I don't own Ice Age characters. The OFC is mine; I used her in "What's in a name", so this might be either a very stupid sequel or a stand-alone, whatever you prefer. This is what happens when I get bored on a business meeting.

*****

"Ssshhh!!!" Eddie hissed to his over-zealous brother as they prowled the length of a quite low branch of a pine tree. They both had their pea-shooters in their small paws and plenty of ammo at ready; however, Eddie was feeling a little less enthusiastic than usual to pull this particular prank. At least, less enthusiastic than Crash, whose eyes had all but popped out of his face to get a better look at the scene that was taking place below the said pine tree; his ears were so strained to hear the very quiet conversation from beneath that- Eddie was certain- a flock of hawks might have seared the air right above his head, and Crash would have remained oblivious.

"…'s okay", Crash assured him in a whisper; "they wouldn't see or hear a herd of stampeding mammoths if it ran right over their tails…"

Eddie wasn't one bit surprised that his brother's thoughts had been so much in line with his own at the very same moment; however, this time, he, unlike Crash, had a nasty feeling that they've crossed the invisible line that even the two of them should respect…probably…maybe…from time to time.

There, under the tree, half-hidden among some rock boulders, were two sabertooth tigers, a male and a female, reclining on the ground, leaning on one another and exchanging long, hazy looks and whispered words, affectionately licking each other's neck and face. The thick scent of their pheromones was strong enough to make a rhino lightheaded.

The female, golden-furred and with what appeared to be a severely busted right leg and exceptionally ugly scar that ran over the left side of her face into the entire left length of her neck and shoulder, was unfamiliar to the possums; the only thing that Eddie knew for sure about her was that surely even Diego could have found a prettier chick than that.

The male, with orange fur and low, throaty voice that was currently whispering some obviously gentle words into the female's half-missing right ear, was, of course, no other than Diego himself.

"I…dunno about this, bro", Eddie said as quietly as he could into his brother's ear. "Maybe we should…er…just…er…you know…leave them alone?"

The hopeful note in his voice came upon unfertile ground as Crash gave him an incredulous look. "You kidding me? No way! The opportunity like this comes once in a lifetime! Just imagine the look on his face when we tell him, word to word, everything he'd told to the chick? I mean, Diego calling someone 'sweetheart' or 'love'? He'd never live it if the others knew! He'll do anything for us to keep us quiet. The possibilities…"

"…of us getting killed if those two catch us…"

"…are infinite. Come on, bro; losing your touch, or what?"

Eddie watched Diego nuzzle into the female's neck, to which she emitted a low sound that couldn't exactly be categorized as purring; it was more of a long, punch-pleased, deep growl. Eddie wanted very much to say that this was not only suicidal, but also a little bit too naughty for his liking; he himself certainly wouldn't like to be spied upon, much less interrupted, if he was about to do the dirty deed with a girl. But he hesitated telling that to Crash; his brother would, Eddie was certain, call him a major wuss and a spoilsport, and then it would be Eddie, and not Diego, who would endure Crash's relentless mocking for a week long at best.

"I just…look, there's no time", he tried one last shot, "this is about to get mature-rated any minute now" – he glanced again at the feline pair; Diego had his arm apparently casually thrown over the female's side – "and I kinda wouldn't like to be around when that happens…"

"What? Why?" frowned Crash. "That's exactly the moment we need to witness! And not only witness; contribute, if I might say…" he grinned. "When they get to that, we use these," he waved his pea-shooter, "imagine Diego's face! He wouldn't be able to look at us for a year!"

Put in that way, the prospect did offer some interesting possibilities.

Crash took the lack of verbal response as a confirmation and started to slide soundlessly down the branch to get a closer look and to get within the earshot. Eddie, admitting the defeat, followed closely.

The cats still seemed to be oblivious. The scarred female now nibbled affectionately at Diego's ear. Eddie barely held back a chuckle; seeing the tiger so content and thoroughly blissed out like this was indeed a one-time experience that just couldn't be wasted away to pass without a good prank.

Crash was edging closer to the end of the branch…they still couldn't hear the pair properly…Eddie wanted to warn Crash that they were a little bit too much exposed, but it was too risky to breathe a sound now…

And then Diego's green eyes snapped up, right at the possums. Eddie didn't even have the time to feel the breath that got caught in his throat, and Diego had already jumped up, swatting the possums in one swing of his massive, clawed paw from their hiding place with a roar. Eddie landed hard on the ground, leaping for escape, but Diego's paw had pinned him back to the ground, the possum's neck immobilized between two razor-sharp, thick claws. Eddie could barely squeak; he tried to crane his neck to see if at least Crash had managed to escape – if we live through this, if the sabers don't kill him, I will – but saw him in a very similar position, stiff as he went for playing dead, held firmly between the female's front paws, claws out and all; she sniffed the length of Crash's body with a vague look of revulsion and anger on her scarred face.

Eddie felt that playing dead would make absolutely no use; Diego simply knew them too well to fall for that. He tried to look at Diego and was presented with a close proximity of two exposed rows of pointed, white teeth and familiar nine-inch sabers, through which came a deep, rumbling, long and bloodthirsty growl.

They were so dead.

"Um…" Eddie squeaked out, "…guess it would be pointless if we told you that this is not the way it seems…?"

"Your friends?" growled the tigress at Diego. She had, Eddie noticed even through the panic-induced tachycardia of his, a very pleasant, deep, throaty alt. He could easily imagine, even if he wasn't a saber, how easily she could set shivers down a male's spine with that voice only.

"Occasionally", Diego whispered, his bared teeth so close to Eddie that the possum could feel the unpleasantly hot, blood-scented breath on his face. Eddie gulped. Blood was good, it meant that Diego wasn't hungry, but it still didn't mean that he wasn't going to kill them on general principle.

"Do you know", Diego continued in the same deadly whisper, "that I might just pluck your head from your shoulders like a bloody mushroom from the wet ground and be over with it?"

"Diego, old pal", Eddie whimpered, now really, properly scared shitless; he craned his neck to meet one coldly glimmering green eye, and nearly lost his bladder at both the expression of simmering fury in there and the increasing pressure Diego was applying to his body, flattened against the ground. "Sorry, we're really, really sorry; we're never gonna do that again, I swear, we're sorry, we're-"

"Yeah, never ever, so sorry, ma'am, we never meant no harm; look at us, not even a decent bite, we'd only get between your teeth, not even a toothpick–" Crash, still held firmly in the female's paws, obviously saw it logical to beg, so he supplied his best, too.

"-think of Peaches, what are you gonna tell her, imagine her face when she realizes that her third favorite uncle ate her first and second favorite uncle-"

"Elle's gonna be so sad, and when Ellie's sad, Manny's furious; he'd-"

"SHUT UP!" Diego roared and flipped Eddie over so he was now lying flat on his back, Diego's paw pressing into his stomach. Eddie's eyes went wide with horror when he realized that this new position gave him a clean view of Diego's underside and his…stuff. He squeezed his eyes shut as firmly as physically possible; this was one part of Diego he'd never wanted to get to know close-up… this, if nothing else, was bound to give him nightmares for months, if he lives through this…

"We have no time for this", said the female. Her amber eyes glowed eerily. "And I have an idea of how to, say, kill two possums with one bite."

**

They dangled from the tigress' mouth as she was limping down the slope, their tails in her jaws, their heads occasionally coming in collision in the rhythm of her uneven gait. Eddie contemplated trying to bite her nuzzle, but opted against it; judging by the number of scars on her face, it would serve only to rile her up further, nothing more. Diego wasn't following, but he watched them from his position under the pine tree, until his lady made a stop in front of a large oak; then he disappeared from view quickly.

She lowered them to the ground, but safely pinned them to the ground first before releasing their tails. Then she called out: "Kids, over here!"

The possums watched with horror as three saber cubs sprinted out of the barely perceptible hollow under the oak huge roots; they grinned and meowed with glee, snapping their milky sabers at one another as they hurried to see what the tigress had brought to them. Eddie felt all remaining blood draining from his face; when he glanced at Crash, he wasn't surprised to find his eyes bulging out in sheer, undiluted, paralyzing panic.

"Come here, come here…hurry up, I don't have the whole day…Butch, I told you not to eat your brother! Stop that, now!"

"Well, he had it coming!" the largest and likely the dominant cub protested. "He peed in the den!"

"I don't care what he did; we don't eat our own kind! And Timmy, you know you mustn't pee in the place where you hide. And stop whining; that barely qualifies as injury. Good girl, Myra…now, look here…"

The cubs finally settled down, their eyes curious and bright, looking attentively at the tigress and the possums under her paws. They could have been considered cute, if not for the fact that their milky sabers were about as long as the entire possum's head. And whatever the tigress said, in Eddie's opinion, what Butch gave to Timmy did qualify as injury. Very much so.

"Now", the tigress begun, "what you see here are two male possums."

Myra screwed up her nose. "They stink."

Crash gave her a dirty look.

"But they are fast and small", smiled the tigress. "which makes them an excellent practice target. You kids need some exercising in speed and precision, and they are perfect for it."

Eddie's heart hammered. He didn't like the sound of it at all.

"Now, the rules of this game…" she drawled, and Eddie could have sworn that she was relishing in making the possums squirm with terror. The cubs listened with rapt attention, and so did Crash and Eddie.

"… I'm gonna put these guys inside", the tigress continued. "And you are going to go inside with them and do your best to prevent them from escaping. To make the things a bit more interesting, you mustn't kill or mortally injure them. As for the superficial injuries…I leave that to your creativity."

"Can I say…" Eddie squeaked out, but was easily cut short when the tigress' claw dug delicately, but warningly in the nape of his neck.

"But, Auntie-" Timmy frowned, looking at the possums with too much enthusiasm for Eddie's liking.

"I told you not to call me 'auntie'!" growled the tigress.

"Er…sorry, ma'am", the cub cowered. His bolder and bigger brother pouted: "Mom always allows us to kill the things we play with."

"Well, your Mom is currently not in charge of you; I am. And I'm telling you that you need to learn to control your strength and your eagerness, or it might either get you killed one day, or have you killing one of your own by accident in some stupid brawl over the prey or a mate. No killing this time, I said, and no mutilating injuries; that applies to you, too, Butch! Do you understand?"

The snarl she gave to them would have made the blood of any decent mammal curl, but these cubs merely lowered their heads in defeat and sighed in almost perfect unison: "Yes, ma'am."

"Good", she nodded approvingly. "Now, I'd appreciate if you'd keep this game up for at least two hours straight, because I have some urgent matter to attend to. Ready? Steady? Now-"

Eddie found himself airborne, and within a second he hit the ground hard with his back. On his left, he heard another small body landing with 'ooomph!'. With lightning speed, they both got on all fours, ready to bolt.

They were in the improvised den among the oak tree roots; it sure was bigger than what one would assume judging just by its rather imperceptible entrance. They blinked, their eyes adjusting to the semi-darkness of the place.

They were promptly welcomed by the sight of three pairs of glowing, large eyes- two bright yellow, one amber. The largest cub, Butch, had his back against the den entrance, blocking it completely. And, as much as Eddie could see, there was no other way out.

"Er…" Crash spoke in a meek voice, waving his small paw to the staring felines; "…hello?"

Butch bared his pearly-white, razor-sharp teeth. "GET THEM!!!"

**

Again under the same pine tree, the tigress leaned her back against Diego's stomach. He looked down the slope; they could easily see the place that hid the cubs and the possums, and hear them even better. Diego even cringed slightly at Eddie's 'noooo! Not the tail!', but only slightly.

"You think they really won't finish them off?" he asked, a bit worriedly.

"Believe me, they are coordinated, smart and obedient enough not to", his partner smiled, seemingly rather pleased with herself, and licked the length of his throat with gusto.

"You sure?" he asked, his eyes glazing over with her ministrations.

"Absolutely", she drawled. She frowned at another muffled scream from the den ('I need that ear, you stinky brat!!!'). "This won't…discommode you?"

Diego cracked a grin. "You kidding me? Music to my ears."

"Well, if that is so…and seeing that we don't have much time… "

"…why don't we make the best we can with the time that we have?"

Apparently, she found no objections to his logic.

**

Ellie watched with frowned brow her foster brothers dragging themselves to the camp, both looking to be in mood so foul she couldn't remember if she'd ever seen them anything like that. Plus, they both sported the most colorful assortment of various bumps, scratches, lacerations and twisted joints that surpassed even their most memorable achievements up to that day. On top of that, Eddie was constantly giving Crash such dirty, dark looks that it made her cringe inwardly. The weirdest thing of all was that Crash wasn't complaining any; he just stared morosely into the ground in front of him and into his many injuries.

"Uncas 'die an' 'ash won' play", complained Peaches sadly.

"Um…hello, guys…what's up?" Elle tried, though she wasn't really certain that she wanted to know.

"Nothing", muttered Eddie darkly, nursing his raw-scratched tail. "'cept I won't be able to hang on a tree for weeks…"

"Did you guys have a brawl?" Elle cocked her head sternly. "Really, when are you two gonna grow up? What kind of an example are you setting for Peaches here? What was it about, after all?"

"Just, you know, brotherly stuff", grunted Eddie, still nursing his offended appendage. "Not a big deal."

Crash didn't seem to think that it hadn't been a big deal, since he gave his brother the look of pure misery. Ellie decided to let them be. This was obviously a weird day; not even half an hour earlier, Diego had appeared from who-knows-where, but looking as pleased as the proverbial cat that ate the cream. Ellie hadn't seen that hazy, dreamily happy look on his face since he'd been high on gas from Chasm of Death. Currently he was flat on his back, sunbathing his belly, grinning from ear to ear and patiently listening to Sid rambling about his contribute at rebuilding Peaches' once trampled playground.

Eddie angry, Crash subdued, Diego in a good mood?

The world had gone to the dogs.

END