Xander walked off the plane, looking around the grungy airport and sighed. Why were they here again? He had no idea. He turned, waiting out of the way for Dawn and his mentors. They had been insistent that there was something around here worth stealing. He heard a shrill voice coming from the departure gate across the hall from theirs and groaned. "It never fails," he told himself. "I get anywhere near my past, or their present locations, and we run into them." He looked at Dawn as she came off the walkway, nodding that way. "Sound familiar?"
She glared in that direction, the Dawn Patented Look Of Death To My Sister. "Whatever," she decided. "We should leave."
"We should," he agreed. "But I can guarantee that as soon as we move she'll spot one of us." He heard the shrill voice getting louder and grabbed Dawn because Buffy was looking in their direction for some reason. He pulled her closer, turning his back to Buffy and kissing Dawn for all he was worth. He hoped it'd last long enough. He really hoped it'd last long enough. He heard a cleared throat and looked at the woman standing there. "Shit," he said. Dawn slapped him. "Hey!"
"Dawn. Xander," Buffy said dryly. "Why are you in my town?"
"I came to see my nephews," Dawn said cheerfully. "You?"
"I live here."
"Huh, what a shock," Dawn said dryly. She looked over as one of their teachers came off the plane. "Finally. Come on, Xan, let's go. We can set up cameras later to catch pictures of the godchildren and nephews." She led him off, following Lupin. "You had to bring us here? And what was that?"
"I was hoping she'd ignore us and just think it was her mind playing tricks on her," Xander defended. She slapped him again. "Ow! Witch."
"Enough," Lupin said tiredly. It had been a long flight. Everyone else would be here later that night. He was stuck with these two alone. "What's going on?" He turned and found Buffy dragging her two-year-old son behind her. "Hi," he said with a smile.
"You," she said, glaring at him. "Where's the others? Did they finally bail on you?"
Xander looked up and counted to ten in French. He was good in that language now. It had been nearly ten months and he was definitely sounding like a native. Then he looked at Buffy. "Did it ever occur to you that we might have actually come to see the kids? After all, you and Willow aren't exactly up for Mom of the year."
"You stay away from us," Buffy hissed.
Xander looked over her shoulder as an officer walked up behind Buffy. "She's threatening us," he said in his most convincing helpless voice. "We used to be friends and we came in to visit the new town hall, and now she's threatening us. Make her go away?" he pleaded.
Dawn patted his back. "There, there, Xan, it'll be okay. She won't kill you like she just said she would." She glared at her sister. "You, go away. If I wanted to see you, I'm perfectly capable of walking up to your door, kicking it in, and walking in to talk to my nephews." She looked at the confused guard. "She's my sister and she doesn't like the fact that we're together." She wound her arm through Xander's. "Come on, pookie, we'll go see the new city hall. I know you're a big fan of the architectural style." She turned and flounced off with him, all the way to the baggage claim. She retrieved their bags, handing Xander his. "Why is this our luck? You go to LA and run into Angel. We come here and run into Mighty Mouth." Lupin laughed as he walked over to them. "I got one of yours, I haven't seen the other," she told him, brushing her sable hair over her shoulder. "Did you cap her? Or is that still my pleasure?"
"No, she'll live. The guard is escorting her to get her bags and then out of the terminal. He said if she didn't behave he'd have to arrest her. Quick thinking," he said quietly, spotting his other bag and grabbing it. "Now where?"
"Hotel?" Xander suggested. "That way we can mine the hallway?"
Lupin gave him a look. "That'd make it hard for everyone else to come in."
"Not really. Goemon would come in off the balcony," Dawn told him, taking Xander's arm again as they left the airport. The rental car had been reserved ahead of time so that wasn't a problem. The drive into the city took nearly forever, but no Buffy. Thankfully. "Lupin, what are we doing tonight besides waiting?"
"I was going to scope the exhibit tomorrow. Architecture?"
"Yeah, they had a world famous guy in to design the new town hall. It's a good cover, it's officially opening this week. It was all I could think of."
"That's fine. It's a good enough cover. Did you want to swing by and take pictures of the nephews?"
"Why? I've got a camera set up in her house so I can do that whenever I want," Dawn said with a wicked grin. "Do you think the others will have this much luck?"
"Hey, it wasn't Willow this time," Xander reminded her. "Her magic's back online because it's been a few months since she gave birth. It could have been much worse."
"Why were you two hanging around?" Lupin asked.
"We were waiting on you," they said in unison.
"Ah. Sorry, kids." He pulled off the interstate, heading to their hotel. A nice place and they had gotten a nice suite in it. "We all ready?" They nodded. "Good." He let the valet take the car this time, taking their bags inside themselves. "Ah, bonjour," he said, smiling happily. "It is good to be off the plane, no?"
Their 'hostess', by her tag, smiled at him. "I'm sure it is, sir," she said in a thick mid- western accent. "Has the rest of your party not arrived yet?"
"Unfortunately not," Dawn said, affecting a New York accent. "See, the planes got messed up and all that." She fluffed out her hair. "It's tough liaising and shit."
"Fortunately, I've never had to do that," the hostess said. She checked her computer. "All right, we've got you already checked in since your credit card was given with the reservations." She made three key cards and handed them over. "There are your door keys. If you need any help, my name's Camille, and you can call me."
Xander raised his hand, using the same French accent, his spanish one sucked. "Pardon, Coke?" he asked, making a drinking motion. Her face would probably be funny if she thought he was asking for cocaine, but Jigen would beat his ass.
"There are soda and snack machines on each floor near the elevators," she told him. "Also, we have a small gift and candy shop here in the lobby near the bars. Anything else?"
He shook his head. "Merci. Bon notte." He led the way to the elevators. The stewardess had cut off his coke habit after the third bottle. That had been right before they landed in England.
Lupin waited until they were on the elevator. "We're going to have to break you of that habit."
"No, he's horrible," Dawn said, her eyes wide. "We do not take the Lavelle's caffeine."
"There are going to be times when he can't get any," Lupin pointed out, following them off the elevator and to the soda machines. Xander stocked up for the night by buying a six pack. "We're going to Turkey after this."
"Turkey has coffee," Xander pointed out, opening one can immediately and gulping. "Better," he sighed. He followed Lupin to their suite, finishing off the first can by the time he had the door open. "Look, no more shakes," he said proudly, holding out a hand.
"I'll remember to bring caffeine pills from now on," Lupin told him, looking around the suite. "All right, someone sweep for bugs, then we'll settle in." He watched as Dawn pulled out the sweeper and walked around the rooms, sitting down on the couch. "How are we doing rooms? There's only five of them."
"It's the biggest suite in the city," Xander reminded him.
"I know, I wasn't criticizing, kid." He gave him a pat on the arm. The boy soaked up tactile contact, it made him want to hurt the guy's parents. "We clear, Dawn?"
"We're kosher," she agreed, coming out of the last room. She looked at the doors. "Okay, I'll take a couch." Lupin looked at her. "Sorry, I only sleep with anyone *once*." She sat across from him. "Because of what I am, there's a protection that can be placed over people that I'm intimate with. It goes on the first time, and is returned the second."
"So the third it comes back?" Lupin asked.
She shook her head. "It can't be put back on once it's gone. Otherwise I'd ward our jinx there and we wouldn't have run into my sister."
"Yeah, it's my fault she was coming in from the funeral late," Xander told her. He had gotten back two days before they had left, having been gone a week, and had slept for most of the two days once he had his assignments. It hadn't been pretty, but Wesley had gotten payback for what had been done to him. What the man had forced and allowed that demon to do to him. Each and every thing. Dawn looked at him. "I'm fine."
"I'm sure you are," Lupin agreed. He had read the paper and had made some deductions. It was fine with him, the kid was more stable now it seemed like. "Okay, are we set?" They nodded. "Dawn, you've got your orders?" She nodded again. "Good. We'll go to the museum tomorrow. We'll scope out the Vatican exhibit. Xander and Jigen will retrieve the stuff. Goemon and Fujiko will be with the boys and they'll be our backup. Any questions?"
"I was wondering why we were stealing from the Vatican," Xander admitted.
"Because someone asked me to retrieve their family's artwork," Lupin said seriously. "I hate the Nazi's. We've run into them or their descendants and their hordes a number of times." Xander nodded, accepting that. "After this, we'll be going to Turkey to do a job just for us. I'll sit you both down to work on the plans later this week." They nodded again. "Any other questions?" Xander raised his hand. "What?" he asked patiently.
Xander grinned. "Do I get to call Pops Grandpa or something? Since, I mean, we're the gang, second generation."
Lupin laughed. "It'll confuse him to no end. You might want to send him a letter taunting him first."
"Okay. That'll make my day. He whistled this really annoying song while he had us in LA. Wouldn't even give us a word search; he told the guards we were too dangerous to be trusted with paper."
"Wow. I thought Goemon was from the feudal era. When did this guy stop progressing forward with history? The dark ages?"
Lupin snickered. "I'm sure he was pressing their buttons. He knows Jigen prefers crosswords. You do word searches?"
"And fill it ins," Xander agreed. "I suck at crosswords."
"I'm sure he'll help you with that too," Dawn soothed. "Okay, so I've got the couch. That leaves?"
"Goemon and Fujiko get one room. Jigen and I, or Jigen and Xander, get one. The boys get one. Whoever's not with Jigen gets one. That means you can have the last."
"Cool. I pick the one next to the bathroom," she said, heading that way. It had a single bed, a nice big one.
"Hey!" Xander complained.
"If you didn't drink so much, you wouldn't need to go every four hours," Dawn retorted, smirking at him as she disappeared into her room and locked the door behind her. David was still being persistent and she'd have to keep the door locked.
Xander grimaced at the door. "Girls are nasty. That's why I'm bi," he announced.
Lupin snickered. "I'm sure it is, Xander. Buffy was enough to turn any man off women." Xander grinned at him. "Is she sexless or just not tolerant of males?"
"She prefers vampires and predators," Xander told him. He shifted so he was looking at him. "Let's see, there was: Angel, vampire, Spike, vampire, Riley, military predator of demons, Giles, predator. There's been two other vampires that I know of but I don't know their names and then her present husband, who's not only a predator but a drunk and a verbal abuser." He grinned. "According to the paper, she had to have him arrested a few months back before she kicked his ass."
"Are safe enough. She can always send them to Giles or Willow. Which she does often."
"Are you going to have any more vendetta jobs?"
Xander considered it. "While I would like to kill Giles for allowing Wesley to offer me that way, Willow for not stepping in when I begged her for help and trying to kill me, and Buffy for announcing I was a tainted being and was therefore a good target, thereby sending Willow after me, I don't think they'd do any good as victims. Wesley was necessary. He's the one who gave me to the demon, forced him to take me and then allowed him to violate me while others watched my pain and suffering. He deserved everything he got and then some. I was gentle with him because I couldn't be that mean, I'm not really demonic. Considered a consort by some of them, but not really demonic."
Lupin took a deep breath. "I need to know what will happen if we run into Buffy again, Xander."
"She's safe enough," he promised. "She's not worth the agony I put myself through remembering." He stood up. "Any room you want?"
"No, that's all right. Did you want Jigen or not?" Xander shrugged. "Then let's have you in the room next to Dawn and he can pick for himself. I'll take the room next to you so I don't have to hear Fujiko going off and they can have the big room on that side with the other going to the boys." Xander nodded, heading that way. "I want you to be okay," he said, and Xander grinned back at him. "I also want you to cut down on your caffeine intake."
"It soothes and settles my ADHD," Xander said lightly. "It helps me focus. Besides, I get violent in withdrawal." He walked into his room and closed the door, not locking it.
Lupin laid down on the couch. They had some time and he needed to think about the boy. Was he stable now? Could he continue to do the work now that his mission in life was over with? Would he turn to the gun as a surrogate for pleasure? That was the big one he wanted to know. The people who got sexual pleasure from shooting someone scared him and he didn't want to be afraid of the boy. Afraid for him, but not of him. He heard something hit the outer door and stood up, heading that way. He opened the door, taking the towels from the maid. "Merci," he said, thanking her with a bright smile. "We are mostly fine otherwise." She nodded and left, letting him settle in. He deposited the towels in the bathroom then went to unpack in his own room. Maybe he'd take a little nap, they had a good four hours before the rest of them appeared, and that was if Fujiko and the boys weren't bumped to a later flight.
Jigen walked into the suite and looked around, then snorted. "They're all asleep," he said as he headed for the bathroom. He saw the empty cans of soda and counted. Xander had three already?
"The stewardess must have cut Xander off on the plane," Fujiko noted, moving the cans to the trash before sitting on the couch. "We're here." Dawn came out of her room and looked at her. "Which room's which?"
"Lupin said you and Goemon get the big room on the other side. The boys get the one next to you so they can wank off as you two have sex. Jigen can sleep with either Xander or Lupin, and the one he doesn't choose gets their own room." She smirked at the blush the samurai was giving off. "Sorry, did I embarrass you?" she teased. She liked to tease him, he had the best responses. It wasn't like Fujiko minded most of the time.
"I'd never pull off to someone else having sex," Marcus noted, looking quite embarrassed himself. He cleared his throat and went into the room he would be sharing with David. "We've got twin beds."
"Good, because you've got icy feet of death," David complained as he followed. "I hate sleeping with you, Marc, you're a soul-sucking block of ice in the middle of the night." They shut their door.
Jigen came out of the bathroom. "Which room is mine?"
"That depends, did you want to hear Lupin snore or Xander?" she asked him. He shrugged. "They've got the other two rooms on this side. Xander's next to you and Lupin's beside him." She looked at Fujiko. "You might want to nap. Xander's been sleeping since we got in because he's wearing out the urge to kill my sister." Jigen looked at her, and so did Goemon. "She was coming in at the gate across from us. We had to have the airport cops take her away." She shrugged. "It sucked. We told her we're in town for the city hall opening."
Fujiko nodded. "A good cover. Xander had been a carpenter, of course he'd be interested in a neat new building by a famous designer. What excuse did you give?"
"I wanted to see my nephews and get pictures."
"Also a good reason," Goemon agreed. "I believe I'll retire now."
"Sure, have a good nap," Jigen agreed. "Tomorrow will be a bit busier." He walked into Xander's room and forced him to roll off his back to quit the loud snoring. It was a double bed so he went next door. Lupin had a queen. "This sucks," he decided, heading out to the couch. "Move." Fujiko moved and he laid down with a sigh and a smile. "Better. I don't feel like sleeping with them. Xander sucks in his sleep."
"Tell me about it, Lupin drools," she agreed, heading after her husband. He needed to calm down from his embarrassed point. "Sorry, I'll talk with her again," she soothed, intending to do no such thing. He was like a teenager and it was cute to her.
"Please," Goemon ordered. "That is going a bit too far. I would never do such things in here with others listening."
"Like they can't hear us at home?" she pointed out. "Or didn't Jigen get on you our second morning back?" He grimaced and laid down, fully clothed. "Strip, or you leave me no choice." He groaned but stayed firm in his resolve, even after she took off her clothes and sashayed over to 'help' him out of his. It really was her favorite game.
Lupin came out of his room, looking at the man napping on the couch. "I would have shared," he told him, waking him up.
"You drool and Xander sucks," Jigen told him. "I don't need either condition." Besides, Xander would want to test his firm commitment to women, and he didn't want to deal with that. "I'm fine right here." Someone knocked on the door. "Who ordered out?"
"None of us," Lupin said, walking that way. He looked outside, frowning as he opened the door. "Oui?" he answered in flawless French.
"Sir, we had a report that there was a master thief among your party," the officer said, stepping inside. "If we may see them?"
Lupin looked at the man, then shook his head. "They are gone for now I think," he said in heavily accented English. "Dinner."
"I see. The hostess said that none of you had left."
"Who called it in?" Jigen asked, not moving.
"Some woman called in an anonymous tip, sir. Said that the thief who hit the Met Museum in New York so many times was in town."
"Ah." Jigen sat up, looking at the boy from under his hat. When did the cops get so young? "We have two women in our group, one of them's sister lives in town. They had a run-in earlier and it was probably spite on her part. I can assure you Deserre is not a thief. Des, you up?" he called.
Dawn came out of her room. "Yeah?" She had on a red wig this time and she did look stunning with the waist-length hair. "Did you need something?" she asked.
The officer looked at her, then shook his head. "She doesn't fit the description at all. I thank you for your patience, have a nice stay in our city." He walked out, leaving them alone. He also had a talk with the desk clerk. She had said the girl was a brunette. Maybe one of them was a wig? The desk clerk told him the brunette was probably the wig, it seemed a little puffy to be real hair.
Dawn pulled off her wig and smoothed out the strands. "I'm going to kill my sister. Anyone object?" Jigen shook his head, looking amused. "Hey, Lavelle, you wanna go hurt my sister?"
"She's a waste of energy," Xander said as he walked out of his room. He used Lavelle whenever he was on the job. It helped him distinguish between the two. "She won't even scream prettily."
"Shit," Dawn sighed, going back into her room to put the wig up. She came out, holding up an outfit for Lupin's approval. "I'll look like some yuppy school teacher," she pointed out when he nodded. "I don't think I can pull that off."
"Of course you can," he said with a bright smile, putting an arm around her shoulders. "Lots of people dress up to go to the museum. Especially with important exhibits. Besides, not everyone has your taste for silk, satin, and leather, my dear. You being you would tip this off."
She sighed and nodded. "Fine. I'll wear the plaid skirt and button-up shirt. Even though it is gross," she agreed. "But I'm not wearing flats."
"Fine. Wear whatever you like," he agreed, smirking at her back. She might protest but she had the basics down. Within a year the whole group could go on their own with only monitoring now and then from their retirement. Lupin smirked at Jigen.
"Don't look at me, Xander knows everything I do."
Fujiko came out in a robe, making sure it was tied tightly. "One more year?" she suggested.
"I think it might be for the best. We'll see after this job and Turkey," Lupin agreed. "That okay with you, Xander or Dawn?"
"Fine," Xander agreed. "I'd get bored having to talk to the other three all the time." He looked at his mentor. "Are you staying with me?"
"And have to fight the hickeys? No, thank you," Jigen said dryly.
"Cool. Then I'll be back in about three hours. After I've fixed an itch." Lupin stopped him and looked in his eyes. "A hooker or three," he said quietly. "That itch." Lupin grimaced but let him go. "It's not like I could stand David," he quipped before leaving. He headed down on the elevator, stopping at the front desk. Time for some mischief. "Pardon, Camille," he said in accented english again. She smiled and came over to talk to him. "Belle homme?" he asked. She looked confused so he outline an hourglass with his hands. She blushed and handed over a pamphlet. "Bon. Merci." He grinned happily and walked out to find himself a hooker or three. They had been cooped up in France for *way* too long. Six months without sex was four months over his limit and he was going to have to do something before he jumped Goemon. Fujiko probably wouldn't mind, much. He found the nearest pretty hooker and switched accents to a British one. "Well," he said happily. "Do you have a set rate?" He liked how her skin was the color of lightened coffee.
She smirked as she moved closer, running her finger down his chest. "That depends on what you want, sweetie. What you into?"
He grinned. "Anything you can give me. Mostly, I'd like something...intense?" She shrugged. "I'm safe and I play safe."
"Fifty, plus the room," she said, nodding him back down the alley to her chosen flea motel room. He gladly paid her because she was going to be good. It had been much too long.
Fujiko looked at the clock, then at Jigen. He didn't look worried in the least. "Where is your apprentice?"
"He's probably on his third or fourth hooker," Jigen said quietly. They were the only ones up. He had gotten used to Xander's odd hours. "Why?"
"He is?" she asked. Jigen looked at her and nodded. "Why?"
"Because it's been six months since he's had any," Jigen told her. "He gets antsy after two. This way, he'll be focused."
"Is this going to turn into a ritual for him?"
"Hardly," Jigen snorted. "He's twenty-eight, Fujiko. He's still got needs and no amount of self control will hide that." The door opened and Xander walked in, his shirt partially unbuttoned, his lips swollen, and his eyes bright as he grinned. "Feel better?"
"Much," he agreed, sinking onto the couch with a sigh of relief. "So much better." He shifted to get off his sore butt, laying down on his side. "Night. You can have my room." He closed his eyes and passed out.
Fujiko rolled her eyes. "Wonderful. Just what I needed to smell."
"Ah, leave the kid alone," Jigen said dryly. "He's fine. He'll sleep it off and shower around dawn or so." He went into the free bedroom, taking the comfortable bed for himself. Xander was always nice and respectful of him, even if he wasn't of Fujiko and Lupin most of the time.
Lupin came out of his room and looked at the boy, then shook his head and came over to take off the boy's shoes. "Next time, don't waste your money on hitting most of the block, find one and do it all."
"Can't," Xander mumbled. "She wouldn't take me with a strap-on." Fujiko blushed and headed back to her room. Xander lifted his head, giving Lupin a bleary look. "What?"
"Peachy and dandy. Thanks for the shoes and all." He put his head back down and drifted off again, not totally having been awake.
Lupin shook his head. Sometimes the boy reminded him of himself. He went back to his room, ignoring the noise from across the sitting area.
"Do you mind? Some of us need to sleep," Xander complained loudly a few minutes later. "Next time, buy the woman a gag and appreciate the many uses!"
Lupin snickered, shaking his head. Yeah, the boy could be like him, only without tact. Fortunately, neither of the couple came out to argue with him, and neither did Jigen or Dawn.
Lupin, in his somewhat generic disguise, walked Dawn around the exhibit, taking stealthy pictures of everything they paused in front of. Back at the hotel, someone was downloading them directly onto his computer, or was supposed to be, he'd have to make sure they did. Xander sometimes didn't deal well with computers. He called it his iron thumb days. He paused in front of one of their targets, giving Dawn's arm a squeeze. Then he shifted some of her red wig out of his way. "That's very nice," he told her.
She tipped her head to the side. "It's really dark, dad, but I kinda like it. I mean, Christianity is very dark in a lot of ways. The darkness of the oil paints does follow all the death they went through." He looked at her. "Give me the Celtic way any day," she said proudly. He smiled at her. "Come on, let's go see the pretty exhibit next door," she encouraged.
"Let me finish looking," he chastised. She was so impatient. He went to the last wall, finding their other target. It was going to be harder to steal, it was in a glass box. He'd have to think about that one. Then he let Dawn lead him next door, into the Cartier exhibit. He whistled. "Don't you get any ideas, young lady. I'll not be buying you anything like this. Only husbands should do that." Some of the nearby patrons smiled and a few laughed at that comment.
She walked around, pointing at one she *really* liked. She was getting wet panties staring at it. "If I ever find a husband, he's getting me something like that," she told him, pointing at the delicate emerald pendant. It was done in filagree silver with a delicate chain, but the pendant shone with its own light. To her magical senses, it was powerful. She wrapped her arm around the boss' again and led him out. "Come on, let's get some ice cream," she pleaded, giving him a look. "I know I could use some and so could brother."
"I'm not feeding your brother sugar, he'll destroy our hotel room," Lupin said firmly. He had learned that lesson all too well after a day-trip to Switzerland. To be fair, Jigen had warned him. He had never seen anyone vibrate like that before. It was like the boy was high or something. And reckless! He had nearly crashed Dawn's motorcycle. Fortunately, Dawn had stepped in and stolen the rest of his chocolate. Her PMS had been the point of the shopping trip to the chocolate store. He let her pick up a sundae from McDonalds and then they went back to the hotel. Xander was staring out the window. "No, we didn't bring you any," he said as soon as the door was closed.
Xander grinned at him. "That's okay. I don't want any right now."
"Please don't be sick," Dawn begged. She took off her wig and sat down to eat her sundae.
"No, I had a candy bar with breakfast," he admitted. "Small amounts spread out over time alleviate that sudden urge," he said smugly. "Jigen did the computer thing for you. I've been watching the dignitary check in. It's nice, the Ambassador to Spain is up the hall and one flight up." Lupin frowned. "With Grandpa."
"Who?" Dawn asked, looking back at him.
"I asked if we got to call Pops grandpa since we're like the junior generation," Xander said, grinning at her. "You're gonna drip that bite." She quickly stuffed it into her mouth.
"I'm sure he'll love you, kid," Jigen said from his doorway. "Any luck?"
"Yeah, and we found a pendant that's oozing magic," Dawn said between bites. Jigen came out and took the sundae, looking down at her. "What?" She took it back. "It's not like it's safe or anything. They had it contaminating a small ruby necklace too." She ate another bite. "I'm not sharing. You can buy your own."
Jigen snorted and shook his head. "No thanks." He looked at Lupin. "Boss, we've got one small glitch."
"Lavelle told me about the ambassador. Is it the same one?" Jigen nodded. "Good. Maybe we can do something with her again."
Xander snickered. "No, that might not be a good idea. She brought her husband, the prototype for stuffy bastard aged eighty," he told him. "He came in with a pit bull and a rifle. They were quickly put away for him." He turned, looking at Dawn. "How magical?"
"A lot," she offered. "Enough to be glowing without me turning on my Sight." She scraped the bottom of the plastic cup, then stuck the last spoonful in her mouth. "It's small, I'd say it was worn during rituals."
"Then don't worry about it for now," Xander told her. "We can deal with it later. I'm sure we can hit Cartier sometime."
"Your graduation exercise is going to be Harry Winston's right after the Oscars next year," Lupin told him. "But yeah, we could try for Cartier. I have no problem with that."
"They'd stick it back in their vaults," Dawn told him. "The tag said it belonged to some Rockefeller cousin. Morticia, Morte, something." She shrugged. "Whoever it was was wearing power."
"It's secondary, Dawn," Lupin told her. She nodded. "Good girl. Where's everyone else?"
"The boys are out in the park playing frisbee," Jigen told him, rolling his eyes. "Fujiko ordered them to go play in the park before they drove her insane by looking down her shirt or playing another game of tag. Those two went to do a second case about a half-hour ago." Lupin smiled at him. "Need anything else?" Lupin shook his head. "Got a plan yet?"
"A small one," Lupin agreed, looking at Dawn. "You?"
"I prefer ventilation systems but their grates were awfully small," she told him. "I'm not much for the sneaking in part so I'll defer this time."
Lupin nodded, that was sensible. "Okay. Then let me sit down with the map I got us and see if we can figure out a plan once the other two come back."
"If they come back," Xander said, walking over to the computer. He turned it around, opening the picture he had cropped. "Look, it's a Buffy," he said dryly, getting out of the way.
"She's got brown hair," Dawn said, frowning over her shoulder at the image. "Did she suddenly undye it?"
Jigen shuddered. "Was she following you?"
"I didn't feel her," Dawn admitted. "I didn't see her either."
"She was with the class of kids," Xander offered. "So was Morgan." Dawn grimaced. "It's a daycare."
Lupin looked at the picture, he remembered the group but not the adults. He had thought the kids looked so cute in their uniforms. It was like a real school for three-year-olds. "Are you sure?" he asked.
"Positive," Xander admitted. "I saw her when she didn't have any time to dye her hair for months on end. That's her natural color." Dawn nodded. "You wanna check my findings?"
Dawn stood up and came over, looking at the picture. "If it's not, we've got some half-sister running around," she said quietly. "With dad that's possible but not probable. But yeah, that is Morgan," Dawn admitted, stroking the face of her nephew.
"All right. Could she have recognized you, Dawn?" Jigen asked. She shook her head quickly. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah. My wig was firmly in place. My outfit was so not me, and was never something I would have worn in the past. The only thing she might have identified was the heels I wore but they're new."
Lupin gave her a pat on the back. "This is a coincidence." Both young people looked at him like he had just uttered something blasphemous. "What?" he asked impatiently.
"You believe in coincidence?" Dawn asked him.
Lupin nodded. "Don't you?"
"No. In Sunnydale it never happened. If stuff like this happened there, there was a reason and it usually had something to do with an apocalypse." Xander nodded quickly, going back to his spot near the window. "We never 'ran into' someone we hadn't seen for a while without it trying to kill us." She looked confused, turning it on Jigen. "Do coincidences really exist?"
He nodded. "Most of the world agrees that they do."
Xander lifted his rifle and put the silencer on it. "Should I help the stupid old guy with his clay pigeons or not?"
"Ah, hell, make him look good. You could use the practice," Jigen agreed, coming over to watch him take out the clay disks just as the ambassador's husband shot and missed each one.
"He sucks," Xander noted quietly, hitting the next one a little early but it was fine. No one was paying any attention. "I wonder if people do this for the Prez when he hits a ball into the woods while golfing?"
Lupin came over, pulling everyone away from the window and closing it. "Enough," he decided. "He doesn't deserve the waste of ammo."
"This is the US, boss," Xander reminded him. "Guns are mostly rampant here. I could go out and replace most of our stock within four hours of driving." Lupin looked at him. "Really. There's a gun show about four hours away. I could get us some major shit there. All without background checks."
Lupin shook his head. "It's not necessary. We shipped what we needed." He went back to the computer, looking at all the other pictures. "Who cropped these?"
"I did," Jigen admitted. "The frames were blurry. You need to clean your lense, boss."
"I'll do that later," Lupin decided, looking at all the pictures. Nothing said they couldn't get others while they were there.
Xander looked up as Jigen joined him at the bar, handing him his spare drink someone had bought him. "Hey," he said, nodding slightly. "Dawn still hyper?"
"Very," Jigen agreed, sipping that drink. He had made Xander switch to scotch a few months back so the liquor bill would be less. "Let's find a table." They walked to the back corner, there was never anyone by the kitchen. He sat across from the boy. "The boss is worried that you're gonna spaz out soon," he said quietly.
Xander chuckled, finishing his drink. "Why? Because Wesley's dead?" Jigen nodded, taking another sip of his. "There's no problem. I accepted this life fully a long time ago. You know that."
"That's why I said I'd talk to you," Jigen informed him. "Besides, it's keeping Fujiko off your case."
Xander smirked. "She's not really my type. I don't want to have to guard against a knife during sex." He waved the waitress over, smiling at her. "Another, please?" he asked in his french accent. She nodded and went to get it for him, coming back quickly. He paid for it and gave her a nice tip. "Merci." She hurried off.
"We could just buy a fifth," Jigen pointed out.
"Half the fun of going to bars is people watching," Xander offered. He nodded behind him. "Like that couple. He's already drunk, she's resisting. He'll be raping her before the night is out probably." Jigen looked at them, then nodded that the boy was right. "Besides, I needed to get away from the younger crowd. I haven't been that young in years, boss, and it gives me great irritation."
Jigen nodded. "That's the other reason I'm down here. Lupin is playing scrabble with them." He put down the empty glass. "You're sure?"
"What else am I gonna do?" Xander asked calmly.
Jigen sighed. "Not the point."
"But it *is* the point. It really is. I started out a good guy, a white knight all the way. I was the goofy guy who jumped in to help without having a *clue* what I was doing," he said with a sad smile. "Then I started to learn things and things got easier. The friends got harder but the life got easier. Then the whole Wesley thing happened and I spent nine months looking at the worst that nature can give us, or that religion can give us depending on your viewpoint. This is the only path left to me that I can reasonably take and be happy with myself ever again. I'm doing good work getting rid of the problems so that no one else has to go through what I have." He heard a familiar step and looked up. "Shit." He put some money on the table and hauled himself and his boss up, walking him to the door that led outside.
"Hold it," Pops, the detective from the ICPO, yelled, trying to chase after them. "Police officer! Get out of my way!" he said angrily as he pushed through the crowd.
"Bye, Pops," Jigen called, waving and smiling.
"Bye, Grandpa," Xander called, waving and grinning. They exited, then disappeared so they could come back in the back entrance of the hotel. Surely the cop wouldn't get to follow them down the alley. One punk tried to stop them so Xander shoved his head into the building as hard as he could as they jogged past. The punk didn't get up to try to bother them and none of the other punks did either. They made it to the back alley and looked around, then Xander nudged his teacher. "Should we run upstairs right now or go wander?"
"Let's wander for a few," Jigen said, walking toward the main road. He pulled out his cell and called the room. "It's me. Pops was in the bar. We're wandering for a few." He hung up and looked at the kid. "Backup hotel?"
"Yeah, one nearer to the museum. Less snazzy. Less everything. It's a rent-a-pro place but I can get a clear shot there if necessary."
"Okay then. Let's head that way to check it out then we'll head back to the room." He let the boy find them a cab, getting in the back with him.
Xander gave the driver a ten. "We need to go to the whore spot on tenth," he ordered. "That little one with the blue neon."
The driver looked at him, then looked at Jigen. "He should take you somewhere more classy, kid. Even boytoys like you need to be treated better."
"His ex just caught up with us," Xander said with a grin, snuggling back into Jigen's side. "We're escaping." The driver laughed and drove off with them, ignoring the person jumping up and down on the pavement to try and get him to stop. He looked up at his boss and grinned. "See, I do have good ideas," he said quietly.
"Sometimes," Jigen admitted, tapping him on the nose. "Behave, kid."
"I'm trying to," Xander defended. "Sometimes it's hard."
"I'm sure it is." Jigen looked out the window, watching the blocks go past so he could memorize the route. The place was a roach motel but it did have clear line of sight to the museum from most of the rooms. "Nothing closer?"
"Not with opening windows," Xander admitted as he let them into their room. He turned so he could lean against the door as it closed. "Now, what should I do with you?" he asked with a very sexual smirk and a little lick of his bottom lip.
"Get over it," Jigen told him, cracking Xander up. "How long did we book for?"
"One hour. The standard." He walked over and flopped down on the bed, earning a disgusted look. "Please, like I care if I get stuff on my jacket. That's what dry cleaners are for."
"I wouldn't touch that bed if someone paid me," he said, carefully not touching anything in case there were remains of the last user of the room. Or the people before them. Or even the people before them.
Xander turned on the tv, flipping through the listings. "I guess it's porn."
"No, kid," Jigen said, taking the remote and putting it aside. "Don't even think about it."
"I've gotten over my crush of you," Xander informed him, moving until he was kneeling on the bed. "You've got to be monk-like if you didn't react to Dawn in the red outfit last month. Even Goemon reacted."
Jigen grinned, that had been funny, it was the first time he had ever seen the samurai pounce his wife. In public no less. "Cute. Still not me, but cute."
"Holding out for a nice little girl?"
"I'd break a nice little girl." Jigen loosened his tie a little and looked around the room again. It was cleaner than some he had been in. "Which one did you want to get the day of the job?"
Xander slid closer, fixing the tie for his boss. "There, now it's not crooked. I want the end room. That'll be easier." Jigen nodded. "Car?"
"There was a parking lot a few feet after this place," Jigen told him. "We can park the backup there and use it ourselves if no one else does." Xander nodded. Jigen swatted his fixing hands. "Stop that. Otherwise, I'm going to have Lupin handcuff you tonight."
"Ooh, kinky. Does he play that way?"
"I have no idea and no desire to find out," Jigen told him, looking into his eyes. "Behave. I mean it." Xander let him go and sat on his heels. "Thank you." He delicately sat next to the boy. "I found your book last month."
"Have a good read?" Xander asked.
Jigen reached over and touched him on the shoulder. "You can talk to me about anything, Xander, remember that. Even the urges you still get after your captivity." Xander nodded, looking down at his knees. "I don't care. It's part of you and I've always been a 'fuck the past' sort of guy. How did you control it for six months?"
"Lots of long showers," Xander told him. "That way I wouldn't be caught."
"It's all right, I do understand. Hell, I lived with the horniest bastard ever for most of my adult life. Fujiko used to tease and then walk away." Xander snickered. "So I can help you deal with yours too."
"I got rid of them the other night," Xander assured him. "I'm totally free for at least another month."
"Wonderful. From now on, *tell* me and I'll help you get out of the house. But, please, don't do it in Turkey, it could get us killed."
"I wasn't planning on it. Dawn's found a spell that'll take those nasty urges off me for a little while," he admitted. He shifted until he was sitting cross-legged beside his mentor. "I still say it's some lasting sickness from the trauma to want to be touched that way again, but Dawn said it's only natural that my body got used to it after all that time."
Jigen gave his shoulder a squeeze. "She's right, it is. Kidnaping victims often feel connected to their keepers and often like whatever is being done to them after too long being kept." The boy looked at him and nodded. "I mean it, you can tell me anything, kid. I'm not gonna make fun of you. I won't rant or get pissed. I might want to dig up the guy you just capped and hurt him some more, but I'd never hurt you because of it."
"See, I blame me," Xander told him. "I should have seen it coming. Wes found the spell a week before he did it. He kept watching me. If I had been smarter, I would have realized something was going on and gotten protection sooner. Dawn tried so hard to get me free. She managed it eventually, but not until nine months had passed with them being able to see everything that the demon did to me. Including all the marks he put on me."
"Those and I have magical tattoos. Only those with the Sight or who are demonic can see them. Some are protection, some are destruction, some just are. He enjoyed the hell out of marking my body and it shows. As a matter of fact, I voted to go to Switzerland on that day-trip so I could talk to someone about the scars."
"That's what Lupin thought you were doing," Jigen agreed, giving him a little smile. "Did he say if he could help?"
Xander shook his head. "They can reduce the profile but I've got too much damage to do it without a skin graft and I don't have any acceptable places to take it from," he said quietly. "The guy wanted to report the demon for my thighs but I told him it had been done a while ago and I was still healing."
"I've never seen your thighs," Jigen noted. After all the time they had spent together, Xander never wore shorts around anyone. He wasn't even sure the boy owned any. "How bad are they?"
Xander stood up and undid his belt. "The bathroom is that way," he said before he let his pants drop. They were loose so they didn't rub on the open wounds. His bikini briefs were very small so they couldn't touch anything. Jigen turned green when he looked at the wounds. "They were a lot worse," he said gently. "When I first got back, I couldn't wear clothes at all. Then someone I chatted with healed the one on my dick and that solved some of it." Jigen rushed off to be sick. "Sorry." He pulled back up his pants and sat down again, getting comfortable. "Now you know," he said when his mentor came back.
"Don't those hurt?"
"Only if I had feeling in that area. I don't."
"Very little. I'm lucky I've got feeling in my legs at all." Xander shrugged. "The rest of the pitiful tale you know. Is that why you've had nightmares for the last month?"
Jigen sat down again, hugging the younger man. "It was," he said gently. "And now I'll probably have more, but I understand. Thank you, Xander." He pulled back. "Can't Dawn heal those?"
Xander shrugged. "She thinks she can and remove most of the scars, but I'm pretty sure she can't. It's been too long." Jigen gave him a gentle pat on the head. "Are we ready to go?"
"Sure. Let's go," Jigen agreed, standing up and resisting the urge to dust himself off. "We'll throw both our suits in the wash as soon as we get back."
"Yes, boss," Xander agreed, following him out into the night. "You gonna be okay or should we hit a liquor store?"
"Let's hit a liquor store," Jigen ordered. "I'm not telling anyone else but I could use a good snort or six."
"Yeah, that's about why I drink too," Xander sighed, following him out so they could catch a cab.
Fujiko wandered out of her bedroom, meeting Jigen at the window again that night. "What happened earlier? All Lupin said was Pops was sniffing around."
"He saw us in the bar downstairs. Tried to capture us but the bar was full of happy and drunk people." He glanced at her. "Do you know how much I hate you for shooting me with that drug that made me allergic to nicotine?" She slowly shook her head. "More than anything, I want a cigarette right now and I can't or I'll end up dead in the ER tonight." He planted his fist on the window frame. "Leave the kid alone, Fujiko. There's shit you don't know in his past."
"I saw the book, but I haven't gotten to read it yet," she said, turning to lean against the glass, looking at the room.
"Don't. He doesn't want you to know," Jigen said firmly. "If you upset him, there's no telling what he'll do when he runs this time. So leave him alone." He finished his drink and went in to sleep with Lupin that night. He had the bigger bed and he needed the warmth of another person there to reduce the nightmares.
"Yeah, fine," Jigen agreed as he stripped down to his boxers and crawled into the bed. "Hit me if I thrash too much." He flipped onto his side and closed his eyes.
"I promised I wouldn't tell, Lupin. Drop it."
"Fine. Should I ask Xander?" Jigen shook his head. "His thighs?"
"Yeah. He explained it to me. Now go ta sleep. We'll need it with Pops in town."
"How bad are they?"
"Go to sleep or I'm leaving."
"Sorry, Jigen," Lupin said quietly. He'd enforce that order with Fujiko in the morning. Xander didn't need her brand of shit. Someone tapped on the door and he lifted up. "What?" he called quietly.
Xander padded in. "Sorry, but I'm having nightmares. Do you have any more of those half-sleeping pills?"
"Nope, sorry. You took the last one." He patted the space between them. "Crawl in. You'll probably feel better." Xander shrugged and crawled between them, curling up in a little ball. Lupin flipped onto his side, touching the boy's back. "Relax. We'd never touch you."
"I know. This is how I sleep," Xander said tiredly. He closed his eyes, forcing himself to relax. He was soon asleep.
Lupin lifted the sheets, waking Jigen. "He was having nightmares and I'm out of sleeping pills," he explained, settling the blankets comfortably.
"Don't. I got sick earlier."
Lupin's glare pierced the darkness. "Does he need help?"
"They could use some attention but they've been healing now since he got back. Leave the kid alone about them." He put his head back down, resting it next to Xander's. "He'll run if we push this."
"I won't push, but I will make sure he's healthy. We'll have him looked at by the doctor in Istanbul. He was always pretty handy with big wounds."
"If the kid agrees."
"If he agrees," Lupin agreed. "Or we can talk him into it." Jigen nodded, that was reasonable. Lupin waited until both men were asleep, then shifted the sheet again, picking up his keychain flashlight to look at the boy's stomach. His thighs were covered by the boxer/briefs he was wearing. The scars there were bad, very bad, and he couldn't identify what had caused them. Xander started to move so he clicked off the light and put it aside. There was time enough for that later.
Dawn walked into Lupin's room after a cursory knock, smirking at the cuteness of the three men. She walked over and picked up the small digital camera they had been using the day before and snapped a few pictures, then went to download them onto the computer. Xander had been comfortably stretched across Lupin's chest and Jigen had been resting behind him, one arm over Xander's stomach. She loaded up the laptop, smirking because the lense had been cleaned. The pictures were perfect.
Fujiko came over and then smirked. "Like a pile of puppies."
"Xander's the most relaxed I've seen him in nearly a year," Dawn said quietly. She downloaded them into her mail account and mailed them to her alternate address. Then she wiped the pictures off the laptop and shut it down. "There, all done." She stood up and went to pick at the tray with fruit on it. Goemon was sitting next to it eating an orange. "What are we doing today?"
"Normally we'd do another run through to test the entrances," Fujiko admitted. "With Pops in town I'm not sure we can do that."
Lupin came to his door and looked at them, then slammed the door and went back to bed.
"I would say someone was not happy to be up yet," Goemon offered, continuing to eat.
Fujiko smirked at him. "They're in there like a pile of puppies." She and Dawn walked over, listening at the door. Then Dawn frowned and walked in to help Xander. He had been crying in his sleep again. "What is going on?"
"Leave it alone," Marcus said from his doorway. "The demon that had Xander did horrible things to him. All because my father decided it was the only way. If you nag him about it, he'll leave again. The next time we see him, he'll be walking in to free us and then leaving before we can catch him. I don't want that for Xander. He's much too fragile anymore." He came over and closed the door with what small magical gift he had. "Leave him be, please, Fujiko. We need Xander." He went into the bathroom, starting his morning ablution.
Goemon looked at her. "I agree. Leave the boy be. If he wants you to know, he will tell you. Also, do not read the book. That is the same as a private diary and he gave it to Lupin and Jigen for a reason. Perhaps he felt they would understand more, perhaps not, but we will not bother the boy about it."
"I think he'll notice if we avoid him," Fujiko noted, coming over to sit near him on the couch.
"I said nothing about avoiding him. I said we will not nag him." She slumped, nodding. "Thank you." He finished his orange and reached for some bananas, handing one to her. "Eat. We will probably need it."
She nodded at that wisdom and peeled it, eating it slowly. She kept glancing at that bedroom but she wouldn't go listen again. Dawn had it and she trusted the young woman to know what to do for trauma victims.
Xander came out of the bathroom after his shower, dressed and ready for the day, all but his hair. He found Lupin waiting on the couch staring out the window and everyone else apparently gone. "You know, this whole 'Xander needs therapy' thing we've got going is going to give me a complex soon," he said dryly.
Lupin smirked at him. "I'm not trying to be your counselor, Xander, sit." The boy sat on the couch next to him. "We're going to Istanbul after this job directly. You and I." Xander shrugged. "Are you packed for that?"
"Mostly, yeah. I wasn't sure how cold it was going to be here so I packed spring and winter clothes. Why?" He slowly shifted until he was facing the older man. "Why are we going so early?"
"First because I want to look at this compound. I've only found satellite pictures so far. Secondly because there's a healer in Istanbul that we've worked with in the past. He's not...." He trailed off, looking for the right word.
"Human? Normal?" Xander suggested.
"Normal works. He's a true healer. Very human but still not normal."
"And he works with the underworld?"
"He said he's balancing out the injustices of the universe," Lupin said with a shrug. "He's got Jigen's medical records. They're about a foot thick now." Xander nodded slowly. "We're going by ourselves and Dawn will follow us because I want him to look at you." He held up a hand at the starting frown. "I ran into you by accident this morning and you were bleeding. We need you in top shape, even if I didn't give a damn, but I want to help you heal. It's been a long time and he might be able to help some of that heal faster."
"The guy in Switzerland said I'd need skin grafts and he couldn't seal the wounds on my thighs. He gave me some herbal stuff to use when I soak."
"Still, this guy might know more about it. It still might scar, but I'm sure it won't be as bad as the ones I saw on your stomach this morning." He grinned slightly. "I looked because I saw the blood. If you want, I can show you the pajamas I was wearing."
"No, I trust you not to fuck me over," Xander told him. He looked at his hands. "Then what?"
"We'll get there, let him check you over, check into a hotel, then we'll go case the site. If you need to, I'll make sure you get in for other appointments."
Xander sighed. "Thanks, boss."
"You're welcome." He tipped the younger man's face up. "Remember what Jigen told you. We are a family to each other. If you're truly our next generation then let us help you. Though I am going to warn Fujiko to lay off you. I doubt you need her version of mothering."
"No, she's not exactly the nurturing sort," Xander agreed with a small smirk. "I'm sorry I'm such trouble."
"We've all got pasts. Some of them are worse than others. Jigen's gives me nightmares."
Xander considered that then nodded once. "Then I want you to do this same stuff for Dawn. She needs it more than I do."
"Why is it that you want revenge for her and not yourself?"
"Because she's more important. There are other good shots. She's more special." He stood up carefully. "I will accept the visit to the doctor's however. I probably could use it."
"Need pain killers?"
"No, I have no feeling in the area, it's one of the other ones that's pulling. It means there's a demon nearby. It hurts but it's like a long pinch at the moment." Lupin looked at him. "Really, I'm fine. Dawn needs this stuff more. She's the one who got me free knowing what I was going through." He headed over to the window to look outside. "Where is everyone else?"
"Dawn forced them all to take her to breakfast. We should get her something for her birthday."
"I already did, it's in my bag," Xander offered. "You can put your name on it."
"That's all right, you can help me shop," Lupin decided, standing up and putting on his jacket. "You ready for the day?"
"Let me tie back my hair," Xander said, grabbing a rubber band off the table and walking after him. "Why does the boss wear a hat?"
"He said it helps his aim. He won't tell me anything else when I ask. I'm guessing someone, probably a mentor or a teacher, gave it to him. It's probably one of the few good memories he has of his younger days." Lupin glanced at the boy beside him as they waited for the elevator. He looked down at the sneakers on his feet. "Sneakers?"
"Sorry, I went for comfort today. My heels are cracked, I need lotion and I'll be damned if I'm borrowing *hers*. It smells like roses," he said with a shudder of distaste.
"That's fine. We'll pick you up some of that as well," Lupin noted as he stepped onto the elevator. They exited the hotel and caught a cab to the shopping district. "You want to pull the heist or the distraction when we find it?"
"I'd rather pull the distraction," Xander told him. "We both know that is not my strong point."
"Yeah, but we're still working on it," Lupin reminded him, patting him gently on the back. "Jewelry you think?"
"Either that or something from the magic places. She's been looking for a few books now for a few years. I doubt anyone around here would have it besides Giles though."
"Hmm. Can I check on him? If only so I can understand Dawn better?"
"Sure. I know where his shop is. I had to check to make sure we weren't going to be near there. Otherwise, we'd be in the big Hilton on the other side of the museum."
"Which would have been closer but still not as nice," Lupin agreed. That answered the question he had about them being so far away from the target. He liked to be closer so he could look at it now and then while he planned. "What book has she been looking for?"
"A new spellbook. She needs one to write in. Her last one is nearly full." He looked in the window, then shook his head. "Not diamonds."
"She doesn't like diamonds?"
"No, she doesn't for whatever reason. She likes sapphires. The occasional ruby but mostly sapphires. She likes blue." He shrugged, laughing at the look on his boss' face. "She is a girl, they worry about fashion stuff."
"True," Lupin agreed, knowing that the girl would never be like Fujiko now. Fujiko had learned to accept whatever stones were given to her. "What happens if we get in a load of diamonds?"
"Then she'd probably cash hers out and go buy books, shoes, and parts for her bike," Xander told him, holding open the door to a shop he liked the looks of. Only one guard. A nice selection in the window. Lupin looked at him. "Trust me." He walked over to the case with the necklaces, pointing at a few things. "She'd like those. She likes the pendants."
Lupin looked at them, shaking his head. "None of them are good enough for her."
"We do have a few larger pieces," the saleswoman said, giving them a smile. "A coming of age present?"
"No a woman with very simple desires," Xander said, not looking at her. "She likes the more simple designs and sapphires."
"Well, I do have something but it's a bit more formal than most people would like," she offered, leading them to another case. In it was a sapphire strand, like an eternity band for the neck. There was also an emerald version next to it. "How about something like these?"
Lupin nodded. "I like them. May I look at them closer? Are they lab created? She hates those." She smiled and pulled them out so he could look at them.
Xander wandered around to look at the watches on the other side of the store. "Hey, babe, can I do something about my cheap watch?"
Lupin looked back at him. "Sure. You've got your own card."
"Good point." Xander bent down to look at the watches. "I know you're busy and it's against protocol, but can you let me see a few of these?"
"In just a moment, sir. I can't leave a spot when the cases are open."
"That's fine," Xander agreed, finding the watch he wanted. An older man came out of the back. Perfect. He smiled at him. "Can you please show me these four?" he asked, pointing at them. The old man nodded and came over to remove them so he could look at them closer. "Are any of them Swiss? Are any rated to work forever? Or nearly?"
The older man laughed. "The silver one is rated for ten years, it updates through a satellite signal. The matte black one is nicer, it's windable. I have one of my own and I've had it for nearly twenty years. I've lost maybe five minutes the whole time I've had it. Some of the more recent ones aren't as reliable but they're still good watches."
Xander decided against that one. He looked at the rest of them, then the rest of the case. "I need something really accurate that isn't self-updating. Things like that make me paranoid." He looked at the man. "I'm into high-tech computer operations. I need something that's as precise as the National Observatory clock."
The old man nodded and walked over, bringing a watch back. "I like this brand for accuracy," he said, letting the man hold it.
"I like this," Xander agreed. It was a little bright but he could scuff the finish and it would look like he'd had it for years. He said a small spell under his breath, making the man pass out. No damage was done but he was out cold. "Um, he passed out," Xander called, putting one of the other watches onto that pad to make it look like it was still there.
The woman hurried over, checking him over. "You poor thing, your blood pressure must be high again. Please excuse me while I call someone."
"We'll leave you alone," Lupin told her. "Don't worry about it. I hope he feels better." He had already stolen the few things he liked. He followed Xander out. "Babe?"
"Sorry, apparently I'm having a gay day. Some days I have straight days and some days I have gay days. It's an odd part of being bi for me." He shrugged and grinned, showing off his new watch. "What do you think?"
"I like. Those are really good ones. Pops wears one." They got into a cab and headed off, going back to their hotel to gift wrap Dawn's new presents.
Xander looked at the necklaces in the box. "Tanaznite?"
"The sapphire one was about half lab-created stones," he explained. "Definitely not good enough for her." He held up the other one. "I think she'll like this one more."
Xander looked at the stone's color. The pendant was the same color as Dawn's energy. "Wow, it's the Key as a pendant." Lupin looked at him. "That's the color of the Key's energy."
"Okay," he said, nodding. "Another good coincidence."
"You'll never get Dawn or me to believe in that word," he said with a small smile. The door opened and Lupin hurriedly wrapped the present since Fujiko and the boys came in first. "Hey," Xander said, waving. "Did you remember to bring us stuff to eat too?" He smirked at Jigen as he walked in, holding up his new watch. "You like?"
"I do," he said, nodding at the watch. "Nice hiding job too. That one's about two years old but it looks well worn."
"It was shiny." He smirked at Dawn, pulling her closer to take his food and to give her a hug. "Happy birthday, sweetheart."
She laughed, giving him an extra squeeze. "Having a gay day?" she teased.
He nodded. "Very. I actually said the word 'babe' earlier," he admitted with a smirk.
"Yeah, to me," Lupin said, handing over the present. "It's a fast job, but you do deserve it."
She squealed and sat down to rip open the paper. Then she squealed again when she saw the pretties inside. "This is so great! Thank you." She hugged them both, squeezing until they couldn't breathe. "I've got just the thing to do with the green one."
"Mine's in my bag," Xander told her. She jogged that way to retrieve it, coming out with the package of good chocolate. She gave him an extra hug and sat down to nibble, swatting Marcus' hand away from her presents. "Hers, Marcus."
"Sorry, Xander." He gave him a sheepish look. "Did you two make any decisions this morning?"
"We're going to Istanbul sooner so we can case the place," Lupin told him. "Dawn will be joining us a few days after we leave. Jigen will bring the rest of you to us with Goemon." Goemon looked at him. "If you're coming."
"I am. I wish to see that thing destroyed," he said firmly.
"What does this gold mask do?" Xander asked.
"It artificially enhances your senses and allows you to see into the spirit realms."
"Huh, so it's a protection and sensing spell laid on a gold mask," Dawn noted. "Maybe I can break it and we can melt the stupid thing down." She ate another bite of candy before working on preparing her new pendant for the energy it would hold. It'd come in handy when she was too tired during a fight. She was definitely high on the energy levels today. "Do we have a plan yet?"
"We do," Lupin announced. "We'll do a walk through later tonight." Everyone nodded. "I guess we'll hang out until then."
"Scrabble?" David asked. It was the only game they had.
"No," Xander and Dawn said firmly. It made the older people laugh.
"Go do something by yourself or read," Dawn told him. He grimaced but went to do that. He was seventeen, he was always horny and it would kill time. Dawn shook her head, looking at Marcus. "You too."
"I don't have any books to read," he admitted. "I didn't think I could get an ancient book past the screeners so I didn't bring one."
"In my bag is the Book of the Dead, in untranslated format," Dawn told him. He started to drool. "I'm working on the parts about the Key to the Gates of the Dead. Go for it. I've got my place marked." He hurried that way, it was just his sort of thing.
"What is it with you and keys?" Fujiko asked her.
"Easy, I am The Key," Dawn told her.
"Complete with capitals," Xander added for good measure. He looked at the book the boy was bringing back. "Hieroglyphics or French version?"
"Hieroglyphics," Marcus moaned, sitting down at the table to work on them. He noticed the shudder from Lupin. "You don't like them?"
"I had a bad run-in with them once," he said quietly. "Have fun with it. Dawn, key?"
"Remember the portal?" He nodded. "The Key. Complete with caps," she told him.
"Okay." He smirked. "That's handy in your line of work."
"Very," she agreed smugly, "but I've also ended up in other realms. I have to really know where I'm going to stay on this realm. The alternate universe a few months back was really odd. Jigen was married to a cop." He groaned and shuddered. "She was nice and helping you with a job," she told him with a small smile for him. "We really need to find her in this realm. She was close enough to come across the boundary to our side."
Jigen shuddered again. "No thanks." He sat down in front of the window. "He's doing it again."
"Yay," Xander said dryly, smirking at him. "Let him miss all his skeet this time. His friends will laugh at him harder."
"Only behind his back. People like that are never laughed at to their faces," Lupin told him. "Xander, if we're pulling this tomorrow, I'll need you closer. Is that back up place good?"
"It's close enough for the extreme range rifle," Xander admitted. "It's about four blocks away but in direct line of sight. I can definitely take out any threat to the outside."
"I'd rather have you closer," Lupin noted. "We're going in through the skylight. They're replacing it right now after the last attempt. Goemon, I'll need you to not cut through it. It's got electrified wires going through it." He nodded, he didn't want to get shocked that badly.
"Why not go through the loading dock?" Dawn suggested. "It's unguarded, especially at night if there's no shipment coming in. That would lead us back to the offices and from there it looked like a magnetic key system to gain entrance or exit."
Lupin leaned back, considering that. "What about the cameras?"
"Wouldn't their controls be somewhere back there?" Xander offered.
"The security office is on the other side, but it uses the same magnetic key system to gain entry," Dawn told him. "If we come out, it's a quick stroll down a hall and around a corner to get to it. Or we could conceivably reroute the power temporarily. That way it wouldn't show up on the security system but we wouldn't have a problem with any camera not on backup power."
"I think I want to look at those first," Lupin decided. "It would be easier than getting on top of the building." He stood up. "Get changed, Dawn." She nodded, heading to do that. "Wear something different today."
"Sure, boss." She closed and locked her door, just in case David got done early.
"Goemon, I want you ready for anything. With Pops still being in town there's no telling what might be going on."
"How are we getting the stuff out?" Xander asked.
Lupin smirked. "I'll show you that on the way to the airport. We're leaving right after the heist. Be packed and ready."
"Deal," Xander agreed. "Can I send my rifle too?" Lupin nodded. "Even better. I don't want to lose it." He stretched and winced again. "I want to know where the demon is around here." He stood up. "I'll be right back. I'm guessing it's a maid or something." He left the room, leaving behind some very confused people.
"Demon?" Goemon asked.
"One of the marks on him is something that warns him one is nearby," Lupin told him. "Fujiko, leave the boy alone. That is an order," he said calmly and quietly. "I don't want to hear you nag him. He doesn't need a mother."
"I wasn't going to," she said, grimacing. "I think the boy needs help but I know it's not my job. I'm not that good."
"Good," Jigen agreed. "Tell Fihad I said hi."
"I'll do that. Do you have any problems with the exit plans?"
"Nope. We've got reservations made somewhere else for that. I can make sure Dawn gets through two days later." Lupin nodded, looking toward the door. Dawn came out, dressed in something a bit more slinky, with a blond wig. She was in high heels, the dress clung to her generous figure, which showed some signs of padding, and her wig was perfectly applied. Even her makeup said she was someone's mistress. "Come on," he told her.
"Ah-ah, you need a disguise too," Dawn reminded him, heading into the bathroom to brush her teeth.
Lupin smirked as he went into his room to change clothes. He came out in a serious, dark suit, with his favorite glasses on. He took her arm, leading her out into the hall. "Got a card key?" She nodded, waving her small clutch purse. "Can you actually run in those?"
"Yeah, I have in the past," she told him, looking down at the two inch stilettos. "Plus, they're a good weapon in case we need them." She licked her lips, making him smile. "Sorry, I went with the 'Buffy on the prowl' look." He laughed, shaking his head. She pushed the button for the elevator. "Xan?"
"He said something about there being a demon nearby."
"Ah. He's going to destroy it." She nodded. "That's fine. It'll cheer him up." They got onto the elevator, smiling at the person already in it. The ambassador's husband sniffed so she leaned against Lupin's side. "Honey, can we *please* look at the nice things in the exhibits as well as go for a stroll?" she pleaded in her best begging with honey voice.
He patted her on the arm. "If you like," he promised tolerantly. "Anything in particular?" He noticed she was wearing one of his new presents. "That looks very nice on you." She blushed and glanced away. He kissed her gently on the cheek. "You're adorable. Never doubt that." She nodded, digging her nails into his arm. The elevator opened and the rude man pushed past them.
"Huh, asking for an ass kicking," Dawn noted, walking Lupin out. "I know I'm cute."
"You're more than cute. You're very beautiful," Lupin told her as they walked out. The doorman got them a cab and he helped her into it. "There we are." He looked at the driver. "The museum of art," he instructed. "The one with the nice Cartier exhibit. We're shopping for her next present." She cooed and leaned against his arm again, one hand stroking up and down it. "Dawn," he hissed. She smirked at him. Ah, she wanted to play. "Behave, darling, or no treats later."
She winked. "We'll see." She let his arm go, watching the surrounding buildings. "What's that one?" she asked the driver as they passed by a large one.
"That's the local Microsoft building. They decided to open a temporary office when the court cases got filed locally. It was cheaper than moving their whole law division back and forth for each meeting." He turned into the circular drive in front of the museum. "This one?"
"Well, I had been thinking of the other one," Dawn admitted, "but we could go look in here." She looked at Lupin, who shrugged. It'd be a good thing to case it in advance. She paid the man and let Lupin help her out again. "Thank you." She blew a kiss and the driver blushed, hurrying off. "Let's see what's in this one," she said, taking his arm again as they walked inside. This one was definitely more her style. Ancient artifacts and raw jewelry. She paused in front of one case, smirking at the stone in there. It would be hers before she left the city. He gave her arm a squeeze. "Isn't it pretty?" she cooed, pointing at it.
He nodded. "Very." He knew that look, it would be hers soon. He used to give Fujiko that same look. As long as she did it after his job.
Dawn walked into the suite, looking at Marcus. "Did you bring the Willow diaries?" she asked him. He nodded. "Good. There's a Microsoft office in town." He smirked at her. "Let's play. Get me virus three." He nodded and went to get it for her.
"Huh?" Jigen asked.
"Willow was a hacker before she became magic girl. She still hacks and creates viruses in boredom, but she never uses them. Her repentance snit won't allow her to use them. But I've had this grudge against Microsoft for a few years now. Windows crashed on my home computer and ate my diary." She sat down behind Lupin's laptop but he shook his head. "Fine, where is Xander's?"
"In his suitcase," David told her, looking back at her. "What are we doing?"
"First, the virus I like will create an untraceable web address for the company, putting their full server onto the 'net until they realize it and yank it. It will give anyone who accesses certain parts with a certain password administrative privileges for the site and the server." Jigen sat up, looking at her. "It will also allow you to add stuff to the server and files or to take things off."
"Do the ICPO," Lupin instructed. "Microsoft is evil but that's too nice for them. You can use mine for that."
"Actually, it's probably the one thing they fear," Fujiko told him. "But he's right, do the ICPO. We need to fix a few records in there. Namely ours."
"Sure," Dawn agreed, taking the disc when Marcus brought it back. She slid it into the drive and hummed while it booted. She typed in the company name, then the headquarters. "Anyone got a phone number for them?"
"Yeah," Lupin agreed, coming over to type it in. He also hooked the laptop into the phone line. He stayed there to watch it work. "Wow," he breathed, smirking at Jigen. "What should we do first?"
"Get Grandpa a raise," Marcus said with a grin. "That way maybe he won't feel so obligated to chase us."
"His obsession is at a scary point," Dawn reminded him. She typed in the three commands she needed, releasing them and sending the International Police onto the net. She giggled, heading to the site. "Okay. Let me log in." She logged in using the speciality codes. "What time is it there?"
"Middle of the night," Jigen told her.
"Decent. They don't have a night shift tech staff."
"They don't have a night shift anything," Goemon told her. He came over to watch as well. "Will this hurt our reputations?"
"No, but it will remove all those nasty warrants for your arrest," Dawn told him. She cracked her knuckles and went to work, erasing all their files, including hers and Xander's. His was saved down because it was a lot more extensive than she had thought it would be. Then she gave Inspector Zenigata a raise. Just fifty cents an hour but a nice one nonetheless. Plus she pushed forward his application for hazard back pay. He probably deserved it and then he could stay at a real hotel. It'd give them a better challenge. She looked at Lupin. "Done. What else? Did we need an access code? Did we want a paycheck from them ourselves? Name it and I can do it for the next little while."
Jigen laughed. "That is very cute, Dawn. Where would they send it?"
"A Swiss account," she said smugly. "Speaking of, I've got one of those that I need to check on later." She went back to typing in commands. It gave them an access code so they could log in whenever they wanted to mess with stuff. "Okay, this gives us departmental access," she announced finally. "They've just made a new profiling section, which is us. The old unit had been closed because they didn't want to deal with the FBI. This one will profile thieves and assassins only. All their files are now free to us for the use. Our department is considered a 'think tank'," she did the finger quotes, "so they're not expecting us to be in the building to work. They expect us to have a lot of travel and have allotted us ten thousand Francs for this year's travel." She looked at Lupin. "The present Commissioner, which just switched over to a very strict woman who reminds me of the first headmistress in the movie Matilda, has also issued an executive order to give Zenigata whatever he wants in the way of gear but that his obsession will have to play itself out. He may have up to three helpers from any local department but not steal all their resources like he has in the past. And that actually came from her. It hit my inbox. Which is now set up for all admin messages." He smirked at her. "Since we're a think tank, we don't get regular paychecks, we get grants. I routed it to my Swiss account so we could get it from there on the way home. I put us out of Switzerland as well. The address is in the middle of Lake Geneva." That got some snickering from Jigen. "Anything I've missed, bosses?"
"No, I think that's great, Dawn," Lupin assured her with a smile. "Go ahead and log out before they track us."
"That would require them to know it had happened," Dawn told him, turning around and logging off the site. Then she went to her account and checked the balance. "Why hasn't the auction gone through yet?" she muttered, going there to check that one. "Ah-ha!" She typed in something else, sending a nasty email to the head of the auction house. He sent one back immediately saying that it would be released in the morning. She sent one back thanking him and then got off the computer so someone else could check their email. Xander walked in, his shirt slightly rumpled. "Maid?" she asked. He nodded. "You okay?"
"She was really scared so I told her to leave," Xander told her, shrugging slightly. He sat down with a deep sigh. "She won't be here again. She quit and ran off."
"Why did you make the maid quit?" Goemon asked.
"She was demonic and could tell who I am," Xander told him, rolling his head to look at him. "I let her live because she was too scared to do more than babble in fear."
"Good job," Jigen told him.
"Thanks, boss. Dawn, please get me a drink? I had a flash while I was with her." Dawn got him a drink and he drank it quickly before laying down. "Thanks. Wake me when it's my turn to hear the plan." He closed his eyes, getting comfortable.
"Huh?" Fujiko noted, raising her hand.
"Another part of his past," Dawn told her. "It's protective on his part."
"Then why the liquor?"
"The single drink will make sure he doesn't have nightmares," Dawn told her. She looked at Lupin again. "Can I? Please?" she begged.
"After we're done and before you leave, young lady," he said with a tolerant, fatherly smile for her. "And no more teasing!"
"Fine." She smirked at him. "I thought you deserved it." She moved Xander's feet and sat underneath them, stroking his ankle until he kicked her for it. "Sorry, Xan." She looked back at Lupin. "I saved his file down. It was suspiciously thick."
Jigen came over to take the diskette and use Xander's laptop to look it over. He came out of the bedroom, looking at her. "It's got military records in it. Why?"
"Which military unit?" Lupin asked.
"There's two of them."
Dawn slid out from underneath the feet and followed him back, then came out and sighed. "The US Military is looking for him. It seems he was recognized when they went to take down the Initiative. They wanted to see if they could hire him."
"Over their dead bodies," Fujiko told her.
"True," Jigen agreed, "but they're being stubborn. They put a small price on his head. The extra thickness was a recounting of what he could do, skills that I didn't know he had." He looked at Dawn. "How was he able to steal a surface-to-air missile?"
"Easy. That possession thing."
"Oh. Necessary?" She nodded. "That's fine." He looked at Lupin. "They seriously want the boy to work for them. They think he's superman."
"He's more batman," Dawn told him, giving him a pinch to the upper chest area. "Don't tell him, he'll get pissed and want to do a hit at the Pentagon." He snorted, shaking his head. "Who's kidding? Willow did it." He stopped and looked at her. "Seriously. There is no Corporal Rosenburg in the M-division of the Army. The Army does not have magic users." She crossed her arms. "Someone has got to talk to that woman. I can't because I'm emotionally involved. Xander can't because he'll kill her."
David raised his hand. "Let me."
"No," Goemon told him, putting a hand on his shoulder. "This should come from someone older and more dangerous."
"I doubt she'd listen to you, Goemon. She doesn't know you and doesn't fear you yet," Dawn told him. "She doesn't fear David. She does fear me, Xander, and Marcus."
Marcus swallowed. "Dawn, I am not the best at threatening people. I don't like killing."
"Then don't," she snorted.
"I'll bring him with me," Goemon told her. "When was the file added?"
"After the funeral. She did it in retaliation. She wants him locked up." Dawn lifted her chin. "I don't care what you do to her, but the kids will have to stay protected. The Powers That Be proclaimed that they shall be Slayers and that she shall suffer for her sins. That was my main job up until I picked up with Xander again."
"That's what you stuck her with?" Jigen asked. She nodded, looking back at him. "And?"
"And," she sighed. "The oldest isn't going to make it very long. I've got to plea on her behalf. She's a sweet girl." There was a crack of thunder and a portal opened. Dawn walked through, coming back a few minutes later. "Tara will be fine. She's been moved to the last of the list," she announced. "Willow's in town. They agreed, her actions against Xander are criminal and need punished. You or me," she told Goemon firmly.
"These Powers That Be?" he asked.
"Them," she agreed. "The beings that make the rules, enforce the punishments, play a big game of chess with the rest of us." Everyone looked shocked. "What?" she demanded. "I didn't make them! Well, okay, my basic structure was there when they were made, but I wasn't."
"Why do they like Xander?" Jigen asked.
"Because the fact that he was given was an unbalancing act in the world," she said firmly. "By doing so, it aided the dark in gaining a foothold. They can't get back their advantage until all the acts are revenged. Like I said, it's a big game of chess with more players. Marcus' father effectively took out three white knights: me, Xander, and Marcus. And he was on our side." She turned and closed the portal. "But I can make you forget the last few minutes," she offered.
"Please," Fujiko asked. "What are you, Dawn? That's the second hint today that you're not human."
"I'm the Key," she told her simply. "I'm a mystical ball of energy that opens doorways turned human. I'm just as human as you are, now." Fujiko swallowed so Dawn cast the spell, making everyone but Jigen and Goemon forget. She couldn't get one and the other walked away as she was casting. He came back after she was done. "You two know," she said in the blank spot. "Do not use it against him or face me." She went back to her spot under Xander's feet. Everyone got back in step with the current flow of time and she looked at Lupin. "So, how about a hidden entrance for the second job? You like that?"
"I do," he agreed, smiling at her. He would get on her case later about fixing his memories. Or trying anyway. He looked at Fujiko, her stance said she didn't remember. Neither of the boys did. Jigen obviously did and so did Goemon. "Go face down this Rosenburg woman while we wait," he ordered. "It'll keep Marcus out of trouble." Goemon nodded and took Marcus to help him pick out an acceptable outfit. The boy would wear tweed all the time if they let him. "Dawn," he said fondly, smiling at her.
She looked back at him. "I mean it," she told him.
"Fine." He came over to lean beside her. "How were you wanting to get in?"
"Oh, that won't be a problem," she said with a smirk. She whispered her plan in his ear, making him cackle in joy. "Good enough?" He nodded, going back to making his plans for the primary job. "I'll go the day before I leave. Things will still be in disarray and I'll sleep on the plane over."
"Fine," he agreed. "Remember to have everything packed before you go."
"Yes, sir," she said smartly.
"What did you find at this second place?" Fujiko asked.
Dawn grinned. "Just some stuff that I adored. I'll show you before I leave." She went back to stroking Xander's ankle for him. Her primary objective was now settled. Making Willow pay was next on the list but that was being taken care of by others. Delegating was rather fun sometimes. She really wanted to see Willow's face when she saw Marcus. "Hey, Marc, wear a camera and record it for us," she called.
"Yes, Dawn," he agreed.
Jigen and Fujiko met at the window for the third night. "What is going on?" she asked him.
He shrugged. "Strange stuff is more their thing than mine. Why?"
"Goemon is meditating on something he saw while watching that woman earlier and he won't tell me what." She brushed some of her hair out of the way. "Lupin is acting like Dawn's his heir."
"She is," Jigen agreed. "She's a worse shot but otherwise she is. David's yours. Marcus is Goemon's and Xander is mine. He'll be the one who leaves and comes back probably." He looked out at the quiet city. There was no activity out there, even the drug addicts and the prostitutes had pulled it in for the night. "We're supposed to get snow tomorrow."
"That's nice," she said dryly. "At least we've got boots that don't have tread." She looked toward Lupin's room. "What is going on with him and the girl?"
"Nothing. He's seeing her as a little sister or something. The same as I see Xander." He looked toward his bedroom. "He and Lupin might get it together but nothing else."
"He's like that?"
"Bi." Jigen looked at her again. "Why? Gonna hold it against him?"
"No!" she said bitterly. "That boy is damaged, he needs help!"
"He's got it, the same way Dawn does, whenever they ask," he said quietly. "They're strong, they've managed this long without breaking. They'll keep it until they're alone." He really wanted a cigarette. Something to suck on or play with. He couldn't even clean his gun, he'd done it earlier while Xander cleaned everything else. "They've had bad things happen, Fujiko. They've got it handled."
"I can see that," she said dryly. "That's why Xander couldn't move earlier? Or why he had to go after the maid?"
"He had to go after her so that she couldn't tell anyone he was here," Jigen said harshly. She backed away from him. "Leave him alone about it. There are things you don't need to know and that is one of them." Goemon opened his bedroom door and looked at them. "Explaining the lay of the land to her."
"She will not bother the boy," Goemon said as he padded out to stand with them. "The boy does need a shoulder however."
"Which he's got," Lupin said from his doorway. "The same as the other kids do if they need it." He came out to join them. "How is Marcus' training going?"
"He has absorbed all the knowledge, it is training his body that is the hard part. He needs more training."
"When they're not busy, you bring him home and work with him," Lupin ordered. "He's dangerous without having it all down pat." Goemon nodded. "I know he's not the usual student, and that you think you're not ready yet, but you are."
"I am," Goemon agreed. "The boy needs me. What was done to him was very wrong. Knowledge should not be forced onto anyone."
"True," Jigen agreed. "How's Dawns' hand-to-hand?"
"She is also doing well. She had a firm foundation but I have expanded her horizons to include other styles. Xander's inner focus still needs work. He cannot meditate but he is very deadly in a fight. Even if he will not admit it. He lacks self-confidence."
"He'll gain it as he relaxes and learns to trust again," Lupin told him. He looked at his original group. "I had planned on keeping them for another year at least. Does anyone have any problem with that?"
"After a year, we'll start letting them do jobs on their own," Jigen agreed. "It'll help them and we'll do some together every now and then."
"I can accept that," Fujiko agreed. "Dawn and I could still share some information between us. None of them can do safes." She looked at her husband, who nodded. "You won't mind?"
"I knew I was going to pass on my skills some day, I had hoped it would be to my son but I can take others as well while I wait for one to appear and become old enough."
"You want kids?" Fujiko said.
He looked at her and nodded. "Yes. Soon, woman. That way we do not die before they are adults." He looked at Lupin again, ignoring her shocked look. "What about Dawn? Should I try to gain her help in other matters?"
"I think your brand of focus will help her with her magic skills," he admitted, looking toward her door. "It can't hurt. Even if we don't understand it, it's damn handy."
"Very," Jigen agreed. "What did Xander do to get the watch?"
"He knocked the guy out, I'm not sure how," Lupin admitted with a small shrug. "We picked it up at the same place we got her necklaces. When is his birthday?"
"Two weeks ago."
"And he didn't tell us?" Fujiko asked.
Jigen looked at him. "He's still skittish. He doesn't expect anyone to give a damn about such things. His only friends were Willow and Buffy." That pretty well explained it to everyone. "Boss, do you think Fihad can help him?"
"I hope so. His thigh is bleeding again," Lupin told him. "At the very least he should be able to close them. His skills are greater than Dawn's in that area." Jigen nodded.
"She can heal things?" Goemon asked.
"It's a spell she knows," Jigen told him, giving him a pat on the back. "Like the one to take out power grids and things."
"Ah. Then perhaps I should get her to look at Fujiko's arm." His wife hit him. "Stop it," he warned.
Dawn came out of her room. "Can't you guys keep it down?" she asked, padding over to where they were, leaning against Jigen's side. She felt comfortable with him and Lupin. Goemon was kinda uptight and she didn't understand him at all. Fujiko was too much like her sister for her to be friends with. "What's the dt?"
"Talking about your skills actually," Lupin told her. "Goemon wanted you to look at Fuji's arm."
"Sure. Give me until in the morning. Things go wacky when I'm tired," she told him. He nodded. "Anything else?"
"Xander's bleeding," Jigen told her. She looked up at him and he nodded. "Is that normal?"
"No. It means he's been nearby. How long has he been bleeding?"
"Since last night," Lupin told her. "I thought I had run into him."
"No, that means the demon's nearby. Or checking on him. If it hasn't stopped in the morning, I'll deal with it then. Your arm too," she told Fujiko. It was an old graze that was swelling for some reason. She yawned again. "Anything else?"
"Nope," Lupin told her, ruffling her hair. "Go back to bed, Dawn."
She smiled at him. "Only if you guys keep it down."
"We will be going back to our own beds," Goemon told her. She nodded and headed back, closing and then reopening her door so she could kick David back out. He was a really good sneak, none of them had seen him. Goemon laughed. "He is very skilled in that area."
"He is," Lupin agreed, grinning at the boy. "Your own bed. Try to sleep with her when you're not doing something."
"Yes, sir," he said miserably. "She's my only desire, why can't she see that?"
"Because she doesn't want to," Fujiko told him. "Trust me, she's ignoring it with everything in her will." He nodded, going back into his room and closing the door.
"You did?" Lupin asked.
"Hell yes," she retorted, frowning at him. "That's not the point. What happened to Dawn so I can start to work on her?" The men shrugged and she sighed. "Something happened to the girl."
"You mean besides the fact that she's had to accept that she's not normal, her sister is the biggest and baddest in the world of demons, and that everyone saw her as helpless most of her life?" Lupin asked. "Or was it something else, like how she managed to get Xander free?"
Fujiko shuddered. "I understand. She's exactly like Xander, only with internal injuries instead of the external scars. They're mirror images."
"Which is why they get along so well," Goemon told her. "Let them work it out. They know they can trust us. Xander has made great progress in opening up about what has happened to him recently. She will as well."
"Only time can heal some wounds and make injured animals come out to seek help," Lupin said wisely. "Let's go to sleep. Tomorrow's the big day and we'll need it." They broke up, heading back to their rooms. He and Goemon locked eyes across the living room and he nodded, grinning at him. There was no animosity or desire left between them. Lupin closed and locked his door, laying down to try and sleep. Those kids needed parents. Real parents. He'd have to finish his exploration into Xander's mundane life. His parents were still living but he had never said a word about them. Why?
Lupin, Dawn, and Goemon snuck through the office doorway, then Xander moved past them to destroy the security office. As soon as the camera above them went off, they moved into the main museum. There was a working camera in each room and they were careful to stay away from them. They got to the room they needed easily, and Goemon released the problematic painting once Dawn had rerouted the power. Lupin got the other one off the lock strip with a little lock picking. Dawn started to work on the next one, magicing the lock open. He nudged her and nodded to the next room. They had enough time to get that piece too; it would be better not to leave it in the wrong hands.
She jogged that way, checking for the working camera. Most of the ones were working in there. She whispered something, holding a hand up. Black fog floated up in front of them and she headed for the magic pendant. The case was easily broken and she took it, holding it in her hand. It wasn't that powerful but it still tingled. Sunlight activated then. She looked at the rest of the room, looking at Xander as he joined them. "Well?" she asked.
"Go for it if it's all right," he said with a shrug.
"Dawn," Lupin hissed. She looked at him and he shook his head, coming in to take the tempting pieces. It was too good to miss. They came out and found Xander looking at a painting in the 'fantasy room'. Lupin gave him a light shove.
Xander shrugged and decided he liked that one but not enough to steal it. He followed them out, his gun in his hand. It was loaded with tranq darts today. There was one guard huddled in the front entrance calling someone on the phone. He darted him as he led the way out. He was the only one with the distance weapon. He kicked open the locked door, letting them out and setting off the extra alarms. "Let's go," he ordered, pointing at the car. He followed them down the stairs, looking around for cameras, people, or other oddities. He did fire at an early-arriving cop, hitting him in the arm. The guy fell, never having fired the gun he was pulling. He got into the back. "Move," he ordered calmly. Jigen drove off, heading back to the hotel. His and Lupin's bags were in the trunk, they'd be taking the car with them after everyone was safely off. Zenigata would follow Lupin, leaving the others in relative peace. On the way back, they stopped at a shipping place and the paintings were quickly released and rolled up, made to look like they were collectible posters. The shipping guys never even looked or asked. The guns were unloaded and sent ahead as well, he'd get them on the other side so Jigen would only have to worry about his personal weapon. The explanation given was a con, they were props. The guy was a fandom geek and he accepted that. He and Xander talked Babylon 5 for a few minutes while the forms were all filled out and signed. Then they left, taking everyone back to the hotel.
Lupin got in to drive, waiting until their crew was on the elevator. "You could have taken that one," he said as they took off again.
"Why? It wasn't that pretty. It was more a portal and I didn't want it hanging around."
"Someone who knows might buy it."
"It already belongs to someone who knows." Xander shifted. "The name underneath was Giles' archnemesis. I'm sure Mr. Chaos will reclaim it someday for a good purpose, mostly to cause Giles trouble."
Lupin smirked. "Fine. Xander, I noticed you can do magic. How strong are you?"
"I'm linked into the powers of the asshole who changed me. Why?"
"Does it hurt you to use it?"
"No, it bothers me to use it," Xander said honestly. "Why?"
"Simply wondering. It's something we might need to rely on some day and I'd rather know all your strengths."
"Well, gee, did you ask Goemon yet? He swears I'm better than I think I am."
"He did say that," Lupin agreed, turning onto the interstate. They had an hour to get to the airport to begin their hour wait there. "He also told me privately that you have something that can make you lose it during a battle."
"Geez," Xander complained. "Tattletale. I haven't done that in years."
"He said you did it during a practice on David."
"I didn't. I didn't lose it near enough to count," he defended.
"Fine," Lupin agreed. "Be straight with me. What can and can't you do?"
"I'm not that talented, I'm cursed," Xander told him. "That's all. I can sense demons. I've got some sway with them. I can fight a little. I shoot really well. I can even rebound one if I need to and shoot around corners. Jigen and I were working on that recently." He shrugged. "I don't know what you want me to say, Lupin."
"That's fine, Xander." Now he knew, Xander didn't consider that he was skilled. While it might happen during a fight, it wouldn't be something that they could count on until the boy would admit to himself that he could do it.
Lupin led Xander into the small clinic, smiling at the secretary. She never seemed to age. "Morning," he said quietly. She stood up and led them back to a room, leaving them in there.
The doctor came back to join them a few minutes later. "Lupin," he said, shaking his hand. "And this is?"
"Xander," he said, shaking his hand, then bowing. "He wants to know if you can heal some of the open wounds I have."
The man looked at him. "I probably should not. What did you do to earn them?"
"I was gifted against my will," Xander said plainly.
The healer nodded. "Then you are worthy of my skills. Undress. Do you want him to leave?"
Xander sighed. "I think it's about time he learned the whole truth." He took off his clothes, carefully putting them on the chair. Then he said a small chant as he lifted off a pendant no one ever saw. All the marks on his body became clear.
"You are he," the healer said, nodding. "I will do what I can. It will help redress the balance a little." He turned Xander around, looking at his thighs. "I can mostly close them and smooth some of the remaining pain."
"I don't feel pain," Xander told him.
The healer looked at him. "Then you need more help than I can give, but I will do what I can." He put the boy onto the bed and laid a hand over his heart. "Your hand, Lupin. I will need more energy."
"Suck at mine," Xander ordered. "Leave him out of it."
"I don't mind, kid."
"I do. It could bind you to me," Xander told him. He opened his touch of power, letting the healer grab it. "Use whatever you can of it. He should pay."
The healer nodded, starting his work on the boy. It would be a long process and he would be going home after this.
To part 3
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