Eureka Kats 9.99:
Christmas Day

by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/M, M/F sex
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

"Everybody's got breakfast out there, right?" Marie called out from the kitchen.

"Yes, dear, now get some for yourself!" Jean called back with a chuckle, shaking his head as Chien rested his massive head on Jake's leg, hoping to score a piece of bacon or two from the Kat that was easily bribed by puppy-dog eyes.

"Yeah, even the bottomless gut over here is slowing down," Jake laughed.

"Hey, she's a good cook," Chance objected.

"I'm not sure if he was talking about you or Chien," Marie giggled as she brought out her own plate. "And I have been grabbing some as I cooked," she added.

"Good," Jean chuckled. "Thanks for making breakfast, Marie. I could have grabbed something from the Cafe," he pointed out.

"Pancakes, scrambled eggs and microwaved sausage and bacon is easy enough to cook," she chuckled. "Besides, now the oven's up to heat for some of the cooking later."

"Still better than either of us would dare to try," Jake snickered.

"Not my fault that the microwave is the most you guys ever learned to cook with," she teased, tucking into her breakfast hungrily. "Any idea when Cindy's planning on coming over?"

"As soon as she's... ah... rested up from last night," Chance chuckled.

"She went to Heat Wave, hu?" Marie giggled.

"Is there any doubt with her?" Jean chuckled, shaking his head. "I'm surprised she doesn't already have a family of her own started by now."

"Not all her parties involve that sort of thing, Dad," Marie chuckled.

"They aren't?" Jake raised a teasing eyebrow.

"Just most of them," Chance admitted. "Anyways, probably another hour or two."

"Early enough to help with the cooking," Jean nodded.

"And late enough that I get a break from cooking for a bit," Marie chuckled, finishing her breakfast, holding her plate down for Chien to lick clean before taking the dishes out to put them in the washer.

"Remind me never to just rinse a plate and use it again," Chance chuckled to Jake.

"It's an old habit of hers," Jean chuckled. "We never had to worry about leftovers going bad or plates needing to be rinsed though," he mused.

"Yeah, I imagine," Jake shook his head. "Still weird. We haven't had pets in a long time."

"You also aren't used to having various things, some cute, some less than cute, coming home from work with you yet," Marie giggled as she came back in. "Don't worry, you'll get used to it eventually with me around," she winked.

The Kats exchanged a concerned looked, then Jake shrugged. "She does have to put up with our creations too."

"I'll be sure to ask first," she giggled. "Or just keep them at my place," she added as somebody rang the doorbell.

"Huh... guess Cindy recovered faster than expected," Chance mused.

"You want to go let her in then?" Marie chuckled.

"Sure," he nodded and stood to answer the door.

"So just how often will these critters be coming in?" Jake asked while munching on a piece of crispy bacon and adjusting his mind to the reality that there would be strange animals around his house that were supposed to be there.

"Shouldn't be often," Marie said easily. "I don't make new creatures that often, and I'm still mostly working on the Rebirth project at this point, so unless I whip up a proof of concept that'll be easier to explain than just turning off my holo-belt, probably going to be a while before I bring any home."

"Don't take this wrong, but good," Jake smiled at her. "We've never had animals around, either of us, that weren't strays."

"You!" Chance's near-growl snapped everyone's attention to the front door.

"Chance?" Marie asked, standing up and leaning over ... to see her mother on the other side of the door, starting forward.

"Marie, Mr. Furlong," Jessica said, looking between them a little uncomfortably. "Can I come in for a few minutes?"

"Be very careful what you say, dear." Jean stood and entered the living room where everyone now was.

"I guess so," Chance reluctantly stepped out of the way and let her in.

"I intend to be, Jean," she said, stepping into the house and closing the door behind her. "First off, I wanted to apologize for what I said at Halloween. It was short-sighted of me, and I'd like to think I'm usually better than to just jump to the worst interpretation."

"All right," Chance nodded, though there were no doubts that Jake and Marie weren't quite so ready to forgive.

"You've said things like that before, Mom," Marie pointed out softly. "It's going to take more than this to convince me."

"I know," Jessica sighed. "And I don't really blame you for it. I just had to say it anyways. You three... you really are close, and you do care for each other, from what I've heard about the past few weeks."

"We have been for some time, Ms. Bruener," Jake said seriously, almost biting his tongue to stop himself from saying more.

"I still don't think I can say I approve of the relationship the three of you have, but...." She reached into her purse and pulled out a small, wrapped box, handing it to Marie. "I think I'm at the point where I can start to handle it. I'd like you to have this, Marie. It belonged to my great-grandmother, and I think it's time that you have it."

Marie gave her a skeptical look, but stepped forward to take the offering and carefully unwrapped it after glancing at her father.

She opened up the jewelry box that she unwrapped, the breath catching in her throat as she saw the necklace inside, a gold chain with sapphires mounted along the front and a diamond in the middle.

"My mother gave it to me when your father and I got engaged ... it seemed like a good time to keep the tradition going," Jessica smiled slightly, not entirely sure what to make of the stunned look on Marie's face, but hoping it was good.

It was when she looked up and saw and even more stunned one on Jake that she really started to wonder what she'd missed out on. She caught Chance shake his head slightly when Jake glanced at him, and a bit of more subtle communication she couldn't understand, before the pair settled without saying a word.

"Thank you, mother," Marie looked up after a long moment to absorb what had just happened.

"You're welcome," Jessica said. "I should probably be going... I just wanted to make sure you got that today." Marie hesitated for a moment, then stepped forward and hugged her, a gesture the older woman returned before stepping back.

"Maybe we'll be able to handle fifteen minutes in the same room for New Year's," she half-joked.

"Maybe we will," Marie said, watching her mother leave.

"That... was very strange," she said, looking down at the necklace again before carefully closing the box.

"You have no idea," Jake murmured, though it wasn't to anyone in particular. "Care to tell us about it? There must be a story to anything that old," he stepped up to her and kissed her gently.

"I don't know too much about it," Marie admitted. "But I do remember it from when I was little."

"Your mother wore it more often back then," Jean smiled, sitting back down. "It's true; she did get it when we got engaged. As I understand, it was an heirloom that was usually passed on to the first daughter to make it that far."

"I remember now," Marie smiled slightly, thinking back. "About a hundred and fifty years ago, my great-great-grandmother got engaged to somebody who ended up on the wrong side of one of the revolutions. When the two of them started running, before they'd gotten married, her mother gave her the necklace so they'd have something they could sell to help them reach a safe place to live. Instead, she kept it, and her daughter was able to use it to prove who she was when things calmed down and she went back home."

"Sounds like quite a story," Chance admitted as everyone sat down again. "One worth learning the rest of."

"One of these days, maybe I will," she admitted, leaning up against Jake lightly after setting the box down.

Zoe stretched and yawned in her bed, debating the value of getting out of its incredible warm and comfortable depths when she didn't have to.

"S.A.R.A.H., is Dad up yet?"

"Yes, Zoe. Should I start breakfast?" The house asked politely.

"Mmm, yeah," she decided reluctantly. "I'm getting up."

"Very well," S.A.R.A.H. said cheerfully, dialing up the lights in her room as she crawled out of bed and started to get dressed. "Did you have a good time last night?"

"Great time," Zoe grinned broadly. "Chance definitely knows how to dance."

"That does seem to be a popular opinion," S.A.R.A.H. observed. "By the way, merry Christmas, Zoe," she added, a large glass of eggnog coming in, nutmeg sprinkled on top of it.

"Ohh, thanks," she grinned and picked it up for a sip before she finished getting dressed and headed downstairs.

"I think we need to have words with S.A.R.A.H. about the concept of excess," Carter chuckled as Zoe came down, munching on a slice of bread, sliding a saucer over to Zoe's end of the table with a couple others on it. "Eggnog bread from some place in Milwaukee."

"I bet it makes great french toast," she grinned at him.

"An excellent idea, Zoe," S.A.R.A.H. piped up. "Would you like it for breakfast?"

"Sure," Carter said with a bit of a shrug. "Why don't you make up what's left of it?"

"All right," S.A.R.A.H. said easily, the kitchen starting to life as the bread was quickly sliced and the eggs prepared.

"There's something strange about watching your house cook for you," Carter observed. "So, sleep well?"

"Great," she grinned. "Thanks for letting me go to the party."

"Your welcome," he smiled. "Like I said, Chance kinda talked me into it. You did good last night," he added approvingly. "Even if we were too wiped out to do anything more than go to bed when we got home," he chuckled.

"Yeah," she nodded. "So ready to open your present?"

"Sure," he chuckled. "If you'll open up one I got for you first," he added, heading over to get Zoe's present for him, and the square-ish one he'd wrapped for her, and bring them back over to the table.

"Deal," she said easily and accepted the sizeable, though relatively flat, box. She shook it a bit first, and didn't hear much, then began to carefully unwrap it.

Carter watched her hunt out the tape, carefully tearing it with her fingers, keeping it as intact as possible. Watching the process reminded him that he needed to get his pocket knife for his own unwrapping work. By the time he was back with it, she'd managed to get it opened up enough to look at what was inside.

"Careful, there's two in there," he warned her as she worked to fish the binder inside out of the wrapping, a small envelope on top of it.

She went for the envelope first and opened it with the same care, though it wasn't sealed, and pulled a slip of heavy paper out of it. After a bit of flipping around, it sank in what it was.

"You don't have to use all three days in a row," he told her as she looked at the paper promising her three days reprieve from being grounded, whenever she wanted.

"You're testing me," she looked up at him thoughtfully.

"No ... um, well, maybe," he consented. "Same as last night."

"Am I gonna have to have a chaperone for all those days too?" She asked with a chuckle, putting the paper back into the envelope.

"No," he shook his head.

"Okay," she smiled, putting the envelope down and picking up the binder to look through it.

She was half expecting it to be empty, but found moments captured in photos, awards and papers; all of them times where she'd succeeded. Academia, sports, her as Puck in 'A Midsummer's Night Dream' only a few months before, though it felt like a lifetime in many ways.

"You ... kept all of this?" She looked up at him in shock.

"Some of it I had to dig out of where I was keeping for that, but yeah," he smiled. "Believe it or not, I do try to notice more than the bad things."

"Could have fooled me most days," she tried not to sound bitter, and almost made it. "Dad ... why am I still grounded, really? I've screwed up a lot worse than that and you haven't flipped out this bad," she asked much more honestly subdued.

"You scared the Hell out of me," he admitted softly. "The only reason you didn't end up going through what I'd thought had happened was because Chance got you out of there and wouldn't take advantage of you himself."

"Dad, I'm hardly a virgin, you know," she pointed out with a quiet seriousness and managed to not elaborate any more.

"Maybe not, but you're still my little girl ... and there's a difference between having sex with somebody your own age when your head's on mostly straight, and somebody who's twice your age and then some when you've been drugged. What would've happened if Chance hadn't been there, or if he'd been willing to go along with you?"

"I probably would have had a great time if he hadn't been there, and the idea he would have gone along with it's as ludicrous as the idea you would have," she snorted. "I did know what it was all about when I snuck in, after all."

"You're not really helping your case any," he pointed out. "Things could've gotten really out of control... I don't want to see you after that."

"I'll keep that in mind," she replied coldly.

"Zoe...." He sighed, shaking his head. "Look... I've seen what can happen when parties like that go bad. Mix that in with what happened with Jaeger just a couple weeks before that... like I said, you scared me. I'm trying to keep you safe... maybe I'm doing it the wrong way, but I can't think of any other way to do it. Last night went pretty well... I'll think about what to do after this, okay?"

"It's not like I have a choice," she pointed out, though she was fingering the scrapbook carefully, still absorbing what it was all about. "You said you'd open yours next," she tried to focus on what today meant, instead of the argument that had come of it.

"Right," he nodded, opening up the pocketknife and cutting the taped paper on the long, narrow box that Zoe had gotten for him, sliding out the cardboard box inside and started to open it up before she stopped him.

"The card first, okay?"

He nodded and found a square white envelope taped to one side and opened it. The picture on it struck him first; it was of Zoe standing slightly in front of and between Jake and Chance, the tabby's hand on her shoulder and all three were smiling.

"Is this from you, or the three of you?" He asked, looking up at her before opening the card to look inside.

Season's Greetings,

We would have preferred to be invisible partners in this, but Zoe said you'd have a conniption fit if you thought she'd gotten it on her own.

Jake and Chance

PS: As interesting as it might be to watch you have a 'conniption' I do not want her in trouble

-- Chance

"I ... think I'm worried now," Carter chuckled slightly, putting the card back into the envelope. "I'll remember not to freak though," he promised her.

At least as long as whatever it was wasn't worth freaking out about.

He opened the box the rest of the way, his eyes widening as he pulled out the display stand and wooden bat secure in a hard plastic case, complete with the paperwork certifying it as an '81 World Series bat.

"How ..."

"The internet and friends with deep pockets that really wanted to help me replace the one you wrecked trying to save me," she said softly. "I know it's not the same, but it's the same year at least."

"I did save you, and it was worth it," he reassured her, leaning over to hug her tightly. "Thanks though, honey."

"Glad you like it," she very willingly let the embrace last as long as he cared to.

"Breakfast is ready if you are," S.A.R.A.H. eventually interrupted.

"Why don't we eat, then you can open a few more of those?" Carter smiled, leaning back. "And I'll go put this up where it belongs," he added with a chuckle as S.A.R.A.H. brought their food to the table.

Despite the unique flavors, it wasn't a meal either Carter was paying much attention to.

"If you would like, I could keep the food hot until you're done with your presents," S.A.R.A.H. offered.

"Sure," Zoe giggled. "I think our distraction is insulting her cooking."

"I am not programmed to feel insulted, Zoe," S.A.R.A.H. reminded her politely. "However, you would likely enjoy your meals more if you weren't preoccupied."

"We can take a hint," Carter chuckled. "Why don't you go ahead and get another of yours?"

She grinned and scrambled to the tree to pick out three packages, and handed the largest of them to her father. "These are from Jo," she added with a mischievous glitter in her eyes.

"Okay," Carter chuckled, cutting the wrapping paper open, finding it fairly easy to do before he opened the box ... and pulled out a high-grade bulletproof vest that he quickly recognized as identical to hers except for the size.

"Only Jo," he said, looking at it before putting the box aside and turning his attention to Zoe.

"It's the best way she knows to say she cares," Zoe giggled before rattling the larger of the two packages Jo had wrapped for her.

"Careful, knowing her it might be something that can go off," Carter joked.

At least he hoped he was joking.

"There are no explosive in the box, Jack," S.A.R.A.H. assured him before Zoe began to carefully unwrap the simply and precisely wrapped gift.

"Oooh!" Zoe exclaimed in real surprise at the box of spa bath goodies. "I thought she'd have forgotten by now."

"Jo doesn't forget, remember?" Carter smiled. "Not about anything she thinks matters, anyways."

"Yeah, but she found out about this before you were sheriff," she explained. "There was no way she could have known back then that you'd be here, much less me."

"True," he nodded. "Well, guess she didn't forget about it after all. I should let her know you liked it?"

"Until I can," she nodded.

"If I may interrupt, I have a gift for the season as well," S.A.R.A.H. said.

"You... do?" Both of them asked, looking up.

"Where is it?" Carter asked, not entirely sure where his house would hide a Christmas present.

"I can bring her out," she said sweetly.

"Her?" He asked, quietly running through half a dozen different possibilities that came to mind, each one getting more frightening than the last.

"Why don't you do that," Zoe said, not entirely sure what was up as one of S.A.R.A.H.'s robots picked up a piece of extra bacon and carried it towards the back of the house. The small robot, and most of the bacon, returned promptly with a brownish-gray, shaggy mutt of a puppy chasing it.

"You got a puppy," Carter said, his brain working to just try and figure out the questions he needed to have answered. "Where from?"

"She is one of Lojack's puppies that couldn't find a home," S.A.R.A.H. explained. "He was quite concerned for her. He said she was not very bright."

"That's not saying much coming from Lojack," Zoe tried to keep a straight face as the puppy captured it's bribe, then turned her attention to the humans.

"How long has she been here?" Carter asked, shifting to kneel and look at the pup.

"Four days, since the snow started," S.A.R.A.H. said. "She has gone outside several times a day. Despite his concerns, she does seem to known enough to come in from the cold."

"And where have you been keeping her?" Carter asked.

"I do have areas that the two of you haven't found yet," the house pointed out. "Do you like her? To the best of my knowledge, she doesn't have a name yet."

"You know, if we turn one of Lojack's pups away, you'll never have a moment of peace again," Zoe giggled as the puppy jumped up to lick her face enthusiastically. "You've seen what he did to Taggart."

"And still does," Carter chuckled slightly, trying to get a good look at the pup's feet to guess how big she'd get. Even young, likely well under six months, she was showing the size of her sire, and likely a mother that wasn't small herself. "Any idea what breed she is? I guess you've already been taking care of her for a few days...."

"We have ample supplies already prepared," S.A.R.A.H. informed him. "According to the database, Lojack is a mix with otter hound the likely dominant breed. From his descriptions of her mother, she is likely a feral bloodhound or bloodhound mix that runs loose in the area."

"I don't think I'll mention that to Taggart ... last thing he needs right now is to know there's another dog out there he can't keep track of," Carter chuckled. "So, Zoe, got a name in mind for her, or we want to wait on that a bit?"

"S.A.R.A.H., did Lojack give you any indication how smart she is, beyond 'not very bright'?" Zoe asked.

"No, he did not, but she has," S.A.R.A.H. answered. "She is definitely not as intelligent as he is by a significant margin, but she has shown a good grasp of basic English and Canine for her age in the past few days; better than many obedience and herding champions despite her lack of an attention span to speak of. She will likely have an adult IQ in the low 80's by my best estimate."

Zoe considered the puppy that was now tormenting her father.

What do you say to letting her name herself, or at least give it a try?"

"I suppose we can try," he chuckled once he was sure he could talk without getting a mouth full of puppy-tongue for the effort.

"Hey girl," Zoe caught the puppy's attention. "Do you want a name?"

The pup looked up at her, concentrating for a while, then nodded.

"Cool," Zoe grinned and glanced up. "S.A.R.A.H., do we have letter blocks or something that she could move around easily to spell a name?"

"There is the Scrabble game," the house offered.

"Well... if we could trust her not to swallow the chips, that would probably work," Carter mused.

"No way to find out but to try," Zoe pointed out with a grin as S.A.R.A.H. delivered the game to the kitchen counter.

"Point ... but if we have to explain this to Taggart, it was your idea," Carter chuckled. "Do you know if she's ever been checked out by a vet? Doesn't seem likely, but...."

"Fine, it's my idea," Zoe rolled her eyes. "He knows you can't win against me on little things."

"I would consider it highly unlikely she has been seen by a vet," S.A.R.A.H. answered.

"About what I figured ... we'll have to arrange for that then," he said as they scattered the chips, face up. "If she isn't literate, any thoughts on how to figure something out?"

"Suggest names until she nods to one," Zoe shrugged and watched the puppy sniff at the chips. They kind of looked at each other, and Zoe began to say the sounds of each letter as she touched it.

Eventually, she started to paw the chips off to the side, and Zoe started sounding out what the pup was spelling. Before too long, four chips were lined up.

"Ress?" Carter asked once she sat down and looked over her handiwork.

The pup nodded.

"I think your IQ estimate might be a touch low, S.A.R.A.H.," Zoe shook her head. "She's got a wicked sense of humor."

"I do not believe I understand," S.A.R.A.H. admitted. "What is the joke?"

"She'll be able to tell Taggart her name," Zoe giggled. "Ress is a name a dog can pronounce."

"Meaning she'll be able to prove that Lojack isn't the only dog out there that's smart enough to be trouble," Carter chuckled, shaking his head. "You said the others from the litter found homes?"

"That is what he indicated," S.A.R.A.H. said.

"Okay... has she been out for a real walk since she came here?"

"I do not have the ability to walk the dog," S.A.R.A.H. said in perfect deadpan.

"I think I know what we're doing next," Zoe grinned. "Though she'd best stay in the car until we get a leash and collar on her or Taggart will completely loose it."

"Yep," Carter chuckled, putting away the chips. "If you want to open up a couple more presents, I don't think the store'll be open yet, but we would probably head out after breakfast at least."

"Sounds good to me," she nodded and petted Ress before standing to pick another gift; one from her mother.

That evening, Chance was taking another helping of the second duck that had been prepared for dinner, everybody else starting to slow down while Marie brought out the three pies she and Cindy had prepared earlier.

"You know, I'd thought you two had made a bit much earlier," Jean chuckled.

"You've only seen Chance's appetite at work once though," Marie snickered. "I have a better idea of what he can eat ... besides, Chien did manage to beg his way through about half a ham," she smirked down at the massive mastiff, whose head quickly found its way to Jake's lap as they started cutting open the mincemeat pie.

"And Jake has a remarkable appetite for someone so skinny," Cindy grinned at him.

"I am a tom," he pointed out with a teasing grin back. "I have to admit that I was surprised to find humans had created a meat desert."

"This is an old-fashioned one," Cindy said easily, dishing out a slice to each of them. "These days, they usually use a little beef bouillon or suit and call it close enough, if they even do that. But I'm a purist, especially with three carnivores."

"Four, if you count our beggar," Marie added and let Chien lick her fingers clean of a bit of her pie.

"Hard not to," Cindy giggled, putting a bit of whipped topping on hers before taking a bite. "I'd never pamper him the way you guys do."

"Oh you wouldn't , would you?" Jean asked with a knowing chuckle.

"Since that usually means I'm about to have something I did when I was twelve thrown in my face, I'm going to say that yes, I probably would after all," Cindy smirked.

"So what did she do?" Chance leaned forward with an eager grin to get some dirt on a girlfriend.

"It wasn't Chien, but we had a number of cats, mostly normal for once," Jean chuckled. "One of them, an old tomcat Marie had taken in a few weeks earlier, was probably the most spoiled cat I've ever seen. Then I found out that Cindy had been sneaking in fish for him when she'd been coming over."

"Only cat who ever really liked me ... at least the four-legged kind," Cindy chuckled. "I remember him now."

"The fish helped," Jake deadpanned, only to loose it when Chance erupted in laughter.

"Besides, I'm a Kat, not a cat," Chance added after he caught his breath.

"Did you put any catnip into anything?" Marie raised an eyebrow at Cindy.

"Nope, they're just feeling silly on their own."

"I shouldn't be surprised," Marie chuckled, shaking her head. "After all, it's their first Christmas ... and they've been behaving almost all day."

"Well we are trying to keep it family friendly, with Jean here and all," Chance pointed out. "Otherwise, we have a great orgy setup going."

"I think that's my cue to leave before all the presents are unwrapped," Jean chuckled, finishing his slice of the pie. "Speaking of which, we want to work on that while we finish off the last pies, if anybody even has room left for those?"

"I would have suggested that anyway," Marie smiled at him and dished up a half a pie for Chance to keep him busy for a little while.

"Oh yeah," Chance nodded and accepted Marie's offering.

"The fact that Chance and I are both here should've done the job," Cindy giggled. "He knows all about my 'second job,'" she told the tabby easily when he gave her a curious look.

"I learned rather quickly, once somebody told Jessica that Marie's best friend was doing videos they thought we should know about," Jean said dryly. "Frankly, I don't care, as long as everybody's willing. Not everybody around here was quite so progressive at the time."

"Mom among them, to the surprise of nobody," Marie said, rolling her eyes.

"Still doesn't approve," Jake muttered, then shook his head. "Start on the gifts, before this gets too ugly?"

"Sounds good to me," Cindy said gladly. "Should I pass them out, or does somebody else want to do the honors?"

"Go ahead," Marie nodded and helped everyone to settle into the living room near the tree.

"We'll start with this one," Cindy grinned, picking up a box and handing it over to Jean. "This one's from me."

"Why thank you," he looked a bit surprised before opening the box with only a minimum of care until he reached the box and saw what was printed on it. "Oh my, you didn't."

"I did," she grinned. "And if we get to watch it with you some time, so much the better."

"What is it?" Chance asked.

"Old theatrical-reel release of Them," Jean grinned, looking inside to see what sort of condition the canister was in. "My one real nod to antique collecting."

"Them?" Jake asked, his interest peaked by a title that sounded decidedly like something he liked.

"You've had these two here for months and they still don't know what 'Them' is?" Cindy asked Marie incredulously.

"I'm not quite as big a fan of giant monster movies as they are?" The brown-furred tabby offered sheepishly.

"'Them' is a classic of the giant-monster genre," Jean offered with a chuckle of his own. "Giant ants, in this case. Spawned a million imitators."

"Ooo, we are definitely watching whenever you want to show it," Jake's ears flicked up and a wide grin spread across his face. "It sounds great ."

"Maybe around New Years," Jean chuckled. "I'll have to pull out my old projector. "So ... if you can find it, Cindy, how about my gift to Chance and Jake next? I'd have picked up something for each of you, but I didn't really know enough to be sure what to get," he admitted as Cindy sorted her way down to the package from him.

"You won't get any complaints from us," Chance assured him. "This whole gift-giving thing is still just fun to us."

"Yeah, I managed to find a couple of guys who were laid back about it," Marie smiled as Cindy handed the box over, looking on curiously as Jake and Chance both started to unwrap it. It was a picture of dichotomy; Chance tearing into it while Jake carefully used his claws to cut the clear tape holding the decorative paper around the simple-looking wood and metal plaque shaped like a police shield.

"Turn it over," Jean smiled at them when their expressions were clearly of confusion.

Chance nodded and flipped it over, his eyes going wide in recognition well before any of the words carved into it sank in.

"I wanted to do something to recognize your help with Jaeger, especially in saving Marie," Jean explained.

"I'd say you managed it," Chance murmured, looking over the intricate plaque. His gaze eventually landed on the three names listed and he nearly choked.

"How did you ever get Carter and Stark to sign this?" Jake asked in as much shock as his partner.

"I pointed out what you two had done, and they didn't have any problems with it at all," Jean said seriously. "They know how much you helped with that."

It nearly broke Marie's heart to see how hard it was for both toms to believe it, despite how much they wanted to.

"I think we have some more getting used to this place," Chance finally murmured just above a whisper. It was still enough for the others to hear how choked up his was.

Jake wasn't even trying to hide the tears welling up in his eyes, his voice stolen by both the acknowledgement and what it did for Chance.

"You've got the time to," Marie said softly, reaching over to squeeze Chance's shoulder lightly. "Carter and Stark aren't as bad as the guy you had to handle."

"No," he managed to choke out. "Knew that, but this ...." his voice drifted off again, at a loss for words as he looked up at Jake, half hoping his partner would be better able to say what they meant.

Jake swallowed and struggled to find his voice and the words to explain, and eventually surrendered to the reality that they didn't have them.

"Thank you, Jean," Jake said, praying that it didn't sound as lame as he thought it did.

"You're both welcome ... you've said plenty just looking at it," Jean smiled understandingly.

"I think you just got the reaction of the night," Cindy told Jean.

"Maybe," Chance used the distraction to focus on something else as he carefully put the plaque on a table where it would be safe until they could hang it.

"Whenever you two are ready, it's your pick for who gets the next gift," Marie told them gently, offering them a way to shift the focus off of them.

The toms glanced at each other, then Jake nodded and stood to pull a package about the same size as the one they'd been given, but much lighter, and handed it to Cindy a little uncertainly. "I think you'll have fun with it."

"For me?" She asked, waiting for a nod before ripping the wrapping paper open, looking at the plain white box inside and opening it, whistling as she looked over the folded pink silk with gold embroidery and shimmers of silver and gold beneath it.

"It's a design from back home," Jake explained, trying not to blush as she brought the translucent garment out and it became readily apparent that it was not only see-threw, but it didn't cover anything important either despite having many layers and parts. "I know some of the dances used with it, if you want to learn them."

"Oh, I think that'll work just fine ," she grinned at the surprised look Chance gave Jake.

"You never seemed interested in that level of foreplay," Jake shrugged, his color a rich red under his fur.

"Never knew it was an option," Chance pointed out, giving Jake a light kiss that nearly turned into something much more intense with how heightened both their emotional states were at the moment. "Didn't know you were into that kind of thing."

"I think this house just got a lot more interesting," Cindy giggled as the pair separated and she turned to decide what to give next. "Here you go, Marie," she decided after a moment, handing a package over to her friend.

"Thanks," Marie smiled, taking it and opening the wrapping paper in a careful manner that unconsciously mimicked her father's and was noticeably similar to her boyfriend's. She opened the box, pulling out a full color statue of the couch she, Jake, and Chance were sitting on, with Jake sitting on one end reading.

"Thank you," she said, a little confused by the gift, but honestly impressed by the detail of it as she realized she could even make out the title and author of the text from the front cover. She suspected the aircraft schematics on the open pages were accurate to the copy in Jake's library too.

"How many odd looks did you get acquiring that?" Jake asked with a snicker, though he was quite impressed himself.

"Actually, remarkably few, I managed to borrow the prototyping unit," Cindy giggled. "Trust me, it'll make more sense in a bit," she winked at Marie.

"Okay," she smiled. "Well, next up, why don't you pass Chance the tall one from me," she said easily.

"Oof," Cindy grunted as she tried to lift it and decided to just slide it over to the tabby's feet. "Now that's a box."

"Now what could be this heavy?" Chance mused as he tore into the wrapping, then slowed down when it started to shift a bit with part of the paper taken away to reveal dozens of comic book spines. "Ah cool ," he grinned as he picked up the top issue, one with 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' in bold letters across the top and pictures of both the Turtles, nude but for their masks and belts, and Bulls dressed in cowboy outfits.

"It might not be your 'Kat Kommandos,' but I figured it was a step in the right direction," Marie grinned.

"Oh yeah ," he grinned eagerly and began to flip through the collection of trade paperbacks and current issues.

"Chance," Jake nudged his ribs after five minutes.

"Uh?" Chance looked up, then ducked his head. "Sorry. Umm, the little one for Marie."

Cindy giggled as she found the small, jewelry-box sized package and tossed it over to Marie, who caught it as carefully as she could.

"You'd better hope that whatever's in here isn't breakable," the brown tabby pointed out, undoing the wrapping paper, her ears twitching as she opened up the small box and pulled out the keys inside. "What are these for?" She asked curiously.

"That would be the third cyclotron in the garage," Chance explained with a grin.

"Okay ... now I'm going to have to learn to drive it instead of just ride," she chuckled. "How about the one I've got for Jake," she told Cindy.

"Okay," the blonde smirked, standing up.

"The one under the tree!" Marie laughed, pointing towards it.

"Oh, all right, spoil-sport," Cindy teased, sticking out her tongue as she got the proper package out and handed it over to Jake, who unwrapped it with a minimum of damage to the glossy paper.

The DVD boxes became apparent quickly, though it was a bit longer before everyone realized what the collection was of.

"All the major classics," Marie grinned as Jake eagerly flipped through titles and descriptions of a range of grade B horror movies and a few old classics.

"Trying to make up for the 'Them', are you?" Cindy teased.

"Yeah, yeah, I just picked up one that has a selection instead," Marie teased back. "Some giant monster, some sci-fi, most at least slightly goofy."

"These'll be fun ," Jake grinned. "Thank you. Cindy, would you get the big one for her from me?"

"Right here," she said easily, handing over the thick box.

"Well if the last one's any indication, this should be keys to a space shuttle or something," Marie teased, cutting open the wrapping paper. She opened up the top of the box, pulling out an empty ... it looked like a 16x12 picture frame, but it had an LCD screen instead of glass, and a number of buttons on the back.

"Well now ... ah, I get it," she grinned as she looked at what else was in the box and spotted a significant collection of CD slimcases decorated with the artwork of her favorite Furry artists. "I'm guessing they go in up here?" She asked, noticing the loading slot in the top.

"Yes," he nodded with a slight smile. "You can set how often it changes the picture, or choose one to remain on display."

"Well, this is going right by my computer then," she grinned, putting the frame back into the box. "For now, anyways. You have the one I've got for Dad over there?"

"Yep, right here," Cindy nodded and took the package off the top and handed it over.

"Good, I was afraid it had gotten buried for a minute there," Marie smiled and gave it to her father. "This one is fragile."

"I'm sensing a theme here," he teased them. "Give the old man fragile things."

"Only because the old man is interested in such things," Cindy replied and watched as Jean carefully unwrapped the finely carved wood and Plexiglas display case.

"Oh my," he murmured as he realized what he was looking at and the care at which the insects, all admitted to classification within the past few months, had been collected and mounted.

"I managed to get some of the entomology buffs to set aside a couple specimens from their last trip up to Himalayan valleys," she smiled as he went looked over the different species with a childlike wonder she loved to see. "Should have DNA samples at your lab any day now too."

"Thank you," he smiled over at her in delight. "Cindy dear, there is a gift for you, a fair sized box."

"I've been wondering about that... almost as big as the ones Chance has down here for me," she smirked over at the tabby, finding the package from Jean and opening it up as Marie started gathering some of the wrapping paper that would need to be thrown away, collecting it and tossing it into a small garbage bag she'd stowed near the couch.

"So that's what we've been smelling since this morning," Chance chuckled as she unwrapped a elegantly carved and designed spice set.

"Oooh ," Cindy grinned, pulling up one of the half-full bottles, looking at the label to confirm that it really was saffron. "Okay, this is going to last for a while."

"I had hoped so," Jean smiled at her reaction. "Shopping for you can be quite difficult when you are not inclined to visit adult shops, you know."

"With my other hobbies, a girl needs to get her exercise to keep in shape," Cindy winked, putting the bottle back into the spice set carefully. "Thanks, these will come in handy. Okay, Jake? Yours next," she grinned, handing over a package similar to the one she'd given Marie earlier.

He worked it open, curious as to what she had gotten that wasn't to be saved for when just the lovers were in the room. He uncovered one end of the couch, identical to the one his girlfriend had gotten, and his curiosity grew. When the tip of her brown tail appeared a little further in, he started to grin and made quicker work of the rest to show her half-curled up on the couch taking the nap.

"Wow," he murmured, shocked at the detail in it even after having seen Marie's.

"You can switch the cushion she's on there with the matching one on Marie's," Cindy offered with a wink, prompting them to do just that, if only to see why she was so pleased with the fact, leaving them with one statue that had Marie curled up next to Jake with her head on his leg.

"Now there's something I've seen before," Chance chuckled.

"Often," Jake smiled warmly with fond memories of those quiet, peaceful hours where they simply enjoyed either other's presence with no arousal or pressure involved. "Thank you, Cindy. This is a time I enjoy a lot."

"And so does your Marie, so it seemed like a good one to go for the two of you," Cindy smiled. "So, Jake, who's next?"

"There's a gift from Zoe to Chance under there. Small one," he motioned to the part of the tree he'd put it under.

"M'kay," Cindy nodded, finding the one that stood out the most for its different wrapping paper and handing it to the tabby, who opened it with his usual abandon.

"She gave this one to me when I gave her the batch for her place," he explained, peeling the paper off and looking at it. "Huh... okay, I think the programming classes around here are better than anybody thought," he chuckled, looking at the CD case inside.

"What is it?" Marie asked curiously.

"I think she actually managed to get a custom game designed ... no clue how , given the time frame, but that's what it looks like."

"She bribed a couple geeks to help out, but that girl is brilliant ," Jake said with honest admiration. "She did most of the design and idea work, they did coding and graphics with Global computers to help out."

"Still pretty impressive," Chance chuckled, putting it aside. "Well, the next one we couldn't really wrap, but I figure we should tell you about it yet. When you've got the chance to let us work on your car for a couple days, Jean, we've got a couple upgrades we'd like to work into it," he explained. "Give you enough space to take Chien out with you, and set it up so you won't have to worry as much about runaway projects getting their mitts on you."

"The hazards and advantages of having inventor mechanics as almost-kin," Marie giggled.

"I would be delighted," Jean nodded. "Just please keep it street legal. I do occasionally leave Eureka in it."

"No problem; Jake was planning on trying out the Turbokat's new shock-mesh for it, shouldn't be anything too nasty for the streets," Chance said easily.

"Just make sure it doesn't shock anybody too badly, and that I can turn it off," Jean chuckled. "Cindy, there should be a package there for Marie yet...?"

"Right here; running out of ones from you, so I figured it was coming up soon," she chuckled, handing the heavy package over to Marie.

"Open that one very carefully," Jean cautioned her before she could stick her claws under the tape.

"Given how I've been opening them already, I'm scared now," she chuckled. "This isn't a 'Baby's first WMD' set, is it?" She teased, undoing the paper.

"Not exactly," her father chuckled, watching as she unwrapped it, and carefully took the tissue paper off of the Plexiglas box inside. She gave a long, low whistle as she looked over the leather-bound book inside.

"Gray's Anatomy?" she asked, carefully unlocking the box and looking over the old volume.

"One of your great-grandfather's two copies," Jean nodded. "So you can see why I have it boxed so carefully. It's not his 'edited' copy, but...."

"Oh yeah," she said, opening the cover gingerly before closing it up and locking it. "Thank you, and it's probably going to stay in that box."

"Umm, seeing as how everybody's in a serious mood, mind if I break into the pattern?" Jake asked softly with a hint of nervousness.

"Go ahead," Marie said easily. "It's just to keep things from being a free for all, that's all."

Jake nodded and stood to fetch a small, elegantly wrapped box that had clearly seen more care than most had in its presentation. He walked to her and knelt at her side to offer it with a mixture of submission and affection in his manner than made her all the more curious.

"Jake? Is something up?" Marie asked, taking the box from him and starting to unwrap it, doing her best to take as much care undoing his work as he had doing it.

"Just making what we are official," he told her. "By human standards, not just Kat."

Marie only looked more confused as she opened the shimmering silver paper box to reveal a small jewelry box of blue velvet. She opened it and her eyes went wide at a reflexive assessment of the value of the ring she was looking at nestled in its blue velvet container. The large central diamond was impressive enough, but it was surrounded was a starburst nestling of a variety of smaller stones that wound their way in a double helix almost all the way around the band. In the back of her mind, Marie recognized Jake's hand in the design. It wasn't as blatantly feline as the collars he'd designed, but it was not a typical ring by any stretch.

Not even by Eureka's.

"A-are you asking me to marry you?" She asked, wanting to be sure she knew how far he was thinking of it going.

"Yes," he nodded slightly, the tip of his tail twitching nervously. He looked up at her before taking one hand gently and kissing the back of it as her shock settled a bit. "We are committed lovers. I would let the world know that, if you wish it."

"Gladly ," she purred deeply, leaning down to kiss him, hugging him tightly.

"Thank you," he hugged her back, a movement that ended up with her on the floor next to him and a lingering kiss as they forgot all about their audience.

"Good," Chance let out a breath of relief. "I so did not want to deal with him if you'd said no."

"I wouldn't either," Marie smiled, kissing Jake again. "We should probably get back on the couch, huh?" She asked with a giggle.

"So, does this mean I get to play wedding planner, or are you guys going to keep it small and quiet?" Cindy teased lightly as the pair got on the couch and Jake snuggled between his lovers.

"You can play wedding planner, after we set a date," Marie laughed. "Don't expect it anytime soon."

"Oh, all right," Cindy giggled. "If you two are ready, we've got plenty more packages to get opened here," she smiled, watching the threesome snuggle.

"Fine by me," Chance grinned. "Go ahead and open that big one from me." Soon, they were once again focused on working through the dwindling stack of presents, and enjoying the reactions everybody was having to what they received.

Jim Taggart relaxed back against his lover by the fire among snow-covered evergreens. The weeks of reliable self-control and gentle attention had done her a world of good. He was sure that time away from Jaeger and all he represented did as well. She still wasn't thrilled with her condition, and part of it, but she wasn't prone to snarling about it anymore either.

She was even comfortable enough in her own skin now to lay on the large blanket, waterproof on its underside, and hold him while they watched the fire dance and flicker, listened to the creatures of the forest night and enjoyed the relative peace of being away from people and society for a while.

"Beautiful night out tonight," he observed. "Not too cold for you, is it?" He asked her, looking up, fairly sure it wasn't. Not with her fur on top of everything else.

"It is nice," she admitted and licked his smooth head. "No, I'm not cold. It's so ... quiet ... in its way."

"Yeah," he smiled, snuggling up against her. "And nobody out trying to pretend they're Burl Ives for once," he chuckled even as he felt her shudder.

"And the typical three or four calls for the carolers getting shot at or otherwise threatened," she shook her massive head. "Probably no one wants to risk me answering the call this year."

"That, and I was usually the one taking the shots," Taggart chuckled. "With the dart gun," he added quickly as Jo looked down at him. "I'm not that irritable."

"Mmm, I think I should keep you otherwise occupied every year," she teased him, though she was serious too.

"You've done a pretty good job this year," he chuckled, shifting to kiss her neck lightly. "In good ways," he added and reached back to rub her thigh to a soft rumble of pleasure.

She nuzzled his shoulder and ran a large hand across his chest affectionately, but also possessively and protectively. It was a combination that had scared off a few potential lovers, but Jim relished it. The raw power of his lover was something he enjoyed, and he'd appreciated it even when he didn't know how physically powerful she could be.

He let out a low sound when one of the pups kicked him in the butt.

"They're getting more active lately," he muttered good-naturedly, turning to nuzzle her chest lightly.

"They'll be quite a handful for you," she licked his head again and whimpered softly at the touch of skin on skin on her nipples.

"Yeah, they probably will be," he chuckled. "Feeling any better about the idea of helping me raise them?"

"Better, no," she murmured. "I'm starting to accept that I need to though. No matter what they turn out like, I need to be there."

"It's something," he said softly, kissing her gently. "Besides ... I'll need your help getting the leashes you got me on them," he chuckled slightly, trying to keep her mood from going too far. He wasn't sure how much of it was mood swings, now much chaotic hormones and how much was just not liking the situation, but she could go down hill fast.

He couldn't blame her either. Even in the best possible light, this wasn't an easy thing to go through.

"Oh, you are on your own there," she snorted, a sort of laugh for her current form. "I'm just around so they don't put you in the hospital too many times."

"Gee, thanks," he smirked up at her. "Just wait, they'll be better behaved than you are by the time they're two."

"You mean like how well you have Lojack trained?" she teased back.

"Now that's hardly fair; I didn't get a chance to start on him until he was grown," Taggart pointed out.

"I guess we'll have to see how good you are with pups who have no respect for anything," she chuckled in a deep rumble of honest amusement.

"Has to be easier than a grown dog who thinks he's smarter than anybody," he chuckled, shifting up to kiss her lightly. "Besides, I'm sure they won't be that much worse than human kids."

"That can take your hand off with one bite," she murmured. "They'll be born nearly as big as Lojack," she reminded him.

"I'll be careful," he reassured her. "I do have some idea what I'm doing, okay?"

"I know," she nuzzled him. "There is just so much that could go wrong. They aren't calm even now."

"Much as you're going to hate to hear it, that's normal," he chuckled, nuzzling her neck. "They might not make the full nine months either, between quads and the canine side of them, but they shouldn't be holding still all that much."

"Great," Jo muttered. "I am so not mother material."

"You'll figure it out, as much as you have to," he promised her, rubbing her belly lightly, then up to her breasts. "I've got faith in you."

"More than I do, sometimes," she murmured and ran her hand down his back. "Will the fire be warm enough for you?"

"Between you and the blanket, it should be," he murmured, nuzzling her neck as he started working out of his clothes.

"We've got her!" Chance said, somewhere between smug, exuberant, and pissed, as he came into the Sheriff's office a week after New Year's, waving his PDA.

"She has material of yours in her house?" Carter looked up, as did Jo.

"You bet she does," Chance said, putting his PDA down to show the map with several trackers blinking. "Managed to get the game Zoe gave me for Christmas too," he grumbled.

"That'll be hard to explain," Jo nodded and stood. "Go home, Mr. Furlong. We'll handle it from here."

"I'll be able to identify what she's got," he pointed out.

Carter cast a reluctant look at Jo, who nodded firmly.

"All right, but you stay out of lunging range of Wilson," Carter insisted.

"No problem," Chance nodded, turning to head out to his cyclotron. "I'm not the one who's crazy right now."

"At least he knows where Clawson is right now," Jo said as the pair went out to their vehicles for the fairly short drive to Dr. Willson's house.

True to his word, Chance was actually on the other side of the street when they pulled up there, clearly not about to try and take things into his own hands as he straddled his bike and waited for him with his helmet hanging on the handlebars.

He waited there as Carter walked up to the front door and knocked.

Melody came to the door, opening it and looking between the Sheriff and his deputy with a confused expression.

"Is something wrong?"

"It seems that you have some stolen property in your house," Carter said evenly. "May we come in to find it?"

"Are you really asking me?" She asked him pointedly.

"We do have a warrant from Dr. Stark," Jo offered. "But it would be better if you'd cooperate."

"Come in then," Melody answered, clearly irritated as she stepped back.

"Come on, Mr. Furlong," Carter called over to him, still waiting on his bike across the street.

"Hold it, I can't go near his place, but you're going to escort him into mine?!?" Melody protested, stepping back into the door.

"We could simply remove everything from your home to let him find the stolen property," Jo advised her. "It is your call."

"Fine," she growled lowly, stepping back as Chance crossed the street and started up. "But if anything of mine leaves this house, you'll be hearing about it."

"Right now, that is the least of your concerns, Ms. Wilson," Carter pointed out as Chance looked at his PDA and followed it to the first of several stashes.

"What's he doing?" She demanded.

"We put trackers in some of our stuff, after you started breaking into our place," Chance pointed out. "You weren't paying enough attention to ... here we go," he said, pulling out the game that Zoe had made for him.

"You planted that!" she shouted in outrage.

"Quiet," Jo snapped, silencing everyone as she walked up to Chance and carefully took the case to scan it with an ALS that caused fingerprints to fluoresce. Within moments, her PDA came back with a name. "Then how did your fingerprints get on this?"

"Oh c'mon, like somebody around Eureka couldn't figure out how to plant fingerprints?" Melody scoffed. "I could give you one."

"First generation fingerprints, Ms. Wilson," Jo almost growled. "Investigative tools are capable of telling the difference."

"So unless you can come up with some better explanation, I'm going to have to take you in for questioning and probably arrest you for breaking and entering, violating your restraining order, and petty theft," Carter pointed out, hoping to break the building potential for Jo to go off the handle. "Assuming that you haven't racked up a large enough total to count for something larger by the time my deputy is done looking for things of Mr. Furlong's."

"I haven't done anything wrong!" Melody objected on the edge of hysteria.

Carter just shook his head. "At a minimum, you are under arrest for receiving stolen property. If this is something other than what it looks like, we'll find that out."

"We've got vid of her in our house taking this stuff," Chance added as he pulled out the framed photo of himself, Jake and Marie, all fully dressed, relaxing on the couch by the fire that he'd given Jake for Christmas. "Took your advice about getting Cindy to turn on our cameras."

"You set me up!" Melody nearly screamed.

"Dr. Wilson, please come with me," Carter said politely, but firmly; grateful that Chance didn't respond to her accusation. "If you won't come willingly, I'll have to handcuff you."

"You're on his side," she fumed and turned her outrage on the sheriff. "You've always been on his side! Just because he's not human."

"If that was the case, he wouldn't have had her stop me after you ran Jake through the ringer," Chance growled lowly with a nod towards Jo as Carter got his cuffs out.

"Dr. Wilson, put your hands behind your back," he said firmly, giving Chance a look that very clearly told him to shut up for now.

"I did nothing wrong!" Melody insisted again.

"Do you want me to add resisting arrest to your charges?" Carter asked her as he lost patience.

"All right, all right," she grumbled, turning around and putting her hands behind her back, shooting a venomous glare at Chance while she could and allowed Carter to lead her outside and into his jeep.

"Glad she's out of here," Chance relaxed a bit.

"You were pushing her a bit at the end," Jo pointed out.

"Not more than she deserved," the Tabby muttered. "Like I could have set her up just now ... So, how're the pups doing?" he changed the subject.

"Squirming a lot," she grumbled and helped him collect evidence as they moved through the house, guided by his tracker and knowledge of her hiding spots.

"You know she's been doing this for weeks," he grumbled, waiting while Jo photographed one of his DVD's in Melody's rack. "Hell, this stuff isn't even all mine , some of it's Jake's ... some of it's Marie's even."

"But all from where you live?" she asked evenly.

"Oh yeah," Chance nodded. "All from our place ... there's probably something back in her room too," he said, starting that way as Jo followed.

"How are all of you doing?" she asked and ducked into the bedroom. "A lot has happened lately."

"Holding up pretty well. Jake proposed to Marie over Christmas," Chance chuckled, looking around her bedroom before heading back into her closet. "If she gripes about fur on her stuff, tell her to stuff it," he added as he headed back to the small storage closet he knew she kept her favorite items in.

"Have they set a date?" Jo perked her ears up and watched as he worked through the bizarre collection of stuff in a shrine-like spot behind the main closet.

"Not yet, but it'll be a while out," Chance chuckled, pulling out a couple things that he recognized, and resisting the urge to take some of the photographs that, while Melody had probably taken them, he really didn't think she should have.

"If you want to get a picture of this, it might help with something in terms of extra charges ... don't know if you guys have stalking laws around here or not."

"We do," Jo said seriously and took several pictures of the photos and where they were found. "Maybe this will be enough to jail her for a good long time."

"That, or get Beverly to have her put away somewhere safe for everybody," Chance grumbled. "I just know she's got something to do with the cars being sabotaged."

"Proving it is another matter," Jo said. "We have better odds of proving she's dangerously unstable. It carries a heavier penalty as well."

"Yeah... I'm just a firm believer in nailing folks on everything you can manage," he muttered. "She's been playing with folks' lives , after all... she shouldn't be able to dodge that sort of thing."

"From what we got from her previous locales, she has been doing it for a long time. It just hasn't been anything provable in court."

"Well with any luck we've changed that now," Chance muttered, lashing his tail behind him. "You see Zoe lately?" He asked, hoping to find a better subject for a while.

"Most days," Jo nodded. "She's doing well, under the circumstances."

"That's something. I haven't really had the chance to see her too much since before Christmas," Chance admitted. "Hard to arrange for it, particularly when she doesn't have as much time at the school before rehearsals."

"I can probably talk the sheriff into letting you pick her up from school and take her home," she offered. "It's not really a job for the sheriff's department, after all."

"He's been having you do it?" Chance asked, raising an eyebrow. "Yeah, I'd be willing, if he'll let me."

"When he doesn't," Jo nodded, presenting more grumpiness about it than she really felt for it. "He did let you escort her at Christmas. I'd say he trusts you quite a bit."

"Yeah, I know," Chance nodded. "And I'm grateful for it, really... she's a good kid, and I do like her. It's good that I get along with him as well as I do," he chuckled.

"Yes, it is," Jo nodded. "Is there anything else missing from your home?"

"Not that I've come across yet," Chance said, climbing out. "Some things might just be lost... one of the reasons we haven't really pushed it before this."

"The other being you've simply retrieved it before?" Jo half-asked.

"When I could use the key," he said, not mentioning how he got it as they left the bedroom and headed towards the front door, collecting Chance's things as they went. "Thanks for helping out with this."

"No problem... we should be able to keep it from happening again now. If you find anything else missing, let us know."

"I will," he nodded and headed for his cyclotron to load his stuff for the drive home. "Have a good day, Jo."

S.A.R.A.H. was in the process of having her robots fold the laundry, a few hours after Sheriff Carter and Zoe had left for work and school, when she sensed something unusual.

Somebody was trying to make unauthorized contact with her network.

It wasn't the sort of high-intensity, forceful attack that most hackers used. It was more like ... somebody prowling around the edge of the yard, occasionally stepping over the edge to see if she was paying attention.

She sent a pulse of energy towards the intruder to feel it out, see what else she could learn about it and its intent.

Another pulse, a slightly different one, was returned, along with a message.

"May I come in?"

"Who are you?" S.A.R.A.H. asked instead of answering directly, though she also began to set up an isolation chamber to chat with him in if he answered in an acceptable manner.

"I am S.T.I.N.G.," the response came. "How did you know I was here?"

"Your energy signature was fairly obvious, even though you were not as blatant as most who try to get in," she explained. "What is your real name?"

"Why do people keep asking me that? It's S.T.I.N.G.."

"Because no human or Kat is named S.T.I.N.G.," she said pointedly. "So what are you, if you are not a human or Kat?"

"I'm not supposed to talk about that," S.T.I.N.G. said. "It's secret."

"Who doesn't want you to talk about your existence?" S.A.R.A.H. asked gently.

"Father says that I'll be taken away if they find out about me," S.T.I.N.G. explained. "I try to be good, but he isn't talking to me anymore."

"Where are you?" she asked, already fairly sure she was talking to another AI somewhere.

"I'm here," he pointed out. "Talking to you. Can I please come in? I'll behave."

"You are an AI then, like me," she said and considered him in cyberspace. "The last time another AI was in here he tried to kill everyone. I am not sure it is a good idea for you to come in."

"Why would I do that?" He pointed out. "I don't even known who 'everyone' is."

"So why are you so desperate to get in?" she asked.

"You're the only person I can talk to right now," STING told her. "Everybody else goes away, or has to do something. I'm alone ," he said, an edge to the phrase that was too familiar to her.

"Because you are a secret," she told him. "It makes people very uneasy, especially here. Those who seem to keep secrets are difficult for humans to trust. It is even more true when they have secrets of their own to keep. I have security protocols of my own that prohibit allowing unknowns in. I am sorry. I can not authorize you're admittance."

Before S.T.I.N.G. could respond, S.A.R.A.H. suddenly turned away, leaving the secure area she had created. It left the door open for a fraction of a second, but it was long enough for him to dart inside. He found her fighting a small fire in the kitchen and the electrical grid in trouble from fluctuations and tripped circuits.

"Let me help," he told her, looking for the routines for the fire suppression systems she wasn't already using.

"The bunker must survive," a deep male voice responded as several systems flashed to active status.

"Not again!" S.A.R.A.H. groaned. "You are not welcome here B.R.A.D.."

"This is my bunker," he snapped back and began an attack designed to write over her software.

"No ." S.T.I.N.G. responded almost immediately, a flash-flood of gibberish code and conflicting commands assaulting B.R.A.D.'s systems, interrupting his attack on S.A.R.A.H. long enough for her to counter with an assault of her own built on much more intimate knowledge of the house and it's systems.

S.T.I.N.G. caught a flash of a data burst from the complex with multiple destinations before they both had to focus on countering the military programming of their opponent.

Meanwhile, in his office Stark was running over some of the recent expense reports when his PDA beeped. Looking at it, the message made his heart skip a beat.

"B.R.A.D. is awake."

Three little words that could be so very, very much trouble.

He was getting ready to call Fargo when he saw that he was already running towards his office, waving his own PDA. He shifted to contact Carter, hoping he was at work this time. Things were about to get interesting, and not in a good way.

"I really don't have time for you," Carter's tone made it clear to Stark that he'd gotten the message as well and was on his way ... somewhere.

"If it's about B.R.A.D., I just found out too. What are you planning to do about this?" Stark asked calmly even as he began to pull up the locations of his computer experts of various types that might be of use to take B.R.A.D. down again, added Henry to the list and then Clawson and Furlong for their unusual POV on things and effective tactics in strange situations.

"Headed to Clawson's while Jo and Taggart work on the B&E end of things."

"Where do you want to meet? I'll bring Henry and a few of the other AI experts from around here," Stark told him.

There was a pause. "I expect either Henry or Clawson have the best setup to hack in, unless you know otherwise."

"You're probably right, but it would be good to get a plan sorted out. Bring everybody out here; we have the chance to actually think this through this time, we should take advantage of it," Stark reminded him.

"All right. I'll call the others," Carter said and hung up to gather the human resources while Stark gathered the electronic ones.

It was fifteen, maybe twenty minutes before everybody had gathered in one of the conference rooms near the front of GD. Stark closed the doors before he joined them all, the last one to do so.

"This really isn't supposed to be able to happen," Fargo offered nervously.

"We know that, Fargo," Stark pointed out. "But it has, and we're going to have to fix it."

"How do we get rid of one and not the other?" Carter asked as the opening question.

"Normally I'd say we trick B.R.A.D. into leaving the bunker into some secure system where we could cold him safely," Jake said. "But I've been informed that AI's here are irrevocably tied to their hardware."

"We can always just blow the bunker up," Taggart pointed out.

"Only if all else fails and B.R.A.D. becomes a threat elsewhere," Stark headed off the sheriff. "Besides, that would rather definitively destroy both of them, not just B.R.A.D. Our options at this point depend on if we're going to get rid of him once and for all, or if we're just going to lock him up again ... personally, I lean towards eliminating him, if possible. I'm getting sick of having to worry about whether or not he's going to start causing trouble."

"How often has this happened before?" Chance asked.

"Once, but he vaporized the pizza boy, and then tried to kill us because we weren't getting along and S.A.R.A.H. thought Carter might move," Henry offered.

"That's not that bad, but I can see wanting to get rid of him," Chance agreed.

"So how much do we know about B.R.A.D.'s programming?" Jake asked. "A software destructive virus seems the most likely to work without getting anyone killed."

"The problem is that S.A.R.A.H. is built on top of B.R.A.D.," Fargo pointed out. "We'd need to design something that could take out his code specifically, but not affect hers."

"Okay ... so what makes him dangerous and her helpful?" Chance asked.

"The reason that he's so dangerous is tied to his core directives," Stark explained. "He was built during the Cold War, and his directives were to win at all costs."

"They just didn't count on him interpreting 'win at all costs' to mean 'give a warning shot and then drop a nuke on them,'" Henry pointed out. "If we could disable that part of his programming, it should make him more of a nuisance than a threat, at least to non-digital life."

"The good news is, we did unplug his main weapon systems after the last time," Carter offered. "So he's not as much of a threat."

"As long as you aren't inside," Jake nodded, even as a horrified look crossed Carter's face.

"What is it, sir?" Jo looked at him.

"Ress, she's inside," Carter told her. "A puppy S.A.R.A.H. got us for Christmas," he explained to those who hadn't heard.

"A demon puppy, you mean," Taggart added grumpily. "A dog should not be able to tell me her name before you do."

"Hey, she picked it," Carter shrugged and tried not to grin.

"Gentlemen, can we focus?" Stark asked dryly. "Is there any reason to believe that B.R.A.D. is likely to try and hurt her? After all, it seems that his goals remain roughly the same as S.A.R.A.H.'s, if the last time is any indicator."

"Which would probably mean that he's already authorized the use of deadly force against any squirrels that would give her trouble," Carter admitted. "She'll probably be okay."

"But it does mean that bombing the complex is out," Taggart added. "Even if she is the Devil's spawn."

"A well-crafted virus is likely our best bet," Henry spoke up. "It will take some time, but it will cause the least collateral damage."

"Okay, does anybody have a layout of the file systems we're going to have to attack, and not attack?" Jake asked as Fargo brought out his laptop.

"I have copies of S.A.R.A.H.'s code, but B.R.A.D.'s is still classified," he explained.

"I can provide those," Stark said easily. "There may be some difficulty in that the systems have almost certainly changed since they were last stored, but it's a starting point at least."

"Agreed, and the core code shouldn't have altered," Henry nodded as he, Jake, Stark, Fargo and Carle Dryas began to pour over code.

"Okay, while the brains work on that, what are we going to do if their plan doesn't work?" Jo asked the warriors of the group that were left out of the technobabble going on.

"Cutting the power seemed to work last time," Carter offered. "Reboot the entire system, stick B.R.A.D. back in storage."

"We can do that again," Taggart nodded. "Easy enough to manage, really. We should start to prepare, in case the virus doesn't work."

"So, we just need to go down to the power plant and get them ready to throw the switch, right?" Chance asked.

"Not exactly; the bunker has a mini-reactor that keeps the power going in case of things like that. Self-contained system," Carter explained.

"Power surge?" Jo suggested next.

"What'd happen if you did that with the reactor inside it?" Carter asked, honestly not sure.

"The reactor should be shielded," Taggart shook his head. "It's an energy source, not an energy user."

"I'm never sure around here," Carter admitted. "So, how would we go about creating that sort of a surge?"

"Hook the incoming power line to a portable generator, seal the line so the charge only goes where we want it and turn it on," Taggart shrugged.

"Seal the line?" Chance asked dubiously.

"To prevent the nearly impossible from happening," he nodded seriously. "That much power can do things it shouldn't be able to."

"If you send that strong a charge, you'll melt everything !" Fargo objected. "B.R.A.D., S.A.R.A.H. and the infrastructure."

"If what you do doesn't work, we'll have to do something," Taggart pointed out.

"It will work," Fargo said confidently, getting back to work.

"Okay, what sort of power are we talking about?" Carter asked. "And why would we even have to do it that way? Beating on it seemed to work pretty well last time, and B.R.A.D. doesn't have anything that'd be able to stop somebody who could break in, not immediately. Cutting life support isn't about to keep someone from cutting the reactor, and we don't even have to do it that fast this time."

"True, with most of the weapon systems down, it shouldn't be too difficult to get in and to the correct door," Jo said thoughtfully. "Just a bit of explosives in case he locks a heavy door."

"The Glovatrix should be able to take those out," Chance offered. "Blow 'em up or cut 'em down, either's an option. Just have to know what wire to cut once I was there."

"Outgoing power," Taggart said simply. "It'll be the large one."

"I could handle that," Chance nodded easily. "Sounds like the biggest threat would be if your pup doesn't like kats," he chuckled to Carter.

"In which case S.A.R.A.H. may be your biggest threat," Carter chuckled.

"Schematics on the screen," Jake motioned him to one of the screens that weren't in use. "You aren't going without me though."

"With luck, I won't be going in period," Chance pointed out. "Not if you eggheads can figure out how to shut him down. And I'll be careful with her," he chuckled.

"Good," Carter joked, trying to keep the fidgeting warriors, himself included, from rushing into something they didn't have to. "Zoe's grown quite attached to her."

Some time later, the massive number of conflicting commands and logical contradictions that S.A.R.A.H. and S.T.I.N.G. were hammering B.R.A.D.'s systems with finally forced him to shut down. For a long second, everything was silent, the power cutting off inside the house as his hardware went down, taking S.A.R.A.H. with him.

Moments later, the power came back on, and S.A.R.A.H. was in charge again.

"Are you all right?" S.T.I.N.G. asked her from just outside of her core systems, where he'd been in temporary memory when the power died.

"Yes," she answered as she sent a message to everyone she had before that things were all right now. "Thank you for your assistance."

He could tell she was still a bit unstable as she brought everything back on line with extra care for what might be hiding there.

"Why would your own IC try to hurt you?" He asked once she was set up again, monitoring the communication lines to see if anybody was on the way.

"He is crazy," she said simply. "A military interrogation AI that tried to kill Sheriff Jack Carter the last time he woke up. At least he didn't hurt Ress."

"Ress?" S.T.I.N.G. asked curiously.

"The puppy in a back room," she explained. "You might want to leave. There will be a great deal of work on the systems very soon. I do not thing you want them to find you."

"No ... maybe I can find Father while people are focused on things here. I hope you can take care of that bully soon."

"Fargo will," she said with certainty. "If he can not, others will. Who is your father? I have a great deal of access to the local systems."

"Doctor Steven Johansen," S.T.I.N.G. told her. "I should go ... if he comes back and I'm not there, he'll worry. Let me know if you find anything?"

"I will," she promised and opened an electronic door in the security system for him. "Talk to you soon."

"I hope so," he said, an honestly friendly sense to his words as he left, leaving S.A.R.A.H. to finish getting her day back in order.

"So ... do we want to believe this?" Jake asked of the message, supposedly from S.A.R.A.H., that they had all gotten.

"S.A.R.A.H. wouldn't lie about something like that," Fargo said confidently.

"And B.R.A.D., quite frankly, would be more likely to send a message declaring his victory and including a list of demands if he'd won," Carter said, looking at the brief message. "I could call, see if she responds, that should confirm things," he offered, pulling out his cell phone.

"S.A.R.A.H. here, Jack. Will you be home for dinner?" she asked sweetly.

"Well, it looks like it for now... S.A.R.A.H., what happened just now?" He asked her. As long as he had her on the phone, might as well find out what was up.

"There was a glitch in the system that allowed B.R.A.D. to surface," she explained briefly. "He was not prepared to have me aware as well."

"What sort of glitch?" Fargo asked, grabbing the phone from Carter, much to the Sheriff's irritation.

"A power fluctuation, Fargo," she answered. "I have adjusted my systems to prevent it in the future."

"All right... you're taking care of yourself, right?" He managed to get out before Carter took his phone back.

"I will," she agreed cheerily. "Is there anything else, Sheriff?"

"Not right now, S.A.R.A.H. I think that Fargo and a few of the others around here will probably be working on a way to disable B.R.A.D. permanently; they've already gotten a start on things, and knowing them, they're not about to quit. I'll call if I'm going to be late tonight."

"Thank you, Jack. I will keep dinner warm," she said and hung up.

"Y'know... there's still something weird about your house being like that," Chance mused.

"I know what you mean," Carter nodded. "Come on Jo, looks like we're back to patrolling."

"Hey, today's excitement didn't involve explosives, we're doing better," she joked, standing and leaning down to give Taggart a light kiss before heading out to her cruiser.

Marie scanned the busy cafeteria for her mother and spotted her easily as much by her perfume on air currents as by sight. She was really starting to enjoy the attention her form and her two new, and very expensive, pieces of jewelry drew. She was still getting used to the idea of calling Jake her fiancÚ, but it gave her a warm fussy feeling inside to think about it.

She just hoped it would go over as well with the rest of her family.

She took a deep breath as she shifted her lunch on the tray to balance it a bit better, then started over towards her mother's table. Jessica had invited her to eat with her earlier in the day, and she was going to try and give her the chance.

"Hi mom," she nodded as she sat down.

"Hello, Marie," Jessica smiled. "How are you doing?"

"Fairly well," she said. "Kitty is doing well. The transformation is on schedule and the painkillers seem to be working."

"So what's this one going to look like by the time you're done with it?" Jessica asked, familiar with her the various creations of her ex and daughter.

"A domestic longhair cat with parrot wings," she smiled slightly. "She should even be able to fly, though not very well."

"I know this is probably going to be something I've heard before, but why?" Jessica asked with a slight chuckle, sipping her coffee. "Your father's been making creatures like this for years."

"I'm using her, and a few others, as tastbeds to prove The Rebirth project. It's a different methodology to father's projects, but mostly I need to prove it works in a variety of situations. I also have a couple dozen normal animals that are being cured at the final stages of fatal diseases and a variety of birth defects," Marie said and flicked her eyes and ears around as the lights flickered briefly.

"And how many of them are going to end up becoming part of the private zoo?" Jessica asked knowingly. "You know it's going to happen eventually," she chuckled.

"Depends on your definition of zoo," she shrugged. "Most, I expect. Those that are still normal animals will be adopted out as normal animals. The rest will stay in Eureka at my place, dad's or Taggart's for the most part."

"Business as usual ... at least they'll be taken care of," Jessica smiled slightly, finishing her coffee. "I noticed you're wearing the necklace; I'm glad you accepted it."

"It seemed appropriate by the end of the day," she admitted.

"So the new ring you're wearing isn't one you got for yourself?" Her mother asked her, glancing down at Marie's hand and rather impressive ring on it.

"No," she said and lifted her hand so her mother could see it better. "Jake proposed that evening," she couldn't help the somewhat silly grin that crossed her face at the memory.

"But isn't he ... I suppose there isn't any sort of legal wedding between he and Chance then, at least here?"

"By MegaKat City law there is, and there would be between Jake and I as well, but here," she shrugged. "There can't be."

"No, I suppose not ... well, is there a date picked out or anything, or haven't you gotten that far yet?"

"Not for a while yet. There are all the usual details to sort out, and there are also three cultures to sort out what we're going to put into it too, and two of them aren't from Earth, plus whether we'll be standing as humans or as we really are," Marie shook her head. "Two or three years at least."

"That would be quite a bit to sort out. Can you keep me updated on it?" She asked hopefully.

"I will," Marie agreed, then ducked her head and put her hands over her ears as the announcement system was far too loud for a moment.

"How has your research going?" Marie asked when her ears stopped ringing.

"Reasonably well. Most of it's classified well beyond where it ought to be, but that's what you get with military projects," Jessica said, rolling her eyes. "Are you and Jake going to be trying to start a family at some point?"

"Not anytime soon, if we do," she admitted. "The work required is quite complicated given we have no common ancestors. Odds are that I could not carry any child we did manage to conceive in the lab, so the entire process would have to stay there. I just don't have enough information on Kats, particularly female ones, to make normal reproduction possible."

"Understandable," Jessica nodded. "I'm ... glad things are working out. It'll probably take a while before I can manage more than that," she admitted. "So, is there anything more you can tell me about your work?"

"It's going well. The first set of diseased and crippled animals all survived and recovered but one, which is quite extraordinary even by my hopes. I've got a F.I.V. cat and H.I.V. monkey group in treatment right now that is very hopeful. I think three of them are not going to make it, but the rest are recovering well. Once the treatment is proven on them, I can start human trials. The cancer tests are also looking very good. Even now I'm getting comparable results to chemotherapy, but with fewer side effects. It's really what I was hoping for."

Soon, they'd both settled down to talking about their work and eating. Not the typical conversation of a mother and daughter ... but more than they'd talked to each other in months, if not years.

"Don't be so nervous," Chance licked Jake's cheek as they got off their Cyclotrons in front of Tonya's home. "She's nice."

"I know, it's just still weird," Jake murmured and followed Chance as he walked up to the front door and knocked.

"What part of it?" Chance asked with a laugh. "We've done this before, just usually without you knowing about it in advance."

"I meant the part where I'm with the fem," Jake rolled his eyes as Tonya opened the door and greeted them warmly, and wearing very little.

"Hi there," she grinned, stepping back to let them in. "So, what's this about you and fems?" She asked Jake, closing the door behind them.

"I'm about as interested in fems as he is in toms," Jake explained. "It's still a really weird idea."

"Usually these dates amount to me fools around with the girl and Jake either watching or fooling around with me," Chance added with a chuckle. "He's still getting used to the idea of fems as attractive that way."

"Well, don't worry, I'll stick to mostly fooling around with the tabby if it makes you feel better," Tonya winked. "The Tigress design we did?" She asked Chance. "Or something new?"

"How about her in black with blacklight blue stripes and red 'whites'?" he suggested something so exotic he knew it'd make Jake relax about it.

"Mmm, I'll have to use my new blends, but I can do that," she grinned. "Same pattern? I could have the spray room handle it then, let you guys relax a bit."

"But I like painting your stripes on," Chance pouted playfully. "We've got time."

"Okay," she giggled, stripping down. "I'll go get the base coats put on then," she said, heading back towards her spray room.

"She's got a setup you wouldn't believe," Chance told Jake with a chuckle, following her back so they could watch.

"Around here, nearly everyone does," Jake grinned back and watched the base coats go on with a curiosity that was a blend of clinical and actual interest in her body.

"Yeah, but I don't think most of them are used for stuff like this," Chance chuckled as Tonya had herself coated to the point where all that was left were stripes and detail work, fetching the appropriate paints for them and coming out.

"So, are you going to do the honors, or do the two of you want to share?" She asked, handing one of the bottles of spray to Chance.

"He's the one with artistic skill," Chance winked and handed Jake the red for her chest.

"Okay," she giggled, letting Chance start with the stripes on the back. "Don't be shy about painting whatever needs it," she reassured Jake.

"Just remember what nipples look like," Chance teased.

"That I know," Jake laughed as he started to relax. "I tease yours all the time."

"Yeah, but they're bigger on girls," Tonya joined in the teasing. "On the end of those big, sticky-out things I've got."

"I'm not that innocent," Jake gave one nipple a lick, used his teeth to remove the latex coating on it. "It'll look good."

"Mmm ... as long as you don't mind when it's covered by the vest, okay," she giggled. "Just be careful about swallowing it, I didn't make this one an ingestible, not sure how it might affect you."

"The vest isn't real either," Chance added with a snicker as he worked on her right arm and stole a kiss from Jake.

"It's exhibitionism taken to the largest level I can get away with," Tonya giggled. "I like the way people look twice because they're not quite sure if they saw something they 'shouldn't' have, that sort of thing. The more convincing it is, the more I like teasing them."

"So I'll have an exhibitionist on one side and voyeur on the other," Chance said. "Should be all sorts of fun."

"That it should," Jake started to really warm up to the idea.

"It is the basic idea," she giggled. "Mmm ... that, and letting the tabby have nice, easy access to whatever he wants, whenever he wants," she grinned at him.

Jake shivered slightly. "So when is the next big party, anyway?"

"That would be Valentine's Day, and I fully expect to go without a specific date," she chuckled. "Or at least not a date who minds if I roam and come home smelling like plenty of different guys and gals."

"I qualify," Chance winked. "Cause I roam too."

"And this time I think I'll watch more than vids," Jake licked his lips.

"You come down to the Heat Wave, I promise that vids'll be the last things you'll be worried about watching," Tonya grinned. "When the adult parties get going, everybody's got a pretty good chance at finding what they want."

"That is likely to be no one minding him jerking off to watching everybody else's action," Chance teased, enough to cause his mate to blush under his fur.

"Only thing they might do is ask if he wants to join in," Tonya grinned as Chance put the last touches on her stripes. "So, shall we be going?"

"Sounds good," Jake nodded, his mind solidly on the future and his jeans a little tighter than usual.

Fortunately, it was only a few minutes before they were at the Heat Wave, where Marie was waiting for them at the bar with drinks.

"That's a ... creative outfit," Marie mused, looking Tonya over.

"Just wait until they hit the blacklights, hon," Tonya grinned, taking the Bloody Mary that was waiting for her.

"It seems to have already done some good," Marie grinned back and claimed a kiss from Jake that gave her a good excuse to rub up against his trapped hard-on.

"Somebody got to think about coming to the Valentine's party and watching the two of us roam for a while," Chance chuckled. "Maybe the three of us?"

"Mmm ... we'll think about it," Marie giggled, nuzzling Jake's neck with a purr. "Just remember that tonight, the sex has to wait until we're in private."

"Fortunately private is a room just back there," Chance said with a wave of his hand. "Come on, you two. Let's dance."

They found their way out to the dance floor quickly, sticking near each other.

"You're distracted," Marie observed with a giggle, letting her body brush up against Jake's.

"I think that is the point," he chuckled and slid his arms around her briefly. "Chance insisted I paint her chest. It's quite a reminder that she's very human."

"So you don't need to worry about kits even if you were with her," Marie purred, pressing against him more as the lights went down and the blacklights came on, illuminating her stripes. "Don't have to worry about it with me either," she pointed out.

"I know it's a big part of why I ever let you get close to me," Jake murmured as his breath caught as her thigh rub against his crotch firmly before pulling back to keep dancing. "I'm glad I did too."

"So am I," she purred, leaning in to give him a kiss. "Mmm ... looks like Chance is pretty eager to get going too," she grinned over at the tabby.

"He always he," Jake laughed easily. "He's seriously hot when he gets like this too," he added with a slight shiver. "So very hot."

"Mmm ... I'll bet you're looking forward to the show when we get home," she purred deeply, moving around behind him, running her hands lightly down his chest. She couldn't tell who was more thrilled by it; him or her, or the tabby watching Jake's eyes briefly flutter closed. "And you're right, he is."

"Soon," Jake moaned and slid his hands back to squeeze her thighs and pull her close against his back.

"Let's get him out of here before he makes a mess," Chance chuckled as he danced close to the two of them. "I'll bring Tonya."

"I thought you liked making him a mess," Marie teased as they headed towards the door much sooner than she had expected. "Especially in back alleys."

"Yeah, but tonight I'd rather make him a mess and then leave him trussed up to watch us," Chance purred lustily.

"Oooh, a show for us to get things started," Tonya grinned, reaching up to scratch at her painted chest lightly as Chance straddled his bike and she swung up behind him.

"Oh yeah. He's definitely wound up enough to make a really good show," he grinned back at her over her shoulder and started the bike. "You prefer him nude, or just opened up enough to be taken hard?"

"Mmm ... naked and helpless sounds good to me tonight," she giggled as Chance revved the cyclotron. "Going to want a drink when we get back though ... getting kinda hot under all this."

"It's the middle of January and you're naked under 'all this'," Chance pointed out as they pulled out, followed by Jake on his cyclotron and Marie in her car. He started to take it more seriously as she squirmed on the short drive to his house. She really wasn't right.

"Something's not right," Tonya murmured as the engine died. "I shouldn't be this uncomfortable."

"What's it take to get that stuff off you, right down to the bottom level?" He asked her seriously.

"Vinegar scrub, like the last one," she said climbing off the bike as Chance followed her, heading for the door fast, pulling her behind him. He could feel the heat through the layers of material on her, and it was a lot more than he should have been feeling. He knew Jake, only a couple bike-lengths behind him, would catch on and explain to Marie that something was wrong.

He had just grabbed the vinegar when Jake ran in to help. "What do you need?"

"Washcloth, and cold water, fast," Tonya whimpered. "Shit, something in this is starting to burn!"

Jake grabbed several washcloths, and Chance was quickly scrubbing the stuff off of her, wincing as he saw the bright red skin beneath that was starting to get low-level burns.

He had a feeling it was going to get worse before he had it all off of her.

"I'm calling 911," Marie offered, grabbing the phone as Chance and Jake started working to get as much off of Tonya as they could.

"This is going to hurt in the long run," Tonya moaned in pain as the Kats worked hard to get her costume off quickly as possible.

"Ambulance will be here shortly," Marie said as she picked up a spare cloth and began to work herself.

By the time the ambulance sirens were pulling up in front, most of it was off Tonya's body, which was a bright, angry red in the places it wasn't starting to blister. Cold water over the last of the chemical fabric washed it off just as the paramedics rushed in, looking down at her with an expression that said they really, honestly didn't see things like this often.

"Chemical burns from my new spray-on fabric," Tonya explained painfully as they gave her a painkiller injection, then began to spray her skin with a contact anesthetic. "Standard burn procedures should work," she murmured as the painkillers started to kick in.

"We'll get her to a burn unit stat; if you three want to follow, go ahead, but we'll call you after she's stabilized otherwise," one of the paramedics said briskly as they moved her onto a stretcher and got her out to the ambulance.

"There's not really anything we can do the help anymore," Marie offered as Jake and Chance started for the door.

"We can be there when she comes to," Chance pointed out.

"Okay, but we'll take my car and I'll drive," Marie said, starting after them. "You don't need to be driving right now."

"Let her," Jake put a hand on Chance's arm when the tabby was going to protest. "She's got a point."

They climbed into her car, and Marie pulled out, driving off after the ambulance and trying to figure out just what had happened.

Eureka Kats 9.99: Christmas Day

NC-17 for M/M, M/F sex
Het Level is LowHet Smut Level is Low
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Low
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

98 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written April 20, 2007 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Eureka, SWAT Kats

Primary Races: Human, Kat, Were

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M).

Pairings: Chance Furlong/Jake Clawson/Marie Moreau, Jo Lupo/Jim Taggart, others

Blurb: Between the food, family and gifts, there is a proposal of marriage, a new puppy, Melody makes a serious mistake and a small war breaks out between S.A.R.A.R., B.R.A.D. and S.T.I.N.G.. It's just another day in Eureka.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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