Jake and the Vampire part 1 of 3
by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/M, M/F and F/F
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Jake woke in a moving vehicle, which he concluded was an enforcer patrol car as his head cleared a little. He recognized the driver from the pattern of the fur on the back of her neck, and scent; it was Felina Feral. From the lack of light it was probably very early in the morning, and they were traveling up the road toward the Salvage Yard.

"Hi, Felina." He pulled himself upright. "Where was I?"

"Slumped against a lamppost on 7th, near Ferry. From reports you'd been weaving your way drunkenly up the street before collapsing there. Supposedly you accosted some tabby tom, but no complaint was actually filed." She said quietly. "You're just lucky my uncle protects you."

Jake was silent for a long time. "Turn the car around, Lieutenant. I wasn't drinking. I haven't taken anything."

Felina slowly stopped the car. "Turn the car around and go where, Jake? I was just taking you home, figured you'd sleep off whatever it was. Like all the other times Enforcers have brought you home." She asked curiously.

"I haven't taken anything, Felina." Jake insisted a little uneasily. "Not voluntarily at least." He tried to scrub his face clear of the mental fog. "If someone messing with me ... whatever is going on, we need to know what." He dropped back against the seat. "Before it affects me during a crisis."

Felina nodded. "Whatever is going, you're right." She said as she turned around and headed back to the city. "I'll take you over to Serenity Thorne, the Enforcer Medical facility, that's the best place to try and figure this out. Do you want to let Chance know you'll be unavailable for awhile?"

"Yeah, that would be good." He sighed as his eyes closed. "If he wants to know, tell him where I am. If it has to do with SWAT, he might be a target."

She passed a cell phone back to him. "You can call him, I'm sure he's up now. He usually is." She said as they sped toward the medical facility. "That's on the Enforcer Network, so range won't be a problem."

"Thanks." He said, still a touch unsteady as he punched the Yard's number in.

"Salvage Yard, Furlong here." The tabby's voice growled. Chance was not a morning Kat.

"Hi, Chance." Jake paused as he tried to make his mind work enough to explain.

"Morning, Jake. Are you alright?" There was a combination of concern and worry in the tabby's voice.

"No. I'm checking myself into Serenity Thorne."

"Okay, buddy. I'm glad you're getting some help, finally. You've had me really worried. If you end up staying overnight and you need anything, just let me know. If I don't hear anything from you by lunch I'll stop over in the afternoon to see how you're doing. You take care of yourself." He said feeling a bit relieved.

"Chance, listen to me." Jake spoke as evenly as he could. "I'm not on anything voluntarily. I don't know what is going on, but watch yourself. Whoever's been after me might come after you next."

The tabby could hear the tension in his partner's voice. "Okay, Jake, I will." He paused for a long moment. "And if you tell me you weren't taking anything, I believe you. Just take care of yourself, okay." He said quietly, worried because what Jake said made sense of the fact that Chance had never smelled anything on the Kat when he came seeming drunk.

"Thanks ... I'll let you know when something's found." Jake murmured.

"Okay, talk to you later, Jake." The tabby said as he hung up.

Felina turned back to him. "We'll be at Serenity in about fifteen minutes."

Once Jake was settled into a room, it turned into a parade of nurses. Nurses asking questions, checking vitals, taking vials of blood, and various other things nurses do. Then it was quiet for awhile, and the nurses left him alone for about an hour.

Then a nurse came back in, and hooked an IV into Jake's arm and started a unit of blood. "Please try to rest, and not exert yourself, Jake. You'll recover faster that way." She said warmly.

"Yes, ma'am." He sighed, already fighting restless unease. "Can I have paper, pencil and something to write on?"

"Something like this." A deep voice said, causing Jake to look up and see Nathan standing in the door wearing a white Doctor's coat. He was holding a stiff backed sketch pad, and some pencils. "Thought you might be getting bored." He said as he walked over.

"Nathan!" Jake almost jumped up, grinning. "Long time, no see, buddy. How's life treating you?"

"Careful there, Jake. Don't want to go pulling that IV out." He grinned. "Yeah, Feral's had me busy, first he actually made go through a crash course version of the Enforcer Academy, and then I just finished proving that I'm better than any local Doctor." He handed Jake the pad and pencils. "Actually, I was scheduled to rejoin you and Chance. Feral decided you needed a team Medic."

"Way cool." Jake grinned, then smiled softly as he fingered the basic art supplies. "Thanks, Kat. It seems like I only get to draw when I'm laid up."

Nathan grinned and carefully hugged the smaller tom. "Good to see you again, Jake."

"So have you got my case?"

"Yep, the medical chief saw in your file that you were a patient of mine within the last year. Seems that makes me the last doctor to see you, so he gave me the case. I would've asked for it anyway. So what's going on, Jake?" He asked, as he sat down next to the bed.

He sighed and watched the nurse walk out before answering. "Despite the fact that I'm not drinking, and not talking anything else, I'm wandering home acting very drunk pretty regularly. Often enough that the morning shift knows to bring me to the Salvage Yard and not take me in for drunk and disorderly. Apparently I get more than a bit of an attitude going on whatever I'm on."

"Well, the morning shift got marching orders from the Commander on that subject after the one time they did take you in." Nathan smiled quietly. "What concerns me, is that your blood work was off enough that we had to give you two units of blood. That's definitely not indicative of alcohol, and I can't find an illegal substance it is indicative of.

"What do you remember of last night between say sunset and when you woke up in Lt. Commander Feral's squad car?"

Jake thought for a while, putting his memories in order. "I met Trent for dinner at McKallin's around seven. I had steak, he had chicken salad. No alcohol, food was good, as usual. We talked about little stuff; how the yard was doing, how Chance and Felina were doing, his latest business deal and the trip to Seriga he took last month. He bugged me again for wasting my time doing grunt work when I could be drawing plans, or 'real artwork'. He mentioned wanting me to come with him on his next trip there in three weeks. I managed to not give him a real answer.

"After dinner ... eight thirdly, maybe nine ... we went back to his apartment." Jake blushed a little under his fur. "Sex was pretty spectacular. I fell asleep after he did, and woke up looking at the back of Felina's neck."

Nathan nodded. "Is Trent somebody new? Somebody you're seeing regularly?" He asked as he tried to keep strictly professional, as best he could considering the subject.

"For the last couple months." He nodded. "I met him at a high tech trade show four months ago."

Nathan nodded. "But no memory between sex and patrol car?"

Jake thought hard. "After sex we held each other, and he kissed me a couple times before we fell asleep. After that, no." He shook his head. "It couldn't have been later than ten. I always sleep easy with him."

"Jake, the evidence suggests that sleeping is not what you were doing. Unfortunately, there's no good or easy way to look for missing memories, which I think is the problem here. I can look and see, but it won't be easy or comfortable for either of us." He said quietly. "Somewhere in those missing memories should be something that explains how you lost blood without any noticeable ... wait a minute." He said as he leaned close to look at the side of Jake's neck.

"Probably just a hickey, Nate." He chuckled with a little embarrassment.

"I've seen 'hickeys' before, Jake, and they don't involve puncture marks." He palmed his medscanner from the pocket of his coat and scanned the injury site. "Your 'hickey' hit a major blood vessel; it's probably how you lost a pint of blood last night. I'm impressed by the healing at the site, almost looks like a regenerate was applied."

"In laykat, Nate?"

"For an injury that happened last night, that healing looks days old. The puncture goes down to a major blood vessel thus is likely where the blood was lost." He chuckled. "Better that time?"

Jake stared at him for a long time as his fingers traced the injury site. "If it went to my jugular, and I lost that much blood ... even with medical attention that takes weeks to heal, and hurts like hell in the meantime." He shook his head. "The scanner has to be wrong. I've had my throat cut before, Nathan. It doesn't feel like this."

"That's just the trick Jake, it wasn't a cut, it was a puncture. Almost like the needles used to draw blood at blood donation centers. And actually, a pint is what people donate regularly, your body can handle that fairly easily. More than that and you can get into trouble. Someone was very careful, and knowledgeable about this." Nathan said, a bit disturbed. "But the blood loss, doesn't explain the memory loss or the behavior. There's something else, and its not showing on the scanner, or the tests."

"So there's nothing showing up?" He searched the Tiger's face. "I can still feel it, whatever's in me. I was barely able to walk when they took the samples."

Nathan put a hand on Jake's shoulder to try and comfort him. "Jake, no nothing is showing that would explain that. Everything was normal for a Kat who'd lost a pint of blood." He thought about something. "Jake, I'm going to need to check you over completely, see if there are any more of these 'hickeys'." He said politely.

He nodded, squelching the sharp sprit of fear that crept into his mind.

"Just get undressed, Jake. And don't worry, we'll figure out what's going on." Nathan said reassuringly. "I spent too much time putting you back together, to let something happen now." He said with grin that covered a very serious stance.

Once the tom was undressed, Nathan very thoroughly and gently checked him over. "Okay, you can get dressed." He said quietly.

He sat down and looked at Jake. "What ever the cause of these 'hickeys', you've got a total of five of them. One on the right and left side of the neck, right and left upper arm, and right groin. The reason you're probably still feeling something, is that you're probably not recovering 100% between blood losses, and your body is beginning to notice."

Jake shivered and shook his head. "They're all the same age?"

"The age is hard to judge, because of the accelerated healing, but it's clear that some are older than others." He said quietly. "One important problem to consider is that in your current state your G-force tolerance is significantly reduced. You need at least a week of serious bed rest to be combat ready." Nathan said quietly.

He nodded as his mind slid into shock. "You might want to get Chance checked out ... just in case."

Nathan nodded. "Just hold together Jake, falling apart isn't going to help. I'll have Chance come down, and actually we'd probably better have Trent checked as well, since he was near you last night. Whatever 'bit' you, might not have been too discriminating." Nathan paused. "What's the fast way to locate Trent?" He asked.

Jake swallowed and forced his mind to work. "His pager's 862-9393."

Nathan picked up a wall phone and dialed the phone number. He punched in the direct number to the room, since it was a digital pager.

Then he dialed the number for the SWAT Hanger phone, and waited for Chance to answer.

"Yes?" The tabby's suspicious voice answered after two rings.

"Chance, this is Nathan, I'm with Jake at Serenity Thorne." He said quietly. "Because of what's happened to Jake, I need you to come in for a check up, to make sure you haven't been affected as well."

"What's wrong?" The Kat's entire vocal demeanor changed. "Will he be all right?"

"At this point, he'll recover with rest and some IV fluids restore his body's chemical balance. What the problem is we haven't located the cause, which is why I need to see you, as soon as possible. One SWAT Kat on the injured list is quite enough." Nathan said as gently as possible.

"All right." Chance agreed uneasily. "I'll be there ASAP."

"Thanks, Chance. See you when you get here." He said as he hung up. "Well, Chance is on his way." He said sitting down.

"Nathan ... just what could be going on? What kinds of ... tools could have been used on me?"

Nathan considered. "They'd be custom tools I'm sure, probably based on dialysis equipment, so as to move more blood quickly, without significant damage or spillage. What I'm trying to figure out, is how they did it without you waking up. Any anesthetic or knockout drug would still be in your system, at least in trace amounts, or residuals.

"Which leaves a custom designed synthetic drug which breaks down completely and quickly. Hmmm ... custom designed drugs, that sounds like Dr. Viper's mode of operation, though the blood stealing doesn't make much sense. Unless of course, he's trying his hand at cloning."

Jake shuddered and hugged himself as he fought down the panic the entire line of thought brought as the phone suddenly rang.

Nathan picked up the phone. "Serenity Thorne, Dr. Solgardin speaking."

"This is Trenton DelGran." A strong, self-confident male voice answered. "Jake left this number in my pager."

"Actually, Mr. DelGran I left this number in your pager. Jake's been exposed to a yet unidentified pathogen. Because you've been intimate with Jake, you need to examined to see if you've also been exposed. How soon can you come down to Serenity Thorne?" Nathan said in a no-nonsense professional voice.

"As yet unidentified?" There was a touch of incredulousness in the tone on the other end, though it remained coldly professional. "You will transfer him to the care of Dr. Jayson when he arrives by CDS-I Medivac." Trent spoke as one who was accustomed to getting what he ordered with little resistance.

"Mr. DelGran, this is a military situation. And frankly, Dr. Jayson's last paper on hemolytic transfer under low electrolyte conditions convinces me that he'd be out of his depth here. I take my orders from exactly one person, and you're not him. I notified you out of courtesy, and because Jake happens to like you." Nathan's voice dropped to a coldly professional tone that he used when he knew he had the authority to say 'Fuck Off', and make it stick. Nathan had carefully located a special clause in the Enforcer code book, which would cover why he was calling this a military situation when it involved a supposedly washed out Enforcer.

"Military?" There was a quickly covered touch of surprise on the other end. "How did this become an Enforcer concern?" He sounded significantly more concerned than anything.

"Section 47, paragraph 12, section 5 of Enforcer Code as regards former Enforcers. Any criminal matter involving a current or former Enforcer may be deemed an Enforcer concern at the discretion of the investigating officer. The unknown pathogen was introduced by means of puncture wounds, that makes it assault, and the unknown pathogen itself is not in the biological library which means it is artificial in origin, which falls under the category of bio-warfare, or bio-terrorism. This is most definitely an Enforcer concern, Mr. DelGran."

"If my resources can be of assistance, don't hesitate to ask, Dr. SolGardin." He spoke more quietly, though his voice was still steady. "I'd like to talk to Jake."

"Just a moment." He said muting the reception. "You feel up to talking to Trent, Jake?"

"Yeah." He grinned. "He argued with you, didn't he?"

"Actually, he made a classic mistake ... he tried to tell me what to do. More importantly, he tried to tell me what to do with regards to my patient. Big mistake." He grinned as he handed Jake the phone. "There you go." He said as he unmuted it.

"Hi, love." Jake was still chuckling as he greeted Trent.

"You sound pretty good."

"More wierded out than anything." He shrugged. "Nate's a good medic. He's patched me back together from worse."

"I'd rather have you in a real facility." Trent said. "The Enforcer's don't get much top gear."

"They've got top skill, Trent." Jake assured him. "Besides, I'm not leaving the city unless I have to."

"Back to that?" He sighed in frustration. "There is more to the world that that junk yard, Jake."

"I know, I know. It's home." He rolled his eyes.

"I'll be by as soon as I can. One teleconference with Sher Khan."

Jake groaned in amusement. "I'll see you tomorrow then." He teased.

"I will be by before then. Mr. Khan is not that important." Trent managed to sound slightly insulted.

"Why, Trent, I do believe I have corrupted you."

"Only because I wanted you to." He chuckled affectionately. "You make sure that doctor gets the gear he needs, you hear me?"

"I will, though he's quite capable of getting what he wants himself." Jake chuckled. "I'll see you later."

"Not soon enough." Trent sighed before handing up.

"Got that right." Jake grumbled as he handed the phone back to Nathan.

Nathan put the phone away. "Commenting on Enforcer's not getting the good medical gear was he?" The tiger chuckled.

"Among other things." Jake chuckled, feeling much more himself. "He's got a reasonable amount of clout if you ever get stonewalled."

"So he said. Not that we're exactly short clout in the financial/ industrial arena though. But I'll keep him in mind. Actually, there's brand new medical research equipment being installed as we speak. I badgered Stormcraft on the subject for over an hour." He grinned.

Jake chuckled softly. "I tend to forget they're good for anything but parts. I can't say I've dealt with them much once Blackie was ready."

"I'm treating Stormcraft and his company as Unit Supply, and I'm used to having to badger Supply for what I need. I sure as hell wasn't working on second rate equipment when you were involved." He said quietly.

Jake cocked his head slightly. "You care a lot for somebody I haven't heard from for a year."

"Being completely swamped, aside." He said quietly. "I was trying to get through the traditional period of mourning without doing anything I shouldn't. Wasn't sure how long that'd hold up, if I saw you again." He sighed softly.

"Oh," Jake blinked, then fell silent for an awkward minute. "You ..." he took a steadying breath. "You're interested in me ...." His voice trailed off, unwilling to jump that far.

Nathan hesitated for a moment, a little taken back by Jake's involvement with the Kantin. Eventually he decided he couldn't lose what he didn't have. He nodded. "Yes, Jake. I have been since before I left with Feral. But my LifeMate had just died, and I wasn't supposed to thinking that way about anyone, certainly not so soon." He said quietly. "Also I needed to be sure I wasn't on the rebound from losing Rhy, and I was sure of that the one time I saw you, when I was pretending to be the Mayor's chauffeur driving Callie around for a day."

"You godda love this damn city." Jake growled bitterly as he sank his head to his hands.

"Something the matter, Jake?" Nathan asked after watching the Kat for a few moments.

"I finally give up on anyone ever wanting me, and there's five of you now, all in the last three months." He growled without looking up. "I am seriously starting to believe there are gods, and they enjoy practical jokes."

"Of the three I'm on speaking terms with only one is really a practical joker, and it really isn't his style." Nathan said off-handedly. "Some things never change though, my timing sucks."

"Could be worse." Jake sighed and flopped down on the bed to stare at the ceiling. "I do like you."

Nathan smiled. "I'm glad to know that, but you're seeing someone." He said quietly.

"So?" The Kat looked over. "I'm seeing three somebodies. Doesn't change much to make it four ... just makes sorting out a marriage that much more difficult, if any of them ever want more than time."

Nathan smiled shyly. "Well, I didn't know. I'm still getting the hang of this world, in a lot of ways." He said quietly.

"Your call." He sighed and returned his attention to the ceiling.

The tiger looked at the Kat. "You don't sound very confident about the marriage possibility." He said in a voice that conveyed a clear sense of not understanding the why of it.

"With my luck?" Jake chuckled bitterly. "I expect the males will turn out to be using me, and Callie'll have to drop it when the press finds out she's dating a junkyard mechanic."

Nathan considered for a moment. Here they tried to discourage Medics from being involved with patients, but he was trained to deal with that involvement because in small groups the Medic often would have to treat a lover.

He reached over and put his hand on Jake's shoulder. "Jake, if you can handle a fourth somebody in your life, I'd like to be that somebody." He said feeling terribly clumsy. "And I don't use people, that's not my way." He said very quietly.

Jake rolled his head to really look at the Felsin for a long time before he place his hand over Nathan's and squeezed. "I'd like it too." He said quietly. "And I ... trust you." He added clumsily.

Nathan nodded. "Now, we work on getting you better and out of the hospital. And on finding out what happened, 'cause nobody messes with my teammate and boyfriend." The medic said with a protective growl to his voice. He briefly looked at the injury on Jake's neck and shook his head.

Nathan did his best not to look like he'd all but run back to Jake's room after an hour of fruitless research. He smiled as the lean tom looked up from his sketchpad.

"So, can I see what you're drawing?" The tiger asked curiously, as he walked over to the bed.

Jake hesitated a moment before handing the pad over, which was already turned to the sixth page and a half sketched out image of a Doberman Kantin's face.

"You're pretty good, Jake." Nathan said, honestly. "Is this Trent?" He asked, since he'd never actually seen DelGran, even if he did know who he was.

"Yes." Jake nodded uneasily. "Could ... they be bite marks?"

Nathan nodded reluctantly. "It's a possibility I've been considering. The puncture wounds are spaced correctly for the incisors of a medium-sized Kat or Kantin." He said quietly. "That leads in to lines of reasoning usually found in B-grade horror films."

"And the everyday life of a SWAT Kat." Jake muttered. "Would you believe I started watching those things so I could see something less bizarre than my own life and laugh?"

Nathan smiled quietly. "Yes, I'd believe it. If it is a 'vampire' we're dealing with, it's a very restrained one. Looks like I should be reading legends and folklore, in addition to medical journals." He said quietly, not entirely happy about it, or that Jake was refusing to meet his eyes.

"Never figured my private life would star in one, though." He shuddered.

"Jake." The tiger said, gently tipping the Kat's gaze up to meet his. "You are not alone in this. Whatever it takes, I will help you get through this." He said, as he gently hugged the lean tom, being careful of the IV.

He shivered again, absently curious why accepting Nathan's support didn't rankle him. "If it's Trent, he's not like the legends much."

"Well, the fact that he answered his pager during the day makes me have my doubts. Though it could be someone that Trent knows, who knows him well enough to know his dating schedule. Problem with legends is that they're usually a mixture of truth, fiction and fear. The only part that's of any use is the truth, and that can be difficult to know." He said quietly.

"His dating schedule is pretty easy." Jake murmured. "He always spends the night with someone."

"Actually, I was referring to knowing who he's with when. That's assuming that said vampire is specifically targeting you. Rough estimate, how many times have you been with Trent in the last month?" Nathan asked professionally. "Sorry if this sounds really nosy, but there isn't much to go on."

Jake took a deep breath. "Twelve, including every night I've been 'drunk'."

Nathan nodded. "Well, I'd say the 'vampire' has access to Trent's place at the very least. Do you always go back to the same place with Trent?" He asked knowing that the Kantin certainly had the wealth for multiple abodes.

He thought for a moment. "Except for one night we crashed at my hideout, yes." He frowned as a new trickle of fear wound its way around his mind. "And that was one of the nights, too."

Nathan nodded. "I hate to say this, but we may have to consider that even if Trent isn't the vampire, he maybe cooperating with it. Though this is, of course, speculation. I'll be able to make a better judgment when he actually shows up here." He said quietly.

Jake nodded as he tried to swallow. "It'll probably be late ... Khan meetings never run short." He suddenly glanced at the door. "Shouldn't Chance have gotten here by now? It doesn't take two hours ...."

"Yes, he should. Let me check with the front desk." He said as picked up the phone, and dialed the front desk number.

"Serenity Thorne reception, how may direct your call?"

"This is Doctor SolGardin, has Chance Furlong come in yet?" He asked professionally.

"Not yet sir, but there is a major traffic jam on T-60." She answered easily. "I will let you know when he arrives."

"Thank you." He said, as he hung up.

He turned to Jake. "Apparently there's a major traffic jam on T-60, he'll be delayed. No need for worry." Nathan said relieved.

"Figures." Jake chuckled nervously.

Nathan noticed the other 5 pages. "Is it okay if I look at the rest of the sketches?" He asked, knowing how sensitive some artists where about that sort of thing.

Jake nodded a little shyly. "There ... umm, adult content."

Nathan smiled. "Thanks for the warning." He grinned, as turned back through the pages. After seeing some of Morin's collection of 'art', there wasn't much that qualified as shocking or surprising. Except maybe Rao and the two Ferrin.

The first image was a sketch of Trent and Jake's heads. The angular Kantin had his teeth exactly where the puncture marks were, and Jake had a look of absolute rapture on his upturned face as Trent's hand stroked the Kat's throat.

"That's very real." Jake said softly. "I've always liked it, but it's ... he can make me feel amazing, and barely touch me."

Nathan shivered. "You've about got me convinced he's the vampire. You've got real talent Jake." The tiger said quietly.

The Kat nodded. "Some days I really wish I'd realized I could do that," he motioned at the sketchpad, "before I enlisted." He closed his eyes and sighed with his knees to his chest. "If I thought I could stand myself, I'd quit."

Nathan sat down next to the Kat. "Not happy with SWAT?" He asked quietly, clearly making no judgment either way.

Jake shook his head fractionally. "I love Chance, I love this city, but I don't love the adrenaline and excitement anymore." He looked at Nathan, something not quite hope in his amber eyes. "Ever loved doing something that needed doing, and then woken up one morning after years of looking forward to the day and realized that you desperately wanted out, but the price was so high you couldn't walk away?"

Nathan nodded quietly. "I was a field Medic for years, one mission after another, helping where I was needed. But after a while, I realized that I'd never had a real home, and that as long as I was bouncing from assignment to assignment I couldn't have a family, or kits. It wasn't easy but eventually I realized that if I kept things the way they were my resentment of things was going to compromise my ability to do the job.

"The danger of desperately wanting out, but staying in is that it dulls your edge, and wears at your soul. There comes a point when you have to walk away, before you lose yourself or come to hate what you once loved." He said quietly.

Jake nodded with an understanding smile.

Nathan considered quietly. "SWAT's been operational for almost nine years now, it's time Feral went with the second step and created additional teams. The stress of being responsible for an entire city would get to anyone after awhile." He said with quiet determination, as he geared himself up for a 'discussion' with Commander Feral.

"I still can't do that to Chance." He whispered. "He doesn't trust at the gunner level easily. I leave, I ground him too."

Nathan nodded understandingly. "I know. But you have to consider two things, Jake; how long can keep your edge wanting out the way you do, and how long before you starting resenting Chance for making you stay?" He asked gently.

"I'd get myself killed before I resented him." He said quietly with a shrug. "I still leave him grounded, but he won't hate me for it."

Nathan looked at Jake, absolute horror in his eyes. "Jake, if things are coming to thoughts of suicide..." He choked and turned away, completely at a loss for words. His scent tainted by a combination of fear and sorrow.

Jake looked at the Tiger's back for a long time, more confused than anything. "What does it matter if I choose when to die or if someone else does? I've been living on barrowed time for a decade now."

Nathan turned slowly back still trembling a little. "Jake, there's a big difference between a risk taken protecting others, and simply choosing to die. The problem with suicide is that it hurts so many people. Everyone who cared about the person ends up thinking there was something they should've done. That somehow they failed." He said in a soft strained voice as he remembered a suicide that tore a unit he was serving with apart.

The lean tom stopped his reflexive reply before it made it out, then sank into thought for a long time.

"Why?" He looked at the Felsin in bewilderment. "It's my life. I'm past my time anyway."

Nathan looked at him confused. "What do you mean, past your time? You're not that old."

Jake suddenly hesitated, mentally backpedaling as he shifted away a bit. "I ... Special Ops life expectancy is twenty three, Nathan. I'm ..." he took a very deep breath, wondering what in the world was making him want to say it. "Nathan, I'm nearly seventy."

Nathan nodded. "Still younger than me." He said quietly. "Jake, life expectancy is an average, a mathematical statistic. It's pretty clear you're a case that falls outside the dataset. "

He paused, and shook his head, missing the fractional amount that Jake relaxed. "Look Jake, I should just stop trying to be calm and rational about this, because what it comes down to is I love you, and it scares the hell out of me that you place so little value on your own life." He said quietly, as he silently debated having the lean tom committed for his own safety.

Jake just looked at him without comprehension for a long, tense moment, then sighed sadly. "I'm sorry I upset you."

"I'd rather know now, than find out too late." He paused. "Jake, given the current problem it may be necessary to try and find another gunner Chance will work with at least temporarily. In your current state, you're not fit to fly, and until we locate the 'cause' it's likely to recur, unless we keep you under guard, which isn't exactly compatible with SWAT." He said quietly.

The lean tom flopped back on the bed and stared blankly at the ceiling with his free hand under his head. "Whatever has to happen." He said in a dead tone. "I can fly if I need to. I have been for a month now, anyway. Probably longer."

"You've been lucky then, based on your current readings and chemistry you'll probably black out at 5 maybe 6 G's top. Your blood level being consistently low has compromised your system." He said quietly. "I know the difficulty pilots can have adapting to new gunners. As they say, been there, done that." He said very softly, remembering an old pain.

"Did you make it?"

"No, but then my gunner died." He said very quietly. "It's harder that way, at least that's what the pilots I've known say. I only ever had one, so no comparison to make."

"Oh." He nodded.

Nathan couldn't think of anything to say so he turned the page to the next drawing. The Medic was sorely tempted to inform Feral that his crack team had cracked, because in his opinion Jake had no business returning to SWAT; the Kat was clearly burnt-out. If Nathan didn't care what Jake thought about him it would be easy to make a decision, the problem was he did care, and he was sure Jake would hate him for that heavy-handed interference. All in all, the Felsin was feeling more than a little depressed.

As Nathan took in the lines he quickly recognized himself as the subject of a fully body nude and smiled. "This is pretty good, Jake. Given what you had to extrapolate. We can go over the minor details later." He grinned impishly.

"Can't believe I have a crush on someone I've never seen enough of to really draw." He chuckled self-consciously.

"It's a good image of me, if you add tiger stripes." He said quietly. "I'd like to think that means your 'crush' is based on something beyond the physical." He smiled gently.

Jake blinked. "You're a tabby?"

"I suppose. Technically, I'm a Tiger, same as my mother, though slightly darker because my father was a panther." He said easily. "We don't really use the term tabby back home."

"What do you call folks that look like Chance?"

"Actually, the patterns you're used to don't really happen. I guess the closest would be a chocolate on gold tiger, not that I've ever heard of that color combination in tigers. But stripes is usually a tiger, just like the large mane is indicative of a male lion." He said easily. "We're all one of the big cats or another."

"Maybe that's why Xanith so rare here." Jake murmured. "Most left."

"Could be I suppose, we've never had a clear picture of how many left, or how large a fraction of the population that was. Actually, the only 'records' that survived the evacuation were the Holy Scriptures, by the time the evacuation ships reached Felsinor they were failing badly, and only barely managed to reach the surface."

"Nathan ..." Jake's voice was hesitant. "Come here."

Nathan got up from the chair and walked over to stand next to Jake. "Yes, Jake?"

The lean Kat worked to sit up and reached out to guide Nathan in for a chaste kiss.

Nathan leaned in to make it easier, and returned the kiss with a chaste one of his own. He smiled, thinking it a good start.

Jake returned the smile shyly, his fingers never leaving Nathan's neck. "I don't suppose they'd let you stay with me?"

"I'll see. You're the first patient I've had, since I got the full MD. If I can't 'stay', I still be here a lot, don't worry. If I was back home, I'd be expected to stay; it's the unit medic's job on a commando team." He said quietly.

Jake hesitated a second. "Stay in the bed, I meant."

Nathan shook his head. "That I'm pretty sure not. They seem to discourage that. I guess we'll have to wait till you're well enough to go home." He stroked the Kat's cheek ruff gently. "Probably not a great idea with the IV anyway, and you'll have that till morning at least." He said quietly.

"They really check in that often?" Jake persisted through a growing unease.

Nathan thought for a moment, and then realized that if he said he was checking on the patient, that would spare one of the limited watch nurses from doing it. Nathan smiled. "Okay, I'll stay. I know the nursing staff is stretched pretty thin, and my taking one room off their hands will be accepted without question. I wanted to anyway."

"Thank you." He sighed and relaxed back, closing his eyes. "I don't think I 'd be here in the morning otherwise."

"Any particular reason why?" He asked quietly.

"I can already feel the desire to go back." Jake spoke softly. "I doubt I'd resist it on my own."

"Then I'm definitely staying here. If you're feeling some sort of compulsion, then you definitely shouldn't be alone." The tiger said protectively. "This definitely lends credence to the vampire theory."

"Less than you might think." Jake murmured. "You probably noticed I don't sleep well?"

"I noticed that during the time you were mending. What does that have to do with you being drawn back? Or better question, drawn back to where?"

"Drawn back to Trent." He explained softly. "And it has to do with a lot of why. The few people, and things, than let me sleep easy ... it's like a drug for me, a very addictive one. I don't have much resistance even under good conditions. Right now ... I don't have any."

Nathan nodded quietly. "I can understand that, I just hope that maybe I can do the same for you." He said quietly.

"I do too." Jake smiled shyly.

Nathan smiled as well, and turned to the next page. He felt both better and a little bit more concerned now, and he certainly didn't trust Trent any further than he could throw him.

In much softer lines than the first two was a picture of a prancing well-muscled demonistic horse with fangs and clawed feet. Its mane was colored in black, the body gently shaded and his tail left white.

"That's Vangro, an Equs." Jake informed him quietly. "I miss him a lot."

"I can see that from the way you drew him. I guess you must've lived in the country at some point, since that looks vaguely horse-like. When was that?" He asked quietly.

"When I was a kit, mostly." He closed his eyes, remembering those times. "My family raised racers and war-mounds. We developed the Equs through breeding and genetic manipulation, and by some accounts, more than a touch of magic. It took over five hundred years to get to the near perfection Vangro represents." He squeezed his eyes, forcing the tears not to fall. "I wish I could go back."

Nathan gently touched the Kat's cheek. "It's okay, there's no shame in tears." He said reassuringly. "Have you ever considered taking a vacation and going back?" He said quietly. "I'm serious, a small break might do you a world of good. I think in the long term though, we need to work on finding a way to let you walk away while Chance gets to keep flying if he wants." He said with quiet sincerity.

Jake's resolve snapped as he curled to his side with a heavy sob. "I can't," was all he managed to get out before grief overcame him.

Nathan put his arms around Jake, held him close, and just gently stroked his hair. "I'm sorry, Jake ... I ... I didn't know." He stammered, feeling like a complete and total idiot. He wasn't sure what he didn't know, but he sure as hell didn't know something.

Eventually the body wrenching sobs quieted and Jake managed to speak between deep breaths. "Home, my family ... don't exist yet. Not for another couple centuries. I can't go home."

Nathan looked at him curiously. "Time travel? Accidental or intentional?"

Jake slowly pulled himself together, but didn't shift from the fetal position he'd curled into. "Intentional, just not my idea." He said quietly.

Nathan continued comforting Jake. "Someone did it to you? You mean like the PastMaster and his stupid tricks?" He asked trying to understand what had happened.

"Something like that." The lean tom shivered as his voice failed him. Jake relaxed with a deep, shuddering exhale and closed his eyes. "No more, okay?"

Nathan nodded. "Okay." He said, as he held the tom. "But I understand what it's like to be cut off from home and family." He said quietly. "I understand far too well."

"I know." Jake whispered. "As hurt as I was, I remember Rhymar."

Nathan nodded. "Among others I lost being stranded here, yes." He said quietly. "Everything happens for a purpose, though we often don't figure the purpose out for a long time."

"If the purpose was to drive me insane, it worked." Jake said bitterly, then sighed. "Sorry, Nathan." He tried to relax. "Some days being stuck here just gets to me."

Nathan chuckled and shook his head. "You and me both, Jake. Granted, you've been here longer, but this place still gets to me at times. Nothing to be sorry about, I can recognize a little steam release when I see it." He smiled understandingly.

Jake slowly rolled his head around to face the Felsin lying next to him.

"Thanks, Nate." He said softly, then rolled the rest of the way over, careful of his IV, and straitened his body to snuggle again him with his nose against the russet and white neck. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, Jake." He said quietly. The medic knew he was breaking a few rules, but given the results he didn't care. Jake seemed to be feeling better than he had been, and that was what counted. "Anytime." He said sincerely.

Jake was quiet for a while, then nuzzled Nathan weakly. "What are your hopes? For the future."

Nathan thought quietly for a time. "Honestly, I haven't thought about the future much lately. For a long time, I was trying deal with Rhy's death, and being stranded. It was just easier to deal a day at a time, not worry about the future. Now, it's like starting over. I've figured out the basics: a mate to love and be loved by, a home, a family. Haven't really worked out the details." He said quietly.

After a quiet pause, he turned to Jake. "How about you, what are your hopes for the future?" He asked, sincerely interested.

"A safe home to raise a family." He stared at the ceiling. "A ... I guess that really covers it. There's a long road to get there."

Nathan nodded. "I agree, there is. But it is a journey worth making." He said in quiet, sincere agreement. He started to say something else, but he didn't want to rush things, so he just nuzzled the tom gently.

"Just not one I'm sure can be pulled off." Jake murmured sadly. "It not like I'll ever be able to have the kind of family I grew up in."

"Where there's a will there's a way." Nathan said with a calm sureness. "There's no good reason it can't be pulled off, if you really want it." He said quietly. "And I understand, I can't have the kind of family I grew up in either."

"What were they like?" Jake tried to pull himself out of another side into despair.

Nathan smiled quietly. "My mother was a tall, regal, black on fire red Tiger Felsin, I get a lot of my looks from her. She was probably the greatest healer in the last seven or eight generations, and she was a skilled mind-healer as well. There was a warmth, and compassion about her you could just feel when she was in the room. She was also incredibly patient and calm; she could calm down a warrior in frenzy easily.

"My father was over seven feet tall, sleek, and muscular Panther Felsin. He was glacially calm, except when he was playing with his brothers then he got very teenager like was the way mom describe it. I just remember that his presence made me feel incredibly safe, like nothing could go wrong. Father was the essence of Special Ops, or more specifically Black Ops. He could handle anything from assassination to sabotage, and he had a record no one's touched yet. He was the first of the Galactic-class assassins, fifty years later and people are still trying to match his accomplishments." Nathan said quietly.

"We both chose our mother's path then." Jake smiled softly. "Sometimes I wish I could have been like my brothers, but fate didn't give me that luxury."

"His brothers, there were eight of them, were varied in species and coloration, but they were all perpetual teenagers when they weren't on missions. Like him, they were Special Ops, though none was as dedicated Black Ops as he was. We had a LifeBonded gunner/pilot team, a pair of identical twin cheetah Felsin. The other air team was temporary till we got another dedicated pilot / gunner. Funny thing is, I was supposed to be the pilot for team two." He said with a quiet sadness.

"You're a pilot?" Jake raised an eyebrow high. "You hide it well."

Nathan nodded. "I'm one of the few Medics with the gold wings. But I'm a Medic first these days, and I can only fly single seat fighters. I've never found another I could trust as my gunner, after my first died. I do love to fly though." He said quietly. "And I'm good too, not as good as Chance but I've never encountered anything with wings I couldn't fly."

"That puts you damn close to his level." Jake shook his head. "Or are you talking combat flying only?"

"Well, I can fly them, but I'm not as good a combat pilot. And no, it's anything, combat, civilian or research."

"Then you've got an edge on him." He chuckled softly. "Chance is a kick-tail combat pilot with an incredible feel for aircraft, but he's not so good at flying quietly. He's too rebellious for test flying."

Nathan chuckled. "Well, I'm almost too rebellious for test flying, as anyone who's ever been my superior will attest to ... I do not take orders well. I just specialize at being the best at what I do; if you can't be obedient, be indispensable." He grinned broadly.

"Too true." Jake smiled. "I've made it on that theory too. Fortunately for me, inventive geniuses at my level are few and far between, and ones who can make it on the battlefield are so much more rare. I may get to cheat a lot here, but I was building cutting edge gear even before I ended up in this backwater."

"At some point I should put some of these blueprints and schematics in my head down on paper for you to look at. Your genius combined with Alliance tech, is probably more than this world's ready for." He grinned. "You're the first person I've met who's actually made me question whether or not my father's mate was the smartest person ever." He said admiringly.

"Who would he be?" Jake asked cautiously. "Doesn't sound like you're talking about your mother."

Nathan smiled. "He's not. He was actually LifeMate to both of them, a muscular Lion Felsin. He was a brilliant computer engineer, didn't matter what it was involving computers he could do it. He was also the most successful hacker in Alliance history; he'd hacked every secure site known, and had never been caught. He was for all practical purposes my second father."

"Sounds like you had quiet a family." Jake said softly. "And I'd love to play with those plans."

"I did." He said softly. "What was your family like? If you don't mind talking about them, that is." He asked quietly.

"I guess not." He shrugged and settled with his eyes closed. "Mom was Kessi Clawson, the family matriarch. I was her youngest, a single tom and the last litter she'd have. When I got older, I realized just how unusual it was that she could carry to term at a hundred and twelve. That's a good fifty years past normal fertility, and she hadn't successfully conceived during a heat for forty of them.

"It's a pattern I've followed; pushing the edge, doing what's just on the other side of acceptable. Mom liked to say her youngest was a daughter born. It would have made my life a lot easier if I had been."

Jake looked up. "Does Amazon mean anything to you?"

Nathan dug through his studies for a while, finding the term under Earth mythology. "Yes, a female warrior from a society which values women and devalues men. A term from Earth mythology." He said by rote.

"Well, it's a term from Aristal history, and future, too." He muttered softly. "And as good a description of my family as you can get. Female Clawsons are bigger and more aggressive by nature than males, and they ended up running things. It didn't help that by the time I was born it was very rare for a tom to even want to be anything but a home keeper ... what I want now, for that matter.

"For the first fifteen years I had to fight for every advanced class I attended, every weapon and system I was trained with. When I turned seventeen I was finally recognized as a legal female. It still took some snarling matches to get what I was due, but most were cooperative with me, and trying to court me. I learned to hate sex about then.

"Then I got assigned to a special project in Kimberith, the first time I'd really been outside family-held lands. I met this ... incredible tomkat." Jake voice drifted off a little dreamily. "Kerr was tall and broad-chested with fine flame-red stripes on a silver-gray coat ... and he preferred males. He wasn't like anyone I'd ever met, and he actually courted me, not to get me in bed, but to live with me.

"No one had ever wanted me like that before. They'd always wanted sex, and they'd give me what I wanted for it ... Kerr actually turned me down the first couple I times I offered to bed him. He said he didn't want to share my body until I understood what I meant to him." Jake's voice drifted silent for a long moment before he continued.

"I never did get to do more than rest in his arms. He was the first thing than made the nightmares go away."

Nathan nodded understandingly. "I know the sort, my dearest friend, Morin, he'd be my LifeMate if I asked ... but, well ... Rhy didn't like him. But he held me through the tough times, let me sleep when I couldn't otherwise and that was all that ever did happen between us." He said wistfully, missing the Dracon.

Jake nodded sadly. "He was the only one I ever truly wanted to be with, and he was the only one I never did figure out what he wanted of me, and I had over a year with him to try. I still sometimes wonder what he did with the rest of his life." He sighed. "I hope you find Morin. At least your fairly sure you're in the same time and dimension as him. That's not bad, really."

"Jake, I think I can hazard a guess at what he wanted. The word is love. He wasn't really after anything, other than being with you." He said quietly. "I may find Morin in time, but there's no way to do so now. He'd kick my tail if he caught me moping around, so I'll live my life best I can here. That means finding someone to love here." He smiled. "I think I've made a pretty good start."

"Then you're got one on me." He sighed. "If what I felt for Kerr wasn't love, I really don't have a clue what could be."

"Jake, I hate trying to guess so far back, but it probably was love. Though the fact that you were still trying to figure out what he 'wanted' indicates maybe you didn't realize it was love on his part. I really don't know. All I know is that love is simply wanting to be with someone because you do, not because you want something from them. At least that's a kind of simplified explanation of one of the more complicated concepts in life."

The lean tom nodded slightly and fell silent.

Nathan looked at Jake. "You came in pretty early. Have you eaten, and if not are you hungry?" He asked quietly.

"Not really." He answered quietly.

"Okay, let me know if you change your mind at any point." He said settling in quietly next to the Kat.

Jake nodded lightly and carefully shifted to his side, snuggling his back against Nathan and tried to drift off, desperately not wanting to think, much less feel, for a while.

The phone's harsh ring startled both toms out of a light doze.

Nathan got up, gently extricating himself from Jake and picked up the phone. "Serenity Thorne, Dr. Solgardin speaking."

"This is the front desk sir, you asked to be notified when Chance Furlong arrived." The receptionist explained calmly. "He's in a less than stellar mood."

"Given the T-60 mess, I'm not surprised. I'll be down momentarily. Please have someone show him to my office, thank you."

"Yes, sir." She replied easily and ended the call.

After he hung up the phone, he nudged Jake. "Jake, Chance finally arrived. I'm going to go down and make sure he hasn't been bitten. You feeling up to talking, I'm sure he'll ask to see you." He asked gently.

"Not really, but I'll see him anyway." Jake sighed. "He's put up with enough crap from me recently, I can hardly use being unsettled as grounds for not talking to him."

"Okay, just don't go anywhere, while I'm gone. Examination shouldn't take long." He kissed the Kat gently before he left the room.

Nathan walked into his fairly sparse office in Serenity Thorne. As the newest member on staff, it was the smallest office and it had very little in the way of decoration aside from his license to practice medicine, and his M.D. from MegaKat City Medical School. One thing his office had that no other office had, was a an out-of-sorts chocolate on gold tabby sitting in a padded chair.

"Hello, Chance." Nathan said, as he closed the door behind him.

The Kat blinked a couple times before he stood. "Nathan ... what is going on?"

Nathan leaned against his desk. "Still not entirely sure, the info we have is inconclusive and points a very unsettling conclusion. I can confirm one thing for sure; Jake hasn't been drinking or taking anything else. His system has been tested for everything and he's clean."

Chance nodded. "I believed him, but it's good to know nobody's slipped him something ... I think."

"What is certain is that somehow, he lost a pint of blood last night. Evidence, including blood work, suggests that he's been losing a pint of blood fairly regularly for the last month. The constant low blood level is finally hitting his system, especially when it comes to G-tolerance." He said quietly. "It's like running an engine on low oil, you can do it for a while, but its not good for the engine."

Chance nodded again, decidedly unsettled, but kept his mouth shut as the tiger-tabby continued.

"What's also certain is that someone did this to him, though we don't have a motive. The reason I asked you down here, is I need to check you over and make sure the same person hasn't gotten to you as well."

"I'm feeling fine." He shook his head sharply. "Can I see Jake?"

Nathan looked at the heads-up the one memory crystal gave him from his palmed med-scanner. The tabby showed no blood loss, no electrolyte problems not attributable to stress, no sign of the accelerated healing which occurred at the bites.

The tiger nodded, and opened his hand revealing the scanner. "Scanner agrees with you." He said as he stuck it in his pocket. "I'll take you up to see Jake. Follow me." He said leading the way out into the hallway.

"Chance, you should know Feral's assigned me to the same 'special project' as the two of you. He felt a medic was needed." He said quietly, using the term that was used to refer to SWAT in a non-secure area.

"Cool." The tabby nodded. "Where have you been?"

Nathan smiled. "I spent the last year doing a combination of Enforcer Academy and Medical School. Just to prove that I can do what I've been doing most of my life; stupid bureaucrats." He muttered. "What little time wasn't taken up by all that, was spent on mundane things including a local driver's license and pilot's license."

"Never thought about all that stuff." Chance shook his head. "At least you didn't have to worry about the reference paperwork with Feral backing you. What do you fly?" He asked with honest interest.

"Pretty much anything I can get my hands on." He grinned.

"Really?" The tabby arched an eye ridge. "You have gotten you paws on anything leading edge yet?"

"Locally, not yet. But back home, I was a test pilot a couple months out of the year. I flew all the leading edge stuff, including the stuff that never went production."

"Think you're good enough to tackle Jake's new 'toys'?"

"Can't be any tougher than the Arador aerospace fighter."

"Don't know about that." Chance chuckled softly. "That's got a gift for coming up with designs I can't make heads or tails of." His voice dropped to a very quiet one. "If you can, it'd mean a lot to him to have someone be able to fly them."

"Well, we'll see when he gets out of here. Oh, before you talk to him, I should tell you that our chief suspect right now is a 'vampire' and that's got Jake a bit wierded out." Nathan said quietly, as they turned onto the hallway were Jake's room was.

The tabby snorted. "You're worse than he is, with those movies. Vampires aren't real."

Nathan shrugged. "Look at the bite marks on his neck and then tell me that." He said quietly.

"Bite marks?" He shot a very disturbed look at the taller tom.

"Yes." He said as he entered Jake's room, followed by the tabby.

"Hi, buddy." Chance raised his paw as Jake rolled his head to look at them.

"Hi," the lean tom tried to smile as Nathan settled in a chair out of the way and Chance came over. "How are you doing?"

"I'm fine, but what's this about bite marks?" He tried not to frown as Jake hesitantly rolled his head to one side and brushed the fur away from the marks. "Cruddy hells."


An uncomfortable silence settled in the room as both Kats looked at each other. Finally Chance cleared his throat. "So, know when they'll let you out of here?"

"I think Nathan said a week or something." Jake mumbled. "I don't get the drip out until tomorrow sometime."

Nathan nodded. "When the IV comes out depends on when the test results get up to the right points. A week is an estimate of how long it should take for Jake to recover, with rest and proper medication."

"A week?" Chance shifted his attention sharply between the two. "How serious is this? I mean, if something comes up ...."

Nathan sighed. "Chance, right now Jake's G-tolerance is down to about 5 or 6Gs tops. Imagine restricting your combat flight to nothing more punishing than a 5G maneuver." He said quietly, knowing that was unheard of for a jet with the Turbokat's performance specs, especially with Chance flying her.

The burly Kat grimaced and muttered quietly. "I guess I'll be going it alone." He shifted his attention between them again. "This is just a temporary thing, though, right? It's not going to happen again."

Nathan shook his head. "Chance, somebody did this to him and we don't know who yet. Until we know who, we can't catch him, her or it. And that means whoever, whatever we're dealing with could strike again." He said quietly.

"Well what do we know? And who's heading the investigation?" He focused on Nathan.

"Currently, everything that's known I've told you, except for the name of one individual who may be involved, but he has to be handled carefully because he's among the very rich and powerful. Since I only found out this morning, and I've been looking after Jake, there hasn't been an opportunity to start an investigation yet. Hell, unless he reads hospital admissions, Commander Feral doesn't know there's a problem yet. That's probably the next thing I should do." He said quietly.

"It's Trent, isn't it?" Chance locked eyes with his partner as the lean tom looked away. "Look, I know you've been dating him at least a month, and he fits the rest."

Jake body suddenly jerked around, his eyes wide. "You ... you know?"

"Yeah, buddy, I know you date guys." Chance put a hand on Jake's trembling shoulder. "It's not that big a deal." He lowered his voice. "Does Callie know?"

"Yeah," he nodded weakly. "She knows. How'd you ...."

"When you were acting drunk ... you talk in your sleep." He explained quietly. "It didn't take very long to put two and two together and figure out who you were spending at least some of your nights with."

"Oh," Jake shuddered. "What ... what else did you lean?"

"Umm," he cast an uncertain glance at Nathan.

"He knows, or can know." Jake closed his eyes and tried to relax on his back.

"I ... I know you're not ... local, I guess." He tried to say it without really saying it. "Not from this time zone."

Nathan nodded quietly. "Jake told me that earlier. Doesn't change who he is." He said firmly, then chuckled. "It's not like I'm exactly local."

"No, it doesn't change anything important." Chance shook his head and squeezed Jake shoulder.

"But we still have to be careful handling Trent, we're not sure what his exact involvement is yet. He may be the bloodsucker, or may simply be cooperating. Though it's possible the vampire is using him and he doesn't even know it, to be fair." The tiger said evenly.

"Yeah, whatever." Chance shook his head. "Just fill me in when there's something to do."

"Absolutely, we're a team. Just keep an eye on your behavior while Jake's in the hospital. If the plan is to take SWAT down, then they may go after you next." He said gently.

Chance nodded and turned to his partner. "If you need anything, just give a call. I should get back, but I want to hear from you every evening, buddy. We survived everything else, no vamp's going to take us down."

"Thanks, Chance." Jake managed a weak smile. "And you got that right."

Nathan smiled as the big tabby left with a nod then he turned to look at Jake. "Don't even think of trying to play protector by walking out early." He said in a combination of sternness and genuine concern, and growing affection.

"Nathan, if I leave early, it's not going because I'm trying to play hero." The lean tom promised with a sad edge.

"I'll keep an eye for the other reason. Jake, I know you and Chance play things pretty independent and normally Feral ends up prying info out of you." He chuckled, thinking that that was how he'd behave. "Officially, this is still that you checked yourself in for a potential problem. Technically, I should report that there's a problem with unit readiness, but there's a reporting window of two days more or less. How do you want to play this, Jake?" He asked quietly.

He stared at the ceiling for a long moment before closing his eyes. "You really think you can get Feral to bring the other teams on line?"

"With some help from Jeremy, I think so. It's way overdue, and bluntly it wouldn't take a very large increase in the supercrime level to overwhelm SWAT's current capacity. Even Chance will reach a burnout point eventually, he just hasn't yet." He said quietly.

"Then tell him whatever will get us backup." Jake growled. "I'd be surprised if he didn't at least suspect I'm close to burnout, or something just as bad. He knows I don't have a history of drinking."

"Okay, I'll be back in a while. I've got some contacts to make, and then I'll talk to Feral. I shouldn't be gone more than an hour maybe two tops." He said as he moved the phone near Jake. "If you feel a need to leave, give my pager a buzz: 7991. Or for any other reason for that matter. I'll come as quick as I can." He said sincerely.

"Okay." He smiled softly and motioned to the art pad still turned to the image of the Equs. "Would you hand me the pad? It's the easiest way for me to loose track of time."

He handed the pad over. "Excellent, I can't wait to see what you come up with next. I'll be back." He gently kissed the Kat, and then walked out of the room and down to his office.

"Good Afternoon, HyperTech Industries. How many I direct your call?" The profession female voice asked pleasantly.

"Hi Stasi, it's Nathan. Would you put me through to Jeremy?" The tiger asked not feeling like playing around.

"Oh, hi Nathan. You're in luck, Jeremy just got back from a meeting with Mr. Dyne." She snickered.

"Great luck, he hates talking to that Kat. Just put me through, okay, this is important." He said quietly.

"Sure, Nathan." She said recognizing the unspoken urgency.

"HyperTech Industries, Jeremiah StormCraft speaking." An irritated, deep male voice answered.

"Sorry to bother you Jeremy, but we've got a problem with SWAT."

"Whoa Nathan, back up. A problem with SWAT, what kind?" The panther answered all attention focused on the phone call.

"Two problems; the first is we have a vampire feeding on Jake Clawson, and we don't know who the vampire is though it appears it's connected in some fashion to Trent DelGran." He paused.

"DelGran? If he's voluntarily involved in any way I'll make a rug out of that smug Dobie. The other problem, as if it was needed?"

"Jake Clawson is badly burned out, he'd retire if it wouldn't ground his partner. I'm worried he'll do something stupid. Jeremy, I want your support for going to stage 3 of the plan, you did activate stage 2 didn't you."

"Yes, I have the additional fighters ready. I also prepared discrete launching facilities for them. You have my support, Nathan. Clawson has way too much potential, if he wants out of the fighter game we need to find a way for him."

"Thanks, Jeremy."

"No problem. Any chance you're free tonight?" The panther asked hopefully.

"Jeremy, Jake is in the hospital and I'm the SWAT medic." He said quietly.

"I understand. Do what you have to." He said before hanging up.

Nathan shook his head as he hung up. Jeremy had been trying to bed him since he found out Nathan wasn't mourning anymore. Nathan might even have taken him up on the offer if he wasn't more than a little obsessed with Jake.

He cleared his head and dialed Commander Feral's office.

"Enforcer Headquarters, Commander Feral's Office. How may I help you?" A polite shekat receptionist answered the phone.

"Yes, this is Doctor Solgardin at Serenity Thorne, I need to speak with the Commander on a confidential matter." Nathan asked in internal lingo for 'this is a personnel matter and I'm not telling the receptionist'.

"Let me put you through to the Commander, Doctor."

"Morning, Nathan. What's the disaster?" Feral's tired voice greeted him.

"Two fold disaster this morning, Commander. It turns out that Jake Clawson's drunk and disorderly behavior was due to consistently low blood levels. It appears that a vampire has taken a liking to him, and has been feeding off him for the last month. No solid proof, but a lot of leads suggest that Trent DelGran either is the vampire, or is in league with it.

"No matter who is responsible the result is that Jake is no longer combat ready, and won't be for at least a week, possibly longer.

"The other problem is that Jake Clawson is dangerously burned out, if we had a back up gunner Chance would accept I'd pull Jake out immediately. Plain and simple, SWAT is stretched dangerously thin. One plane is not sufficient to cover the entire city on a round the clock basis day in and day out without something giving, and something is starting too.

"SWAT has been operational for nine years now, its time to move stage 3 and activate the additional teams. Mr. StormCraft agrees with me on this." He said in a professional and non-confrontational manner.

"One of these days, I am going to get you to tell me where you learned do fight like this." He rumbled with irritated amusement. "I don't have any objection I didn't have six years ago. The fact of the matter is, there isn't anyone to take those other planes. Felina's leader on team two, but there's no one else good enough to partner with her, and no one good enough to handle the other jets. There isn't an Enforcer that hasn't been tested for the requirements."

"Okay, that's a problem. But let me back up a moment. You said Felina's leader on team two, most Leaders work from the gunner position but not all. Which does she do?" Nathan asked his mind working on a possible stopgap.

"She's a better pilot than gunner, but she'd done both." He chuckled slightly. "It's the main reason she usually flies alone. Not many gunners can deal with a front seat leader. Thinking to see if she and Chance can deal with each other in the same jet for a while?"

"Thought had crossed my mind. While the TurboKat can be flown solo, it really isn't at its strongest that way. With a gunner, the criminals go down faster, which reduces damage to the city, danger to the inhabitants of MegaKat City, and the danger to crew of the plane; better for everyone. And a side benefit, Jake will be more willing to recuperate properly if he knows his partner has backup."

"You don't have to reiterate the facts, Doctor. I wrote those specs." Feral growled. "I'll inform Felina of the changes. It should make her happy."

"Yes, Commander." Nathan said, polite as always. "I'll inform my patient. With regard to the 'vampire' problem I would figure there'll be an investigation, who'll be heading it? So I can forward what data we have so far." He said, following protocol for the time being.

There was a momentary pause. "Detective Tydin Swyla."

"What's the Detective's clearance with regard to SWAT?" He asked, since most Enforcers weren't cleared to know anything.

"Level five, six on NTK." He replied easily. "He's my old partner, the Kat's trustworthy."

"Thank you, Commander. For medical case reasons, I'll be staying here at Serenity Thorne, until Jake is cleared to leave. The Detective can reach me here." He said precisely.

"I'm sure he'll be contacting you shortly." There was a slight pause before Feral's voice softened. "Medical babble aside, how are the guys doing?"

"Chance is holding in there but he's worried and maybe even a little scared, and not happy about going solo. He just wants to pound someone for hurting Jake, a sentiment I happen to share.

"Jake is the one I'm really worried about. Even if we eliminate that vampire, and get him back into combat shape physically we've only solved the small problem. The big problem is he's burnt-out, he'd walk away but he doesn't think Chance will accept another gunner, and he won't ground Chance." Nathan said softly.

"Then I'll just have to find a gunner Chance will accept." Feral said with the stubborn certainty of a survivor too accustomed to the impossible. "I'm sure you'll take good care of Jake. Has he given any indication what he wants to do after SWAT?"

"Not really, but then he's not convinced that there'll be an after SWAT for him. I'm sure you've seen it before, combat personnel convinced they're going to die in the line of duty." He said quietly, avoiding anything that would flag as 'suicidal'. Nathan would make that call, only as an absolute last resort. "But its not like he's short of options, I know for a fact that StormCraft would hire him in a heartbeat, as an inventor/designer if Jake wanted to go that route."

"I've seen it, and lost too many good officers to it." He sighed with old sadness. "Though I figured it would be Chance doing it. See if you can get Jake to think about the future ... there's plenty in the Enforcers and out of it for him that doesn't involve front line work."

"Don't worry, that's what I'm trying to do." Nathan said sincerely. "That he's dating the only suspect at present, isn't helping his state of mind either."

"And who is that?" There was real tension in the Commander's voice.

"Sorry, I thought I mentioned him right away. Trent DelGran, I'm sure you know the name." Nathan said with a trace of tension and dislike.

"Yes," he rumbled. "That was the surprise pairing of the year. Anything else I should know now?"

"Only that I'm not sure whether Trent is the vampire, or is merely cooperating, but by Jake's own recollection all the of the 'drunken' behavior which now turns out to be Jake's body reacting to the blood loss, happened on nights he was with Trent." He said simply. "Trent did 'order' me to transfer Jake to the care of some doctor he thought was better equipped to handle the situation. I politely declined his offer, with some solid run around."

Feral chuckled. "I don't doubt it. I wanted you in SWAT for more than your skill as a medic. Call me if anything happens."

"Of course, Commander. And I'll let you know when Jake's fit for duty again." He said quietly, as he looked to end the conversation.

"Good. We'll discuses option as they come up." Feral said before hanging up.

Nathan made a quick call back to StormCraft, but got his secure voice-mail.

"Jeremy, this is Nathan. We've got a problem with Stage 3, Feral hasn't got anybody to fly the additional jets. Any chance your company can find teams for 'em? Talk to you later. "

As Nathan stepped out of his office, a low ranking Enforcer handed him a padded bag with a shoulder strap. "This was just delivered for you, Doctor." The shekat said politely.

"Thank you." Nathan said noting the HyperTech logo on the bag as he headed back to Jake's room at a quick pace. He skipped waiting for the elevator and took the stairs two at a time. But he slowed and casually walked into Jake's room.

"Hi Nate." The lean tom said absently without looking up from his sketchpad. "How'd it go?"

Nathan sat down next to him. "Well, Feral agreed to activate the additional teams, as soon as he finds Kats qualified to handle the planes. Seems that he's had every Enforcer tested and the only who's passed is Felina."

"Not surprising." Jake snorted.

"Feral's going to see if Chance will accept Felina as a gunner, at least temporarily. She's trained to lead, and she's qualified with the TurboKat, or at least the version HyperTech is flying."

"Even odds those two ever get out of bed." The Kat snickered.

"Feral's assigned an old partner of his to investigate the 'vampire' problem. All in all, kind of a draw. No solid victories or defeats. How's the art going?"

"Schematics ... not real sure of what yet, though." He flipped the pad, now on page twenty, over to Nathan.

Nathan nodded and looked at the open page, a complex network of lines of varying thicknesses and shade that had a vague resemblance to microcircuitry. He acknowledged that it wasn't anything he recognized and went to the previous page, with several shaded sketches of a forward swept wing aerofighter with an highly stylized bird insignia on the tail and wing.

"This insignia, it one you just created or has it been used already?" He asked curiously as he studied fighter's design.

"It will be used, by the Phoenix squads." Jake sighed. "The elite of the world guard. Probably evolved from whatever may have remained of SWAT Kat legends."

"Oh, its from your time." He said quietly, as turned to the previous page where a stylized, three dimensional Kat's head insignia stared back at him.

Nathan was impressed. "Very nice three dimensional design, Jake." He said, somewhat surprised by the way it did seem to stare back at him.

"I was thinking of some actual decoration, now that we're getting close to being acknowledged." He shrugged. "We need a better squad logo."

"It's high time you and Chance got acknowledged." Nathan said firmly. "That would make a good medal."

"Mmm, I guess. I was thinking more a metallic blue, red and gold insignia placard on our base." He cocked his head at the Felsin. "Would you mind if I fixed that sketch of you?"

"Could work as a placard as well. I just hadn't been thinking that direction." He acknowledged, then smiled at the request. "Not at all." He said as he flipped to the correct page and handed it back. He walked over to the door, and put a sign in the outside pocket that said 'Patient exam in progress - Do Not Disturb', and then closed the door.

He very casually got undressed under Jake's very watchful gaze, putting clothes on the chair in such a way as to minimize dressing time. When he was nude, he looked at Jake. "Correct away." He grinned as he shifted to the pose and angle in the image.

Jake licked his lips and rumbled slightly before remembering he was supposed to be doing something besides stare. He shifted to give his hardening cock somewhere to go as he picked up the pencil and quickly sketched in the stripes, so very different from the thick tabby ones he'd original thought might be there.

"Pose?" He arched an eyebrow at the tiger, not quiet keeping the desire from his voice.

"Anything in particular you'd like?" He grinned.

Jake swallowed before he managed to make his voice work. "Mmm, something sexy ... pleasure yourself?"

Nathan chuckled throatily, as he remembered one of the tamer vids in Morin's collection. He was already starting to feel hard since being naked in front of Jake was a turn on. He struck what he thought was kind of sexy, at least the panther in the vid had looked hot doing it, and slowly teased himself hard in Jake's direction, giving the Kat a good view without showing everything.

For his part Jake never took his eyes from the tall, muscular feline that was taking his time with the presentation. He shivered as he resisted the urge to touch his own swelling length; only holding back out of determined desire to watch the entire show, memorizing every line and shading of muscle and fur as Nathan moved his hands long his body.

Nathan turned sensually to give Jake a look at the back of him, while brushing his white-tipped tail past the Kat's nose. He continued to gently tease his hardening length aware of both his own arousal and Jake's. As much of a turn-on as this was, it was also a lot of fun.

As Nathan got fully hard, he sensually strutted up to the side of the Kat's bed, and used one finger tip to gently guide the Kat's muzzle so Jake's gaze was looking right at the hardness his 'pleasure yourself' suggestion had brought about.

With a low whimper Jake leaned forward as his tongue darted out to taste the first drops of precum. He ignored the pad as it fell to the floor as his hands began to explore promising, hard muscles. One eventually settled on Nathan's balls as the other stayed on the tiger's hip as he slowly slid the hard, pink, barbed length into his mouth and down his throat.

Nathan moaned as the Kat engulfed the sensitive flesh, and then began to rock slowly back and forth. Part of his mind said that he was completely out of bounds, but another said that sometimes the book just doesn't apply. He sensually caressed as much of Jake as he could reach, paying special attention to pleasure spots.

As Jake set to work learning what brought the most vocal responses in his new lover, he shifted to close his free hand out his own throbbing erection, seeking to be only a few moments behind the tom he was suckling.

As Jake's expert technique pushed him toward the edge, Nathan consciously pulled back with biofeedback trying to time it as close as possible. He discovered that his long tail would reach around and brush the Kat's hard cock, and he did this repeatedly to see what reaction it would arouse and smiled through his pleasure as it threw Jake off for a moment, then drew a deep growl of desire as Jake began to loose his battle to cum second.

Nathan continued a sensual brush pattern with his tail, until felt the Kat began to spasm and spurt. Shortly afterward, Nathan lost his grip on the edge and went over with a roar, as the muscle spasms seized control of his body as he shot jets of seed into the lean tom's mouth.

Jake's involuntary cry of pain as Nathan collapsed forward snapped him out of his pleasure instantly as he searched for the cause and cringed inwardly as he realized they'd pulled Jake's IV out.

With careful speed he replaced the IV line, grateful he didn't have to move it to the other hand this time. He looked at the panting Kat. "You all right, Jake?" He said breathlessly, thankful that the Kat had been on one of the IV fluid bags instead of one of the units of blood.

"Damn that hurt," he forced his system to calm down. "Hell of a way to snap out of an orgasm." He looked up with a slight grin. "That was fun ... you're something to look at."

Nathan nodded. "Yeah, an adrenalin surge at the end of an orgasm is not something I'd recommend." He said shaking his head. "But it was fun, and you're pretty incredible yourself."

Jake blushed behind a grin. "Thanks. Practice has its perks."

Nathan sniffed the air, and chuckled. "Well, this is one hospital room that doesn't smell at all antiseptic. And I think your sheets need changed." He grinned broadly.

"I like this smell better, though it'll get some questions." He chuckled. "I'd say it all need's changing." Jake carefully cleaned himself and then Nathan with the hospital gown. "Maybe get me some real clothes?"

Nathan quickly stripped and remade the bed. "They actually teach this in the first year of med school." He chuckled, as he tossed the soiled linen in the appropriate hamper. He handed Jake another gown. "I'll see what I can do about real clothes. What you were wearing when you came in? Smells like you had some very interesting encounters with drunks, winos, and other streetlife, before Felina picked you up. But first to neutralize the questions." He said as he finished dressing. He pulled a foil wrapper out of his doctor coat and removed two green leaves from it, before carefully sealing it.

He found some rubbing alcohol on a shelf, and a shallow tray. He poured out some alcohol and placed the leaves in it. A strangely gently fragrance floated through the room, and though not all that noticeable itself, it neutralized the mating scents.

"Umm ... good question." He frowned in irritation. "I assume it was jeans and a collared shirt. It's what I usually wear."

"I'll check with laundry, see if their clean yet." He said as he went to the door. "This shouldn't take more than ten minutes maybe fifteen."

Nathan came back about fifteen minutes later carrying a bundle he tossed to Jake. "There you go, fresh out of the dryer. Let me cap the IV, so you can put shirt on without dislodging it." He said temporarily disconnecting the IV line.

"Thanks." Jake sighed as he settled down and handed Nathan his sketchbook with a slight grin. "I think it's a good rendition, considering my state of mind."

Once Jake was dressed Nathan reconnected the IV. He grinned at the picture. "Better than I would've expected, I didn't figure you were still drawing at that point. I figured you had other things on your mouth ... I mean, mind." He chuckled.

The lean tom smirked. "It's something called a memory, Nate. Mine may be the consistency of a sieve right now, but I keep a few ... important bits."

Nathan chuckled. "So I see, I'm flattered to be one of the important bits." He said kiss the Kat gently.

"You understand." Jake smiled softly as he caressed the Felsin's face. "Not many do."

Nathan hesitated for a moment. "Jake, if Chance can accept Felina as his gunner; would that allow you to walk away?" He asked very gently.

"She's a pilot." He frowned.

"According to Feral, she does both. Of course, maybe he's just trying to make things work."

Jake fell silent for a while, then he nodded. "If it really works, yes. They're a good pairing otherwise too."

"We'll just have to see how things work out. And you're right, they are a good pairing regardless." He paused. "Jake, I know Callie's been worried about you this past month, you want to tell her anything yet?" He asked quietly.

"Oh, Kats." He groaned and dropped his head to his hands. "That's a whole 'nuther angle. She's not exactly a minor player." He shook his head. "She should know, and I kind of need to tell her about you too."

"Would you rather talk to her in person?" Nathan asked quietly. "Or on the phone?"

"Gaw, in person." He shivered. "I hate talking on the phone."

Nathan chuckled. "I'll see what I can do. Be back shortly, I'm going to use the phone in my office, it looks like an 'important' call and gets past the receptionist easier."

Fifteen minutes later as the receptionist finally put him through, Nathan wondered what he'd been thinking when he'd said easier.

"Deputy Mayor's office, Calico Briggs speaking."

"Yes, Ms. Briggs, This is Dr. Solgardin at Serenity Thorne. SWAT confirmation 7336 ID Medic." He said giving the information that one of the council would use to recognize him as a member of the current team.

"Any news on Jake?" She asked immediately.

"Yes, he was never actually drunk. He's been suffering from a repeated blood loss, which his body reacts to as if he was intoxicated. This appears to a case of assault by an unknown entity which we are calling a 'vampire' for purposes of reference. He's currently in Serenity Thorne, and will be for the next week. His condition is stable, but not combat ready. If you can spare the time, he'd like to speak to you in person." Nathan said quietly.

"I'll make the time." She growled stubbornly. "Has Feral been informed?"

"I spoke with him earlier. He's assigned Felina Feral to back Chance up while Jake is out of action. He's also started an investigation into the attacks on Jake." He said easily.

"Good." She said. "Keep me informed. What room is he in?"

"Jake's in room 527."

"I'll be by as soon as I can." She promised. "How's he doing?"

"Physically, he's recovering and he'll probably be back to normal in a week or so. Mentally, he's a little rocky because our only suspect in the attack is someone he knows, intimately." Nathan said delicately.

"It makes sense, in a Jake sort of way." She sighed. "I'll be by as soon as I can." She promised before she quietly hung up.

"Callie will be by as soon as she can." Nathan said as he walked into Jake's room.

"Probably after dinner, given her schedule." He chuckled.

"Possibly, but hard to say. She said she was going to make room." Nathan grinned. "It's quite possible someone is getting rescheduled as we speak."

"And I'd dare them to complain." Jake smirked. "It still amazes me she's not Mayor."

"I think she has more power as deputy mayor." Nathan commented quietly.

"Mmm, or at least more ability to get stuff done." He shrugged. "Or that just might be her." He shook his head. "Crud, I'm already restless."

Nathan walked over and rubbed the Kat's shoulder gently. "Anything I can do to help with that?"

"Knock me out?" He looked up hopefully.

"Given that you probably haven't actually slept in the last twenty-four hours, a little sleep wouldn't hurt. However, the last thing your body needs right now is chemicals. Fortunately, I have an alternative." He said, opening the case he'd received earlier. He took a small gray box out, from which he removed a strange, high-tech headset, with what looked to be eyepieces.

"Jake, this is something I developed back home, and redeveloped here. It basically gently moves the body and mind from waking state, down to the deep levels of sleep with being in the state where dreams occur. Since I seem to recall your sleep problem is due to nightmares this may help, at least on a short term basis. I should point out it hasn't been approved for use here, but I wouldn't offer it to you if I wasn't convinced it was safe. You can try it, if you want to."

"Why not." He chuckled. "Can't be half as dangerous as my designs."

Nathan chuckled, as he put the headset on Jake and adjusted it. "True, there's nothing explosive or flammable involved here. I'll wake you up when Callie gets here, or a little before if I have any warning. Sleep well, love." He said as he activated the device, from the control pad that came with it.

The gentle hum slowly gave way to sense of numbness and a fading consciousness for Jake, as the waking world went to black.

Nathan gently brushed back the Kat's hair, as he checked the readouts. Pleased that everything was working properly he powered up the laptop that had been the bulk of the case, linked in to the HyperTech Industries Net, and then the Internet to do some intensive research on vampires, including anyone in the city who might have already done a lot of research on the subject.

He wasn't sure how useful any of it would be, but it was something to do, until Callie arrived. The tiger also passed a request to Jeremy to see what his people could dig up on Trent DelGran. He was sure the Enforcers would do a background check, but sometimes corporate intel went places the law didn't.

Nathan was getting thoroughly frustrated with all the counter-information when the phone rang sometime later.

"Serenity Thorne, Dr. Solgardin speaking."

"Deputy Mayor Briggs is here to see your patient, sir." The front desk receptionist reported crisply.

"Thank you, I was expecting her. Please send her up." He said, before hanging up.

He gently cycled the device back to waking state, and when the waveforms were correct he removed the headset. He gently shook the still groggy Kat. "Time to wake up, Jake. Callie is on her way up."

"Lovely." He shook his head sharply as a knock on the door distracted them. "That is one funky device, Nate."

"Glad you like it." He said quietly, as he kissed the Kat quickly before answering the door. "Hello, Ms. Briggs. Please come in." He said stepping aside to let the deputy mayor in.

"Hello, Nathan." She said as she walked over to Jake, and bent over to kiss him. "Hi, Jake." She said sweetly. "Nathan said you needed to see me. How are you feeling?"

"Not completely with it." He tried to chuckle as he shook himself the rest of the way awake. "Did he explain any of what's going on?"

"Some, that you've been losing blood to what may or may not be a vampire. And that you're out of commission as far as SWAT is concerned for at least a week. And that you know the only suspect in the case, though he didn't say who."

"Good summery. It's Trent." He sighed. "Did he mention I'm half a step away from getting committed from burn-out?"

She looked over at Nathan. "No, he didn't." She said quietly. "Jake, if you're that burned out then you need to get away for awhile. You've been on constant combat duty for almost ten years with nothing amounting to a decent vacation." She said with some concern. "You don't do the city any good if you flame out." She said quietly.

"I know." He whispered. "It's being dealt with. Just figured you deserved to know you won't be dating a SWAT Kat much longer."

Callie put her hand under Jake's chin, to make sure he was looking at her. "I wasn't dating you because of the uniform anyway." She said as she kissed him gently. "Have you thought about what you'll do after SWAT?"

"Not much." He shrugged. "Wasn't till this morning that it was even going to happen."

"So what prompted the sudden change?" She asked curious, but not disapproving.

"Somebody caught on that's capable of forcing the issue." He nodded at Nathan.

Callie glanced at Nathan, and back to Jake. "True, he is the first doctor who's seen you long enough to realize you're burned out, and he could ground you on that basis...but I don't think it was quite that heavy handed, not the Tiger's style." She said as though assessing another politician.

"No, but it's not a fight I'd win, or even really want to." He admitted quietly. "He's good at making me remember living has its perks." He tried to smirk, but didn't quiet make it.

The pale shekat smiled. "Well, sounds like your doctor is a good counselor as well. And from the sound of it, that's just what you need right now." She nuzzled him affectionately. "He said you'll be in for at least a week, but I'd like to see you the first night you get out." She said smiling.

"As soon as I'm up for it." He promised with a playful smile and caress on the cheek. "And not under guard." He made something of a face."

Nathan gave him a mock stern look. "Just making sure he doesn't go running back to Trent." He said with a bad attempt a seriousness, which ended up as more of suppressed smirk.

Jake actually rolled his eyes. "He wants Trent out of my life completely. Greedy Tiger."

Nathan smirked. "Sorry, but I just don't think someone takes a pint of blood from you on every date is good for you, call it a quirk of mine."

"It's not every date, and it easy to sleep with him." Jake rolled his eyes and teased. "And I still say you're a greedy Tiger. I bet I could be out of here well before a week if you wanted."

Nathan grinned back. "He's so easy to sleep with that you wander the streets in wee hours accosting drunks, and any other tabby you find." He chuckled with a teasing sparkle in his eyes. "Well, maybe but I figured this was the best way to get time with you, given your overloaded social calendar." He grinned broadly.

Callie just rolled her eyes at the two males. "I'll expect you both for dinner the first night he's out of here." She ordered with a twinkle in her green eyes. "Seriously Jake, It's good to see you smile." She leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek. "I'd say Nathan's already good for you."

"Thanks." He smiled up. "We'll be there; who cooking?"

"I am, of course." She stood with her hands on her hips and huffed. It's my apartment."

"Yes, ma'am." He smirked and play-cringed.

Nathan smiled. "Yes, ma'am."

"Don't tell me you're a cook too." She rolled her eyes in mock despair.

Nathan grinned. "After suffering numerous people's attempts at camp cooking and a mate who couldn't boil water, it was self-defense." He chuckled.

"We should do some kind of fun-raiser with it." Jake mused out loud.

"A cook-out?" Callie chuckled and rolled it around in her head. "There are possibilities there. I'm sure some folks would pay just to see the lot of us do something so mundane."

Nathan chuckled. "I'm sure Jeremy'd get a kick out of it. Though I'm kind of an unknown otherwise." He said trying to figure out why anyone would pay to see him do anything.

"Not for much longer." Jake pointed out. "By the time SWAT's in the open, you'll be wearing the uniform, remember?"

"Jeremy?" Callie glanced between the two before settling on Jake. "I didn't know you were sleeping with him."

"I'm not." He shook his head. "I think Nate was thinking SWAT personnel."

Nathan shuffled one foot a little, and looked a bit uncomfortable without saying anything.

Callie chuckled softly. "Inside joke, Nathan. Jake seems to like to date good cooks, just to compete with them. Trent and Cassy are too, so now it's all five of us that know how to cook."

Nathan chuckled. "Oh, its not that. It's just that you looked at the wrong person when you tried to figure out who Jeremy was dating." He grinned a little.

Jake raised an eyebrow behind Callie's back as the shekat shook her head.

"That just leaves Commander Feral without a bedmate on the team." She muttered, then half chuckled. "The MegaKat City Enquirer will have a field day if they ever unravel this."

Nathan blushed, and was a little sheepish. "As soon as I decide if I'm going to take him up on the date or not." The tiger said obviously completely out of his depth, looking something like a high school kit at least in manner.

"Just make sure you can handle them both before saying yes." She chuckled and patted his arm on the way out. "I'll see you guys later, and I'll be careful, Jake." She smirked as he shut his mouth with a sheepish grin.

Nathan sat down quietly after Callie left, feeling a little uncertain. He couldn't figure why he'd let the bit about Jeremy out, it had just seemed to come out.

"So the Panther likes you?" Jake asked curiously.

"Yeah, we've been friends for awhile now. At first I thought he was just interested in the tech I had in my head, but eventually I figured that it was more that he likes to be with other 'Great Cats', and there aren't many in the city, and I stand my ground with him. He likes to have equals as friends, but too many people insist on being subservient around him.

"Yesterday, he told me that he was interested in me as more than just a friend. He asked me to dinner, when my schedule allowed, so we could discuss it further. That was over lunch yesterday. Around two or so, Feral tells me I'm being assigned to SWAT, says there's a problem and hands me the notes on the 'drunk and disorderly' situation." He smiled slightly. "Guess I haven't really thought about the offer much."

"So are you interested?"

"Enough that I'm not sure." He shook his head. "Right now, things are too busy anyway. But if I was, would it bother you if I saw him sometimes?" Nathan asked extremely tentatively.

"Not at all." Jake smiled and brushed Nathan's cheek. "I'm not monogamous, I hardly expect my lovers to be." He chuckled softly. "Though we do make an attempt to mention it before the first night."

"I'll let you know when I'm sure there's going to be one." He smiled. "Actually, Felsin aren't monogamous either. Our usual married pattern is three not two." He said quietly.

"So you still look for partners outside a triad too?" Jake raised an eyebrow.

"Considering we don't necessarily stop at triads, yep." Nathan smiled. "There's no rule on maximum size of a group, though it becomes more difficult to find new people that get along with everyone as you go. But it's okay to partner outside, as long as your honest about it, and the partner isn't actively hostile to one of your mates."

"Nice system." He chuckled. "I wish it was more common around here."

"It works most of the time." Nathan smiled. "Once in a while, someone will forget that they're supposed to stay loyal to their mates, but usually a quick reminder is sufficient."

Jake nodded. "She actually took that better than I expected."

"What was she supposed to get upset about?"

"That I noticed someone else on the team." He shrugged. "She said more than once that she expected I'd leave her if I ever got Chance's attention."

Nathan chuckled. "If she's anything like Feral she probably thinks something's been going on for a while." He smirked. "Before I was on the team."

"And I lied to her?" He frowned. "I don't think she'd tolerate that. She knows who my lovers are."

"Scratch that, she definitely wasn't reacting that way. I didn't sense anything like that. Don't know, the only thing I sensed was approval, and a little relief." He said quietly. "I still think Feral thinks there was something, a couple of his comments were unexpected."

"Probably hoping something was between us, or just running on my track record." He shrugged. "Not like it matters anymore."

Nathan walked over and put his hand on Jake's shoulder. "No, I suppose it doesn't. Though Feral did make a point of mentioning that there were still things you could do in the Enforcers away from the front line; assuming that you wanted to, of course."

"I don't doubt it, and he could probably even make it pretty attractive." Jake chuckled. "I really don't know, Nate." He closed his eyes. "I'm still getting used to the concept of not dieing for the city."

"Like I said Jake, only if you want to. I'll support whatever you decide. Just to give you another option, Jeremy'd love to have you on his R&D staff. But no need to decide now, just letting you know you have options." He nuzzled the Kat supportively.

"And there's my art, and freelance, and maybe just being a stay-at-home father." He flopped down dramatically and threw an arm over his eyes. "Gods, it'd be easier to make a list of what I couldn't do."

Nathan smiled. "I think you'd make a good father." He said quietly, as he went over one of his projects in his head.

"You do?" He peaked out from under his arm.

"Yes, is that so surprising?" He smiled.

"Well ... yes." Jake brought his arm down and looked at the Tiger curiously.

"I'd say you're on the edge of asking a question. You can ask me anything Jake, if I really don't want to answer I'll say so, but there's no harm in asking." Nathan said encouragingly.

"Why?" He murmured. "What in me would make me a good father?"

"You've certainly got the protective instincts for it. You're smart, always a plus dealing with kits. You've got a good heart, you give everything for the people you care about ... sometimes maybe a little too much." He paused. "But part of it is instinct, my mother told that my heart would tell me if a mate would be a good father or not. Well, my heart has no doubts about you, Jake."

"Oh," he murmured quietly and fell silent as his mind tried to work through that.

While Jake was thinking, Nathan quietly logged into the HyperTech R&D network, and checked the status on his research project. He read over the results of several tests, ordered some additional tests, checked on some overdue parts, and did other administrative work. He figured Jake just needed time to think, until a light snore drew his attention back to the bed where the Kat had tossed an arm over his eyes again.

Nathan smiled, and gently pulled the covers over the sleeping tom. It was one way to do ones thinking, and a positive sign that the tom had gone to sleep that easily. But Nathan decided to stay close by just in case.

Nathan had quite lost track of time when the phone in Jake's room rang, but judging from the light outside, it was early evening. He quickly picked up the phone and answered quietly so as not to wake the sleeping Kat. "Serenity Thorne, Dr. Solgardin."

"Mr. DelGran is here to see you." A new receptionist said crisply.

"Please show him to my office, I'll be down shortly." He said before hanging up.

Nathan walked back over to Jake, reluctant to wake the Kat, but Trent would ask to see him. He gently kissed the Kat. "Time to wake up, Jake. Your doggy boyfriend is here." He said in a teasing voice.

"Mmurrr?" The lean tom struggled to focus, rolling his head to look out the window before looking back at Nathan. "Muuppp."

"I see. Let's try focusing shall we. Coherent speech this time." He grinned encouragingly.

"I'm'up." Jake squinted at him before yawning. "Gawk ... tell me they don't serve hospital food here."

"It is a hospital, but I'll see what I can do. But first things first, Trent's here. Do you want to see him?" Nathan asked without hint of opinion for or against.

"Definitely." He snapped to focus and smiled. "I do like the guy."

Nathan kissed the Kat gently before he left the room. "Just keep your wits about you." He said quietly. "I'll be back with him."

Nathan walked into his office to find the Doberman waiting for him.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. DelGran." He said politely as he entered.

"I understand." The lean, angular male nodded slightly. "Have you made any progress on what has affected Jake?"

"We've managed to isolate the pathogen, and bio-research is handling it with level 5 bio-safety precautions. We've determined that this was definitely a deliberate exposure. Despite this being a new and tailored pathogen we've found it responds to a combination of existing antibiotics and Jake is responding favorably. We expect he should be ready to go home in a week or so. An investigation is currently underway into the attack on Jake." He said as he walked past the Doberman with the scanner in his palm. "Given that the exposure may have been last night, how are you feeling? Any dizziness, blurred vision, sudden fatigue, or strange memory gaps?"

"No." He watched Nathan move with combat-trained eyes, though his body didn't betray a bit of it. "I've felt fine."

Nathan was comparing the scanner's readings as they appeared on the crystal readout to his knowledge of Kantin physiology looking for similar indications of blood loss, or other readings that fell alarmingly outside the norms.

He nodded, made a couple of mental notes. "If you'd follow me, Jake would like to see you." Hr said evenly, thankful for years of practice at keeping his outward signs neutral, even scent would reveal nothing, thanks to biofeedback. He headed for Jake's room with the Doberman following in silence.

"You got out early." Jake chuckled with a broad smile as they walked in.

"I told you I'd be here." Trent smiled softly as he brushed a few stray hairs off of Jake's face. "How are you feeling?"

"Pretty good." He shifted to lick the slender black hand. "Mostly sleepy. How'd it go?"

"Reasonably well, considering who it was." The Kantin chuckled. "They're treating you well?"

"Yes, Trent." Jake rolled his eyes. "Nathan wouldn't allow anything else. This is the Kat that pieced me back together from a bloody pulp last year. He's hardly going to let bad medical care get me."

Trent smiled. "Good to hear his concern extends to more than over the phone. Would you like your pencils?"

"You brought them?" He glanced around eagerly.

"Of course, handsome." The Doberman chuckled affectionately and ruffled Jake's hair. "They're in the car. I wanted to make sure you'd be staying here." He looked over his shoulder at Nathan. "May we have a few minutes alone?"

Nathan looked to Jake, and seeing that that was what the Kat wanted nodded. "I'll be outside." He said as he stepped out the door. He maintained his empathic fix on Jake, ready to bolt back in, if required.

As he stepped out, he activated the scrambled surveillance mike built into the briefcase, linked in through the mem-crystal in his head. That combined with his exceptional hearing, would let him keep an ear on things. "Sorry Jake, but I don't trust Trent one bit." He whispered very quietly under his breath as he stood outside listening.

A long, intimate kiss followed by a double sigh, one of contentment, the other of relief, were the only sounds at first. Then Trent spoke.

"Seriously Jake, do you really think these people will take the best care of you?"

"Yes." He sighed with a bit of exasperation. "Nate's the best."

"He's lying to us." The Doberman countered, all concern. "If this really is a pathogen, he's being inexcusably lax. If it's not, he's up to something, and you're the bait."

"Trent, you are being paranoid." Jake groused. "Nathan's not like that."

"I hope you're right." He sighed. "We both have enemies, Jake. A little paranoia isn't always a bad thing."

"You still have to trust someone, and I trust Nathan." Jake murmured. "He wouldn't allow anything bad to happen to me."

"All right." He kissed Jake again. "I trust you, I'll trust him. I'd still feel better if you were in a better facility."

"I know, but it's only for a week."

"Then I am going to spoil you rotten." Trent spoke with firm determination. "We are going on a vacation when you get out of here. I'm not going to take no for an answer this time."

"All right." Jake chuckled softly. "I'll be ready for a change by then."

"Mmm, okay, that's one good thing." Trent chuckled softly. "If this gets you to relax, I won't complain."

"I doubt anyone will." Jake purred softly, affectionately. "Better let Nathan back in before he gets too antsy."

"All right. I like a doctor that dedicated." Trent chuckled softly. "I'll bring your pencils up."

"Thanks." Jake said with honest affection as the door cracked open.

"Thank you." Trent inclined his head to Nathan. "I'm going to get his art supplies, if that is permitted."

Nathan smiled. "Certainly, his art is good for him." He nodded as the Doberman went out for the supplies. He waited until he was sure the Doberman was a ways a way.

"Just a little info, Trent's been fed on to, though not nearly as aggressively as you have. I'd say he's not the vampire, but he may be working with it." He said quietly.

"Or he's just a victim." Jake countered. "Is that really so hard to believe? Would you be suspecting Chance is he'd been fed on?"

"Chance wasn't with you every night it happened, Jake." Nathan said quietly. "If it was just some of the nights, I'd call it coincidence, but every night ... there's way more than coincidence here. If he's a victim, it's quite possible he's a controlled victim. Which means he could be a danger, and not even know it." He conceded.

"Or be in danger." Jake sighed. "I know you don't like him, but why are we keeping the truth from him?"

"Jake, you convinced me he might be a danger between the drawing and the fact of his being present every time. I don't like anyone I think is a danger to you. As for why I'm keeping the truth from him, if he's working for the enemy it's hardly wise to let him know what we know is it?" Nathan said quietly.

"That drawing could be of almost anyone I've been with for very long." He hissed. "I told you, I've liked that kind of play for a long time." He forced himself to calm down and control the fear constricting his heart. "Nathan ... if he's being fed from too, wouldn't that indicate he not cooperating? And without me, he's going to be in a lot more danger."

Nathan forced himself to sit down. "Okay, maybe I'm being overprotective but given you were talking suicide earlier it's not surprising. And according to some of the lore on vampires, some people allow themselves to be fed on willingly. They're mortal servants of the vampire." Nathan shook his head. "Jake, if you're that sure of him. Tell him what's going on, you know as much as I do." He sighed. "I haven't kept anything from you. No matter what he may think."

"Well, you did lie to him." Jake said softly. "Even if you didn't to me, he doesn't know that."

Nathan shrugged. "I did what I thought was best to protect you."

"I know." Jake reached out to brush Nathan's cheek. "Like I told Trent, I trust you."

A quiet knock on the door preceded the Kantin's appearance with a large plastic box in his arms and a flat, polished wooden object on top of the box.

"That's a little more than my pencils." Jake observed with a touch of amusement.

"It's just what you seem to use the most." The Doberman smiled as he set the box down near the bed and unfolded the legs of the small wooden table before setting the art supplies box on top of it. "And a couple odds and ends you wouldn't normally need."

"Thank you." Jake smiled as he rolled to his side and opened the box with a familiar hand.

"Dr. Solgardin, what hoops are required to stay past visiting hours?" Trent asked politely as Jake made a quick inspection of what was brought.

"That would depend on how long past visiting hours you were talking." Nathan replied, covering a very unprofessional surge of jealousy.

"You found it!" The lean tom grinned delightedly at his Kantin lover as he pulled Trent down for a hug and quick kiss.

"I told you I'd seen one before." Trent chuckled. "It just took some hunting to figure out where. You'll find your laptop in the bottom drawer too."

"You're trying to spoil me." Jake pouted with a chuckle.

"It's what mates are for, Jake." He smiled softly at the Kat in the bed. "I'd spoil you a lot more if you'd let me."

Jake shook his head and chuckled. "We've had this discussion before, Trent."

"I know." He turned to face Nathan. "The night, until he's well enough to go home."

Nathan wished just once he was really telepathic so he knew what Jake wanted, but he didn't. "I'm afraid hospital policy doesn't allow that, except for married partners, or common law." He said in a completely unemotional, firm business like tone. One month of dating wasn't even close to common law. This was a case where he knew the administration was a stickler on this particular rule, and the hospital administrator hated rich folk throwing their weight around.

Trent nodded and pulled a chair next to Jake's bed and settled down. "What are visiting hours?"

"Normally they're till 8pm, but I know Jake's a night owl, so you can stay till 11pm. I've got that much leeway as his doctor." He said pleasantly. "Visiting hours start at 10am." He said as he swiveled his laptop around.

"Thank you, Doctor." Trent smiled at him before settling his head on crossed arms near Jake's head.

"You're not going to argue?" Jake raised an eyebrow as he picked up the pad he'd been sketching on earlier and quickly added some color to them.

"I know you don't like it," the Doberman scratched Jake's shoulder lightly. "And I don't like you being here in the first place, but you trust him, so I'll behave." He smiled softly. "They're more to spoiling a mate that buying gifts, you know."

Jake smiled back. "And the best gifts aren't bought."

Nathan sat back and checked with Jeremy to see if anything interesting had come up on Trent. As expected nothing yet, but trying to work on the case was more satisfying the playing celibate doctor, and he wasn't leaving Jake alone with the Doberman anymore than absolutely necessary.

He set up the wireless sketchpad connected to the portable graphics station/laptop and started putting one of the blueprints in his head in to a visible form using a light pen. A good way to bury a growing irritation, and if the Dobie mentioned his dislike of the hospital one more time, Nathan would be more than tempted to admit him.

But Trent was calmly quiet, apparently content to watch Jake color, then to be a warm presence next to the tom's head as the Kat drifted off.

Nathan glanced up at eleven o'clock on the dime to see Trent stand with lean grace and walk over to him.

"Thank you for letting me stay late, and I do hope your warmth will let him sleep well." The Doberman spoke quietly and offered his hand. "I'll be back in the morning."

Nathan smiled politely, and stood to shake the Kantin's hand. "It makes him happy, and we'll see you in the morning then. Good night, Mr. DelGran." He said as the Doberman left, after which he made a brief call to the floor nursing station letting them know he would be looking after the patient overnight, so they could take him off then nursing rounds. The nurse was appreciative, since they were short staffed nurse wise.

Then he walked over to Jake to see if the Kat was still asleep, since the tom often didn't sleep for long and smiled at the sound rest his patient was getting.

Nathan set the laptop to ring a silent alarm at six am, and link his active mem-crystal to watch it so it would wake him at six. Then he set his over jacket neatly on the table with the laptop, secured the laptop to the table and activated its motion sensor alarm.

Everything set up properly, he climbed into bed with Jake, since he'd promised to, and wanted to anyway. He put his arms gently around the Kat as if to protect him, which he would. Nathan drifted off to sleep, but it was the watchful sleep of a warrior protector.

Nathan woke to the sound of a gurgling growl and smiled as he got up, recognizing in the unhappy sounds that the Kat needed to eat. Fortunately, he remembered what the Kat liked from the time he'd spent nursing him back to health. He slipped downstairs to the kitchen, and managed to talk the cook on duty out of the makings for breakfast for two. Nathan convinced him by explaining that he was saving the cook the time of making two breakfasts, he have to make anyway.

Fortunately, the fifth floor had an executive conference room, with a small adjoining kitchen for meals that were served with some presentations. Nathan got happily to work fixing breakfast.

About an hour later he came walking back into Jake's room carrying a tray in each hand from which tasty aromas wafted, despite the covers to find the Kat fidgeting in bed, with some signs he'd been moving around suck as he could.

"Nathan, you are a doll." Jake grinned as his nose and eyes zeroed on the meals. "It's good to sleep, but it's throwing meals all out of whack."

Nathan swung the arm over the bed to set Jake's meal on, before set his own on another table. "Well, breakfast is at approximately the right time." He grinned taking the covers off the two large breakfasts. "But you certainly needed the sleep."

"Mmm, looks like your cooking hasn't suffered for your schedule." He purred as he pushed an egg on toast and globbed blueberry jam on top of that before digging in with a relish.

Nathan ate absently not really paying attention, which was fairly normal. "I've had a lot of practice, so a year of not so much practice didn't do much harm." He smiled. "Besides, I figured at the very least I should be able to beat hospital food." He grinned broadly.

"Or Chance's." Jake grinned as he finished off his toast and eggs. "Kats, I'm not usually this hungry, even after thirty hours." He looked up with a smile half way through the butter and syrup soaked pancakes. "Don't usually sleep nearly this much either."

"You've made a decision that's allowed you to relax in a way you haven't been able to in a long time. The hungry is actually due to your body working overtime replacing the lost blood, and other chemicals. Takes fuel to make repairs." He said with a grin. "The sleep is probably some combination of Trent's presence and mine."

"Do you really hate him?" Jake asked quietly between bites as he slowed to a more normal pace.

"I never said I hate him. I'm just uncertain about him, and I have reason to think he may be working with someone who hurt you. I'm uncomfortable, but I'm trying my best to keep a reign on that." He said softly between bites.

"He's a nice guy, Nate." Jake said softly. "I hope when all this is over you two end up getting along."

"If I'm wrong about him, we probably will." Nathan said evenly. "If I'm right, well ... better you don't know." The tiger said very softly.

"If you're right, you aren't going to get the opportunity." The lean Kat hissed softly. "I'll get to him first."

There was a long silence. "Jake, has Trent proposed to you?" He asked delicately, not wanting to really but the issue had been bothering him based on several things said the night before.

"No." He shook his head. "He's hinted pretty strongly he'd like to be more involved in my life, but nothing so formal." He looked at the Tiger. "Why?"

"Just something said last night sounded like it. It's just normal to try and keep track of that sort of thing when you're seeing someone." He smiled quietly. "Just sizing up the competition." He grinned shyly.

"Nathan, he isn't competition." Jake shook his head before taking another bite. "I'm not looking for just one mate, and you two offer different things."

Nathan nodded. "I know. I guess I just find someone else taking the same approach to treating a mate as I take a little disconcerting. He does things so much like I would, down the bit about spoiling you." He said quietly. "Guess that's why it feels like competition."

"Oh," he smiled gently. "He does it 'cause I drive him nuts. He's so used to thinking in terms of money and prestige, and I don't. It's his way of trying to prove he's listening to me, and I'm not the mate of the month or some decoration like a lot of his others."

Nathan smiled. "Oh, I just do it, 'cause I just do. Money and prestige have never been big with me, 'cause I've been military my whole life. Well, I've always done well, but it was never important." He shrugged. "I've never actually been with someone who was seeing someone else ... I understand the theory, the reality takes a little getting used to." He smiled shyly.

Jake leaned over enough to pull Nathan in for a quick kiss. "I understand, Nate. I've been poly for a long time, but I remember that first time, and I remember when it was my mate, and not me, who had another interest."

Nathan made a face of mock sternness, that wasn't very convincing. "Well, I do hope the Dobie understands he has to share. He's probably used to monopolies." Nathan smirked impishly.

"He likes them." Jake chuckled. "But he understands that he can't always have me to himself."

Nathan grinned. "Heh. Darn right."

"And he knows why he doesn't want to have me to himself too." The lean Kat smirked daringly. "I can be quite a handful."

Nathan smiled broadly. "That's easy to believe. Though I'm looking forward to finding out." He said sincerely.

"I hope you like more than you don't." He said a little hesitantly. "Though you probably already know more about me than anyone else."

"Given my own background, and past. I tend to be very understanding of others', especially of those I love." He said encouragingly.

Jake nodded slowly. "You're the first I've told about ... where I grew up. You ... even if it was the only thing you offered, you understand what it's like to be stranded in a society much more primitive than your own." He looked up uneasily. "If you look very carefully, you'll find bits and pieces in the language you picked up from me ... The Alliance stretched out here when I was born."

Nathan examined the language more closely, then nodded. "Yes, and I'm not surprised. Finding Origin has always been an interest of my people, and in another two hundred years it's likely they'd find it. Being stranded could've been worse, but Jeremy let's me work on 'reinventing' things, it's a good partnership. You kind of brighten up being stranded to." He said, as he gently kissed the Kat.

Jake dropped his eyes slightly. "If you ever want to find out just how difficult I can be to live with, ask Chance what I was really like after you left, and I still don't get quiet why, except that it was so nice having another refugee around."

Nathan kissed the Kat gently. "Well, I'm back in your life now, and I don't plan to go anywhere this time. I'm sorry I didn't stay the last time, but well ... I couldn't." He said softly.

"It's over with now." Jake leaned into the contact. "What got us here doesn't matter much."

"Not much, no it doesn't." Nathan said quietly. "Where we go from here is enough to deal with." He said quietly. "I'll have to wait for this mornings blood workup to be sure, but I think you'll be off the IV before visitor hours start."

"Good." Jake sighed. "I hate this thing." He nuzzled Nathan softly. "Where do you want to go from here? Besides back in my bed, that is."

"Everyone hates IV's." Nathan smiled. "I don't know exactly, but some of the more normal dating stuff ... spending time together, doing things together, just getting to know each other. Preferably without hospitals or weapons involved." He smiled gently. "Seriously, Jake, I know what I want in the long run, I just need to be sure, and to know if maybe you want it too." He said, as he softly nuzzled Jake in return.

"How about just asking me?" He offered.

"Well, I was trying to be romantic about it." He said quietly. "In the long run I'm looking for another LifeMate, and based on what I do know and gut instinct it feels right when I think about it being you. What I don't know for sure is if you want a lifetime commitment like that."

"Gut answer, yes." Jake stared at the ceiling. "Life's just not quite so simple."

"I know. It'll take time to get there I'm sure, but it's easier knowing that you're not going to be running from the idea, like some toms do. Between the two of us, we can probably make anything work." He said quietly.

"Probably redesign the planet in the process." Jake chuckled, half serious.

Nathan smirked. "Yep, the civilized half." He said supportively.

Jake raised an eyebrow at that. "You're not against a little social engineering?"

"I'd consider it. There are some positive changes that could be made. Anything in particular you had in mind?" He asked, raising an eyebrow of his own. "I'm always in favor of trying to make people's lives better."

"Mmm, the basics: world government, real space program, start colonizing, AI development, get the legal system comprehensible."

"Well, I'd say the first step is the world government. Colonization before world government just leads to wars in space. AI development needs to be done carefully; I've seen some real disasters there especially when AI's were hooked to weapons systems. But it's still a good idea.

Nathan smirked. "Make the legal system comprehensible? That would be a miracle of some proportion. I think it'd better to have it make sense, toss out the century old laws that aren't being enforced anymore and that sort of thing. Though the institution of a world government would probably be a good opportunity to rewrite the legal code." He said in a planning mode. "Sounds like reasonable ideas, certainly better than a lot of social engineering I've run across."

"Oh, and what are those?" Jake chuckled with real curiosity.

Nathan rolled his eyes. "You name it, and some wacko's tried it. World-wide enforced religious doctrines to ensure moral purity, strict genetic testing to ensure racial purity. Various approaches to population control, either to encourage or discourage growth; and sometimes to discourage some people and discourage others. Social engineering can be very dangerous in the hands of people who forget it's people's lives they're playing with." He said quietly.

"It's not an easy balance to keep, individual freedoms and the greater good." Jake shook his head. "I don't think I've even heard of a system that always did the right thing."

"Me neither, though my natural instinct is to err on the side of individual freedom. It's the way I was raised, and it's kind of tiger nature as it were." Nathan said easily.

"I prefer harsh penalties and rehabilitation." Jake shifted to lie down and glanced at the door. "How long before the morning shift arrives to poke and prod me?"

"About an hour or so." He said quietly. "I'm all in favor of rehabilitation, if it's possible. Harsh penalties depends on the crime, and what you mean by harsh."

"Death when they're irredeemable, but mostly none of this revolving door arrests and automatic release because there isn't space. There's a serial killer who admits he'll kill again that will be set free in eleven years because of the housing policies."

Nathan growled low. "Serial killers are irredeemable, and their one of the cases in which I favor the death penalty. Though I've found often if you look at some of the minor crime statutes you can eliminate a lot of overcrowding and automatic release with things like electronically monitored home arrest, and rehab for drug offenders. Or at least make the automatic release make sense, release the least dangerous criminals the ones doing time for non-violent crimes."

"Just actually enforcing the death penalty we have in decent time would cover a lot of it." Jake grumbled. "You realize that when Dark Kat's captured, even though we've got him dead to rights on hundreds of deaths and more crimes than I can count, he'll still be kept in a cell for a couple decades while the legalities are sorted out to actually put him down. And that's assuming he doesn't get an insanity sentence. That will never get rid of him." He bristled. "There are criminals out there that just need to be shot on sight. They're past the justice system."

Nathan looked at Jake. "If they ever put Dark Kat in a cell, he won't last decades." The tiger said in a low dangerous voice.

"He's just one of dozens, Nathan." Jake sighed. "Half of them are all ready behind bars, some of them won't be staying there." He closed his eyes. "I don't see how the lifers do it. Seeing the same criminals commit the same crimes over and over again after they get arrested and released."

Nathan shook his head. "I can't say I understand either, though I know my world had the same problems before the world government." He paused for a moment. "As for Dark Kat being one of dozens, I know that, but there's a score to settle." He said darkly.

"Stand in line, Nathan. We all do." Jake flicked his ears back with a raw hatred of gave few things.

Nathan shook his head. "I shouldn't think like that. Brooding on such thoughts isn't the way I was taught." He said quietly. "But suffice it to say, the criminal justice system is broken."

"The scary part is it's in the best shape in recorded history." He shook his head, then looked at Nathan. "Perhaps another sketch before the nurse arrives?" He suggested with a wink.

"That is scary." He agreed. "So you want to refine the earlier sketch, or something new?" He asked in a seductive voice, as he pulled the examination screen across the middle of the room.

"Something new." Jake crooned. "Something ... different."

Nathan smiled. "Different huh? I can give you different, I just hope it isn't more than you can handle." He said quietly, a little worry in his scent.

Nathan began a slow strip tease based on the vids he'd seen with Morin, and the couple of actual shows Morin had taken him to. He kept it slow with 'sexy' undulations of his hips. It was fun, but part of him thought he was being really silly. As he got close to the end, he kicked in the switch to midnight black War-form, that the Protectors had shown him was possible. Slowly he became larger, more powerful, his legs became back hinged, and his face far more feline, and his claws longer, though he retracted them. He walked over to Jake once the transformation was complete.

"Different enough?" He asked tenderly, as he ran a finger gently down the stunned Kat's jawline.

"Sweet Bastet," he whispered, eyes wide in a mixture of shock, disbelief and lust. Slowly he closed on hand around the one touching his jaw. "That's ... incredible."

Nathan ran the other large paw down the Kat's chest. "You like it then? I'm glad, I wasn't sure how you'd react but I couldn't hide this part of myself from you, not now." He said quietly, in the war-form's deep voice.

"Like it?" Jake whispered throatily as his gaze ran over the creature before him, settling on the thick sheath and balls. "Dear gods, yes. Nathan ... you're ... gorgeous."

Nathan smiled, and bent down to claim a quick kiss. "It's not the reaction I'm used to, but it's a very nice change. Back home the usual reaction is closer to fear, or at least wary respect."

"I guess back home don't find feline traits attractive." He traced a light finger up the filling sheath before him. "I'm not sure you'd want to walk down the street like that, but ... damn ..." he shook his head sharply. "You're hot."

"Walk down the street, maybe not. But private sessions is a whole 'nother matter." He rumbled seductively, as his paw caressed Jake's crotch, while undoing the prone Kat's belt. "You can't play all dressed like that." He said softly.

"Do I really have to be all hooked up?" Jake pleaded as he raised his hips to slip his jeans off.

Nathan walked over to the IV, and shifted back to Felsin. "Looks like it's about empty anyway. Best to take it out now, I really don't think you need it anyway." He said as he carefully unhooked the IV and set it aside. "It'll probably come unhooked anyway." He smirked as he shifted back to war-form.

Jake licked his whiskers and rumbled hungrily as he shifted to his elbows and knees, with his ass in the air and tail twitching over his back. "I like it rough."

"So you said." The war-form rumbled excitedly, as he got on the bed behind Jake, and stretched the Kat, a bit roughly with two large fingers. When he felt prep was sufficient to avoid damage, he drove his cock in roughly to the balls, and then began thrusting while holding the Kat's hips with one large paw. The other paw, he reached under to stoke his lover's cock, determined that they would both come, preferably Jake first.

With a moaning howl Jake shuddered, already near the edge, as he thrust his scruff up as his head dropped down, panting.

Nathan instinctively reacted to the out of the ordinary behavior, and placed a paw against the vein in the Kat's neck to check his pulse, while he listened to the Kat's breathing. "Are you all right, Jake?" He asked quietly, concerned.

"Bite, damn it." The lean tom panted. "Mount me."

Nathan shook his head only barely understanding, but he was trying to please Jake. His one consolation was that the bite marks were too small to be made by the war-form.

He roughly resumed this thrusting, and took the Kat's scruff in his jaws the way Jake expected him too, applying enough pressure for it to be felt solidly, but not to break skin. The strange thing was once he started the arousal, the sensations, and the roughness became kind of heady mix when combined with the natural adrenalin of the war-form.

On top of it all the unadulterated whimpers and moans of pleasure from the Kat under him was bordering on intoxicating, even before he felt Jake's muscles contract with the first rush of an orgasm.

Nathan roared into Jake's scruff as the Kat's orgasm triggered his own rush. It was an incredible bliss out, as much of a rush as he got the first time he flew the Arador. As the rush and the spasms passed he gently released his jaws and collapsed to one side holding a panting Jake gently in his arms as their breathing gradually returned to normal.

"Sure you can't take me home for some personal care?" The lean tom nuzzled his huge mate with mixture of affection and desire.

"Stay today, and if your readings are good tomorrow morning, then I'll see. I certainly wouldn't mind taking you home." He grinned as held the Kat closed. "You'd probably be less stir crazy too."

"Definitely, with such a handsome creature to keep my attention." Jake grinned with a contented sigh.

Nathan nuzzled Jake playfully. "Flatterer. You're just saying that to get out of here earlier." He teased happily. "But we'd better clean up before morning shift gets here."

"Umm, yes. Wouldn't be good for your rep if they found out you were boinking your patients." Jake snickered with an affectionate lick.

"Yeah, they're funny about that around here. Back home they wouldn't look twice at the unit medic sleeping with a member of the unit. Actually, they'd be surprised if he wasn't." He kissed the Kat gently as he climbed out of bed and shifted into his Felsin form. He got dressed quickly, and made short work of changing the bed, once Jake was out of it, though the Kat's playful mood did little to help his coordination.

"Pity." Jake purred with a wink. "At least it won't matter when you take me home."

"Nope, then it's nobody's business if I'm boinking you." He smirked playfully, once he finished making the bed. He looked out the door to see where the duty nurse was, and got a wave from young marmalade tomkat wearing orderly garb, just before he turned the corner.

Nathan chuckled broadly, as he came back in. "You might as well relax. Nurse will be here in about 10 minutes. Though that's only cause we finished." He smirked.

With a bemused humph Jake flopped down on the bed. "So is there anything to actually do until they let me out of here?"

Nathan checked the Kat's vitals with his hand scanner, and as he thought the base levels had recovered faster than expected, which was why Jake was stir crazy. But there were still deficiencies in other places, but they could be corrected on an outpatient basis, with Physician supervision.

"First thing, I'll get you out as soon as I can with the understanding that you'll stay with me until you're healed, and that you understand that you are not back to duty, until I say so. I'm willing to make recovery more pleasant for you, as long as you're willing to not make me look like a fool for doing so." He said gently, but very serious.

"I'll behave. Promise." Jake nodded, absolutely sincere.

"As for something to do, you might find these interesting." He handed the lean tom a set of blueprint and design printouts for the ExoFrame base model, no weapons just the base exoskeleton. "It's an Alliance mission configurable modular ExoFrame, used in both civilian and military applications."

"Hmm, interesting." He regarded the plans carefully, eyes darting from one point to another between systematic scans. "Not what I usually work with, but it's got real possibilities."

Nathan grinned. "Design I'm most familiar with, I used a special model designed for the Medic Corps frequently. I'll get down the design for one of the aerospace fighters later on."

An older dark gray shekat in nursing whites entered and very professionally took a number of vials of blood from Jake.

"Nurse, would please have the lab expedite the results on those tests?" Nathan said as she left.

"Of course, Doctor." She responded, making a note on the vials.

"Hopefully, expedited means sometime this morning." Nathan said shaking his head.

"Do I get to leave now?" Jake asked hopefully with his art supplies neatly packed and ready to move.

Nathan chuckled. "Yes, I've finished all the paperwork and brought the necessary people up to speed. Time to leave. I assume you'll want to stop at the Yard and pick up clothes." He said as he packed away the laptop, and other equipment into the carrying case.

"Yes," he nodded easily. "Have you told Chance?"

Nathan smirked. "Hard to call him when he's in the air. I saw the TurboKat from my office window. Since there's no emergency on the Enforcer bands, I'd guess he and Felina are probably testing out the feel of working together."

"I hope that works out." Jake said with a little more fervor than usual as they walked out. "They make a good pair."

"As do I." Nathan agreed sincerely. "Yes, they do." He said as they passed the front desk where he signed a few more forms, before they left. Nathan headed to the physicians parking lot, and stopped at a sport utility vehicle clearly equipped for actual off road use.

He unlocked the driver's side, got in, and then opened the passenger side door. "Come on, let's get out of here." He grinned.

"Nice truck." Jake eyed it appraisingly as he stowed his art supplies and got in. "How upgraded is she?"

"Only just got, so she's top of the line consumer grade, but I want to get her into my shop at LeadingEdge and bring her up to par with my cycle." He said as they left the parking lot and headed for the highway. "Fortunately, Medics back home are trained as mechanics and field tinkerers, some times you just have to use the laser cannon power supply as a defibrillator." He chuckled.

Jake joined in the chuckle. "I get the feeling no one will ever recognize anything we take into the field again."

"Not once we're done with it." He said as he merged onto T-60 headed out toward the Salvage Yard. "It'll certainly cut down on the loose parts lying around." He grinned.

"The only loose parts are ones that haven't found a home yet." Jake smirked. "And I so hate to see homeless parts."

"I've noticed you do seem to find good homes for a lot of them." Nathan smiled.

"Comes with the territory." He chuckled softly and leaned back with his hands behind his head and watched the familiar serenely pass, growing more sullen as they drew closer to the Yard.

Nathan put one hand reassuringly on the Kat's shoulder. He didn't say anything, he just made sure Jake knew he was there for him, as the miles passed.

"We're here." Nathan said as they pulled up in front of the Garage.

"Wonder if they're back yet." Jake said to no one in particular as he got out and made short work of the distance to the second floor of the Garage and his room.

"I think so." Nathan said, after Jake was already inside, as he followed at a more leisurely pace. He was fairly sure he was picking up Chance, and another less familiar pattern, in addition to Jake.

He sat down on the couch to wait for Jake, and figured that would be the easiest place to see the other two as well.

"Hay, Nate." Chance waved to the Felsin as he came into the room from the direction of the Hanger ladder, closely followed by a dark brown female with black hair taller than the tabby. "What'cha' doing here?"

"Hiya, Chance. I'm here with Jake, he's getting some things. I worked out a deal to let him get out of the hospital early. He stays off duty, and with me so he's under medical supervision. He was gettin' a bit stir crazy." Nathan smiled.

"So he's doing better?" Felina asked as she gave Nathan an appraising look over.

"He's improved enough that he can be cared for on an outpatient basis. But he's still not cleared for combat." Nathan said easily. "I think my original estimate of a week will still hold, assuming he behaves." The tiger grinned.

Chance shook his head and chuckled a little uneasily. "You're in for a full time job with that. Only reason he behaved for you last time was cause he had a broken middle."

Nathan smiled. "He promised me he'd behave." The tiger said simply. "And he meant it."

"I'm ready." Jake said quietly as he came downstairs with a good-sized tote bag over his shoulder. "Hi Chance, Felina."

"Hi Jake." She smiled at him. "You're looking much better."

"I'm feeling better." He managed to meet her brown eyes. "How's it going?"

"Pretty good, I think another day or so and we'll have it." She said easily. "That's one very sweet plane down there, even better than the TurboKats HyperTech has."

"Thanks," Jake ducked his head slightly. "Give a call if something goes wrong. There's not much left of the original craft."

"You take care of yourself and get your tail back in shape." Chance put a hand on his partner's shoulder. "You're already missed."

Jake dropped his eyes slightly and nodded. "I'll do my best."

As Jake went to put his stuff in Nathan's truck, the tiger handed Chance a card with two numbers on it. "If you need to reach Jake, use those numbers. Top number is my home number, bottom number is this." He pulled tapped the cell phone on his belt. "Take care you two, and don't worry, I'll look after Jake." He said waving as he went out to the truck.

Several quiet minutes went by as the truck headed back down the highway toward the city, until Nathan turned to Jake. "You're still not sure how to tell Chance you're giving it up, are you?" He asked sympathetically.

"He loves Felina, she's damn good, and still all he's talking about is for me to get back ASAP." He dropped his face to his hands. "I don't know if I can do it." He shook his hand softly. "One thing to say it ... but to his face?"

"Jake, of course he is, because he thinks you're just out temporarily. But you two are friends as well as partners, and I think if you're honest with him about why you can't do it any more, he'll understand. Granted he may be a bit disappointed at first, but he'll get over it." The tiger said sounding more confident than he was, as he drove back into MegaKat City toward his apartment.

"We're here, Jake." Nathan said to pull Jake's attention back to the real world.

"Huuu?" The lean tom blinked, then nodded and got out.

Nathan led Jake through the parking garage attached to the apartment building he lived in, and through the halls of the well lit, obviously well maintained building to the elevator, and got off at the fifteenth floor.

Nathan unlocked the door, and let Jake enter. The living room was spacious, with a large television the most obvious feature. The couch and chairs were functional, not fancy, which was a statement that could apply to the entire apartment. There was a dining area off the living room and a hall leading further back. The apartment was a bit warmer than Jake was used to buildings being kept.

The young tom lying on the floor playing a video game turned to wave at Nathan. "Hi, Nathan. Hey, new roomie?" The dark gray tom with black ears, tail tip and paws grinned. He was reasonably young, probably a teenager, and clearly athletic from the well-developed chest visible due to his wearing only running shorts.

Nathan nodded. "Gavin Blackpaw, I'd like you meet Jake Clawson, my boyfriend. He'll be staying here while he mends. Jake, this Gavin. Among other things, he's my assistant at HyperTech."

Gavin bounded over and offered Jake a paw. "Boyfriend, huh? That's cool. Nice to meet you, Jake. Welcome to Nathan's home for wayward kittens." He smirked, clearly largely self-directed.

"Trying to make a family without me, hu?" The lean tom smirked at Nathan playfully as he shook Gavin's paw. "What do you do for him up there?"

"Run errands, drop off his laptop at the hospital when he leaves it at home, keep nurses out of patient rooms, scan news and web for useful data, and I beta test the latest game software from LeadEdge Game Designs." He grinned.

"The last he does for entertainment." Nathan grinned. "Why don't I show you where to put that stuff, Jake." He said heading to the back.

"Oh, Nathan. Ashtalos said he'd be by tomorrow, and there's a special delivery package on the kitchen counter." Gavin added in a 'almost forgot that' tone of voice.

"Thanks, Gav." He nodded as Jake followed him.

Nathan led Jake into a large bedroom with two large beds. From the scent of the room, Jake could tell it was Nathan's room. A large closet occupied one wall, and the door to a bathroom was on the other. There was a large wooden dresser on one wall.

"Just set your stuff down anywhere, we can figure details out as necessary." Nathan said casually.

Jake nodded and dropped his tote bag near the wall, taking slightly more care setting the art box down. "Does Gav live here?"

"Yes, but his room's at the end of the hall. I've always believed in having a place for guests, just in case. Gav's at that age where he needs 'space' of his own." Nathan smiled.

"How'd you end up with him?"

"About six months ago, I was out walking trying to clear my head, when I got run over by three teenagers Chance's size chasing Gavin with unpleasant intent, from the weapons. I didn't even think, I chased after them and when I caught up with them I beat the tar out of all three of them. Gavin was pretty banged up, so I brought him back here and patched him up.

"Turned out he'd been on the street since Dark Kat's last attack on the city. I guess his parents were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Well, I saw some serious potential in him so I offered him a deal; he could stay with me, if he got back in school and stayed. He was reluctant, but after a few days he decided it sounded pretty good.

"Jeremy got all the paperwork squared away, and even brought him on as a part time employee, my assistant. Gav may be a teenager, but he's seriously trustworthy, Jeremy even uses him as a courier for council business if he's not doing anything for me."

"Sounds like a good rescue." Jake said very quietly as he flopped down on the far bed and stared at the ceiling with his hands behind his head.

"I like to think so." Nathan said easily, as he walked over and sat on the floor near Jake's head. "So, what's bothering you?" He asked quietly. "I know the ceiling's not that interesting." He said with very quiet humor.

"If I'd been faster ... he'd still have his parents." Jake closed his eyes against threatening tears. "Of all the times for Feral to have picked the fight ... I really did have Darkcrud in my sights. How many dead are because I followed by training and not my instincts?"

"Jake, Gavin's parents died early in Dark Kat's attack. Probably the first Kats who did, and it was before the SWAT Kats were even on the scene." He said quietly.

"That first time, Nathan." He said softly. "When we were 'kicked off the force'. I really did have him."

Nathan was silent for a while. "Jake, I'm going to tell you something about Gav's parents. Even he doesn't know yet, he's not old enough, but they were Protectors. They were in Dark Kat's way because they knew he had to be slowed down to give city defenses a chance to scramble. They didn't plan to die, but sometimes when fighting a force that large, the unexpected happens." He said admiringly.

"What were their names?" He asked softly.

"Shvrin and Marssa BlackPaw. They were fourth generation Protectors, and I'm afraid Jake, that the Protectors claimed the blame for not stopping Dark Kat before you did." He said quietly.

"They can claim whatever they want. I could have stopped him that time, and I didn't. I've never gotten a second chance like that."

"Jake, there's no changing the past, and no sense beating yourself up over it either it. It changes nothing, and helps nothing." Nathan sighed. "Well, maybe this will help a little...you and Chance turned Dark Kat's attack back just before it hit the building Gavin was in, and as far as he's concerned the two of you are heroes who saved his life. I'm surprised he maintained his composure in the living room, as well as he did." Nathan smiled softly.

Jake cringed slightly and sighed. "Thanks for the warning."

Nathan grinned slightly. "Well, if he made past the handshake, he won't say anything now. Officially, he's not supposed to know who's who. That's actually above his level of clearance, most peoples actually. But one member of the council didn't seal something properly, and all the papers fell on the ground, and in the process of picking everything up, Gav learned a few things."

"I'd say he just proved his ability to handle that clearance. If he kept his mouth shut when face to face with me with no one in the room that doesn't know, he's not likely to slip anywhere." Jake said quietly. "Pretty impressive for a kit, really."

Nathan smiled. "Yes, he is. He took Jeremy's lectures on the importance of maintaining security very seriously."

"Probably got early training on it too." Jake smiled softly. "If his parents were Protectors, no doubt they were grooming him for it, even if they didn't tell him."

"That's basically what Ashtalos told me, since basically the Protectors expect me to groom him for it now." Nathan shook his head in amusement. "It's been a busy year."


"My Protector mentor."

Jake jerked slightly before he nodded and forced his body to relax one muscle at a time. "I think it time for a nap, for me."

"Like a massage? Just to help you wind down and relax." Nathan offered quietly.

"I ... not really." Jake said.

"Okay, sleep well. Jake." Nathan said, giving the Kat a quick kiss, before leaving the room.

Jake waited until the door had closed and he couldn't hear Nathan's footsteps before letting a small sob out. He curled to a sitting position and buried his face in his hands. "Of all the things ... why a Protector?"

Nathan wasn't five paces away from the bedroom door when he felt the emotional spike erupted from inside with a mixture of grief, misery, longing and carefully controlled hatred.

Nathan turned and went back to the door. Though it was his room, he decided not surprise Jake and knocked.

There was a brief pause as the emotional turmoil was buried. "Yes?"

Nathan walked in. "Jake, something's been bothering you in a serious way, since I mentioned the Protectors. What is it about them that upsets you." He asked with sincere concern in his voice. "I could feel your distress even after I left the room."

Jake gave him a very startled look before he sighed. "It's my problem Nathan, nothing you did."

"Jake, is it going to come between us?" He asked sincerely.

"I don't know." He refused to meet the Tiger's gaze. "I never bothered to find out if it would matter."

Nathan sighed. "Is there anything you can tell me about why there's a problem?" He asked quietly confused.

"You're a Protector."

"Yeah, I got that. But why is that such a problem? At least currently they're doing a lot to protect and save lives." Nathan said feeling very confused. "This is something from the future, isn't it?"

"Not really." He sighed. "I was refused. I'm still bitter about it. Like I said, nothing you did."

"You were?" Nathan looked stunned. "That's really hard to believe." He said putting his hand gently on Jake's shoulder. "How long ago?"

"When I was nine." Jake said quietly.

"That was in the future then." He said quietly. "Different way of doing things apparently too, 'cause the Protectors now don't even consider potential candidates until they're eighteen. If you weren't so tired of the fighting, I'd suggest you talk to Ashtalos. I know they'd accept you now." The tiger said with certainty.

"I don't want anything to do with them." Jake couldn't keep the bitterness out of his voice. "Future rules or not, it's still the Protectors." He sighed miserably. "Look, it's not your fault, and there's not much to be done about it now. It just figures you'd be one."

"Jake, if this is going to cause problems, then I'm not going to be one much longer." Nathan said firmly. "You're more important to me, that some organization I never heard of before this year." He said fervently.

Jake hesitantly reached out to brush Nathan's arm. "I ... don't know if it even matters. Either I can accept that they wanted you and wouldn't take me, or I can't. This isn't about you being something I don't approve of, it's ... well, that you're better than me in the eyes of a group I used to revere.

Nathan nodded. "Well, I won't push the issue any more. If you still need that nap, I'll go take care of a few things." He said quietly.

"I need some time to think, alone." He finally looked up to the Felsin's green eyes. "I won't bolt."

Nathan nodded. "I understand, and I trust you." He said as he left the room and closed the door.

Once outside he turned and went down to his den, and sat down at his desk. Part of him was raging inside, it just figured he'd pick the one organization that would cost him his relationship with Jake. If that happened, they could just protect their own damn city.

He tried to calm down, but music didn't help, and his meditations didn't help. He pulled out one of the magic texts Ashtalos had given him, and tried study, while keeping one eye on the security system indicators.

"Nathan?" Gav's uncertain voice finally drew his attention from the book he wasn't reading.

"Yes, Gav?" Nathan said distractedly, looking up.

"Are you going to bed?" The dark teenager asked. "Jake's out cold, and it's late."

Nathan chuckled. "Is it? I hadn't even noticed. I suppose I should, and I know you should." He said as he stood up and stretched. He carefully locked down the apartment security system for the night.

"Good night, Gav." He said, as he hugged the Kit same as he did every night. "See you in the morning."

"Night, Nathan." He hugged the bigger tom back. "Good luck."

"Thanks, I'm gonna need it." He said as he headed into his room. He looked over at Jake as he climbed into his own bed, and then rolled over. What a disaster of a day, he thought as he drifted off to a light, watchful sleep.

Nathan was aware of Jake's slow return to consciousness nearly two days later well before the Kat was. He'd sat a mostly silent vigil, checking vitals that didn't make much sense, looking at lab results that made less sense and generally wondering if he could have been a bigger fool if he'd been trying. He'd been studying the literature on vampires diligently, carefully correlating the various bits of information. He knew he'd need it eventually.

He waited for the Kat to wake on his own, not seeing anything to be gained by impatience.

A low moan heralded Jake's grudgingly admitted awareness of the outside world. He sniffed the air a couple times, and lunged with lightning fast reflexes directly for Nathan's throat.

Nathan's reflexes shifted him to warform, as he rolled to one side to put the Kat to the floor, as gently as was possible under the circumstance. He applied his full strength and weight to keeping Jake pinned. "Jake, snap out of it!" He growled in his deep voice.

Panting, nearly hyperventilating, he obeyed, his eyes staring up conveyed a more than just a look at Nathan felt the savage, starving hunger consuming Jake's mind.

Nathan wasn't sure what was going on, but he had a dark suspicion about what the problem was. He carefully pushed telepathically against the hunger, and with an intense psychic effort created a bonding. He didn't expect more than a temporary respite though as Jake collapsed under him. The tom was awake and aware, but without any strength.

Nathan picked the tom up gently and laid him on the bed. He thought about what he'd sensed, and reviewed what he knew. He also knew that if he was right, the required substance didn't have to be straight from a living source. He took a fresh unit of blood from the special refrigerator in the room, and went over to Jake. With a haunted feeling he opened the blood pack so Jake could smell it, and barely got his fingers out of the way of another grab backed by a desperate growl as the blood pack was torn open, and it's contents greedily sucked down.

With the cool blood dripping down the side of his face and a significantly more alert look Jake whined a little as a looked around the room before trying to lick every last drop from his fur and the bag.

Nathan sighed, and gave Jake another blood bag.

Six bags later, Jake finally stopped looking famished and started to look around with real eyes that eventually focused on Nathan.

"I just got into a lot of trouble, didn't I?"

Nathan nodded. "It's what I tried to warn you about. Getting killed by a vampire isn't necessarily the biggest danger. Though this situation is a little less clear. What do you remember about what happened to you?"

"A lot of it." He closed his eyes and pushed down the guilt over what he'd done to tell the truth. "I ... I wanted to find out for myself what kind of conditioning I had. I went to my old hunting grounds, where I dance and pick up one-nighters. I met this ... stunningly gorgeous Gray Fox, Ozzy. We danced at Pharos, and went back to his place.

"It was intense," Jake's eyes went a little glassy as he smiled at the memory before becoming serious again. "I passed out on top of him. Next thing I know, this big tom slapped me awake. He's got half a dozen friends, and Ozzy's there, in the background somewhere.

"I'm cuffed to this X-frame, and they start talking about what's going to happen. They said that I was a vampire-lover, and with the help of my vampire lover they'd have their vampire servant to destroy the SWAT Kats. They were sure I was Razor's lover ... that he'd never see it coming.

"Then they put this collar with tubes in it, that's what the neck wounds are from. They gave me two shots of this red stuff. The first made everything hurt like hellfire, then they did something and my blood started to flow from the tubes. That's when I started to fight. I wasn't going to get out alive otherwise.

"I got out of the restraints easily enough, but the big one pinned me down before I could get the collar off. I gutted him, nearly crushed his head, and he kept holding me down. Eventually he collapsed and I pushed him off. His friends circled me, but I crashed up through the skylight. Ozzy was next to me, all bloody. I told him I hopped he could run, and set focus to your apartment. We were maybe half a mile away.

"I take it I made it at least close."

Nathan nodded. "You came in through my bedroom window followed by a bloody fox, who is rather cute. He's staying here too; he and Gavin are getting along pretty well. I'd guessed there was something strange about him, but it seems pretty clear he's a vampire but a pretty harmless one. Actually, this kind of throws everything into a bit of confusion."

"That's an understatement." Jake groaned and dropped back to the bed. "You just said at least four things I do not understand."

"Okay, tell me which ones and I'll try to clarify." He said pleasantly.

"Start with 'harmless Vampire'."

"As far as I've been able to tell, Ozzy doesn't feed, or at least he hasn't in the two days he's been here, but then he eats normally which defies most of the recorded vampire info. He also tries to not behave like any vampire there's record of. About the only thing noticeable is that he avoids sunlight."

"Well, that gives some hope for me, since it's his blood that did this to me." Jake sighed and closed his eyes. "He does feed on blood though, needs to. He feed from me last night."

"Based on some readings, blood bank supplies will work just as well." Nathan said reassuringly. "So that's what he meant. He said he never meant to hurt you. I thought he was just blaming himself for you being abducted from his apartment."

"You have to admit, I have a gift for picking interesting dates." Jake actually chuckled, then looked around. "Where's 'here' anyway?"

"Serenity Thorne, I don't keep the kind of blood supplies needed in my apartment." He said with slight smile. "Actually, if it wasn't for those psychotics I think you would have had a perfectly good date." He grinned. "However, the wounds on your neck from that encounter don't match the earlier wounds. We still don't know who the earlier assailant was. However, he or she isn't nearly the danger they were before."

"You actually trust Ozzy around Gavin?" Jake looked over at the Tiger. "You didn't turn him over to your friends?"

"Ozzy was on the level with me, he told me he was a vampire. I haven't seen any thing that triggers my danger warnings. Besides, Gavin knows what Ozzy is, and he still wants to hang out with him. I think it was actually your 'conditioning' problem that caused Ozzy to feed. Apparently, that whimpering it causes, triggered some feeding response." He said quietly. "I'm not so sure about the Protectors right now, they have a pretty black and white view of things."

"All such groups do. They must, to function." Jake said quietly. "Well, if Ozzy is on level with you, he can probably do a decent job of explaining just what the hell I am now."

"Probably, I can tell you one thing: he hates it. If I step out of the room to get him ... you're not going to disappear on me are you?" He looked at the Kat seriously.

Jake took a moment to really know the answer before meeting Nathan's green eyes. "I won't. I'm still very hungry, but it's not as bad as it was. I can control it, for now."

"I think one thing we should check is if you can still eat regular food. Theoretically, since Ozzy can you should be able to. I'll get more units of blood shipped up, that should help. If you feel like you're going to lose control, tell me." He said gently, as he stepped out to go down the hall.

A few minutes later, the Tiger came back with a very hesitant Ozzy. The fear was evident in his scent and posture. "Hi, Jake. How are you feeling?" He asked quietly. "I'm sorry. None of this was supposed to happen.""

"Somebody's going to be happy about it." Jake shrugged, locking eyes with the Fox. "Vampire Survival 101. Start with just what we are."

"Not the guys who did it." He said quietly. "As you figured we're vampires. That means we're stuck with an appetite and need for blood, though it's controllable and doesn't have to kill anybody. Sunlight will kill us in a short period of time, and it's very painful. Unlike most vampires you and I aren't part of any of the clans."

Jake nodded easily. "Just how much blood do I need? I finished eight of these things," he motioned to the stack of empty blood bags, "and I'm still hungry. They don't taste great either." He made a bit of a face.

Ozzy nodded. "No, they don't. Actually I just don't like taste of blood period. As for how much, you need a lot tonight because your replacing all the blood you lost, plus the transformation is very energy intensive. For a vampire, blood is like fuel we use it to do the fantastic things people assume vampires can do. If you can handle being no more powerful than you were in life, than you can get by on one or two of those a week.

"Some vampires have a person or group of people who are willing to be fed on. I've never felt comfortable asking that of anyone, but I'm not very close to anyone around here. Others just feed carefully; never taking enough that it really hurts the person. That's what I try to do ... I just get into trouble cause I decide I like the person too much to bite them. I didn't want to bite you, but that strange whimpering noise you made brought the Beast on stronger than I could stop in time." He explained apologetically.

"Yeah, somebody was conditioning me for something ... and feeding on me a lot." The Kat sighed. "You really can stop apologizing. You didn't really hurt me, and you didn't do this. It's hardly the worst thing I've had to adjust to in my life." Jake shifted to look at Ozzy. "Do you have anywhere to be soon?"

Ozzy shook his head. "I took some time off. I needed to know you were okay, and I wasn't feeling safe going home. Nathan's let me stay here, which works with the lightblock currents." He smiled gratefully at the Tiger.

"Can you feed from another vampire?" Jake began to plan as he talked.

"Not really for nutritional needs. It's done for power transfer, and other reasons. For nutrition, and 'fuel' it really needs to be mortal blood."

"How are Vampires normally created?" Jake asked pointedly. "I do not want to be doing that by accident."

"As I understand it, and I've never done it intentionally, you have to drain all the blood out of a mortal and then feed them a small amount of your own blood. It's called the Embrace."

"At least it's not easy to do by accident." Jake relaxed slightly, then glanced at the Fox. "You might as well get comfortable," he smiled slightly and patted the bed. "I don't expect I'll run out of questions soon," a shadow crossed his face, "and Nate's far too tempting right now to snuggle with."

Nathan gently stroked the Kat's hair back. "We'll just have to get you fed properly so that isn't a problem." He said quietly. "Don't think this means I'm going anywhere ... I still love you."

Jake quietly smiled at him, but there was fear in his eyes too. "I never want to attack you again, and it's still a struggle." He closed his eyes. "All I could think of was to drain you dry, and keep hunting."

"As you saw, I can take care of myself." Nathan said quietly.

"I saw," He smiled weakly and caressed the Tiger's hand. "And it makes me feel better knowing that, but I don't want it to ever come to that again."

Ozzy tentatively settled next to Jake in the bed. "Learning control isn't that hard, and then you'll be able to snuggle with anyone you like." He said quietly.

The Kat smiled fractionally and tugged Ozzy to lie down. "I like snuggling with you too, Foxy." He nuzzled the Fox affectionately. "You aren't that distant a second choice. And you are gorgeous."

"Thanks, Jake." Ozzy said as he lay down, and nuzzled back. "But he's probably the one chance we both have at getting our lives back." He said cryptically.

"Urr?" The Kat's gaze snapped from one to the other.

"I'm not sure exactly, but the Book of Night refers to the Firecat and rogue Protector who finds the Path of Return. The Path of Return is the mythic way for a vampire to reclaim his mortal life." The Fox said quietly.

"Book of Night ... that was what those creeps were using ...." Jake concentrated for a moment. "Has anyone been back to the warehouse?"

"It's been sealed as a crime scene, once Ozzy identified it. But I don't recall any mention of a book." Nathan said quietly.

Ozzy shook his head. "Only Kindred, ghouls or Mages can see it clearly."

"Is it night?" Jake moved to get up. "We need to get that book." He turned to Ozzy. "And you need to teach me how to feed from a living target without hurting them badly."

"Yes, its night. About an hour after sunset, and if you two are going out, I'm coming with you." Nathan said firmly.

Ozzy looked at him. "I was kind of hoping you would."

"Good, since you're the one with official muscle right now." Jake nodded. "Let's go."

"Maybe you should get dressed." Nathan said handing Jake a carefully folded set of clothes, on top of which was sitting an Enforcer badge.

Jake shot him a quizzical look but dressed quickly. He picked up the badge, flipping it over in his fingers several times. "You know, there were times I honestly forgot this was mine."

"It's kind of a known fact now that you're still on the force. When I had to pull in a Helivac for you, it kind of blew the illusion. The only way to get a Helivac fast enough was to call in an 'officer down' situation."

"Well, it's not like it was going to be a secret for long." Jake sort of shrugged. "It's not like Felina could ever pass for me."

Nathan chuckled lightly. "Well, no one actually has you connected to SWAT yet. You're just on one of the Commander's many special projects." He said as he opened the door. "Let's go."

"Keep your eyes open." Nathan said as they entered the warehouse. "If what I've heard about the Book of Night is true then it may have put itself out of the way of casual discovery." He said looking around the blood-splattered warehouse, noting the numerous chalk outlines on the floor.

Jake nodded and began a systematic search of the out of the way spots in the building, staring with the back.

Jake's search paid off fairly quickly, as he discovered the black leather bound book covered in dried blood wedged under a crate near the back. Just as he found the book his attention was drawn to a loud crash from another area of the warehouse.

Instantly he drew his blaster, wished for his Glovatrix, and made his way to the noise, the book carefully tucked under his shirt.

What it turned out to be was Nathan brawling with a creature Jake couldn't quite identify; it seemed to be part Creepling, part lizard and part big cat though the species was unclear. The wreckage of a shipping crate gave Jake a good idea what the crash had been. There was a sudden roar, and Nathan shifted to war-form and kicked the Kat-sized creature across the room, where it crashed into another crate.

Jake took quick aim and fired, as much to see if his targeting skills were still intact as to stop the beast.

The blaster bolts splashed of the hide of the beast, without noticeable effect, except to get the creature's attention. It hissed angrily and rushed at Jake with claws out, only to get hit from the side by Ozzy. The small Fox slashed the creature leaving bloody gashes before the creature threw him off.

There was glowing silver light around Jake's blaster for a moment. "Jake, shoot it again." Nathan said in the warform's deep voice, with silver light shining in his eyes.

The Kat didn't even hesitate long enough to fully comprehend the words; he just took aim and fired.

The blaster bolts shimmered with a strange silver power, which seemed to shatter the creature when they hit. For a moment, the creature struggled to retain coherence before it exploded into gouts of black flame.

"Impressive." Jake raised an eyebrow. Then looked down at the blaster. "To think I'd miss those days." He said quietly.

"Shadow demon." Nathan said as he shifted back to Felsin form. "Guess we're not the only ones looking for the Book. What days?" Nathan asked as he walked over to check Ozzy's condition.

"My sniper days." Jake answered quietly. "Those were the reflexes you triggered."

"Oh, I just wanted you to shoot it. Mostly 'cause it's easier to enchant a weapon to work against a shadow demon, then to throw magic against one directly." He said as he discovered that the Fox had merely had the wind knocked out of him, and was already sitting up.

Jake continued to look at the blaster. "I must trust you more than I thought." He whispered.

"Why do you say that? Not that I'm complaining." He asked curiously as he helped Ozzy to his feet.

Jake almost jumped as his gaze snapped to focus on Nathan, his eyes wide. "I ... do you know how the Gunner/ Pilot relationship on this world?"

"I haven't really looked into it. I wasn't planning on flying again." He said quietly. "Back home it's usually the gunner who gives the orders."

"Same here." Jake nodded, his eyes down. "A pilot has to trust their gunner implicitly. Snipers have a similar relationship with their spotter. A lot of snipers become gunners after loosing a spotter, rather than face leaning to trust like that again."

"Sounds like the reason I gave up being a pilot." Nathan said quietly. "I take it you lost a spotter." He said sympathetically, as he walked over and put his arm around Jake.

"Not lost ... she's alive." He shrugged off the arm. "I couldn't stomach seeing heads explode without them ever knowing what hit them anymore."

Nathan nodded, and turned to look around 'feeling' for where the demon had appeared. He swiftly moved over to a dark corner, and started carefully examining the floor.

"Anything useful?" Jake asked from behind his shoulder.

"It's the point where the demon materialized here. But there's no trace of dimensional residue, which means the demon had been in this dimension for a while before it was sent to retrieve the book." He said quietly. "We've got a definite mage faction involved here, though I'm not sure if they're simply cleaning up after the failed ritual or a separate group taking advantage of the confusion."

"Ozzy ... any impute on this one?" Jake looked at the Fox.

"I don't know much on mages, but factions are what Vampire society is made of. Clan politics can get pretty nasty, and you'd been fed on by another vampire before I met you. It's possible somebody wanted the book to give the ritual another try, not realizing it sort-of worked already."

"Except I'm not a servant." Jake shrugged, then looked around. "How sure are you two this was mostly a mage thing, and not another group?"

Nathan looked at the ground again. "I'm not sure it was mostly a mage thing, I just know that at least one powerful mage or several weaker ones would be required to summon a shadow demon. Also, the ritual they were attempting would require at least a small amount of magical talent."

Ozzy nodded. "It could be another group, but do you have any idea who the vampire who was feeding on you before is?"

Nathan stayed silent, and focused on the floor.

"No, but I have an idea how to find out." Jake growled low in his throat. "Did any of the ones here that night escape?" He looked at Ozzy.

"I think one or two got away." Ozzy said uneasily. "I didn't have time to chase them down."

"Good," Jake grinned viciously. "That means there's something to track."

Nathan nodded. "Hopefully, there weren't any Protectors near enough to catch them."

"Either way, we have time." Jake finally holstered his weapon. "Time for feeding lessons. I'm hungry."

Ozzy nodded. "I'm not surprised, you hadn't fed completely and combat is something of a drain. There are basically two ways to 'hunt', either the slow way or the fast way. Well, there are others but I only use two and the other ways belong to the monsters who don't care who they hurt."

"Probably start with the fast way." Jake stretched. "If hunger is any judge of how much I'll need, I'll need significantly more than one partner tonight if I'm not going to hurt them."

Ozzy nodded. "It'll be easier once you've gotten fully fed, you're still recovering from the transition. The fast way is kind of like mugging someone; only you're after blood instead of money. The thing to remember is that they won't remember, unless you want them to. As distasteful as it may sound, best targets for the fast way are prostitutes, the cheap ones though." He shook his head quietly. "Alternatively, anyone you can find in an unobserved location works well."

Jake nodded easily and pulled the book from his under his shirt and handed it to Nathan. "You might not want to come along."

Nathan took the book. "Since you're trying not to hurt anyone, it might be a good idea for me to be along. Someone might need patched up." Nathan said quietly.

Ozzy nodded. "Inexperienced vampires have been known to lose control. I know I did the first couple times. A Medic might be useful."

"As long as it won't bother you too much," Jake looked at Nathan meaningfully.

Nathan sighed. "If it was going to bother me too much, I wouldn't have made it this far." He said quietly. "Doing what's necessary to survive is something I'm well-acquainted with. Besides, I'd rather not have to try and explain where you are, if I go back to the hospital without you."

"All right," Jake nodded and gave the Tiger a hug. "I'd prefer prostitutes ... they'll get paid for what they're giving." He looked at Ozzy. "Is feeding always pleasurable for the 'victim'?"

Ozzy nodded. "Unless the vampire is trying to make it unpleasant. Otherwise, it's extremely pleasurable some mortals even get sort of addicted to it. But that takes multiple feedings from the same vampire to occur."

"I'll keep that in mind." Jake nodded. "Unless you know better, Jackson near here is a good place for cheap hookers."

Ozzy shook his head. "I haven't gone the hooker routine in a while, so that'll do." He said simply.

"Let me guess, the long rout is picking up a date for the night?" Jake chuckled and led the way back to the car.

Ozzy chuckled. "Yep, more fun too. Though on more than one occasion I became too fond of my one night stand to actually feed." He grinned. "Fortunately, my activity level is low enough that I can miss a meal without noticing it."

Nathan followed along behind them, feeling as though he'd stepped into a kind of surreal gothic fiction. Trained as a Protector, he was accompanying two vampires as they looked for 'dinner'. Most definitely surreal.

"Speaking of which, do we need to find dinner for you too?" Jake shot a look at the Fox. "Between the fight with those creeps and the demon, I expect you've burned off a fair amount of energy."

The Fox looked a little uneasy. "Actually, after the fight with the creeps I had a serious surplus. I'm about down to normal now, I'm just waiting for the combat rush to wear off."

"Ah, I wasn't sure if you'd had any time then." Jake smiled as he got in the back seat of Nathan's black SUV. "I wasn't moving all that slow."

"Well, there are a fair number of vampire power stunts, and one of them increases speed. Compared to a vampire with celerity you were moving quite slowly." He smiled, and got in back with Jake as the Kat pulled him in for a kiss.

Nathan started up the SUV. "Umm, where are we going?" He asked curiously.

Jake chuckled as he broke the kiss. "Know where Jackson Street is?"

Nathan turned on the computer in the dashboard, and watched as it displayed maps. "I do now. Any particular part of it?"

"The section nearby." Jake smiled as he cuddled the Fox, then looked down at Ozzy. "How many will I need tonight, if I don't hurt any of them?"

"I'm not sure." Ozzy said as the SUV set off. "I've never really dealt with the period after the Embrace before. Though I'd be surprised if it was less than three or four."

"Mmm, sounds like we'll need to hit a couple spots. Picking up that many in a few blocks would get ever their attention." Jake shook his head.

"You want to be careful about who you pick. Drug users aren't advisable since you end up getting a hit of whatever they're using."

Jake made a face. "I'm in enough trouble ... trust me you don't want to deal with me high."

Nathan looked around as they approached Jackson Street. "I'm not sensing any Protector activity in this sector of the city."

"One less thing to deal with." Jake took a breath before looking out the tinted window and tried to relax. "This feels so much like a sting." He laughed nervously.

The Kat swallowed. "The blond gray tabby, Nathan."

Nathan nodded and pulled over near the indicated Kat as Jake rolled down the back window for her to lean in.

"Hi, honey." The female crooned as she leaned forward to show off her assets. "Looking for a little sugar?"

"That we are," Jake smiled as he looked her over. Not his type, but his type weren't cheap. "Twenty for it all?" He offered bluntly.

"For both of you?" She asked.

"Just me," Jake smirked. "Foxy here watches."

"Around the corner." She pointed and began walking.

Ozzy simply watched Jake, since prostitutes weren't something he dealt with often, at least not the street ones. Nathan kept busy looking out for other forms of trouble; Protectors, Enforcers or other busybodies as he pulled the SUV into the indicated dark spot.

"Okay ... just how do I feed?" Jake shot a look at the Fox.

"Really fairly simple, you get up close to the 'meal' and make skin contact with the intent to feed. This generates the psychic effect known as 'the Kiss' which blanks memory of the fact that you're going to bite them. When you go to feed your teeth elongate and sharpen to allow you to penetrate skin to a blood vessel, arteries are best and the neck is he easiest place to gain access." He explained quietly.

"And drink the blood, or is that a fang thing too?"

"The fangs penetrate the blood vessels and provide secure grip. Drinking the blood works the same as it did with the blood packs in the hospital, you just drink. The real trick is maintaining control, the Beast will want to drink the victim dry, but you need to restrain that urge."

Jake nodded as he opened the door for his first meal and scooted over for her to get in. He swallowed his nervousness and nuzzled her neck, grazing the front of his fangs along the path the main artery took to judge her reaction.

With a slight shiver he grabbed her wrists and pinned them to the back of the seat before nearly covering her with his body and focused on feeding, like Ozzy had said.

Her reaction was one of ecstasy as the Kiss engulfed her, and she shuddered in pleasure. She didn't even notice when the Kat's fangs penetrated the blood vessel. As the blood flowed, Jake could her a bestial roaring in the back of his mind and a driving instinct to sate his hunger on this victim alone.

It was only knowledge of the two sets of eyes watching him for just such a surrender that he denied the voice, but with this he knew he'd never drink bagged blood again if he could help it. This was good. The rewards of the long hunt would be even better.

Ozzy sighed. "Before you start enjoying the hunt too much, just remember that your enjoyment comes at someone else's expense." He said quietly. He'd met vampires who truly enjoyed hunting without regard for the fact they were hunting sentient beings, and they frightened him.

Nathan didn't say anything, but merely watched the vital signs on his med scanner to be sure the victim wasn't in real danger. He still couldn't believe he was doing this; it was almost too surreal to be believed.

Jake continued to feed, trusting his companions to clue him in to when he should stop, and getting seriously turned on by the pleasure his meal was getting in this.

Ozzy tapped Jake's shoulder gently. "You should stop before she requires medical attention." He said quietly.

Jake shifted to remove his longer fangs, and licked along the holes, hoping he remembered that bit right.

Ozzy pulled a package out of his pocket, and drew a moistened tissue from it. "Pre-moistened tissues, great for clean-up. Especially if you get the anti-bacterial kind." He said as he gently cleaned up her neck.

Nathan turned around. "She'll be fine, no long term effects. Even if she is a bit blissed out at the moment."

Ozzy nodded. "We should get out of sight before she comes 'round."

"How long should she be zoned?" Jake glanced between them.

"Fifteen minutes maybe." Nathan hazarded.

"About that." Ozzy agreed.

"That's a long time to be helpless in this neighborhood." Jake looked around, unsure of what to do.

"Not if no one knows she's there." Nathan said quietly. "I can keep others from noticing her until she's with it." He said beginning to weave a minor spell.

Jake nodded acceptingly and quickly set her in a reasonably clean part of the ally before tucking a twenty into her dress and returning to the SUV.

"This is going to take a while." He sighed unhappily.

Ozzy nodded. "First Hunt is usually long, if you're trying not to hurt anybody." He hesitated. "There is another option, depending on your view of justice and punishment. On occasion, when I was really hungry I'd look for criminals, the kind who hurt people or killed people. With them I wouldn't care if draining them hurt them, they were just getting back what they'd dealt out."

"I know enough of them to feed on for a century." Jake growled softly. "Though that might be more than Nathan can accept." He looked at the Tiger driving.

"It's no worse than what I did to the Kat I discovered running a kit prostitution ring." Nathan said softly. "They expect he'll be a permanent resident of MegaKat City General's psych-ward."

"Good. I know two more of that kind, and a serial killer." Jake leaned back. "At this hour," he glanced at the clock in the dashboard, "the killer is the easier one to find. He'll be at home."

"What's the address?" Nathan asked putting the SUV in motion.

"7831 134th." Jake supplied easily. "About ten miles inland."

Ozzy nodded. "One Kat should sate the remaining hunger completely." He suggested.

"At least enough to sleep well with a mortal." Jake relaxed as the city pass by.

"Basically, once you're sated the temptation won't be there." The fox added quietly, as he watched the city.

"That is a relief." The Kat smiled. "As much as it feels like an addiction, I'm glad it doesn't act like one."

Ozzy nodded. "It's no more an addiction than three meals a day makes you addicted to food. Speaking of which, you can eat regularly and it'll supplement the blood if you do."

"Even better." Jake smiled. "I would have missed pizza and milk."

"Fringe benefit to getting turned into a vampire by my blood. A lot of vampires can't eat normally; their bodies will only process blood for sustenance. I always thought that sounded depressing."

"At the very least limiting." Jake shook his head. "Variety is the spice of life, and that definitely includes what you eat. Living wouldn't be nearly as fun without a little variety in the diet."

Ozzy nodded. "I agree, there's nothing like a dish of ice cream after a good hunt." He grinned.

Nathan shook his head while driving. He punched in his security code to activate his link to the Enforcer network, so he could check the status on the killer they were after. "Jake, this serial killer ... what's his name? I want to make sure he hasn't gotten picked up on something before we go after him."

"Greg Matcar," Jake supplied easily. "I doubt he's been picked up. There was never enough legal evidence to arrest him."

"Yeah, but he might have gotten picked up on something else." Nathan said as he punched the name through the arrest database.

"There are plenty of other targets if he's not readily available." Jake grumbled darkly. "Oh, and Nathan ... can you keep us from being particularly memorable when he's 'arrested'?"

Nathan smiled. "Easily done, it's a basic Protector enchantment. And you're right there are plenty of other targets, too many really." He said quietly.

"At least I won't have to worry much about meals." Jake grumbled. "Or training hard."

Ozzy shook his head. "Oh, you have training ahead. You've got to learn how all your vampire abilities work, and you'll need to adjust to the new body responses." He said easily. "Being a vampire just puts you on a new training schedule."

Nathan nodded. "There's also the issue of deciding if you're going to stay with the Enforcers or not. I'm sure you could get shifted to a night shift easy enough, if you wanted to. Or you could use this to retire like you wanted to." He said as he waited for the search results to come back.

"This doesn't change my interest in retiring." Jake sighed. "It does give a little more interest to existing, though."

Nathan smiled slightly. "That's good to hear, you really had me worried." He said sincerely, reading the report as it came back. "Looks like your meal isn't in custody tonight, though he did get picked up on a weapons violation day before yesterday."

"Can't say I'm surprised." Jake grumbled, then cocked his head at Nathan. "What had you so worried?"

"Several things you said in the hospital sounded decidedly suicidal, enough so that technically I had no business letting you out that early. By the book, I should have had you committed as a danger to yourself." He said quietly. "What the book doesn't know, is that it would've just made things worse."

"Yeah, and what the book doesn't know is there isn't a facility on this planet that can hold me without my consent." Jake growled. "Thanks for looking the other way. I really wasn't suicidal then, just very burned out."

"That's what I was hoping, and I learned a long time ago that the book doesn't know everything. I trust my own judgment before some book ... doesn't mean I don't worry though." He grinned slightly. "Fortunately, I only answer to one person and as long you don't turn up 'dead' he lets me do what I think is best." Nathan said easily.

"Well, as long as I can curse at him, I doubt he'll have any problems believing I'm still 'alive', and as far as I'm concerned, I am." Jake huffed. "I've been dead enough times than this qualifies as not dead."

"As far as anyone knows you were just seriously injured, what really happened isn't going anywhere official. There are some things that are better not recorded." He said quietly.

"Yeah," Jake grinned lopsidedly. "It's not like anyone would notice. I don't think what really happened has ever been recorded in my file."

"In this case it's a little more important. The Protectors have far too easy access to Enforcer records." He said as they drove on.

Cadmus looked at the Tiger. "Are they going to be mad at you for this?" He asked quietly.

Nathan didn't say anything for a while. "I'm resigning from the Protectors so it doesn't matter. They won't be happy I'm sure, but it's not all that important." He said in even measured tones.

"Aren't they useful?" Jake interjected.

"They can be." Nathan said quietly. "They're also extremely dangerous to you and Ozzy. They have very black and white views on vampires." He said quietly.

"No doubt," Jake rolled his eyes. "Some things never change." He leaned back and sighed. "To think I might actually see home again, and I won't be able to go home."

"I thought you were from the future, Jake." Nathan said, curiously.

"And when my time comes again, I won't be able to see my family." He said quietly. "For the same reason you're retiring."

"There's no guarantee we're still in that time stream, time travel has a habit of creating new time streams. It's how you can act in the past without eliminating the future that created you. At least according to temporal theory." He said, as they entered the neighborhood containing the target's address.

"I'm in the same timestream." Jake said quietly. "I played a major roll in creating that reality."

Nathan shook his head. "Huh? That doesn't make any sense. How can you play a major role in creating the reality that created you? That's a bad case of temporal paradox at best." The tiger said confused. "That's like the chicken laying the egg it hatched from."

"Just a loop for me." Jake shrugged. "I was born before I died, hardly the weirdest think that's happened to me."

Nathan decided to give up the whole thing, it made no sense at all. He concentrated on the map of the neighborhood looking for the most discrete approach to the target.

Nathan drove through the 'projects' until they were close to the address Jake had provided. This sort of area reminded him why he was so uncomfortable with cities.

"That building over there." He said as he stopped the SUV in a location where they could observe discretely.

Jake leaned out and fingered the badge still in his pocket. "Since we have the badges, you and I should go get him." He said, looking at Nathan."

Nathan nodded. "Agreed. Ozzy, get behind the wheel. We might need to get moving in a hurry, you never know in a neighborhood like this." He said as he got out, quickly followed by Jake.

"You want to take lead, or me?" Jake asked quietly as they moved.

"Maybe you should, I haven't really done much arrest-wise. I was primarily trained as a medical examiner/ medic." Nathan said looking around uneasily for any danger.

The Kat nodded and led the way to Greg Matcar's apartment with the ease of familiarity. Without hesitation he knocked hard on the door.

"What now?" A medium built swirl brown tabby growled at he opened the door in only a pair of jeans.

"We just have a few questions, sir." Jake said calmly as he flipped his badge. "If you'll come with us."

"At this hour?" Matcar scowled, then turned back into his apartment. "Let me get a shirt on."

"Of course, sir." Jake smiled agreeably and followed the slightly taller tomkat inside.

Nathan followed Jake silently, playing the strong, silent backup role. He also kept his eye out for anything strange or unusual, and for any on-duty Enforcers in the area. Though the enchantment would keep most from really remembering who had been there, it wouldn't work as well on someone whose job it was to see things.

True to his word, Matcar quickly pulled a light blue shirt from his bedroom closet and grabbed his wallet after buttoning it up.

"It shouldn't take long, sir." Jake ushered the other tom out of the room and down to the SUV. "Just get in the front seat."

"What's this about, officers?" Matcar asked with a mixture of curiosity and feigned innocence as he shut the door, and it locked.

"The Kimber Yard murders." Jake said quietly.

Ozzy blinked in surprise as he jumped into the back of the SUV while Nathan took the driver's seat.

"What could I tell you about them?" Greg looked at them, honestly confused, but growing uneasy.

"Very little, I expect." Jake said coldly as he drew a blaster and settled it squarely against the tabby's heart through the seat. "At least very little I don't already know. This is about coming clean, and paying a debit."

"You've finally lost it, Clawson." Matcar growled, but held still.

"Can't argue with that." The Kat shrugged.

Nathan carefully wove a blanket of indifference around the SUV to gently blur its description and presence in the minds of those who saw it. He then started a detailed psi-scan of Matcar, to see if he really did know anything about the killings. It wasn't a gentle scan, he wanted the truth and he wasn't inclined to be picky. As the scan confirmed the Kat's guilt in that and a great many other things, he pulled out being deliberately harsh about it. The Tiger's disgust was plain both on his face, and in his scent.

As Matcar held his head and groaned slightly Jake caught Nathan's eyes. "To Kimber Yard."

Nathan carefully changed the cloak to a movable form, and put the vehicle in motion. He picked the most direct route to Kimber Yard from the ones the computer offered.

The silence in the vehicle was deafening, and mixed with the pungent smell of Nathan's disgust, Jake's hatred and hunger, and Matcar's growing fear made the ride out into a nearly deserted warehouse district utterly oppressive.

"Get out, meat." Jake ordered calmly as he slipped out of the SUV.

"What is this about?" The tabby turned to face the young vampire with fists raised.

"The truth we both know." Jake grinned viciously as he dropped into a combat stance, giving him a rather psychotic look. "It's about survival, a young tom who never saw his eighteenth birthday, and one whose fate was changed by you."

The brown swirl tabby didn't even get a chance to speak before Jake moved, diving into a twisting roll to hamstring him. As the Kat roared in pain and started to fall Jake came up with the full strength of his combat honed body pushed to its vampritic max to slam his knife into Matcar's ass, twisting it before he shifted forward to pull the blade out.

As he moved, he rolled its sharp edge hard between his dinner's legs, slicing both balls and sheath clearly open. Then with the supple grace of a combat trained dancer Jake was on his feet and drove his blade forward and down, smashing it up to the hilt into Matcar's pelvis; slicing deep into his penis, tucked inside the body, safe from most attacks.

With that Matcar dropped to the ground, far enough into shock that he wasn't even screaming anymore.

"Circle's nearly complete." Jake growled, breathing heavily even though he no longer needed oxygen. He looked at his victim a moment longer before kicking him hard, breaking several ribs to roll the Kat to his back.

"Don't worry, I won't hurt you as bad as you hurt them. It's almost over." Jake growled with a sick chuckle before he lunged forward to rip Matcar's throat out with his claws. As he lowered his head to feed greedily on the dieing killer his hind claws dug deep into the brown tabby's gut, disemboweling him slowly as the life drained from him to strengthen the young vampire.

As Jake gulped down the last of the blood pouring from his victim's neck he curled his back up, arching over Matcar's chest and drove his claws down, snapping the breastbone raggedly in half. With now unnatural strength Jake thrust the ribcage open and apart, revealing his goal, a still weakly beating heart.

His fur soaked dark brown red in blood Jake grabbed his prize, ripping it from it's home and holding it up to the night before downing it in two great bites.

The look on Ozzy's face was one of complete shock as he watched. Nathan on the other hand was quietly retching on the far side of the SUV. What this monster had not done enough to compensate for watching his lover do ... that.

As Jake slowly stood, shaking terribly as he stared at what he'd done, he looked at a spot a little further in. "Maybe now you can rest, Jake. You and the others."

With that he tried to swallow before he knelt to retrieve the dagger, looking more than a little queasy at the sticky slurp it made as it was pulled out of his meal's crotch.

Nathan sat down on the ground next to the SUV, and focused on erasing the images he'd just seen. Years of combat, decades of surgery and still he'd never seen the like. It frightened him to think that Jake was capable of that.

"Interesting to see what I can do ... loose and in cold rage." Jake said in a strangely subdued tone as he shook himself out of the shock of the past few minutes first and looked at his handiwork. "The carcass gets left." He said to no one in particular as he grabbed the box of pre-moistened towels and tried to clean the worst of the offal from his fur and clothes.

Nathan forced himself to his feet, and unsteadily went to the back of the SUV. He pulled out a large unmarked bottle, which he handed to Jake along with a large towel. "It'll get anything out." He said quietly.

He looked at the scene and then ran tendrils of silver energy through the area covering not only the gore, but the three of them and the SUV as well. As the tendrils returned to him, he climbed back behind the wheel and leaned on it.

"I hope I don't do that again," Jake said quietly as he sank into the back seat, now blood-free. Hesitantly he reached out to touch Nathan's shoulder. "If you don't want anything to do with me after this, I can't blame you, either of you."

Nathan took a moment to catch his breath. "There was something very personal about this serial killer to you, wasn't there? He wasn't just some random serial killer."

Ozzy climbed into the back seat. "The Beast lurks in every vampire, it's the danger we all face. You've just seen the face of yours." He said gently. "But I'm not going to abandon you because of it." He said gently reaching out to run a hand along Jake's cheek.

"Thanks," The Kat leaned into the caress and closed his eyes. "How much do you know about what happened here thirty years ago?"

Nathan looked at him, and gently held the hand on his shoulder. "Well before I arrived, and I haven't done much research into old files." He said quietly.

Ozzy shook his head. "I wasn't born yet. And I didn't grow up in MegaKat City."

"Okay," Jake let out a breath and leaned back to rest against the back seat, his eyes closed. "Can ... I explain this someplace more comfortable? It's a ... painful story."

Nathan smiled. "Of course. My place okay?" He suggested gently.

"Yeah, that'd be great." Jake whispered. "Are ... I'd like to be in bed with you."

Nathan smiled. "I like that idea." He said, as he gently kissed the Kat before he turned to put the SUV in motion, and head for home.

Ozzy looked around a little uncomfortably, feeling the odd Fox out.

As they got going Jake snuggled against Ozzy tightly. "You to, Foxy." He said quietly as he shivered. "I need you too."

"Oh, I wasn't sure." He said, as he nuzzled the lean tom affectionately. "I didn't want to presume anything."

"You're not." Nathan said from the front seat. "Jake needs you, and you're welcome in my home." The tiger said sincerely. "Good thing I went for the large bed." He chuckled in genuine amusement.

"I seem to remember you thought threesome are normal." Jake almost had an amused tone.

"They are back home." He chuckled. "I was still getting a handle on what 'normal' is here. Besides, I only had one Kat in mind." He smiled affectionately."

"I don't think there is a 'normal' around here, unless you break it down into sub societies." Jake snickered. "Not like it really matters. You can accept that I need to sleep around a little to be happy."

Nathan opened the door to his apartment to let his two guests in.
Once he felt certain there wasn't any threat around, he followed them
in and locked the door.

"Hi Jake, Hi Ozzy." Gavin said over his shoulder from where he was lying on the floor playing AG3.

Nathan chuckled at the teenager. "You're up late."

"I was worried. Besides, I kept thinking Chance would call looking for Jake."

"He's probably busy." Jake shrugged. "I was doing fairly well last time he saw me."

"Yeah, you look better now. I take it things went okay." He asked tentatively.
"Well enough." Nathan said simply. "You should save your game, and get some sleep."

"Yes, Dad." The teenager smirked as he found a good point to stop.

Jake snagged his mates. "Do you have those black-out curtains here?"

Gavin smirked as he passed them on his way to bed. "I put them up earlier. Just in case."

Nathan shook his head, and mussed the kit's hair. "Thanks, Gav."

"No problem, Nathan." He said as he disappeared into his room.

"Lets get this over with." Jake lost his good mood as he pressed close to Nathan.

"Okay." He said leading the way into his bedroom, where he folded down the sheets before starting to undress. In the time it took him to get his shirt off, both vampires were naked and cuddling, watching him.

Nathan chuckled, and quickly stripped down. He cuddled up next to Jake, on the side opposite Ozzy.

The Kat soaked in the warmth for a long time before he began to speak, his voice distant as he told the story for the first time since living it.

"When I was thirty-three I still looked about fifteen. I as working on a temporal teleporter prototype outside my family lands. It wasn't much, just allowed the item/ person sent to arrive anywhere within a ten minute range of when they left. Five up the timestream or five down.

"I was making some modifications when a power surge set it off and blew the safeties to pieces. When I came too I was here, forty years ago. I danced and dated to make a living until I looked old enough to work somewhere more interesting. It didn't matter that I could draw them a working design for something they wouldn't expect to prototype for fifty years. I was 'too young'." He said a little bitterly.

"There was one club I frequented, The Purple Queen ... it specialized in young, and young looking, dancers. They were all too delighted to have an experienced tom that looked in his early teens. I made my first friend there, another dancer, Jake Clawson. At seventeen he looked about the same as me. It took him a year and a half, but he made friends with me. He knew the truth about me, and didn't care.

"He was my first love, and lover," Jake said very quietly. "By the time ... that ... happened, we were talking marriage and the future." He stopped as his voice choked.

"No one had ever cared about me before." The Kat finally let the tears fall. "I ... I found his body, with Xara and Danny's. I ... I ..." he swallowed painfully. "As I was kneeling there, I felt what happened. Every detail. Every touch, every cut. I felt how he ... forced himself inside Xara. She wasn't old enough to understand. She wasn't one of us, she was only twelve. Just a friend. I felt her scream as he tore her apart taking his pleasure as Jake and Danny had to watch.

"I saw Jake fight ... I ... all of it." He squeezed his eyes closed, trying to stop the memory-visions.

"My mate ... I saw him in front of me when it was over. He's never left my side for long. He ... all of them, Matcar's victims ... couldn't rest until he was brought to justice." Jake sighed softly. "I always knew killing him like that would work, but ... I couldn't. I just ... couldn't.

"I kept trying to bring him to justice." Jake shivered. "It's over now ... he can rest. Jake Clawson can finally rest."

Nathan looked a little confused, and very sympathetic. "So there were two Jake Clawsons for a time?" He asked as he nuzzled the lean tom affectionately.

"No ... I took his name when I enlisted." Jake said softly. "I was born Remy."

Nathan nodded. "That's real devotion." He said in quiet admiration.

"He was all I had," the Kat shivered. "Loss I can accept, but that ... he had such dreams. I couldn't let them die."

Nathan gently pulled the lean tom close. "I understand. When we only have one person, we cling to that person no matter what. Were you able to do anything with his dreams?" He asked quietly, noting that the Fox had snuggled in tight on the other side of Jake.

"I hope so," He sighed. "He wanted to be an Enforcer, to make things better in the city. He really loved this city."

Nathan smiled. "Well, you've done both." He said supportively.

"I tried, I really tried." He murmured as he closed his eyes and started to relax into his grief. "At least his spirit can rest now."

"You didn't just try, you succeeded." Nathan said quietly, as he gently held Jake.

The lean tom nodded very weakly before letting a breath out of his lungs. "Why do I still breath?"

Nathan looked at him. "Huh?"

Ozzy looked at him. "Vampires breathe, though when necessary you can do with a lot less oxygen. It's handy to breathe, keeps the illusion solid. The more you continue to act normal the better." He said with conviction.

"Do ... vampires dream?" He asked quietly.

"I do." Ozzy said. "It's kind of like people, not everyone does. And not everyone remembers dreaming even if they do."

Jake shivered and nodded. "Do ... we have to sleep during the day?"

"No, you don't have to. But seeing as we can't go out in the day, and we still need sleep it makes a certain amount of sense."

"Just wondering, if I'd loose all that time," he shrugged weakly. "I don't usually sleep much. Though I think the next few days I might." He stifled a yawn.

Nathan smiled. "You'll just have to stick to work in blacked-out spaces, during the day. And sleeping would do you a world of good." He said nuzzling the tom gently.

"I think I can use some sleep myself." Ozzy said quietly. "It's been a really weird few days."

"You're telling me." Jake shook his head and settled his head on Nathan's shoulder. "At least we have warm bodies to snuggle with ..." he looked up at Nathan. "Are we warm bodies?"

Nathan smiled. "Much to my surprise, yes. That's not something I expected, with vampires."

"It's one of the gifts of my bloodline." Ozzy said quietly. "I think it's due to my refusing to be like other vampires. My sire thought that too, though he wasn't being complimentary when he said it."

"Have you ever actually gone out in the sun?" Jake asked curiously, even as his eyelids were trying to close on him.

"Very brief exposure, once by accident. It was very painful, think third degree sunburn almost instantly." Ozzy said, as he nuzzled Jake, and snuggled down feeling sleepy himself.

The Kat nodded fractionally before closing his eyes and tried to get his brain to stop asking questions. "Sleep time ... I think."

"Yes, sleep time." Nathan said gently. "No sense asking questions when your brain will barely hear the answers." He said, as he pulled Jake close, while Ozzy snuggled up behind the lean tom.

Go to Part 1         Part 2         Part 3

Jake and the Vampire part 1 of 3

NC-17 for M/M, M/F and F/F
Het Level is MediumHet Smut Level is Low
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Medium
Femslash Level is LowFemslash Smut Level is Low
Herm Level is None

218 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written October 23, 2002 by Rauhnee Ranshanka, Todd McCall and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Exalted (generic), Galactic Alliance, SWAT Kats, World of Darkness (generic)

Primary Races: Felsin, Kantin, Kat, Vampire, Were

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). Femslash (F/F). Alternate Universe, Supernatural

Pairings: Jake/ Callie, Jake/ Nathan, Chance/ Felina, Others

Notes: Set three years after the series

SWAT: created by Ulysses Feral, Calico Briggs and industrialist Jeremiah Stormcraft of FutureTech Inc. in response to the growing threat of megavillians such as Dark Kat. Jake and Chance were transferred to SWAT, and the entire 'booted from the force' scene was a show for public consumption, as has been the 'conflict' between SWAT and the Enforcers. Both Kats are still Enforcers, though for obvious reasons they don't carry the badges as SWAT Kats.

TurboKat: built by FutureTech to Jake's very demanding specifications and design. The first one was actually the fourth model, since Jake wasn't happy with the first three. FutureTech keeps two spare TKs on standby, just in case. They also provide the 'junk' that Jake salvages to turn into new weapons and vehicles.

Jake/ Chance: Jake wants Chance as a mate and has for years, but Chance isn't interested in toms. Or didn't think he was up until about 9 months ago, when he started thinking maybe he was interested in Jake as a mate. (Summary: Chance is interested but he's got a lot of society and upbringing garbage that's confusing him.). Jake's totally frustrated a lot of the time, but between still loving the tabby and valuing the friendship he settles for unhappy, and bedding other toms.

Jake/ Callie: They've been dating quietly for about three months, but Jake's 'problem' lately is making serious waves. Callie really dreads the press finding out that her boyfriend was picked up for drunk and disorderly again. It'd be a lot easier if she didn't actually love him.

Chance/ Felina: Off and on dating for about six months, nothing serious on either side currently. Neither is rushing commitment, but there's definitely a strong case of lust.

Chance/ Ulysses: Ulysses has had a serious interest in Chance as a mate, or at least lover, since before the tabby was an Enforcer, and it's only gotten stronger. Unfortunately for the Commander, between regulations and Chance's apparent cluelessness he doesn't see much hope for anything happening for a couple decades at least.

Jake/ Ulysses: No sexual interest, but the Commander is very curious about the Kat's uncertain past, and just what is going on with the apparent drunken behavior without drugs or alcohol.

Nathan: Pulled a heavily injured Jake/Razor out of a Dark Kat trap about a year ago, and stayed with him till he was back on his feet. Then Feral snatched him into the Enforcers, and neither Jake or Chance has seen him since.

Jake's 'Problem': For about the last month, Jake has either stumbled back to the Yard in the wee hours of the morning, or been driven back in a patrol car. On one occasion, Chance actually had to go down to the station and get him. (the sergeant on duty wasn't aware of the fact that he was supposed to just make sure Jake got home safely, not lock him up.).

Blurb: For about the last month, Jake has on several nights either stumbled back to the Yard in the wee hours of the morning, or been driven back in a patrol car. On one occasion, Chance actually had to go down to the station and get him. (the sergeant on duty wasn't aware of the fact that he was supposed to just make sure Jake got home safely, not lock him up.). It looks a lot like alcohol intoxication, except that Chance has never smelled alcohol on the Kat and Jake denies being drunk.

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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