Throttle confronts Stoker
Vinnie arrived back at the Scoreboard bright and early, looking quite satisfied with himself. He swaggered into the room, like he was the only mouse who had ever had sex before. In current company however, he was certainly the only one who was.
"Hey bros!" he greeted.
Modo was still in bed, looking a bit worse for wear. Rimfire lifted his head from Vinnie's hammock, his hair standing up in every-direction, eyes heavy-lidded. "Not so loud..." he groaned.
The white-furred mouse laughed. "Looks like little Rimmy's a bit hung-over, eh?" he chuckled. "How dare you bros go out partying without me!"
"You seemed suitably occupied." Throttle said from where he stood sweeping empty root beer bottles into a recyclable bin.
Vinnie stretched his arms above his head, only to admire his rippling biceps. "Yes, well...I can't complain. Charlie-girl either for that matter..." he said thoughtfully, bragging.
Throttle rolled his eyes in disgust as he stowed the bin away and paused to clean a spot off his specs. It was then that Vinnie noticed the distinct dis-coloration under his bro's fur around his eye.
"Whoa! What happened to you?" he chuckled.
Throttle inwardly cursed at his thoughtlessness. "Nothing, just clumsy."
"He admits it! I'm stunned." Vinnie replied.
"What are you bros talkin about?" Modo grumbled looking up from his bed.
"About Throttle's shiner, here! What'd you guys do? Take a tumble playing brodies and bottles?"
But Modo seemed as surprised by Throttle's injury as Vinnie was. "Huh?"
"Can we please move on now?" Throttle grunted, grabbing a root beer from the fridge and chugging it down.
Vinnie shrugged. "Suit yourself." he sighed, beginning to root through last-night's left overs. "Where's the old man?" he grunted.
"In the shower." Throttle answered.
"Great, more hair to clean out of the drain." Vinnie muttered.
"Well at least he doesn't stay in there for hours and hours like you do..." Throttle shot back.
Vinnie eyed him. "Well...someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning." he muttered.
"I'm sorry, bro." Throttle sighed. "Just had a rough night is all."
Vinnie nodded, downing his own bottle of root beer in three huge gulps and then preceding to let out an explosive belch.
"Nice distance on that one..." Modo said, crinkling his nose.
"Thank you, thank you." Vinnie bowed.
Rimfire tumbled out of bed, looking like something the cat dragged in. "Ugh...I think I over-did it."
Modo rubbed his own head, nodding. "Well nephew, that's what you get for trying to out-do your ol' uncle...oh mama." the grey furred mouse moaned. "I'm getting too old for this."
"I think I'm gonna puke." Rimfire moaned, flopping down into one of the kitchen chairs.
Vinnie slapped him heartily on the back. "Of course you do! If you don't puke, you aren't drinking like a man."
"Don't listen to him, Rimfire." Modo grunted, heading for the coffee maker. "We all know Vinnie can't hold his liquor for crap."
"Hey!" Vinnie cried.
"Take a shower, Rimfire, you'll feel better. I'll go see if Stoke's done down there." Throttle nodded, heading downstairs towards the locker rooms.
Stoker had indeed finished, and was in the process of toweling off when Throttle stepped into the room. The chocolate-furred mouse stood with his back to him, securing the towel around his waist. Throttle had a clear view of his mentor's back.
Long, diagonal slices of Stoker's fur were missing, replaced by scars and sloppily stitched lacerations that stood out against his flesh in stark contrast with patches of dark fur. His back was literally covered with them. Some looked as though they had been opened multiple times, while others looked as though they had slowly begun to heal as fur began to grow back over them.
Throttle felt like he had swallowed a lead brick, and a distinct swell of anger at the thought of the people that caused those injuries.
"Something you wanted, bro?" Stoker asked, turning around then.
"Rimfire..." he began slowly. "Um, he's a bit hung-over this morning, wanted to take a shower, if you're done."
Stoker wrung out his sopping wet hair in a nonchalant way. "Sure. It's all his." he answered.
He grabbed his clothes from where they were folded on a bench, and then looked slowly back up at Throttle. "You waiting for a full-frontal or something?" he chuckled.
Throttle shook his head, "No, sorry..." he muttered, turning and heading back out into the hall-way.
He leaned against the stone wall, feeling like the wind had been knocked out of him. Rimfire had said he'd found Stoker in pretty bad shape, in appalling conditions, still he didn't think...he hadn't realized how bad it really was. None of them had. Because Stoker had been so determined to conceal that from them.
He came out a moment fully clothed, and looking much better than he had the day before. "Well, what's on today's agenda huh?" he asked.
When Throttle was not quick to reply, he frowned. "You look like you've seen a ghost, kid."
"Your back...it's terrible." Throttle answered.
Stoker shrugged. "Well, I know it's not in the best of shape, but what can ya do, huh? Comes with the job." he said.
He was dodging him again. Throttle could not find any words to say, and just looked at the older mouse helplessly.
"Stop that." Stoker said firmly. "Stop it, right now."
"Stop what?" Throttle asked bewilderedly.
"Looking at me like that. Like I'm dying or something. I don't want your pity, Throttle McCloud."
"It's not pity, Stoker. But you're too damn stubborn to understand that." Throttle replied cooly, walking away.
The rest of the morning went by uneventfully, and Throttle and Stoker avoided each other. Modo, Vinnie, and Rimfire realized something was up of course, but the current foul moods of their comrades told them to keep their mouth's shut.
It wasn't until that afternoon, when Modo turned on the TV, did things finally perk up.
"Hey bros!" he called. "Check this out!"
The others gathered around, staring at the screen. Limburger stood there proudly, holding up what appeared to be a shampoo bottle with the words "Clampoo" stamped across it.
"A Plutarkian shilling soap-suds." Throttle mused, rubbing his chin.
"Don't even have to think about it to know it's crooked." Modo nodded.
Stoker was the only one who didn't seem disturbed by the mention of Plutarkians. On the other hand, he seemed excited.
"A Plutarkian? Well, what are we waiting for?" he shrugged. "Let's go fry his fins!"
This heartened Modo considerably to see his old mentor sounding like himself, and Vinnie was never one to pass up any kind of fight.
It was Rimfire who looked unsure. "Uh, Uncle Modo, I don't think that's such a good idea..." he said, discretely.
His words fell on deaf ears however.
Throttle stepped up beside him as he made his way towards his bike. "Don't worry, Rimfire, I'll take care of it." he said quietly.
The skunk-stripped youth seemed relieved that at least one of them understood the situation.
Rimfire had been captured.
Modo was racked with worry, and Charlie was doing her best to ease him. Vinnie was brooding about the whole incident, staring accusingly at Stoker over his shoulder as they worked on the half-destroyed ship they had arrived in.
"Don't worry, Modo," Stoker said from where he stood on the other end of the room, examining his lazor pistol. "We'll get Rimfire back from those gill-faces..."
His words were followed by the loud banging of a mis-fired pistol as it a obliterated a small section of wall. Stoker stared at his gun, realizing he'd forgotten to turn on the safety.
"Uh...gun's getting old." he chuckled nervously.
"Yeah, like lots of other things." Vinnie growled.
Throttle shot him an irritated look and glanced to Charlie as his younger brother inquired how much longer it would take to repair the ship.
"I don't know how you can risk flying this crate." the wrench-jockey muttered, wiping the sweat from her forehead.
"I've gotta do something, all this waiting and worrying is driving me crazy!" Modo moaned. It was too, the grey-furred giant could not sit still for the life of him.
"I've got an idea," Throttle interjected then. "Modo, Vincent, go scope out Limburger Tower, see if you can get an idea of what the situation is with Rimfire."
"What about you and the old man?" Vinnie asked, thumbing towards Stoker, who frowned.
"We'll stay here and help Charlie with the ship." Throttle nodded, ignoring Vincent's comment.
Modo and Vinnie nodded and took off without another word. Stoker looked mildly at his protege. "So, you're benching me then, is that it?" he asked.
Throttle gave him a warning look and looked up to Charlie, who was climbing down from the ship's haul. "So where do you want us, Charlie-girl?" he asked.
Charlene, unlike her other two companions, saw through the veiled attempt to talk to Stoker alone. "Well, I need to head back to the garage and get more tools before you can even risk flying this crate. You two can take care of the wiring while I'm gone." she said, climbing on her own bike and heading out.
Throttle chuckled as she left. "Nothing gets by her," he said, mostly to himself.
"What was that all about?" Stoker asked. Throttle now turned to the task at hand. After all, it was Stoker who really needed working on. To hell with the damn ship.
Throttle pulled the chair that Modo had been sitting in only moments ago and slammed it down in front of him. "Have a seat." he commanded.
Stoker perked an eyebrow. "That an order?" he asked, semi-amused.
"Damn right it is." Throttle answered gruffly.
Stoker smirked and put his hands in the air in surrender. "Alright, alright, you win." he said, taking a seat.
"Stoke, I'm just gonna come out and say it;" he began. "You about got us all killed out there today. You're damn lucky Rimfire getting captured was the only thing that happened."
Stoker sighed deeply, slapping the palms of his hands on his thighs as he started to lift himself up, "I don't need to sit here and listen to this sh-"
"SIT DOWN!" Throttle yelled, shoving him back into the chair. He had Stoker firmly by his shirt, staring him in the face. "I'm not finished."
"You're not fit to fight right now, understand me? You're more of a danger to yourself than an asset to us. I never thought I'd say that,"the tan mouse continued, "but it's the truth. Since I'm in charge here, I'm telling you to stay out of this. This isn't your fight."
"Oh it isn't, is it?" Stoker said, his voice low. "It's me they're after it, and it's me they'll kill to get to. So how can you say it isn't my fight?" he demanded, a dangerous amount of bite in his voice.
Throttle pulled his own gun from the holster that was strapped to his thigh and slapped it into Stoker's hand. He then marched over to the kitchen table and grabbed a can of root beer, and balanced it on his head. "Hit the target, Stoker." he muttered.
Stoker stared wide-eyed at him. He glanced nervously at the gun in his shaking hand and then back at Throttle, who was challenging him. He lifted the gun...but could not hold it steady. Throttle stood there, stone-faced.
Stoker used his other hand to steady his gun-hand but it was no help. Finally, he threw the gun to the ground and launched himself angrily at Throttle. "Damn you! DAMN YOU!"
Throttle saw his attack coming however. He grabbed Stoker's fist as he tried to strike him once more across the face, and then preceded to deliver his own blow by hitting Stoker hard in gut.
Stoker choked as the air was knocked out of him and slumped against Throttle as he fainted. Throttle eased him to the floor and sat there with him, holding him.
When he came to about thirty-minutes later, Throttle was still holding him there on the floor. At first no one spoke. Stoker's head was resting against Throttle's shoulder though he was no longer facing him. The younger mouse had moved him to allow better air-flow.
"I'm too tired to fight anymore."
Throttle did not seemed startled, or even upset at these words. Instead he only sat there calmly brushing one hand through Stoker's hair in an idle sort of way. "I know. I can feel it."
"They took everything I've got to offer, bro," Stoker continued softly. "Took everything I had. Now...all I've got is this tired old husk. I just...couldn't admit that."
Throttle nuzzled the back of his neck with his muzzle, breathing in Stoker's scent. "You need rest is all." he answered. "Kinda like a tree in November..."
It was a strange thing to say. So abstract, and yet so truthful. Stoker turned his head to look at Throttle, "I don't think there's a spring left for me, bro."
Then the younger mouse did something else to surprise him. He craned his neck and kissed him. It was a surprise...but not an unpleasant one.
They pulled back after a moment, and Stoker blinked. "Did you just kiss me?"
"No." Throttle answered, and did it again.
When they pulled away this time, it was Stoker who was smiling. "That's what I thought."
More coming soon! :)