Xandra bounced over to her and Timmy's buddies, hugging the guys en masse. "Hey, guys," she said happily. "Timmy's presently neck-deep in his girlfriend's mouth or else he'd say hi too." They all looked and blushed. "Oh, no, they're not going to do more than that. They're being heavily watched since Timmy's second game got played." A few of the guys blushed harder. "Hey, my dads *loved* it. They thought it was cute." She beamed at them, looking around. "No Home? Is his mother being grumpy or is he grounded? He wasn't sure which was gonna happen after that 'C' in Physics."
"His mother's bringing him, she wanted to chaperone," one of Timmy's best buddies said, looking over her outfit. "You might want to change, Xanny. I like the velvet and bodysuit combo, but she'll be a bit more picky than us. We just think you've got cute legs."
She giggled, giving him an extra hug. "This is clubbing clothes, approved by both fathers, Uncle Philip and Bennet, the butler, who is *way* overprotective of us kids. It's a house tradition that the butler third-parents a member of the house and Bennet decided to break with tradition and go with me instead of my dad Xander," she said with a small shrug. "He cares more about my clothes than both fathers do and my Uncle Adam does." The butler coughed and she grinned at him. "Admit it, you do."
"Of course I do. We don't want you to take up with the horrid examples one of your sisters has set," Bennet said firmly as he set out the punch bowl and plastic cups. That was all the refreshments that were allowed in here. "Though I do know you have more sense."
"Of course I do," she snorted. "What do you take me for?" She smirked at him. "These are the guys. Timmy, her toenails are pink inside too," she called. "No in-depth investigation needed, bro."
Timmy pulled back with a sigh. "Sometimes I wish I were an only child," he told his girlfriend, who giggled and hugged him. "I wasn't looking for toenails, sis."
"Funny, you were deep enough in her mouth to find them," Bennet said firmly. Timmy blushed. "Perhaps she should join me in the kitchen?"
"Bennet, remember, you work around a lot of sharp things. Taking my girl will make me reach for one," Timmy said seriously.
Bennet smirked at him. "I'm glad to know that, young man, but I was still a Marine for ten years. You'd lose and then she'd be mine." She giggled again and so did Xandra. "Do we understand each other?"
"Of course," he sighed, rolling his eyes once Bennet had turned his back.
"I saw that."
"Only if you've got eye stalks," Timmy teased. "Or some strange eye in the back of your head."
"No, Master Timmy, I don't need them. I've seen you try to pounce your younger sister."
"Hey! I haven't done that in years! The last time I did she nearly killed me, dude."
"You did?" Timmy's girlfriend asked.
"He jumped on my back in a surprise attack. Everyone was really surprised that I managed not to kill him," Xandra assured her. "I only bruised his intestines a bit."
"Ow," she moaned, rubbing her own stomach. "You poor baby," she cooed, kissing him again. "It's all right, I'll protect you from your mean sister."
"Hmm," Timmy agreed, grinning down at her. "Hey, guys. Woman of my life, the guys; guys, the woman who makes me want to think about things like that second game." They laughed and walked over to introduce themselves individually.
Xandra looked up. "Why me?" she muttered. She went to help Bennet, needing something to do until her boyfriend go there. Then she'd be more discreet than Timmy and his lady love. She did wonderfully at the learn-by-example tests.
Home's mother looked at him as they pulled up to the gate. "Are you sure they won't mind if I stay as a chaperone?"
"Mom, there'll be a lot of kids there, they won't mind having more adults," Home assured her for the fifth time. "Besides, I know you want to check out my girlfriend and this way you can watch us at play instead of when we're on our best 'company' manners. Xandra's a really nice girl and I'm sure you'll like her, even though she is one young lady who has a bright future ahead of her in robotics."
"And security measures. She's a part-time guard out here for family events. Plus she helps her brother Timmy with his programming. You've met him," he reminded her. "Xandra is his little sister."
"Oh." She drove up to the gate, handing over the invitation. "It is all right that I stay?"
"We encourage it, ma'am," the guard assured her with a smile. He looked in the car. "So you're him," he said, staring him down. Home swallowed. "Good attitude. We love Xandra like one of our own because she is. Remember that, young man." The mother laughed. "We're patrolling the grounds tonight as well so don't be alarmed if you hear alarms or running people. Any children caught sneaking out of the tents and heading off to make out will be placed in the parent's tent. There is limited wandering into the garden for air but we will be watching for necking going on among the roses. Also, the hosting parents are in the parent's section staring at Junior's baby pictures because they're considering a new one."
"Getting ready to tell stories about six-hour crying jags?" she suggested with a smile.
"Not with Junior. He was actually a really good baby. The only bout of colic Father Philip, then Father Philip, cured really fast," he admitted, signing them in. He handed over the temporary badges. "Pin them to your shirt, the one you plan on wearing inside the dance tent, young man. It's to keep out crashers. Please park on the covered grass sections and use the carpeted runway back to the gardens, ma'am, and we do have a valet if you aren't comfortable parking."
"Thank you, young man. You're very nice." She drove on, letting the next parent in line have their time. "My, this is a very pretty house. I've never been out here before." She let the valet park because they were more used to the ground out here and walked her son back. She smiled at the young woman laying out things. "Well, I do know that body," she said fondly. "Serena, how are you, dear?" She gave her a hug.
"Just fine, ma'am. Thank you for asking," she said with a grin. "Home, Xandra's helping Bennet bring out food trays. Timmy and the guys are in the dance tent helping him tease his girlfriend until she hits him again for it and walks away with a blush." She grinned at his mother as Home slipped off to meet up with his buddies. "Let me guess, you're here to look over my sister?" The mother nodded, lips pressed together. "Xandra is very unique. She has a lot of toughness and training, but she's very sweet and gentle. She put myself and my boyfriend together because she knew he wasn't meant for her." She looked outside. "There she is, just coming down off the back patio."
The mother looked out, then blinked a few times. "What an interesting outfit."
"We're allowed to go to the teen club down at the mall, that's one of her favorite outfits for that," Serena shared. "Come on, I'll show you where the parents are hanging out so you can wander and look around before the DJ gets here."
"Thank you, dear. You're quite nice. I always like seeing you in my library." She followed the young woman around, nodding at her son's friends when they waved. She knew them and their bottomless stomachs very well. She put down her jacket in the parents' tent and went to check out the perimeter fences. "Ropes?"
"With motion alarms," Xandra said from behind her. She smiled and held out a hand. "Xandra. I know you're Home's mother; I've seen his picture of you in his wallet."
"That's a nice thing," she said, shaking her hand. She noticed the strength in the smaller body. "You're how old?"
"A year and four months younger than your son," Xandra assured her. "I'm almost exactly a year younger than the quad."
"Your mother had children that soon? After quads?"
"I wasn't exactly planned but Mom wanted me at the time," she said with a bright grin. "I get that a lot."
Home's mother blushed but she did laugh. "I'm sorry, dear, I didn't mean to insult your mother."
"Why not? I do," she said with a shrug. "Now, if it was my dads, I'd have to defend them, but her go ahead." She looked at the ropes. "The sign's not up on this one yet," she called, pointing.
"We're looking for lights since it's on the main path," a guard called back. "Got your earbud?"
"Of course. What other jewelry do I always wear?" she said with a smirk for him. "Come on, it's going to start blowing wind again," she said, leading her back into the tents. "They're predicting some light flurries tonight but the tents should be nice and warm," she explained. "That will also keep down the sneaking out. Timmy!" He pulled back, giving her an unconcerned look. "Not in front of my boyfriend's mother"!
"You know you'd be making out too if you were me," Timmy reminded her. "I only get to see her for six weeks and then she's gone again for another year."
"Boarding school," Timmy's girlfriend explained at the confused look. "We only get to video chat."
"Ah," Home's mother said wisely, not understanding a word of it. "Tim, I hear congratulations are in order."
He beamed at her. "One whole game sold. It's due out this time next year they said."
"Congratulations, boy," she said happily, hugging him. "You boys make me so proud. The next thing you know, one of you will be the next Bill Gates." All the computer club pointed at one kid and he laughed. "Okay, so it'll be you," she agreed. "The others will be multi-billionaires by investing and giving you patented ideas."
"Hey, if you can make a better OS than Windows and more popular than UNIX, we'd all worship at your feet," Xandra pointed out. "I need a stable one for a programmable robot or six." She looked at Home. "A friend of ours is coming in tonight, Kana, he's from our research branch in Kyoto, and he said that he's had someone ask if I wanted to help them code in a new battle robot."
"Like for wars?" Timmy asked. Xandra nodded, looking smug. "Brat!"
"Yup," she agreed happily. She tapped her earbud. "Yo, guys, where is our pretty minstrel with the long hair?" She listened to the security report. "Well, hurry him up. The kids will need music to start things off or else they'll start getting bored. Yeah, bored teenagers, lots and lots of them," she agreed. She smirked at Home's mother. "Sure, babe." She clicked it to the 'standby' mode. "They suggested the parents give a speech about Junior doing this to make the adults sorry they made him go to formal events. He's six people back from the gate at the moment."
"It'll be fine, Xanny. Junior's birthday will be talked about for years to come," Timmy assured her. "You did a good job helping Grandfather plan this thing. There's no stuffy old people games and I know you wanted the games tent but we couldn't find another one so they're using the dining room with his blessing, as long as they don't run up and down the halls."
"Oooh, games?" the future Gates-person asked.
"We've got a few big puzzles and a few books of word games, plus a few character sheets for those who role play D&D," Xandra told him. "Anything like Magic we expected you to have brought your cards."
"We did," half the club agreed in semi-unison. They laughed at each other.
"No fair, my mother said I couldn't bring mine," one kid sulked.
Timmy looked at him and grinned. "I also got booster packs, but you gotta pay wholesale for 'em."
"Hey, it was allowance day anyway," the kid said happily. "Not as great as my pack, but I can do that." They followed Timmy into the dining room, Home included for now, but Xandra stayed to help set things up.
Xandra waved as she rushed off. "It's been nice talking to you but I'd better help the DJ in case, ma'am. Have Home grab me later and we'll chat some more so you know I'm not some leather-wearing psycho-brat." She grabbed a speaker case from one of the guards, following the nice guy with the long, dark hair who was dressed in leather and velvet. "I love that vest. Where did you get it?" The DJ gave her an odd look. "Hey, I'm like that. I wear my leather pants to school. I'm getting a bike as soon as I'm old enough, the 'rents have already agreed."
He smirked. "There's a nice fetish shop that I shop at. I've got their card in my wallet. Are you Xandra?" She nodded, setting down the speaker carefully. "Cool beans. I was told you'd help me set up."
"Sure am. I'm the one who ran out the extension cords and put them on a separate breaker, one used for laboratory equipment usually. 100 amps enough?" He looked startled but nodded. "I had hoped it would be. If not, I've got another two ready that we can feed off of. They're both at thirty, but I figured a set of speakers on each shouldn't be that bad."
"No, I'll be cool on that one," he agreed, settling his things around him. "I still need to bring in the big speakers. Can you get some of those guys to help?"
"Sure," she agreed, walking out tapping her earbud. "Guys, we've got to heft the large speakers still. We need muscles."
"Oooh, already dumping him?" Brandon teased as he joined her. He looked at the large speakers lying in the back of the van, then at her. "Guys, we need handtrucks or six or seven of you," he called. The guards all rushed over to help, a few flinching at the size of the speakers. "Good thing Granddad stocked up on Ibuprofen, huh?" he teased.
The guards helping all nodded.
Derek smiled as the children hefted the speakers inside, not even flinching. He had earplugs, it would be fine. He was sure it would be fine.
Philip looked over his shoulder. "Last time I saw ones that size they shook the school," he said happily. "Gonna go outside?"
"No, I believe I'll watch the children playing in the dining room," he said with a smile. "I've got medicine for headaches if we need it."
"We might," Philip agreed. "You've got to come out for a dance, Derek."
Derek kissed him. "Take Nick. He's young, like you, and should have some fun. Him and the ladies as well."
"Sure," Philip agreed. "You could come too." He pinched him on the arm as he strode off, heading out to help set up.
"This will certainly shatter the illusion that we're all stuffy people up here," Derek muttered, putting in his ear plugs. He still jumped when the first song came on and it rattled the window behind him, looking outside in shock. "What is that?"
"Rap," Nick said from the doorway. "You sure?"
"Go, revel in your youth," Derek said with a fond smile. "Bennet and I will be watching the children playing in the dining room and hiding in the kitchen." Nick shrugged and left with a short wave. "Probably in the freezer to hide from the noise pollution," he complained as soon as Nick was out of hearing range. How did children listen to that?
Xander bounced around the parent's tent until Oz grabbed him and kissed him into submission, then he whimpered and clung. "Feel better?" Oz asked.
"Much," he purred. "Our baby's not so little anymore. He's eleven."
"Yeah, and he's hitting puberty too," Oz agreed, patting him on the back. "Sit. We'll go dance in a bit. I wanna watch Home and Xandra move." Xander rested his head on Oz's shoulder as they watched the kids move. Xandra and Home were easily spotted. She was in heels, which she had changed into after helping haul stuff, against their wishes, and he was the one glued to her front.
"Worried she'll do what Timmy's doing in a dark corner?" one parent teased from her seat.
Xander looked back at her. "If she does, I'll expect her to make a conscious decision and not follow her older sister's example. I'll also expect her to be on the pill and over the age of consent. She knows this because she saw what we went through with Precious." He grinned suddenly. "Though, they are really cute together. We'll have to worry about that in another year."
The mother laughed. "You think she'll wait?"
"I think that if she doesn't, we'll never find out," Xander admitted. "She's the sneaky one and she knows *all* the hiding spots on the island because she patrols it at least once a week with the guards." He went back to his seat to flop down beside her. "It could be a lot worse. We could have a whole houseful of kids who are irresponsible, irrational, and the usual brainless teenagers we all were, but I'm thinking that the kids have some sense, at least enough to stay out of trouble most of the time."
"Good. That means you did a good job with them," another father praised from behind his book. "Does that music ever get softer?"
"Slow songs," Oz offered. "Probably not too many of those tonight though. Junior isn't dating." He flopped down beside Xander. "Why is our daughter wearing a skirt that looks like one of your old shirts?"
"She bought it at the goth store. You know she's inherited my leather and velvet addictions, Oz."
"Good point," he agreed. He looked at the baby books, then at Xander. "I don't mind, Xan, but it'll mean a lot of work."
Xander gave him a gentle kiss. "At least there won't be any papers this time. It'll be odd to feed a baby without worrying about doing homework." He went back to his watching through the opening, waving at the kids the guards were walking inside. "This is your punishment for sneaking off. Sit." They looked stunned. "I mean it. There will be no sneaking off, guys. We're serious about that. The woods do still have some creatures. We don't want you to get startled or stabbed by a deer."
"Fine," the boy agreed, slumping down against the wall. "How long are we grounded for?"
"Two hours," Oz told him. "Next time, don't be so obvious." The girl looked at him and he stared back. "We're Precious, Junior, Brandon, Timmy, Serena, and Xandra's parents," he reminded her. "We've seen it all and were once your age. Trust me, their mother and I did a lot of sneaking off in our day." The kids all shuddered and grimaced in distaste. "So, next time don't be so obvious."
"Also, there's a bowl of condoms out behind this tent," Xander pointed out. "We expect to see it at least half-emptied. We don't want it to happen, but we're realistic and we get to name any and all babies that come as a result of this party, and you'll get things like Fistendatulus."
The father reading laughed, bending over to catch his breath by the time he was done. "You are so mean, Xander."
"Thanks," he said happily, grinning even. "I like myself. I'm sure I can find one and name it Therap too. That's the character I always played. He was a warrior mage."
"Big shock there," Oz snorted.
Home's mother looked at them like they were odd. "Huh?" she asked finally.
"They role-played," the laughing father offered. "Those were character and God names from the D&D games."
"Oh." She nodded, looking at Xander. "Your counseling degrees must have come in very handy."
"Oh, yeah. The talk only took a half-hour the first time," Oz told her.
Xander nodded. "The kids know that they can come to us for anything and we've learned to be realistic. We were just as bad when we were their ages, only we had more reasons to sneak out at night to play. We want them to make the right choices, but we know hormones overrule rational thought sometimes. We'd rather they be safe than sorry. I don't want to be a grandfather this year."
Home's mother looked a bit impressed. "Well. That's a good thought. What about Precious?"
"We'll kill her and then send her body to a convent school after we raise it," Xander said dryly. "Dad's sister is a nun up in Carmel. She's already saving Precious a spot just in case."
Home's mother laughed. "My father tried that on me too."
"Yes, but we've got the papers in our desk," Oz shared. "She's seen them. Sister Ingrid gave them to us already signed. She's more than ready to mentor our little stupid one."
The other parents laughed at that. They were pretty cool parents. The kids just gave them looks like they were odd.
"You know what? I miss Club Bacchae."
"Honey," Oz said patiently, "if I catch you going into another goth club ever again, I'm going to have to paddle you until you beg and plead for mercy. I won't allow it ever again."
"You were at Club Bacchae?" the girl in the grounded duo asked.
Xander looked at her and nodded. "Each and every time we could get away."
"Tell me you weren't there the night they were shut down," she pleaded.
"Oh, no, honey, I was there the night it burned down," Xander said with a wicked grin. "The guy running it was not happy with his people that night. I wasn't there that night because I had to work and Xandra had the flu. Otherwise I would have been arrested in the raid too."
"Wow," the boy said, looking him over. "You're hip? We thought you were like an older Xandra, tough and mental."
Xander giggled, leaning against Oz's side. "Not quite. She does get that from me, but I do have some humor and so does she if you know her well enough. It's really dry sometimes, but it's there. She went to her first club with us, she was about six months old." The kids gaped at him. "Seriously. She planned most of this thing."
"Wow," the girl said, looking around. "Not a hint of velvet or leather anywhere."
"We vetoed the leather hangings with the dragons on them," Oz offered. Everyone gave him a funny look. "Seriously. They're hanging on Junior's walls."
Home's mother shook her head. "You're more lenient than I could ever be, boys."
Another mother walked in. "Hi, is this the tent for the perpetually unhip and uncool?"
"Sure is, but some of us are about to get up and go in there," Oz agreed with a grin. "But we don't mind you breaking out into disco now and then."
The mother laughed as she walked in, looking at the kids. "Snuck out?" They sighed and nodded. "Good. Make sure I don't have to tell your mother, Stephani. She'll have a field day yelling at you."
"Hey, my mom was a drill sergeant for a reason," Stephani, the grounded female, noted. "It was to make my life a living hell some days."
Oz nodded. "Usually true," he agreed. "Thankful you're not in military school?"
"She tried. I came out a flaming lesbian for a few months and they sent me home. She was not a happy camper," she shared. "Xandra?"
"We got her private tutors and let her hang out with the guards. She got the more practical stuff without the marching and the icky uniforms," Xander told her. "Worked wonders. I'm expecting her to defeat at least one gropey boyfriend for another girl tonight."
"She did at the school dance, guys. Two of them. She tossed one out like she was a bouncer."
"It might be her job during her college years," Oz offered. "That'd make her feel better."
Xander grinned at him and nodded. "I can see that. She'd be the best biker bar bouncer ever." He put his finger up to his ear, tapping on his mic. "Yeah, guys?" He listened to the guard's quiet words. "Really? We'll have to introduce ourselves. Is she headed into the party or the house?" He listened to the description and got up, heading to find the girl. "Hey," he said with a grin as he found her taking off her jacket in the jacket check area. "I'm Xander. Welcome to the house, Beatrice Corrigan-Arkadi."
She looked at him, then backed away. "Mom said something about you guys."
"We're at peace if you are," he promised calmly he put his hand back down. "It does depend on you. Got it?" She nodded. "Though I do believe that Derek would like to meet you too. He used to consider your mother an extra child."
"She said so. That's why I'm going to Junior's school." Xander raised an eyebrow. "I don't know, sir."
"Honey, it's Xander and Oz," Oz said as he joined her. "We'll figure it out. During the break come find us in the parent's tent or in the food area and we'll introduce you to Alex, Buffy, and Derek."
"Nick? Is he still here? She told me a lot about him," she said quietly, glancing around.
"Oh, yeah. He and Philip are out in the crowd of kids." Xander led her inside, whistling at Nick and pointing. They made their way over, Nick's mouth falling open. "This is Beatrice Corrigan-Arkadi," he said. "She just transferred in."
"Hey," Nick said with a grin. She looked just like a younger Kat, only with black hair. "I'm Nick, this is Philip. I'm sure your mom's said something about us."
"Oh, yeah, tons," she agreed, starting to relax. "It's really all right for me to be here?"
"Sure," Oz agreed. "Go play. You're young, the night is not for serious stuff. That comes later, when we can meet as a family."
She nodded and skipped off. She had only transferred in the last week so she only knew a few people. "Hey, Junior. I made it. I had to take the ferry by myself but I made it."
He grinned at her. "Hey, Tricky. This is Benny, he's my bestest friend. His dad's a detective down in Hate Crimes. He's joining us Monday." Benny shook her hand with a grin. "Isn't this great? My sister planned most of this."
"This is a killer party, Junior. I wish I had sisters like you. Wanna dance?"
"Sure," Benny agreed, grinning at her. "We'll all go together. We're young enough not to get funny looks." He glanced at where his father was waiting, then drug his friends into the middle of the crowd. His dad was pulling some extra overtime as a guard tonight as a favor to Xander and Oz.
Xander looked at Nick, who looked at Philip, who looked at Oz. "I'll go," Oz agreed, heading up to the house. He walked into the study, taking out one of Derek's earplugs. "Beatrice Corrigan-Arkadi just showed up," he said into the unblocked ear. Derek gave him a clueless look. "Kat's daughter, Derek."
"Oh." He stood up. "Is she in trouble?"
"No, she just transferred into the school."
"Oh, really?" he asked, smirking at him. "Seeing what I did long ago?"
"Definitely, but I'm also seeing that she likes Junior and Benny. We'll be introducing her later, but she did meet Nick and Philip."
"Wonderful. I look forward to it," Derek agreed.
"Hey, dad, can we go have fun now?" Alex called as she and Buffy walked up the hall toward the outer door.
"Yes, you lazy children, go have fun now that your chores are done. I'm proud, you didn't even need a paddling this time," he joked.
Buffy leaned in. "You know, keep that joke going and see what people start to think about us *this* time." She grinned at Oz. "Too loud?"
"No, a new transfer kid just came in. Kat's daughter." Alex walked backward until she was in the doorway. "She's in Junior's grade because she skipped fourth."
"Oh." Alex looked at him, then at Derek. "Problem?"
"Not presently, but it does bear watching. We'll introduce ourselves to the young lady later," Derek said with a wink. Alex nodded and drug Buffy out. They were dressed at their finest and there had to be at least one single adult at the party with the current divorce rate in the city. "Thank you, Oz. Go have fun. I'll be in here hiding from the noise."
"Sure, dad. Don't forget to check on the kids gaming on the table." He jogged back out, taking Buffy onto the floor while Xander took Alex. A few of the kids hooted at them but Oz knew they looked hot together.
Xandra looked up from eating, mentally sighing. "Not today," she muttered as she stood up, wiping her mouth. "Save my food, I'll be right back. We've got gate crashers and it's the press." She strolled out, casually grabbing her cloak on the way. There was a good breeze tonight and she'd be cold if she didn't. She nodded at the guard she passed and pointed at the gateway. He grinned at her, letting her handle the pests. She walked down to the gatehouse, interrupting the screeching. "'Scuse me, but this is an invitation only event," she said firmly. "It's also a kid's birthday party. It's not exactly a newsworthy thing that my brother just turned eleven a few days ago so why are you here?"
The reporter looked at her and sneered. "Precious, you're not that good."
"Stupid, I'm Xandra, and I am that good. Now, why are you here and why are you interrupting my baby brother's birthday party?" She crossed her arms, which opened her cloak, which made the guard frown at her. "Oh, get over it. My parents said I could wear it, heels and all once they saw them." She looked at the reporter again, noticing he was gaping. She delicately stepped closer and closed his jaw. "I'm fifteen, dude, jailbait and then some. You'd get beaten and raped for years for doing what you're thinking." He swallowed and backed away. "Now then, why are you here? A birthday party isn't news."
"I was assigned to come out and get party pictures."
"Nope, sorry. No society types here. Just the kids we go to school with."
"Oh." He grimaced, one side of his mouth curling up as he thought. "None at all?" She shook her head. "Absolutely none?"
"Only the family. We go to a non-preppie school. No socialites allowed. Not even among the cheerleaders."
"Oh." He shrugged. "I'll call my editor, but he wanted to know why you were having the party."
"My brother's just now eleven. He deserved it."
"Fine." He rolled his eyes. "Can't you give me a good quote?"
She considered it, then gave him a mean smile. "You mean like the one I gave you about your impure thoughts?" He swallowed. "Otherwise, it's a happenin' party with kickin' music and great food. The family outdid themselves this time. The security is excellent, none of the kids are sneaking out, and even the chaperoning parents aren't having too bad of a time thanks to some forethought by the planners. Namely me." She turned and her cloak spun out, following her as she glided off. "Guys, there's another one trying." One of the guards caught that boy and brought him to the parents' tent, where his father was sitting and still reading. "Nice job, Uncle Ray," she said as she walked past him. "Benny was dancing with a girl and Junior."
"I saw. Who is she?"
"Um, when you first got here, do you remember hearing about Rachel?" Ray shrugged. "It's her granddaughter. So she's heard all sorts of stories about us. Dad was just introducing everyone to her. Why?"
"She was staring hard at the boys," he admitted. "I didn't think it was appropriate at her age."
"It's probably not but we'll deal," she assured him, giving him a hug. "You could come in. Your shift ends in another ten minutes."
"Yeah, when it does," he agreed with a grin. "You just wanna hold the big gun."
She winked. "Of course. What else would I be doing with a cop like you." She took off her cloak, making him moan and whimper. "Too much?"
"Put on a real shirt!" he ordered, pointing at the house.
She laughed and kissed his cheek. "Nice one, Uncle Ray. The dads saw and approved before I left the house." She handed her cloak back to the coat check and headed back inside to go back to her dinner, stopping in front of her parents and family. "The press was here. They sent the new society reporter. He was quite confused and had a lot of impure thoughts about me. I told him it was a great party, there weren't any socialites here outside the family, and that the planners had done an excellent job because even the chaperones weren't bored. Did I cover all the bases?" She strolled off, going back to her dinner with Home and his mother. "Sorry, press," she excused as she sat down.
"Who was that guy?" Home's mother asked.
"That's Benny's dad," she said, pointing at her brother and his partner in pranks. "He's a detective in Hate Crimes and he's a great buddy to the family. He babysits really well." She picked up her fork and dug into the meal. "Bennet outdid even my expectations," she said between bites."
"Your butler cooked all this?" Home's mother asked. "I would have had it catered."
"He said he refused to have to bully staff today, and that it gave him an excuse to hide in the kitchen from the kids, the noise, and the trauma of teenage angst."
Home snickered. "He really is a member of the family, isn't he?"
"Oh, yeah," she agreed, grinning before eating another bite of her fried chicken. She licked her lips when Ray walked in, grinning at him. "Come on over, Uncle Ray." He grabbed some food and came over to sit at their table. "Home, Home's Mom, this is my Uncle Ray Kowalski. He's Benny Jr.'s daddy. Uncle Ray, this is my boyfriend Home and his mom."
"Hi," he said, shaking hands. "Be good to her or face me with her parents," he warned the boy. "I'm Xander's backup."
Home grinned. "I'd never dream of doing anything else. She'd kick my ass, man."
"True," Xandra agreed with a grin for her boyfriend. "And I'd do it politely."
His mother laughed, shaking her head. "Well, you certainly aren't the sort of girl I thought I'd see my baby boy with, Xandra, but I approve of you. You've got your head on straight and you're protective of my boy. As long as it doesn't become *over* protection, dear."
"I'd never hurt Home, ma'am. I'm not like that. I take any mean moods out on Precious and Brandon." Home snickered, leaning against her side, sneaking in a gentle touch to her thigh. She patted him on the head and shoved him away. "Eat, you'll need it. The dance still has another two hours to go." He dug in, having the usual teenage stomach. "So, ma'am, you wouldn't mind if my parents wanted to grill him over dinner sometime soon?"
"Call me Molly, dear, and it's not a problem as long as they bring him home afterwards or they can arrange to get him home from the ferry dock."
"Sure, we're kinda used to being a taxi for our friends," Brandon agreed as he came over. "Xanny, dad said either your top comes up or he's finding the superglue. I know that slides now and then, but he's being a parent."
Xandra looked down and adjusted her top a bit. "Better?"
"Much, thank you," Oz called.
"Can't I put her in turtlenecks?" Xander complained.
"No, dad, not unless you can do it to the rest of them," Xandra called back, cracking up most everyone there. "Maybe this winter if it gets too cold."
"Fine," he called back. "Behave or else. I want to meet that boy soon."
She looked at her boyfriend. "Dinner Wednesday since we have to stay late for clubs and stuff anyway?" He nodded, grinning at her. "Wednesday, dads."
"Cool. We'll be having real food," Oz agreed. "Isn't the dance going to start soon?" The teenage stomachs all dug in, eating hungrily. Fortunately Bennet had taken that into account and made more than an army could eat. There still wasn't much leftover at the end, but he wouldn't mind since it wasn't going to waste.
Monday morning came as it usually did and the kids trooped off to school with a super patient guard driving them that day. He had to wait for Xandra to come out late because she had changed twice. He had to wait for Brandon, who had lost his new language text. He had to wait for Serena, who had a suspiciously bulging backpack. Plus he had to wait on Benny, who had never been a morning person and was still at the mumbling mummy stage of waking up - he only spoke like his face was surrounded by bandages and he drug his feet whenever he had to move. Xandra noticed everyone was staring at her outfit of a silk blouse and a longish skirt with a long slit up the left side. "What? It's laundry day for some of us. Feel lucky I found a bra to wear and it's not workout clothes," she complained as she got in. She had to shove Benny over to get her usual seat but he didn't care because that meant he could sleep against her arm and she was a comfortable pillow. She looked at Serena, who had her nose buried in a romance novel, raising an eyebrow at Brandon and nodding at their odd sister. He shrugged and patted his text, just in case it decided to disappear again. Precious flounced out last as always, in a skirt that was just short enough to violate the school's dress code policy and a tight white t-shirt over top of it, looking quite trendy at the moment. "Morning, slut," Xandra snorted. "Can that get much shorter?"
"Fuck off," Precious growled.
Everyone in the van moved away from her. It was clear there was a reason why PMS was called 'Precious Moods' around the house.
Xandra walked down the hall to her locker, bypassing the math teacher. She looked horrible, the plaid in her skirt and her vest were similar in colors but not in the way they were applied to the weave. It clashed horribly over her black shirt.
"Isn't that a bit much for school?" the math teacher asked.
Xandra paused to look at her. "She who clashes that badly shouldn't say anything about my clothes being perfectly pressed, fitting my body, and making me look hotter than you ever were. I'm covered, gorgeous, and you're a jealous bitch who needs her head examined because you like to stare at young boys." She flounced off, heading for the bathroom. There was a payphone in there. She found Serena coming out of the stall, and winced. "Okay. First, the thing needs adjusted or else it'll slip some more and you'll be pulling it all day. Second, your black dress would look *so* much better under that corset. Third, you look like the cover of a romance novel, sans ripped clothes. Turn around and come here if you're staying in that dress."
Serena went back into the stall to change dresses under her new corset, coming out in the black silk dress she liked to use for formal teas and afternoon events. She turned, letting her sister tighten things for her. "Hurry up, we'll be late."
"Hold on, gotta make a call while we do this." She dug out some change and grabbed the phone, wiping the handset off as she inserted coins and dialed. "Hey, Ripper, I think it's time to call in the posse. Back up, Serena. No, I don't need to talk to Uncle Giles, I need Ripper, dear. The math teacher is still hot for Junior and she snarked at me about my outfit." She worked from the top down, knowing the top had to be tighter. "Can you breathe?" she asked halfway through. Serena nodded so she tightened them again, making her gasp. "Good. That way it won't slip. I'll leave it looser below but the tits have got to be tighter, dear. Sorry." She worked her way back down, making it just tight enough to add a bit of shaping to the adolescent form, without causing much damage or pain. "No, I'm wearing my long gray skirt and black silk blouse. Serena's wearing her black silk dress and a corset. No, I did say a corset, it's overtop of it. I don't know why she wanted to look like the heroine of a romance novel, but she does it very well and I'm guessing her guy suggested it. There, Serena, you look hot in that. Put on different shoes though, those are clunky."
She leaned against the wall, listening as her uncle got his boyfriend. "Uncle Ethan, it's Xandra, I'm calling in the posse for Junior. I'm taking it you never told Ripper that the math teacher was after him? It was the exclaimed 'fuck' at the top of his lungs that gave it away, yeah," she agreed dryly. "No, still. No, we're at school. She started out snarking at me and then went to staring at Benny and Junior. I'm worried about Benny actually. He's shown mediumistic tendencies in the past and I don't want him to get caught in this battle. No, actually, there's another plot twist. We just got Beatrice Corrigan-Arkadi transferring in a few days ago. She seems to like both Benny and Junior. Yeah, we'll need some adult help. We gave her a warning, she's still going. What can my brilliance help you with? No, she's wearing clashing plaid together. Same colors but different weaves and they look sickening, so of course she had to snark on my classical and cute outfit. Yeah, that's just one reason. Think about it, Uncle Ethan. I know it's too early for more than tea, but we are talking about Junior. You know, his parents' offspring?"
She smirked. "Thought you might get it. Nah, we'll all be here. She's got him fourth period, me seventh, Serena second for a study hall and seventh, and the rest of them sixth. Yeah, sure. No, Benny's in there too. Need help getting into the school? Oh, if you do see Uncle Giles instead of Uncle Ripper, warn him that Precious is wearing a ho skirt again so he can tell the 'rents. Yeah, that one. No, I'm wearing my calf-length blue/gray one and my black blouse. Yes, that outfit. Of course I know it makes my legs look great, why else would I wear it? Though it is laundry day," she admitted when Serena looked at her. "Turn back around, sis. I need to tighten two more."
Serena took a deep breath and turned around again. "No, corset," she said as she tightened it some more. "There. Can you breathe?" She laughed at the pithy comment on the other side. "She doesn't need that sort of help, she's wearing it over her black tea dress. Yeah, that one. Shoes?" Serena gave her a dirty look. "Fine, switch with me." She toed off her shoes and they switched. "I'll switch with Precious later to spare the ho the trouble of trying to fall onto her back in stilettos. Yeah, it might help, Uncle Ethan." She snorted. "Would *you* tell our parents?" She smirked. "Exactly. That's why we started out with a warning. Daddy Oz does know, he's the calm one after all, but Daddy Xander might not know yet. Sure, if you want or need me, just yell my way." The warning bell rang. "Oops, homeroom. Gotta go. Love you, we'll take pictures before we change. Have fun, she's a chaos person, you're a chaos person of a higher order. It's your sacred duty to make her a miserable bitch for fucking with my baby brother. No, you never did tell me about the story how you and Uncle Ripper became the banes of the Hellfire Club in London, but I do want to hear it damn soon, Uncle Ethan. Sounds like the sort of fun I could get behind when I'm over there. Isn't there one in Kyoto? Gotta go, lovies. Laters."
She blew a kiss and hung up, heading out to her homeroom. She saw Precious' look at her feet. "I switched with Serena. Switch with me." Precious gave her a dirty look. "Otherwise I'm going to take a picture of you sitting down in that with your underwear sticking out again." Precious handed over her stiletto pumps and changed for the more modest, more comfortable stacked heels that Serena liked more. "Thank you. Goes better with my outfit anyway."
"Are you done?" the teacher asked in a bored tone.
"Hell no, do I look done? I'm not sunburned at all," Xandra said with a smart grin. She took her usual seat while he called roll. She looked at Precious. "I just got off the phone with Uncle Ethan. He's coming in as the next level." Precious smirked at her. "With Uncle Ripper."
Precious burst out laughing. Those two were hell. "I can't wait," Precious announced.
Beatrice Corrigan-Arkadi walked into the math classroom at lunch, making the door slam and lock. "We've got to talk," she announced.