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>>the cards — chapter fourteen: going on tilt — part two::

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>>THE CARDS — CHAPTER FOURTEEN: GOING ON TILT — 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.

 

Wolf jerked awake, blinking his eyes and levering himself up on one elbow, looking around the room. Everything was as they'd left it, though the light coming in from the balcony door had dimmed somewhat. After a moment he heard the insistent chime again, and realized what had woke him up. It was a cell phone and not his own. He shook his head and looked down, smiling a bit at Fox, who was still asleep, having rolled so that they were on their sides, the smaller man nestled into his chest. "Hey."

"Hm?" Fox opened his eyes drowsily, then blinked and sat up when the cell phone chirped again. "Well hell." He rolled away and crawled to the end of the bed, flopping down and fishing around on the floor, coming up with his cell phone after a moment. "Katt sent me a text message."

"What about?" Wolf shifted and sat beside him, positioning himself in half lotus and yawning.

"I was supposed to cook dinner for us tonight. Usually I have it started when she gets home. She's home and I'm here."

"Oh shit. I'm sorry."

"Not your fault." Fox shrugged and propped himself on his elbows, calling her back.

She answered after a few rings. "Hey, you. Surely paintball didn't run this long."

"Hey, Katt. No, it didn't."

She paused, then burst out laughing. "I take it Wolf's been fucking your brains out since then. Did you at least make it to a bed?"

He blushed, blinking a few times. "Uh…?"

"Do I want to know?" Wolf asked.

"It's your voice, baby. If you've gotten laid recently you practically sound like a different man." She snickered. "I guess I'm on my own for dinner then?"

"No, I need to eat too, just a minute." He looked at Wolf. "Are you hungry?"

He lifted an eyebrow. "If she can wait a little bit I should be able to get us a reservation for three at Akiko's for a late dinner."

"Akiko's? And how late are we talking?"

"Akiko's is a high end sushi place, I know one of the owners there. As for the time, I dunno, eight maybe?"

"Did he say sushi?" Katt demanded.

"Yes, yes he did." Fox replied.

"He's on. Will you be picking me up?"

"I imagine so. Can you be ready at seven-thirty?"

"Giving yourself an hour to get here?"

"I need a shower."

"Uh huh. See you soon, babe. Nom nom." That said, she hung up.

"Was she just totally fine with you being here?" Wolf wanted to know, a bit stunned.

"Yeah, she was." He closed the phone and dropped back on the floor, shifting back to his hands and knees and crawling over to Wolf, leaning in. "Probably because I am a seriously horny bastard and she appreciates someone else taking my edge off. Her words." He grinned.

Wolf grinned back and yanked him in, kissing him hard and laughing into it when Fox shoved into it, pushing him onto his back on the bed and falling with him. Fox sprawled on top of him, propping his elbows on his chest so he could hold the kiss, tail wagging furiously when his ass was grabbed. Wolf eventually eased the kiss out, panting and holding him close. "We really don't have time for this. An hour's barely enough time for us to both shower, get dressed, and get to where Katt lives."

Fox pouted, then sighed. "You're probably right."

"However, that doesn't mean we can't fool around in the shower if you hurry your ass up."

"Not much of a sweet talker, are you?" He laughed and rolled off, grabbing for his bag of paintball gear and finding the clean clothes he'd stashed in there as Wolf did the same.

"Nope." He tucked his clothes under an arm, picking up his cell phone and scrolling through the directory. A short call later, a dinner reservation was made for eight-fifteen. That done he walked into the bathroom and dumped his clothes on the large sink counter, then pulled the glass shower door open and turned the water on. "You like hot showers?"

"Yes." Fox dumped his clothes next to Wolf's and pounced, gnawing on the back of Wolf's neck and growling playfully.

"Easy! The last thing I need is a head trauma from falling in here!" Wolf laughed, straightening back up and leaning into the attention, sticking a hand into the water. "That temperature work for you?"

Fox leaned around him, sticking a hand in. "Works for me. Get in there, you."

"You took my suggestion to hurry seriously." Wolf observed, stepping into the shower and ducking under the spray. It was an overhead spray, the water cascading down in a rain shower effect. The floor of the tub rippled and became textured as he stood on it. Like most hotels, the bathtub had a safety bottom that became textured and grippy when exposed to water, perhaps one of the most practical applications of technology he'd ever personally seen.

Fox stepped in behind him, ducking into the broad spray of the water with him, grinning. "You naked was nice to wake up to."

"Hah." He snorted, scrubbing his hands through his head fur, turning under the spray a bit to make sure the water got through his thick fur. Fox stretched out and watched, stepping into him afterward. "This is convenient though. Cleanup is always more enjoyable with two." Fox had to agree, grabbing the bottle of fur shampoo off the shelf. Being in a time crunch meant they couldn't linger much. Even with fur dryers and extra towels, it took a while to dry off after a shower, and by his guess it'd take twenty minutes to get from the hotel to Katt's apartment. Wolf also seemed aware of the time crunch but didn't bother keeping his hands to himself, pulling Fox into wet soapy kisses, during which he put his hands to good use. He cheerfully scrubbed the soap in then stroked his fingers through Fox's fur to make sure it'd rinsed out fully, almost purring when the favor was returned.

"Holy shit, you have a lot of fur."

"It's starting to shed out, actually. Aquas is hot enough I'm probably going to shed for months." He nuzzled Fox, wrapping a hand around his half-erect cock.

"Mm, took you long enough."

"As they say you have to get clean before you can get properly dirty." He snickered, getting his hands soapy again and turning Fox so he leaned back against his chest, both hands stroking over him. "Besides, we both needed a proper cleanup."

Fox groaned and arched into it, hands reaching up behind him to stroke through Wolf's headfur, tilting his head to one side when Wolf nibbled him. "I can't argue that…" He leaned his head back against the other man's chest, just enjoying it until Wolf shifted and he felt his hard length press against him. "Mm. I have some ideas on what you can do with that."

"I'm not sure we have time to do anything interesting." Wolf laughed in spite of himself, scratching Fox's abs with one hand gently and grinning when his legs were beat by the other man's tail.

"Oh please." Fox turned his head and combed his fur out of his eyes, peering at the shower settings, one of which showed a counting timer. It had activated when the water was turned on. There wasn't a limit to the water of course, but it was rather handy if you wanted to know how long you'd been showering. "Surely we can do something with five minutes."

"If you don't mind fast, sloppy, and rough." Wolf lifted his eyebrows, stroking himself slowly without really thinking about it. He wasn't entirely surprised when Fox replied by turning and bracing his hands on one of the shower walls, most of him still under the spray, tail curled up and flicking back and forth. "You may regret this you know…" Not that he was going to argue, grabbing the soap and slicking it over himself, moving to cover over Fox, rubbing against him. Soap wasn't a great lube, but it was certainly better than water.

"Nnnh. Why?" Fox arched into the attention, whining.

"You're not used to this. You're going to be sore."

"I don't care. Fuck me, dammit!" He gasped when Wolf's reply was to grab the back of his neck in his jaws, one arm wrapping around his waist as he thrust. This was not the careful entry of earlier, this was hard and all at once. His body protested then seemed to remember being fucked earlier and allowed it, bowing his head and biting his lower lip.

Wolf made himself let go of Fox's scruff, leaning back and staring down at him. Good lord, the kid was fantasy fuel. He was leaning against his arms, head bowed and just barely trembling, tail still up. "That what you wanted?" He growled, pulling back slowly until just the tip lingered before driving back inside in one long smooth thrust, rumbling to himself. Fuck, hot and tight, mind numbingly so, instinct coming fully to life. Mine. All fucking mine. Mark you. Keep you.

"Holy shit!" Fox yelped on the next thrust, shifting to prop on his forearms, body jolting. Discomfort got stomped out by pleasure, and he fell into heavy panting, whining when Wolf pulled back slowly again. "Fuck. Don't make me order you around again…!" He trailed into a wail when the next thrust connected with its target, his shoulders rounding and cock jerking.

"Mm. Do it." Wolf bit one of his shoulders, keeping the slow pace, moaning to himself, wondering distantly if Fox knew he was feeding one of his fantasies.

He panted, claws scratching uselessly at the tile, knowing he'd feel this the rest of the night and possibly tomorrow but the hell with it. "Fuck my brains out. Fast."

Wolf shuddered and rammed him, biting the back of his neck again and propping both arms on the wall over Fox as he made every attempt at doing what Fox wanted. His body was weary and a good bit sore from paintball and their earlier sessions but he ignored it. There was nothing except the goal of fucking Fox like a machine, groaning and growling as he moved, eyes shut. He didn't need to see to take cues from Fox, the tone of his voice said it all. Fox loved it, wails and cries echoing in the glassed in shower. He didn't take long to come, gasping out Wolf's name as he tensed up. Wolf arched back and howled, finishing a few thrusts later, going still and gasping for air. "You… are one… needy brat." He finally gasped out, trying not to laugh as he pulled out, stepping fully back into the water spray to clean up again.

"Told you so." Fox replied thickly, staying where he was for a few moments before slowly straightening up, rolling his shoulders. "Katt can ride me three, four times a day and I'll still be interested in more. Satisfied as all hell, but still."

Wolf finished cleaning up and pulled Fox into a gentle hug, nuzzling and licking at his muzzle before kissing him softly, hands rubbing his back. Fox leaned in, murmuring in approval, relaxing in the water the last few minutes before Wolf shut it off.

"We are so late." Fox grumbled, getting out of the car.

Wolf rolled his eyes, shutting off his car and getting out, beeping it locked as he jogged to keep up with Fox. "That'd be your fault, man. Happily our reservation is at 8:15, not at 8:00."

"Lucky us." He sighed, letting them both into the apartment complex and leading the way through, taking the stairs up to Katt's floor. "Are we even dressed nice enough for this sushi place?"

"We'll be fine."

Fox opened the door to Katt's floor and paused, looking at Wolf, who looked placidly back. "You're mellow."

"Dude. I've had sex three times today. There is nothing that can destroy my good mood tonight."

He laughed, heading down the hallway, leaving Wolf strolling along behind. Nice building, Wolf decided, carpet was new, pricy light fixtures. Fox meanwhile had gotten to Katt's apartment, unlocking it and sticking his head in. "Katt?"

"You're ten minutes late, babe." She replied, coming out into the hallway and giving him a hug. She'd decided on jeans, a white blouse, and sandals, and since Fox was dressed casual she was glad she'd done the same.

"Oof! Yeah, sorry. We left a bit late and then hit some traffic." He grinned and returned the hug.

"You left late huh?" She snickered, letting him go and giving Wolf a careful once over. Considering what she knew about him came from his work file, the news, and what Fox had told her, she was mildly surprised. He was tall, though not as tall as Falco, and had a reasonably muscular frame. No eyepatch, so his eyes didn't match. He was wearing a plain t-shirt, jeans, and combat boots. Primary examination done, she stepped over and vented some frustration.

Wolf jumped a bit when her slap caught him, head turning with it and taking a step back, rubbing the side of his face and looking at her. "I take it that was a long time coming?" He asked after a moment, managing to sound calm.

She shook her hand a bit, glaring just slightly. "You have no idea."

"Alright then. Can we move on without letting it ruin the evening?"

"I think so."

"Alright. Shall we?"

Fox, who'd been watching this with a lifted eyebrow, managed not to laugh as Katt led them back out of the building. "I did warn you she might do that."

"Which is why I'm not exactly upset about it." He shrugged as they stepped back outside, beeping the car unlocked.

"Nice ride." Katt remarked, eying the car.

"Thanks. Lady gets shotgun. Get in the back, Fox." Wolf shook his head when this made both younger parties snicker, climbing into his car and waiting for them both to buckle up before pulling out of the parking lot.

Katt settled into the seat, pondering between them for a moment. Wolf was focused on driving, Fox was sitting in back leaning on his knees to look at them. "I'd make a joke about wondering if you two are gay but I'm not sure if it's appropriate."

"I'll prove otherwise later." Fox offered.

"I'll take you up on that."

"I could provide you with references I guess." Wolf finally said, amused.

"Nah." She slouched against the car door, pondering him. "What's the name of the place we're going again?"

"Akiko's."

"I love sushi, but I can't say I've heard of the place offhand."

"It's a fairly small upscale place downtown. I used to date one of the owners and we're still friends, so she was able to get me a reservation on short notice."

"A woman you used to date? No shit?" Fox said, surprised.

"Yes, you jagoff. This will apparently shock you both but I'm not gay." Wolf rolled his eyes.

"That's probably a good thing. You'd scare the shit out of the gay guys I know." Katt snickered.

"Just because I like dick doesn't mean I have to be a pussy." Wolf waited for the fits of laugher to calm down, waiting for a traffic light and glancing at his watch. "As for dinner, I'm paying, so order whatever you want."

"You may regret that you know. I've cleared entire sushi boats by myself."

He lifted an eyebrow at her. "That sounds like a challenge."

"Ho, boy. Should I be terrified, or just happy that you two are apparently going to get along just fine?" Fox wanted to know.

"I'll go with both." Wolf shrugged, turning down another street. "Honestly, Katt, I'm stunned. Most girls I've known would have freaked out at the idea of their boyfriend sleeping with someone else, let alone a guy."

"I'm not most girls." She shrugged. "I admit the whole coffee house blowjob thing used to annoy me, but then I figured it out. It's not like he goes around asking for it, and he's always so fucking guilty afterward. It's like he'd keep to me if he could but he doesn't feel quite right trying to pry someone else off his anatomy."

"Coffee house blowjobs?" Wolf said very slowly.

"I get jumped practically every time I fucking buy coffee." Fox said, sounding mildly disgruntled about it.

"Wow. People in this city are serious about their hero worship."

Katt laughed. "That's probably spot on. The way I see it, in spite of all that, he always turns up in my kitchen making me dinner." She grinned at Fox. "I got you whipped, hotness."

"Oh no. The horror. Subjected to voluntarily cooking dinner for a girl I have bed-wrecking sex with." Fox said so deadpan Wolf briefly took his hands off the wheel to keep from wrecking the car as he laughed.

"Besides, I don't figure you're exactly competition." She eyed Wolf. "And that's not an insult. I mean, we're sort of playing different games here and lack the required anatomy to directly compete."

"Ok, that's true enough but that almost sounds like a politician's argument."

"Oh, would you relax? I like having my brains fucked out so I see no reason to keep him from getting his brains fucked out sometimes."

Wolf blinked, turning into a parking garage driveway and taking the ticket from the automated machine there, then pulling in and hunting for a parking spot. "Alright, then."

"I'm still curious what that makes us exactly." Fox said, unbuckling as Wolf parked the car.

"Friends with benefits." Wolf replied without really thinking about it, climbing out of the car and pocketing his keys, looking at Katt when she giggled. "What?"

"Couldn't use ‘boyfriend'?" She stuck out her tongue at him over the roof of the car, falling in step with Fox as Wolf led the way out of the parking garage.

Wolf shrugged. "I'm sure when I'm in a totally committed relationship someone else will be nice enough to inform me of the fact."

"You're an asshole, you know that right?" Fox slugged his shoulder.

"Hey, like I told you before. I'm fine with that. I'm just trying to be a likeable asshole."

"It's working, believe it or not." Katt grinned at him.

"Good to know."

Wolf led them partway down the block then cut into a small, filled parking lot. They were a street over from one of the main business districts, the neighborhood was filled with pricy boutiques and small in style restaurants. The parking lot smelled of food, rice and soy sauce and the like, and Fox was drooling by the time Wolf was holding the door for them. "I think I just realized how hungry I am."

"Well, you haven't eaten since before paintball." Wolf replied.

"I think that depends how you define eating." He snickered, grinning at Katt when she looked at him. "You've taught me well."

"Ok, there's a time and a place for that sort of humor." He grinned, oofing when a short skinny girl tackled him. "Hi, Sophie!"

"Artemis, you jerk. I almost didn't believe it when you called." She smiled up at him, tail wagging furiously, before stepping back and straightening her business clothes. "I take it these are the other two on the reservation?"

"Yes indeed."

"Alright then." She went to the podium where another hostess was standing, making a note there and collecting three menus. "Welcome to Akiko's, if you'll just follow me. Have you been here before?"

"They haven't."

Fox and Katt trailed along behind them, looking around. It was a small restaurant, carefully styled to feel authentically Oriental. Sophie put them in a booth where the table was low slung, and you either sat on a pillow or let you legs hang in a recessed area under the table. Wolf cheerfully unlaced his boots as they watched, gesturing for them to do the same. "Well, we're affiliated with a variety of fish hatcheries. All of our fish is sustainable, and comes live to Akiko's with the exception of great shark off Aquas. It's a matter of pride in the restaurant that the fish you'll be eating was swimming only hours before, if not sooner."

"Damn." Katt said, mildly stunned, stepping out of her sandals. Fox sat on the steps up to the booth and unlaced his boots before moving to sit across from Wolf. Katt sat beside him cheerfully, taking a menu when it was offered.

"Indeed. If you don't believe us, the tanks are on two stories above us, and we do offer tours sometimes." Sophie said cheerfully. "I hope you enjoy your meal, your server should be over in just a moment." That said, she made a call-me gesture to Wolf and went about her merry way.

"Well, this place doesn't kid around does it." Fox said, opening his menu and pondering the drink selection.

"You get what you pay for, and here you'll pay a good bit." Wolf replied. "So, dueling sushi boats, Katt?"

"It looks like they've got a few different sizes of boats…" She pondered the menu, trying not to notice the prices attached.

During this pause, a waitress showed up, pencil and pad of paper at the ready. "I'm Danielle, I'll be your waitress. May I get you your drinks?"

Three drink orders later, Katt rubbed her chin and looked at Wolf. "I say we order two large boats for the table and add on as needed."

"Works for me. Work for you, Fox?"

"Should be fine. More cucumber rolls on the outset, though."

"Sure."

Katt gathered the menus and set them at the edge of the short table, shifting to let her legs hang, pondering Wolf. "Hey, since I have you here I've been wanting to ask you something."

"Sure."

"I've never gotten my hands on a Wolfen. Do you guys use their factory standard or a proprietary redesign? I know they're not quite as agile on turns as the Arwing, do their other benefits offset that?"

He laughed in spite of himself, leaning back a bit when Danielle the waitress reappeared, setting their waters down then pouring both he and Katt some tea, passing Fox his oriental-brand beer. "Well, that's unexpected."

"Hey, professional curiosities out of the way first." She looked at Danielle. "Could we have two large boats for the table and an extra order of cucumber rolls? Thanks."

"Certainly, they take a few to put together though." Danielle picked up the stack of menus, writing down the order cheerfully.

"That's fine." Once she was gone, Katt picked up her tea, looking over the rim of the cup at Wolf. "During the war, you and your friends were who we watched the most on the other side. I mean yeah, Fox was doing interesting things, but seeing how you guys reacted to it and how you chose your strategies was fascinating to watch, even over video feed."

"Well, I was the enemy." Wolf took a slow sip of his green tea. "So that doesn't surprise me. I spent a lot of time reviewing recordings of fights when I wasn't in combat, especially the fights with you." He lifted an eyebrow at Fox. "Damn talented greenhorn."

"Asshole."

"Right, so, the Wolfen. Surely that wasn't your idea?" Katt said, head tilted to one side. It was clear Wolf was putting the past behind him, and it wasn't surprising really.

"They weren't called that when we first got them." Wolf set his cup down, thinking back. "We actually used another fighter at first, then right before everything started happening Andross got a line on them. They were called the Viper in beta, but when they were just assigned to my fighting group and the company noted my call sign was Wolf, suddenly they became the Wolfen and I'm leading a group called Star Wolf."

"And suddenly your life is but a shallow copy of mine." Fox grinned, opening his bottle of beer with a keychain and taking a drink.

"No kidding. Trust me, it wasn't my idea." He snorted. "And you're right, Katt, the Arwing is a hell of a lot more agile, both in the air and in a vaccuum. The Arwing is actually smaller physically too, if you put them side by side on a tarmac the Wolfen looks huge in comparison." He slouched, leaning back on the heels of his hands, bringing his legs up into half-lotus comfortably. "The trade is that they've got heavier armor and shielding, and a much larger engine plant."

"The Arwing's faster though." Fox protested.

"Yeah, but the Wolfen's got more strength behind it, which can be dumped to the guns." Wolf shrugged. "There's just totally different design philosophies between the two fighters. The ones my group uses a different version than factory standard, of course, but I've grown used to it. If I could have some Arwings on hand as an alternative for gigs where their benefits would be appropriate, I would, but Arspace won't sell planes to me."

"Considering our business partnership, that may change in the future." Fox said, shifting and stretching his legs under the table, grinning when one of Katt's legs laced over his.

"Where do I stand on that anyway?" Katt wanted to know, taking a drink of her tea.

"Well, you're an ally of Star Fox so you have access to my facilities as long as you maintain that alliance." Wolf replied.

"Really, now." She quirked an eyebrow. "Which facilities are we discussing?"

He grinned. "I do have a tool shed on what's left of Venom."

Katt made a face at him. "If that's a joke it's not funny."

"I found it hilarious, myself."

"Remind me to smack the stupid out of you later."

"Careful, I may start to like it. All kidding aside, I have a rather serious setup on Aquas."

"You said that like smacking the stupid out of him is possible in the first place, Katt." Fox snickered and took a swig of his beer, grinning when Wolf flipped him off. "As for his setup on Aquas, I haven't seen it in person yet but the photos were pretty god damn impressive."

"And here I'd been under the impression you'd seen his setup repeatedly." Katt grinned.

"My wedding tackle thanks you." Wolf replied drolly. Fox settled on a pout.

"Wedding tackle?" Katt said skeptically. "Are you sure you're young enough to fly with us grandpa?"

He nearly choked on his tea. "This is a pretty high class restaurant. What should I have said, pray tell?"

"He has a point." Fox said.

"Right, we're cussing right and left but just out and saying that his cock thanks me is off limits." She snorted. "Yeah, that doesn't sound arbitrary at all."

"Well, we are getting a bit of attention." Wolf nodded at the occupants of a nearby table, who paid closer attention to their chopstick technique.

"Oh, screw'em. They'll live."

"Well, since we're on the subject, why the hell do you have a bald spot down there?" Fox wanted to know.

He blinked then slowly facepalmed. "Oh my gods we are not having this conversation in public!"

"Why not?"

"Dammit, now I'm curious. Spill it!" Katt laughed, leaning on the table and looking at him, then at Fox. "And where exactly is it?" Fox communicated this through some creative gestures, which made Wolf nearly convulse in silent laughter in spite of himself.

"If you guys must know, I used to have a piercing, ok? I had it for a few years before it was taken out and the fur never came back in."

"You're a braver man than I." Fox replied, a bit surprised.

"That implies that you're currently a man, brat."

Fox stretched and managed to kick him under the table in spite of his sitting in half lotus. "Asshole!"

"Seriously. A sheath piercing." Katt said, having caught up on that finally after pondering the mental imagery.

"I also had my belly button, nipples, one eyebrow, and one ear done. Oh, and my tongue." Wolf emptied his first cup of tea, paused, and peered at her. "Holy shit, did I just fry her brain?"

Fox looked at her. "Give her a minute. I don't blame her. Why all the hardware?"

"Why the hell not?"

"And you just let all that heal over?"

"I had a bad experience with an MRI machine." He nodded when Fox crossed his legs. "Yeah, just about."

Katt shook off vigorously, finished her tea, and poured for both herself and Wolf. "You're much more interesting than I figured you'd be."

"Why, what were you expecting?"

"A bro in a uniform."

"I have never been so insulted in my life."

Fox laughed. "The mental image of you with blonde spiked fur and a popped collar is priceless."

"I somehow doubt my eyepatch would jive well with that. Besides, you throw the prep thing more than I do, pretty boy."

"I do not!"

"I think I'm starting to understand you two's relationship." Katt said after a moment, looking back and forth between them. "I'm not sure if it's disturbing or sexy."

"I'm going with both at this point." Wolf replied, shrugging.

"That works."

Conversation wandered back to the subject of Wolf's military base as they waited for their dinner to arrive. Wolf was personally glad for the change of subject, and Katt seemed to be interested in the setup, or at least she had a lot of questions. Fox stayed quiet through most if it, content to watch them interact, quietly happy that the two people he was sleeping with were getting along.

Soon enough the sushi boats arrived, two servers setting them up in the center of the table and providing them with the normal sides and sauces. Katt was extremely pleased to see real fresh wasabi was provided. Wolf got extra pickled ginger. All three went for different rolls once they had their chopsticks ready, digging in hungrily.

"Hey, I was meaning to ask you about something earlier…" Fox said, picking up a roll and pondering the sushi boat. Tiny elegant script in the wood identified it, which surprised him, but he appreciated it.

"You were?" Wolf said, not exactly remembering and somehow getting the idea he didn't want to. In his experience conversation that was brushed off before, during or after sex was probably not worth returning to.

He swallowed, tapping his chopsticks together then grabbing one of the cucumber rolls. "Oh! Right, the art gallery thing."

"Art gallery?" Katt asked around her bites, digging in happily.

"I know you draw. I saw the sketchbook shoved in your bag at the hotel, didn't look at it though don't worry. Do you paint?" Fox looked at Wolf, and saw the carefully closed expression. "Oh. Sorry."

"No, it's just… It isn't something I really talk about." Wolf rubbed his eyes with his free hand, skipping over a piece of sushi with a tentacled bit on it, not surprised when Katt grabbed it cheerfully.

"Then forget I asked."

"No, I think I have to tell you. I do paint, and I managed to accidentally sell some of my work."

"How the hell did you manage that?" Katt wanted to know, surprised.

Wolf was quiet for a moment, picking at a bowl of rice. "Look, one of the pictures was of you, ok Fox? You on the balcony. I have a picture of it on my phone, if you want to see it."

Fox was silent for a few moments, staring at him. "I'm not sure how to feel about that."

"Neither am I, trust me." He dug his phone of his pocket and flipped through it for a few moments, passing it over. "Here. Look, I don't really want to get into this, but someone somewhere has that now and I figure it's your right to know that."

There were several long minutes of silence, during which Katt and Fox both looked at the phone display in shock and Wolf quietly ate, hoping the subject would be dropped but doubting it.

"You really painted this?" Katt asked after a moment, looking at Wolf.

"Yeah."

"This is how you see me?" Fox finally asked, peering at the phone display.

"Basically."

He shook his head, passing the phone back over. "Thanks for showing me."

After several moments of quiet eating, Katt pondered back at Wolf. "So, any hobbies you have that you don't mind discussing?"

Wolf smiled, relieved. "Yeah, sure."

Felix sighed, stopping and shoving his hands in his pockets, staring out a view port at the ships coming and going around the station. He'd been unable to sleep or even relax, quickly giving up and getting dressed again, leaving James to sleep on in the apartment. And now here he was, alone on a station outside his territory and just pissed as hell at the world. Rummaging in a pocket, he came out with his cell phone earpiece and put it on, dialing the phone without looking, listening to it ring.

On the forth ring, a phone rattled on the other end, the connection surprisingly good considering the distance of the connection. "Glass Factory."

"James is down for the count for a bit, and I need someone to talk to or I'm going to kill him in his sleep." Felix replied, stepping away from the view port and continuing down the hallway, falling into a march without thinking about it.

Fannie blinked, shifting to sit on the end of her bed, turning on the bedstand lamp. "You do realize it's rather late on Corneria?"

"You do realize I'm talking about murdering someone I gave my life to, right?"

"Good point." Fannie shifted to sit against the headboard of her bed, settling in. "So what did James do this time?"

"Not so much done as what he's not done. He apparently barely slept for a week and kept himself up using coffee and possibly stims."

"Well, that certainly calls for a slapfest but that isn't worth murdering him over."

"He attacked me and meant to do damage."

"Oh, fuck."

"If he wakes up in less than twelve hours I'm going to beat him unconscious regardless." He replied, barely noticing the hallways he was walking down, aware of the security guard shadowing him at a reasonable distance. "But I'm going on tilt right now and I'm trying to come down before I do something stupid."

"Please tell me you're out of his apartment at least."

"Yeah, I'm out. I'm walking the station, and security put a tail on me a while ago. From what he was radioing in, they know who I am and don't figure I'll do anything stupid, but they want to be sure." He looked over a shoulder and wove a bit at the guard, who nodded slowly.

"I guess they're not as stupid as you think, thank the gods."

"No shit." He blew out a sigh.

She pondered her ceiling, considering the problem. Felix had a slow temper, but when he blew, it was bad. She'd seen him annoyed at James many times in the past, but never this bad. "If I know you, you're armed and it'll be that old mostly-metal push pistol, and you'll have that big illegal fucker in a locker somewhere."

"The pistol's a Karyo 90, and how'd you know I'd have the slug thrower?"

"Because the only weapon you like more than the rifle is currently in your boxers." She snorted, lifting a foot and curling her toes, pondering her claw polish.

That made him smile. "True."

"Break out everything and take it down to brass tacks, I mean clean the shit out of it."

"You mean, meditate on it."

"Exactly. You need a distraction, from what you're saying, and that'd be a damn fine one."

He sighed and shook his head, rubbing the back of his neck. "I'm not sure that'd be enough."

"It always has been for you before."

"Yeah, but this is different." He stopped again, shoving his hands in his pockets and staring blankly out another view port, remembering James in the apartment, struggling blindly against his grasp. "We'd been in yelling fights before but this was… He just snapped, Fannie. He was gone."

"Don't worry about him right now. If I know James, he'll be fine when he wakes up, and he probably won't even remember what happened." She thought back, remembering James from the last time she'd seen him, still ten pounds of hot in a five pound bag, the eternal fuckomatic five thousand. "Can I ask why he hadn't slept in a week?"

"I don't even fucking know. We've both had some minor kinks in work lately, nothing bad but weird things you know. I can't imagine this is all about fucking Wolf O'Donnel." He tried not to start seething again. "Somehow James has gotten to be good friends with O'Donnel, who is acting like a fucking two year old right now and giving James the silent treatment. I swear to gods, Fannie, I'm going to kick his ass…"

"He's paying my rent. Please don't hurt him too badly."

"I could be convinced to leave his arms whole."

"Now, don't you be a shit." She said sharply. "James ran into him while you were still damn near off the radar, right? So don't get pissed at Wolf for daring to be on territory you didn't have staked out anymore."

Felix winced. "Forgive me if I think you're biased about the guy."

"I like the boy. He's a phenomenal artist, and from what I've read a damn good fighter."

"I'll give it to you he's a great soldier. He's also a gigantic pain in my ass who's put James in a fucked up mood, and beat the fuck out of James' kid at least twice."

"Why is the word myopic flashing in my head in vibrant neon colors?"

"Because I've surrounded myself with wiseasses."

"Look, you said yourself that he and James' kid have some sort of business partnership right? And he's yet to break James' cover." She stretched out. "Does he probably have incredible skill at being a shit? Sure. That doesn't mean that James didn't have this coming. From what I caught, he sent me the kid's art without permission to look, let alone take photographs. Any of my other artists would have tried to set James on fire, so I count this as a pretty mild display of annoyance."

"You may be right but I don't have to like it." He finally said, begrudging the point.

She laughed. "You don't have to like it, you just have to admit it. Hey, while I have you on the phone, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, why not."

"Do you know Jonathan E?"

Felix blinked. "Oh sure, he works for me. You know him?"

"Yeah, we were mutual contacts back in the day. I only ask because we were supposed to have coffee a few days ago for old time's sake but he didn't show, and I can't get a hold of him. He's gone silent."

"Oh shit. Wait." He took his phone out and flipped through the touch screen options, frowning when he got to a list of flashing red names. "He's silent for me too, one of a list actually."

"Oh shit." She blinked. "That isn't good, Felix."

"No kidding. Remember those work annoyances I mentioned earlier? Yeah, I've had problems getting a hold of some informers, and some of the others are saying there's something in the wind, but they can't figure out what." He rubbed his chin. "I think I'm going to do some digging, send out a call and try to find out what's going on."

"I'll keep my ears open."

"Good. I'll get back to you if it's anything good."

"Appreciate it. Hope James feels better."

"So do I."

"Oh, you have no idea what you're getting into."

"Really? Well, you're on my home turf now and you're in for some hurt."

"You talk a big game, brat, but you've yet to prove a damn thing."

"Hey, sex toys." Katt said, grinning. "Are you going to posture all night, or are you going to pick a level already?"

Fox pouted, bouncing on his toes on the lifted platform that served as a controller for the arcade machine. It had been his idea to come here after dinner, as clubbing was out because of other earlier physical activities, and drinking was out as Wolf was driving. He'd been mildly surprised when Wolf and Katt had cheerfully agreed to the idea. "That's just cold, Katt."

"She has a point." Wolf said, standing peacefully at the center of the controller. After some discussions about light gun calibration and older games, coming to an arcade machine that made you step on arrows in time to arrows on the screen set to music somehow seemed a natural progression. He also wasn't surprised to find that most of the high scores had been set by Fox. "Get a move on, McCloud."

"Are you so determined to have me own your ass?" Fox wanted to know, passing a card through the machine's card reader.

"Well, it's happened today already but I have come out ahead in that contest." Wolf smirked.

"Oh, you're in for it now."

"Good."

Katt found a spot to sit and watch as the pair set the game up to their liking, Fox hammering a code into the controller to open up an extra difficulty setting before picking a song. She'd spent the evening watching Fox and Wolf interact, though they didn't let her just sit back and observe. Wolf was an asshole, but it was indeed that likeable form of assholeness, and she found herself grinning a lot. They all got along quite well, actually. The awkward had long since passed.

"Sorry this game doesn't have a third player spot, Katt." Wolf said, shifting his stance and waiting for the song to start.

"Nah, it's ok. I don't like making a fool out of myself in public. Maybe I'll have a chance to whip you both in a racing game later." Fox laughed, then was reoccupied by the game. To both their surprise, Wolf actually kept up with him, and got a longer combo by the end of the song.

"You know, this is a lot easier to do when you're sober." Wolf said thoughtfully.

"You used to play this game drunk?" Fox wanted to know, picking another tune.

"Who said anything about alcohol? That being said, I don't remember this song being in this game."

"It wasn't, it is now though." He grinned. "And now I know not to go on easy on you."

"Oh, no, never. Not in any activity." Wolf grinned back. Fox's laughter made him screw up the first steps of the next song.

In the end, they limped away from the game half an hour later, sore muscles complaining, gladly accepting bottles of water from Katt.

"I think you boys have overdone it a little." She said after a moment, watching them slouch against a wall of the arcade. "Impressive performance with the game though."

"We're all about impressive performances today." Fox said, having drained half the bottle of water.

Katt snickered. "You're a pervert, you know that, right baby?"

He shrugged. "I'm horny."

"You take after your dad just a bit, don't you?" Wolf said, shaking his head in wonder, rubbing one of his hips with his free hand.

"He's James McCloud 2.0, and I wouldn't change it for the world." She snickered and shoulderchecked into Fox.

Fox pouted. "Whatever. I'll be right back, guys." That said, he walked off through the crowd toward the bathrooms, managing not to limp.

She watched him go, then looked up at Wolf, whose eyes will still following Fox through the crowded arcade. "He's easy to love, isn't he."

Wolf started to reply, shut his mouth, and looked at Katt. "There's no way for me to safely answer that."

She laughed. "So what's on your agenda?"

"Well, I'm scheduled to head home tomorrow if that's what you mean."

"Aquas?"

"Yeah. It's the only home I have, really."

"I'll try to stop by sometime soon."

Wolf smiled. "I'd like that."

Several minutes later, Fox wandered back, working his way back through the crowd to them. "I think I'm ready to go, how about you guys?"

"Yes, and we're taking a trip to Aquas soon whether you like it or not." Katt replied, glomming onto him.

"Gee, twist my arm." He grinned at both of them. "Shall we?"

The chatting on the walk back to the car and the drive to Katt's apartment was mellow and aimless, Wolf managing to get back to the right neighborhood from memory and pointed to the right building by Katt. Plans were made for the Star Fox team to get to the Aquas base soon in a few weeks if work didn't get them there first. Once they arrived Katt and Fox got out of the car, Katt walking ahead to get the front door open as Fox leaned on the car's driver door to talk to Wolf. "I've had a great day."

"Same here. See you in a few weeks on Aquas?" Wolf replied.

"Hell, yeah." Fox ducked his head into the car and roped Wolf into a kiss that was happily returned, cutting it off when Katt whistled from the apartment door. "Drive safe."

"Always."

James woke up slowly, shaking his head groggily and assessing the situation. He was in bed, naked and under the covers, alone. How he'd gotten there was a mystery, he couldn't remember going to bed. The room was dark, and the time on the clock didn't help because he honestly wasn't sure what day it was. After several moments of lying there, his body announced that he was hungry, thirsty, and rather desperately needed to use the facilities. So he tossed the covers off and got up only to nearly trip and fall on a pair of jeans and a shirt that had been dropped next to the bed.

Felix looked up from the computer screens when he heard violent cussing in the other room, and managed not to smile, looking at his watch. By his count, James had been down fourteen hours, only moving to use the bathroom and slug a glass of water down. That was probably enough to recover from whatever he'd been through earlier. Leaving James' AI Rio to continue chewing on the information he'd requested, he stood and walked into the kitchen, starting the coffee pot and getting a pan out to make the other man some breakfast. He'd just started an omelet cooking when James staggered into the kitchen, wearing sweat shorts and a tank top, fur sticking out at odd angles. "Good morning."

"Morning. Evening. I honestly don't know." James sat down heavily at the small table in the apartment's kitchen, scrubbing his eyes and accepting a cup of coffee. "You got here before I passed out, right?"

"Yeah." Felix poked the omelet with a spatula.

He nodded slowly, taking a sip of his coffee and flexing one hand, which was oddly sore. "Did we get in a fight, or something?"

The feline sighed, looking at James and rubbing his jaw. "Or something."

He hesitated, picking up a glass of juice that was already waiting at the table and taking a long drink of it. "So what happened?"

"Your stupid ass stayed up the better part of a week shotgunning coffee and stims. My stupid ass showed up during this, you decided to be mad at me, and we got in a fight." He glared at the pan, folding the omelet over.

"Wow, I barely remember that." He drained the cup of juice, licking his lips.

"That doesn't surprise me. You were sleep deprived and ingesting stimulants like candy. I had to take a cup of coffee from you. There's more juice in the fridge."

"Did we fuck somewhere in there?"

"Something like that, which may have set you off, I have no idea." Felix got a pair of plates out of one of the cabinets, cutting the omelet in half with the edge of the spatula then getting some forks out as well.

"Well, shit." He stood and went to the fridge, refilling his glass before sitting back down.

"Also, if you hear my jaw popping while I chew, ignore it. You've still got one hell of a right hook."

"Oh holy shit. I didn't actually hurt you, did I?"

"You tried to kill me, or at least damage me permanently. You had completely flipped your goddamned lid." Felix sighed, pondering. "Which I might…fuck…which I did have coming." Felix plated the omelet and put one of the plates in front of James, sitting down across from him. "I came in, knew something was off, and forced myself on you anyway. That's when the fight started. You've been really, really angry at me for leaving and I…didn't know what to do about it other than ignore it."

"I can't argue that." James shook his head, picking up his fork. "I've been pissed about it for a long time, but just kind of bottling it up, so if I was in that bad of a state of mind…"

"Trust me, you were not yourself."

He shook his head again, digging into the omelet hungrily. The silence stretched, Felix picking at his part of the omelet before giving up and pushing it across to the other man, watching it get eaten at the same hungry pace.

"You feel better now?"

"Yeah, and I'm remembering bits and pieces of what happened before I passed out." James frowned and sat back, shoving the empty plates away from him.

He blew out a sigh. "Listen. You were asleep a long time and I was able to think about it, so I'm going to say something I don't often say. I fucked up." Seeing James blink and look surprised, he frowned. "Don't look so goddamn surprised. I fucked up. I left and broke contact when you needed me, and I shouldn't have. I never planned on being gone very long, a few days, a week, then years were passing and I was making connections and getting things done, and completely missing what I should have been doing."

"Ten years, Felix. Ten fucking years after you walked out that I barely saw you."

"There were a few years in there that you didn't see me at all." He sighed again. "There's really no way for me to apologize, or make it right. I don't like talking about these things, you know that."

"Neither of us do, but I tried over the years, and you never seemed to listen."

"Avoidance was easier. I didn't know how to fix it."

James stood and stepped over, wrapping his arms around the still-sitting Felix and setting his jaw on top of his head. Felix shifted to return it lightly after a long moment, not saying a word. "Look, you either need to stay in my life and we can try to fix this, or you need to walk out and never see me again. I can't do this barely-here bullshit any longer." When Felix nodded, he kissed by one of his ears. "I've loved you since I was six, jackass. Yes, it hurt when you walked out, yes it still hurts, but if we work on it we can figure it out. Ignoring it won't help anymore."

Felix rubbed his cheek into James' chest, purring once. "Alright. Can we stop fighting now?"

James laughed, letting go and drinking the rest of his second cup of juice before refilling it. "No promises of that. I do have a habit of being a stubborn asshole."

"Makes two of us. Sit down. I actually need to talk business with you, since you seem to have recovered mostly from barely sleeping for a week. By the way, if you ever do that again I am beating your ass."

"Fair enough." James sat down. "What's going on?"

"We have a problem. A lot of my sources are going silent." Seeing James lift his eyebrows, he nodded. "And they were getting twitchy before they dropped off the planet. Something's going on."

"Any idea as to what?"

"No, not yet. I had Rio put out a call to all my people, and yours for good measure. I'm still waiting on call backs from some of them, and some of the calls to the ones who are silent didn't get through at all." He rubbed his chin. "One of them said something about ‘saw an old friend of yours' in a way that didn't sound positive, but since he's offline now…"

"Well, that's nice and ambiguous."

"Isn't it though? Are you catching wind of anything?"

"Not a lot. There's not a lot of Lylat government presence out here, but my contacts in the fringe patrol have said there's been some ‘rather abrupt' restructuring lately."

"Abrupt as in discharged or abrupt as in discharged out an airlock?"

"I'm not sure. For what few details I have, it honestly could be the latter, and either way it's surprising. The fringe patrols out here don't change much, not even during the war."

"Damn. Well, I guess we wait and see who reports back and if anyone knows anything on my end then." He rubbed his eyes. "I really hate this, James. I haven't been this disconnected in ages."

"We'll figure it out." He stood and stretched, picking up his juice. "I'm going to go shower while we wait, alright?" Felix nodded at him, he walked out of the kitchen, paused, then leaned back in. "You coming or what?"

Felix smiled.