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>>the cards — chapter fifteen: ante up — part one::

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>>THE CARDS — CHAPTER FIFTEEN: ANTE UP — PART ONE::

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.

 

Author's Note: Thanks to Finley Otego for his considerable long-term help on this series, and sorry for the long delay.

Wolf sighed, waiting somewhat patiently in the back of the cab which was fighting its way through Corneria City traffic to get to the art district. He'd decided to pick up his car later, instead borrowing a cart from the space port to load his bags and the stack of canvases on. The cabbie had given him an odd look when he read the name on his bank card, but hadn't asked.

Due to some arrangements made a few days ago, tomorrow he'd be flying with Fox, Katt, and the others back to Aquas so they could check out the ground base. He hadn't seen Fox face to face in a week and a half, but their phone calls had been cheerful. He was apparently forgiven. Now it was just the trick of forgiving himself.

"Sorry it's taking so damn long." The cabbie remarked over his shoulder.

"Some big car accident on one of the main roads so everyone's trying to go around."

"Nah, don't worry about it. I used to live here, I know how it is." Not long later the cab pulled up in front of the Glass Factory, tucking into short term parking. Wolf unbuckled, handing the cabbie a cash tip. "I could use some help carrying some things inside, if you have a few."

The cabbie stared at the money. "Sure." He got out of the driver's seat and stood by, watching Wolf shrug a duffel bag over his shoulder then handing over a stack of wrapped canvases. "You're the guy from the news, right?"

"Broadly, yes." Wolf picked up the rest of the wrapped canvases, knocking the trunk closed with his elbow before leading the way into the gallery and shouldering the door open there.

"You don't seem like a bad guy."

"Thanks. I think." He leaned on the door to keep it open so the cabbie could come into the gallery proper, looking around and grinning when he saw Fannie appear from the back. "Hi, there."

"Well, look what the cat dragged in. Thank you for finally getting around to depositing those checks I paid you." She grinned and walked over. "What do you have there?"

"Uh, old work mostly. You got somewhere I can put this stuff?"

She nodded, leading the way into the back of the gallery and into a classroom. It was mostly deserted, a few students talking off to the side and a lot of empty easels. "Set them on the table, we'll unwrap them and get them on the easels."

"Sure." Wolf nodded and did so, nodding to the cabbie. "Thanks, man."

"No problem." He wandered out.

"I was under the impression you destroyed your work after finishing it." Fannie remarked, rearranging the easels. "How many?"

"Uh, eight. Five old, three new." He sighed. "And yeah, I normally did. These somehow dodged. One my therapist had in her office for a long time, but she gave it back to me recently. The other four were in storage in a space station locker, from before the war."

"Well, if you unwrap them I'll set them on easels. Old ones first." She leaned on the table, tilting her head. "Are those sheets?"

"Didn't know what else to do, and I doubt the station hotel noticed." He unwrapped one and looked at it for a moment, trying not to wince. It was a small canvas, and the image on it was done in liquid inks, hard and high contrast, a nightmarish shadow. "This is the one my shrink had. Here." He passed it over.

"So this IS therapy to you." She took it, staring at it.

"I see things, sometimes. Things that aren't there, that is. If I use my vision implant." He shook the old demon off, unwrapping the next one. " This one isn't done…" He went to set it aside, and she took it from him, staring at it.

"I think I already have a buyer for this." She said, setting it on an easel.

The art students that had been in the room drifted over curiously to see what was going on. "Were you channeling Pollock? I see maybe four or five kinds of media here."

"I can't remember. It was probably deep sleep deprivation. Sometimes jobs run long and you can't do anything but stay up." He blinked, watching the students look at the two canvases. "What do you mean, you already have a buyer?"

"Let me worry about it. What's that large one?"

"Oh, uh, I think I remember this one." He got the wrapping off it and gave it an appraising look before passing it, Fannie and one of the unnamed students setting it up then staring. "I think I saved this one because I was actually pleased with how it turned out." It was a large canvas, probably three feet tall and four and a half across or more, and was a point of view work. It was an in-cockpit shot, a fight going on outside, the view at a hard diagonal and the controls lit up red and orange. A projected display ran urgent lettering down the right side of the cockpit glass in appropriate shades of "do something right god damn now" red, complaining about fighter loss of gravity, engine trouble, and declining cockpit atmosphere. In the more immediate foreground, his own hands braced, grabbing for support, and drops of blood floating.

"Holy shit." Fannie said, staring at it. "You were scared, weren't you."

"I was about to die. Fifteen more seconds and I would have. Only reason I'm here is because the cruiser I deployed off of heard my mayday and pulled me in with a tractor beam. The fighter was totaled, and I walked to a med bay to deal with the damage caused by bouncing my head off the controls."

"Dude." One of the art students said, staring at him then back at the canvas.

"I didn't get the colors of the controls quite right…" He frowned at the canvas. "But otherwise… Yeah, it turned out alright."

"Artists are so often their own hardest critics." Fannie smiled and shook her head, looking at it. "It's spectacular. Obviously older work, but it'll go over just fine."

"You can sell this?"

"People like art because it takes them somewhere they haven't been. Or sometimes, somewhere they were a long time ago. This shows something few people have seen, even with all the war photography." She patted his shoulder. "Don't worry about it."

He frowned to himself, retrieving another canvas and unwrapping it, smiling a bit. "My nephew." He passed the canvas over.

"Strange combination of mediums. Watercolor and oil?" She frowned, the picture was of a very small boy trying very hard to wield a very large sword. "Is this older than the others?"

"Yeah."

"Hm. I think this one is better off held back, honestly. Give it to him when he's older. It'll be worth money, someday." She rubbed her chin, thoughtfully.

"Fair enough. I figured most of these were crap, honestly." He unwrapped the last of the old paintings, a small canvas, and stared at it for a long moment. "I had forgotten about this…" He finally said, ears folding back.

The art students tried to look over his shoulders or around him curiously, eventually he passed the canvas to Fannie and she put it on an easel. It was the smallest of the group, maybe twelve by fourteen inches, painted in a fast blurry style, almost a wash. Still, though, the imagery came through: a military cemetery, with Wolf sitting on one of the stones off center, holding his head in his hands.

"Someone you knew?"

"Yeah. Coworker at BlackSky." Wolf laced his fingers behind his neck, ears still folded back. "Killed by a micro meteor. It… kind of hit me hard."

She nodded once. "I can tell. Would you like some coffee? We can unwrap the rest in a while."

"Yeah, sure. Can I leave my bag back here?"

"Of course."

Leaving the art students to look at the paintings, Wolf followed Fannie back into the gallery proper, leaning on the counter as she made him a café latte. "Eight paintings… well, it isn't enough for a show but it is enough to get you some proper space in the gallery." She said thoughtfully, passing him the mug. "A lot of people keep asking about your art, so that would work out nicely."

"They do?" He blinked, taking the mug and cradling it in both hands.

"Well, gee, dummy, you'd almost think that you painted two amazing works while standing in the gallery in front of a stunned audience." She grinned at him. "And most people carry cameras these days. So yeah, you've already got some fans, though about as many people are fascinated with your appearance as your art."

He took a drink of his latte, mulling that over slowly. "My scars and stuff?"

"No, not exactly. You just don't look like an artist in general, and you're really high energy when you paint."

"You have no idea. I've torn canvases before because I was too forceful."

"Really? If that happens, bring them in anyway. I'd be curious to see them."

She poured herself some coffee. "Do you use sketchbooks at all?"

"Well, yeah, but…" He trailed out when his cell phone rang, a bit surprised.

"Sorry, wasn't expecting a call."

"No worries." She shifted to sit at the coffee bar, watching curiously as he fished a phone earpiece out of a shirt pocket and put it on.

"O'Donnel."

"Well, that's formal." Fox's voice replied, sounding surprised.

"Oh, hey you. Sorry I didn't look to see who was calling." He grinned in spite of himself, shifting to stare out the gallery window, shoving his hands in his pockets. "What's up? Everything still set for tomorrow?"

"Yeah, as far as I know. Everyone's supposed to be on board at two in the afternoon. With any luck we'll actually leave on time." Fox laced his fingers behind his head, slouching on Katt's couch, his cell phone resting on his knee on speakerphone setting. "Are you going to meet us in orbit or what?"

"I'm actually in Corneria City right now. I'll probably take off at the same time and dock with the Great Fox in orbit if it's all the same to you."

"You're in town? Why didn't you call?" Fox frowned down at his phone.

"Had some stuff to take care of."

"Well, where are you now?"

"Honestly I'm at a gallery in the art district."

"Right, the thing you don't like talking about. What are you doing afterward?" Katt leaned out of the kitchen then wandered over, still in the process of drying a frying pan, ears perked to the conversation.

"I have no idea. Food, probably…" He moved to flop in one of the gallery chairs. "Are you guys busy for a late lunch early dinner thing? You could meet me here and we could go grab something to eat."

"Fine by me." Katt replied. "Do you have your car or do you need a ride?"

"I need a ride, my car's in storage."

"Well if you don't mind being stuffed into the front seat of a fuel-efficient car, I can drive us."

"How come he gets the front seat?" Fox pouted.

"Obviously because it's much easier to stuff you in the back. Or possibly the trunk." Wolf grinned to himself.

"You guys are mean."

"Only because we love you, precious snowflake." He kept the grin when he heard Katt laugh in the background. "I'm at the Glass Factory Gallery. I'll be here a while probably, so whenever you guys want to come by is fine."

"Probably within the next hour or so. Will we actually get to see what you're working on?"

"Hah. Sure why not? See you soon."

Katt glanced at Fox as she nimbly parked her car. She rarely drove it, these days, preferring the agility of her motorcycle, but it did have its uses, such as when you had to transport a group of people. "Are you alright? You were in such a good mood earlier."

"Yeah, I'm fine. This is just weird, that's all." He replied, looking across the street at the gallery. Glass Factory? That seemed vaguely familiar to him, like it had been mentioned in passing a long time ago. It was a strange name for a gallery, but by the face of the building it had been an industrial complex a long time ago.

"What's weird? That Wolf paints?"

"Yeah, and that he won't talk to me about it. I don't know, I just thought…"

"That your relationship, whatever it was, would let him open up?"

"I guess so. It almost feels like he doesn't trust me entirely." He shrugged, getting out of the car and running a bank card through the meter there, which ticked a few times and dinged happily.

"Well, we're here now. If he's willing to meet us here, maybe things have changed." She smiled, taking his hand and dragging him across the street, dodging between cars and taxis.

Fox hadn't spent a lot of time in art galleries as far as he remembered, but the one they stepped into together seemed typical. The floor was wooden and speckled with paint here and there, and the works in the gallery seemed divided up so different artists had their own sections. A bunch of students about his age were talking in one of the clear areas, and off to one side was a coffee bar and chairs. It was there he saw Wolf, leaning on the bar talking to a middle-aged but gorgeous white tiger. "Hey, you."

"Fox! Hey." Wolf grinned over his shoulder, turning to face them. "Thanks, by the way. This is just easier than getting my car out of storage for one night, you know?"

"I bet, because you probably have it in some fancy-ass car warehouse somewhere." Fox snorted, wandering over. Katt split away a bit to look at the art. "You look sorely out of place."

"Yeah, and you fit in just fine. Jerk." He snickered, gesturing at Fannie with his coffee cup. "This is Fannie, she runs the joint."

Fox turned to say hi, and got his face smooshed. "Oh my god! Aren't you just ten pounds of cute in a five pound bag! No wonder he painted you! Did he tell you how much that went for?"

Wolf had a fit of laughter that only got louder when he heard Fox's reply, which sounded like "mrphl?" around the grip Fannie had on him. "Woman, let him breathe."

"You didn't tell him?!" She let him go, and Fox stared at her, putting his fur back in order.

"We've barely talked about this at all!" He protested feebly, getting the distinct idea that arguing with her was like getting run over by a train while politely asking it to change direction.

"Ugh. I swear." She shook her head in disgust, hands on her hips.

"How many paintings have you sold?" Katt joined them again. "I didn't see anything with 'O'Donnel' signed to it in here…"

"None of his stuff is up right now." Fannie replied. "Though we're working on correcting that."

"I've sold two paintings… and I sign my works as 'Artemis.'" Wolf replied wearily.

"Well, I guess that makes you a professional artist." Katt lifted her eyebrows. "I have a friend that does silver wire jewelry… How much did your stuff go for?"

When Wolf didn't say, Fannie rolled her eyes. "His cut came to fourteen grand between the two."

"Fourteen thousand… wait, that's how much money you offered to put toward the Great Fox." Fox blinked at Wolf.

"Yeah. That's why it wasn't invested." Wolf looked spectacularly uncomfortable.

"Seven grand a canvas?!" Katt demanded. "Why the hell are you still flying a plane?"

"Because I like it?"

"Actually it was eight for the first and six for the second." Fannie supplied.

"A picture of me sold for eight thousand credits?" Fox asked weakly.

"Ten, I take twenty percent for studio use."

Wolf scrubbed his eyes with one hand. "Are you enjoying tormenting me, Fannie?"

"Oh, get the hell over yourself. If I ever manage to do a show with your works the rich people asking questions will be ten times worse than this." She messed up his headfur. "Do you trust me to price the stuff in the back?"

"Yeah, sure, you've gotten me an exorbitant amount of money so far."

"Right. Well, go get your bag, I'm sure these two have other plans for you."

He shook his head. "Come on, I can show you the stuff I have in back if you want."

"Hell yes." Katt said, following behind him as he led the way into the class room in the back of the studio. "I still can't believe you paint. You don't seem the sort."

"Do I seem the sort to play a shamisen?" Fox wanted to know.

"A what?" Wolf asked, picking up his duffel bag and gesturing at the easels.

The students had unwrapped the other three and gotten them set up, and two were still pondering the in-cockpit perspective one he'd done.

"Oriental stringed instrument, I'll play for you later."

He leaned on the wall, watching Fox and Katt walk up and down the line of easels. "Most of them are older works."

"Dude, you're really good."

"If you say so. It's just therapy to me. I used to just incinerate them when I was done." He shrugged. "Where do you want to eat?"

"I have a craving for burritos, does that sound good?" Katt asked.

"Sounds excellent. Can I toss my bag in the trunk of your car?"

"Of course."

"Haven't even been to a hotel yet eh?" Fox asked as they wandered out of the gallery, Wolf waving goodbye to Fannie as they did.

"I came here straight from the spaceport."

"Hotel?" Katt asked, unlocking her car.

"I don't have anywhere to stay on this planet, so I'm always at the same hotel. I guess you'll need to drop me off there later on."

"Not a dual residence person huh?" She opened the trunk.

He dropped the bag in and closed it. "I haven't had an actual residence here since I was at the Academy. I traveled too much, you know? Though I guess my guys aren't much different. Panther just had a storage locker he emptied to Aquas and Leon's in the process of liquidating an apartment he kept here."

"And they'll be there when we're there right?" Fox asked, buckling in in the back seat as they buckled in up front.

"Probably. As far as I know they're not doing side work right now, either way they're both pretty cool when not on duty. Panther plays at being a chef, and Leon mostly keeps to himself."

"How should I pack anyway?"

"It's hotter than hell on the island right now, but rainy."

There was one of those comfortable quiets in the car, the sounds of the city and the road drifting into the small cabin of the vehicle. Fox leaned forward against the belt and ruffled a hand through Wolf's headfur awkwardly, smiling when Wolf leaned into it.

"Well, tell you what. My couch at my apartment folds out. You're free to crash there instead if you'd rather not spend the money on a hotel room, and we can hang out and watch bad movies or something." Katt said after a moment, looking at Wolf.

"I wouldn't want to intrude…"

"Oh, save the bullshit excuses…"

"…and honestly I didn't bring anything to wear to bed."

There was another silence, this one at a traffic light with both Katt and Fox staring at Wolf, Fox with an eyebrow up and Katt with a quirky smile after a moment. "I don't think either of us has any serious complaints about that."

"Perverts."

"You love it."

"I haven't been here in years." Wolf said as the trio stepped into Monster Burrito. Corneria City's Flight Academy was ringed with a variety of restaurants, all specializing in large amounts of food for reasonable prices. Every cadet had their favorite, but you almost couldn't graduate without eating at all of them at least once.

"Well, you graduated some time ago so that's understandable." Fox replied, shoving his hands in his pockets as they waited in line. "You getting your usual Katt?"

"Yeah, I think so." She replied, looking at them. In the car, there'd been some nervous affection, but in public that had all but disappeared, the pair standing casually next to each other.

"What do you usually get?" Wolf wanted to know, looking at her curiously.

"Two pounder, carne asada and pico de gallo."

His eyebrows went up. "You order a two pound burrito? For real?"

"Yeah, and she never leaves a whole lot of it either. She eats more than I do." Fox laughed.

"That's because I work it off." She poked him and snickered.

"Hey, what's with the pictures?" Wolf asked a few moments later, looking around and realizing that most of the walls were covered in sheets of paper with haphazard crayon drawings on them. "It's like a mother's fridge to the tenth degree."

"Oh, they've been doing that since before the war. You didn't know?" Fox blinked.

"I'm eight years older than you are, jagoff. 'Since before the war' is still years after I graduated." He pouted.

"Right. It started with some late night waitresses I guess. They started giving paper and crayons to drunk cadets as a joke, now you just ask and they bring you some. If they like your drawing it goes up on the wall for however long."

"Huh."

"You MUST ask for some." Katt decided, looking at Wolf.

"Wait what?"

"I want to see what you can do with crayon." She turned, poking him in the chest with one finger to keep his attention, staring up at him. "I think it'll be funny."

"Dance, monkey, dance for my amusement?"

She quirked a smile. "If you're dancing you better be stripping."

"Katt!" Fox protested, shoving them so they'd move up in the line. They were now next in line. "We're in public, dammit."

"Hey, I didn't say he had to strip here."

"Actually, Katt, you ever been to Bow Tie? Downtown, used to be pretty high brow? Dunno if it still is." Wolf said suddenly.

"Bow Tie?" Fox wanted to know.

"Strip club, mostly guys stripping but there's a girl's stage too." Katt replied. "Yeah, I've been there a few times. Expensive cover but damn good eye candy.

Why?"

He grinned and leaned down a bit. "Because back when I had two working eyes, I won amateur night there. Got a thousand bucks."

"Really."

"Mmhm."

"I demand a reenactment at a later date." Fox said, trying not to think about it because what mental images he came up with were more than hot. Shaking off, he got to the counter and ordered, then Katt did.

"I'll have what she's having." Wolf said, nodding at Katt.

"Also he wants some crayons." Katt added. Wolf rolled his eyes, digging out his wallet and paying for the meal after batting Fox's bank card away, accepting a cup full of crayons and a few sheets of paper with an exaggerated sigh.

"You didn't have to pay, dude." Fox said, taking the plastic order number and finding them a booth to sit in.

Wolf sat down across from Katt and Fox, pouring the crayons out and looking at the colors he'd been given. "Sure, I did. Katt's letting me crash at her place so I figure it's only fair I at least cover a meal."

There was a pause, during which Wolf started doodling on the sheet of paper, only seeming half-focused on it.

"You seriously won amateur night at a strip club?" Fox finally asked.

He looked up and smirked a bit. "Mmhm. Wasn't much older than you when it happened though… wasn't much more muscular either, now that I think about it." He looked vaguely thoughtful, returning to his scribbling.

"Your build can't be that recent, you were built like that during the war."

Fox said, looking up and smiling as a waitress showed up and gave them their drinks.

"Yeah, I started working out a lot when I was on medical leave for my eye.

Stuck with it, I think it's worked out ok."

"What are you drawing?" Katt wanted to know, leaning on the table to get a look at it.

"Leon and Alec… who will probably be on the island when we get there, actually." He'd quickly figured out that fine details were not to be had with this media, going with a quick scribbly style, going more with form and movement than detail.

"Alec… that's who picked up Leon from paintball right?" Fox blinked. "You let civvies on your island?"

"Long as they've vouched for by staff, sure. Not that it's been much of a problem so far, besides the other option is denying Leon of his boyfriend. I'm sharp enough to know that'd end badly for someone, most likely me." He shook his head. "Alec's alright, anyway, and it's nice to have more warm bodies in the base. I love the place, it was more than worth the debt I've got, but damn it's so echoingly empty sometimes."

"Well, it won't be for long. Sand, surf and no one else around? Fuck yeah."

Katt laughed. "Is there alcohol?"

"Yes."

"Wow, we're going to have to have a betting pool on who we find passed out naked on the beach first."

"Pfft, I already find Leon like that on a regular basis. First thing he did when he got there was strip and roll around in the hot sand like a freaking cat." He shook his head, switching colors of crayons. "Poor cold blooded bastard."

"What's wrong with him, anyway?" Fox asked, taking a long drink of his soda.

"I assume you mean between his ear slits. Hell if I know, man. I gave up wondering."

The meal passed in no rush at all. Wolf and Fox both eventually relaxed all the way, the conversation meandering, the trio comfortable with each other.

"I can't believe you ate more than I did." Wolf said, staring at Katt's plate.

"I forgot to eat breakfast." She replied, shoving the plate back and burping quietly. "Fox's fault."

Wolf snerked, shaking his head as they climbed out of the booth, stretching.

"You two aren't going to keep me up all night, are you?"

"We'll try not to." Fox grinned and punched his shoulder.

"No guarantees." Katt grinned, reaching back to the table and grabbing the stack of drawings Wolf did before they left, going through them as Fox led the way out of the restaurant.

"Careful, if you're too noisy I'll be tempted to join you."

Fox froze up at the sudden barrage of mental images. "Wow. Thanks for that fantasy."

Katt was also still, the three of them standing outside the restaurant. "Wow. Who's in the middle?"

Wolf rubbed his eyes. "Shit. I should not have said that."

"We'll live. These are going on my fridge by the way." She held up the drawings.

He shook his head.

"You going to be alright sleeping here?" Katt wanted to know, standing in what passed for pajamas and pondering Wolf.

Wolf was in his jean shorts and nothing else, the top button of the shorts undone, sitting comfortably on the edge of the fold-out couch. She'd given him a pair of pillows and a blanket, and made the fold-out up with clean sheets. "Yeah, I'll be fine. Don't worry too much about me. Mind if I use your shower in the morning?"

"Knock yourself out, babe. I think Fox and I are going to crash."

He wove a hand vaguely and watched her turn off the lights and walk off, hearing a distant conversation in the bedroom a few minutes later. The three of them had spent the day together, which had actually been a great experience. He felt like he and Fox were friends now, as opposed to business partners who occasionally fucked. And Katt, well… he could see what Fox saw in her. Curvy, some muscle, sassy as all hell. Gave as well as she took.

He snorted, looking over toward the apartment's kitchen, where she'd made a great amused spectacle of using magnets to attach his various crayon doodles to her fridge. Good lord. Smiling in a contented way, he got out of his jean shorts and crawled up onto the fold-out mattress, pulling the blanket up to his waist and sprawling on his back, lacing his hands behind his head.

He heard Fox laugh about something, and smiled again, letting his eyes lull closed. Tomorrow, back to the island. Hopefully Falco and Leon wouldn't try to kill each other or anything, because he was looking forward to spending time with Fox and Katt without any other drama going on.

Fox blinked awake and smiled a bit, feeling Katt stir on top of him. Sunlight was coming in through the window, but the alarm clock hadn't gone off, so he stayed where he was, arms looped around Katt's waist. Katt wiggled and looked at him, yawning.

"I smell bacon."

"Yeah, so do I. And Coffee." He kissed her tenderly, snickering. "Shall we go investigate?"

Wolf looked up from setting Katt's dining table when the bedroom door opened, grinning when they staggered out, Fox in boxers and an undershirt, Katt still in her PJs.

"Good morning, sleepyheads. Have a seat."

"Are you making breakfast?" Fox asked, still somewhat groggy as he sat down.

"I had bacon?" Katt wanted to know. "I thought we finished it."

"I borrowed your keys and went shopping. You now own a French press."

She blinked, sitting sideways in her chair so she could watch him move around the kitchen. "I already owned a coffee machine…"

"Bah. French press or nothing."

"So what's for breakfast?" Fox wanted to know.

Wolf wandered over, handing them both mugs of coffee. "Breakfast sandwiches. They'll be ready as soon as the pork belly is done."

"I'm just amazed that you can cook." Katt said, blinking.

"Bah, don't be, I'm a terrible cook unless I have a fire pit. I can just muddle my way through a decent breakfast, if you're not worried about calories…" He decided the pork belly was done, loaded up three plates with various sandwich building elements, and toted their plates to the table. "Build your own or eat everything separate, whatever."

"What's pork belly anyway?" Fox asked, drinking in the smells coming off the plate. Thick wheat toast, scrambled eggs loaded down with cheese and peppers, pork belly, and some random fruit. Rapture.

"Bacon in slab format." Wolf sat down with his own plate and cup of coffee, and started to go about assembling a breakfast sandwich. Unlike the other two, he was fully dressed, in boots, button-fly jeans, and a t-shirt. He'd already done a salute to the sun, showered, and gone shopping so far today. But what the hell, he was on a different planet's time zone setting than these two were.

"Oh, my gods."

Katt laughed, having sliced up some strawberries and bananas, and made a sandwich with those, the pork, and the bread, the eggs on the side. "Just eat, Fox."

"Great way to wake up."

Wolf smiled, taking a long drink of his coffee. "You'll like being on Aquas, then. Panther fancies himself a chef. The kitchen is his domain. Compliment him at all and he'll be using you as a tasting board for new creations."

"Will he actually be cooking for everyone?" Fox asked around a mouthful of pork.

"So he says, yeah. When I left he was drawing up a menu. Hopefully you guys are alright with fish because we eat a lot of it."

"Makes perfect sense. Do you buy from a commercial fisher?" Katt asked.

"Some of it, yeah. We do have a decent stock frozen in the fridge that's overflow from the commercial fishery there, but a lot of it is fresh stuff I catch. I spearfish."

"At what point will you stop adding to your badass quotient?" Fox wanted to know.

He grinned. "Never."

"We're early, aren't we? I thought you said departure was at two." Wolf said, getting his bag out of the trunk of the taxi. Katt hadn't wanted to leave her car at the space port, understandably.

"Yeah, but I wanted to give you a tour of it. You've never been on board the Great Fox, so we may as well do this right." Fox replied.

Katt paid the cab driver and joined them, carrying her own duffel bag. "He takes good care of her, considering."

"Hey, she was dad's. I do what I can."

They got through security without too much of a problem, eventually arriving where the Great Fox was parked, which was a good distance away from the commercial traffic. Wolf got a good look at the craft as they walked up. Fox had gotten some maintenance done to it since he'd last seen, which was good.

"Well, the docking bay lights are on, so someone's home." Fox remarked as they made their way up the ramp.

"You said this thing can take three more craft, right?"

"Oh, sure, easily. It's actually meant for a flight staff of eight. Dad had big dreams, never bothered with more than three pilots though."

"Oh, Fox! You guys are back early." Slippy said, his head popping up from inside the landmaster. "Hi, Katt, O'Donnel."

"Wolf's fine." He shoved his hands in his pockets.

"Who else is here, man?" Fox asked, walking over and climbing up onto the tank easily.

"Peppy's on the command deck, Falco's passed out in his room."

"Well, shit, we can get rolling then." He looked at Wolf. "Would you mind? As you pointed out, this is early."

"Nah, not at all. You guys sort for launch, I'll meet you up there and dock for the trip to Aquas ok? You can show me around then."

"Sure, seeya." He sat on the tank, returning Wolf's salute and watching the other man walk back down the ramp, heading to his fighter. "This should be interesting."

He smiled, hopping down and heading for the command deck.

"Nah, he's cool." Katt punched his shoulder. "And you two look great together, honestly. And you were so fucking nervous, it was adorable."

"Dammit, woman." He pouted, shoulder checking against her lightly as they walked.

"Oh, relax. I'm approving, dummy. I'm fine with him. I think we could be great friends, actually."

"That's good, at least." Fox hesitated. "So, uh, if he and I…"

"I want details and pictures." She grinned.

Fox was still shaking his head when they stepped onto the command deck, smiling when he saw Peppy there in casual clothing. "Hey, you're here early."

"Yeah, the wife worked today and Lucy's off at school, so what the hell."

Peppy smiled. "Hi, Katt, welcome back!"

"Glad to be back, I didn't want to miss this."

"Can we get sorted for launch? Wolf's going to meet us in orbit with his fighter." Fox said, looking at ROB.

The robot nodded once, putting in the request with the spaceport and closing up the cruiser for launch.

Peppy leaned on the docking bay wall, watching Wolf's fighter touch down in the docking bay gently, the hydraulics settling and engines shutting off. Wolf had actually been waiting for them when the Great Fox had hit orbit, but then it usually took a lot longer to launch large craft than a small one.

"I think this is the first time we've actually gotten to see the Wolfen up close." Fox remarked, looking at his crewmates.

"Gee, you think?" Falco asked, nodding at Slippy, who was staring at the Wolfen and patting a wrench against the palm of his hand without really thinking about it.

Fox snorted, turning his attention back to the craft in question and grinning when the cockpit opened, Wolf standing up and looking at them. "Thanks for letting me dock."

"Hey, welcome aboard, man." He grabbed his duffel bag from a storage box behind the seat and leapt down, landing on his toes and walking over, putting his hand up in a salute. "You promised me a tour."

"Yeah, sure. Man, you weren't kidding about the size of that bird."

He looked over his shoulder. He'd landed next to the line of Arwings, so it was easy to make the side by side comparison. It was like parking an SUV next to a sportscar. "Yeah, they're beefy fuckers but it's all engine and shield."

"May I?"

He looked at Slippy and lifted his eyebrows. "Knock yourself out but I need it flyable when we arrive at Aquas."

"Of course!"

Fox grinned, leading them out of the docking bay. "You just made his day."

"Eh, he may have to do on-the-go repairs to the damn thing if we do a long job together. He may as well get used to them now." He looked at Falco, who was trailing along with them, in cargo shorts and a beer brand t-shirt. "Still don't like me, huh?"

Falco blinked and crossed his arms. "Well, you're just a tactful asshole, aren't you?" When Wolf grinned in reply, he smirked a bit. "I don't know you. We'll see."

"Fair enough. Where's the tour start?"

The Great Fox may have been nearly as old as Fox was, but Wolf found himself liking the design. It was streamlined, and tried to give an impression of space. Quarters were sized reasonably, there was a little weight room with locker room attached, and a fairly large common den across from the galley. Eventually they ended up on the command deck, everyone ending up gathered there except for Slippy.

"What do you think?" Fox asked, flopping in his chair and looking at Wolf, who was standing at the main windows looking out.

"It's a great ship, man, you're lucky." He turned, leaning a shoulder on the glass. "And considering everything it's been through, it's in damn good shape."

"You think we'll be alright with two crews on here?"

"Well, there's enough rooms so we should be. It's mostly a question of whether we can really work together and I think we'll be fine." He shrugged.

"We're going to come out of warp at Aquas in fifteen minutes." ROB remarked.

"Guess I should go pack some clothing, huh." Fox stood back up.

"Yeah, you probably should. It's hot but rainy, and you'll want some swim gear." Fox nodded and left the room, Falco following after a moment. "What are you flying down anyway, Katt?"

"Didn't count the Arwings, huh? They have a trainer Arwing I'm going to borrow." She sat down and stretched. "So, you feel weird being here?"

"Hah, yeah, maybe a bit."

Peppy glanced up from the screen he was reading. "You do realize if you ever hurt Fox again, we'll all come down on you like a ton of bricks, right?"

"Yes, dad." Wolf rolled his eyes.

"If you're going to be that way, son, how'd you lose use of the eye?"

"You don't know? Got thrown by the concussive blast of an explosion. Eye's broken, same with the nerves it goes to. I'm lucky I'm not blind." He blinked when Peppy just lifted an eyebrow. "What?"

"I had read your professional resume, and a file Corneria has on you, but flying with only one eye?" Peppy whistled, standing up. "Hell, James would have been impressed."

He is. "I'll take your word for it. Honestly, it's just a matter of adapting and I try very hard not to fly to close to the deck because I'm a poor judge of how fast I'll hit it. Happily the computers are smart enough to give me distances."

"Yeah, no kidding. Your controls are a friggin trip." Slippy said, wiping oil off his hands on a rag as he stepped onto the command deck. "I've never seen a setup like that, but it makes sense."

"Custom done by the company for me. They said they considered it a unique challenge and worked with me until they had it right." He shrugged. "Computers are set up differently too, by default everything in viewfinder range will be highlighted with a distance to target in green, while enemies highlight in red or orange."

"I'd say if the computer goes out you're screwed, but I guess you would be anyway." Slippy looked thoughtful. "I'd like to take it for a spin sometime later if it's alright."

"Sure, but you might want to borrow Panther's if he'll let you, his controls are closer to default."

"What do you have custom done?" Katt looked at him.

"All the controls are physically moved to be within easy eye range of my functional eye, so I don't have to constantly turn my head to look at important readouts. They're also arranged in clusters by importance, instead of traditional cockpit setup. It took a while to get used to, but it was worth it."

"I saw a cybernetics jack too." Slippy remarked, sitting down and plugging a handheld into the Great Fox's terminals. He'd jacked into the Wolfen and gotten a diagnostics run down, so he ported it over, loading it on one of the screens in front of him.

"Yeah, but I never use it." He walked over to where he'd dropped his duffel bag aside, opening up an end section and taking out a metal case, walking over and opening it to show Slippy. "Here's one of my external lenses if you want to see."

"Dude." Slippy took it and stared. "External wrap around jacking into installed plug ins, lens over the eye?"

"Yeah." Wolf sat down heavily. "I like the eyepatch better."

"What? Why? Don't you get depth back with this?" He studied it as well as he could without touching it, well aware it had to be worth a small fortune, showing it to Katt and Peppy when he saw them lean in his direction.

"Not worth the after effects." He shook his head. "If I use it, I'll get headaches in use, and when I take it off I hallucinate."

"No shit?" Slippy closed the case and passed it back over.

"Yeah. Such is life. I function alright with one eye working." He sighed, standing back up and putting the case back in his bag.

"I have been contacted by an AI named ZAK." ROB announced. "He says he's the AI of your base, Commander O'Donnel."

"Yeah, that'd be him."

"I have his verification, I'll have an approach protocol set up before we exit warp."

"You have a base AI? What level did you go with?" Slippy wanted to know.

"He's a third level panel AI. No mobile body but he's got plenty of robots he can activate for a variety of tasks." He glanced at the ship AI. "You're what, level four?"

"Yes, though I am an older model."

"Hey, AIs, wine, sex, some things get better with age." He shrugged widely.

"ZAK can be a bit of a brat, I mean his on-screen avatar is a freakin' fourteen year old emo kid, but he runs the base well and he's well loaded up to defend against attack.

Hopefully we'll avoid that though."

"I'll want to get a look at your base infrastructure, for the record."

"Knock yourself out, not like anyone else will."

"Did I seriously hear you say something about sex getting better with age?" Fox wanted to know, coming back into the room.

"Well, yeah. Skinny brat like you has to find stamina at SOME point."

Peppy choked on water he happened to be drinking. Fox settled on flipping Wolf off. "Good lord, O'Donnel, you are a shit. How the hell did you survive the Academy?"

"Left as fast as I could."

"Who doesn't?" Falco asked, holding onto the door frame as the Great Fox came out of warp.

The flight down to the 'surface' of Aquas was a laid back one, everyone flying in a loose formation, Wolf talking about life on the isolated water world as they went. They flew over a few storms, but his part of the world was mostly sunny, at least for the time being.

"Yeah, as I understand it, it's loosely three thousand inhabitants and we're the only military installation at this time." Wolf remarked, leading them lower down, a few hundred feet above the surface of the ocean. "Mostly it's rich retired jagoffs wanting private playgrounds, but there's an exploratory drilling rig, a huge wandering fishing convoy, and at least one resort. Locals can rendezvous with the fishing convoy and buy stock off them, which we do. We also get pork and chicken off one of the other islands." He shrugged.

"How close is your nearest neighbor?" Peppy wanted to know.

"Over two hundred miles of ocean, but we do see him sometimes. He's got an absolutely amazing three sail ship. He comes by sometimes, drops anchor off our shores and gives up fresh shrimp in return."

"Two hundred miles. Holy crap, man." Falco said. "Now that is a private beach."

"No kidding. Trust me, it'll be nice to have you guys there. Place seems kind of empty sometimes."

"Commander, I have you on approach." ZAK remarked, the headsup in Wolf's cockpit lighting up with the way in. "Welcome home, sir."

"Thank you, ZAK, would you let Panther and Leon know we're here?"

"Already done, sir." He chuckled. "Alright, guys, try not to splatter yourselves on my stone hanger bay walls, huh?"

Ten minutes later, the fighters were all touched down in the island base's hangar bay, the doors to the hangar staying open as they hopped out of their planes. The flight in had been beautiful even by this planet's standards, which pleased Wolf. First impressions were always important.

"Good lord, that sea air." Peppy said, walking over to the doors and staring out, then down before taking a step backwards. "Wow, it just drops off into nothing, doesn't it."

"Yeah, please don't fall." Wolf replied, walking over. "This place is built into a volcanic cliff side."

"Would I sound ignorant if I said it doesn't smell like Corneria's oceans?" Falco asked, joining them.

"Nah, you're right. The oceans of Aquas have far less salt than Corneria. Makes it smell different." After letting everyone stare out for a few minutes, Wolf wandered deliberately away from the hangar doors, nodding to Panther, who was standing just inside one of the doors that led into the base proper. "Hey, man."

"Hey." He smiled, going through a complex handshake with Wolf. "Dinner will be ready around the usual time. Leon and Alec are still here."

"That's fine, where are they?"

"Building shelving units or something in Leon's room. Leon had power tools so I decided I didn't need fine details." Wolf laughed in spite of himself. "Yeah, I guess I can't blame you. ZAK, shut the hangar before someone falls ok?"

"Certainly sir." The AI replied through the overhead, the hanger doors starting to slide shut.

"Ok, so now what?" Fox asked, the group joining Wolf.

"You grab your bags and get a quick tour of the facilities." Once everyone had returned, he continued. "Listen, the only bedrooms that are decorated belong to my crew… the rest are pretty damn spare, just beds and dressers, pretty basic."

"I'm sure we'll live." Peppy smiled. "Shall we?"

They stepped across the threshold and stopped, stunned. Sunlight blasted down the halls, reflecting off a floor that was polished to a mirror shine. Long rugs broke up the glare from the hard floor, the hallway opening up into a large spacious room, the color scheme warm and united, and very much not military. Chairs were scattered on a large throw rug, with a large television and bookshelves in attendance.

"Den?" Slippy asked, looking around.

"Yeah. This floor is all common areas."

"Damn, dude, you spent some cash on this." Fox said, staring around. "I mean, I'd seen pictures, but…"

He laughed. "It's a home, right?"

They walked through, and the others quickly realized that the only thing dividing this room off was rugs and a seating arrangement, as well as a partial wall. The rest of the floor was a massive kitchen and dining area.

"I do most of the cooking, so if there's something you enjoy or don't enjoy, let me know." Panther said. "If I'm here, I at least cook dinner."

"That's awesome." Falco decided, staring around.

"That's actually all there is on this floor, besides storage and a bathroom."

Wolf walked over to the wall opposite the windows and opened a door, walking down a flight of stairs. "Only elevator we have is for freight. Stairs up goes to the ground floor and to outside, stairs down to private quarters. There's several flights of stairs, you'll get the hang of it."

"Don't want to get cut off?" Peppy asked, the group following along, including Panther bringing up the rear.

"Right, if this place did come under attack or took damage from a storm, multiple ways in and out is a good thing." He opened the door at the bottom of that flight, stepping out into another well-lit hallway. "Half of the bedrooms, and the gym on this floor. Next floor down has the rest of the bedrooms, then everything below that is command and facilities."

"Is that a drill?" Fox asked, one ear twitching.

"Ah. Right. Leon." Wolf walked down the hallway and stuck his head in an open door, leaving the Star Fox team looking at each other uneasily.

"Oh, hi Wolf." Alec looked up and smiled, but stayed where he was, which was holding a shelf in place so Leon could finish installing it into the cabinet. "Welcome back."

"Oh, thanks." He had to grin. "Can I ask what you're doing?"

"I have a collection of somewhat rare, expensive, and fragile items that are locked into cases for the time being." Leon replied, adjusting something with a tool and gesturing for Alec to step back, pondering the shelf then setting a level on it. "These will be glassed in display cabinets for said collection."

"You don't strike me as a vase collector."

That got him an amused look. "I'll show you once this is together."

"Star Fox is here, do you mind if they take a look at how you've done your room?"

"Long as they don't break anything." He shrugged, picking up the next shelf with Alec and working on installing it.

He leaned back out and looked at everyone else. "Scope out his room, it's actually pretty awesome and it'll give you an idea on how to deal with your own quarters, maybe."

This got him some dubious looks, but everyone else wandered over, and ended up stepping in and staring around. In a serious departure from the hallway, the floor of Leon's bedroom was pale bamboo, with red and black area rugs dropped over it. The furniture matched, and an elegant shoji screen hid most of Leon's bed, which was a pale white ovoid with a door on the side hanging open, meant to control temperature for cold bloods. Bookshelves were up, sunlamps were installed, the entire room neat and compartmentalized, except for where Leon and Alec were building display cabinets.

"This is surprisingly zen." Falco remarked, looking around. "Hi, Powalski."

"Lombardi." Leon replied mildly, kneeling and screwing something together with a power drill.

"Are all the rooms this big?" Fox asked.

"Yeah, I'll show you the others. Panther? You alright with them seeing your room?"

Panther's room was more classical, heavy dark wood overstuffed furniture, lavish rugs, lots of books. Somehow he'd gotten a four poster bed to Aquas, and he'd set up the room around it almost, the sunlight beaming in through sun tunnels which kept it from seeming totally oppressive from the richness. He'd also hung artwork on the walls.

Wolf's room on the other hand was industrial, a large iron framed bed and much of the furniture metal and glass, the fabrics sticking to calm colors. It was also the most disorganized, an explosion of artistic chaos centering on a drawing desk and easel.

The rest of the bedrooms, though equally large—amazingly large, for pilots used to bedrooms on a space cruiser—were echoingly empty. Wolf hadn't been lying, the unoccupied bedrooms contained nothing but a simple pine-framed bed and pine dresser, both covered in dust sheets. Their footsteps actually echoed in the rooms.

"Yeah, choose whatever room you want, and you're welcome to decorate as you see fit. All the rooms have walk in closets and their own bathroom, and either windows or sun tunnels."

"It's a lovely setup. Thanks for giving us space here." Peppy claimed a room not far from the stairs, dropping his bag just inside the door.

"Hey, glad to have you guys here. I'm going to go up and help Panther prep for dinner, do what you want."

"How far are we from the beach?" Falco demanded.

"Ten minute walk down the hill. Have fun." He smiled when the other man found an empty room to claim, wandering off and walking back up the stairs to the galley, feeling like this would be just fine.

Evening on the island brought rain, not hard rain but enough of a downpour it sent the beach revelers inside, the Star Fox team standing just inside the base and watching it come down. Apparently, Aquas weather changed fast. Once they'd changed, the rest of the evening was spent in the den area, being social and playing video games. Slippy was the first to wander off, exploring deeper into the facilities levels of the base. Eventually, Falco and Alec were left fighting in a game, Leon and Panther spectating, the others retreating to bed.

"So what do you think of my island?" Wolf asked, leaning by his door and smiling at Fox and Katt, who were heading to the room they'd chosen.

"Dude, this is awesome. Thanks for having us out." Fox replied, smiling lazily, Katt leaning on his side.

"No thanks necessary. This is home, remember? Long as we're business partners, you have a stake here." He wove a hand. "You're used to Corneria City's timezone. Get some sleep, I'll see you in the morning."

He nodded, wandering down the hall, and Wolf watched him go before retreating into his room. There he blew out a sigh of relief. The day had passed amazingly well, actually. There hadn't been any fights or any real arguments, and everyone seemed at least comfortable with each other's presence now. Ok, Leon took some getting used to, but still. Alec being present had probably helped. And hell, he'd gone the day without molesting Fox in front of everyone else. Points to his willpower, he supposed, and wandered across his bedroom, taking his shirt off.

Once in the room they'd picked, Fox and Katt went about getting ready for bed, Katt pulling off the dust sheets and turning the bed down while Fox brushed his teeth. "You know, this is actually a pretty decent bed and mattress. For not wanting to decorate, he spent some money on this."

Fox wandered out of the bathroom and sat on the bed. "Yeah. I get the idea he likes doing things right no matter how much it costs."

Katt sat cross legged and pondered Fox. Her opinion of Star Wolf so far was that Panther was smooth and fancied himself a bit of a player, Leon had problems but covered them well, and that Wolf remained a likable asshole. A likable asshole that clearly still had the hots for Fox, and that had been a sort of undercurrent all day. Fox and Wolf hadn't been flirting, not exactly, and she'd doubted anyone else had noticed, but they had been kind of testing each other.

And now, here was Fox, sitting on the bed wearing what she was pretty sure was an "I'd like to be screwed" look. And she couldn't even bring herself to be jealous, mostly because Wolf didn't exactly have tits or her fairly spectacular ass.

Fox nearly jumped out of his skin when Katt suddenly flopped back and started laughing, an arm draped over her eyes and the other stretched out on the bed. He stared, baffled. "What?"

"I can read you like an open book, babe, and I'm friggin exhausted. I'm sure Wolf would be more than happy to share his bed. I'll see you in the morning."

He blinked, then laughed and moved to kiss her. "You sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure. Go."

He rolled off the bed and shook off, not bothering to think too much about it as he opened the door and stuck his head into the hallway. Finding it empty and silent except for the ventilation system running, he stepped out and padded down the corridor down to Wolf's door.

Wolf blinked and looked up from his reading when the door was knocked on, rolling off the bed and getting a pair of sweat shorts on before getting around to answering it. He barely had time to register it was Fox standing there, opening his mouth to ask what the occasion was and getting kissed for his troubles, Fox stepping in and kicking the door closed behind him, pushing up into the embrace. Wolf decided not to even bother asking, returning the kiss and curling his arms around the smaller man, tail wagging energetically.

Fox smiled into it, putting his hands on Wolf's chest and pushing to make him walk while they kissed, eventually tumbling onto the bed and sitting straddling Wolf, smirking down at him. "Katt's tired so she sent me over."

"Really." Wolf stated this instead of asking, managing not to laugh. Fox was in shorts and a tank top, and still smelled of the ocean from swimming earlier, but also smelled horny as hell and Wolf was just fine with that.

"Mmhm." He took off his tank top, murmuring and tilting his head back when Wolf rubbed a hand over his front, tracing muscle lines there. "Are these rooms soundproof?"

This time, Wolf laughed. "Yes. The walls are about two feet of volcanic rock and the ventilation systems are filtered." This said, he grinned and grabbed Fox, nimbly rolling them over and pinning him to the bed, eyebrow up. "Why? Does someone want to be fucked?" Fox pouted, so Wolf rolled his eyes and kissed him, relaxing his weight on top of Fox so he was just propped on his arms. Fox moaned into the embrace, arms wrapping over his shoulders to tangle into his hackles, the long held kiss hot and hungry, erection prodding against Wolf through his shorts. Wolf growled softly into the embrace, breaking the kiss to trail bites along his jaw down to his neck, latching on there and sucking nearly hard enough to bruise.

Fox gasped and whined, pushing up into the attention, shuddering. Wolf's weight on him brought back all the right memories from them together on the beach before the base was built, and in the hotel. "Ok, just… the flirting or whatever the hell it was today, it drove me fucking nuts, ok?"

"Really." He released Fox's neck and pushed down, shifting his weight so he could pull down Fox's shorts part of the way, tongue and teeth reinvestigating the vulpine's nipples, one hand moving to feel him up, fingers rubbing his sheath then wrapping around his cock. "Honestly I spent all day trying not to put the moves on you, but… only so much I can hold back my instincts." Fox levered himself up on his elbows, watching and panting as Wolf ran his tongue down his body, shuddering when his gaze was met as Wolf slowly licked up his cock, getting them both out of their shorts then returning to his oral worship. "You know, this is the first time we've done this without there being a fight beforehand."

"Ah… yeah, you're right." Fox bit his lower lip, letting himself fall back on the bed and relax, one hand coming to rest on Wolf's head, fingers knitting into his head stripe.

Wolf snickered, tracing his tongue over the contours of Fox's cock before pausing to speak. "Can you reach my bedside table?"

He blinked and turned his head to the side to look at it, saw he could, and didn't bother asking why, stretching a bit with a grunt and getting the drawer open. Inside his questing hand found an as-yet-unopened bottle of lube, grabbing it and getting the plastic seal off with his claws with some effort. Wolf had taken him down to the base, tongue moving in a very talented way, and in the end he just dropped the bottle in favor of burying both hands into the fur on the top of Wolf's head. "Fuck… you are so good at that…"

Wolf snickered, tail wagging, one hand finding the bottle of lube, letting his teeth lightly scuff and tease, enjoying the way the other man gasped and moaned in response. He let the lube warm a bit on his fingers before slipping that hand under Fox, rubbing teasingly there, his tongue lingering in slow swipes. Fox groaned and whimpered, squirming a bit, tail trying to arch away from his body, which Wolf took as a cue and buried two fingers into him slowly.

Fox sucked in air, tilting his head back and shuddering. He knew he enjoyed this, oh hell he loved it, but there always seemed to be long time gaps in between he and Wolf being together. It'd been what, two weeks? That wasn't very long but it still took him a few moments to relax, shuddering again when Wolf rocked his hand. "Oh, man… mmmn."

Wolf snickered, releasing his cock in favor of slowly running a line of kisses up Fox's body, shifting upward and ending in claiming his mouth for a kiss, still rocking his hand. Fox grabbed him and returned it, hungry and passionate, moaning into it and rocking his hips with Wolf's hand. Wolf let his eyes lull fully closed, tongue wrestling with Fox's and sneaking a third finger inside the younger man without slowing his hand, letting all three brush over his prostate, enjoying the whimpering this produced.

Fox's grip on Wolf tightened, claws scratching into his shoulders a bit, breaking the kiss to pant and bury his face into the older man's shoulder. Like when they'd screwed in the hotel, this was both getting him off and driving him crazy, especially since he could feel Wolf's hard length pressed against his leg. "Ah… Artemis, please… nnh… want you…"

Wolf grabbed him up into another kiss almost mindlessly, shifting to sprawl on top of him again. Him, Fox wanted him, not just the sex, he wasn't just a pleasant stand in, a fuck buddy. It took a few moments of blind searching to find where the bottle had rolled to, during which Fox's legs hooked up and wrapped around him, trying to pull him down the rest of the way. He braced and resisted until he'd dealt with the lube, only then lining up and letting Fox drag him down.

Fox broke the kiss and wailed, head tilting back and hands grasping into Wolf's hackles, panting and clinging as their hips met, Wolf balls deep all on a single thrust. Wolf stayed there, licking and sucking on his neck, waiting for the death grip on his cock to relax a bit before pulling back slowly, smiling into Fox's neck as he thrust back in. He kept his moves slow and easy, cradling Fox close, losing himself in what he was doing. Mine. All mine.

Fox ducked his head, licking along Wolf's muzzle then nibbling one of his ears, one of his hands burying into the fur on the back of Wolf's head. This was different, but he couldn't find any complaints, focusing on what was being done to him.

Wolf's heavy, muscular body covered him, Fox's hard cock rubbing against the larger man's abs. Wolf's fur actually hid a lot of his definition, but pressed close like this Fox could feel it all, sliding a hand down the lines of his back. "Gods damn, that feels good…" He gasped it out, shuddering and groaning when the older man's cock slowly rubbed over all the right spots inside him.

"Mmm, good." Wolf kissed him tenderly, good eye barely open, reaching back and hooking one of Fox's legs at the knee, pulling it up a bit, watching Fox's face as he ground against him. Fox moaned, leg trembling slightly against the grip, staring back, his expression flickering as he got used to the angle change. "You are so fucking beautiful…" It came out as a whisper, keeping his grip on Fox's leg as he started rolling his hips again, leaning heavily on his other arm for support.

Fox flushed, looking away from Wolf's heavy hungry gaze, mewling and whimpering under the slow deep thrusts, only blushing harder when Wolf's response was a warm laugh. "Am not…"

"Oh, this is not the time for arguing." Wolf thrust hard once, slamming him hard enough he yelped in surprise and looked at him. "You are beautiful." He pulled him into another kiss, returning to his slow rocking thrusts. Fox scratched as his back desperately during the embrace, yipping softly when Wolf rolled him on top.

Panting, he propped his hands on Wolf's chest, the held kiss turning sloppy and nibbling as Wolf's hands wrapped his hips, holding him in place and thrusting up inside him, partly full knot grinding and going in. "Fuck!" Fox pushed up, kneeling and arching his back, cock drooling onto Wolf's stomach as he tightened up around Wolf's member.

The lupine howled, claws digging into Fox's hips as he pried himself back out of his younger lover before ramming back in again, this time having to shove so hard Fox nearly screamed. "Gods, baby… Am I hurting you?" He had to speak around labored pants, Fox's body was insanely tight and hot around him, it took everything he had not to come right then and there.

"No no no just do not stop…" Fox stared down at him, whining and gasping when Wolf pulled out. "I fucking love your knot OH GODs!" He shouted the last two words when he was entered again, Wolf's hand grasping and stroking him on the next and last thrust, desperate to get Fox off at the same time as he came and rewarded with a long full throat wail that echoed with his howl.

It was several minutes before either of them stirred, Fox sprawled on top of Wolf, twitching whenever he felt Wolf's cock throb locked inside his body. Wolf shook off, rubbing his back slowly, still panting.

"You know, looking at you I would never dream you're really into getting it rough." Wolf finally said, laughing a bit giddily. "Hmn? Oh. Yeah." Fox propped on one elbow to look him in the eye. "Yeah, I like it. Katt's into it too, I've had to get stitches a few times."

"No shit."

"Mm. None. You don't seem to be complaining." He smiled a bit, kissing Wolf's nose gently.

"No, not at all." He returned the smile warmly, wrapping both arms at Fox. "You sleeping here tonight?" When Fox nodded, he sighed happily, cuddling him as they slowly dozed off.