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>>the cards — chapter thirteen: bet me — part two::

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>>THE CARDS — CHAPTER THIRTEEN: BET ME — PART TWO::

Ringshadow

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Fox 64, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

 

"Are you a fucking moron?!" Falco roared when Fox stepped onto the command deck. "You were supposed to be back last night! Where the hell have you been?"

"Love you too." Fox snorted, taking off his suit jacket and draping it over one arm. The ride over to his ship had been a bit awkward, Wolf always seemed kind of tense around him, but then again he'd been a drunken idiot the night before so he maybe deserved it. They'd exchanged cell phone numbers before he got out of the car, Wolf ruffling his hair by way of a goodbye. "I'm fine, alright?"

"Apparently." Falco crossed his arms and frowned at him furiously.

"I have to side with him, it was an incredibly irresponsible thing to do." Peppy said, also on the command deck. "We were worried."

"Oh please, why?"

"Because you went to a business dinner with someone who has a record of being spectacularly violent toward you?"

"I think he and I are both over that at this point." Fox set his suit jacket on the back of his command chair. "I'm an adult, you didn't have to worry."

"I did anyway. So what business did he want to discuss?"

"What if I told you we could stand to make a hell of a lot of money?" Fox sat down, the folder of contracts on his lap, taking the thumb drive off his key chain.

"How much money are we talking, here?" Asked Falco, immediately deviating to the important part and not concerned with the 'how'.

"Pay off the ship and do some investing for ourselves, most likely."

"I'm interested, tell me more."

"Doing what exactly?" Peppy asked, folding his arms. "I'm curious what this has to do with O'Donnel."

"This folder is full of business contracts, and this I'll let speak for itself." Fox spun his chair and plugged it into a terminal. "Pull up the pictures in the folder marked 'base', ROB, stick'em on every available screen we got." The AI did so, and the other two men on deck gaped, staring around at the photos that suddenly surrounded them. "That's the other thing we stand to gain. Access to a ground base."

"Where the hell is that?" Falco stood and took a better look at one of the pictures. "And who the hell owns it?"

"Somewhere on Aquas and it belongs to Wolf O'Donnel."

They both stared at him, he stood, opening the folder. "Treaty of non-aggression. Proposal of mutual assistance. Proposal of business partnership."

"Fuck no. FUCK NO!" Falco shouted.

"We can't trust them! We fought them in the war, for god's sake! They helped kill your father!" Peppy also raised his voice.

Fox stayed silent, waiting for them to continue, then just said, "Are you done? Can we talk logically about this now?"

"This is fucking stupid." Falco seethed.

"Why?" Fox set a hand on his hip, looking at him. "We are two mercenary groups who took opposing contracts. That's it. We are broke, we are in debt, they are making a lot of money and are well off and are offering to share that with us if we work in harmony with them. Explain to me how that's stupid, Falco."

"You really trust them not to betray us?" Peppy wanted to know.

"A contract that binds us, binds them. If they break it to fire on us, they prove they can't be trusted to hold a contract. They blackball themselves in the industry."

"Fox, O'Donnell tried to kill you! How can you be so calm about this?"

"Yes. We faced each other during the war, and we fought on the ground, then I was stupid enough to hunt his ass down and pick another fight. I think we're both over it. He spent last night eating dinner with me and dealing with my stupid drunk ass without laying a damn finger on me so I think there's some level of trust there." Fox rolled his eyes. "This is business, Falco. Forget any grudge you have and try to think of it from a business standpoint."

Falco was speechless.

"What about your dad?" Peppy said softly.

Fox looked at him. "If you're right, Pigma killed him. And according to this," He turned a page in the contracts, "Pigma is not a current staff member of Star Wolf. It's currently O'Donnell and two other pilots, and they're stretched pretty thin."

"Other pilots?"

"Powalski, who we ran into during the war, and a 'Panther' Caroso." Fox pondered the page.

"A torturer and a fuckin' assassin." Falco muttered. "Both of which I've met before."

"Let me guess, you have a problem with both."

"I used to be gangland, you know that. Powalski wasn't but he'd work for anyone with enough money to pay him. An opposing gang brought him on occasionally as hired muscle, he's fucking scary." Falco rubbed his eyes.

"I know of them." Peppy said after a long silent moment. "From time to time they're both Cornerian assets."

"No shit?" Falco gave him a surprised look.

"No shit. Powalski's actually a professional interrogator, not a torturer. He can get into your head faster than you can pull a gun. Caroso's a hit man connected to the mob, you can work that out yourself." Peppy stared into the middle distance briefly. "I actually met Powalski once. You guys know I'm psychic, but I try to keep in my own head? Even then other people are… static, you know, noise sources. He wasn't. He was just… a void. A silent echo chamber." He shook off.

"Well, that's not creepy at all." Falco looked at Fox. "You really want to work with these guys?"

"We killed how many people during the war and you're pulling a moral high ground?" Fox wanted to know.

"That's cold, man."

"Well, geez, I'm asking you to work with them not marry them." Fox pointed out.

"I would hope not, I'm straight."

"Good for you, I'm not." He rolled his eyes and looked back to the contract paperwork, trying to find a good way to hit the highlights, and realized they were both staring at him. He sighed and looked at them from under his brows. "Oh cut it the fuck out. Dad was flamingly bisexual, and I do mean flamingly. He wore two god damn wedding rings, for fuck's sake." He wove his free hand. "So is it any surprise at all that I'm also bisexual?"

"Not really." Peppy admitted, a bit derailed.

"What the hell." Falco said in a blank voice. "Two wedding rings?"

"Unlisted multi marriage, I suspect. He never told me about it." Fox looked at Peppy, who nodded once wearily. "I would have liked to have been told. I'm intelligently guessing on all of this, after the fact of his passing."

"He didn't want to be judged."

"Right, whatever. Back to business." Fox shook the subject off and went back to the paperwork. "Do you want me to hit the highlights or actually read some of this word for word? Because this is some impressively worded stuff."

"Alright, already. Sit down and read it."

Fox grinned and flopped back into his chair, turning back to the start of the first contract. This was actually going better than he figured it would.

In the end there was several hours of discussion. They eventually called Slippy to join them, and moved the conversation to a nearby pizzeria. Slippy caught up extremely fast, considering, and looked more at the technical side than anything else. He was intrigued by the Aquas base design, and said the Great Fox could handle a seven fighter payload, but that it'd need some maintenance work first. Fox figured they could work that out with the other group, split the maintenance costs or something if they were all using the cruiser. Sticky notes were put on various contracts, adding, subtracting, changing wording, but at the end of the day the group seemed to actually be considering the idea. All of them wanted to sleep on it, which Fox was fine with. As they left the pizzeria, he sprung the paintball idea on them, and they rolled with it, though Peppy remarked that it was a young man's game and he'd be fine with watching so the numbers were even.

And so, Fox retreated home to his parked cruiser, a spring in his step, wondering if his newest business partner's night had gone as well.

"That was utter bullshit." Wolf stared at the chess board in disgust, knocking over his king with one finger.

"Nicely done actually." Leon replied, propping his jaw on his hand and pondering the chess board.

"I've never seen anyone get so out of shape over a board game." Panther tutted, collecting the pieces to reset it.

"Well this was your damn idea to talk business over chess. I'm a poker guy." Wolf sighed and sat back, taking a drink of his beer. He'd planned on just having a conference call on his cell phone with his team mates, but surprise, they were both on Corneria. Leon apparently was not under bounty. Wolf hadn't questioned it.

"I enjoy chess. It's a gentleman's game." Panther smiled a bit and sipped his brandy.

"Do you see one gentleman at this table?"

Leon snickered. "You mentioned business, Wolf. So what's going on?"

"Well, I do hope you both remember the business contracts I had set up." Wolf helped Panther reset the game board. They were at a table in the bar at his hotel, which was fine with him.

"Yeah, the thing about teaming up with Star Fox." The reptilian rubbed the back of his neck. "Admittedly you caught me off guard with that."

"Well, as of yesterday I dropped off Fox at his ship with a copy of the contracts. He said he'd talk to his guys and get back to me."

"Has he gotten back to you?" Panther lifted an eyebrow.

"Not yet, which is neither good nor bad I suppose. He seemed to really like the idea. What's your opinion of it?"

"I think he's a bright pilot and we'd benefit from having him beside us instead of against us. I also think there's going to be contesting command on the battlefield."

"That's the last thing I'm worried about at this point." Wolf blew out a sigh, spinning the board so Panther went first this round. "And trust me, I have plenty to worry about."

"You're a commander. It comes with the position." The feline moved a pawn. "How soon do you think you'll know?"

"Today or tomorrow. We're planning on paintball sometime next week, work permitting." He moved a pawn.

"This has been a somewhat welcome break, but I'm getting the feeling of things happening on the horizon."

"So am I. I figure another two, three weeks we'll be hurting for sleep again."

"So if this partnership works out, we have to move on it and get used to each other." Leon said dryly. "If we start getting that much work we'll want the extra staff."

"Pretty much." Wolf pondered the game board, then startled slightly when his phone rang. He'd turned it back on after dropping Fox off, and deleted all his voice mail without listening to them. He dug it out of his pocket and glared at the caller ID. "Dammit. It's J. I guess I have to take this."

Both lifted eyebrows, seeing Wolf pissy about talking to James was unusual. "Go ahead. Want me to take your place in the game?" Leon asked, and got wove at as Wolf stood and stepped away, so he did so. "What the hell was that about?"

"Probably got in a fight." Panther shrugged.

Wolf picked up the phone and held it to his ear, walking across the bar. "O'Donnel."

"FINALLY you pick up your phone!" James' voice burst though the line. "Have you been avoiding me for a reason?"

"Yes." Wolf rolled his eyes, finding a secluded part of the hotel lobby to stand in.

"Why didn't you call me back? I asked you to in those voice mails."

"I deleted them without playing them, sorry."

A sigh blew over the line. "Right. Well, anyways, I just called to say thank you for hearing me out."

"What?"

"About the gallery. Felix told me one of your pieces is going to sell there. I told you so. Why the hell did you fight me so hard on it?"

Wolf didn't reply, grinding his teeth. "So, you called me to be smug."

"Huh? No! I'm honestly happy for you."

"Which perfectly explains the 'I told you so.'" Wolf replied acidly. "And you still haven't figured out why I was so upset about it in the first place."

"I don't have a clue, babe." James replied. "I can understand being annoyed that I invaded you privacy, but this angry?"

"You really don't understand, do you." He rubbed his eyes. "I already tried to explain this to you. You did not nose into a hobby. You found my fucking art therapy, you asshole. You know I see a shrink when I can, the art is part of continuing therapy to deal with my dead eye. You nosed into it, photographed it, then sent pictures of it total strangers and you have the sheer gall to be smug when I manage to get myself railroaded into selling a painting?" When James sputtered, he plowed forward. "No, fuck you ok? Fuck you. You don't respect what I want. You're all about controlling whatever the hell this is between us and I say fuck you. You can go without me until you figure out why I'm not just annoyed, I am spitting furious with you." He pulled the phone away and hung up, then hit the phone's touch screen and brought up options attached to James' number from the station, silencing it so he could take other calls but not have to deal with James a while. This done he shoved his phone back in his pocket and stood there a while, calming down, before returning to the bar.

"Bad night?" Leon asked when he appeared back at the table. "Do you want your chair back?"

"No." Wolf sat where Leon had been. "Don't worry about it."

"If you say so."

Wolf spent the rest of the evening being social with his teammates, eventually wishing them good night. Leon wandered off to see his friend Alec, who lived in town, and Panther had some personal business to attend to. Wolf himself got another bottle of beer and went up to his hotel room, eventually dozing off fully dressed, hoping that Fox's talk with his teammates had gone better than Wolf's night had.

Wolf woke up with a start when his cell phone rang, rolling slowly and digging it out of his pocket, wincing at various aches and pains caused by sleeping fully dressed. He levered himself up on his elbows and looked at the screen, and felt himself smile when he saw Fox's name displayed. The aches and pains forgotten, he picked up, rolling off the hotel bed unceremoniously. "Good morning."

"It's nearly noon, lazy ass." Fox replied. "Long night?"

"Long story I don't want to get into."

"You seem to have a lot of those."

"Blow me." Wolf suggested, staggering to his feet and walking across the room to the balcony, opening the door and looking out. "What's the occasion?"

Fox snickered. "I just got the official ok from the guys. They're good with the contracts."

"Which ones?" Wolf popped his neck, perking up.

"All three of them."

"Holy shit glory hallelujah. How did you manage that?"

"I'm just that talented. Now, that said, there are some minor changes we'd like to make, if you're good with it."

"We'll have to meet with my lawyer to get the wording changed and I reserve the right to contest any change I don't like."

"Of course. It's nothing too severe, so you should be ok with it. When do you want to meet up with your lawyer?"

"I'll have to call him and make an appointment."

"Of course. Get back to me when you do?"

"Yeah."

"Oh hey, before you hang up. I had breakfast with Katt this morning."

"Oh? How's that going anyway?" Wolf wanted to know, leaning on the railing of the balcony and staring out over the city.

"Spectacular, but I nearly made her late for work. Point is she wants to meet you. I warn you now she may slap the shit out of you if that happens."

"Any particular reason why?"

"She's the only one that knows about Venom and Aquas."

Wolf blinked. "Oh."

"She was also the first one to know I'm bisexual." Fox adjusted the headset he was wearing, zipping his phone into his pocket, putting up the kickstand on his motorcycle and walking it down the Great Fox's ramp carefully. He'd enjoyed riding on Katt's bike so much he'd decided to pick himself up one, and Corneria City's mild weather was conducive to it anyways. "I told the guys last night, by the way."

"Explode any heads?"

"Peppy almost seemed to be expecting it."

"Well, he's psychic, right?" Wolf wanted to know, twitching his ears when he heard an engine in the background of Fox's call. "Are you driving?"

"I am now. Anyway, point of all this is, would you be interested in meeting my girlfriend?"

"Sure, why not. Listen, let me call my lawyer so I can make that appointment, I'll get right back to you."

"Right, talk to you soon." Fox's phone disconnected.

Wolf snickered, hanging the phone up and smiling at the city. This he could get used to, he decided, dialing his lawyer. Hell, now he was almost certain the business partnership would go well.

In the end, Wolf's lawyer wasn't free until the next day, and he was surprised that they were able to get in that fast. He was fine with the delay, he spent the day in the hotel's gym and got lunch from the café he'd seen by the Glass Factory, filling out the paperwork Fannie had asked him to while he was in the neighborhood (it turned out, he'd made eight thousand credits off that one painting, which had made his heart skip a beat). Fox also hadn't minded the delay too much, he'd ended up using it to schedule paintball.

"You know The Battlefield outside of town? Tactical paintball and lasertag?" Fox was asking on the phone. It was mid evening, Wolf could hear cooking sounds on the other side of the phone, the sharp sizzle-pop of oil in a pan.

"Oh yeah! Great choice, what with the buildings they have there. We can go to fuckin' town on that place." Wolf sprawled on the end of his hotel bed on his back, head hanging off, staring out the balcony window.

"Right, well an old friend is a manager there and he scored us some time there next week. Do you think three hours will be enough? That's how much we have officially scheduled, but we should be able to take most of the day since it'll be during the week."

"Sounds great."

"Awesome, I'll text you the time and day. Oh, one sec…" The phone moved, and Fox's voice got a bit more distant. "Hey baby, how was work?"

"Just another day, hotness." Katt's voice said. Wolf perked his ears up. "Who's on the phone?"

"Wolf, actually."

"Gimme that!" The phone rattled sharply, then Katt's voice came on clear. "Seriously, is this Wolf O'Donnel?"

"Can't imagine why Fox would lie to you." He replied, blinking. "Hi there."

"Thank you for returning my boyfriend to me unscathed." There was a pause, then she snickered. "Though if you want to scathe him, fine, just ask me first."

"KATT!" Fox's voice protested, wrestling ensued on the other end of the phone, then Fox came back on. "Sorry about that."

"What. The fuck."

"I have no idea and I'm burning dinner. See you tomorrow at your lawyer's office." The line went dead, leaving Wolf to hang up and laugh himself giddy.

"I see your point about ship maintenance, especially with the current state of the Great Fox, but it feels like I'm paying down your debt instead of you doing so." Wolf frowned, turning pages in one of the contracts that was being altered.

"You're buying a used car that's as-is." Fox shrugged helplessly. "Slippy says we can't take another three fighters worth of payload without the work done. Consider splitting the maintenance costs from here on out an act of good will."

"I guess you're right."

"If it helps, we'll help pay maintenance for the base later on."

"That may work."

"Basically, at this point you guys are paying your own mortgages but helping pay each others' utilities." Said Wolf's lawyer, an older bear named Roberts. He'd worked with Wolf for years as the guy who checked contracts for him. He actually had a lot of former Black Sky pilots who went to him for such services.

"You're the second most human lawyer I've ever met." Fox said without looking up from the paperwork.

That made him snicker, taking a drink of his coffee. "I'll take that as a compliment; after all, you know I'm just an alien lizard person in a costume."

"Ah, the evil lawyer aliens. Resistance is futile, you will be litigated."

"Quit bonding, you're scaring me." Wolf protested, turning over the last pages and handing it back to Roberts. "I think we've picked these apart. What do you think?"

"I'm happy with the changes." Fox replied.

"They all seem fair enough, especially with the complication of this partnership. Give me a few minutes to finalize the changes, then you guys can sign them."

"Alright." Wolf stood, getting himself a bit more coffee.

Fox slouched in his chair, already feeling frustrated at how long he'd been cooped in an office, looking at Wolf. "I'm pretty sure it's easier to get married than go through with this."

"You'd have about the same rights to each other's gear, and the debt would end up normalizing across the board." Roberts said without looking away from his computer screen. "Wolf's credit would take a hit, but the Great Fox's interest rate would lower."

Fox's face went blank. Wolf stood there with his mug and looked at Fox, and was kicked sharply in the shins before he could even open his mouth. "OW! What was that for?!"

"It seemed prudent!"

Roberts chuckled, printing out the adjusted contracts. "Alright, kids, behave yourselves. Do I need to go through and mark the signature lines for you?"

"We'll figure it out." Wolf sat down and took the first page, grabbing a pen and signing it then shoving it over to Fox, who signed his line. Fifteen minutes later, they were out of the building, which pleased Fox greatly. "You're touchy today, McCloud."

"Huh?"

"I'm going to have bruises."

"Wait, what?" Falco asked, who was sitting on the hood of his car. He'd been waiting to see how it turned out.

"Oh please, I didn't expect a serious reply about it. What guy my age is serious about marriage anyways." Fox snorted, ignoring Falco.

"WHAT?" The avian squawked, and was still ignored.

"Like I'd marry you anyway, you brat." Wolf rolled his eyes.

"Whatever. I'm still trying to figure out my dad's marriage, like I need to consider my own." Fox leaned on his bike.

"Wait, what?" Wolf blinked. "All I know about that is from file reading and the news. Wasn't he just married to your mom?"

"Apparently not. Unlisted multi marriage, never told me." Fox shrugged.

"Well, damn." Wolf blinked, thinking back and remembering the two rings on James' hand that he rarely took off. When they'd met, he hadn't been wearing them, but he'd put them on the next day and freaked Wolf soundly out, as he'd suddenly been convinced he'd been the one night stand of a cheater. James had hastened to explain that no, sorry, his wife had passed years ago, he just felt uncomfortable if he left the rings off all the time. Old habits dying hard, all that. He hadn't mentioned being married to anyone else.

"Excuse me what the fuck are you two going on about?" Falco wanted to know. "Contracts signed or what?"

"Yeah, they are, sorry." Fox glanced at him. "Paintball next week."

"Right. Good to know. I'm out." Falco got in his car and took off, glad to do so.

"I think we freaked him out." Wolf finally said.

"Good. I like freaking him out. See you next week."

Wolf hummed softly to himself, pacing down the hallway and carding into his hotel room door. He pushed the door open a few inches and stopped, something shouted in the back of his mind, instincts rushing forward, someone was here stop caution careful. He took a breath and pushed the door open more, turning his back to it so it shielded him a bit and looking in. "Who's in my room?"

The curtains had been drawn over the window and balcony, making the room dim at best even though it was still daylight outside, but at his question a lamp clicked on, revealing Felix sitting at one of the chairs, dress businesslike. "You're good."

"You could have waited outside the room." Wolf stepped fully into the room and closed the door behind him. "What do you want?"

"You aren't answering your phone, for two days straight. James is freaking out. So, here I am."

He gave Felix a look, dropping his keys on the table. "I'm not allowed to be mad at him?"

"Sure, but you're acting like a petulant child about it. The silent treatment? How old are you, five?" Felix rolled his eyes.

"Thank you for setting the tone of this conversation, now we can get down to brass tacks." He bared his teeth a bit at the older feline. "He stuck his nose where it didn't belong. I let him know I didn't like it. He went there anyway, and not only did he go there, he took other people with him. And, when I ended up doing what he wanted by sheer accident, he called me again, only to almost gloat about it when I pick up. He can fuck off for a while. He doesn't respect me for shit."

Felix shook his head slightly. "I'm not saying I agree with what he did. It was certainly nosy at best, but ignoring him isn't going to fix anything. Besides, I'm confused as to why you're still upset about it. You're a mercenary, the cash you're going to be raking in should be motive enough to realize that nosy as hell or not, his argument has a few merits."

Wolf crossed his arms and glared at him. "I have reasons. Why the hell are you being so defensive of James? He's an adult. For fuck's sake, he's middle aged and also a mercenary, he's not exactly someone's precious snowflake."

"You're a pain in my ass, you know that?"

"I'm a pain in everyone's ass. Answer the question."

"Oh please, you know James and I go back a long time. If he's hurting, someone's going to be in pain by the time I'm through."

"Really? And the fact that I occasionally shag a guy you're trying to defend has nothing to do with it?"

"You are just asking to be thrown off the balcony."

"I don't like you, Felix. You're in my way and I can't move you. As far as James is concerned, you're number one in his life. Yeah, asshole, I've seen how he looks at you. I can't break through that. I'll always be second."

"Glad to know you realize your place in life." Felix's voice was cold.

Wolf stared at him, then paced back across the room and opened the door, looking at Felix and nodding at the empty hallway. "Get the fuck out. Your message is delivered. Tell James I'll take him off block when I feel like it."

The feline stood from his chair and silently walked over to stand in front of Wolf, leveling a finger in his face. "I get a chance, O'Donnel, you're gone. You're a problem. I don't like problems."

There was a moment of silence as Wolf turned his head slightly to focus on Felix's hand, then look him in the eye. "Nice ring. James has one just like it." Seeing the feline blanch just slightly, he bared his teeth. "Glad to know he lied to me on the second day he knew me. Get. OUT." Felix went without a word, and Wolf slammed the door behind him, dropping the security chain in place then leaning against the wall next to it, sliding to the floor and putting his head in his hands. His breath came in ragged pants, hands trembled in his head fur, fury competing with nausea. James was married. All the good that had happened in the last few days, the business partnership, his growing friendship with Fox, it all seemed faded and gone.

Fuck this.

Wolf got up and grabbed his keys, shoving them in his pocket and barging out of his hotel room, slamming the door behind him. The hallway was empty; Felix was already gone. Lucky for Felix, he thought darkly, stalking to the elevator and slapping the button. He barely noticed the trip to the lobby, walking out onto the sidewalk without really seeing anything and standing there for a moment before turning and starting to walk, moving without thinking. Half a block later he had broken into a jog, by the end of the block he was running full out, arms pumping. He wasn't dressed right to run, but he didn't care, the old full leather combat boots pounding the cement.

Another block and he'd moved to freerunning, turning everything in front of him to an obstacle. His mind fell blank as he moved, vaguely hearing yells and cussing behind him as he dodged around people and shoulder rolled over car hoods and corned off mail boxes. He had long ago memorized the grid pattern of streets downtown, and chose streets randomly, no path or plan.

Eventually his lungs started burning as he panted raggedly, dry mouthed, his legs burning and his knees complaining, but it was all background noise still as the need to move started turning into something else. He blindly cut down a few alleyways, moving to another street and changing back to a flat run for the rest of the block before staggering to a halt, leaning on his knees and hacking several times before stumbling to the glass doors of the gallery.

His coming in set off the entrance chime, boots heavy on the tiles as he staggered back to a halt and leaned on his knees again, panting hard, eyes pressed closed. He'd registered that there were people in the gallery and that they'd been talking, but now it was silent except for vague background music and his gasping.

"Good lords. You two, go get an easel and a large blank canvas, now. You, there's a rolling cabinet full of oil supplies in classroom two, go get it." Fannie's voice cut the silence, still distant to the thunder in Wolf's ears. A few moments later a hand settled on his shoulder. "Here. Drink this, but slowly, it's cold." He grabbed for the water bottle and twisted it open, straightening up with a lot of effort and draining half in spite of her warning. "You lit in here like the devil was after you."

He shook his head, rubbing one of his legs with his free hand, noticing a flurry of activity in the background. An easel had been set up where he'd painted a few days ago, and a large empty canvas set on it, the rolling chest of drawers next to it. The people who'd set it up (art students by the look) were still standing there watching him, but he ignored them, walking up to the easel unsteadily and slamming back the rest of the water before dropping the empty aside, going down on his knees and rummaging through the drawers. He grabbed paint tubes, barely consciously registering the colors he was grabbing, fingers closing on a wide brush and a palette.

Fannie watched him stagger to his feet, asking another student to go to her office and get her camera and tripod, eyes never leaving Wolf as he stared at the blank canvas for thirty seconds silently before attacking it. His last piece had been an angular high contrast portrait, but this was high emotion and abstract, colors splattering and swiping across the canvas and to the floor, oil paints clinging to his fur. He'd covered half the canvas by the time she'd got the camera set up, aimed, and running. Already people had formed a half circle at a safe distance, gasping when he shed his jacket and returned to painting, a gun suddenly apparent at the small of his back. Her glare shut them up, finally giving up and moving some of the display barriers between Wolf and the crowd, which grew as a group of art whores came in, dragging businessmen with them as they passed.

Time flew. The canvas was covered, bright hard lines and brush strokes, Wolf pausing long enough to accept another bottle of water from her and slug it, then attacking it again. A bodyform appeared, being eaten by the background and tearing out of it, or trying at least, Wolf's claws etching into the wet oil to pick out details instead of painting them, sharp stylized muscle lines dropping into place. Eventually he wound down, going still and staring before just writing his first name in a lower corner in white paint and nearly collapsing to the ground.

It took Fannie and two of her students to get him back to his feet. He was limp, tired and sore, but they managed to shift him to a seat in the coffee house part of the gallery, one of the students setting his jacket on the chair beside him. He slouched and closed his eyes, letting himself relax, trying to stop shaking. His legs were screaming, that hard of a run with no stretching and standing on tile afterward had taken a heavy toll. But his mind was quieted, clear and focused, the twisting fury and frustration having been taken out in paint.

"It'll take a good three days before I'll consider it dry enough to sell." Fannie's voice was saying. Now that his ears weren't thundering, she sounded clearer and closer by. "It's oil, and it's fresh. I'll be moving it to a room in the back to cure and bringing it back out here when it's dry. I'll put a price on it then."

"Who the hell is he?" A male voice asked. "That was fucking insane to watch."

"All I can tell you is he's one of the newest artists in the gallery."

"Why does he have a gun?" A younger female voice asked.

"In this city? Why don't you have one?" Fannie countered, and Wolf smiled in spite of himself, not bothering opening his eyes. Gods, he liked this lady. She seemed to notice that he'd come back to coherency too, her presence looming near him a few minutes later. "Can I get you a cup of coffee?"

"That'd be a wonderful thing." He replied, letting his eyes open and folding his hands on his stomach, looking up at her. "Sorry about that."

"Don't you dare apologize." She snorted, leaving to get him his coffee. He stayed there, hands folded and staring at the people staring at him.

"Are you ok?"

He shifted his focus, it was one of the girls who had watched him paint, who was holding a sketchbook to her chest. A guy about the same age was standing next to her, giving him a wary look. "No. But I will be." Leaving it at that, he sank further into the seat, shifting so his gun wasn't digging in and letting his eyes lull. Fannie appeared next to him and gave him a mug, he took it gladly, letting himself zone out.

"Fox, man, I haven't seen you in ages!"

Fox laughed and clapped hands with Aaron, the crow who owned The Battlefield. Instead of going to the Academy like Fox, he'd gone entrepreneurial, buying an ailing paintball field and making it successful again. Fox had spent many breaks from school on this field, and figured this would be a good time to start again. "Sorry about that, life takes precedent sometimes. Thanks for holding the field for us."

"No worries. Just you guys?"

"Nah, we have three more coming to face us, and we need to get ready." Fox looked around the shop.

"Have at. Pass me your tanks, I'll get them pressurized."

"You do know I've only done this twice, right?" Slippy asked, standing in front of a marker display. "And with a friend's paintball gun."

"You'll do fine." Fox picked one of the markers off the rack and handed it to him. "I'm more worried about you." He eyed Falco. "Are you hung over?"

Falco chuckled, turning over a well-used tank to Aaron. "No, I am in fact still drunk. No way in hell I'm doing this sober."

"This is going to be a train wreck." Peppy shook his head, watching Fox gear up.

"It's a good spot to start."

"You're going to replace this soon, right?" Aaron asked, passing Fox back his tanks. "Do you have any idea how outdated CO2 is?"

"Dad gave this to me and it kicks your ass from here to the moon."

"So how are we going to do this?" Slippy wanted to know, buying himself the paintball marker Fox had suggested and accepting a tank from Aaron, screwing it on. Falco was working on filling tubes with paint balls.

"We'll mix it up a few times throughout the day. The field's pretty big and there's a variety of structures built on it so we can get pretty creative."

"Do the guys you're waiting for drive luxury cars? Because two just pulled into the parking lot." Aaron remarked.

Fox walked over to the front window and half grinned when Wolf got out of his Bimmer, dressed head to toe in black BDUs. The other car was a black sedan which was unrecognizable due to all the badging being removed, and he wasn't surprised when a figure that must have been Panther Caroso got out of the driver's seat, Powalski getting out on the passenger side. "Yup, that's them."

A few minutes later the three walked in, all carrying gear bags. "Morning, McCloud and company." Wolf half smiled. "Can we have a few minutes to set up?"

"Go ahead, we're still working on it." Fox directed his attention to Panther and offered a hand. "I don't think we've met, you're Caroso, right?"

"Indeed." Panther shook his hand easily. "Always a pleasure to meet a future wingman. That said, I need supplies, kindly excuse me." He stepped away and went to the counter, unzipping the gear bag and passing over an air tank.

Fox looked after him, then looked at Wolf, who'd set his bag on a nearby table. "Smooth."

Wolf snorted, opening up his bag and taking out his paintball marker. "Yes, yes he is."

"Holy shit." Aaron remarked, the other store staff also staring at the gun Wolf had. "That abomination has to be custom."

He snorted and tossed his tank to the nearest staff member. "Don't scorn it, you haven't seen it in action yet."

"I get the distinct idea today will be extremely enjoyable." Leon smiled just a touch, lacing on a belt loaded with paintball canisters.

Fox grinned at him in spite of himself. "So do I."

"I see you found a job for yourself."

Peppy grinned at Falco and adjusted the gear he'd been loaned. "Aaron figured I was the only one who would be able to referee this mess."

"Hey man, if it floats your boat." Falco shrugged, adjusting his gear belt and looking at where Fox and their newest ally were standing talking. They were at the edge of the field eying the layout and apparently discussing it. Falco, still feeling about three beers worth of booze in his system, was still wary of this entire idea, and meeting Wolf in person hadn't helped much. Yeah, he'd seen him on the street outside that lawyer's office but now he could actually evaluate the guy. The eyepatch did not make him seem particularly trustworthy.

"Personally I think we should crank these things up to full." Fox fiddled with his paintball gun while pondering out at the field. "We'll use up gas faster, but it's incentive to keep cover."

"That could break skin, so let's not. We don't need injuries and I plan on going home with bruises, not bleeding." Wolf lifted an eyebrow at him.

"Eh, you're right I guess." He frowned a bit. "We'll take the northern side of the field for starters."

Wolf eyed the layout. The structures were on the southern half, trees and brush on the northern half. "Alright, I'm fine with the north, but we'll switch it up later."

"No kidding, I still want to go us versus them at some point today." Fox grinned at him, moving back to join Falco and Slippy. "You guys ready?"

"As we'll ever be." Slippy said, looking sort of nervous.

"Hey Fox, we're going to do a last round of live fire testing. I'd say go ahead and do the same." Wolf said, having talked to Panther and Leon. Leon was broadcasting 'not happy' very loudly, which took obvious effort on his part as he was usually Mr. Unemotional. But then, he was a knife guy and was doing this under protest. Panther, on the other hand, seemed stoked.

"I'm a step ahead of you." Fox replied as Wolf took two steps in a running crouch and shot toward the south end of the field. Leon and Panther followed suit, putting their shots within a few inches of where Wolf's landed. Fox, Falco, and Slippy split fast and opened fire for a structure at the northern end, choosing a wide pattern but achieving the same results.

Once everyone had taken a starting position, Peppy walked onto the field and stopped at the middle, a plastic shield in one hand and an air horn in the other. "Ok people, listen up. The games today will be single shot elimination. Hold your weapon up when you're out and walk quickly off the field. Everything is cover, including out players. You shoot a player who is already out and I will personally break a very large foot off in your ass. No head shots, no crotch shots, any shot on the body regardless of what a live round would do is a kill. Hitting the judge is an out and an asswhipping. Masks stay on. If you run out of paint and you're not out yet…I suggest hiding until you get more. Don't cross the fences, last team with a man standing wins." This said, he hit the air horn and ran off field, the shield lifted to a protective position, joining Aaron at the side of the field.

"Fox, do you have a plan?" Falco asked, crouching low on the field. Tall, thin, and brightly colored, he was an obvious target when standing up.

"Well, Fal, I was gonna run like hell up the middle with you two flanking me and shoot anything that moves."

Slippy grinned. "Sounds like a plan."

Among the structures, Leon and Panther looked to Wolf. "What's the plan, fearless employer?" Panther inquired, grinning.

"Move, cover, shoot, repeat. Shoot to kill, I don't want them taken out by bullshit boot shots. Oh, and Leon, if you start anything stupid I'll help Peppy kick your ass."

"So untrusting." Leon blew out a sigh.

"Well, prove to me you can play well with others as opposed to running with scissors. Alright, left as fast as you can, keep the line and shoot anything that moves." That said, Wolf started moving, Panther and Leon falling in behind him.

Fox's group moved quickly in a diamond pattern, breaking cover and charging toward the structures, waiting until about thirty yards out to open fire. Wolf's group moved from structure to structure, eventually breaking up slightly to target the different members of Fox's group. Panther was the first to return fire at Fox's trio, sending paint downrange at Slippy but not leading enough to actually score a hit. Slippy got out of the way, diving and taking cover behind a fallen log.

Leon, meanwhile, ducked and covered when Falco opened fire at him, then popped out and returned, the two quickly getting into a firefight. Wolf decided against shooting Falco out in favor of watching from cover. Both men were light builds, though Falco was taller (though this was a fairly set statement, Falco was taller than most people including some basketball players), and they'd faced each other on the ground before, which meant they were somewhat familiar with each other's styles.

Panther, who'd been standing in cover with Wolf, poked him and left formation, moving through the structures to pursue Slippy. Wolf merely nodded at him, keeping an eye on the two out in the open. Fox was nowhere to be easily seen, but Wolf was sure he was also watching this exchange. Falco and Leon were nearly mirrors, shots close but not hitting, the action barely pausing when they had to reload their paintball guns.

"Would you just shoot his ass already?" Wolf finally yelled from cover.

"I hate this heavy ass fucking thing!" Leon replied, though his voice was calm enough that the statement was almost funny.

"Your hatred of your marker does not stop you from shooting him!" Wolf snapped, grinning when he heard Fox laugh from somewhere close enough to be in earshot.

Falco meanwhile gave up and broke cover, charging in a dead run toward the structure Leon had taken cover in, spraying paint as fast as his weapon would allow. His long legs made the scrub barely an issue, dodging and turning a corner into the building, bringing the gun to bear as Leon turned from his window and did the same, triggers coming down simultaneously, Leon's shots crossing Falco's stomach, Falco's hitting Leon's chest.

"Hey Fox, does he usually make suicide runs?" Wolf shouted from where he was, which was on the move, switching structures, glancing out one of the windows to see both Leon and Falco walking up the field, holding up their guns and glaring at each other. Peppy was standing off to the side of the field with his hands on his hips laughing his ass off.

"No, he's just a gods-damned idiot and hates Leon!" Fox replied, laughing.

Wolf shook his head and started trying to get a bead on everyone else. Fox was somewhere out in the trees and scrub, close enough to hear but well hidden so far. Once or twice when Wolf stuck his head up, paint whizzed the top of his head, and he'd change structures again, trying to get an angle on the others.

"Slippy, do me a favor and don't be that much of an idiot." Fox said, relaxing behind one of the trees and taking shots when a target presented itself. Slippy only grinned at him, staying low and moving fast from bush to log. He'd seen Panther leave the structures and move into the scrub, so he moved to try to flank him or at least get a good bead on him. Panther could move fast, but Slippy had good aim, so he figured if he could get a good eye on Panther that was it.

From ground cover Panther pricked his ears, tracking Slippy's movements. He'd never dealt with any member of Star Fox before, so his knowledge was largely based on reading, war videos and what little Wolf had said about them. That said, he knew Slippy was smart, scary smart, and extremely analytical even during battles. Still, though, ground tactics were something else, so Panther followed feline instinct and moved up, sinking his claws into a tree and climbing quickly, crouching on his toes on a branch and surveying the battlefield from there. Few expected to have to ever look up.

Except perhaps Slippy, who Panther had lost track of during his climb. He shifted his weight just in time to hear a low snicker and paint to shoot past him and splatter among the branches and leaves, barely missing him. "Well fuck!"

Slippy laughed again, keeping his place and watching the much larger cat jockey for position in the tree, impressed when Panther shouldered the paintball gun on a strap and actually leapt to another tree. "Nice move, changing the plane of battle. You're not the only one who can do that though!" He broke cover and started running, crouching at the last second and kicking rarely-used leg muscles into action, vaulting off the ground and catching the edge of one of the structures, changing his momentum into a swing and ending up on top of the building, going from a swing to a roll and bringing the gun to a ready position, spraying fire into the trees. Panther meanwhile had seen Slippy move into the open and braced in the tree, firing at the rooftops. Both sprays hit their mark.

"You should have taken me out when you had the chance." Panther remarked as they walked off the field once they'd both gotten down from their perches.

"That wouldn't have been as much fun." Slippy replied with a grin.

Panther laughed. "Fair enough, Toad. Fair enough."

Fox huffed when he saw them walk off the field and join Falco and Leon at the sidelines. "Hey, Wolf, how long have we been going? Four minutes or so?"

Wolf looked at his watch, changing cover again before looking out a doorway to see if he could spot Fox. "Yeah, just about."

"I figure we got another minute before this round is up." Fox stood, breaking cover, marker brought to bear.

"Sure, I'll go with that." Wolf grinned broadly, stepping out of the structure to face him, taking a few steps out and crouching a bit to lower his center of gravity. Then he blinked, and Fox was gone.

He didn't think or look, snapping the marker to his left and opening fire. His line of sight trailed his arms, snapping across the dark part of his vision as fast as possible. Not one to be a sitting duck, he started moving, running away from the structures and into the bushes, going low and getting into cover, trying to locate where Fox had disappeared to.

Fox breathed shallowly, having taken Wolf's few seconds of panic fire to scale one of the large trees by the buildings, but had lost his rival the minute Wolf had hit the brush. He frowned, trying to get a bead on him and carefully leaping down from the branch to move amongst the structures, careful to move counter-clockwise of where he figured Wolf was.

"You're an asshole, you know that right?" Wolf asked loudly, irritated.

"And you have an obvious disadvantage, why shouldn't I use it?"

Wolf burst from the undergrowth, opening fire on Fox's position and all but pinning him there, sending him bolting into the cluster of open buildings, paintballs zinging around him. He fired blindly behind himself, coming close but not actually hitting, not firing nearly as much. Wolf took cover and reloaded, cursing to himself and cutting his rate of fire, looking out a structure door and trying to spot Fox among the other buildings.

Fox crept between the buildings, figuring where Wolf was and pondering for a second, then set his marker on a windowsill with an audible clank and left it, moving another way. He knew it was a gamble, but he did it anyway, one hand on the remaining canister of paintballs on his belt, ears pricked as he slowly walked.

Wolf, meanwhile, had shifted position and poked his head out, almost firing then realizing it was Fox's unattended gun. "What the fuck, McCloud?"

"This the fuck." Fox replied, very suddenly behind him, a hand full of paintballs slamming his back.

Wolf startled, then burst into laughter, holding up his gun and standing fully, turning to face him. "God damn, you're fast. How the fuck did you get that close to me?"

"You were expecting me to come from the left, so I came from the right." Fox hooked a thumb behind him at the building's other door. "After that it was just a matter of being quiet, and I'm quieter without that rattly-ass gun, and a bit lighter."

He laughed again, shaking his head. "Good game for five minutes. If we can get Falco and Leon to stop acting like they're using machine guns, we should be good. Want to go again?"

"Thought you'd never ask. Let's go round everyone up. How about one more round this way, switch locales, then mix the teams up? We got a few hours, after all."

"I'm for it. Let's do it."

"You sure you want to catch a ride home with me?"

Fox shrugged, watching Wolf open the trunk of his car, shoving a duffel bag aside so there was room for both their gear bags. "Yeah. It'll give us a chance to talk about the day."

Wolf shrugged, dropping his bag into the truck of his car then taking Fox's, also loading it in then closing the trunk. "Fair enough. Today was great fun, the least I can do is give you a ride home."

He smiled, turning and waving at Peppy, who was standing at his own car. "Go ahead and take off, man, it's cool." Peppy lifted an eyebrow and hooked a finger at him. "Oh, what the hell. Be right back."

"Right." Wolf watched him walk over to his team mate, letting out a slow sigh of relief and shifting to lean on the driver's door of his car. After spending the day mock fighting, he was wound like a thirty day clock, and Fox hadn't helped at all. Honestly he was stunned he'd managed not to steal Fox away to a perimeter structure and have his way with him right there.

"Ok, what?" Fox asked, hands in his pockets, frowning at Peppy. "Still don't trust him?"

"No, not really. I can't help but think he doesn't have your best interests in mind."

"Peppy, he's my friend now. Honest, it's alright, and he's just giving me a ride back to Katt's place."

He pondered Fox for a long moment. He'd just watched all day, it'd been entertaining and he'd been able to assess their new wingmen. Leon had been the same as before, that weird cool void. At this point, his best guess was that the reptilian had a long record of psychological issues. Panther was a warm low rumble, unassuming, no extra motions or words the entire day. And then there was Wolf, who was the normal background static and would then flare off like an artillery battery. Peppy tried very hard to keep to his own head, but sometimes other peoples' brains were really damn noisy. Fox and Katt were a white noise field when together. Wolf was an emotional thunderstorm, and the main one he'd thrown off all day was lust. Not that he could explain any of this to Fox. "Alright, it's your choice. Just watch yourself."

Fox smiled and punched his shoulder affectionately. "You have a good night man. You should have played with us."

"Nah. Maybe if you guys do lasertag sometime."

"Wimp."

"Just old." He smiled affectionately, watching the younger man stroll back to Wolf's car before climbing in his own. "He's definitely your kid, James." He muttered to himself, looking over his shoulder as he pulled out of the parking lot and seeing the two commanders talking by Wolf's car. "And he has no idea what he's in for."

"Anything interesting?" Wolf asked when Fox returned.

"He doesn't trust you yet, I guess." Fox shrugged.

"I don't blame him at all. Hell, the fact that Falco and Slippy seem to be getting used to me is amazing."

"Slippy doesn't have it in him to hate anyone, and he's always happy to have one less enemy. Falco, eh, he's a suspicious asshole but loyal and easily motivated by money. Since I don't hate you anymore, he doesn't see a reason to. He just has to get over Leon, who by the way surprised the hell out of me today."

Wolf laughed. "You were expecting trouble?"

"I guess, I don't know. He was creepy to watch though. Most of us were acting like idiots and yelling and crap, and he was silent as a morgue."

"That's just Leon. You get used to it."

"Who was the guy that picked him up?"

"His boyfriend, I guess." Wolf saw the look and smiled a bit. "Yeah. I met him some months ago, I can't say I get their relationship but who am I to argue."

"Fair enough. Shall we?" Fox walked around the car, opening the door.

"Yeah, may as well talk while going somewhere." Wolf got into the car and started it, smiling when Fox also got in, waiting until he buckled in before pulling out of the parking lot. "So where am I dropping you off?"

"Katt's place I guess." He settled into the comfortable seat in anticipation of the drive. Corneria City sprawled, and the paintball field was on the outskirts near a forest reserve, so they had a reasonable drive back to downtown. "She's not back until late tonight, but at least I can get a good hot shower in and relax a bit. You going back to the hotel?"

"Yeah. Was actually off planet yesterday, came back for this and I'll be staying a few days, work permitting." Wolf shifted the car, trying to focus on the road. Outside he hadn't noticed it as much, but in the closed cabin of the car Fox's scent closed in around him, musky and sweet and hormonal, flooding his nose and waking up memories he really didn't want right that moment. His hands tightened on the steering wheel without thinking about it, claws flexing.

Fox slouched against the car door and looked at him, trying to act like it was more comfortable, though that wasn't the reason why he was doing so. "So, do you think this partnership idea is going to work out?"

"Yeah, I do. I think it'll get interesting again once we're all flying, I mean just the command chain is going to be a mess. Two commanders, one battlefield? Bah, even if we learn to work together well we'll still be giving contradicting orders in the heat of it."

"It'll work itself out with time." How the hell is he playing it off, Fox wondered, looking out the windshield. Am I imagining this? He looked back at Wolf and saw his breathing had changed, just this side of a pant, slow ragged gasps. Fuck it, Fox thought, shifting from leaning against the door to leaning over the center console, looking out the back window and seeing the road was empty then putting his nose to Wolf's neck and inhaling slowly before biting once, hard.

Wolf jumped, foot mashing the accelerator briefly before getting control of himself. "What the fuck, Fox?" He tried to turn his head, but Fox's teeth were still in his neck, just this side of bruising.

"Fuck logic, fuck control, you're gorgeous and smell about as horny as I feel." Fox's teeth found Wolf's ear, one hand coming down on Wolf's thigh to balance himself, tongue flicking out to caress the sensitive flesh there, grinning when the older man shuddered. "Don't worry about it. Just don't hit anything."

Wolf blinked at him, then murmured when Fox's hand ran up the inner edge of his thigh. "I don't want to fuck up your relationship with Katt…" He finally gasped out, one hand finding the stick and downshifting the car, overshooting the highway entrance, running on half-forgotten memories and radically changing their destination for the time being.

"Didn't I just tell you not to worry?" Fox's voice was a growl, hand now rubbing over the front of his pants, nipping at his jawline. "Eyes on the road." He flicked out his tongue, tip of his tongue tracing the side of Wolf's throat down to his collar bone, one hand pulling his shirt aside and latching on there, grinning when the lupine groaned low in his chest. Using that as a distraction, he got Wolf's pants undone with effort, the buttons yielding boxers that were tenting under his attention.

"This is not a good idea." Wolf panted out, twitching as Fox's hand slowly stroked over his half hard length, quickly becoming fully erect, straining against the thin cotton. It wasn't a good idea at all, yes he lusted after Fox like crazy but he'd never really figured that Fox wanted him as well. He shook his head a bit, driving along a twisty two-lane road, one handing the steering wheel, the other arm wrapped over Fox to settle on the stick.

"You hush. Lift yourself up." When Wolf did without thinking, Fox grabbed and yanked his pants and boxers down slightly, his cock bouncing free. "I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets horny after work…" Fox eyed his target, feeling vaguely uneasy for a moment, this wasn't something he'd done before after all. He bit his lip then leaned down, tongue lapping down Wolf's length, awarded with a gasp and moan of praise.

"Ah… no, no you aren't." Wolf kept his eyes on the road, legs shuddering once. "Fights make me horny, blood turns me on… there's little worse than a lonely bed after work…" His voice was distracted, slowing and turning up an entrance road, knowing he was making a wild guess but wanting so badly to pull the car over somewhere safe he didn't care.

"I agree. Being alone after a job, just … damn." Quickly finding nothing about this act turned him off in particular, at least now that he'd gotten somewhat used to the idea that he was bi, his tongue lapped over Wolf's length again before wrapping his mouth around the head, tongue flicking out again. Restricted by the belt, he reached back and unbuckled it, sprawling across the center console as well as he could, leaning on one arm, the other caressing over Wolf's sheath, ears turned to listen to the rumbles and groans his actions drew. He was vaguely aware of the car turning a lot and starting to slow down, Wolf's hand coming off the stick to rub the fur between his ears gently before moving to shift the car down again. Deciding he'd teased enough, he stroked down with his mouth as far as he could comfortably, trying to remember what Katt did to him, tongue rolling down the underside.

Wolf muffled his snarl, teeth baring at nothing, breath coming in heavy pants. Gods, when was the last time someone had gone down on him in a car? He couldn't even remember, and the lewdness of the situation was only intensified by the fact that it was Fox, that it was Corneria's gorgeous hero cheerfully sucking him off. He'd turned onto forest reserve land, a lot of it was a public park, but it was the wrong time of the year for many people to be there… the woods had a problem with ticks. He saw a few cars here and there but the third parking lot was empty, it was one of the distant tiny ones facilitating a hiking trail. He turned into it and picked a corner parking spot far away from the road in, throwing the car into park and immediately flopping back with a sigh, tilting his seat back a few notches and rubbing the back of Fox's neck with a groan. "Damn, that's good… ahh."

Fox snickered, palm rolling over Wolf's balls before his hand traced slowly back, fingers finding his mark and pressing gently, rubbing. The older man arched off the seat lightly in response, head tilted back and panting, one hand stroking Fox's spine. Taking that as a positive reaction, he bobbed his head, fingers rubbing a bit harder.

"Ah fuck…" Wolf hissed, feeling Fox's teeth scuff him playfully, muscles twitching. "I am damn close."

"Mm." Fox backed off, licking the head once before taking him as far as he could without choking, tip of his tongue tracing the edge of Wolf's knot, listening to the lupine's breathing grow more ragged and gain the vaguest moan. Knowing what was coming, he bobbed his head once more and stilled when Wolf tensed up.

"Holy shit, Fox!" He snarled and arched up as much as he could, coming hard, the car roughly revving as his foot stomped the accelerator on accident. Fox choked slightly then swallowed reflexively several times, backing off to cough once.

"I guess I know how to do that." Fox panted, only to be grabbed and pulled up into a hard kiss, Wolf's tongue diving into his mouth, the older man's hands stroking down his back to grab his ass. He groaned and leaned into it, almost in Wolf's lap, his tongue twisting with the other man's, grinning when he was released.

"That was not expected." Wolf's tongue licked at his muzzle, eyes mostly closed, hands still on his ass.

Fox looked around curiously. "Where are we?"

"One of the back parking lots of the reserve."

"Good." Fox shifted and hopped the center console with effort, sitting straddling Wolf's lap, head whacking into the roof of the car and his tail hitting the steering wheel. Wolf had the presence of mind to turn off the car. "Because I hope you don't think we're done…" He kissed Wolf hungrily, moving one of his hands to call attention to his own erection and groaning into the embrace when Wolf palmed over it, breaking it to look at Wolf's good eye. "Tell me you have lube."

"Uh. Yeah, trunk of the car I think, in my duffel bag."

"Good." Fox smirked at Wolf's expression, reaching down and popping the door open, swinging off his lap and clambering out of the car. "Get it."

Wolf gaped at him, leaning down and hitting the button that opened the truck of the car, getting out of the seat with effort. His pants slouched around his hips, still erect member mostly covered by the drape of his shirt. When Fox just folded his arms and stared at him, still smirking, Wolf shook his head in amazement and walked unsteadily around the back of the car. "Us working together in the future could be very, very interesting."

"Oh, I agree." Fox followed him to the back of the car, latching onto him there and nipping at his neck and jaw.

He laughed and wrapped one arm around Fox, the hand attached landing back on Fox's ass as he got the truck of his car opened and grabbed for the duffel bag. "Do you have any idea how long it's been since I fooled around in a car?" He growled softly, nipping one of Fox's ears.

"I'm sure you're flexible enough." Fox grinned at him evilly, shoving him around the car and getting a door open, shoving Wolf into the car or trying. "You, pants off, now."

"Easy!" He laughed, tumbling into the back of the car and crawling backwards until his back hit the opposite door, dropping the duffel bag aside and getting out of his boots and BDU pants just in time to catch Fox, who had lunged into the car after him. "Relax, I'm not going anywhere." He'd given up on the idea of arguing this, yes it was a horrible idea but gods did he want Fox, and more importantly Fox wanted him.

Fox grinned at him again, stripping out of his shirt and getting his pants undone, leaning over Wolf and biting at his neck and collar bone. "Damn right you aren't." Even though it was a large sedan, there wasn't much room to work with, one of Wolf's legs was off the seat, foot on the floor, the other bent and pressed against the back of the seat. Room enough though, he figured as he bit Wolf's neck again, growling.

Wolf only laughed, wrapping his arms around Fox and stroking his fingers through the fur on his back, licking his ears. "You're …ah… assertive today…"

"I've been horny all day and you made things worse. You… gods, you have no idea how close I came to jumping you on the paintball field." He set a hand on Wolf's chest to pin him to the seat, other hand stroking down one of his legs to feel him up, making Wolf snicker.

"Not so bad yourself, gorgeous. You are damn fast when you want to be."

Fox tilted his head at him, smiling a bit. "I hope you don't mind, but right now I have no desire to be fast…" That said he grabbed for the duffel bag, rummaging through it in search of lube.

"I'll live." Wolf sat up partly and unzipped the end pouch, quickly finding what Fox was looking for.

Fox grabbed the tube and tucked it under an arm to warm it up with a grin. "Good." That said he leaned down and planted a gentle kiss on Wolf's chest before running a line of them upward to his chin, pausing before kissing him hard. Wolf murmured softly during the attention but leaned into the kiss hungrily, tongue darting out to meet Fox's, relaxing on the car seat with his arms wrapped around Fox's shoulders. Fox leaned on one arm heavily, hand planted on the seat next to Wolf, growling softly into the embrace as he got the lube open one hand and dabbed some on one finger. Wolf startled slightly when Fox's finger rubbed against his ass, breaking the kiss with a low growl then arching off the seat when one of Fox's fingers slipped inside him.

"You realize, of course… That I don't let just anyone on top of me." He growled again, looking at Fox from below his brows, eyes barely open. "You get to be an exception to my rules."

"Right." Fox's free hand gently pushed Wolf's arching hips back to the seat, two fingers curling inside the other man and grinning at the moan this action drew, withdrawing the hand after a few more minutes and slicking lube over himself. He was hard to the point of being uncomfortable, shuddering a bit in anticipation as he pressed closer to the lupine. Katt liked anal on occasion, but this seemed like a whole other act, pressing the head of his cock against Wolf then adding pressure to enter him slowly. Wolf sucked in air softly, hands shifting and gripping the seat of his car, keeping his eyes open to watch Fox. Anyone else he would have fought viciously to contest dominance, but for now he accepted it, trying to relax. Fox paused halfway in and withdrew slightly before continuing to enter, murmuring. "Tell me if I'm going too fast." He worked his way inside in easy thrusts, grinding when their hips met to hear the pleased noises the action drew before pulling back and thrusting for real.

Wolf panted softly, nuzzling Fox's neck, hands tangled into the fur on his back. He didn't bother responding to Fox. Hell he had no response. He was gone somewhere else again, being fucked and loving it, howling his approval when Fox started moving steadily. Fox growled and bit his neck, hands digging into the seat and thrusting harder, knot grinding against Wolf then going in, burying himself balls deep into the other man with a groan which only got louder when Wolf tensed and arched. "Ah fuck!"

"I'm guessing you liked that… because I sure as hell did…" Fox licked Wolf's jaw, grinding there before drawing back slowly, feeling Wolf jolt slightly under his next thrust.

"Oh fuck yes!" Wolf put his head back and howled, claws scratching Fox's back, not bothering trying to muffle his cries as he was screwed in long smooth strokes. Fox learned fast too, taking the larger man's gasps and whines as directions.

"Good… gods DAMNED good…" He panted, bowing his head as he increased his efforts, hitting harder, riding into the other man and grinning when his abs were prodded, looking down to see Wolf erect again. "Well, look at that…" It took a bit of a balancing act to get his weight leaning on one arm, other hand wrapping around Wolf's cock and shuddering at the cry of pleasure his grip elicited. Fuck, Wolf was vocal, every breath was an outcry, howling and moaning, the feral sounds piercing some rarely-used part of Fox's mind. No fucking kidding he's a switch hitter, Fox thought, he loves to top but he loves being topped.

"What can I say… you're just that good." His hands stroked down Fox's back to land on his ass, shuddering and whining when Fox's cock scuffed over his prostate. Fox laughed vaguely and kissed him, railing into him as hard as he could, balls deep every time, hand trying to stroke him in time and almost succeeding. He could feel the end creeping up on him and tried to delay it and draw this out, releasing the kiss to pant.

"I'm getting close… where should I…" That was all of the sentence he got out, finding more speed from somewhere, arching into it, trying to make Wolf howl.

"Not… on the upholstery, please… expensive car." Wolf snarled and arched, throbbing and dripping in Fox's hand, dancing another knife edge himself. "Oh fuck it. Come inside me." Fox snarled and rammed him, the force of his next few thrusts making Wolf have to brace himself off the car door he was trapped against, bowing his head and snarling as his knot wedged inside the other man and locked, coming hard. Wolf howled and arched against him, eyes closing and shuddering as he hit his second orgasm of the day, leaving trails on his chest. "Gods… Damn… Fox."

Fox collapsed on top of him weakly, grunting when Wolf pushed himself off the car door so they were more laying on the seat then trapped against one side of it, panting for air. "Wow, I needed that." He trailed into a snicker, leaning up and licking Wolf. "Holy fucking hells, man, that was good."

He smiled and wrapped his arms around Fox, heart rate slowly coming down, resting his muzzle on one of Fox's shoulders. "Mmm-hmm. We may need to play paintball more often if it puts you in this sort of mood." The air in the car was hot and heavy, thick with sex, and he made a mental note to crack the car windows when he parked in the city or the smell was never going to come out. Then again, was that a bad thing?

"Damn right… though we could just do this without the paintball foreplay." He snickered again, relaxing with a soft sigh, quiet for a few moments before speaking up again. "Would it bother you if I used your real name in the future?"

Wolf had to seriously weigh that up. "I'm not particularly fond of my name."

"I'm not fond of mine either but yelling 'Artemis' on climax would probably sound sexy as hell."

He laughed, flicking one of Fox's ears. "Fine, just not in public ok?" When Fox nodded, he nuzzled the top of his head, shuddering a bit when he felt Fox throb inside him. "So… what are you doing when you get home?"

"Actually I think I'll come back to your hotel with you and borrow your shower."

"Surely Katt has a shower."

"Yes, but her shower won't have you in it." Fox tilted his head up to look at him and smirked.

He smiled. "Fair enough."