Chapter Eleven: Promises
"What did you mean by making it worth my while to leave?" Vinnie asked as Tala opened the door to her suite.
"Actually, I'm not sure. I think it popped into my head because you wouldn't argue with it."
"Oh. Do you . . . no, um. Look, can I try something? Something I think the club was leadin' up to?"
She looked alarmed. "What something?"
He put a finger under her chin and tilted her face up. "Just tell me if I go too far." He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her.
He felt her relax slightly against his body. Her arms circled around his waist. She tastes so sweet. His tongue probed deeper into her mouth and she let him. He ended the kiss but didn't release her. "You okay?"
"Good." He took a deep breath and walked backward until he found her couch. Tala was dragged along because he hadn't let her go. He sat down and slid his white arms down to her waist, not breaking their circle. He pulled her onto his lap. "Ever necked?"
"No." She tried to hide her nervousness.
"I'm not gonna hurt ya." He found the hollow behind her ear where her jaw and throat met and kissed it softly. She didn't flinch, so he gently bit her.
She gasped and pulled back. "Are you supposed to bite?"
"You didn't like it?"
"Let me try it on you." She grinned and he grinned back.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Modo continued. "I never would've left."
Roddie's black tail lashed through the air in the Biker Mice's suite. "She didn't want you to stay out of guilt! She wanted you to love her!"
"I did love her! Don't you dare think I haven't regretted everything I said and did every day of my life for eight friggen years! And you could've changed it if you had just told me."
"I didn't know she was pregnant until after we got out here, till after we got hit. I couldn't tell anybody back on Mars anything."
"You told him I was dead."
Her black face winced. "Modo, we thought you were! We heard you guys had died in a crash en route to Plutark."
Modo's eye blazed red. "Now you know we didn't and you still didn't say anything!"
"I promised Stella I would take care of him!"
"So that means I'm not supposed to know I have a son at all!"
"Not if knowing means you're dragging him into the war! I love him too much to let him become another innocent bystander corpse!"
Modo let out an inarticulate growl. Roddie clenched her fists and stood her ground. "You're not even willin' to give me a chance to love him that much!"
Sparks squeezed his eyes shut and felt the tears slide down the fur on his face. He blindly wrenched the door open and ran out into the hall.
Throttle exited the elevator on the fifth floor and headed down the hall to their rooms. The doctor had cleaned the wound in his leg out good and patched it with duraskin, so it was in no danger of bleeding again. That oughta make Charley happy. He felt a grin slide across his face and didn't try to hide it. Charley-girl. Charley is my girl.
Something collided with him. He looked down at his waist. The boy looked up with a tear-streaked and miserable expression. "Sparks? What's wrong?"
The kid glanced over his shoulder. "They're fightin over me. I . . . I gotta see Momma!" He tore away from the tan-furred mouse's compassionate grasp and ran down the hall.
Throttle frowned and hurried the rest of the way to their suite. Modo's eye blazed red and his face was furious. He loomed over Roddie who stared up at him with an equally furious expression. "Isn't how you treated Stella proof of how inadequate your love is?" She yelled at him in a harsh voice.
The fire went out of the large grey mouse and he slumped into a nearby chair. Tears welled up in his eye. "By the gods, ain't I ever gonna get a chance to fix that mistake?"
Roddie whirled around and jumped to see Throttle standing behind her. "Where's Sparks?"
"He left. Said something 'bout seein' his momma." He stopped her from leaving.
Modo stood up. "Please, Roddie, let me talk to him."
"Go, Big Fella," Throttle answered. He waited until Modo shut the hall door before turning to his cousin. "Well, I see the eyes and the fur ain't the only things you inherited from Aunt Vev."
Her face twisted. "By the void, that's exactly what she would've done!" She burst into tears.
He wrapped his arms around her, but she pushed him away. She threw herself down on their couch and sobbed bitterly. She always did prefer to cry alone. He crossed the room and softly opened Charley's bedroom door.
The human woman was fast asleep. She must've been tired if she slept through all of that. He watched the gentle rise and fall of her chest and the way her shoulder-length hair covered the pillow until Roddie's sobs began to quiet. He softly shut the door and turned back to her.
The black mouse sat up on the couch and wiped her cheeks with her hands as she sniffled. "I've been a mean, spiteful idiot."
"I don't know 'bout mean or spiteful." Throttle sat down next to her and tucked her under his arm. "Why didn't you wanna tell us?"
"Just like Mom 'I know what's best for everybody.' It's best for Sparks to stay here, best for Modo to stay a carefree bachelor, best for me to try to correct my mistakes through Sparks's life. Just like Mom."
"Don't be so hard on yourself."
"Lance tried to tell me I was wrong and I wouldn't listen to him. I always swore I wouldn't become her. When did it happen?" Her bitter voice broke. "I've been so selfish! So afraid I'd lose Sparks, I didn't even think of what Sparks and Modo were losing."
"Okay, you're wrong. I'm not the one you have to admit that to."
She sighed. "I know. Should I go after them?"
"Give 'em some time to work stuff out. The news shocked 'em both."
Modo paused outside the somber building that held so much bitterness for him. Get a grip. The kid needs ya. Yer son needs ya. He took a deep breath and pushed open the doors to the Hall of Memories.
Sparks sat with his back to the wall underneath Stella's plaque. He hugged his knees to his chest and rested his forehead on them. His tear-stained face looked up as Modo neared. He jumped up and hurled himself at the larger mouse. His small fists pounded against the red, blue, and black chestplate as his face burrowed into the fur on Modo's stomach. "Why? Why did you leave her? She loved you! She died because you left her!"
Modo wrapped his arms around the sobbing boy as he sat down on the stone floor. He drew him into his lap. "Is that what Roddie told ya?"
"No." Pressing his face against Modo's chest muffled Sparks's voice. "I don't ask Roddie those questions. They make her sad. But other people talk. They said she died of a broken heart when she found out you had died. And I read her journals. She loved you. Why did you leave her?"
"I was stupid." The kid stared up at him, shocked by an adult making that admission. "We had a big fight over my bikin' and my bros. She wanted me to stop havin fun."
"She didn't wantcha to get dead. Cause of me."
Modo ran his flesh fingers through Sparks's thick grey hair. "She didn't tell me 'bout you. She didn't tell me she was worried 'bout me. And I thought she just wanted to run my life and split me from my bros. So I let my pride do the talkin and called it quits."
"You didn't want Momma managin' ya?"
"Remember Vinnie's reaction? That was mine, only a lot worse. No wonder she hated me enough to leave Mars."
"She didn't hate ya." Sparks swallowed hard. "She said she couldn't go back to ya after the fight and Mars wasn't safe to raise a kid. So I made her leave."
"I would let the stinkfish have both my arms if it could change the past eight years. I've been spendin' 'em hangin' on for my bros and to pay the stinkfish back for everything."
"It's not healthy to live just for revenge."
Modo smiled weakly. "That's why I got my bros and Charley. And now I can add you to the list."
"So what happens now?" Sparks asked after a long sniffle.
"Well, I guess Roddie'll let me come visit. I could catch a ride with Tala when she comes through Chicago. Or maybe Charley should just build a transport booth."
Sparks turned his swollen red eyes away. "You wanna leave me here?"
"You wanna come with me?"
The kid nodded his head vigorously. "Sides, it's what Momma would want." He aimed a fearful expression at Modo. "Do you want me to come?"
"I want what you want," he paused, "son." The small grey arms circled his neck and squeezed tightly. He hugged the boy tighter as he felt tears slide down his cheek again.
"I wanna be with you, Dad."
Tala had never felt her skin tingle this way before. It burned along her neck where the white mouse's lips caressed and his buckteeth grazed. He followed her collarbone up to her left shoulder. She took the bottom of his ear near the two studs in it between her teeth. She ran her hands against his chest. His fur was soft like velvet. The green bandoleers strapped across his chest stopped her progress. She found their center clasp and undid them, slowly sliding the top straps over his shoulders and dropping them behind his back.
Vinnie paused as her hands began stroking his now bare chest. She was ready? She must be ready. He brought his hands up to her head and took hold of both sides. His mouth gently pressed against hers and his fingers twined into her short blonde hair. He pressed harder against her mouth, his heart beating faster. She raked her fingernails down his chest and abs, and worked her mouth and tongue in a way he didn't think was possible.
His hands moved down to her shoulders and he gently pressed her down to lie on the couch. He kissed her continuously--never moving his lips off hers--and shifted with her. He carefully moved his body, so not to put his full weight on her. His fingers trailed down her front. She wasn't wearing a bra! He could feel her nipples through the T-shirt material.
He resisted the urge to rip through the fabric. Instead, he moved his hands down until he found the end of the shirt. Then his fingers brushed against denim, and finally the bare skin of her taunt stomach.
A wave of uncontrollable panic rolled over Tala's insides. She tried to yell, but Vinnie's mouth wouldn't budge. She pushed against his chest. She kicked her legs. They both fell off the couch.
"What the?" Vinnie untangled himself from her limbs.
"Damnit, Vinnie! I . . . no!" The vice squeezed her stomach and lungs. She doubled over, gasping for breath and shaking uncontrollably.
He wrapped his arms around her. "Shit! I knew you weren't ready." He rocked her. "It's okay, Tala baby. It's okay."
The vice finally loosened and she could breath again. She roughly pushed her way out of his embrace. They both climbed to their feet. "It's not okay! You're just like every other male in this universe--only interested in your own pleasure! Get out!"
"You started undressin' me, Doll-face!" His fist hit the side of his leg and he snorted angrily. "You're just a big . . . tease! No wonder you got . . . you probably asked for it!"
She looked at him with a white and distorted expression. Her face was too twisted to read any single emotion. "If you think," she said in a voice laboring for control, "that tying a fourteen-year-old girl down to a bed so she can't fight back is asking for it, you have got one sick definition. Get out."
Vinnie felt the blood drain from his head. He unclenched his fist. "Tala, I . . . I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."
"Get out." A solitary tear rolled down her right cheek. "Get out before I throw you out."
"I know you don't believe me but I am sorry. I guess it's just easy to cross signals in this hard head of mine." He opened the door, stepped out into the hall, and shut it gently behind him.
Roddie fidgeted on the couch in the Biker Mice's suite. "They've been gone for a while. Maybe we should go find them?"
"If your dad just appeared after eight years, don't you think you'd have a lot to work through?" Throttle glanced at the timepiece. "Let's give 'em a little longer."
"I forgot how annoying your always-right trait is."
"I've made my share of mistakes."
"I know mice who would love to have what you call mistakes as their track record!"
"And I forgot how much you like to exaggerate."
She grinned wryly. "It was hard carving a niche with you guys."
"We weren't that bad."
"Yes, you were! You macho mice are going to be a rotten example for Sparks."
"Not on purpose."
The hall door swung open. A dejected Vinnie headed straight for the door of the bedroom he shared with his bros without looking up. Roddie let out a sigh of annoyance. "Oh, it's you. What's wrong?"
"Don't wanna talk 'bout it," was his mumbled reply before slamming the bedroom door shut.
"We seem to be low on the yea-we-won vibes tonight," Throttle observed.
"When the party end for you?"
"When Charley collapsed. She's okay," he hastened to explain seeing her concerned expression. "She just needs to rest. And you and Modo didn't wake her up."
"It wasn't by lack of trying. Do you think he'll forgive me?"
"Modo's heart is as big as the rest of him. You know that."
Roddie curled her knees up to her chest. "I never said anything like that before to anyone. It wouldn't surprise me if he didn't."
Throttle sighed but the hall door opened before he could comment. Sparks clung to Modo's back; his arms wrapped around his father's neck and his legs wrapped around Modo's waist. The kid's happy expression faded when he saw Roddie.
The black mouse stood up shakily. "Modo, I . . .." Modo slid Sparks off his back. "I was wrong. I should've told you and Sparks the truth." She bowed her head. "I didn't mean what I said. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"Roddie." Modo crossed the room and enveloped the smaller mouse. He hugged her close and stroked her long black hair. "S'alright. You were scared. Yellin at the saber squids all over again."
She laughed through her tears. "At least you didn't try to eat me. And I was wrong." She pulled back and craned her neck to look up. "Stella didn't want you to stay out of guilt or trying to do the right thing, but she still would've told you. I'm sorry, Modo. I'm sorry."
"Over and done with. Leave it down the highway."
"I'm not mad either." Sparks wrapped one of his arms around Roddie and the other around Modo. "But I wanna go with Dad."
"Of course, you do." One of her hands moved to rest on the back of Spark's head. "It's where you belong."
"Can't you come too?"
"You know I can't. My job is here. But once we get that stupid transport booth fixed, don't be surprised if I drop in for a surprise visit."
Throttle got off the couch and put his hand on her shoulder. "I for one would be insulted if you didn't."