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>>the cards — chapter sixteen: cash out:

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>>THE CARDS — CHAPTER SIXTEEN: CASH OUT::

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.

 

Leon woke up slowly, blinking his eyes a few times and waiting for them to focus, then taking a slow deep breath. Warning aches and pains sounded through his torso, the most raw of which were across his stomach. The chest shots had been the shallowest, the laser blasts spending their impact on the armor and his bones, leaving him with multiple fractured ribs but no deep damage, sparing his lungs and heart. The gut shots had gone deeper, and even after three days in the hospital that were spent being bounced between healing tanks, hot beds and nanotech courses, the ache was still sharp, sometimes.

"Hey." Alec looked up from his book and smiled, wearing shorts and sitting on Leon's heated gel bed. "How do you feel?"

"Like I got shot multiple times." Leon rubbed his eyes and sat up slowly, waving Alec off when Alec moved to help. "How long was I out?"

"About four hours." Alec knelt by him, a hand resting on his back.

"I'm sleeping too much."

"No, sir. You're finally sleeping enough. Besides, you're healing, you need to rest."

Leon gave him a look, then sighed. "Help me out, will you?" Alec opened the door of the bed and hopped out, standing next to the bed and helping Leon step out of it and onto the bamboo floor of his room. "I think I've got it from here. Could you see what's for dinner?"

Alec nodded and left the room, leaning on the door for a moment and sighing. Wolf had stayed with them the entire time Leon had been in the hospital, and had helped get them back to Aquas, and then came the issue of Pigma. Pigma had been locked down in the brig of the base, and the decision had already been made while they had been gone: he didn't deserve to die peacefully. So nearly the minute Leon had slowly walked down the ramp of the shuttle, under strict doctor's orders to take it easy, slow, and not lift more than fifteen pounds and only that for short intervals, the others had told him that Pigma was all his. His state of health got him a second set of hands: Slippy was offering to assist in the swine's punishment.

And Leon, being Leon, hadn't said no. And hadn't slept the entire time he kept Pigma alive, nearly four days during which Alec was beside himself, not because of what Leon was doing, but because Leon was ignoring how hurt he was. When Pigma had finally coded, dying hard angry and loud from what little Alec had been told, Leon had simply stepped out of the room and folded there. Eventually they'd gotten him through a shower and into bed, but Alec still wasn't convinced that fiasco hadn't done damage to his already heavily damaged Master.

And that had been two days ago, now.

Leon had been shot only eight days ago.

He walked down the hallway and up the stairs to the first floor of the base. He was used to navigating this place now, he was here so often. On the first floor he found Panther in the kitchen, and James, Fox, and Katt in the den. "Hey."

"How's he feeling?" Fox wanted to know.

"He's up. Think he's hurting, but it's not really bad. What's for dinner?"

"Don't know, yet." Panther replied. "I want to grill but Wolf offered to go catch dinner and he's not back yet. Either way there will be fresh salsa and corn chips I'm working on right now."

"Sounds delicious. Did we miss anything in the last four hours?"

"Well, Felix is on his way here and he's bringing General Pepper with, of all things." James said, wandering over and rinsing out a beer bottle before putting it in a glass bin. "Apparently Pepper wanted to give us an update on things face to face instead of over the phone."

Alec lifted his eyebrows. "General Pepper is coming here? Isn't everything still a total mess?"

"Yeah, I asked Felix and apparently Pepper says it's a mess whether or not he's there so, he's going to get drunk on Wolf's beach for two days."

"A noble endeavor, truly." He snorted and wandered back down the stairs to make sure Leon was still alright.

"I'm still surprised Felix is coming here." Fox remarked to his father. "I am right that he and Wolf are in some kind of grudge match, right?"

"Yeah, but I really don't know if I should say why, kid." He shook his head, going back to the couch and flopping down.

"Dammit, no more keeping shit from me, dad." He followed, feeling irritation set in. He and James hadn't so much as had a talk as had bits and pieces of one, around everything else that as going on. Still, he'd managed to put across that James wasn't allowed up and disappear again.

"There is a difference between keeping shit from you and already being aware you don't want details." James replied dryly.

Katt lifted her eyebrows. "Ho boy. Sex happened in there somewhere. Of course given the stories that still go around the academy about you, sex happens everywhere for you."

Fox stared at Katt. "Woman. He's my dad."

"I'm not hitting on him, dammit." She pouted.

"Well, she's right anyway." James huffed. "Remember that last "gaming weekend" before the war? My buddies never showed and I spent it getting it on with Wolf instead." Seeing Fox go through several emotions at once, he shrugged. "We got along well and actually liked each other. So, when I ran into him over Venom he decided he'd rather not kill me, and went so far as to help bankroll my informant gig after the war."

"Oh, my dear gods." Fox put his head in his hands, trying to grapple with that. "Considering he still seems pissed at you, I take it you two are not screwing anymore."

"Not since a good while before you guys went into business together."

"How the hell does Felix fit into this? Oh, and thank you SO fucking much for telling me you were in a multi marriage."

"That's part of it. Felix and I were sort of separated, might still be. I need to talk to him about it, because he still gets pissed when someone else has more than transitory contact with me. He saw Wolf as a threat, and a bigger one when he found out Wolf loaned me money. Then Wolf shut me out and it spun out of control from there. So, yeah, I'm also pretty goddamn surprised Felix is willing to be here." He rubbed his eyes. "And don't bother telling me, I'm pretty sure I already know."

Fox blinked once, then snorted when James only lifted an eyebrow at him. "Yeah, okay, whatever. He's mine now and I'm not sharing."

James laughed. "I would like the story on how that happened eventually."

"Like everything great in my life, by accident." Fox reached over and pulled Katt in, nuzzling the top of her head.

"I'm an accident now?" She wanted to know, play shoving him.

"Yes. A tough, sexy accident."

James snorted. "I'm still sitting here, children."

"Yeah, you have room to talk, I remember walking in on you and mom at least three times."

James wove his hands in frustration at Fox. "You were supposed to be in bed!"

Fox wove his hands back in an identical motion. "You should have known to lock the door!"

"Well count your blessings, at least it wasn't mom myself and Felix when you chose to barge in! Besides, we did try to explain to you the benefits of knocking on doors!"

"I was what, three?!"

"Yeah but after the first two times your brain should have started making some connections!"

"I'd say connections were being made by you guys."

"My son the pervert."

"I wonder where I get it from."

"Dear god, stop!" Katt was laughing so hard she was nearly crying. "I can't breathe, guys."

The two men fell silent, watching her slowly calm down to an uneven giggling fit. "I think I'm going to see if Wolf's caught anything." Fox said after a few moments, standing.

"Sure, babe, don't forget about that thing either." Katt said, wiping at her eyes.

"I haven't. Try not to molest her while I'm gone dad." That said, Fox walked off, leaving James sputtering behind and Katt laughing again.


Wolf wound the line back in slowly, standing on his dock and staring out at the nearly endless water in front of him, humming to himself. Things were getting better, or at least stabilizing, now. The first day at the hospital had been touch and go as Leon's gut wounds had been deeper than anyone had wanted to admit, including Leon, even now. But he'd pulled through, and done his job in spite of still being in the first steps of recovery.

He'd spent the last few days trying to catch up on what was happening on Corneria. The answer, oddly, was very little. The news hadn't stopped screaming its fool head off yet, but actual action inside the government was nil. The guilty weren't on trial yet, there weren't any new arrests or even investigations that anyone was admitting to. Of course, that didn't mean jack all. Star Fox and Star Wolf had done their best to distance themselves so far. No use talking to the media until they'd gotten their story straight with the President after all.

"You're looking contemplative." Fox walked up the dock and stopped next to him, hands in his pockets and looking at him.

Wolf smiled at him, whipping the fishing line above his head and sending it out into the deep. "Nah, just thinking. Am I missing anything?"

"Felix and Pepper are coming here."

"Yeah, I heard, I'm good with it. I'm past being pissed at Felix so he'll just have to deal." Wolf snorted.

"Also dad told me you and him were fucking for a while."

Wolf jumped, then looked at him, and found Fox's expression unreadable. "Yeah. Was a while ago, though."

"Hmm. Well, I'd like to keep you if you're alright with it."

He blinked a few times, then grinned, one handing the fishing pole and picking up a bottle of beer with the other. "I'm excellent with it."

"Good. Because Katt and I were talking and we'd like you to come to bed with us sometime soon." Fox managed to keep his face straight as Wolf promptly nearly choked then sprayed the mouthful of beer in the air. "You okay?"

"Do you have anything else to tell me that's startling? Because that's three heavy statements in a row man." Wolf hacked then wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, staring at Fox.

"Heavy? I haven't even started on the heavy stuff." Fox lifted an eyebrow at him. "So, is that a no?"

"No, no, I'm interested. Just tell me when."

"Alright." Fox stared back out at the water, smiling a bit. "That's one hell of a storm out there."

"Category two hurricane. Not going to hit us on its current path, but it'll make the sunset tonight glorious." Wolf reeled in some line. "So, you haven't started on the heavy stuff huh?"

"I'm still thinking about it. I'll let you know."

Wolf hummed thoughtfully at that then swore when the front of the pole yanked sharply down and forward, two handing the pole and yanking back, reeling line back in and fighting with whatever was on the line. The second yank nearly took him into the water, and Fox grabbed him around the waist and held on, keeping him solidly on the dock as Wolf struggled to bring his catch in.

"What the hell do you have on the hook?" Fox wanted to know, keeping his grip on the other man.

"We're about to find out. Hold on…" Wolf grunted and gave one last pull, and a muscular three and a half foot long shark crested out of the water, struggling on the line as Wolf grabbed one of the fins and threw it on the dock, setting a foot on it. "Gods damn, would you look at that." He reached down and grabbed it by one of the gills, holding the flailing fish up with one arm. Fox laughed and backed up out of range of the tail. "This damn thing's got to be forty pounds."

"Is it edible?"

"Hell, yes, and I think it's dinner. Help me carry the cooler back in a minute?"

Ten minutes later they were carrying a large cooler back between then, full of shark and assorted fish on ice, just in time to see a shuttle blast over the island and turn over the water to start the approach to Wolf's base hangar. "That's Felix, I assume." Wolf said.

"Hell if I know, I don't know what he flies, let alone Pepper." Fox replied, step bouncy, struggling not to let his mind slip into threesome fantasies and mostly failing.

"Does Pepper still fly?"

"When people will let him. I remember him taking one of the Arwings out when dad first bought them. Professional curiosity, he said."

"Yeah, right. The Arwing is the Lamborghini of space fighters. I bet he tried to beat the crap out of the thing and I would be disappointed if he didn't."

"Good point. Really I'm just hoping he tells us what the hell is going on."

"Agreed."


James leaned on the wall of the stone hangar, watching the shuttle touch down lightly and shut down, the ramp folding out moments later and Felix sticking his head out. "A Star Breeze 780 Full Modular? Where in the hell did you get it?" He wanted to know.

"It's mine." Pepper replied, walking by Felix carrying a duffel bag, a younger squirrel chick holding his arm and looking around. "And you owe me the full explanation on how you survived, asshole."

James laughed and met him halfway, clapping hands then pulling him into a half hug before letting go. "And you owe us the full explanation on what's going on. Who's this?" He turned to the girl, who gave him a blinding smile.

"This is Grace. My wife. Grace, this is the James McCloud you've heard so much about. Feel free to hit him if he looks at you the wrong way."

Grace laughed and offered her hand, and James shook it. "A pleasure to finally meet you. You mean a lot to Gregor whether he'll admit it or not."

"When the hell did you remarry?" James wanted to know. Grace was, by his estimation, thirty-ish and quite beautiful, a red squirrel with blonde highlights in her hair, and genuinely happy to be where she was.

"While you were gone. She fitted me into the suit I bought for your funeral. So basically your death was the best thing that ever happened to me." Gregor Pepper grinned.

James blinked once, and rolled with it. "You're welcome." He looked to the side. "Hey, Felix, I'm glad you came." Felix only smiled and shrugged.

"Hey, General, welcome to my island." Wolf walked into the room, grinning, Fox trailing behind him.

"Do you see a uniform?" Pepper put his hands on his hips.

Wolf appraised his cargo shorts, tropical print shirt, and sandals. "Not obviously no."

He rolled his eyes. "Gregor's just fine, alright. I'll be damned if I'll be addressed by title while here, it'll only remind me of the clusterfuck back home. On that note, please tell me there's booze and food available."

He laughed. "Yes, both in excess, I'll show you around, but you have to introduce me to your friend."

"Fine, but once everyone else is in the same room, just to speed things up."


Half an hour later everyone had been rounded up and retired to the large partly covered patio outside. A small fortune in booze had been brought out, fresh chips and salsa were on the various tables, and Falco was helping Panther prepare various other foods for the grill. Leon was the last to join them, freshly bandaged under his clothes and leaning lightly on Alec for balance as he walked.

"Well, the man of the hour." Pepper said, standing and saluting. "What happened to you got back to me real quick son. I'm glad you're on your feet."

Leon managed an actual smile, sitting carefully and reaching for the nearest basket of chips. "Thanks. Nice to see you out of uniform."

"No shit." Pepper sat back down and ran the full round of introductions for Grace's benefit, who took it in stride. Peppy was the only one not present on the island, he was spending time with his family on Corneria, and not a soul was going to begrudge him that. "Well, I guess you all want to know what's going on back home."

"Yeah, that'd be nice." Falco said, surveying the spread of food in front of him and Panther. The shark had been quickly broke down into some amazingly lean looking steaks, some of which had been retired to the freezer but most of which were sitting in pans of marinade. Some of the fish filets were also present, as well as corn and vegetarian kabobs. Panther did nothing halfway, as evidenced when the huge charcoal and wood drum grill lit off gloriously. A nearby brick oven was already merrily burning.

"Well, I need to know something first." He took a long draw of his beer, considering his words. "The official position of the administration is that we are not going to investigate the whereabouts of one Pigma Dengar, as we believe him to no longer be a threat to anyone. That true?"

"I'd say so." Fox said after a moment.

"That's all I need to know. I have no interest in details. That said, I imagine you're curious what's going to become of Andrew Oikonny."

"Considering he seemed to be the brains of that whole ordeal, yeah, we have been wondering." James said. "But we can't figure out what laws he'd be under."

"Trifuneral is the best we could come up with. Treason and god knows what else." Slippy said.

"Well, normally that would be the process, but he's not going to trial." Pepper replied.

"Well, that's mildly illegal." Katt lifted her eyebrows.

He shook his head. "Nah, that's not exactly the case. He's been declared medically unable to stand trial by multiple professionals, and he actually agreed."

"What the fuck? He's not crazy." Falco gaped.

"Nope. But you all saw what he was like when he came out of the building, right?"

"Yeah, I think we all saw that. It was embarrassing." Leon said, shaking his head.

"Well, they drugged his ass pretty heavily. He should have gone under, but by the time they got him to the hospital he's wide awake and carrying on conversations as normal while they x-ray his leg and various other parts of him. He didn't even seem bothered that he was under heavy guard. That freaked out the doctors enough they started pulling blood and running multiple panels on him. Turns out that even before they started loading him up on tranquilizers and painkillers, he had enough narcotics in him to drop five or six adults. We're talking top tier white collar drug addict."

"That doesn't surprise me." Wolf said after a long pause. "His pupils were either blown or pinpricks through most of the war, now that I think back."

"Yeah, and what really creeped out the various medical professionals is all that shit in his bloodstream and he's carrying on conversations like he's not feeling a goddamn thing. They had to set his leg and told him they'd offer him painkillers but they didn't want to kill him from overdose and he laughed. They showed him what his numbers were and he told them that he'd cleaned up a bit in the past six months." Pepper drained some of his beer. "We had to have it out with the doctors on what to do with him. Eventually we just gave up and talked to him, and boy howdy was he willing to cut a deal. He's currently in detox under heavy armed guard. They couldn't even cold turkey him, he may never be clean. Once his levels are manageable he's being transferred to the medical wing of Harper's."

Panther lifted his eyebrow. "Harper's. White collar prison, about six hours away from Corneria City, right?"

"Right. Life sentence, no trial. Once he's there, we're transferring his body guards there as well." Seeing all the looks of disgust this was getting, he put up a hand. "Yeah, I'm aware it'd be much more fitting to parade his head around on a pike, and I agree, but he's agreed to life sentence, no chance of appeal or getting out. He'll be on a tight leash and doctors there will be managing his addiction and weaning him off the drugs. And he's working for us now."

"What the fuck." Alec finally said, flat.

"And that's where Felix has to pick up." Pepper nodded to Felix, who was sitting at the same table as James, silently eating salsa and drinking a beer.

"I haven't been sitting on my ass, if you were wondering." Felix said after a moment. "Before I forget, Alec, there are no longer bodies in your apartment and the carpet is being replaced. And no, the authorities have no questions for you."

"Oh, uh. Thanks." Alec gaped.

"So, while you were all dealing with that excitement I was quietly removing various government officials to protection. I'm sure you remember I agreed to do what I could, and I did." He took a long drink of his beer, considering his words. "Problem is, even with targets safe, that leaves enemy operatives in the field."

"Yeah, that occurred to us too. We left the guys that went after Katt alive." Fox said.

"I've been spending my time finding said operatives. Close to four dozen people overall, none of which got to do any real damage but the intent was there, and clear. They have all, wisely, confessed and have been given plea deals. Some have been returned to duty stripped of various ranks. That took about three days. Finding the rest of Dengar and Oikonny's hired muscle was easier. After that, it got more interesting. I've been trying to track information and finances, as well as the higher ranking people involved. Not all of them were there that day."

"The President is adamant that this won't turn into a witch hunt." Pepper interjected. "I agree but I want to know who I can trust."

"Turns out, Oikonny and Dengar left a maze behind them. Dengar's finances were a bit more straightforward, because all of his money came from Oikonny, but Oikonny? Holy shit. At least twelve identities that I know about, so far. His uncle's war chest, research, and who knows what else. I imagine you all know I'm pretty good at not existing, so I know where to look for all of this, but untangling it all is what I've been doing the last several days. He's very good at hiding in the system, and what makes it worse is apparently he did a lot of it while high as hell. What he has told me has just led to more questions than answers. The fun one I'm tracking right now has to do with a supposed lock box, somewhere, that has all of the ship designs from the war in it. Apparently Andross paid for a bunch of modeling and prototypes but didn't have time to get even half made." Felix drained his beer.

"On that note, I traded two stealth prototypes to him for wolfens and some cash too. What the hell became of those?" Wolf asked.

Felix snorted. "He sold them to Arspace."

"No shit?" Slippy lifted an eyebrow.

"None. Through a proxy, of course, Andrew didn't go to Arspace in person. Apparently your father didn't ask a lot of questions about who was selling the fighters and spent a lot of time climbing various walls demanding to know who designed them. Andrew wasn't real forthcoming about it and just sold both outright for a good chunk of change that was immediately laundered, partly invested, and the rest put to off planet accounts."

"Felix tracking this down and dragging it into the daylight's the first I'd heard of it." Pepper said. "Frankly, your father's the person we'd rather they be in the possession of anyway, and it's not like there's any arguing with the man."

"This is true." Slippy was well aware of how single minded his father was at times.

"Long and short of it, as I'm dumping report after report on this man's desk," Felix wove his empty bottle at Pepper, "It comes to pass that we agree that Andrew's really goddamn good at this shit. So this conclusion rolls around for a while in the administration, and it's decided he might, MIGHT be more useful alive. So now he's doing intel for Corneria, once he's detoxed back into reasonable coherency."

There was a long silence, only punctured by the sizzle of various foods hitting the grill, including some filets cooking on planks in the brick oven.

"Well, I don't fucking like it." Falco finally said.

"I think in this matter, you speak for us all." Slippy said. "He deserves what Pigma got, or worse. He tried to topple the government and ends up getting a paycheck from them? What in the fuck."

"Am I allowed to observe the irony in him getting a paycheck, and us not?" Leon said.

"You should have just capped his ass." Falco told Leon.

"Okay, that's enough." Pepper said, killing his beer. "Look, I already said I agree. The little shit deserves to be thrown down a dark hole alone at best and he's going to be in a high security hotel the rest of his life instead. I said as such to the President, and you know what he told me?" He gave an even stare to the mercenaries around him. "'You know what they say about people who hunt monsters, Gregor.'"

"Ouch." James said.

"That's why Wolf employs me. There is no danger of becoming a monster when you already are one." Leon said, voice flat.

"No, I mostly employ you because firstly, you're loyal, and second, it means you're on my side." Wolf replied. "And you're my friend, asshole." Leon threw a chip at him.

Felix rubbed his eyes. "Okay, none of us are happy about this but try to look at it as a learning experience. He nearly got away with it and by making him tell us how he did it we can cut out the potential risk."

"Makes sense but it still sucks." Fox finally said.

"Seconded." Katt shook her head.

"As to the paycheck issue, that's actually a legitimate complaint." Pepper now sounded thoughtful. "The official position of the administration is that paying you guys would just muddy the waters further, but forcing you to have done all that very high risk work pro bono would be bad business, especially since you had wounded."

"I'm not going to ask for money." Fox said. "Trust me when I say we were glad to do it."

"Keeping your biggest account secure, risk or not, is good business sense." Wolf agreed. "Besides, you're good people no matter what I think of the administration on and off."

"Well thank you kindly." Pepper accepted another beer from Grace. "We covered the medical bills for what it's worth. Any money you spent at the hospital should be returned to you in short order because we picked up that tab in full."

"Keeping me alive and functional wasn't cheap… so thanks." Leon said. "As for actual paychecks, here in a few days we'd like the two of you to start going on news shows for us." Pepper gestured at Fox and Wolf. "And talk about the whole fiasco."

"Bread and circuses?" Wolf lifted his eyebrows.

"Damn straight. You guys good for it?"

"Sure, why not?" Fox said.

"Grand. That said, enough business. I came here to eat some decent food and get wasted and I'm dreadfully behind schedule." Pepper grinned, and the rest of the group toasted to that.


James sat on the sand and watched the volleyball game that had commenced. Pepper's team was winning, mostly because it turned out his wife was a nudist. The other side was too far into tit shock to really realize where the ball was at any one time.

"Hey." Felix sat down next to him, down to black BDU pants and nothing else. James wasn't sure Felix even owned shorts.

"Hey. Thanks for coming, and managing not to murder Wolf." He sipped his margarita. In addition to being a good chef, Panther also knew his way around bartending, apparently.

Felix snorted and relieved James of the glass, sniffing it. "Trust me it was tempting, I still don't like the little shit but I stand outvoted, and he's been a decent host." He took a cautious sip and gaped. "Holy shit, how much booze is in that?"

"More than enough to suffice." James laughed. "You can have the rest."

"Don't mind if I do."

A few minutes passed, filled with half-drunken laughter and the rush of sand being kicked as the players scrambled for the ball, all of it framed by the crash of somewhat violent waves nearby and distant peals of thunder from the hurricane.

"I like it here." Felix finally said. "Feels safe, honestly, and I can't remember the last time any place felt that way."

"Wolf said we could take one of his spare bedrooms. He's got an empty wing closed off. Told me I'd have to pay for my own decorating though." James snorted. "It'd be worth it to see you relax. You haven't, not in years." He pondered the leopard. He'd been born with the name Felix Kalluri, but that name, that identity, had disappeared by the time he and Felix were 19.

"I don't like it when you look at me like that." Felix drained some of the margarita. "I always feel like I should just start apologizing and get it over with."

"Oh stop. You told me to think about it, and I have. I want this back too." He held up the hand with the two rings.

Felix lowered the half empty glass and stared at him. "I smell some caveats coming."

"You can't disappear anymore. Never again. Yes I know what your job entails so rework your job. You're your own boss and I'm tired of excuses. I expect to see you home more often than not."

He sighed, watching the volleyball game. "That's fair."

"Besides the more you're home the less I'm screwing other people."

Now he laughed and looked at James again. "Touché. Anything else?"

"James McCloud is dead, but I'd like to get to Corneria without getting shit so I'm reminting my IDs as James Kalluri."

He blinked once and emptied the glass down his throat. "You and your son both have a particular talent with tact, James."

"In that neither of us really have any?"

Felix reached an arm over and pulled James in so James leaned on his side. "Exactly. Peppy won't be happy about this, you know."

"He hates you because you left me, jackass. If you start sticking around he may even get over it." James snorted and poked Felix's side.

"Why do I doubt that?"

"Because life has no guarantees." He let himself snuggle against Felix, eyes half open.

"Oh, I don't know. It might have a few."


Eventually the storms on the leading edge of the hurricane passed over the island, bringing torrential rain that sent everyone inside. The hurricane itself was going to miss the island by about twenty five miles, according to ZAK, but the rain was inevitable. It rained nearly every day on Aquas, being it was an ocean planet of tropical climate most of the year.

Not that the weary, drunken group was complaining much, happily retiring to chairs on the covered section of the patio, Panther throwing more wood on the brick oven and producing sticks and marshmallows. Leon was the first to retire, weary and pained, Alec helping him to bed. Most of the group stayed up far after, Grace eventually talking shop and offering everyone discounts if they came in for suits, or bras in Katt's case.

Wolf eventually wandered to bed, mostly sober, asking ZAK to keep an eye on everyone still awake because he didn't want someone lighting themselves on fire. In his opinion, the day had gone well. Pepper off duty was actually a great guy. There was some old style dignity there, from a distance he could have been mistaken for the oldest style of gentleman. Up close, he was a tough, hard bastard but genial and not the slightest bit arrogant. And as for Felix, he'd been almost human all day, and what more could you ask from Felix?

He took a long hot shower, pondering that. Then again, it was very possible he'd be seeing a lot more of Felix. James had asked for a room on Aquas and he'd agreed. He was starting to feel like he was getting over the other man. Fox was helping that, of course…

He was still standing in the shower when he heard his door being knocked on. Swearing, he cut the water and shook off, wrapping a towel around his waist and walking to the door holding it up, the air conditioning more than a shock and his fur still plastered to his body as he yanked the door open.

"What was I going to say?" Fox asked blankly, staring at him, in shorts and a tank top.

Wolf grinned. "Nothing important apparently. Coming in?"

"Shortly, yes, I imagine." Fox stepped into the room and shoved the door to, reaching up to pull Wolf down into a warm kiss, smiling.

Wolf pulled him close and returned it, wrapping one arm around him, the other hand cupping around the side of Fox's face. The younger man tasted of chocolate and coffee, and Wolf pressed into the kiss, tongue diving into Fox's mouth eagerly and taking his time coming up for air.

Fox pulled his now soaking wet shirt away from himself, staring at Wolf. "You didn't dry off at all did you?"

"Obviously not." Wolf said, leading Fox back to the bathroom and stripping him out of his wet clothes, passing him a clean towel then working on drying himself off.

Fox only smiled, drying himself off then helping Wolf, mostly because it was an excuse to touch him but also because it seemed to please the larger man. Even having shed a lot of undercoat out, Wolf had a lot of fur, and Fox grinned when Wolf shook back out and his fur properly fluffed. "You do realize I now intend to undo all that hard work, right?"

Wolf rolled his eyes. "Oh the fucking horror!" That said, he grabbed Fox and kissed him again, hands hooking under his rear and picking him up. Fox laughed and clung to him happily, legs clasping his hips as Wolf walked and deposited him to sit on the edge of the bed, still kissing him. Fox moaned into it, hands stroking down Wolf's chest and stomach to stroke over his groin, one hand rubbing over his sheath and the other rolling his balls. This made Wolf break the kiss with a growl, legs shuddering once.

Fox grinned, tugging on Wolf gently with his legs, head dipping down to lap along Wolf's half hard cock. "Get on the bed. I need this in my mouth and I want to be comfortable while it is." Wolf got on the bed and sat, leaning back on the palms of his hands, smirking when Fox crawled over and kissed him. He returned it, growling into it when Fox pushed him the rest of the way down. Fox growled back, nibbling into the kiss then ending it to bite and lick his way down Wolf's body, hands stroking greedily over Wolf's muscle lines and smirking when the older man arched into it, one hand already burying into Fox's headfur. "Mm. Glad I'm not the only one wound up." He ran his tongue down the underside of Wolf's fully hard cock, tail wagging.

"Nngh, you have no idea." Wolf panted, eyes sliding shut, gasping when Fox wrapped his mouth around him. "Fuck you're getting good at that."

Fox smiled, eyes half closing and tongue stroking over Wolf's skin, one ear twitching when he heard the door quietly open, then close fully. Wolf didn't seem to notice, and he slowly stroked his head up to release him and lick the head once, looking at Katt, who was standing next to the bed staring at him. She smirked, he returned the expression, and returned to what he was doing as she carefully climbed on the bed and leaned over Wolf, kissing him solidly.

Wolf jumped when the bed moved in an unexpected way, eyes flying open as Katt's scent abruptly registered. His questioning noise was muffled into the kiss, and she put a hand on his chest solidly to keep him where he was. That, combined with Fox seeming to double his efforts, kept Wolf from moving, eventually lifting his free hand to touch her face and somehow not surprised when she moved it to her bare chest.

Katt shuddered when his hand moved, cupping one of her breasts then rolling her nipple with thumb, backing off to look at him and grinning at his expression, which hovered somewhere between confusion and pleasure. She didn't bother giving him time to ask, moving to straddle over his head and propping on her hands, licking one of Fox's ears then groaning when Wolf took the hint and wrapped both arms around her, tugging her hips down and lapping hungrily.

Wolf growled, shutting his eyes again. It'd been a good long while since he'd been with a girl, hell since before the war now that he thought about it, but Katt's scent woke up a crash of instinct and memory. He explored her eagerly with his tongue, hands settling on her legs so he could feel her shiver and twitch, his own hips coming up off the bed when Fox moved and both their tongues stroked over him, the opposing texture of their tongues an insane sensation. "Fffuck, you guys… oh my gods…" His voice came out nearly a snarl, and they continued so he took his reaction out on Katt, tongue dipping inside her then sucking on her clit.

Katt yowled, claws digging into Wolf's legs as she came moments later. Wolf whimpered but didn't bother actually complaining, the momentary sting of pain made him focus as Katt's mouth wrapped back around him, Fox's tongue lavishing the base of his shaft, and he howled, coming hard and going limp on the bed, panting.

Katt swallowed roughly, then leaned and kissed Fox before shifting and sitting next to Wolf. Fox moved to snuggle against her, kissing her again then grinning when Wolf sat up groggily.

"I'm not complaining." Wolf said, staring at them both. "But what the hell brought that on?"

Fox smiled. "You and I haven't been together in a while, I wanted to fix that, and Katt was in the mood too, and we'd already discussed it…"

"So here we are." Katt said. "He loves you, I like you, both of us needed to get laid."

Wolf blinked then settled for leaning and kissing Fox passionately before speaking again. "Any particular reason why you two just jumped me instead of asking?"

"Because you would have overthought it and killed the mood." Fox smirked, kissing his nose.

"Yeah probably." He admitted after a moment.

Katt reached over, putting a hand on his cock and slowly stroking over it, watching his face. "Probably a good thing we just jumped you, then."

"As said, not complaining." Wolf moaned, starting to get hard again.

Fox grinned. "Good, because you get to help me fuck my girlfriend's brains out."

"Fox has been nice enough to tell me about the times you two were together and he thinks you're a good lay. If you're as good with your cock as you are with your tongue…" Katt moved and straddled Wolf's lap, grinning, hand still stroking over him. Wolf cut her off with a kiss, growling into it when she shoved him back down so he sprawled on his back, returning the kiss aggressively. Her body hovered over him and resisted his attempts to pull her down the rest of the way, whining when she broke the kiss and looked down at him, holding him down. "I know you like being in charge… but so do I, and I'm going to be in the middle of this, so deal."

"That's fair." He replied after a long moment, groaning when her body rubbed against him, damp lips just barely brushing over his cock.

During this Fox had disappeared off the bed but now reappeared, kneeling behind Katt and kissing one of her shoulders, one hand sliding around her to cup one of her breasts and the other wandering down to tease between her legs. At that point Wolf gave up and relaxed on the bed, one arm reaching and grabbing a pillow, dragging it under his head and staring greedily up at the two over him. Fox and Katt had always looked good together, but now they looked amazing. They obviously knew each other's bodies well, because Fox's touch made Katt twist and moan over Wolf. Then Fox's fingers were steadying Wolf's cock, and Katt's hands landed on his stomach for support as she slowly eased down.

"Oh my gods, girl." Wolf groaned, hands settling lightly on her legs and breathing harder, cock jerking inside her when she took him to the base and ground there lightly. "I could get used to this." He half smiled, then sucked in a breath when her muscles tightened up around him.

Katt purred to herself, getting used to his size, the flicked her tail up to brush along Fox's chest, staying where she was momentarily. Fox took the cue and pressed up behind her, hand guiding his already lubed cock under her tail and slowly pushing in, working his way inside of her with shallow thrusts until the base of his knot rested against her, panting. "Katt? You okay?"

She moaned and shuddered. Yeah, she enjoyed anal from time to time but getting it both ways simultaneously was something new. "Yeah. Wow." She shifted, tensing up around both of them and purring again as she leaned forward and kissed Wolf as Fox started setting a rhythm, moving with him. Wolf wrapped his arms around her and returned the kiss, hips coming up to match their beat, rumbling with each rock of his hips. Katt broke the kiss to gasp and shudder, claws digging into Wolf's chest as she jolted into another orgasm. "Fucking FUCK!"

Wolf howled, tilting his head back, honestly enjoying the bite of pain from her claws alongside the pleasure he was feeling. Distantly he heard Fox say something, sounding pleased, but he wasn't paying attention beyond the fact that Fox had sped the pace up. He kept up, eyes barely open and focusing on the feel of Katt around him, and the smell of all three of them together. Fox had an amazing scent he'd enjoyed for ages now, and Katt's delightful, flowery girly scent was equally wonderful.

Fox grunted, nuzzling into Katt's neck and shoulder then biting there lightly, ears tilted to listen to the noises the other two made as he started thrusting a bit harder. Katt always felt gloriously hot and tight around him, and he whined in pleasure when she shoved back against him, hard, and Wolf arched up in response, slamming up against her. "Do that again!" Katt yowled, arching her back and reaching a hand behind her to rest on one of Fox's legs, claws scratching and yowling again when both men took the hint and hammered her at the same time. Fox's knot ground against her, but Wolf's went in, and her other hand scratched down Wolf's torso as she twisted to kiss Fox, the embrace muffling her cries as her come dripped along Wolf's shaft.

Wolf howled again, her body more than enough to make him dance at the knife edge, staring down his body at the sight of her pussy tensing around his cock. "Oh fuck I'm not going to last much longer…" He hated admitting it too.

"Oh no you don't! I want you pounding me when you come!" Katt hissed at him and promptly pulled off of him, leaving him whining at the sudden loss of her warmth and only able to watch as she arched and humped back against Fox. Fox barked, toes digging into the bed and slamming against her, hands on her hips and hitting his first moments later, popping out and shooting a trail up along her back as she took Wolf back in and rolled just that fast, trying to drag him with her.

Wolf drove back inside her down to the sheath eagerly and rolled her under him, hands propping on the bed and thrusting hard. Katt's legs came up and wrapped around his hips, her hands scratching at his shoulder blades desperately, her hips moving against his as he thrust. He pushed down and kissed her, brief and hard, before running a trail of bites down to her neck and lingering there. The firmer he was, the more she seemed to love it, so he hammered her, panting and groaning, hackles standing up when her claws sank into his back.

Then Fox's hands shoved him down, making him swear as his lower body slammed to the bed, Katt screaming under him as two bodyweights ground against her. He looked over his shoulder and Fox kissed him, hands on his hips and cock plowing inside him in one thrust. Wolf's body jumped at the sudden rough entry, the flash of pain drowned out by the sudden pressure and heat on his prostate. "Oh, fuck, Fox…" His cock jerked inside Katt when Fox thrust, shoulders rounding and biting his lip when Fox bit his scruff.

Katt leaned up, biting at Wolf's mouth, claws dragging insistently on Wolf's shoulders and arms. "Fuck me, dammit!"

"Yes, please do, watching you two is wonderful." Fox growled, grinding against Wolf and wailing when his knot went into the other man. "And don't you dare fucking come yet!"

Wolf gasped and whined, totally lost between the feeling of Katt around him and Fox's perfect, hot cock inside him, and focused with effort, kissing Katt and making every attempt at fucking her through the bed. And as hard as he was moving, Fox matched, Fox's breath coming in soft sultry whines as he thrust.

Katt yowled, clinging to Wolf. Fox was on his knees but he was still adding a lot of force to Wolf's thrusts. Wolf was a bit bigger than Fox was too, so she had the feeling she was going to be walking funny tomorrow, but she was fine with that, because Wolf's angle was perfect. Her claws scratched into his shoulders, listening to Fox's telltale 'I love this' whining and Wolf's outcries, which ranged from growls to whines erratically. "Come on, come on, please please please… almost…" She bit the side of Wolf's neck, gasping for air.

Wolf grunted and slowed down, glad when Fox took the hint and paced him, digging his toeclaws into the bed for leverage and getting an arm under her to pull her up to meet him, leaning heavily on the other arm. Katt looked at him in confusion, then locked up into a silent scream when he started moving again, slow and full length, almost full knot grinding inside her every time. Fox just went still, finding a position that used Wolf's movement to his advantage, leaning a bit to watch the other two and groaning when he saw Katt come again, mewling and shaking, fingers skittering on his already raw and bloodied shoulders.

"Oh gods, oh just… come inside me. I want to feel it." Katt gasped, still shaking, and Wolf howled his relief, thrusting inside her and nearly collapsing as he started to come, knot locking in and sinking to his elbows, panting, then whining when Fox slammed him a few more times before finishing as well, leaning on Wolf's back as he tied the larger man.

"Roll right, three, two, one." Wolf panted out, wrapping an arm around Katt and putting the other back against Fox before moving, the trio collapsing to the bed and going limp. Katt burrowed into his chest, Fox wrapping around his back with one arm lacing with Katt's. The next several minutes were full of fuzzy, dazed silence, Wolf twitching a bit every time he felt Fox's cock throb, which only made Katt mewl a little. "Can I ask something now?"

"Mmhm." Fox replied, surveying Wolf's back. "Katt, you tore him up."

"I liked it." Wolf said before Katt could try to apologize. "Is this a one-time thing?"

"Fuck no. This was excellent." Fox squeezed him a bit. "I love you both and I want you both in bed with me. This is 'us' now. If you're okay with it."

Wolf blinked a few times, a bit stunned. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm good with it. I love you too."

Fox kissed the back of his neck, smiling.

Wolf shifted to look down at Katt, who looked back, half asleep. "So, when Fox said you and he had discussed my joining you in bed…"

"Mostly it was literal, but yeah we talked about the relationship thing too." She kissed under his chin. "You help make him happy, so I'm fine with you."

"Good to know." He set his jaw on the top of her head, eyes sliding shut. "I take it you two are spending the night here?"

"Yeah."

"Mm. Room command, all lights down." The lights shut off through his room, leaving the trio curled up together in the dark, dropping into sleep shortly after.


James yawned, wandering up the stairs of the base wearily and onto the main floor, which was still lit in spite of the hour. Three AM, give or take, and thunderstorms still raged outside. The computer screens throughout the base had the hurricane on display, which showed it was indeed only scuffing the island. Either way, he'd woke up to use the bathroom and found himself unable to fall back asleep, even with Felix there, so he'd left Felix dreaming and pulled some sweat shorts on, still struggling into a tank top as he left the room.

He wasn't the only one awake, though, as voices drifted from the kitchen and dining area. He walked that way and stopped, coming fully awake at the scene in front of him. Grace stood in the kitchen area, wearing only boyshort underwear, various random baking ingredients on the counter. She held a cookbook and seemed focused on it. Panther stood by her, apparently discussing something with her wearing an 'I am a gentlemen, I will remain one if it kills me' expression. Pepper and Falco were sitting at the counter on stools, Pepper with a mug in his hand, Falco propping his jaw on both hands. Both had clearly given up on the entire concept of being a gentleman and were just enjoying the view.

"You guys couldn't sleep either?" James asked, walking over.

"She wanted cookies." Pepper replied, as if that explained everything.

Falco shrugged at James. "Hell, I haven't been to bed yet."

James sat on a stool and regarded Grace. "So. Are you always naked?"

She looked at him over the cookbook. "When I can be and the owner of the house doesn't care."

"I'm not complaining, I'm just wondering. Hell I'd join you but I think everyone here would kill me." James snorted and accepted a cup of coffee from Panther.

"That's because you're a walking libido." Pepper replied. "Don't think I don't remember."

"Snickerdoodle?" Grace wanted to know.

"Fine by me." Panther said. "Any chance to use my stand mixer."

"Why ask me, I eat everything." Falco shrugged.

"No shit." Panther snickered and punched James' shoulder. "I'm glad you're alive, by the way. Getting the phonecall from Peppy about your unfortunate demise was rough."

"Hey, if I could have avoided that, I would have. I didn't particularly enjoy being locked in a cell alone for the better part of a year. " He sipped his coffee, then looked at it. "Where the hell did you get this Panther?"

"It's grown on Aquas exclusively for other residents." Panther replied, loading ingredients into the mixer that Grace was measuring out. "Cheaper than having to get it from offplanet."

"It is some good stuff." Pepper said. "This has been a nice break. Then on Monday, back to the grindstone of sorting this shit out."

"You really going to have Fox and Wolf be your faces to the media?"

"Sure, why not? Wasn't my idea honestly but I can see the merit to it. Besides, the media loves your kid, so they'll eat it up. The faster the media settles the hell down, the easier it'll be for us to finish fixing everything."

"Makes sense. Honestly as long as I'm not in front of the cameras, I'm happy."

Pepper gave him a look. "Please. I only ever put you in front of the media if I wanted hilarity to directly ensue."

"Asshole."

"Jerk."

Grace giggled. "So have you always been like this?"

"Pretty much." Pepper finished his coffee. "Hope it never changes."

"Agreed." James grinned, saluting with his coffee mug.

"I was going to ask if you were coming back to bed but I think I'll join you instead." Felix landed on the last stool, looking half awake.

"What exactly do you do for a living anyway?" Grace wanted to know, looking at Felix.

Felix gladly took some coffee from Panther. "Yes."

She blinked, then looked at Pepper. "I'll say one thing about your friends, they aren't boring."

"Definitely not." He agreed.


Wolf leaned on the sink and looked at himself for a long moment, then turned and looked over his shoulder. Not much was visible through his thick fur, but he could feel the scratches. Showering the morning was going to be eventful. He smiled anyway, rubbing his eyes and stepping back to the bedroom, standing there to look at his bed in the light cast from the bathroom. He'd managed to free himself from the other two to use the bathroom, and now Fox and Katt were spooned together asleep in the middle of his bed, blanket pulled up to their waists.

Sore, but content, Wolf reached back and turned the bathroom light back off, padding across the room and climbing in on the far side of the bed, slipping under the covers and cuddling up to Fox's back, wrapping an arm around both of them and sighing. Katt shifted under his hand, lacing her fingers with it and giggling.

"How long have we been out?" She asked, half awake and turning her head to look over her shoulder, just barely able to see him looking around the curve of Fox's neck.

He twisted and looked at his clock. "Four hours? Three and a half? I didn't notice the time when you got here."

"Well, you were a bit busy." She pulled his hand up and kissed the back of it.

Wolf smiled, tail wagging and nuzzling along Fox's shoulder and neck, who sighed softly and shifted in his sleep. "Apparently he took a shower at some point because he smells like my shower gel."

Katt rolled and nestled against Fox's chest, inhaling. Fox woke up just long enough to shift and wrap an arm and leg around her, then dropped back off immediately. "Well, that smells expensive." She remarked after a moment.

"It isn't cheap." He admitted, shifting when Fox did and wrapping around them both, licking and nibbling the back of Fox's neck. "I admire how hard he sleeps."

There was a long silence, then Katt started giggling, the sound muffled into Fox's chestfur. "I don't know what you're doing but you're making him hard."

"Really." Wolf stated, and slowly licked up the back of the ear Fox wasn't laying on. Fox shivered, hackles coming up against Wolf's body.

Katt giggled louder when that made Fox's half hard cock twitch against one of her legs. "You're giving me ideas."

"Well don't let me stop you."

Katt considered, then wiggled free from Fox's hold and pushed down, nuzzling into Fox's groin and smelling nothing but shower gel and Fox's own natural musk. Smiling, she ran her tongue up the underside of Fox's cock, and grinned when he moaned and shifted, cock springing fully hard under her tongue. Wolf pushed up on one arm and nudged the blankets down to watch, then grinned and moved down to help, rolling Fox on his back gently.

Fox startled awake, scrubbing his eyes groggily then gasping when he felt their tongues. "Uhh good morning?" He hazarded.

"Middle of the night, still. Go back to sleep." Wolf replied mildly, kissing Katt then returning to what he was doing.

"You're kidding, right?" Fox laughed, pulling Katt up and kissing her, grinding his cock against her.

Wolf pondered, then slid off the bed, finding the lube had been left on the bedside table then reaching over, grabbing Fox and giving him a yank. Fox yipped in surprise, but slid, taking Katt with him so they were at the edge of the bed and Wolf was standing with his hands on Fox's hips. Katt grinned and shifted to a kneeling position, leaning back against Wolf as she rubbed teasingly against Fox. "This work for everyone?"

"Yeah, I think so." Fox grinned, hooking one leg around one of Wolf's hips, hands on Katt's thighs.

"Mm. Good." Wolf laid a gentle kiss to one of Katt's shoulder blades as she eased down and took Fox in, smiling at the noises they both made as he got the lube open. A few moments later two of his fingers had wandered under Fox's tail, rubbing his back entrance as the other hand had slid around Katt to rub just over her clit. The noise that escaped Fox was small and strangled, skin twitching under Wolf's touch as Katt tightened up around him at the same time. Taking this as approval, Wolf smiled into the back of Katt's neck, pacing his hands with their movements, slipping the two fingers into Fox to rock in and out at the same pace Fox thrust up to meet Katt, who had put a hand over Wolf's to help guide it, moaning and mewling.

Fox panted, attention torn between the fingers rubbing teasingly at his prostate and his girlfriend's motions, groaning when Katt cried out and rocked into an orgasm, grinding down against him and trembling. "Wolf, ahh…" Apparently the larger man didn't need any further cue, because Fox felt the fingers slide out and the head of Wolf's cock grind against him. It was hard to relax at all, but he managed to enough to let Wolf in, head going back and wailing when he did. Wolf only groaned, holding Fox's hips still for a moment and working his way inside in slow shallow thrusts, hilting then wrapping an arm back around Katt.

Katt laughed in spite of herself, propping on Fox's stomach and staring down at him. "Wow. Babe, you in there?"

"Uh huh." Fox lied, swallowing hard and shaking slightly, sucking in air when both ground against him.

"And now he knows how I felt." Wolf snickered and kissed the back of Katt's neck, then pulled back and thrust hard, making Fox's body rock up against Katt, who yowled her appreciation as Fox barked in surprise. Wolf grinned and withdrew slowly, driving in again and reveling in the sounds of the other two, hitting a beat and moving with the intent to screw Fox's brains out. Doing so in a way that pleased Katt was an interesting balance though, and it certainly gave him a challenge. Not that his focus was all that great, with Katt's body pressed against him and her scent vibrant, and Fox's nearly painfully tight body clutching him.

Fox gasped and whined, hands settled on Katt's thighs and staring up at her and what he could see of Wolf, rocking with Wolf's thrusts. This was one of the main reasons he'd wanted to see if the three of them could work together, and the reality was better than the fantasy. Fox felt surrounded by two of his favorite feelings in the world, and it was only compounded by the fact that it was the two most significant people in his life providing it. Wolf was on target within a few thrusts, and Fox's fingers skittered helplessly on Katt's legs, back arching and head tilting back with a gargled cry.

Katt yowled and squirmed when Fox arched, leaning back against Wolf and panting, leaning and turning her head to kiss him. Wolf murmured into it, returning it happily as he slid his hand around to touch her again. She jerked against him, body shaking and tensing and prompting another incoherent cry from Fox, one hand coming up to fist into Wolf's hair as she bit into the embrace aggressively. Wolf growled into the embrace, tail wagging, but didn't stop what he was doing, and Katt broke the kiss to swear and shake as she rocked into another orgasm.

Fox wailed again, partly full knot rocking in and out of Katt, whining softly with each breath. He wasn't going to last much longer and he knew it, fighting it and caving abruptly when Wolf's knot went in and hit all the right places at once. He slammed up against Katt as well as he could, shouting their names as he started coming and feeling Katt follow him. Wolf howled and managed one more thrust before finishing, leaning his forehead against the back of Katt's neck and panting.

There were several moments of fuzzy silence, Katt eventually going limp on top of Fox and Wolf resting lightly on her back, before Fox spoke. "Dude. No tie?"

"In this position? You're kidding, right?" He managed a weary laugh. "I say shower now so we don't have to when we get up."

"Right now? Because you're going to have to carry me." Fox snickered. Katt flicked one of his ears.

"Shortly. Wiseass."

"You love me."

"Yeah, yeah."

James sprawled in a chaise lounge on the patio, one arm over his eyes to hide from the sun, dozing. Cookies had been followed by one of Panther's ass kicking margaritas, probably stupidly. He vaguely remembered Felix picking him up and hauling him to bed, which he'd been happy about. Now, hours later, the sound of the ocean had killed any impulse to work out. What the hell, he was on vacation anyway.

Hearing someone else come onto the patio, he moved his arm enough to see out of one eye, and saw Wolf in athletic gear, looking at him with an eyebrow up. "Morning."

"Indeed. How long have you been out here?"

"An hour. Thought about running. Scrapped that idea." He dropped his arm back into place.

"Ah." Wolf walked to the edge of the patio, going through some stretches.

"Hurt my son and I'll kill you. So you know."

Wolf grinned at James over his shoulder. "I expected nothing less." That said, he launched from a crouch and hit the trail running, tail waving behind him, leaving the older man smiling a bit on the patio.

Author's Note: And so it ends. I hope you enjoyed the Cards series! Special thanks to Finley Otego for assisting me with editing.