazingly sweet, Vinnie." She said gently resting her head against his chest. "Not like a lot of prettyboys I've known. Probably why I got so upset when it started to look like you weren't going to come back."

"I promised I would." He let only a little of how much that hurt him reach his voice. "I always keep my word. Even if it had to be as a ghost, I would have come back to talk to you again."

"I know now." She smiled softly. "But you wouldn't have been the first guy I'd heard that sort of thing from. And I didn't know you well enough to be sure how much your word meant to you."

"It's all right," he murmured, nuzzling her. "I tend to forget I'm the only one who knows what my name brings with it here."

"Well, I'm learning." She said quietly, nuzzling him back. "And I wasn't thinking too clearly anyway. Grandmother found it terribly amusing that it took a guy from another planet to get me to hear what she'd been trying to tell me."

"I don't doubt it," Vinnie chuckled softly as his nuzzling took on a caressing aspect. "I had a cyberbike and human trying to convince me I was seriously over reacting."

"Oh, just what did Lex say?" She asked curiously. "I wasn't terribly with it when he called looking for you."

"That you were having a crisis of faith, and one serious bump was nothing to freak out that badly over." He sighed. "He wasn't expecting to see me again either."

"He was right." She said quietly. "Though don't be fooled, he probably knew where you were every minute." She chuckled. "He is an MIB Special Agent."

"I wouldn't be surprised." He murmured. "It's not like we were making any effort to cover our tracks this time either. Girl did most of the driving."

"It's only cause he cares." She smiled. "Strong protector instinct in him."

"And enough trust in Girl not to come hunting for me." He chuckled softly. "Throttle'd never let me run loose that long. He's got it too strong."

"Probably figured Girl would keep you from doing anything irreparably stupid." She smiled softly. "And Throttle sounds like he was your leader or something, as opposed to a boyfriend of a few weeks."

"He is," he smiled fondly and pressed his face against her shoulder, metal and fur giving an odd mix of textures against her skin. "He made the Biker Mice, kept us alive and fighting longer than anyone expected."

"Leaders like that are far too rare." She said softly. "Sounds like you were lucky to have him."

"I am," he smiled slightly in a mixture of respect, pride and grief. "As much as I groused about his lack of party time, he was the best. He was the kind we brought in when we wanted fresh blood in the line."

"Good leaders often are too serious for much party time." She smiled softly, causing him to sigh and press close by pulling her tightly against him.

"Yes, they are. I just wish he'd smiled more often."

"Maybe he'll show up here eventually." She said softly, wrapping her arms around him tightly and felt him shudder once before a dam broke inside him and he let himself silently cry against her shoulder at all he'd lost.

Marsha was aware of Vinnie's rise to awareness before he seemed to be as his body seemed to notice hers snuggled against it and moved to nuzzle, rub and fondle her on instinct as much as interest.

"Morning, Vinnie." She said gently as she nuzzled him back, reaching one hand up to stroke the edge of his ear as the nuzzle turned into a hungry kiss.

"Morning," he murmured as they parted. Though his voice was still only sort of awake, his body clearly was.

"Sleep well?" She asked, trying to encourage him toward waking, as she ran her hands through his soft dense fur.

"Yeah," he smiled slightly and kissed her as his hands caressed her ass and pulled her closer against his hard body.

"That's good." She said quietly and claimed an affectionate kiss he tried to draw into a more passionate one while his tail curled up around her back to circle one breast. She went eagerly with the more passionate kiss and reached one hand up to gently stroke his thick red antennae.

Vinnie shuddered and pulled her tightly against his body with a low moan and sharpened breath. His full, hard erection pressed against the smooth skin of her belly outlined by his soft fur covering hard muscle. He gasped softly as his body and mind went from the casual interest of morning to the sharply focused passion of knowing exactly who he was with.

"Are we still holding off?" He asked throatily, looking her directly in the eyes.

"We don't have to." She said breathing heavier and looked back at him with her body pressed against his. His hands and tail gently caressed her back and breast as he claimed another kiss, a much more gently affectionate one without denying the fire in his body for hers.

Vinnie nodded slightly and moaned as he shifted away from her to caress her lips with one finger. "Share the pleasure of experience?" He half asked and half offered with a very serious tone.

"I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but it sounds good." She said encouragingly.

"Then just relax and let me show you," he smiled and kissed her gently before urging her to the face same way he was and pressed against her back with a line of soft kisses down her bare neck.

She relaxed easily in his embrace, trembling lightly with pleasure as his hands and mouth gently caressed bare skin. Despite the arousal so obvious against her back and in his tender touch, he made no effort to get to the point and sink into her. Much the opposite, his focus was clearly on drawing out the experience for both of them as he found the comfortable position he was seeking.

"Relax your mind," he whispered in her ear as a hand drifted over the curve of her hip and belly.

Marsha nodded, and slowly relaxed the shields she kept up reflexively just in case she ran into something. She walked into torrents of old lingering pain once too often for her taste. The shields didn't block entirely, as their visit to the cave had proved, she had to prepare for that level of residual anguish.

Here and now however, there was only pleasure. From his light fingers along her belly to the gentle kisses along her neck and shoulder, Vinnie only showed her pleasant things. The mental touch she was expecting from his request bore no shock this time, only a soft groan against her neck as he brought the pleasures he remembered to the fore and wound them gently into her sensations.

Vinnie's breath was sharp in her ear when his fingers finally slipped into the coarse brush of hair above her wet mons, teasing her with the promise of intimate pleasure that intensified when his hard penis pressed between her thighs to tease the slick, swollen flesh further without parting the tingling lips of her sex.

Then the trail of pleasure exploding across her body had nothing to do with his physical touch, or the shuddering intensely of the keyed up body behind her that held her against him so tightly. With his increasingly desperate moans and cries mingling with hers, drawn from her body by memories the mouse provided them both.

As the scream of release built from her wombs and spiraled out, Marsha felt the hardness against her mons twitch and pulse even as a his hand squeezed her breast and teeth closed across her shoulder hard enough to be felt without breaking skin. Then it was all a swirling blur of pleasure and shattered boundaries.

"You like?" Vinnie murmured in her ear when they'd both found their breath again and he'd returned control of her body to her.

"That was seriously intense and crazy wonderful." She said, trying to come up with words to describe it.

"Good," he chuckled softly and kissed her neck again. "A promise of things to come," he murmured and pulled her tightly against his chest. "You smell wonderful like this."

"I feel wonderful." She rumbled, resting against his chest. "You have fantastic fur, so soft and luxurious." She murmured, running her hands through Vinnie's fur.

"Good breeding gives a good head start," he smiled and kissed her forehead lightly, his body remarkably at ease for only having cum once. "You really should see me sometime I'm all dressed up and have everything right."

"Probably just make me want to get you undressed." She chuckled, leaning up to kiss his cheek.

"Well, it does tend to have the effect," he admitted with a chuckle. "But balls and formal events really aren't the place for it."

"Probably not, but it makes a fun post-event activity." She smirked and got a kiss on the nose for it.

"Being in those getups for a few hours make for *that*." He teased back. Especially the ones with lots of dancing."

"Especially close dancing." She murmured back.

"Yes, especially that," he smiled and nuzzled her softly. "It's quite an experience. Sneaking into the garden and having to be quiet is at least as intense. The danger of discovery can add a real edge to it."

"You know, there's going to be a big formal opening of the new Museum." She almost purred playfully.

"Which we had better be invited to, given how much we've adding to it." Vinnie cracked a grin. "We'll definitely have to do some shopping for it. I know I don't have anything suitable, and you ... oh, you could look so spectacular in the right dress."

"Oh, I know we're on the guest list." Marsha chuckled.

"Good," Vinnie grinned back. "You are going to be stunning." He murmured softly.

"And I'm going to have my hands full making sure I get to take you home afterward." She chuckled playfully. "Especially with the off-world dignitaries."

"Not that night," he smiled softly, his voice serious. "They can have other nights."

"That's good to know." She nuzzled him playfully. "But you can flirt if you like." She grinned. "It'd be fun to watch."

"Marsha, seriously, I can't *not* flit." He chuckled softly. "Especially with attractive company around. And you have the best seat in the house. You know who is going to win in the end." He said softly and leaned his head down to kiss her gently. "First, make out with, a little play in the gardens they may get. You're the one I spend the night with."

"That's all I need to know." She chuckled softly and kissed him back.

Lex Maza's first clue the apartment wasn't quite as empty as he'd expected was when a flash of white fur bowled in over onto the couch and claimed his mouth while a talented tail worked his pants open.

"Well, I'm glad to see you too." Lex smirked when their lips parted, his hands running through the dense white fur and quickly realized his mouse was naked and quite eager.

"Less talk, more action." Vinnie rumbled hotly and pulled Lex's slacks off his hips.

Lex chuckled before claiming his Mouse's mouth and slipped out of his shirt while Vinnie made his intentions of toping obvious with a slicked tail starting to prepare the human's ass even before his pants were fully off.

"See you in a few days," Vinnie gave Lex a goodbye tongue dueling kiss as the human was ready to leave for work.

"Enjoy yourself." Lex grinned. "And let me know if its going to be much longer than that." He teased lightly.

"It won't be," he made a face. "I'm playing tour guide at one of the digs."

"Oh." Lex chuckled. "Here I thought you were taking some time with your archaeologist."

"Well, she'll be there too," he smirked impishly. "But we are going to do a mission."

"That's what private shelters are for." Lex grinned back, causing Vinnie to laugh.

"Among other things," he patted his lover and pushed in the direction of the door. "You have work to do, and I have a game to play."

"Try not to completely distract the archaeologists." Lex teased playfully, giving Vinnie one last quick kiss before heading out the door.

"Right," he smirked as the door shut. With a final stretch he turn to crash again until a decent hour.

"Hay, beautiful!" Vinnie called to Marsha as he closed on her at the dig at Drumin.

Marsha looked up from the large holographic survey map she was going over with several of the other team members. "Glad you could make it, handsome." She grinned warmly, as she turned to meet him, hugging him when he got close enough and got a strong, affectionate one in return.

"Whatcha looking up?" He grinned down at her.

"Oh, we're just breaking the area up into sections to divide out the work. First thing on serious dig is the layout, so you can document where everything is found." She smiled. "After that we get the more interesting part, the actually looking around."

"So what am I here for, besides distracting you?"

"Point us in the direction of more interesting parts of the city, would be a big help." She smiled. "And hopefully you can identify the stuff we find, at least in a general sense. Guessing games can be fun, but why misread a culture if you don't have to."

"Sure, let's take a look at that map then," he grinned and moved to join the project heads at the table. He took a moment to orient himself before nodding to himself and tracing a line in the illusion around the ridge and several sections of planes and rolling terrain. "This is what I know best. The Van Wham estate."

"A good place for one team to start." She smiled. "Is that inside the city itself, or more on the outskirts?" She asked curiously.

"The outskirts, if there was such a thing. We held the prime space." He smiled slightly. "Drumin is unlike any city I've ever know. The 'city' is just the estates of the noble families. It's not about anyone else."

"Fascinating idea." She said thoughtfully. "So roughly how many estates were there?"

"Eighteen," he said after a moment's thought and consideration of the map. "Once you account for branches of the same family that broke their land up."

"Which would you say were the three most interesting? Not including Van Wham, which of course we're going to look at." She grinned, both serious and playful at the same time.

Vinnie considered the map for a silent moment, murmuring names to himself as his fingers played over the holographic terrain and his memories.

"Silverquick, Burdani and SciKry." He traced out three other large territories. "Those four are representatives of how diverse the nobility are in our specialties and styles."

"Excellent." She smiled, nodding to the other archaeologists. "My team will handle Van Wham, teams two, three and four will handle those estates. Teams five and six will do a survey of the remainder." She said, as the others nodded. "We should have the grids finished in a few more hours, and then we can start working."

"The main houses are here," he pointed to a location in each estate. "Stables, secondary houses, gardens, estate servant's homes ... domestic servants lived in the home they served in, usually."

"So, you want to go up and take a look, while the system finishes setting up?" She asked with a warm smile.

He hesitated a moment, then nodded. "Might as well see it before it gets dug up."

"We'll try not to be too destructive." She said with gentle kiss on the cheek. "Though I expect the war and a thousand years of neglect did enough."

"Much more than you ever would," Vinnie said quietly and put his helmet back on before leaving the pressurized tent. "You want them for something more than scrap value."

"Absolutely." She nodded. "The more intact the better. If the museum opening goes really well, we might try to do a reconstruction in time." She explained as they walked. "That's a long term project though."

"That would be ... strange," he chuckled uneasily and sung up on Girl. "Mount up."

"Popular thing with demolished buildings these days." She smiled, as she got on behind him. "Really specialized skill though, takes a good psychometrist who's also good with holographic construction."

"Except I know what most of them look like, in detail." He pointed out as they rolled towards a spot Vinnie knew instinctively even with all the terrain changes. "And why they look like that."

"Yes, that is a distinct advantage here." She said, leaning against his back. "Though we'd probably still want a reconstructionist, just to see if there were any significant differences, between here and the world you remember."

"Beyond the obvious time difference," he nodded fractionally, for once not at all in a hurry. "Just the dig should give an indication of how far off the two worlds are."

"Well, yes the time difference." She nodded. "I wonder how much that affected things."

"Technology, possibly two of the newest noble families. Things haven't changed all that much, really." He shrugged slightly. "At least not the things I know about."

"Well, based on what little we've found, tech seems comparable to Earth of the early twenty-first century." She said reviewing the existing info. "Though that could easily be off a bit, if the items found were cutting edge instead of common tech level."

"Then they were advancing a bit slower than we did," he commented as much to himself as to her after sorting threw a few memories from that time frame. "Though technology was changing fast on Earth right then."

"It's also possible that my Earth's twenty-first, was more advanced than the Earth you're familiar with." She nodded. "The advancement in the last decade of the twentieth century was at a fairly frantic pace."

"Mine was just starting to build its first international space station at the turn of the century." He offered for comparison. "I think it was slotted to go operational in 2003."

"Ours was completed in 2001, and the first lunar colony was operational in 2002." She said thinking through the history of that period. "Plans for Mars and interstellar travel were already on the board. Though it would take some serious wrangling to make them reality."

"That definitely puts you ahead of the curve, though only by a few years. Probably fairly comparable right then, though by now the differences would have really added up."

"That was just space." She smiled. "The real serious advances had been in the usual areas, warfare related." She shook her head. "A good share of them thanks to an excessively ambitious industrialist named Xanatos."

"Not a name I know from home," he shrugged slightly. "Not that that means much, really."

"He might not exist on your Earth." She shrugged. "He was a very peculiar phenomena. But very influential, in fact his son still is. Though his son is a far more ethical person than his father reportedly was."

"Then he definitely didn't," Vinnie snorted as they pulled up to a spot in the fairly uninformative terrain. "No way he could have existed with the fishfaces and not blown the planet up."

"I expect he would've bought and sold the fishfaces and short order." She chuckled. "Either that or he would've financed an army to remove them from the planet. He didn't take kindly to competition, and he didn't pull punches." She chuckled. "But if you really want to hear about Xanatos, ask Lex. I'm sure he knows things that aren't in the history books."

Vinnie looked over his shoulder at her, a curious look on his face shaded green by the helmet's force shield. "He wouldn't have sold out to their money?"

"Not hardly." She shook her head. "One thing was quite clear in everything I read about David Xanatos; he didn't work for anybody. People worked for him. He had to be running the show."

"No, he wouldn't have worked for them, just sold land to them." Vinnie shook his head and dropped it slightly in ill-concealed shame and anger. "That's all they wanted, and they pay very well for it."

"Probably not." She shook her head. "Buying and selling land wasn't one of his areas of concentration. He was more of a technology and industry focus. And if he figured out they were a threat to the planet and humanity, he would've turned into a very dangerous enemy for them." She said quietly. "And he usually figured things out quite quickly."

"It's not like it's something that matters much anymore." He shook his head sharply, trying to clean the painful thoughts of the past from his mind. "I was only on Earth a few years. Just enough to know it was loosing the war and hadn't even realized one was on."

"A war I'm grateful my Earth missed out on." She said quietly. "We did enough damage to ourselves without any help."

"I'm not surprised," he nodded a little distantly. "What we have of your history is very self destructive in every way we know of."

"That's pretty accurate." She nodded. "That we got to space without blowing ourselves off the planet, is somewhat remarkable. The fact that the planet is still habitable even more so."

"I know," he said softly. "We went to some lengths to keep you from realizing Mars was habitable, and even more that we were there. We had enough trouble with the magic users that could come without ships. Humans were not something we wanted to deal with in the state they were in."

"Well, at least in this universe, Mars didn't really become attractive until space travel improved to the point where it wasn't years or months to make the trip." She smiled. "By that point, we'd manage to stabilize our other problems."

"So what part of the estates are you most interested in digging up?" He changed the subject without warning.

"Well, the basic idea of archaeology is to try to develop a complete picture of a society." She explained easily. "What part would you say is most representative?"

"The main house and the family manors nearest to it." He answered easily with a slight smile. "The main house is where everything went down."

"Sounds like the place to start then." She smiled back as he turned to draw her into his arms and pulled her as close against him for as much of a nuzzle that his helmet and her survival gear permitted.

"Yes, and if the houses are where I remember them, we can come back with all eighteen coats of arms."

"That would be a wonderful beginning to the museum display." She murmured and she rested her head against his shoulder as he held her on the back of the motorcycle.

"There are museums here too, kept by various families." He added as he remembered things. "I never spent much time in them, but they were very impressive."

"I'm not surprised." She smiled gently. "Noble families do often have a good sense of history."

"It is what much of our power is based on, after all," he managed something of a quirky grin. "Money may be power, but history is respect and authority in many circles."

"Have you seen Vinnie?" Marsha asked one of the students assigned to the dig, sure the white mouse was somewhere around.

"He's in the main artifact cleaning tent, ma'am." The petite blond smiled back and motioned towards the largest pressurized 'tent' in the area. "Nilyra's team found the last of the eighteen coat of arms shields he's been so fixated on a few hours ago. He's been going over them, and driving the cleaners a little crazy." She added with a slight giggle."

"Being a little impatient is he?" Marsha grinned, earning another bout of giggles from the student.

"Being Vinnie, from what I hear."

"A bit hyper, and a seriously playful prettyboy." She chuckled as she headed for the tent. "I'd call him a tease. But he's entirely serious." With all the giggling, she half expected to find Vinnie and one or more of the team involved in some impromptu sweaty exercises.

Instead she found Vinnie putting on a display that probably would have made his noble mother proud. The white mouse was utterly serious, and despite his biker clothes, he was taking things utterly seriously and was as protective and almost annoyingly informative about each thing that appeared from the grim and damage on various shields.

The mouse was as much a noble representative as could be created.

"Hello, Vinnie." Marsha chuckled as she came up next to him and received an utterly Vinnie smile flashed at her. "I see you have things well in hand." She smiled back and stretched up to kiss him on the cheek that turned into a mouth to mouth encounter as fiery as any they'd shared.

"Hi," he grinned at her before snapping another 'noble in charge' look at a movement that caught his attention.

"You do the leader thing quite well." She commented softly, looking over to scope out the cleaning that had gotten his attention. To her experienced eye, it was going well.

"Shu, that's a secret," he whispered with a chuckle. "I'd never live it down."

"Don't worry, I won't tell." She giggled quietly. "So is there a problem? Looks like things are going rather well."

"I suppose so," he cracked a grin. "They all recognizable enough, though a few changes are already showing."

"It'd be kind of bizarre if there weren't." She smiled softly.

"I've survived weirder," he shrugged, though his expression was serious. "I'm beginning to suspect they weren't shifters though. Any of them. Just regular Maru."

"Oh, there were shifters among your people?" She asked curiously, not entirely surprised since it seemed like humans were one of the few races who didn't.

"We were the nobility," he said softly. "We raised the others from things not much bigger than a pet mouse."

"Others?" She asked curiously.

"The Maru and Luprani," he smiled softly. "The mice and wolves that were the other two intelligent races on Mars."

"So there were three intelligent races on your Mars." She said thoughtfully. "A much more manageable number than Earth's."

Vinnie nodded. "There was some argument that the Marska made it four, but as they could still interbreed with Maru, they remained a cosmetic mutation. In time the Lions may have become their own race, but it hadn't happened yet."

"But you don't think that was the case here?" She asked curiously.

"Not from what I'm seeing here on the shields. The symbols done have any of the markers we used that identified us as Loup Maru." He shook his head with a slight sigh. "The dimensions are off big time too. Not much is grand enough to make a Lumari comfortable. It's all my size."

"I take it the Lumari are bigger." She said thoughtfully. "Seems to be a common pattern, the Felsin have the larger war-form and the Garou of Earth have their Crinos form."

"Close to twice the height and several times the mass," he nodded. "There also aren't the accommodations for the Luprani, the four legged ones. The three make for very unique architecture."

"I bet it would." She smiled. "This seems like fairly straightforward biped architecture."

"But it's so close to what I remember in every other way. Even the language and layouts are the same. Everything is where I remember it." He shook his head. "They didn't seem to have good relations with canines, though." He motioned his hand to one of the shields being cleaned and the decapitated canine monster in the upper right quadrant. "That one is the local Van Wham line."

"Yeah, that's a bit gruesome, but it may be a mythological motif." She said thoughtfully. "Or even metaphorical. Heraldry isn't always about the real world."

Vinnie had to chuckle. "Unlikely. We're not a very mythological lot when it comes to bragging. Everything I can place was real, I doubt the few I don't aren't." He shifted and took the couple steps to run his fingers over the picture in question. "Looks a bit like a primitive Lumari, sort of."

"Well, it may not have been intelligent." She said thoughtfully. "Just a big predator."

"I'm sure," he nodded. "Still rather disconcerting to see something like that on a Van Wham coat of arms."

"You don't usually use violent imagery on heraldry?" She asked curiously.

"Sometimes. We're more protectors than conquerors. But the execution of what may be my racial ancestor on my own coat of arms?" He shook his head. "That's just ... weird."

"I guess it is, though it could just as easily be an unrelated species." She suggested softly. "But I can see how the imagery would be disturbing."

"What it says about the local Van Whams ... it makes me wonder if this world had a soul." He shook his head and some of the seriousness off but traced his fingers over the beheaded creature again. "At least it was not a lady of protection, if it existed."

"That I don't know Vinnie." She said quietly. "Or maybe like Gaia she got tired of not being listened to."

The look that crossed Vinnie's face was a good indication of just how hard that idea was for him to relate to.

"Not listened to?"

"Gaia had always taken the role of guide and teacher, but that choice meant that when humanity chose to follow other paths she had to accept it." She said quietly. "Sometimes when children grow up, they go in ways their parents neither wish nor expect."

"That is just ... strange." He paused, shaking his head. "Glad she didn't warp Haloeth with such nonsense in my world. We had enough problems without a pacifist in charge."

He suddenly snapped his tail and huffed in real agitation before stalking off to head outside.

She sighed and turned to examine the progress the work was making. She figured he probably wasn't in a mood to hear her other suspicion; that Mars was just like its namesake, the Roman god of war.

Away from the humans, away from the homestead of these strange Mice that seemed to mock everything he was, Girl finally stopped, her rider in a state of agitation she hadn't witness in many years.

"Shut the fuck up!" Vinnie suddenly snarled at something apparently only he could see. His tail lashed and his body as turned for combat as any time they'd faced Plutarkians, only less friendly.

"*They* never faced a full invasion." The white mouse roared in utter outrage. "Bastards got lucky Mars was first in line both times."

"How *dare* you." He rumbled hotly as a blood green aura flared around him in the form of a giant biped canine with mouse ears, Martian antennae and double helix horns of silver and gold. "I am Lord Van Wham of Mars. Haloeth's chosen. We *will* rise again and restore her name."

"*Vinnie?*" Girl's voice was unusually subdued as they road back to Seria Planum. "*What was that all about?*"

"*Local 'mouse' spirit being a jerk.*" He muttered silently. "*Saying how Gaia had it right cause Earth survives and Mars doesn't." He snorted.

Vinnie was checking out a shop that Lex had recommended for some less-than-fetish leathers when he noticed something interesting sticking out from behind a rack of leather vests. It was a long, thick furry black tail with a tuft on the end, much like the Lions at home. Vinnie had seen a number of races around the city, but this was the first time he'd run into one so close. Then the owner of the tail backed up a little, looking at something maybe, and Vinnie got a look at a very nice ass that the tail was attached to. He was pretty sure he was looking a big, probably muscular male of some species.

"Yum," he rumbled to himself and moved around with the skill born of necessity to get much closer for a better look for a better look at what turned out to be large, muscular Black Lion who was trying on a pair of leather boots. He was wearing a red, sleeveless muscle shirt and a pair of blue jeans that were tight in all the right places.

"Definitely yummy," he licked his lips as he looked the big feline over with hungry eyes. Though his color was off and the fangs small enough to be invisible, this Felsin looked deliciously familiar, especially after so many years away from home.

"Hello handsome," Vinnie grinned and stepped closer.

The Felsin turned his head, to look up at Vinnie from the odd position of being bent over pulling on one boot. "Hello, yourself." He grinned. "Now aside from a hunk, what would you be?" The Lion asked curiously, checking the mouse out unabashedly.

"Martian Mouse," Vinnie grinned, checking the feline out just as unabashedly.

"Now I've been on Mars before, where have they been hiding you?" He rumbled, as he stood up to his full seven foot and a bit more height. He moved the one foot, testing out the feel of the boot.

"I only got here a few days ago," he shrugged, pushing the unpleasant thoughts associated with it down.

"What wonderful timing on my part then." He smiled as he put the matching boot on. "You're the hunkiest mouse I've ever seen." He smiled warmly, at the white Mouse.

"I'm the hunkiest Mouse *ever*." He grinned proudly, unconsciously showing off his taught body a little more.

That made the Lion chuckle in real amusement, as he handed the attendant his credit card to pay for the boots. "So, does the prettyboy like to party?" He asked in a deep rumbling voice, as he stepped closer to the white Mouse.

"If the party is good enough," he smirked back, striking enough of a pose to both show off his muscled body that much more and making it a challenge.

"You ain't partied, till you party with a shifter." The Lion rumbled hotly.

"Oh, this I like." He grinned broadly. "They threw the *best* bashes."

"Oh, you've partied with shifters before have you?" The Lion grinned. "Ever ridden Lightning?" He asked curiously.

"Oh, yeah." His grin got even wider. "Lex hooked me up good there."

"Lex? You wouldn't be talking about Lex Maza, would you?" The Lion asked curiously.

"Yap, that's him." Vinnie nodded. "Who's he to you?" He asked conversationally.

"Good friend, and playmate when I'm visiting Mars." The Lion smiled. "Cazimir Moonfire." He grinned extending a hand.

"Cazi?" He arched an eyebrow and took the extended hand firmly.

"The same. I take it he's mentioned me." The Lion grinned.

"Yap, said he hadn't been worn out like I did since you visited last," he smirked challengingly. "Then a couple Ferrin, Lightning and a week off came up."

Cazi chuckled broadly. "That was a suggestion I made once for the ultimate vacation, if you like wall-to-wall sex." He grinned. "Adding a hunky Mouse to the equation, just makes it better."

"He's looking for a couple Ferrin," Vinnie smirked, "and inviting a few others I think. Or maybe that was about keeping me out of trouble."

"Probably about keeping you out of trouble." Cazi smirked. "I'm sure Marta could keep you tied up for awhile."

"Oh, I hope so, if she's as fun as he is," Vinnie rumbled hotly. "I haven't *quite* worn him out yet. His job or something keeps him gone for hours at a time."

"His job, Vinnie." Cazi grinned. "He works for a living, and his job does require that he be in the office."

"Strange concept," the Mouse could only shrug acceptingly. "But it's all weird right now." He shook his head. "Don't think I've ever dealt with anyone who worked for a living like that."

"That's okay. I think it's strange to, but then I'm a freelancer so I work when I want, where I want. And I get paid good too." Cazi grinned. "But Lex enjoys what he does, which is what's important."

"Yeah, and he enjoys the rest of life too," Vinnie grinned. "I'm Vincent Van Wham." He added almost as an afterthought. "Vinnie is good for friendly company, though."

"Vinnie, I like it." Cazi smiled. "And yeah, he does. So Vinnie, you actually looking for leather or were you just looking for company?" He asked playfully.

"I was looking at the leathers, but the company looked better," he cocked a grin and closed with the bigger male. "Mine didn't make the trip."

"Well, the two don't have to be exclusive." Cazi rumbled. "There's still plenty of time to try on leather. And then we can give Lex a surprise."

"I like the way you think, Cazi," he grinned broadly and brushed his body against the black feline's as he went back to the light fetish leather section he'd been checking out before.

"I like the way you feel." Cazi rumbled as he watched Vinnie check out the leather.

The white Mouse smirked up and flicked his tail invitingly. "You haven't felt my better points."

"If I feel you're better points in here, we'll both be in trouble." Cazi rumbled hotly. "We're in the wrong leather shop for that."

"Oh, and what might be the right one?" He turned to play teasing finders through the feline's longer chest fur and lower mane.

"Taliesen's on sub-level 2, it has private rooms for trying on outfits, and some catalogs that would qualify as porn on many worlds." He rumbled, as he ran his fingers through the mouse's short dense fur.

"Or we can skip the pretence and just head to your place to settle ourselves bit."

"That works too." Cazi rumbled. "It's not like you need leather to look good." He murred hotly.

"I know," he grinned with more than a bit of pride and pressed closer, his tail teasing between the Lion's legs where it couldn't be seen. "I like the exhausted cum and sweat soaked look best."

"I'm sure you look delicious that way." Cazi rumbled. "Have you tried the tied up and fucked senseless look?" He murred suggestively.

"Oh, yes," Vinnie grinned, rubbing their chests together. "But if it's not an easy escape, it's not for a first date."

"Of course not." Cazi rumbled, brushing his hand along Vinnie's cheek. "But I think we'll be seeing each other more than once."

"I definitely hope so," the white Mouse rubbed into the contact shamelessly.

"Lex's luck was running good when he met you." Cazi smiled. "It's a big place."

"We had similar taste in clubs that," Vinnie smirked playfully and brushed his hand between them to feel the Back Lion's equipment. "And similar taste in friends it seems."

"So it would seem." The Lion smiled, as his thick tail ran up the back on Vinnie's leg, to rub his ass through his jeans.

"Your place, before they kick us out then?" Vinnie rumbled, licking his lips eagerly. "I bet you taste good."

"Yes, we are pushing the limits of public performance." He smiled as he led the way out.

"How far is it?" Vinnie asked as he pressed close, his tail continuing to push the limits of decency.

"Up two levels, on the other side of the city." He said easily, with his hand resting on Vinnie's ass. "Subway is the fast way there."

"I bet Girl can beat that," he grinned challengingly as the red motorcycle rumbled up with as much flair as her rider.

Cazi looked at that approaching motorcycle and then smiled brightly. ("Hello, and who would you be?") He asked the motorcycle politely, after a brief scan to get the right cybertelepathic frequency.

Girl jumped up to her back wheel in surprise and Vinnie started at him in real surprise.

("Girl.") A suddenly shy female voice answered. ("How?")

"You can hear him?" Vinnie's jaw was loose in surprise, and his eyes went a little wider when she rumbled an affirmative.

("I'm Cazi.") He said, politely introducing himself. "And this is a very interesting partner you have, Vinnie." He said looking over the cyberbike on several levels, his eyes wide in fascination.

"She's my cyberbike," Vinnie said, most of his attention on trying to figure out how in the hell this feline could talk to her, much less hear her. "_How_ can you hear her? You're not her rider." He added more than a little defensively.

"I'm a cybertelepath." Cazi explained casually. "I can talk with just about any piece of machinery or electronics. But most of them don't really have anything interesting to say. A mobile, foreign AI is much more interesting. I can actually get intelligent conversation back."

"Never heard of one of those," Vinnie said, calming down a bit. "Ready to ride?"

"We're not all that common." Cazi smiled. "Absolutely. I expect Girl outperforms every bike on the planet."

"She did even when there *were* other bikes on the planet," Vinnie smirked to Girl's enthusiastic and very prideful rumble. "Mount up and we'll show you what it is to fly down the road."

("Route?") Girl asked Cazi directly, still a little hesitant with the unfamiliar biological, but grateful for anyone new to talk to.

("Surface level, the New Brighton Hotel on the Sandoval Concourse.") Cazi replied easily. ("You'll find less traffic on the Siera Planum parkway, so that should be the fastest way, once you get topside.") He said, filling in some details. "Oh, they use a fair number of bikes between domes, and some of the mining, research and archaeological sites for courier work."

"Those aren't *real* bikes," Vinnie smirked and slipped his helmet on by reflex, his tail handing Cazi one from a compartment somewhere behind them. "They're just machines."

"Well, you're not likely to find another like her." He smiled. "At least, not armed like she is."

Girl rumbled violently, and got a matching snort from Vinnie. "Damn right."

"Oh, they wouldn't disarm her." He said as he put the helmet on. "They don't force outsider AIs to disarm, they just don't arm locally created ones." He added as he got on behind Vinnie.

"So I heard," he nodded before Girl pulled out, giving Cazi just enough time to get settled before the G's hit him.

"Oh, yeah." Cazi shouted, actually broadcasting his excitement to Girl, as well as in his voice. "This is like flying."

"You ain't seen *nothing* yet!" Vinnie howled eagerly as she revved her engine and kicked in the afterburners, going strait up the side of a building just for show.

"This is flying!" Cazi shouted excitedly. "Just don't hit the dome overhead." He cautioned as they roared up the side of the building.

("I'm better than that.") Girl retorted rather playfully, though there was little doubting just how serious she was about her skill, even before they jumped to the roof and kept going, taking much of the path off the road as possible just to display her abilities and skill.

"You should see her on the planes," Vinnie grinned over the comm link in the helmets.

("So I see." ) Cazi grinned as the city flashed by. ("You're much better.")

"We're getting close," Vinnie said in response to a shift in Girl's daredevil antics too subtle for Cazi to catch.

("So are there many like you?") Cazi asked Girl.

("No one is like *me*,") she shot back proudly. ("There are a few other cyberbikes, though. Lady and Lil Darln' were the others on the team.")

("Gee, he takes after you doesn't he.") Cazi smirked mentally to Girl teasingly.

("Of course he does,") she grinned back, her fondness and loyalty to the white Mouse undeniable.

("You're lucky to have such a partner.") Cazi said quietly, and it seemed likely he was talking to both simultaneously. There was an old sadness that resonated with the statement in his mind-voice however.

("I know,") she wrapped a mental mouse-tail around him, even as the physical one tightened a bit.

"Hotel's over there." Cazi said over both comm-link and mind-voice simultaneously with an ease born of doing it for years. He snuggled against Vinnie's back, even as he mentally smiled at Girl's gesture.

"Got it," Vinnie grinned devilishly with a giggle from his bike. "Which room?"

"I haven't checked in yet, silly Mouse." Cazi chuckled broadly. "We need to use the front door. 'Sides, you can't get in from the balcony."

Girl almost visibly pouted, enough that Vinnie laughed out loud. "Okay, you got it. The front door again."

("You can pick us up on the balcony the next time we go out." ) Cazi suggested.

("You better believe it. Better place to hang out when I finish cruising too.") She grinned at him. ("Any suggestions for places to go, folks to talk to?") Her mind image of 'folks' definitely included other intelligent machines.

("For folks to talk to, you're best bet would be over at Chronodyne. Their R&D facility has four or five AI's ") He suggested. ("Might be six, since I think one of them just got back from a deep space tour. Try talking to them from just outside the plant though, and get them to get you permission, if you want to go inside. As for places to go other than that, what interests you?")

("Showing off how fast I am,") she grinned, though it was a little more hesitant than most of her bragging.

("I hear there's a fair amount of drag racing on sub-level 5.") Cazi after a bit of thought. ("I'm not sure what they'll make of a riderless cycle, but that's where you'll find some of the hottest machines outside of the Seria Planum race circuits.")

("Cool.") Girl grinned predatorily. ("They'll just have to deal with it. I do have a radio if I need to talk to them.") She added with a clear distaste for the concept.

("Don't like the radio, huh?") Cazi asked curiously.

Her reply was an emotional context grumble about dealing with 'lessers'.

("Ah, don't like competing with dumb machines?") He asked quietly as they pulled up. ("Understandable.")

The mental equivalent of a shrug came back as she pulled to a stop in front of the hotel.

("Well try not to get into too much trouble.") Cazi smiled, as he dismounted and took the helmet off.

"In here," Vinnie showed him the compartment and slid both helmets in, closing it before the bike sped off with a wheelie. "Something threw your mood."

"Yeah, kind of." Cazi said as he led the way inside. "Ask me when we get to my room." He requested quietly, not wanting to discuss it in a public area.

"Sure," he nodded easily and fell into silent showoff mode, making the Black Lion a striking backdrop to his snow white fur.

"Thanks." Cazi said quietly, as he slid his credit card and ID across to the clerk, signed the registry and took the room key.

Cazi's room was actually a suite of rooms including a bedroom, bathroom and a living room/den. They were luxuriously appointed, with tasteful art and hand carved wood furniture. Sitting in the bedroom, were several suitcases, and a silvery metal briefcase. The bedroom contained a single large bed, a couple chairs, and a television set. Cazi flopped down on to the bed tiredly.

Despite still being very keyed up for a good fucking, Vinnie sat down next to him and nuzzled him gently. "You lost your Bros too?"

"Kind of." Cazi said quietly. "Two Lifemates, and my son." He said very softly and got hugged tightly.

"I'm sorry," he nuzzled the Black Lion, holding him tightly. "My Bros were everything to me, more than any lifemate."

"They were everything to me." Cazi said quietly. "LifeBonds aren't done casually. But it was losing Nathan that hurt the worst. It isn't natural for parents to outlive their children." He said quietly, trying to break out of the downward spiral he knew too well.

"No, it isn't," Vinnie nuzzled him. "Let it go, Cazi." He whispered in the Black Lion's ear. "Life is to be enjoyed, even with the pain."

"I know." Cazi rumbled turning to nuzzle Vinnie back. "Sorry, this just hits me occasionally." He added stretching as if waking. "Time to break this mood before I get carried away with it." He said as he got up and set one of the large suitcases on the bed to open it.

"Sounds good to me," Vinnie smiled and rolled over to watch. "Moping over the past is never good."

"Ah, here we are." Cazi grinned, as he pulled out a ornately carved silver bottle. "Nothing like a little Chimra to lift the spirits." He grinned as he set the bottle on the small table, and unwrapped to carefully packaged crystal wine glasses.

"Chimra?" Vinnie asked curiously as he watched.

"Chimra'shen, to use it's full, proper name." Cazi smiled as he poured the glowing, sparkling blue liquid into the crystal glasses. "Wonderful thing for one's mood. Enhances the positive and quiets the negative. An experience best shared." He smiled, offering one of the glasses to Vinnie.

"Oh," he smiled and accepted the glass, sniffing the contents curiously while he waited for his host to pour his own glass. The vapors from the sparkling liquid had a mildly uplifting effect all their own, bring good things into closer focus, while muting the bad and painful things. "Lex mentioned it, Draconian I think he said it was."

"That it is." Cazi smiled as he filled his own glass. "To a future of happy times, and many pleasures." He said lifting the glass slightly.

"To them coming for us soon," Vinnie's manner, right down to the subtleties in his voice and expression, shifted ever so slightly in a way Cazi was familiar with from those of a wealthy and cultured upbringing. It didn't last long though, only until the white mouse grinned and sipped the shimmering liquid with a refinement of motion completely at odds with the flamboyant male laying sprawled out on the bed.

"Very soon." Cazi rumbled, as he sipped his down with an elegance learned in later years. As he set the glass down, a lustful smile crossed his face as he looked at the hunky white Mouse. "Shall we start with Lightning, or leave it for a later round?" He asked, once he'd gotten the two empty crystal glasses out of harms way.

"Show me what you can do on your own, big boy," he grinned at the big feline. "It's been ages since I had a Lion."

"And I've never caught a mouse as big as you." Cazi grinned, as he pounced playfully onto Vinnie, claiming an intensely passionate kiss that was eagerly returned, while his hands worked on removing what little the showoff did wear.

"More ways than one, I bet." Vinnie grinned up at him as his groin and full hard-on came into view. "But you are wearing *way* too much." He added with a pout and put his hand and tail to work on fixing that oversight.

"I wasn't really thinking about them that way." Cazi grinned as his jeans dropped to the floor. "Though you do look good enough to eat." Cazi rumbled deeply, as he slid down to lick playfully at Vinnie's hard cock.

"Urr?" Vinnie sort of froze, looking at Cazi very curiously. "A smooth tongued feline?"

"Oh, I can be rough if you like." Cazi purred. "Most don't care for it though."

"If you're a little careful," he murmured softly, hungrily. "I remember Lions being rough-tongued and rough cocked."

"Naturally both, but being a shifter means I can accommodate." He rumbled, as he carefully shifted his tongue to its natural state and gently licked around Vinnie's cock as he took it deeper.

"Oh yeah," the mouse arched into the contact as he worked on getting the Black Lion naked. "That's what I remember."

Cazi rumbled arousedly, as he took the Mouse's cock all the way to sheath in his mouth, licking and sucking it as one finger playfully stroked the mouse's furless pucker.

"Oh, yeah," Vinnie's tail instinctively wrapped up around Cazi's ears, seeing to stroke the antennae that weren't there as his mouth went to work on the feline cock with the skill of experience unused for years.

As Cazi sucked skillfully, he slowly worked one finger past the first ring of muscle and slowly fingerfucked the white Mouse, encouraging Vinnie to more efforts on his own cock and that flexible tail wound down between Cazi's legs to fondle the large black balls.

Cazi moaned lustfully around the cock in his mouth, as he own hard cock leaked precum. Brushing the rough side of his tongue around Vinnie's hard length, he slipped a second finger in with the first to fuck the hunky Mouse more thoroughly.

Though it was clearly appreciated, it didn't distract Vinnie from his sexual mission of tasting Lion cum pouring into his mouth. He shifted his position a bit to give his fingers access to the Black Lion's ass and easily pressed one inside to return the favor.

It didn't take much more encouragement before Cazi roared his orgasm, shaking the windows as he came, pouring his hot seed into Vinnie's mouth with powerful, jerking spurts to be eagerly tasted and swallowed.

Once the tremors stopped, Vinnie licked him clean and drew away, only mildly disappointed to not have taste back up the rest of the familiar experience from a long lost home. "Fuck me, big boy?"

"Most definitely, you sexy Mouse." Cazi rumbled, as his cock began to harden at the thought of that hot ass. "You have a preference for how?" He rumbled leaving the question very open.

"Senseless," he smirked daringly.

"Shoulda seen that one coming." Cazi rumbled in amusement, as he rolled the mouse to hands and knees. "You want lube?" He asked politely.

After a moment's consideration, Vinnie nodded. "Yeah, probably a good idea with those barbs."

"Especially, if you're not used to them." Cazi nodded as he concentrated, and translocated the jar of lube from his suitcase to his hand. He opened the jar, and generously lubed both Vinnie's passage, and his cock, before putting the jar back. He then put his hands on Vinnie's shoulders and pushed his cock in, until his sheath was brushing the Mouse's ass.

"Oh *yeah*!" Vinnie howled at the raw edged pleasure he hadn't felt in ages. "Fuck me hard, Lion-boy."

"You better believe I will." The Lion growled, intensely turned on as he began fucking the Mouse good and hard. He fucked him deep and hard, letting the fine barbs play the mouse's insides as deep as his thick hard cock could go. On impulse, he licked at one of the mysterious red antennae with the rough side of his tongue, gently.

Vinnie could only howl, the intensity of such rough parts taking him with the care of a lover overpowering him as strongly as any Martian Lion had.

"More," Vinnie gasped threw the haze of pleasure shattering time and space for him, bringing him home for a few exquisite minutes. "Suck me off, Lion."

Cazi smiled, and obliged taking the sensitive appendage in his mouth and swirling his rough tongue around it as he continued to fuck the Mouse hard, with passion driven by lust and a strong desire to please his new lover that was so obviously succeeding as Vinnie moaned and groaned and occasionally howled in the pleasure.

With his head flung back to his Cazi full access to his antennae, Vinnie humped back shamelessly, reveling in the familiar sensations of a Lion on top of him. A bone-deep shudder warned them both just before it all overcame the Mouse, drawing a long, satisfied moan from him as he pumped his seed into the bed.

"Oh yeah, keep doing me," Vinnie gasped even before his body stopped spamming. "Make me yours."

"You're mine, Mouse." Cazi growled, as he continued pounding the mouse hard and deep until he couldn't hold back any longer. He roared as began cumming a second time, filling the Mouse with his hot seed and distantly heard the smaller male's enthusiastic shouts of pleasure and the rhythmic contractions that signaled the mouse's orgasm around his thrusting flesh.

As the spasms began to quiet he carefully put his jaws on the mouse's neck in feline gesture of dominance. "Mine." He growled softly, feeling the thrill his playmate felt at the action along every point their bodies touched.

"Oh, yes, yesss," Vinnie hissed through gasping breaths, his back arched in eager, hungry submission. "Take me every way you can."

"Since you asked so nicely." The Lion growled as he pulled his cock out, and pushed the mouse on to his back. He grabbed the mouse's arms and pinned them down roughly, before driving his cock back into the mouse's well-used passageway. "You're mine." He growled, as he claimed Vinnie's mouth in a possessive and passionate kiss that cut off most of an encouraging moan.

There was no missing, especially watching the furred half of his face and hard body, that the Mouse was in ecstasy and making no bones about it. Even denied most of his voice by his lovers mouth, Vinnie found ways to make his excitement known with his tail wrapped around Cazi's balls and the very base of the sheath to squeeze, rub, tug and fondle.

Cazi released the Mouse's mouth, and began playing the mouse's antennae with his mouth while he continued pounding the Mouse hard. It had been too long since he'd had a lover who'd responded so enthusiastically to being dominated. It was a rush that drove him to greater and greater efforts that were rewarded at each pass with cries of passion, screams for more and that fantastically mobile tail going to greater lengths of it's own to encourage the Black Lion's efforts.

It wasn't long at all before Vinnie's body tightened again, his voice raising in a cacophony of pleasure saturated sound trying to emulate and give voice to the sensations that made his cock pulse and pray ropes of sticky seed over his white fur.

A couple more minutes of pounding the mouse's ass before Cazi came with another bellowing roar, as he added more seed to the mouse's insides. "Oh yeah." He rumbled, as he licked the mouse on the nose. "All mine."

"For as long as you keep me this well fucked." Vinnie grinned up at him. "You much be something else on Lightning."

"Boosts endurance." He grinned, and pulled out of Vinnie to lie next to him. He put his arms around the white Mouse and pulled him close against his chest to snuggle happily in their messy fur and general euphoria. "And this is just one form." He chuckled softly.

"How many can do you?" He murmured curiously, delighted to just snuggle close and be held in the almost homelike familiarity.

"As many as I can think of." Cazi smiled, nuzzling the Mouse with gentle affection.

"Freeform?" He blinked, then grinned. "Oh, you are going to be fun."

"One of the few." Cazi chuckled as the Mouse snuggled in tighter. "And I have a good imagination."

"Even better," he rumbled eagerly. "Do you have one that can fly?"

"I've got a natural one that glides superbly." He smiled. "And I can do a couple of natural flyers."

"Maybe you can take me in the air sometime," Vinnie suggested throatily. "I've had so many fantasies about doing it on the wing."

"Oh, that is incredible." Cazi rumbled. "And I can soar for miles, coming down from Olympus."

Vinnie suddenly smiled mischievously and ducked his head a bit to lick one black nipple poking out from the flat black pelt. "Can you to a form described to you?" He asked, his body almost tingling with excitement.

"If it's detailed enough, sure." Cazi smiled, and nuzzled Vinnie playfully. "What did you have in mind?"

"There's a place here on Mars, a mountain so tall you can see the curve of the world as it disappears into space," he murmured rather dreamily. "My older brother took me there once. He was trying to teach me some useful wilderness skills; I saw the infinity it gave way to. The sky just went on forever."

"I think you're describing Mons Olympus, Vinnie." Cazi chuckled. "But I'm afraid a mountain is bit more than I can pull off. And I usually stick to mobile organics, not landscape." He teased gently.

"I don't know what you call it, but it's Sekratha, the Crown of the World." He smiled, not even feeling like rising to the tease for once. "That's where. There's this creature I used to hear about. The Phoenix Garou. It's a great Razorwolf Mouse with wings that was supposed to live there."

"Since I've never seen a Razorwolf, you'll have to describe this for me. Colors, fur patterns, that sort of thing. And what kind of wings? Fur, Feather, scales, flames?" He asked trying to get a feeling for what was being asked.

"Feathered wings, the same kind of patterning as the body." He started, trying to figure out just *how* to describe the creature in his mind. "Maybe I can just show you?"

"You have a picture of one?" Cazi asked curiously.

"In my head," he tapped the side of it. "I should be able to touch minds enough to send the images. It's worked with a human, you shouldn't be too hard."

"Considering I should be able to see the thought if you just concentrate on it." Cazi said quietly. "I can see that sort of thing, when people want me to."

"Even easier," Vinnie nodded and turned inside for a moment to rearrange his mental shields to leave the surface reasonably unguarded and focused on the various images of the horned Martian werewolf-mouse with it's great eagle wings spread wide.

"Let's see if I've got the image right before I go for the full size version." Cazi said concentrating on the image he'd seen, and slowly arranging his form to be it, though he kept it sized to fit reasonably in the hotel room. "About right?" He asked curiously.

"Oh, yeah," he rumbled, moving to get a good look at the myth come to life. "Oh, wow," he breathed hotly and shifted to kiss the canine mouse solidly. "The antennae work?" He breathed intensely.

"They should." Cazi said with a smile. "Well, at least they should work for the one thing I know about them." He grinned.

Vinnie chuckled and brushed a hand along one of them, letting his minimal psychic awareness flow unfettered. "The other thing they are for is the focus of our psychic abilities." He said softly. "Touching antennae with another allows memories, or sensations, to be shared. It can be unbelievably intense with a lover."

Cazi shuddered at the intensely pleasurable sensation and wondered if he might have overdone it. "Felsin can do the same sort of thing, only it doesn't involve antennae. Which is a good thing, because we don't have any." He chuckled softly. "That kind of memory sharing is the first step in what we call LifeBond. Though we can do it without it going that far."

"We don't bond like that," Vinnie smiled and gently took one antenna into his mouth to suckle it gently before drawing back. "If it's as sensitive as your cock, it's about right. We may cover our crotch, but not the secondary markers."

Cazi concentrated a bit. "Overdid it a little." He said, still shuddering at the new sensation. "It's one of those learning curves in shape shifting. How the parts work." He smiled, and pulled Vinnie close for a passionate kiss that was eagerly returned.

"How that you have the parts for it, care for a Martian specialty?" He murred eagerly.

"I'll try almost anything once." Cazi rumbled invitingly.

"That include being on the bottom?" Vinnie breathed, the eagerness in every line of his body. "It's a little simpler when the top is the experienced one."

"I happen to enjoy both." Cazi grinned and accepted being guided to his hands and knees. He felt Vinnie's tongue play around his asshole before another word was spoken.

"Oh, yeah." Cazi rumbled as the tongue opened and slicked the sensitive pucker for the hard rod of flesh that soon buried itself deep inside his body.

"Relax your mind." Vinnie murmured as he leaned forward and used his tail to tip Cazi's head back so they could touch antennae.

"Right." He moaned in pleasure at being under a skilled top. He roared and shuddered at the sudden rush of sensations from the mouse above him. "Wha?"

"Sensation share." Vinnie moaned himself and picked up the pace.

"Oh, *yeah*."

"Please come in, Master Cazimir is expecting you." The human butler said very formally when Vinnie knocked on the door at the address that Cazi had given him. The house was almost out of place in very modern city, in fact it would've looked more in place in the noble estates of Mars' past, right down to the stunning design meant to handle everything from the size of the quadruped Luprani to the huge Lumari.

Vinnie kept it largely under wraps however; easily nodding with an accepting smile and stepped in as his mind clicked into the training his mother and sisters had taken such pains to grill into his head.

The butler lead Vinnie through the tastefully ornate home, which while expensively decorated wasn't overbearing about it. The butler opened a large set of double doors and led Vinnie into a large study that had several large overstuffed chairs looking out over a well-tended garden. The second floor of the large room seemed to be an extensive private library.

"Master Cazimir, your guest has arrived." The butler intoned.

"Thank you, James." Cazi said standing from one of the chairs, and setting down the book he'd been reading. He was in his 'normal' form, that of a short, muscular golden-tan Lion. Cazi was dressed in casual slacks, and a button up shirt. "Hi, Vinnie." He grinned warmly. "Welcome to Redstone."

"Thank you," he grinned in return, though his tone and body language was a bit more formal than usual. "Is this a social call?"

"Mostly, I did discover something interesting when I was following up a lead for Lex." He smiled. "Care for a root beer while we wait for dinner to be ready?" The lion asked gesturing to the unoccupied chairs.

"Sure," the white mouse relaxed back to himself and flopped into the chair with a relaxed display of fur and form that had no place in a house like this. "What's up?"

Cazi pulled a root beer out of a carefully concealed cooler built into the table between the two chairs. "What I'm going to tell you is classified information." He began quietly. "That's why I needed to see you here, I know this house is secure from eavesdropping."

Vinnie raised an eyebrow at that as he accepted the bottle, but nodded his understanding and acceptance. "The mice survived." He hazarded a guess that it didn't sound like one.

"Just barely, but yes they did." He nodded.

"I can't say I'm surprised," Vinnie murmured quietly, his curiosity for the truth of those that bore his family name here competing with his distaste of what he's already sorted out. "Mars is always a world of survivors."

"With a bit of help in this case." He said quietly. "They were evacuated as the biosphere of the planet crashed. If they'd remained they wouldn't have."

A flicker of painful understanding flashed across Vinnie's face before he controlled it and nodded. "Mars is truly dead then, not just in hiding."

"Dormant, I think." Cazi said, not entirely certain. "I'd need to get a second opinion from someone better versed in magic, but I think the planet spirit basically went into a kind of shock from the extensive surface damage. Unfortunately, dormancy and dead have much the same effect on the biosphere."

"Among other things," he nodded with a soft sound that might have been a sigh. "Is there any contact, or knowledge of Mars' soul from before that?"

"Human records from a thousand years ago, aren't the most reliable." He said quietly. "The Dracons are really the only other race who might have contact records from that time, aside from the Mice themselves. I'll ask around, see what I can find out."

"I want to know if *her* name was Haloeth." Vinnie nodded, his voice soft. "Or if this world is not the same as mine."

There was a knock at the door, and the butler entered. "Dinner is ready in the small dining room as you requested, Master Cazimir."

"Thank you, James. We'll be along presently." Cazi said easily. "Ready for dinner, Vinnie?"

"Always," the white mouse grinned widely with a teasing gleam in his red eyes. "It's been ages since I've gotten a chance to sit down for a real meal."

"And the chef is good." Cazi grinned as he led the way. "He said he was going to do something Italian."

"He'll have to be good to top Marsha's dad." Vinnie chuckled a bit challengingly, though there was a trace of weary pain in it too.

"Something wrong between you and Marsha?" Cazi asked gently.

"Wrong ... not really," he shook his head and followed the significantly shorter tawny Lion. "It's just rough dating outside your culture."

"Yeah, it can be." Cazi agreed softly. "Working through the differences is never easy."

"Working though ones that involve what happens after death ... religion, Lex called it ... are ... stressful." He muttered, half in stress and half in utter frustration without a real outlet. "Still trying to figure out just *why* I want to."

"I imagine it would be." He nodded. "Humans lack a clear understanding of the Great Cycle, for the most part. There are exceptions, but by and large they don't really get it. And many don't want to, I believe it's often summed up as 'Why would anyone want go through this more than once?'" He sighed. "And to be honest, there have been times when I've felt that way myself." He said softly, walking a little slower.

"You don't usually met your close friends and mates when you come back?" Vinnie looked at him curiously and put a comforting hand on the Lion's shoulder. He was already resigned enough to having things different for most others in some way or another that it barely showed.

"Far as anyone can tell, this is my first time around." Cazi shrugged. "But it's been painful enough, that I really doubt sometimes that it's worth doing again." He said leaning into the touch.

"It is," Vinnie said softly and certain. "Death cools the pain and insanities built up in life and lets the good memories hold dominance." He dropped his muzzle in a fond smile. "There's nothing quite like meeting a bonded lifemate again. Those first few days or weeks of rediscovering each other."

"I'll take your word for it." Cazi said quietly. "Not like it's an immediate concern anyway." He chuckled weakly as the delicious smells of pasta, sauce and garlic bread began to reach their noses.

"No, probably not." Vinnie nodded and sniffed the air, the scents leading a little speed to his step. "You seem rather young."

"Older than you, I imagine, but young enough for my people." He smiled as they entered the cozy, intimate dining room where several servants were setting the table. "Young enough that it's not really appropriate to be thinking about death and the afterlife too much."

"It is something your culture does not approve of?" He looked at the Lion with open curiosity and a nearly open war between two natures in his eyes.

"Not when one is young." He smiled. "One is supposed to concentrate on how one lives this life. Occasional contemplation is okay, but not too much consideration."

"Even with such losses?"

"We remember those we've lost, that's just normal." He said softly. "But we shouldn't allow grief to consume this life. It's considered disrespectful to those who have died. One shouldn't obsess on the life to come, any more than one should obsess on lives that have preceded."

"It's all a matter of timing, at least for my kind." Vinnie nodded acceptance of it. "A first life and lost bonded lifemates and kit would be considered a reasonable cause to move on to the next round." He said quietly. "Some pain only death cools enough to take, for those who haven't been though it a few times and can put it in perspective."

"Save in the brief period of blinding grief that follows a broken bond, it's quite rare to 'chose to move on'." He said quietly. "It's not our way." He added simply, without any indication of disapproval for those who did.

"I'm not surprised," Vinnie nodded and sat down, half curious about the differences, half really wanting to get off the topic and more than a little annoyed at the changes he saw in himself in response to being the head of the family and acknowledged as such, even if only in part.

"You're helping out with the new archaeology dig, right? How's it going?" Cazi asked as he sat down, wanting to get away from a topic he usually avoided thinking about.

"Technically, Marsha thinks it's going great," he smiled a bit and relaxed into a meal that could take hours of talking and eating and more flavors than he'd enjoyed in years. "Everything is where I remember it, so they know right where to dig to get the best artifacts."

"There are some differences that aren't easy take, aren't there?" He asked gently.

"Yeah," he admitted after a bit of a startled look. "It'd be easier if it was all different, than this ... mockery ... it's starting to really look like." He shook his head. "It's getting creepy."

"The differences are that bad?" Cazi asked curiously.

"Some, yeah." He focused on his meal for a while to put it in some kind of order he could explain. "Seeing my family name and manor when my kind didn't exist is too weird. What they did to the family crest was just nasty."

"That the name would repeat is strange." Cazi nodded. "What was so bad about the crest?"

"It has the beheading of what looks like kin of mine on it." Vinnie said simply and took a long sip of wine.

"That would be creepy." Cazi nodded. "Must be one of the Shadowclaws, they were mentioned in the brief write-up I saw. The evacuation team tried to locate them, but they were far too good at avoiding detection, or they were just a myth."

"Or already long dead." He said softly. "I saw enough information on Earth to know just how effective an uncontrolled intelligence race can be at exterminating others. I know enough of the Maru that they'd be capable of it if they didn't have the guidance and controls we put in place. Maru without ever having guidance would be as bad as humans, maybe worse."

"True, though very few races have such guidance and they grow up fine." Cazi shrugged. "Conflict between races is inevitable in the confined space of a single world. Especially since what little was recorded indicated that the Shadowclaws were not interested in coexistence."

"That doesn't say much." Vinnie countered. "If you listened to just what the Garou of Earth had to say about us, neither were we." He shrugged. "Getting one side of a story is never going to be accurate."

"Given who was doing the questioning, they would not be likely to take such stories at face value." Cazi said quietly. "I expect that analysis is based on a more detailed investigation, though that wasn't in the brief report I read. Probably in the detail report."

"It doesn't really matter, not here and now at least." He sighed and shook his head, loosing interest in the excellent food. "I'm still the only one left now, again."

"That I'm afraid there's little I can do anything about." Cazi said softly. "After all, we'd have to import from another dimension to get members of your race."

"I know, and I've been bounced around so many times I don't even have a clue where to start looking for a way back home." Vinnie shook himself out, trying to shake the mood with little success and turned to another drink of wine to give him a moment to gather his wits.

"Well, determining which dimension shouldn't be that hard, for the right people." Cazi said thoughtfully and was suddenly the full focus of Vinnie's attention. "Getting there might be a little more complicated, if it's even possible."

"You have that kind of magic, that strong?" He asked softly and a little amazed.

"Personally, no." Cazi chuckled. "And actually, determining which dimension is a matter of physics not magic. If you know what to scan for, every object has a signature that identifies its dimension of origin. It's not the most useful of info most of the time, but it has its uses."

"Same difference," Vinnie shrugged. "The how is a matter of technicalities. But going back home ...." He shivered and squeezed his eyes shut, fighting down the flair of hope the offer brought. It would just too much to take if it didn't work out.

"Like I said though, finding out where doesn't say that going is possible." Cazi said gently. "It's not something that's done very often, so it's far from being a certain science."

"Neither is living," Vinnie shrugged slightly. "Getting back to the right dimension is more important than surviving the trip."

"Huh?" Cazi said curiously. "If you don't survive, what's the point to making the trip? And by not possible, I mean that it may not be possible to create a connection between the two dimensions."

"Oh," the mouse murmured, slipping into the quiet struggle out of depression for several minutes and remaining quite subdued. "Getting there is more important because I'll still be myself next time around. In this dimension, I'd probably end up on New Mars instead of going home. The body and name may be the same, but that's about it."

"Oh, I always understood that spirits get returned to their home dimension for rebirth." Cazi said with curious uncertainty. "Of course, maybe that's something that specific to species. Well, maybe it's specific to specific spirits, since I've met a couple people who've never reincarnated as the same species twice."

"I'd rather not risk that," he shook his head a bit. "Most I know of do come back to their own kind, but I've never heard of someone coming back from a place their body couldn't."

"Guess I don't really know enough to say." Cazi admitted. "What happens between lives isn't really something I've spent much time studying."

"I've had too much time and cause in the last few years not too." Vinnie sighed and picked at his pasta. "Way too much."

"If your fight is going anything like the one that occurred on this Mars, I'm not surprised." He said softly. "Quite a mismatched fight. But then the Plutarkians only pick fights they have no doubts about. Abject cowards when it comes right down to it. Not counting their squabbling and infighting."

"Yeah, I know," he muttered. "We lost the world. Wasn't what I was talking about, though. I haven't seen my Mars in years. Something keeps bouncing me around creation instead."

"Sounds like you got on the bad side of some Power that doesn't feel like killing you outright." Cazi shook his head. "Which means you're not likely to bounce again for awhile, since most Powers behave themselves in this part of the galaxy now. Hostile Powers have learned to give Dragonlands a wide berth, and most aren't sure whether this solar system is in the Dragonlands or not."

"Small comfort," he tried to shake the mood off again with little success. "Pretty much frags any shot I have of getting home."

"It's quite unlikely that whatever was bouncing across reality was planning on sending you home." Cazi said quietly. "Otherwise it wouldn't have removed you in the first place."

"That's not a given. Sometimes folks are sent on trips to learn something important." He all but whispered. "Or to keep them safe while something bad goes down when they'll be needed later and can't be counted on to behave and stay out of trouble otherwise. We don't get that many aggressive Powers coming by. Haloeth has a temper to rival any when it comes to defending what is hers."

Suddenly Vinnie's eyes closed, catching the full extent of what he'd said too late. A truth he'd spent his adult life avoiding. It was just too frightening, too painful, to deal with.

"Well, if it wasn't a hostile Power, you shouldn't have a problem." Cazi said softly. "Only the hostile ones are kept away."

Vinnie could only nod slightly in response, far too much of his attention focused on dealing with the repercussions of what he'd just admitted to himself.

Cazi stood and walked over to put a comforting hand on Vinnie's shoulder. "You want to relax somewhere? You look like food is the last thing on your mind." He offered quietly.

It took a while for the mouse to respond, and that was only a small nod. It took him longer to stand and open his eyes enough to follow the Lion through the house to a more dimly lit room with a large fireplace, complete with fire, and a large very comfortable looking couch. He sat down on the couch, guiding Vinnie to sit next to him. "Probably a little easier to think here, it's quieter." He said gently as the white mouse curled in on himself and against the support offered.

It wasn't long before the minor tremors increased and the fire's crackle was interspersed with the hiccupping sobs of a mind and body that had hit it's limit and been pushed beyond.

Cazi didn't say anything; he just kept physical contact with the distressed Mouse, gently rubbing his shoulder to provide continuing reassurance and support.

It was dark outside and the fire renewed by magic several times before Vinnie finally settled, though it was the settled of someone who had cried themselves out and no longer had the strength to focus on anything, much less what hurt.

"Time for sleep, Vinnie." Cazi said gently. "You up to walking to bed?"

The mouse nodded and struggled to his feet, though it was debatable if he really understood what he was nodding too.

Cazi quietly led Vinnie to a large bedroom, with a large extremely comfortable looking bed. Sitting Vinnie down on the bed, he helped the still somewhat out-of-it Mouse, get undressed for bed. Once Vinnie was in bed, he undressed himself and cuddled up to Vinnie under the covers. He figured that the last thing Vinnie needed right now was to be left alone. The way the white mouse curled and pressed against him as he drifted into a restless sleep only reinforced that thought.

Cazi felt his bedmate rouse, or at least begin the attempt to, after most of two days and four listless meals after curling up for the first time. Even uncertain of exactly what had hit the mouse so hard, it was obvious Vinnie needed a friend's support nearly as much as Cazi himself had after loosing Nareena and Ebon.

He slipped a gentle arm around the slowly rousing Mouse, cuddling him close as the desire to be clean, move, do *something* won out over the lethargy of emotional exhaustion and desire to make reality and thought go away.

Whether the recovery would last wasn't nearly as apparent as Vinnie's desire to clean and brush his fur out as he dragged himself out of the bed, not all that conscious of where he was, or even that he had been held for most of his rest.

Picking up on his bedmates desire to be clean, he gently directed the unresisting and still a bit disoriented mouse toward the bathroom. He figured a good hot soak would do his friend a world of good. At least, he'd always found that a good hot soak made everything seem a little better.

He found Vinnie quite compliant, fairly uncoordinated and despite the emotional numbness at least as interested in physical contact awake as he was asleep. It all made for a rather surreal bath and soak. The sexy, fully of life and out for enjoyment male seeking as much physical contact as before, only it was much more reminiscent of a frighten, beaten cub now.

Cazi gently got Vinnie cleaned up, doing most of the scrubbing himself which let him give Vinnie the physical contact he seemed to really need. The change in the Mouse's manner was worrisome, especially to Cazi who'd always been better at understanding machines than people. Once they were washed and rinsed, he gave thought to drying. "So Vinnie, you prefer towels or air jets?" He asked, not entirely sure Vinnie was with it enough to respond.

"Air," he murmured, fighting to get out of the numbing pit of pain he'd sunk into deeper than even Carmel's death had dropped him into.

"This way." He said, stepping out of the tub, and guiding Vinnie into the shower that also housed the warm air jets that started up once the two of them were in the airflow. Cazi smiled slightly at the soft sound of pleasure Vinnie gave when hot air pressed down to soft skin under his short pelt.

Once Vinnie was properly dry, Cazi began to carefully brush him out, with the skill of someone who was well acquainted with the task. "So, you want something to eat after we finish here? It's about the right time for breakfast." He asked warmly while he worked.

"Sure," he mumbled, making an honest effort to be social and wanting to throw the mood off. "Sorry."

"Hey, there's nothing to apologize for." Cazi said as he finished and then began to dry himself off. "I've had my share of bad days, I know what it's like. If you want to talk about it, I'm willing to listen." He offered, trying to be supportive without being pushy. He wasn't sure if the Mouse's culture would let him talk about what was hurting him or not, but he wanted Vinnie to know he was available if needed.

A silence descended as Vinnie tried to put enough of it together to even attempt to make any sense. Eventually he drew a deep breath and shook his head.

"Everything hit at once," he said quietly as the air blowers turned off. "How little a chance I have of seeing home, or even kin, again. That if I do, it's probably because my Bros are dead," he closed his eyes again, his voice rough for a moment. "And Haloeth is dead." He tried to draw a deep breath in. "She'd never have permitted the world to be destroyed if she ... she would have been the first to fall."

"That's a painful lot to hit at once." Cazi acknowledged softly, putting his arms around Vinnie. "No wonder you're in such pain. Sounds like what I went through losing my LifeMates and my son all at once." He added softly. "I'm sorry I brought this all up. I didn't realize that the Mice from this world weren't your species. I thought I was bringing good news of a sort." He said softly.

"I didn't figure it out till well into the dig," he sighed and gratefully leaned into the embrace. "I thought they'd be kin too. At least close enough to count. I hate what it's changing in me too."

"What's it changing in you?" Cazi asked gently, hoping to find something he could help with.

It took him a while to put that into words, but eventually he tried. "I'm becoming head of the family. Information, traits, drives ... becoming like my uncle."

"Not something you ever expected?" Cazi guessed. "And probably some of it just makes matters worse, with the way things are."

"No, it's not." He shook his head, using the conversation as enough to latch onto to keep himself focused off the thoughts of death and lost souls. "I'm so far off the succession it's not even funny. I'm just not suited for it."

"That's something I can understand." Cazi nodded, nuzzling the distressed mouse. "I inherited from a father who abandoned my mother and me when I was a child." He shook his head. "I'm not sure who was more shocked, me or the rest of the family."

"Them, probably," he snickered a little. "You don't seem much the type either."

"I'm not." He shook his head. "I still try to run family affairs as little as I can. But having access to the family fortune and business has been handy at times."

"Running things ... the responsibilities don't come with the title for you?" He cocked his head, grabbing at the difference for a distraction.

"I've got things set up to largely run without me, while retaining ultimate override." Cazi said quietly. "I check on things frequently, make adjustments when necessary. But we're minor nobility so there's little expectation of us as far appearances at court and the like." He added. "Mostly we're a big family run company."

Vinnie nodded at that, understanding it fairly well. "Not something you could say for Van Whams, mine or theirs." He shook his head. "Head of the family was position of serious influence and just as many demands. Not something you could leave alone for any length of time." He sighed and dropped his shoulders against the shower hall. "The parts that's getting me right now is the keeper of history, teacher and representative. I am *so* not meant for that job."

"That would be true if my family ranked higher." Cazi nodded. "And you don't seem like a historian or a teacher." He smiled playfully. "Being head of the family, probably reminds you of a lot of things you'd rather not think about."

"Not so much that it's *changing* me." He shuddered slightly. "We're probably a good example of a species where the needs of the many outrank the few, or the individual. Part of education is learning all the stuff you'd need to do the job, getting the memories and knowledge of previous leaders and important people. Now that I'm needed to do that stuff, those memories are starting to get prominence, and my own past lives as a leader are really getting a voice. It's a pain."

"Now that's got to be unnerving as hell." Cazi said quietly. "Not to be depressing, but how can you be head of family that's just you? Especially lacking others of your species."

"It's what comes with it." He tried to explain something he only half followed himself. "Being a representative of my people, keeping and passing on our history and that we did exist." He sighed. "Making sure that there is no need to guess about who and what we were. Rebuilding's another part, starting over again. While there is one alive, there's a possibility of creating more and drawing the spirits here to found our cities again and maintain culture. Between magic and technology, it's possible to rebuild from what I am, and what I know. At least that's the theory."

Cazi thought for a moment. "It's possible, with the current level in genetic engineering." He said thoughtfully. "You'd want to be real careful who you worked with though."

"That's putting it mildly," he snorted and shook his head. "At least I know enough to check the process. Well, my head does. Throttle'd be *so* much better that this. I know he's got the training too, even if he'll never admit it." Vinnie sighed painfully with memories of the moody leader bright in his mind.

"I've got some good connections too." Cazi smiled. "And I know the process inside and out, it's how my mate was created. At least that's one version, another version was how my son was born. I might not be a genetic engineer, but I've worked with some of the best."

Vinnie nodded and drew a deep breath. "And I have the blueprints for every major bloodline in my head, among others." He shook himself off abruptly. "It is *extremely* weird to be able to recite something I can't even begin to follow."

"Implanted memories will do that to you." Cazi nodded. "When and if you decide to do this, you've got my help." He said quite seriously.

"Thanks," Vinnie managed a small smile and slid his tail up and around Cazi's waist in a hug of sorts. "Right now I'd just be happy for a few days that didn't involve some sort of grief."

"Well, I'd suggest that you should at least take a few days off from working on the dig." Cazi said gently. "Maybe a couple weeks. If they could spare you for a couple weeks we could even get away from Mars, there's a lot of places to see in the galaxy." He suggested playfully and watched the mouse almost jump.

"Umm, sure." He blinked, more than a little uncertain. "They can do without me for a while."

"It's just a suggestion, Vinnie." Cazi grinned. "You don't have to, it's just what I've found helps with grief and pain."

"It's not like it can hurt," he shrugged with a bit of a grin showing. "I sure don't have anything better to be doing."

"Well, I think with a little luck we might be able to catch the Flatlander 5000." Cazi grinned. "The biggest event in supersonic cycle racing."

"Oh, man, I should be *winning* that, not watching it!" He protested in an almost Vinnie tone of playful complaint.

"Oh, I agree." Cazi grinned. "Unfortunately, I met you after the qualifiers had been held. It is a yearly event though." He smirked playfully and got daringly dangerous look for it.

"Oh, cat, I am *so* going to cream the field next year."

"I wouldn't be at all surprised." Cazi grinned. "Good thing too, the field is getting a little complacent."

That set off a real sparkle in Vinnie's red eyes. "Maybe an impromptu challenge to the winner, just to give them a little warning." He all but purred.

"That'll certainly spark interest." Cazi chuckled. "In the media as well as the competitors."

"The media can't get enough of me," he grinned and showed off his muscular body to the fullest.

"So I've noticed." He purred, running one hand down the muscular chest. "That shoot in Galactic Biker was really something."

"Too bad they didn't let me show it all off, that bikini thing rubbed all the wrong ways," he pouted playfully, leaning into the contact and returning it. Though his touch wasn't completely up to his standard, it was a drastic improvement from an hour before.

"They're not that kind of magazine, Vinnie." Cazi smirked. "Though the bikini left very little to the imagination. I have to admit, I was really surprised when that issue arrived." He grinned playfully, as his hand continued to caress Vinnie's chest and abs.

"You can blame, or thank, Cindy for that one." He laughed and leaned forward to pull Cazi into an embrace and passionate kiss that held a touch of the desperation Vinnie felt about holding on to his mood.

"Thank." Cazi said during a brief break. "Never dated a model before." He grinned playfully, but the passion in the embrace said it really wasn't important.

"I never dated outside my species before," he rumbled, not feeling much of the stress of it for the brief moment now that pleasure and his body were more in charge of things. "You're incredible."

"That's the Alliance for you." Cazi grinned playfully, as he traced the edge of Vinnie's ear with a gentle fingertip. "And you're pretty incredible yourself." He purred, before claiming a passionate kiss that was surrendered to utterly and completely in a clear desire to be washed away in pleasure.

A New Mars for a Lost Mouse 2

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

166 KB, Story is Closed-Unfinished, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written May 16, 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: Vinnie has a lot to work through from his reaction to Marsha and when he gets back his life starts to really pick up in both modeling and personally.

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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