Bad Planning Makes For Imperfect Solutions

Xander walked into their hotel with a confused look on his face.  He nodded at the young man behind the check-in desk, side-stepping to grab the held out message stack and add them to his paper bag of supplies.  "Thanks."  The man grinned at him so he winked back.  "Long shift?" he asked as he stabbed the button for the elevator.

"Not really, I got to see that very nice man again.  He was so cute, he blushed at me!" he gushed.

Xander stepped into the elevator, still smiling.  "I'll tell him you said hi."  The door closed and he stabbed his button, laughing all the way up and down the hall to their rooms.  He walked in, putting the bag on the couch beside the meditating samurai.  "The desk boy said hi."  The other man let out a sound somewhere between a groan and a growl. "That's everything she asked for, plus the messages."  The bag was handed back.  "Fine, even though it's *your* baby."  The noise started to sound more like a growl so he walked quickly into the other room.  "Geez, I thought *she* was supposed to have the mood swings," he complained as he handed the bag to his boss.  "Congratulate me."

"Why?" Jigen asked from behind his crossword.

"I now have proof the world is going to hell and not even I can stop it."  Both men older men looked at him.  "I got stopped outside by a cute teenage girl."  They snorted and went to what they had been doing.  "She was a groupie.  My groupie."  He flopped down into a chair, his usual graceless sprawl found easily.  "Said I was really cute, one of the best, wanted to have sex with me and bear little Xanders.  She said she had been following our exploits and I made her century by letting her run into me.  Offered to buy me dinner and a fifth."

Jigen shook his head.  "I thought we had problems in Helsinki back in the day."

"That wasn't my fault," Lupin offered.

"Sure it was.   You're the one who slept with the ski team."

"Fine, blame it on me," Lupin said dryly.  He dug around in the bag.  "Juice?"

"Out," Xander explained.  He heard a shriek and scrambled out of the samurai's way as he rushed in to kill them.  "When are you gonna teach me that neat 'yell and rush' thing you do?" he asked with an impish grin.  The man groaned so Xander took pity on him, sitting him in front of the chair as he sat down again.  "Relax, big guy.  It'll be okay.  She'll sleep again."  He worked on the tense shoulders, making him groan.  "Was she cleaning again?" he asked soothingly.  He could feel the blush before the head shook.  "That too will end soon.  Soon she'll feel *fat* and you'll be able to be nice, sweet, and dedicated to making her feel like her old self.  After she takes another nap."  He worked the tense muscles harder, making him moan and relax.  "Why don't you take a long soak?" he suggested quietly.  Goemon nodded.  "I'll do more on your back after you nap in the water."  The other man gave him a look.  "I promise I'll be nice.  I won't make any dirty jokes or anything," he offered.  Goemon nodded, heading in to hog the bathroom for now.  Xander went limp again.  "Someone needs to look at the book and see how long this lasts."

"Up to another month," Lupin sighed, glancing at the bathroom door.  "Nice work, he's been tense all week."

"Goemon!" Fujiko yelled from next door.

Lupin stood but Jigen beat him to the door.  He walked to the next room, tapping on the door before walking in.  He had less tact, the bad news would sound easier coming from him. "He's trying to sleep."  She scowled at him.  "He nearly attacked us and he's napping in the tub." She sniffled.  "Put on some clothes and come sit with us," he patiently ordered.  She nodded, doing that.  He rolled his eyes once her back was turned.  He'd never do this to a woman!  He walked her down the hall as soon as she had a robe on, sitting her in Lupin's chair since he had moved.

"You missed it, Fuji, I got a groupie," Xander said happily.

She snorted.  "Have fun with them."

"Nah, I let the little dear run away."  He grinned.  "I'll be working on your man's back later, should I pencil you in for some Xander attention?"

She gave him a scowl then snorted.  "You won't get him into bed, kid.  Lupin couldn't and he tried for years."

He snickered.  "I'm going to be working on the knot in his shoulders, not the formality rod he seems to have sat on in his youth."  She laughed at that, liking that description.  "Want me to do your feet or ankles?"

She shook her head.  "I'm fine for now.  I'll remember that in a few months."  She looked at the bathroom door.  "Who's with him?"  She could hear voices in there.

"Lupin probably," Jigen told her.  "Marcus isn't back yet and the desk boy is still downstairs."  She sneered at him for that crack.

"Don't worry, we'll deal with him so he can't steal what's clearly yours," Xander promised.  He patted his holster when she gave him an amused look.  "Not exactly my type, dear."

She laughed.  "I'm sure you will if Marcus doesn't."  She wiggled until she got comfortable.  "Did you find the chips I wanted?"

"Not the brand but the flavor," Xander promised, pointing at the bag.  She squealed and snatched it, digging in to find her chips.  "They only had little bags so I got you two," he said, giving her a tolerant look.  She grinned, popping open the first so she could soothe this latest craving.  She ate four and put it aside, the real reason Xander had gotten the small bags.

Lupin came out of the bathroom, shaking his head as he shut the door.  "He's out."  He gave Fujiko a gentle pat on the shoulder.  "Give him a few hours.  Let us pamper our godchild."

"You can't steal my title as the King of Spoiling," Xander joked.  "I won't let you."

"We can spoil his baby too," Jigen told him.

"Behave or I'm finding your groupie so she can have you," Lupin joked.  Xander pouted. "Behave or *I* will be doing your next birthday party."  Xander grinned, that had been a weak threat.  Fine, time to go for a real threat then.  "Behave and learn to share your spoiling or I'm putting the choker in the safe at the house until *you* break it free."

Xander pouted his worst and most hurt pout.  "Fine, be that way then."  He continued to pout through the chatting the older group was doing.  Finally, Fujiko looked at him so he dug into his pocket and tossed over his handkerchief.  She gave him a look but she unwrapped it.  Then she paused, squealed, and rushed over to hug him.  "You're welcome.  I thought baby samurai might like that."

She held up the small mom and baby bracelet, looking at the twinkling gems adorning the stylized swords.  "It probably will," she agreed, grinning at him.  She showed it off to the other thieves.  "See, these are the sort of presents the baby needs."

Lupin took it to look at.  "It's very pretty.  Where did you steal it, Xander?"

"It was a commission piece," he said firmly.  "An original.  I always buy the important presents so they can be used without someone looking at the owner funny."

"Just like them," Jigen said as he took it to look at.  "Suck up."  Xander grinned at that.

Lupin shook his head.  "I'm doing the nursery.  You, Jigen?"  He shrugged.  "You haven't even thought of a present yet?"

"I know what I'm giving them.  I have to go pick it up," he defended.  He gave it back to the mom.

Fujiko danced into the bathroom before anyone could stop her, waking her husband.  "Isn't it cute!" she said, letting him take it.  "Xan had it created for us.  He didn't even steal it."

That got a rare smile.  "It is cute," he agreed.  "How are you feeling?"

"We're fine.  Getting out of bed was good for us."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "Finish your nap so you can rub my stomach."  He reached over to stroke her stomach gently, making her moan.  "This is the best part of this stuff," she sighed happily.  He smirked, pulling her into the tub with him, holding her against his body so he could stroke her some more.  "Goemon, I thought you were tired."

"I'll be tired in a few minutes," he promised.  She grinned.  "The baby needs to learn that love is acceptable, before it turns into Xander."  She laughed, shifting to straddle his lap and steal a kiss.  "Mm.  Definitely be tired in a few minutes," he agreed, wrapping his arms around her.

In the other room, Xander gave them a smug look.  "I am good."

"You are," Lupin agreed.  "That's why he's tired though."  Xander winked.  "Fine, he'll nap afterward and so will she.  Why did you want them sleeping?"

Xander pulled something out of his other pocket and tossed it over.  "I found that earlier while I was in the library."  He got comfortable, watching as Lupin read the new bounty on Fujiko's head.  It said she was pregnant.  Lupin handed it to Jigen.  "I thought I should tell you before him.  He needs to sleep for a bit before he hears about that."  Goemon's moan floated out to interrupt the conversation.

Jigen shook his head.  "Why would they want her?"

"I think it's one of two things.  To do the usual and piss us off more, or someone's *his* enemy and wants *his* kid," Xander said quietly.  The other men looked hurt.  "Take your pick.  Those were the only ones I could see."

"Rat face," Lupin said, making Jigen nod.  "I can probably trace this back.  If I'm right, it is an older enemy of Goemon's.  If you're right then he's going to destroy the ninja."  Xander shrugged.  "You up to helping him?"

"If Marcus isn't, sure.  I don't need to know how to deliver a baby in a field."  Lupin smirked.  "You'd be holding her hand and Jigen would be watching for us.  Marcus would be wherever Goemon would be."  He stood up to stretch then sat back down.  "Unless you wanted to catch and I coach."

Lupin shuddered.  "No.  I don't think I could ever touch another woman again if I had to watch that sight.  That's just nasty, Xander."

Xander nodded.  "I know, that's why I said I'd do it if we had to.  I don't want to, I'd rather Marcus did it.  He's got a bit more medical training than I've gotten from the books."  He looked over as Fujiko wandered out and fell face first onto the couch.  "Was it good?" he teased.  She flipped him off.  "Now, now.  The baby can see that," he said dryly.  She turned her head to look at him, waving the finger.  "Rest, sweetie, we'll deal with the plan later."  She nodded, closing her eyes.  Jigen thoughtfully dropped the throw over her bare body, giving their boss a look.

Goemon came out of the bathroom in a towel.  "What plan?" he asked.

Lupin looked back at him.  "You still need a nap.  If I tell you, you'll worry."

"If you don't, I shall worry more.  What plan?"

Lupin handed back the notice, making him blanche.  "We don't know who yet.  I'm going to try to trace it back today.  It looks like it came through the usual channels."

Goemon looked at his wife, then at Xander.  "He was saying we were going?"  Xander nodded.  "Why you?"

"Because Jigen's needed for the plan here in town.  I'm able to travel hard and well.  Marcus still needs more training.  You need backup.  Taking care of it sooner means that it's not a future worry."  The samurai nodded.  "I know I'm not the most honorable of the group but I am very good at ambushing."

Goemon nodded.  "True. Plus you are ruthless to protect the innocent.  When it is time, I will bring you with me.  Jigen may work with Marcus and Lupin can if he wants to."  He looked at his wife again.  "She will be safe," he said firmly.

"Even if I have to send her home with a bodyguard," Lupin promised.  "I'm not letting anything happen to her or the baby, Goemon.  You know that."  The samurai nodded, heading back to his bath.  "Stay and soak for a while.  It'll take me a few to track this back."  He got up, heading into his bedroom to play on his computer.  This could turn out really bad.


Xander looked out of the alley as his target came nearer to his position, tensing slightly.  As soon as the man passed him he grabbed him, turning and slamming him into the wall he had been leaning on.  "Morning," he said cheerfully, grinning at the guy.

"If you're here about the bounty, I want proof," he said haughtily.

"Well, yes, and no," Xander said, giving him a patient look.  "See, I'm here about the bounty, yeah.  I'm not here to collect it."  The man started to look scared.  "Let me introduce myself.  I am Lavelle.  Second to Jigen.  Student of Lupin the Third and Goemon.  You are in deep shit."  The man tried to struggle but Xander grabbed him by the throat.  "Come on," he hissed, "make me lose it and take you out.  I'll have fun on top of your dead body for days, dancing the dance of death."  The man's eyes bulged, his face was turning blue because he couldn't breathe.  "The proud father wants to talk to you, asshole.  Let's go."  He switched his grip, immobilizing the man as he pulled him off.  He got one good struggle in but Xander was ready for it and kicked his ass slightly.  He bloodied that big nose when he kicked it, breaking it.  "I said, let's go.  You've got a fucking date and I am Death's second.  You're trying to take away my spoiling fun.  It's one of the few pure pleasures in my life."

The man gave him a desperate look, then around, but there wasn't anyone near them.  A few bums were up the alley but they turned away from him.  "Please," he begged.  "I'll fight Goemon."

"No, if it comes down to a fight, you'll fight me," Xander said firmly.  "I'm not letting the baby grow up like I did."  He walked into the back door of the cheap hotel, dragging him up the four flights of stairs.  He knocked politely on the door, waiting while Goemon opened it.  Then he presented him.  "Can I hurt him more?"

"No, Lavelle.  He is mine to hurt," Goemon said calmly, looking him in the eyes.  "He is no worse than the monsters you used to slay, yet not as bad as some of them.  I can handle this."  He drug his enemy into the room, pushing him into a chair.  Xander took up a position in front of the door.  "You put out a bounty on my unborn child's head," he said coldly.  "You have upset my wife.  You have upset me.  You are dangerously close to losing not only your honor, but making me forget I ever had any.  You are a spineless dog who knows no shame and very little about honor."  The man looked up at him from his dripping eyes.  "I thought that our last meeting would have cured this problem of yours."  The man swallowed as Goemon reached for his sword.  "I should deal with you now instead of challenging you to honorable combat."

"No," Xander said firmly.  "No combat."  Goemon looked at him and the idiot took the opportunity to try and run.  Xander drew quickly and hit him in the ankle, making him shriek  "Lupin's orders, Goemon, you are not to put yourself into any danger of dying over this."  They locked eyes.  "He wants your baby to know its real father, not him as a stepfather," he said quietly.

Goemon nodded.  "I understand that.  Combat is still the honorable alternative, unless he wants to commit suicide instead of facing me."  He looked at the mewling man on the floor, sneering at him.  "Do you accept?"

"I can't beat you," the ninja complained, holding his bleeding ankle.  He looked at Xander, whose eyes let him know his options very well.  "Will it be an honorable fight?"

"On my side," Goemon told him.  "Xander is there as a witness, not to kill you for me.  Unless I say otherwise."

"At least you'll give me a clean death," he whined.  Xander shot the hand he had been inching toward his pocket.  "Hey!"  Xander gave a little shrug.  "Fine, I'm not moving."  He looked at the samurai again, noticing the look he was giving the boy.  "You don't like him?"

"I do like him.  He spoils my wife when I am incapable of it.  He finds little trinkets that amuse her to no end.  I appreciate my students fully."  The ninja swallowed.  "Feel lucky you are meeting this one instead of my true student.  He would beg to take you on for my pleasure.  He is more than good enough to do so."  He hauled the man to his feet, staring into his eyes.  "Either you meet me tomorrow at sunrise or you end your miserable life tonight," he growled.  "Your choice."

"As such, we've taken the liberty of getting you a room next to ours," Xander told him, grinning madly at him.  "I'm sure you'll find it quite pleasant.  It has all the facilities but the windows and door."  The man looked at him again and he winked.  "What?  Don't trust me?  Goemon will hold me back.  For now."

"If I die, he can go free until he tries something," Goemon ordered.  "It is honorable."

Xander gave him an incredulous look. "You're kidding, right?"  The samurai shook his head.  "That's fucked in the head, Goemon.  If he wins, the first call he makes had better be to his priest for a confession.  Lupin and Jigen would both kill me if he manages to live past you."

"He won't," Goemon said firmly.  "You still may not kill him if he wins unless he makes a move toward the one you shall guard in my absence."  Xander looked stunned.  "Fujiko may remarry but I will expect you to be a big brother to my child."  Xander nodded, looking really pleased.  "Thank you.  Take him next door.  Retrieve any weapon he desires to bring with him."  He sat down, waiting while he orders were carried out.  He had to control this rage within him.  Being a father was harder on his self control than anything he had ever fought against.


Xander opened his phone, pacing in the emergency room.  "Hey.  He won, barely."  He stopped.  "Hey, Fuji.  No, he's okay," he lied, biting his lip.  "No, you can't.  He got a little bumped up so he's asleep.  Sure, just as soon as he wakes up," he promised, meaning it.  As soon as Goemon could form words, he'd be putting the phone into his hands.  Lupin stole the phone back.  "Get her calmed down.  It's on the news."  He hung up, lifting his head as a familiar whistling started.  "Shit."  He sprinted back to the cubicle, startling the nurse.  "I may need to move him to protect him.  Is that possible?"  She shook her head, pointing at him.

"Ah-ha!  Now I've got two of you again!" Zenigata said happily from the doorway.  Xander pulled his gun and he gave the boy a scared look.  "Don't do that in here.  There are innocent bystanders, including the nurse," he said calmly, moving inside.  He noticed the man on the bed.  "What happened to him?"

"Someone put a bounty on Fuji's head.  He dealt with them."  The nurse turned pale and passed out.  "Good."  He pointed his gun at the cop again.  "We're going to leave.  You can chase us all you want once you get free."

"Free?  I'm not tied up."

Xander muttered something and the cop found himself tied up in a magical rope on the floor.  "Yeah, you are."  He checked the bed, taking the IV bag off the pole and laying it on the pillow.  "Been a while since I've done this," he apologized.  The other one opened the curtain.  "Hey.  Just leaving."

The rookie glared at him.  "I don't think so."

"So don't think, it'll make the job less boring."  He pulled his gun and winged the guy.  "Thank you."  Fortunately he did have a silencer.  "Sorry, Pops, but the baby always comes first.  I only nicked him, he'll be fine."  He pushed the bed out of the cubicle, making the staring nurses stare at him.  "Give us five," he pleaded.  "He was defending his unborn son."  The nurse opened her mouth so he gave her a kiss on the cheek.  "The other guy was evil.  Please?" he asked, giving it his best shot.  She mutely nodded.  "Thanks, it was just a graze and I've been using those new clean bullets.  Thanks tons, sweetie."  He pushed the bed out, putting it into the back of a waiting ambulance, which he stole.  This was going to be a bad week, he just knew it would be.

He dialed one handed.  "We are so fucked," he told the familiar voice answering it.  "No, we're presently stealing an ambulance.  Not only was it on the news, *both* of them showed up.  I tied up Gramps and winged the kid.  It was all I could do!  I was trapped in the room with him!  They were in the doorway, Jigen!  He'll be fine, I got him on the elbow.  He'll only need a bandage.  Yes, exit strategy would be nice.  I'm nearly panicking.  Goemon is badly hurt.  As in tied to machines to make sure he's gonna live badly hurt."  He winced when he heard Fujiko start crying.  "Next time, don't put me on speaker!" he ordered.  "He's more fine than that, Fuji, I promise, sweetheart.  He's on an IV or two and he's got a few good cuts and one largish hole in his leg that's already been pressure bandaged.  He'll be just fine if I can get him to someone who won't kill us or turn us in."  He smiled.  "Thank you.  Yeah, I can find it.  If not, I can stop and ask for directions.  Would that really matter at this moment in time?" he asked dryly.  He glanced back.  "He's coming around, let me toss the phone back.  Goemon?"  The man moaned so he tossed the phone onto his chest. "Lupin and Fujiko."

Goemon picked up the phone, putting it to his ear with his free hand.  "Get away from my woman.  She is mine," he said tiredly.  Then he passed out again.

Xander rolled his eyes.  "Some things do persist in a hazy state.  Good to know."  He sped up, making the next light.  He turned on the sirens, earning a clear road, as much as was possible in Hong Kong traffic.  He basically knew where the underworld doctor was that Lupin had told him to go find.  At least he knew the bar where he hung out.  He got Goemon into a nameless inn then went hunting for him after ditching the ambulance.  Of course, he raided it.  Whatever the doctor didn't need he could keep as a present.  Xander walked into the Yakuza bar, earning many surprised stares.  He waved and walked up to the bartender.  "My name is Lavelle.  I've had a medical emergency crop up with my mentor's friend.  I need Dr. Fischer.  Can you point me to a way of contacting him?"  The man's hand shook as he pointed up the stairs.  "Which room?"

"Two," the man whispered.

"Thanks." Xander gave him a hundred Yen note then ran up the stairs, pounding on the door.  "Doc?" he called, walking in.  The prostitute gave him a look.  "Sorry, babe, but I need the doctor."  She raised her hand.  "Oops, sorry.  Lupin seemed to think you were male."

"I've never had to treat him and most people do.  Who are you?" she asked as she grabbed her robe.

"I'm Lavelle.  Goemon was facing the person who put a bounty on his pregnant wife.  He's in bad shape.  We had to run from the hospital.  He's lost about two pints of blood, I hooked up a second IV bag, the pressure bandage on his leg is really nasty by now, and he's shaking."  She stared at him.  "It's all from a book," he said, plainly begging.  "Please?"

"I'm coming.  It was more in reaction to who you were.  You did the maze."  He nodded, standing straighter.  "You run with Lupin the Third?"

"Jigen's my mentor, he trained me."

"Oh."  She smiled.  "I remember him.  Let's go."  She finished wrapping the kimono around her, heading down after him.  The bartender gave her the case she used as a medical bag.  "How far away is he?"

"Next block over.  I put him into a cheap ass, nasty hotel, but I made sure it was clean room."

"Good job.  You don't handle this well."

"I hate being alone.  I work much better as part of a group.  Besides, he's got a pregnant wife and she's got to be panicking.  They put me on speaker after we had to break out of the hospital."  He opened the door, leading her up to the room.  He knocked first.  "It's me," he called as he opened the door.  The rookie was standing there, glaring at him.  "Goemon!"  He walked over to check on him, then punched the rookie, knocking him out.  "Take that, asshole."

She laughed.  "You definitely are a man of action."  She looked at the supplies.  "Robbed the ambulance?"

"I figured you could use it if you didn't use it now," he offered, getting out of her way by dragging the rookie across the room.  "I only need him able to fly."

"I can probably do better than that," she promised.  She checked his bandages, nodding.  "They were thorough.  Does he not carry a sword?"

"I've got that being shipped back to Lupin right now.  I didn't want to risk it in the hospital and he'll take good care of it."

"That's fine, calm down, Lavelle," she said patiently.  "This is not as bad as it looks."  He gave her a look. "It's not.  I've treated worse in the middle of the street."  She opened her bag, working on the larger injuries first.  "Has he woken any?"

"He was awake when we got there, then he passed out.  He woke up once on the ride over and told Lupin to get away from his wife."  She chuckled.  "Fujiko is precious to him now that he has her.  Her and the baby."  His phone rang and he found it, opening it.  "Yeah, me."  He relaxed.  "Good.  No, she's here."  He held out the phone.  "It's Lupin."

"Of course it is."  She took it, cradling it between her neck and shoulder while she worked.  "It is not as bad as he thinks.  No, it is bad.  He will need help to make sure his leg will work properly, but he won't die from it as long as he doesn't get an infection."  She handed it back. "He's swearing."

Xander listened.  "Boss."  Pause.  "Lupin!" he said angrily.  "He'll live.  I'm the one who panics, remember your role in the group!"  He grimaced.  "Fine, take my allowance this week, are you done panicking now?"  He calmed down.  "She is.  She said he'll be fine.  I'll be taking him back to the house as soon as possible.  Unless you want him somewhere else."  He heard a muffled groan and looked at the rookie.  "Hold on."  He walked over and kicked him in the head.  "Gramps' rookie is smarter and faster.  He was waiting on us."  He took a deep breath.  "I know I know how to plan, but this is really bad, Lupin.  The only thoughts I'm thinking are running and escaping ones."  The doctor chuckled again.  "This is why Jigen said I'm not really suitable to be on my own.  I like getting orders during the worst times.  This isn't a battle and it's not a job.  It's an emergency and I'm a little out of my depth.  No, he's here on the floor," he said, looking at the rookie.  "I got him on the elbow.  It's bandaged.  Yes, in the hospital.  I know it was dumb, I didn't really see another way out."  He sighed.  "Are you on the speaker again?"  He handed the phone back, taking her place to clean the wound she was working on.  "He wants a clinical explanation.  My 'it's bad' wasn't informative enough," he explained.

She stood up, moving to the window.  "Lavelle, his mentor is here."

"Great.  Just what I need," Xander said bitterly.  The wound under his hand started to bleed again.  "Am I doing this right?"

"You're doing fine.  We have to clean out the tissue."  She watched as Xander went to answer the door, pulling the cop in and knocking him out with a few good blows.  "He is impressive," she told the phone.  "Both inspectors are down."  She looked at the body on the bed.  "He'll live, he'll be in pain for a while though.  His records came with them.  They were thorough at the hospital.  His leg is the worst, followed by the cut on his shoulder that is millimeters from an artery."  She looked at the leg wound.  "Possibly six centimeters.  Lavelle, what caused that?" she asked, watching him tie them up again.  "Imaginative use of ropes," she praised.

"It was a knife.  The guy had a dagger and stuck it in him as he was falling."  He ran his hands through his silver hair.  "He'll be fine, right?"  She nodded.  "Good."  He went back to cleaning him up.  "Come on, big guy, I don't want to be the only sane one around the baby.  Baby Goemon needs your sort of calm, not my sort of calm.  No one else could teach him to use the sword like you did me."  He stroked the warm forehead.  "If you don't get better, Fuji will kill me so I can guard you in the afterlife, that way I can fix all my messes.  Even though you wouldn't let me shoot him."

"That honor thing is like that," the doctor said as she came back over.  "You care for him?"

"He's a really nice guy," Xander told her, looking miserable. "He ordered me not to interfere and to let the guy live if he lived through the fight and won."  She nodded.  "It's dumb."

"It is honorable," she corrected gently. "Honor is probably not something you're used to, being American, but it is the code we live by.  It dictates all we do."  She sprayed the leg wound with something, testing it with a finger.  "He'll be fine and he'll explain it to you while he heals," she promised.

He shook his head.  "I don't think I'll ever understand that.  I'm an end game guy.  I do what's necessary. I would have shot the fucker on the street after scaring him."  He pushed his silver hair behind his ears again.  "What else can I do to help?"

"Hold his hands down," she ordered, giving him a gentle smile.  He was calmer now, it would be fine.  "I'm going to have to stitch it and he can't thrash about."  Xander nodded, leaning across the strong upper body.  He couldn't get behind him without sitting him up.  "That's fine."  She pulled out a stitching pack and opened it, pulling out a clean set of gloves first.  "This will look very nasty," she warned.  "What will you do with your captured officers?"

"Leave them here," he said dryly.  "Someone should find them by tomorrow.  We like Gramps and his rookie, but I can't let them stop Goemon from getting back to Fujiko."

"Fujiko Mine?" she asked, frowning.  Xander nodded.  "That's his wife?"  He nodded again, smirking at her.  "How?  Last I heard, she was Lupin's."

"Goemon and she got together over something being taken from him.  She was the only one nearby and Lupin was all-but stranded on an island incommunicado at the time.  She comforted him and they figured each other out finally.  She's been kicking his ass recently though.  Constant sex drive and then mood swings."

She laughed.  "It is usually that way with pregnant woman.  How far along is she?"

"Just under five months," he said with a grin.  "She's doing great most of the time but he's a very possessive future daddy and treats her like a national treasure.  He does neat things like picking her up and putting her into the bed."

The doctor laughed.  "I'm sure she can break him of that habit eventually."  She pulled out the needle, glancing at the groaning cops again.  "I need silence to work," she ordered coldly. "Shut up or I shall have him shoot you."

Zenigata glared at her.  "Who are you to talk to us that way?"

"Gramps, shut it!  The guy who did this to Goemon put out a bounty on Fuji!"  Zenigata turned pale.  "He's the other guy from the fight."

"Why didn't you kill him?"

"Goemon," Xander said simply.  He looked down again, seeing the partially open eyes.  "She said you can't thrash," he explained.  "I'm not cuddling you."  That got a small smirk before the samurai passed out again.  "He's been doing that."

"I'd expect it from the level of injury," she reassured him.  In a few years, he'd be more calm about such things.  "Have you never seen bad injuries before?"

"My own," he admitted.  "I lost an eye at twenty to a big guy with really sharp thumbnails."  She winced, shaking her head.  "I've also been the victim of constant torture and pain.  I don't like others to suffer."

Zenigata snorted.  "When?"

"Before Jigen and I hooked up," Xander said softly.  He glanced over.  "My so-called friends that you met in Cleveland.  The one who died helped give me to the creature with Marcus' dad."  The inspector gave him a long look. "Someone healed me.  I had open sores for over a year on parts of my body."

"You seemed fine when we had you in jail," Zenigata said suspiciously.

"I refused to let the doctor look at me," Xander said with a shrug.  "He tried and I struggled.  Jigen stepped in and said I refused medical attention.  The guards found a few of the marks and tried to say something until my foot went up someone's nose."

"Their reports...."

"Weren't complete when you were there, Gramps.  Nor will they ever be.  The guys didn't get to do more than strip me down to my undershirt and pants.  They only saw the ones on my back and the whip marks that hadn't healed yet.  Not even Jigen saw them until the first time in Cleveland."  He shook his head.  "Why am I explaining myself to you?"  He went back to his helping, doing the best he could with book information in a real world setting.  "This is why I hate formal education.  If I had learned this in a hands-on way, I'd be a better helper."

She gave him a small smile.  "You're doing fine.  It's clear you're inexperienced but fine."  The phone rang.  "Will they not stop?"

Xander answered the phone.  "We're tryin' ta work here," he pleaded.  "Give us an hour."  He hung up, tossing the phone aside.  "That was Jigen, he'll give us an hour."

She laughed.  "I shouldn't need much beyond that."


Lupin looked up as Jigen came back looking upset.  "What?  More bad news?"

"He said they're working and to call back in an hour."  He sat down, looking at the ceiling.  "He'll be fine.  Fischer's supposed to be a decent doctor, not like some of the hacks.  She did really well when she treated my arm that time."

"She?"  Jigen nodded.  "I thought it was a guy."  He shrugged and settled in to wait, staring at the clock.  Fujiko moaned from the bedroom.  "You okay?" he called, getting up to take care of her.  It'd kill more time and she needed some comfort. He helped her sit up.  "You all right, Fuji-cakes?"

"Fine," she croaked.  He got her some water and handed the glass over, watching as she drank it.  "Do we have an update yet?"

Lupin shrugged.  "They're working on him now.  They're still at the hotel."

"That's a good sign," she said, clutching at the thin straw.  "If she didn't move him, it's a really good thing, right?"  He nodded so she relaxed some.  "What else?"

"Xander's probably still grumbling about honorable combat being dumb, he was in a little bit of a panic.  I think he had some flashbacks to his own captivity."  He stroked her hair.  "Nothing will happen," he promised softly.  She looked up at him.  "It won't.  Xander sent his sword back earlier so nothing could happen to it while they were at the hospital.  The doctor is with him.  They've got Pops and his rookie tied up in the room since they were in town."  She nodded, leaning against his chest.  "Even if something happens, we're going to be there for you.  Goemon called me before the fight and said he expected me to take you in and take care of you.  Xander gets to be the baby's big brother, but I'm going to take care of you.  Marcus can teach it the sword."  She laughed bitterly, starting to cry.  "Shh, it'll be all right.  Xander does know how to do things, he only panicked because he's inexperienced in this area."

"You'd think he'd have better sense about injuries."

"He probably does, but he's been off since last night," he soothed.  "Goemon freaked him out and he's still probably blaming himself."  Jigen opened the door and they locked glances.  "What?" he asked cautiously.

"Hong Kong was just hit with a small earthquake.  There's no cell service to the area now."

Lupin groaned.  "I thought he was supposed to be free of the bad karma."

"Is there any word on damage?" Fujiko asked, sitting up to look at him.  He shook his head.  "The news?"  He nodded and Lupin helped her up, helping her settle in on the couch.  "Doesn't he have the satellite phone?"

"No, he's got my old one," Lupin admitted.  "I've got the sat phone."  He stroked her hair then went to look at the official news online.


Xander looked up, straining as he held the ceiling panel up.  "Got 'em?" he groaned.  The doctor nodded, moving the rookie out of harm's way.  He let it go, falling down beside it.  "Did Goemon take any more damage?"  She shook her head, looking at him.  "What?"

"You're damn handy to have around," she told him.

He gave her a self-conscious grin.  "Yeah, I kinda am.  I lived in California for a long time."  He looked at the groaning men.  Then at the collapsed doorway and hallway.  "I'm not the one to ask about how to get down though.  I can't do walls very well."

"That's fine.  We can institute a pulley system if we have to."  She checked the inspectors briefly then went to look at her main patient.  "He'll be fine, Xander.  He's asleep in the regular manner.  Help me grab the box of supplies, we'll need them."

He nodded, gathering up the spilled supplies, letting her take charge of them. Now that this was a disaster instead of an emergency, he was much better.  His old training was all for disasters.  They rigged the bed sheets to move everyone over the broken edge of the floor, and the doctor stayed with them until they were in the bottom level of the inn.  They made it outside in time to feel the secondary quake, Xander guarding Goemon's body with his own while the old wooden buildings around them shivered and shimmied. "Shit, this sucks," he decided.  The doctor laughed and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  "What do I have to do to continue to treat him?  I know you've now got more patients than ever."

"For right now, I want you to keep his leg clean and bandaged tightly.  I want you to clean those other wounds every four hours with alcohol, preferably rubbing instead of drinking.  I want you to rebandage as needed."  Xander nodded.  "Then I want you to sit down and get all this panic out of your system, young man.  It'll only get worse soon."  Xander nodded, taking a deep breath like he had been taught.  "Good boy.  What do you want to do with them?"

"Leave them," Xander decided.  "They're safe enough out here.  There will be cops and firemen down here soon enough."  Zenigata gave him an incredulous look.  "I could have let you die in there," he pointed out. "You're fine, you're living, and your rookie has a bad head injury on top of the small one I gave him.  If I let you go, you'd come after us instead of helping him.  If she wants to, she can get you free as soon as we've turned the corner."  He stood up, hoisting Goemon onto his back.  "As you want, Doc. Thank you.  If you ever need me, yell.  Or if you want paid, yell," he said with a grin.

"I'll send your boss the bill."  He nodded, accepting that.  "Have a good trip."

Xander grinned.  "Hopefully."  He stumbled off.  This guy was really heavy!   The respectable part of the city was close by so he got a car there and headed to the docks.  There were always cruise ships around.  He found an office for a major line and got them booked onto it, saying they couldn't handle being here for the aftershocks.  Goemon's condition was stated as 'panic attacks and a strong sedative after being hurt in the first shake by a ceiling'.  They accepted that and his boss' card number.  The ship would be in that night so he sat Goemon in the lobby while he went to ditch the car, coming back to sit beside him and keep him alive.  They could get clothes on the ship.


Lupin looked up as his computer beeped at him, turning off the screen saver with a flick of his mouseball.  He smirked.  "That boy is fucking amazing," he announced.  Jigen and Fujiko both looked at him, Marcus had been knocked out as soon as he started to panic and was still out.  "My credit card was just charged for a double steamer room on a cruise ship heading for LA."

"Didn't Xander have his own wallet?" Jigen asked, looking concerned.

"He apparently doesn't," Lupin agreed.  "I'll send everything he needs to LA's harbor and tell them that it's a copy because the original was lost in the quake."  He wrote an email to the ship's company telling them the same thing, then gathered up the extra passports and some cash.  He would send a weapon but it wouldn't get through American Customs.  Besides, he could buy one in LA for cheap if he needed one.

Fujiko came over to look at the invoice.  "Why haven't they called?"

"The phone was probably destroyed or left behind in the quakes," Jigen soothed, sitting her back down again.  She struggled but he did it anyway.  "Sit there.  You can't get too upset."

"I can so!" she shouted. Marcus groaned and she kicked him.  "Get up!  If I have to worry, so do you!"

He woke up and looked at her, then reached over to touch her stomach.  The baby always moved for him.  It did this time as well.  He sighed and slumped, nodding.  Lupin also looked relieved.  "It will be fine.  Xander is one of the most creative men I know," he reminded her.  "I'm sure he'll get in touch with us soon."

"He'd better," Lupin agreed. "I'm having to send him money."

"Send him his own debit card," Marcus told him.

Jigen looked stunned, then shook his head and went to look through the bag Xander had left with them.  He brought it and his spare passport out, handing them over.  "He's been saving his cut so he can retire sooner than we have."

"Good," Lupin agreed.  "He needs to.  Saving is better than struggling to do this job into old age."  He sat down, reading the email that had popped up, paying the bribe readily.  Hong Kong was so much fun sometimes.  The doctor's email named a very low figure but he paid her the standard amount as well.  He appreciated the hell out of her at the moment.  He owed her big.


Xander looked over as Goemon woke up, handing him the water he had gotten from the sink in the bathroom.  "Here," he said quietly, helping him sit up so he could drink it.  "We're on a big ship.  We'll be in LA in a few days," he promised.  Goemon looked at him.  "There was a big quake while the doctor was treating you.  I got us all out of there and then here.  We're heading to LA and then home from there so you can recuperate."  The samurai nodded and closed his eyes again, swatting at the hand Xander was using to test his forehead.  "You're running a fever."

"I am fine."


"I am fine," he said a little more firmly.

"Goemon, I couldn't fucking protect you before and I'm not taking orders not to do it this time!" he said angrily.  "Now lay there and fucking well accept it!"  The older man gave him a reproachful look.  "Sorry," he apologized.  "True, but sorry."  He walked out, heading down to the infirmary.  The ship had left port late last night, it was safe to do this now.  The nurse smiled as he walked in.  "Hey.  Um, my friend was hurt in the quake. We got him treated before we left but he seems to have a fever.  Can I get a room call?  It's some stitches and a few cuts."

"Of course.  We got records on everyone who came on board and you weren't the only one.  Would an hour be all right?  The doctor is presently busy."

"Sure," Xander agreed with a relieved sigh.  "Thanks.  We're in 415-E."  She nodded, writing it down.  "Thanks again."  He hurried back.  Goemon was the sort to get up and pass out while peeing.


The doctor rebandaged the wound and stood up.  "You know," he said conversationally, "you don't see too many ceiling falling accidents that look like knife cuts."  He looked at Xander.

"That's surprising considering how much metal is used in building, especially using the current earthquake codes," Xander said, giving him a bland look.

"Yes, but those look like straight stabs, not stabs and drags like this one."  He crossed his arms.  "I want the truth, young man.  Are you a drug dealer?"  Xander snorted and shook his head.  "Dangerous?"

Xander sighed and decided to take one for the team if he had to.  "I'm a crappy jewel thief and a bodyguard, that's my main business.  This was my client.  He was hurt in the earthquake."  The doctor gave him a serious look.  "That injury predates it by hours however.  He *ordered* me to not help in the fight against the guy who was threatening his pregnant wife and I had to follow it.  That doesn't mean my boss won't want to kill my ass when we land."  He stepped closer.  "I didn't want to drag you into this, but he needs more help than I'm capable of.  I read the books."  The doctor nodded.  "A friend patched him up before the earthquake hit and we left as soon as the second one stopped."

"That's fine."  He gave him a look, noticing the posture.  "You're a professional bodyguard?"  Xander nodded.  "What's your use-name?"  The boy groaned and shook his head.  "Give, boy," he said firmly.

Xander snorted.  "I'm not that much younger than you."  He glanced at Goemon again.  "I'm guarding him as a favor.  My use-name is Michael."  Who hopefully wouldn't mind him using his name.

"Another nice try, I know him.  Who are you?"

"Lavelle," he said softly.  "He's a friend of my boss's.  My boss likes his family to stay intact."

"No," Goemon complained.

"You, hush," Xander said coldly.  "You're already going to get my ass killed by the boss for following that order about honorable combat.  As of this moment, I'm not taking orders from you until we meet up with the boss again and he tells me I should."  Goemon looked hurt.  "Tough.  Deal with it. You're hurt, you're fevered, and I'm not going to leave you alone to die!"

"He's nowhere near that stage.  A little infected, but not that badly off," the doctor said, calming him down.  He had heard of the young man, he was quite famous actually.  "You can fight about this later.  For right now, let me give him some antibiotics."  Xander nodded, looking at him again.  "I should tell the captain."

"Do you really want the ship boarded?  We'll be getting off at LA unless I get countermanding orders from on high, and then we're disappearing so I can take him to safety."

The doctor nodded.  "I understand.  That's a good attitude to have.  You might want to apologize though, son.  He still looks really upset with you."  He pulled something out of his bag, handing them to him.  "According to the email I received earlier, he's not allergic to anything."

"Shit, I lost my bracelet," Xander said, looking at his wrist.


"Beans, some pain killers."  He looked up and shrugged.  "I doubt it's going to be important right now.  No morphine if I get killed, okay?"  The doctor laughed, nodding.  "Good.  Four times a day, even if he's asleep?"

"Three, and yes," he said patiently. "Get him to eat something as well.  Your fee paid for the buffet each night and all other meals. Anything else is extra.  Also, the captain got a note saying that your copy of your passport was waiting for you in the LA Harbormaster's office, along with your credit card.  He'll be forwarding it to our first stop so you can have it then and buy some clean clothes."  Xander nodded.  "Good man.  Calm down and give him those.  One every eight hours."  He hitched his bag.  "Give him tylenol if he's still feverish and have him drink water."  He smirked.  "It's nice to meet someone who's decent at their job."

"Yeah, but I'd be a happier gunman if I hadn't been ordered not to stand by and watch."

The doctor opened his bag and handed over a small packet.  "A sleeping pill.  The only one you'll get from me, Lavelle.  Have a good trip.  Get some sun, you're very pale."  He closed his bag and left them alone, locking the door behind him.  He walked away shaking his head.  That was going to be a loud argument.

Goemon glared at Xander.  "Honorable combat is an honorable way of life."

"Goemon, you got hurt because you wouldn't let me help.  That's why I came along, to help.  I don't like seeing the people I care about being pummeled by an asshole with a big nose. If you hadn't ordered me to, I could have made him kill himself instead of having you nearly die from him.  I was supposed to protect you and I fucking well failed.  I'm more than expecting a dismissal letter when we get the passports."

"Lupin would not allow that.  He knows about such matters.  He has struggled with it in the past."

"Good.  I'm happy for him.  I don't want to ever again.  Honorable death isn't what I have planned for my death.  I'd rather go out knowing that the person who was hurting me and mine was going with me."  He stood up, heading into the bathroom and slamming the door.

Goemon sighed as he leaned back.  "I will have to teach the boy better or Lupin will blame me."  The phone rang and he answered it.  "Hello?"  He smiled.  "Good afternoon, Fujiko.  No, I am fine.  The ship's doctor said I have a small infection.  No, but he did know Michael.  No, he his sulking in the bathroom."  He looked that way.  "He'll be fine once he comes to grip with the concept of honor being most of my makeup."  He forced himself to sit up, groaning slightly.  "No, I am fine.  Mostly some minor cuts and that one on my leg.  Xander, it is them," he called.

"I'll be out soon," he called back, sounding miserable.

Goemon sighed.  "I'll leave him with Jigen."  He frowned.  "I ordered him not to help, Fujiko.  It is honorable that way."  He shook his head.  "That is fine, get Lupin to explain it then," he said bitterly.  "Xander, Jigen wishes to speak with you."

"Later!" he said angrily.

"Fine."  He heard Jigen's voice.  "He just yelled at me.  He's locked himself in the bathroom."  His face fell.  "No, I had no idea that it would affect him so much.  He's already yelled at me for ordering him to stay out of it."  He winced at the continued yelling of his wife.  "Stop her before she falls ill."  He smiled. Finally, a voice of sanity.  "Explain that to them, Marcus.  I will be sleeping for another day, then we will talk again."  He hung up, laying back down.  He kicked the antibiotics up, looking at the name.  He decided it would do this time, he couldn't find the herbs he would want more on this ship.  He opened it and took one, then closed his eyes, letting himself drift off.   In the quiet, he heard sounds of misery and nearly forced himself to get up and comfort him but he ached too much.  "Xander," he called.  The door was kicked.  "Come out here and talk to me.  You should not be alone."

"Go to sleep, Goemon, I'll be out eventually."  He wiped his face off, turning on the taps to clean his face off.  This really did suck.  It was the first time he had failed.  It would be the last time he failed if he had his way.  Once he heard the quiet snores he walked out, heading onto their balcony to watch the water flow past.  He would just have to be more vigilant.


Lupin looked over once he hung up on their end.  "Xander's upset, Goemon's not understanding why he's upset, and Xander doesn't understand why Goemon told him he couldn't interfere," he summed up for Jigen's benefit.

"That's got to be one fun stateroom," Jigen noted. He shifted some, putting up his feet.  "How is he?"

"The doctor said he's got a small infection, he gave him some antibiotics.  I got that from an email.  The guy knows Michael so we're cool on that end.  The problem then becomes how do we get them back here from LA without arousing suspicion and how do we break that fight up.  Goemon sounded disgusted with the kid."

"He would.  He doesn't really see it when others don't understand him that well."  He looked over as Marcus came back in from putting Fujiko into Xander's bed.  "How is she?"

"Resting.  The baby is still fine and moving."  He sat down, looking at Lupin.  "How is her husband?  She wanted to know."

"He's fine.  It's a small infection in his leg, nothing more," Lupin told him.  "He's got antibiotics so he'll be fine."  The phone rang and he answered it.  "Hello."  He smirked.  "Hi, Murami.  What's wrong now?"  He sat down, listening to his financial manager and friend.  "Really.  He couldn't wait?"  He chuckled and hit the speaker button.  "Tell Jigen what he said, dear."

"Xander called to get the number on his card for the ship's records.  He said he needed new clothes, a few f-ing drinks, and some damn sanity.  Then he said he was going to workout while Goemon slept.  Is he all right?"

"He's fine.  They were in Hong Kong and this is how Xander got him out while he was injured."

"Well, cruise ships are floating hospitals.  It's a brilliant plan.  Plus he'll be able to destress.  I haven't heard him wound that tight since I first met him, Lupin.  His voice cracked.  He's going to break soon."

"Others have said it, yet he never does," Jigen told her.

"Yes, but I'm more right than most people," she reminded him.  "Jigen, what would you do if this had been your situation?"

"I'd blame myself for not being good enough to get around Goemon, but he's like a brick wall.  You can't argue with him.  Xander knows that."

"You've had a long time with the wall of honor.  Xander hasn't," she reminded him.  "He sounded horrible.  You need to reach out and touch him gently.  No yelling, no recriminations.  Oh, and another bit of news, he asked me what would happen if he quit putting money into his retirement fund."  She hung up, leaving them looking at each other.

"He thinks we're going to fire him?" Marcus asked.

"He might," Lupin agreed.  "It wouldn't be the first time."

"This is the first time he's failed," Jigen noted, suddenly getting it.  Lupin groaned and shook his head.  "Dial the ship, let's see if we can find him."

"He'll be in the gym by now," Marcus said.  "If that's true, then he's beating himself up.  It'll be easier to get him in the middle of the night his time."  Jigen nodded at that wisdom.  "How's the weather looking that way?"

"There's a storm for them to go through in a few days," Lupin admitted.  "Right before they dock in Hawaii.  If the HarborMaster sends on the passport and stuff, they could get off there if necessary and head out through the airport."

"If," Jigen reminded him.  "If he's not on vacation."

"Good point."  Lupin smirked.  "He's not supposed to be."

"You're getting more cocky in your old age," Jigen warned.  Someone knocked on the door so he got up to answer it, taking the package from the bellboy.  "Thanks, kid."  He gave him a little tip, then carried the tube inside.  "I think it's his sword."  He popped the end open, lifting out the bloody, dented sword.  "What did Goemon do with this?" he demanded, holding it out.

Lupin came over to look at it.  "That's really bad.  We should work on that before Fujiko sees it.  It'll only make her worry more."  He pulled out his nifty little kids' DNA set, putting it to good use to figure out whose blood it was on the sword.  If it was Goemon's, everyone was going to try very hard not to worry her.


Zenigata walked into the hospital room and stopped his rookie from putting on his shirt.  "Get back in the bed."

"We have to catch them!  They tried to kill us!"

"They saved us," Zenigata said tiredly.  "Get back in the bed, you're not in any shape to go anywhere.  Your ears are still ringing and you're pale.  Now!" he ordered when his rookie glared at him.  He trudged back there, sitting down again.  "Thank you."  He pulled a chair over and handed over a letter.  "From the Commissioner herself.  You're on leave until you can be medically cleared.  It's standard procedure."

"You're going to let them get away?" he demanded.  "After what that boy did to me!"

"No, I know where they are and where they could get off.  I'll be there to meet the ship they're on.  Right now, unless we want to board a cruise ship in international waters and piss a lot of people off, they're out of our reach," he pointed out.

"We're Interpol!"

"We may be, but there are still rules we have to follow or we're no better than they are," Zenigata said coldly.  The boy glared at him so he stood up.  "The Commissioner is worried that you're picking up on my obsession.  She doesn't want to ruin you by doing that.  She's thinking about reassigning you and you're to expect a personal visit later.  Tell her whatever you want.  I gave them a thorough report, including how we were both captured and what happened after the earthquake.  We would have died," he said quietly.  "You especially since you were still unconscious.  He did save you, but that doesn't excuse his other actions."  He walked out, going back to his research.  Thanks to that girl, he had a new source of information and it was proving very useful about that boy's past.  What he heard made him sick.  No wonder he had turned to crime, Jigen was his father-figure.  He wondered how he was dealing with the most stubborn and upright person in the world, but figured they must get along well enough if they worked together.

The rookie read his official letter of medical leave, scowling at it.  The Commissioner would see his side, he was sure of it!


Xander walked back into the stateroom, looking at the sleeping man.  He snuck into his bed, pulling the covers over his head.

"You need to work on your sneaking," Goemon told him.

"Thanks, I'll do that when we land."

"Do so."  He turned on the light, blinking at the young man.  "What were you doing?"

"I was in the gym wearing out my frustration," Xander said honestly.  "I've got our exit plan figured out."  He sat up, looking over at him.  "Did you take your medicine?"  Goemon nodded.  "Good.  Tell me when to set the alarm for."

"I can wake myself up."

"Not the point," Xander said firmly.  "You're still my responsibility."

"I am a grown man, I can remember my own medication."


"Fine.  Set it for seven.  I will get up and meditate."

"You're not leaving this room until your fever breaks.  I'll have a good breakfast sent down."  He laid back down, facing away from him.  "Go to sleep," he said quietly.  "You're injured, you need your rest."

"I am fine, Xander."

"No, you're not," he sighed. "Don't argue with me."

"I can get us out of here."

"So can I and I'm the one with money coming," Xander said firmly.  "You're in my protection and I'm doing it.  Now lay down before I feed you my lone sleeping pill."

"Fine," he said quietly, staring at the tense back.  "Are you in pain?"

"Not that sort."

Goemon shook his head.  He did not understand this boy.  "Would you like to talk?"


"About this feeling you have that you have failed," he said firmly, shifting to sit on the side of the bed.  Xander got out of his bed and forced him back into it, tucking him in so tightly he couldn't move.  "You did not fail."

"I did.  Now go to sleep."  He set the alarm and got back into his bed, turning off the lights.  "Night, Goemon."

"Good night, Xander, I hope you can sleep."

"Yeah, me too," he admitted quietly, closing his eyes.


Lupin looked up as the lights went on overhead, mentally swearing.  His position was covered. Jigen and Marcus were in the open.  He turned, firing on the guard coming into the room.  This plan had been going wrong for a few minutes and he didn't like the feeling he was having.  "Abort," he ordered, backing out onto his escape route.  Jigen moved past him, but Marcus wasn't joining them.  He went to look for the boy, finding him unconscious and cuffed in a corner.  "Crap."  He hauled him up over his shoulder and exited, going to the backup hotel.  He would be fine and they could analyze the problems later.  Then he could try again.


Xander woke up on day three of their five-day journey and looked around.  The ship wasn't moving.  There was a helicopter above them.  "Damn it," he complained, standing up.  Someone knocked on the door again and he let them in.  "Yes?"

"Sir, it was noted that you did not have your passport on you," the Coast Guard officer said, looking at his clipboard.  "You and your companion.  I have to ask why."  He looked at him.

"We were in Hong Kong during the quake.  It was destroyed along with the inn we were staying in.  Copies have been sent to the HarborMaster in LA."

"Yes, sir, we got that notation but they haven't arrived yet.  We'll have to remove you from this ship until your identity can be verified."

"Can we at least get dressed first?  My client was injured in the quake."

"Yes, sir, that's fine," he agreed, stepping inside.  "You weren't the only one, sir, don't be upset.  We have to do these checks."

Xander looked at him.  "It sucks, I'm a fucking US citizen."  The man shrugged.  "I'm a resident of California."

"We couldn't find your name in the database, sir."

Xander groaned.  "It's a use-name.  I'm a professional bodyguard."

"That's fine, sir.  We'll be fingerprinting you and your license should pop up fairly quickly, even though it is Sunday."

"That's only if you go through an agency, son."  He gave Goemon a gentle nudge.  "The Coast Guard is here.  Our passports haven't shown up yet."

Goemon groaned.  "What else can go wrong?" he complained as he stood up to get dressed.


Lupin winced as the guillotine outside his cell went off again and the guard walked up to him.  "Having more fun?"

"That was your girlfriend," he taunted.

"No, it wasn't.  You tried that trick for the last five days.  Get a new line."  He would know if she was dead.  He would, he was sure of it.  "You can't kill us until we've had a trial.  You can't have a trial without Zenigata and his multiple requests to extradite us. Even here, that'll take some time."

"Bah."  He grinned. "We control this prison.  No one tells us who is guilty and who isn't.  The prison only admits those who are guilty.  Even you and your friends."  His radio crackled to life and he grinned.  "Ah, another attempt by that lawyer of yours.  How interesting."  He strolled away, laughing loudly.

Lupin forced himself to relax and think.  He had to get them out of here.  Fujiko had to be put into somewhere safer.  Jigen and he could swing, but he wouldn't do that to her or the baby.


Xander sat in the chair the Immigration guard pointed at, looking at him blandly.  "Where is my client?  He's injured and I will not be separated from him.  That is the law."

"The law?"

"Disability law?" Xander reminded him.  "Someone who is injured and in need of assistance has to be provided such."

"That's international law, not US law," the guard told him.

"No, here the rules are a bit more strict about such things.  I would appreciate at least seeing him to make sure he is all right."

"You'll be in the same cell later," he promised.  He looked at the file in front of him.  "Sir, we can't find your fingerprints anywhere."

"I told you they changed a few years back," Xander reminded him, staying casual.  "Have you found our passports yet?"  The man shook his head.  Xander sighed and called on the little power that had stayed, trying to 'see' where they were.  He had bled on the thing months ago.  "They're in Hawaii."  The guard frowned at him. "Check, they're in the security office.  The HarborMaster was supposed to forward them to us and that would be the most likely place for them to be since that was our first stop."

"Good point, sir," he agreed. "I'll check when they open tomorrow."  He made a note of that on his form.  "Until then, we do have to process you.  Do you have any questions about the procedures we'll be doing."

"I'm not stripping," Xander said firmly.


"Tough, deal with it," Xander said, glaring at him.  "I don't need to relive being attacked by a bunch of no-necked goons and I doubt you're going to be nice enough to give me something to combat the nightmares.  So unless you come in here with about fifty armed guards, you're not getting me down further than a t-shirt and my pants."  He leaned forward.  "You can pat me down, x-ray me, ultrasound me, but I'm not stripping and if you try to make me, I'm going to end up hurting someone.  This is the only warning you're going to receive on this matter."  The guard looked stunned.  "I'm sure you're following procedure but I was trained to kill.  I have had to kill in the course of business and to protect my life.  The outcome isn't going to be much different if I have a panic attack and only my client calms me down enough to keep me from committing mass homicide."

"Sir, I can't waive tests," he said, still looking confused.

"Tough.  I'm not relenting on this.  If you try it, you might as well go ahead and rape me to get off one last time before you die."

"Sir, you can be bound while we do it," he warned, standing up.  He had thought this was the nice one.

"Again, try," Xander told him calmly, staring into his eyes.  "And I am the nice one.  My client is a high-level executive.  He ruins lives for breakfast and then laughs over it."  The guard swallowed.  "So let's just put us in a cell and move on until you can call Hawaii."

"It's a national holiday tomorrow, sir," the guard told him.  "We can't leave you unprocessed."  The door opened and he saluted.  "Sir, small problem, sir," he said formally.

"I heard."  He walked in, looking at the young man.  "Where did you train?"

Xander looked at him.  "I did private training.  I'm still doing private training with a martial arts expert but I'm rated well beyond most people.  Even those in the military."  He stood up.  "Like I said, you can pat me down, x-ray me, ultrasound me, but you're fucked if I lose it."  The man stared into his eyes and he shrugged.  "Won't work. I've dealt with worse creatures than a bureaucrat recently."  He nodded at the guard he had been speaking to.  "Skippy here is nothing to me.  Not that I want to hurt him or anyone, but I am capable of it.  Trying to strip me down will trigger a violent event.  I'm being nice by warning you of such so your people don't have to get hurt."

The commander looked him over, then shrugged.  "Boys, cuff him," he ordered.  Two more guards came in and Skippy, the guard's real name, moved out of the way.  Xander had just taken one by the throat and planted his foot in the other's abs, sending him flying into the mirror.  The commander smirked.  "Pretty good for a civilian.  Try me now."

Xander let the non-breathing man go, then shrugged.  "Sure.  Which branch were you?"


"Cool.  I managed to avoid that fate."  The commander rushed him and Xander ended up on his back but the other man ended up wheezing for breath.  Xander flipped back to his feet and looked at Skippy.  "I warned you.  I wish you had listened," he said quietly as more guards came in.  One of them put a gun to his head and he moved, ducking and grabbing the gun to point it at him.  "Cute piece.  Mine's better but I seem to have lost it in the quake."  He handed it back.  "I don't want to hurt you guys, I really don't."

"Quit," Goemon ordered as he was walked in.  "They cannot force such destructive methods onto us."  He looked Xander in the good eye, giving him a silent message to calm down.  "They will not touch them," he said softly.  Xander shrugged and backed away, making him groan.  "Sit."  Xander sat, hands in his lap.  Someone cuffed him to the chair.  "Thank you."  They shared another look until one of the stupid guards tried to move him.  He got an elbow in the windpipe for his troubles.  "I am not leaving."  He pulled a chair over and sat as well.  "Xander is my bodyguard and I will not be without him."

"Fags," one man muttered.

"No, I am not.  As my pregnant wife can avow to," Goemon said firmly.  "Nor have I ever been, even when some very persuasive people have tried.  Please keep your mental problems to yourself from now on."  He looked at the commander, crossing his arms like he had seen Jigen do.  Xander shook his head so he quit.  "Why have you not looked for our passports?"

"The one with the silver hair thinks they may have been forwarded to Hawaii, sir," Skippy offered.  "It is logical."  The commander looked at him and he lowered his head.  "Sorry, sir."

"No, it is a good idea.  It's too bad we can't get anyone out there for another day and a half due to the holiday."  He smirked at Xander.  "We will be doing whatever we want to you and the more you fight the better we like it."

Xander shrugged, leaning casually to the side.  "Yay.  Try."

"You're handcuffed and still defiant, I like that," he chuckled, leaving his men to it.  "Put them in cellblock H when you're done."

"Together so my client isn't injured and forced to sue you all," Xander ordered calmly, staring down the next highest rated officer in the room.

"Sure, you and your princess will have the same cell," he sneered.  "After we've had a turn with you."  Some of the other guys laughed. "Separate them."

Xander stood up, showing that one of his cuffs was undone and then hit him, catching him and turning him around as a shield as he fell.  His sidearm was a handy thing, and it wounded the rest of the officers but Skippy.  "I warned you," he said softly, hitting him across the head with the barrel.

Goemon frowned.  "That was not necessary."

"It was, I'm not striping so someone who aspires to be as witty as some backwoods redneck can give me flashbacks," he said tiredly.  The door opened and the commander came in with more guards.  Xander felt his gun, then nodded, winging the commander.  "I told you, you didn't listen.  Maybe this'll make you listen?" he suggested, ducking the next one and taking his gun.  One of them got smart and went after Goemon, but he was taken out easily.  That left a single officer in the room with them.  "Now then, we'd like to retire to our cell," he announced.  "My client needs his medication, I would like some caffeine because it happens to curb the violent tendencies, and you've got a cleanup to deal with.  You can do all that mean stuff like x-ray me tomorrow."  The guard looked sick and ran to throw up. Xander waited while a new group came in.  "Morning."  He handed the pistol over to the unarmed man.  "Here, you look like you need it."

The man blinked a few times, then nodded.  "Fine.  Understandable.  You react very badly to having your clothes taken off.  We can do it with a single officer if you'd cooperate."

"Why do I want to relive that experience?"

"Oh.  Trauma induced?"

Xander lifted up the back of his t-shirt, showing him the scars on his lower back.  "You might say that, yeah," he admitted, turning back around.  "No one sees me naked, not even the people I sleep with.  I'm sure as hell not going to do it for a bunch of latent homosexuals who get perverse pleasure from body cavity searches.  Nor will I do it in front of anyone.  Like I said, scan me for drugs, that's fine.  I'm not feeling up to having a flashback right now."

"Fine, sir.  Let us do all the other stuff.  This way please."  He led them both out, smart enough not to try to separate them.  That one guy, the client, was tougher than the guard.  "Sir, which business are you in?"

"Japanese history," he said with a small smirk.

"Yeah, the guy lectures on it.  I'm surprised you haven't heard of him," Xander quipped, back to his original good mood.  "Can I get some coffee or something?  It really does help with the violent urges."

"If it'll stop that from happening again, I'll get you some," the officer promised, leading them in to take their photos and fingerprints.  He'd give the guy anything legal not to have to see another room taken out like that again.  That tape was going to be going to the trainers to make sure the guys were prepared.

"May I have a paper?" Goemon asked.  "I must keep track of certain stock markets."

"Sure.  Today's is laying in the break room," the officer agreed.  He led them through the rest of the process, letting the drug dogs sniff them before they were given ultrasounds of their lower GI tracts.  Then they were led into a large cell with not too many prisoners in it and given cups of coffee and the paper.  Then he backed away and walked off to make a report to the base commander.  He wasn't going to believe this one.

"That was uncalled for," Goemon said, handing over his cup of coffee.  He hated the stuff but the boy obviously needed it.  "What purpose did that solve?"

"Me not having flashbacks," Xander said grimly.  "Me not going through that hell is worth nearly any cost.  It wouldn't get us out of here sooner anyway."  He sipped the first cup, grimacing.  "Sock coffee.  Great."  He sat down to read the international headlines, holding up the paper after the second one.  "We've got bigger problems."  Someone coughed so he looked up, looking at the prisoners around them.  "Hey, how ya doin'?" he asked.

"You mafia?" one guy asked.

"No, professional bodyguard.  Why?  Offering me a job?"  The prisoner shook his head, backing off.  "They misplaced our forwarded passports.  We won't hurt you if you don't try us."

Someone laughed, pushing through the others.  "This is my cell," he sneered.  "Everyone here pays a toll."  He unbuckled his belt.  "Bend and spread 'em."  A few people winced and backed away but most of them were getting a thrill out of the rookies.

Xander stood up, waving him on.  "Come on.  You're not that big.  I've dealt with bigger."

Goemon walked behind him, doing a perfect Vulcan neck pinch.  "Such violence is wasted on ones such as he," he said patiently, going back to his reading.  "Interesting."

"I knew you'd get on well with Spock," Xander quipped.

Goemon looked at him.  "A rational mind is something to admire," he said sternly.  It was all the chastisement he would be giving.  "How are we doing this?"

"Well, gee, Xander could call for help from a blonde friend," a tired voice said from the shadows, walking out.  "Xander," he said.

"Oz."  He walked over, hugging him hard.  "Good to see you, man.  Why are you in here?"

"Expired passport.  I got tired of Tibet."  He shrugged.  "You?"

"Misforwarded.  Sucks but we were in Hong Kong during the quake."  He sat the other guy down.  "How are you?  In more control?"  Oz nodded.  "Boy, you've missed a lot of stuff."  He started to shift nervously.  "Oz, um, things are a little different now."

"I heard the town imploded.  What else?"  Xander backed away from him.  "Xan?"  Xander gave out a great sigh and looked at him.  "Xander?" he asked quietly.  "What happened?"

"Where to start, man? You missed everything that made me who I am now."  He sat down again, taking his hand.  "If I tell you, there's every chance you'll be horrified."  Oz nodded for him to go on.  "I don't know if I want to tell you some of it or not."

"I know some of it.  Dawn found me.  The other reason I'm back.  Give," he said more firmly.

Xander shook his head.  "You don't want to know," he said, giving off a bitter laugh.  "The group turned on me, I was gifted as a sacrifice by someone, hurt atrociously, and now I'm me," he finished quietly.  "Willow went evil, then good, then bad, and is now dead.  Buffy's a mother, and bitchy still."

Oz nodded slowly.  "Details?" he suggested.   "Dawn didn't give any, only that I was needed."

"You probably are, I'm not on the same side anymore," Xander agreed.  He smirked when Oz felt for a pulse.  "I'm still alive."

"I had my doubts for a second, your eyes don't show life," Oz said quietly, leaning closer.  "Tell me," he whispered.  "I can keep a secret."  Xander leaned his forehead against him, telling him in a few sentences what was going on.  Who he was now.  Oz pulled back and looked at him.  "Huh, you were the guy the big guy in Istanbul was talking about.  I wasn't sure."  He stood up, giving Xander a head pat.  "You're still Xander to me.  No matter what else you are."  He walked away, going back to his bunk.

Xander looked at his hands, calming himself down again.  Goemon sat next to him.  "You had doubts he would accept you?"

"He hasn't seen me since things started to get really bad," Xander said quietly.  He looked at him.  "Oz was one of my friends, the only one I have from the old days."  He got up and walked over there, sitting down on his bunk to tell him more.  It was like telling it to a good priest, he'd keep it all inside. No one bothered them or tried to eavesdrop.


Lupin looked around the small yard, looking Jigen's way.  They weren't allowed near each other.  The guards had strapped a collar on him that would send a painful, and possibly deadly, course of electricity through his neck if they saw them communicating.  They had shown him how it worked.  Fujiko was a few feet in the other direction, gently stroking her stomach.  She looked fine.  He glanced around from his seat again, trying to figure a way out of this mess.  They needed the other members of the team, where were they?  Their arrest had made it into the papers and Xander and Goemon should have landed by now.  He slumped a little, pretending for the guard strolling past him, glaring at his back.  He caught Jigen's eye again and blinked a few times.  He looked away, silently agreeing.  They may be on their own, something bad had happened to everyone else.


Xander hopped up as the nice officer came back, opening the door for him.  That got a surprised look and he shrugged.  "It's a necessary skill sometimes.  I need to keep in practice."

"Good.  Um, Mr. Isikawa?" he asked, mispronouncing it horribly.  "You're free to go."  He handed over a set of paperwork.  He looked at Xander.  "You might be if you hadn't attacked all those people but they haven't made a decision to charge you yet or not.  The fact that it was trauma induced is working on your side and they said they'd know by tonight."  Xander nodded calmly.  "I'm allowed to give you one phone call so you can arrange for someone else to guard him for you."

Xander shrugged, looking at Goemon.  "Go for it," he offered. "You'll see me soon."  The samurai looked at him, one eyebrow raised.  "Seriously, go for it."  Goemon nodded, leaving with the officer.  Xander went back to his corner near Oz's bunk, leaning against the wall.  He went back to his chanting.  He really needed to take formal magic lessons.  He'd have to beg Ethan for that later.  He noticed Oz looking at him and shrugged. "I've got access to the consort's power," he admitted dryly.  "It's a bitch to use though."  Oz nodded, going back to his newspaper.  Xander went back to his chanting.  "To my enemies, I call unto thee.  Hear me, know me, feel me," he chanted.  "Do my will so that we may battle."  He looked up as he felt the unsettled feeling, pulling Oz off his bunk when he froze.  The room started to shake and they stayed against the outer wall.  As soon as the wall broke, he broke them out with a little love tap to the wall, running with Oz.  He looked back.  "You can stay if you want," he offered.

"I'd rather not."  They made it across the gate in the confusion.  For some reason, there weren't enough guards around.

Goemon quickly found them, nodding at Oz.  "I do not think that was natural."

"I'm just glad it wasn't a real one," Oz told him, getting his hand free.  "Thanks, need that."  He gave Xander a long look, then hugged him.  "Be safe.  Write more often.  I've got a hotmail addy now."  Xander nodded, giving him a sad smile.  "Be safe," he repeated, heading off into the night.  He could get lost in this city until he could find Angel.

"Look for the law firm," Xander called after him.  "Like your nature."  Oz waved a hand.  "Deadboy's there."  Oz stopped to look at him and Xander nodded. "Like your nature," he repeated.  Oz nodded, heading off again.  Xander looked at Goemon.  "Have you called Murami?"

"Not yet.  We should probably get farther away."

Xander nodded.  "Good point."  They jogged off, heading for a cab, a phone, and freedom.  They came to a parking lot first and Xander shrugged, using his elbow to break a window in an older model car.  "Get in.  We'll head to Mexico."

Goemon gave him a look but did as ordered.  The rules were looser and more easily gotten around down there.  "I feel like a bad woman's movie," he said dryly.

"You hate that movie too?  That's always a good sign.  Fortunately, the border is two hours away and we haven't run into any of my other friends yet."  He sped up, heading for the nearest interstate.  Jigen had made sure he could drive a getaway car successfully on the interstate.


Lupin looked up as he heard the alarm, frowning at it.  This was a good opportunity.  The electrified bars were going down.  His fizzed and sparked so he picked the lock quickly, stepping into the hallway.  The guard turned to look at him, raising his gun, but he was shot in the head.  "Ow.  That must have hurt."  He shrugged and hurried to free Jigen, who would then go find Fujiko for him.  He gave him a nudge, and nodded in the probable direction, then went to finish the prison break.  He found a familiar body lounging in the doorway of the prison's armory.  "Xander?  Finally!"  He gave him a hug.  "Why did it take you so long?"

"The stuff got forwarded to Hawaii and we never made it there."  He handed over a gun.  "I could only get us in control of the prison, boss.  I've also sent a mayday for help to Dawn and David.  Marcus is in town trying to get you guys free in other ways."  He grinned.  "He was the lawyer."

"I figured as much."  He took more weapons, heading out to take down the guards.  They were sadistic and deserved to be shot.  He could plan it from here.  "Why both of them?"

"Because we were stuck in the Immigration cells in LA.  Ran into Oz," Xander explained.  He fired a shot into the air.  "This prison is now under a new command," he said loudly, getting absolute silence.  "Anyone who bothers me, Lavelle, dies."  The inmates gave him a scared look.  "Good.  All guards will report to the barracks, they can live in there."  He stomped off, going to help his mentor.  He walked into the women's wing, flipping the switch.  Someone yelled so he flipped it in the other direction and hit the second one, which opened the doors.  He walked in, making the women stop.  "I am Lavelle.  I control this prison.  There will be no more atrocities while I am here.  After that is up to you."  The women backed away from him.  "Bring me Fujiko Mine."  She was shoved forward.  "Morning, princess, your prince is in the office."  She hurried off.  "Left corridor," he called after her.  He bowed to the women.  "I will leave the doors open because those things are heinous.  Do not bother us."  They nodded, but one stepped forward, giving him a fearful look.  "I don't want to hurt any of you.  I'm personally against hurting women."  He gave her a gentle touch to the bruised cheek.  "We'll have someone in to look at that," he promised.  "Stay in here, I want the male prisoners to leave you alone.  Trust my crew.  I'm with Lupin."  They nodded, going back to their cells to wait.  "Jigen," he yelled as he walked away.  His mentor met him at the crosspath.  "Find anything good?"

"Not yet.  I found the execution yard," he said bitterly.

"Fuck 'em, I want their heads already, it'll come in handy," Xander told him, walking off.  "Boss, the women are free but staying in their corridor so there aren't any problems.  A few need some minor medical attention."  Lupin nodded, hugging Fujiko.  "Goemon's in the offices," he told him gently.  She hurried off, holding her stomach.  She was really showing now.  "So, what did I miss while in Immigration holding?"

Lupin smirked.  "I figured it was that bad.  Any other plans?"

"Demands for food, water, decent clothing, and medical attention.  After that?"  He shrugged.  "Escape?"

"Good plan," Jigen agreed, patting him on the back.  He saw the slump.  "What?"

"Nothing, personal issue."  Xander walked off to make his demands.  He saw the officer out there with the bullhorn and leaned on the windowsill.  "Hey, Gramps," he called.  "Figured you'd be here."

"You're in LA," he said, looking outraged.  "The Americans fucked up that much?"

"No, LA had a small quake.  We survived three in a week and a half," Xander told him with a light grin.  "We've got some inmates who need medical attention.  We want the standard things.  Medical, food, water, and clothes for now."  He pulled in, shutting the window.  He turned and found Jigen behind him, guarding the door.  "Problems already?"

"No, I wanted to talk to you."  He walked over, tilting the boy's face up.  "You okay?"  Xander nodded, giving him a look.  "I'm serious, wench.  Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, or at least better."

"And Goemon?  Are you two fine?" he completed when Xander winced.  "What?"

"I failed," he admitted.  "I fully expect to be fired after this.  Not only did I fail, I nearly fucked up the world because I failed."  He got his chin free.  "You need someone better behind you.  Someone who doesn't panic, doesn't do things like open fire in a hospital, and doesn't take out half the guards at the LA Immigration Holding Facility."

"You did?"

"They wanted to strip search me."

"Ah."  Jigen nodded, knowing he was still sensitive about that.  "Were you nice?"

"I was.  I only gave minor injuries.  Goemon's even more pissed at me.  Since he's the original crew, I'll back off and you guys can call me whenever you want me, or for a booty call," he agreed.  He shrugged.  "I won't harm the group."  He walked around him, heading down to the main level.  The guys were giving him pitiful looks.  "Quit," he warned.  They moved back. "Thank you.  I don't want to hurt anyone.  I don't want to see anyone hurt."

"Then give us the women," one down the block yelled.

"Why, so you can hurt them like the guards?" he asked.  That got them shut up.  "The women are staying separate until they're released.  I'm going to demand trials for all of you."  That got some mild cheering.  "If they don't agree, then we'll have to do something.  If you were a criminal, I suggest you take this as a sign you should change jobs.  I don't want to deal with you guys professionally."  He turned, heading up to the offices to monitor the radio broadcasts.  There hadn't been enough guards.  He ran into Fujiko, who was looking rumpled.  "You okay?" he asked, looking into her eyes.  She nodded.  "You sure?"  She nodded again, more firmly this time.  "Good.  I'm making you the liaison to the women's section.  They're supposed to stay in there so they're safer.  When the doctor gets here, I want you to be checked over too."  He walked on, heading to do his part of the detail.  Lupin was listening to the radio broadcasts already.  "Any clue where the rest of the guards are?"

"They're in the basement, I sent Jigen down there to free their hostages."  He looked at Xander.  "Shut the door."  Xander kicked it shut and stood stiffly in front of him.  "Haven't you learned anything yet?" he asked, giving him a look.

"I did my best, boss.  I tried.  I won't follow an order like that ever again.  But I understand.  Call me if you ever need me."

Lupin pulled him closer.  "Not that, Xan."  He gave him a hug.  "I'm not sending you away.  Even if you did take out most of the LA holding center's staff.  I find that rather impressive actually, if dumb and unnecessary.  You panicking wasn't a good thing.  You understand that, right?"  Xander nodded.  "Good.  Then we're fine."  Xander shook his head.  "We're not?"

"No.  We're not.  I fucked up.  I failed and it nearly got Goemon killed, and it got you guys captured because you were undermanned.  You guys could have been killed and the responsibility is mine.  I accept that."  He shrugged.  "I fucked up big time."

"No, you followed an order you didn't agree with.  I've done the same thing and hated it.  Goemon's done the same thing to us once and we had to watch him fight some evil fucker he had trained with.  In this case, you move on.  He won."

"Barely."  Xander glanced behind him.  "I cheated a little," he admitted.  Lupin raised an eyebrow.  He took a deep breath.  "I put a sedative into the guy's drink the night before."

"So you saved him by disobeying an order," Lupin said, considering it.  "Do you want to tell him?"

"He'll be even more pissed at me."

"He said he's not mad, I trust him to know whether or not he is."  Xander let out a little snort.  "You don't think so?"

"I know he's mad, he glared at me the whole time we were on the ship."

"He was concerned about you, Xander.  He said he heard you crying in the bathroom a few times.  That and you mother-henned him to distraction."  Xander nodded.  "I pointed out it's the same thing he does to Fuji and he glared at me.  Now, can you still work with him?"

Xander shrugged.  "I guess.  If he'll allow it.  He doesn't like me.  I respect him because he's still the scariest person I know, but I don't understand him the way I should."

"So you're retiring already?" Lupin asked, looking him over.  "One last hurrah before you go out with a bang?  Planning on dying here?"  Xander shook his head.  "Are you sure?"  Xander nodded.  "Good.  Because you owe Jigen and me."  Xander frowned.  "Two years is not enough to pay back what we've given you."

"Like I said, if you want me, I'm there.  I don't want to destroy the group."

"We've gotten used to having you around, Xander.  You can't leave now."  He gave him a little smirk.  "See, we need you to do things like this.  I'm getting old, we need a new approach sometimes."  Xander groaned and walked out, heading to another office to look at the troops. "What did I say?" he called, getting up to follow him.  Jigen shook his head.  "What did I say?"

"I'm not sure, but he's hurt.  I think he thinks we keep him around for shits and giggles."  He shrugged.  "We'll kidnap him when this is over with and figure it out.  This one last time."  Xander came out of the office he was hiding in. "Unless you feel like being straight right here and now, then we'll leave the last time off for some other time."

"Jigen, what happens when you guys have a communication breakdown?" Xander asked.  Jigen frowned.  "That's right, you don't have one.  Goemon and I do have one.  I don't understand him.  I have never really understood him, no matter how hard I try.  For all I know, he might really be a Vulcan. And I'm sure he feels the same way about me.  That's going to cause problems in the group and make it harder on jobs.  Even in a family, there can't be dissent like this.  It's like fire and water, one of us is going to put out the other."  He walked back into the office, going back to his watching.

"Which was he?" Lupin asked.  "Water?"

"I think in this case he was fire," Goemon said quietly from behind them.  They were too used to it to jump.  "He is correct, I do not understand him.  Nor will I probably ever understand him, but I do want him around.  He is not only useful but he lightens your moods and makes things go smoothly again.  He is the lubricant we needed to overcome the problems we were having with advanced aging."  He walked into the office Xander was in.  "May we speak?"

"Sure.  I'm watching the military mass."  He glanced back.  "Shut the door."  The door was shut.  "Come on over.  They can't see up here."  Goemon came over, standing next to him.  "What's up?  And I'm not oily like that most of the time."

"There are many lubricants," Goemon reminded him.  He put a hand on the boy's shoulder.  "I am not mad, Xander."

"I drugged him the night before," he said quietly.

"Then I may be upset with you but I had no idea of that so it does not impinge on my honor."  Xander looked at him. "Honor is like faith for the strong willed.  I believe as strongly as any devout Snake Charmer."  Xander snorted, shaking his head.  "Snake Handler?" he corrected.  Xander nodded.  "Yes, one of the ones who knows that the snake will not harm him because he has his faith.  I have my honor, it also protects me from the snakes.  You have no such thing to date.  That is why you do not understand, and I know this.  Not many do in this day and age."  He gave the boy's shoulder a gentle squeeze, making him moan.  "Are you in pain again?"

"A little," he admitted. "I'm fine."  He looked outside again.  "They're moving."  He moved Goemon out of the way and pulled up his rifle, taking out the Captain standing next to Zenigata.  Then he picked off most of the small team moving in.  He put his rifle down again and looked at him.  "That should stop them for a bit."  He leaned against the wall.  "Can you honestly say you understand me well enough to know what I would do in any given situation?"  Goemon shook his head immediately.  "Isn't that necessary for this job?"  He glanced outside and groaned, but someone else was shooting them now.  "Thanks," he said, looking up.  There was a turret above them.  "I believe that's your wife from the muttering."

"As long as she is safe.  It is wearing out another mood swing," he said with a small grin.  "Better them than me."  He stepped closer again.  "Xander, I do not understand Jigen that way either.  There are many things I do not understand about either of you.  Things I may never understand, even if we were all immortal.  Only Lupin understands all of us like that.  You are not he, and neither am I."  Xander nodded, accepting that.  "We can and do work together very well.  I would like to continue that relationship, if only because Jigen would stay happy with life again.  I missed him when he was so low-key all the time."  He gave the boy another small smile.  "Will you stay?"

"If you're sure it won't affect anything."

"It should not," Goemon told him. "I feel much the same about Marcus and yet I treat him like an odd son.  All of you younger generation are vastly different from the ways I was used to.  Then again, I was fairly sheltered growing up.  You have been fighting since your youth.  As has Jigen.  I cannot understand how people get so badly hurt and still go on with a somewhat normal life."  Xander relaxed.  "I hear more coming."  The gun above them went silent.  "Oh, dear.  She's run out of bullets."  He shook his head as he went to check on his wife.  She was crying again so he held her gently, letting Lupin take over the turret gun for her.  "It is fixed," he told him.

Lupin nodded, looking happier.  "Thank you, Goemon."

"You are welcome.  How else will I learn not to desire the death of the things who call themselves adult these days?"  He walked her back down to the office, sitting down to hold her.  "It is all right," he soothed gently.  "They will be no more soon."  He heard a large explosion and looked out the window.  "I believe we should talk to Xander about his magical abilities soon," he noted.  She laughed, hugging him tightly.  "Did you get my sword?"

"We did, but Marcus has it right now."  He nodded, giving her a gentle kiss.  "Was LA that bad?"  He nodded.  "I'm sorry."

"It is not your fault.  You do not cause earthquakes."  She laughed, giving him a long hug.  "Thank you.  I missed you too."


Dawn stood up, reading the email in shock.  "How in the hell?" she asked her screen.  Giles looked her way, giving her quizzical look.  "I just got a mayday coded message from Xander."  He frowned.  "Not only has everything went to hell in the last week for the group, they're all in deadly danger and he's gone to take over a prison to free them."  She walked away, shaking her head.  She pulled out a cd she had made a few months back, running it so she could print the items off it, then she gathered up a small bag of stuff she'd need.  It fit nicely into a big purse.  The papers were folded up and stuck in there as well.  Then she walked out to the main shop area.  "Janus was supposed to leave Xan alone but he's obviously not.  I'm going to help him.  Can you handle the kids?"  Giles was still looking stunned.  "I'll take that as a yes," she said dryly, moving into his working room.  David had taken a vial of her blood with him and had anointed a spot in his new room.  She opened a portal, walking through.  "Hey, Gunn, I need David."

"He doesn't need you," he said firmly.

Dawn rolled her eyes.  "I'm not arguing with you.  Our friends are in danger."  She walked out of the room, heading down the stairs of the hotel.  "David?" she called.  Angel gave her a vicious look. "Keep it up, future pile of ashes.  David!"  He came out of the kitchen.  "I got a mayday message.  It's horrible."

"Coming."  He ate as he walked up the stairs.  "Packing?"

"Wear whatever you want.  Hopefully it won't last more than a day."  He nodded, continuing to munch as he walked up the stairs.  She looked around, frowning.  "Did you guys have an earthquake too?  Xander was caught in the two in Hong Kong."

Angel prowled over.  "Is that who you're going to go save?" he demanded.

She patted him on the cheek.  "Behave and live for a while longer," she said seriously.  "I'm not the queen of nice today.  The baby's got colic."  David came down the stairs so she created a portal to the house in France.  There was stuff there they'd need, including the passport stash.  He followed her through, and she let it snap shut behind her before anyone else could come through.  "Okay, find me the newspaper for today.  I'm going to the office to check the news online."  He nodded, heading that way.  She went to do her thing, passing the housekeeper.  "It's a bad day, we're the rescue party."

"Mr. Marcus is down there too," she called after her.  "He's not involved."  Dawn turned and grinned, then turned back around, making the older woman shake her head.  "Those poor men, relying on children to help them."  She walked out to help the other one find the pertinent papers.  She had been reading them to see if she would still have a job.  Maybe she would suggest that her boss retire, he was pretty old these days.


Jigen walked up behind Xander, giving him a friendly nudge.  "Are they moving again?"  Xander nodded, giving him a glance.  "What's wrong?"

Xander shook his head.  "I nearly got us killed and this plan is looking worse."

"Well, it's not the most bright ever, but you are buying us the time we need to make a real one."  He put an arm over his student's shoulders.  "I thought you said you didn't want to be telepathic."

"I don't, but I still nearly got him killed."

"Kid, no one understands him.  Not even the other planners in the group."  He gave him a gentle squeeze, noticing the wince but he wouldn't say anything about it yet.  "The more you think about this, the worse it will make it seem.  He still likes you, move on."

Xander picked up his rifle, firing at Zenigata's feet out the window.  "Maybe."  He looked out the window, making the cop flinch.  "Now," he called out.  "Or the sadistic, torturing bastards get it."  He closed the window, leaning against the wall.  "I know you guys are pretty tired of me."

"Only of the insecurity.  Most people would be thrilled to work with us."

Xander shook his head.  "I am, but I can't help some of this."  He shrugged.  "I figure it tempers my violent streak."

"True," Jigen admitted dryly.  "It also makes you panic in an emergency."

"But never in a battle situation."  He glanced out the window.  "We've got a truck, an ambulance, and a new negotiator who's arguing with Gramps."  Jigen looked out.  "Want me to meet them at the door?"

"No, I've got it."  He took the rifle, heading down to meet them.  Zenigata joined the group.  "Medics?"

"We can only get two, but you have to let us in to examine everyone," Zenigata ordered. Jigen shrugged, letting him inside but stopping the other guy.  "Him too, he's the Minister of Justice," the inspector said dryly.  He followed the gunman down to the women first.

"Pops and the Minister of Justice are here, wandering."  Fujiko gave him a look.  "It'll be fine.  Check her too," he ordered the paramedics that had followed them.  Goemon came to take his place, freeing him to supervise the touring inspector and minister.  He found them staring in horror at the execution yard and the bodies stacked against a wall.  "He was doing one an hour, then telling us it was Fujiko and Lupin," he told them.  Zenigata looked at him.  "He did the same to Lupin."

The Minister of Justice shook his head, shuddering in revulsion at the puddles of congealed blood.  "This is not allowed.  Most people here have not been charged."  He looked at their guide.  "Where is he?"

"Stuffed in a tiny closet, needing attention," Jigen admitted.  "Lavelle has been having a bad week."

"After two earthquakes and three days in LA I'm not surprised," Zenigata agreed.  "Did he really wound ten people for trying to make him strip?"  Jigen groaned and walked away.  "I'll take that as a yes."  The minister looked at him.  "The kid was tortured a few years back," he shared.

"Then this is his crusade?"

"He'll listen to the older ones," Zenigata said wisely.  "We still need to go through Lupin."

"You rang?" Lupin said from the catwalk above them.

"Don't sneak up on me!" Zenigata yelled, glaring at him.

"Sorry, I was practicing thinking like Goemon."

"The white-haired man with the gun is yours?" the Minster asked.  Lupin dropped down, standing in front of him.  "What are your demands?"

"First, we want the sadistic fuck in a cell," Lupin said.  "We want *real* investigations for all the people here.  Most of them need medical attention, especially the women."  The Minister's face hardened.  "I take it you saw the ones we snuck out?"  The Minister nodded.  "We took them back from the guards."

"One of them died from her injuries," the Minister told him.

"Hopefully her family will be told the truth about her time here," Lupin said coldly.

"Full disclosure is a reasonable demand," the Minister agreed.  "What else?"

"They need food, most of them are wearing rags, and none of the others participated.  We've kept them clear of everything."  The Minister nodded, opening the door that led down to the barracks.  There were bodies everywhere and one person sitting in the corner laughing.  "LAVELLE!" he shouted.  Xander jogged down, blinking at the carnage.  "Did you let him out of his closet?"

"No.  He was moaning in the dark an hour ago when I checked."  He walked in and hauled up the laughing man.  "Feel better now?"  He continued to laugh.  "I'm not buying this insanity thing.  You're high on the killing."  The former warden nodded so he handed him over.  "May I suggest solitary for him?"  He walked back through the mess, heading back to his spot to report.  "Food and some clothes were delivered with them.  The medics have said sixteen people need to be evacuated.  They're doing the last block now.  That includes the females."  Lupin nodded and looked at the Minister, who also nodded.  "Good.  They said an hour or so."  He walked away.

Zenigata looked at Lupin instead of the bodies.  "I haven't seen Fujiko."  He had been down the other path and hadn't seen the women, it would have made him side with Lupin and his gang if he had and he couldn't have that.

"She's fine.  That whole gun thing earlier was a small tantrum."  He led them to look at the cells then up to the office with the clear windows so no one outside would panic.  "Do you need anything else?  I'd like to get this solved soon."

The Minister crossed his arms over his chest.  "What do you want for yourself, young man?  Most kidnapers have more personal reasons than saving the abused."

Lupin laughed.  "I'm pretty content.  After this, I'm determined to take a real vacation."  The minister gave him a look so he grinned back.  "I am Lupin the Third," he reminded him.  He left them there, walking down to check on their female member.  He found Xander giving her stomach long rubs.  "Influencing it?"

Xander grinned.  "It kicked."

Lupin hurried over to feel as well.  "Wow."  The baby kicked him and he laughed.  "You're going to be a great martial artist, kid."  He hurried to find the father so he could feel this great thing too.  "Goemon!" he shouted.  His friend came out of the office he had left the officials in.  "The baby kicked."  Goemon hurried off and Zenigata came out of the office.  "What?"

"Already?"  Lupin nodded.  "Good.  That's a good sign."

Lupin smirked.  "Thanks.  We're looking forward to being uncles."  He walked away.  "Stay or go, whatever's easier for you guys to get these people what they need."  He still needed to find their things.

Xander appeared behind them, startling them.  "Of course, if you try to storm the place again, *I* get them," he noted.  The official nodded, looking very scared.  "Do you think it'd be appropriate to get the baby decorative weapons?"

"Probably, knowing the parents," Zenigata said bitterly.  "How are you going to run with a baby?"

"Easy.  Marcus and me," Xander said smugly.  "I'm a good uncle, I like happy babies."  He strolled off.  "You might want to call someone.  Your people are getting antsy."

"Thank you," the Minister called after him.  He looked at the inspector.  "You weren't kidding.  He is odd."  He went to call his people, this needed to end.


Dawn walked into the hospital the prisoners had been sent to like she owned the place.  "You have someone who is carrying my child," she told the nurse at the desk.  "I wish to check on my child."  The nurse held up a finger and walked off to find someone with more authority so she didn't have to deal with decision making.  A doctor soon joined them.  "One of the women is carrying my child.  I wish to see her."

"Egg donation is illegal in this country, ma'am, that would negate your rights here," the doctor told her.

She snorted and pulled out the emergency paperwork she had run off before leaving the house.  "We have a binding legal agreement for me to adopt her child as soon as it is born."

"I see."  He looked it over, then looked at her again.  "Are you sure she's here?"

"Considering I chose her because she is an internationally known thief and the news reports said she was here, yes."

"Oh, her," he said flatly.  He led her to the cubicle.  "The Justice officials are allowing five minute visits.  Put everything in the chair as soon as you walk in.  You will be monitored from the security station."

She walked in, leaving her purse on the chair. "Hey."

"Contract?" Fujiko mouthed.  Dawn shrugged and grinned.  "It kicked today.  Come feel?"

Dawn walked over, laying a hand on her stomach.  She squealed and hugged her, making the restraints break with a quiet spell.  They wouldn't lock again.  Fujiko smiled at her, testing them.  "I'm glad you're okay.  Don't you worry, my legal team will be here soon to handle this for you."  She gave the firm stomach another stroke and someone outside coughed.  "I'll see you later, sweetie. You be good."  They locked eyes and Dawn grinned "I'll even bring the honey the next time I see you."  She gave her a kiss on the cheek, then left.

"Your purse?" the guard called, watching as she retrieved it.  "You can come back tomorrow.  Tonight she has some medical testing that needs to be done."

Dawn pulled out another copy of the contract.  "Then this needs to go into her chart.  That child in her is mine."  The man grimaced.  "The child has the ability to become a genius and an asset to society.  If you harm the baby or the mother I will see your entire country bankrupted," she said in her best matter-of-fact voice.

"We are not animals," he protested.

"True, but there are atrocities involved and people who want to cover their asses.  Sometimes even good people get bad orders."  He nodded so she handed over a business card.  "Call my cell if something should happen."  He took it.  "Thank you.  I'll see her tomorrow."  She walked out, heading back to her hotel room.  "Xan," she complained.  "This is too complicated."


Xander looked up at the sky.  "I know you like me, but isn't this just a little heavy handed?"  He heard some ethereal-sounding laughter.  "Okay, dude, if I start to think pleasant thoughts about you, will you quit screwing with my life finally, like you promised?"  Someone coughed so he looked behind him.  "I have the feeling Janus still likes me."

"With the week you've had, I wouldn't be surprised," Jigen agreed as he walked in farther. "Are you picking him as your personal deity?"

"I doubt he'd want me that way," Xander offered.  "I only want to be left alone.  No more mischief.  No more tempting problems."  He lifted his head again.  "No more problems for the group!" he requested angrily.  "Don't pick on me using them!"

"Pray," that voice whispered.

Xander grimaced.  "If I do, will you leave me alone permanently?"  Jigen gave him a look.  "Quit that!" he shouted.

"Pray," the voice whispered again.

"That time I heard it," Jigen admitted, looking around.

"Fine, but it stops or I cap Ethan," Xander grumbled.  The laughter came back.  He mumbled a quick prayer to be left alone.  Jigen gave him a look so he shrugged, pointing behind him at an alabaster statue with onyx eyes that hadn't been there a minute earlier.  "It stops or I take his high priest out."  He grabbed it, taking it down the hall.  Lupin looked up as he walked in so he tossed it to him.  "He promised it would quit happening."  He walked away again.

Lupin looked at the small statue, touching the joined heads.  "Keep this up and I'll take him from you," he said quietly.

"You already have," a voice whispered.

"Yes, but I appreciate him.  Free him."

"He will ever be mine.  I formed him."

"Yes, but we nurture him."

The statue's left head turned to look at him.  "True.  He will be yours for now."

"If you try to take him from me, I will fight back.  I will help him destroy everything of yours."

The statue laughed.  "You are also one of mine; I enjoy you.  Protect him for us."

The other head turned to look at him.  "We will be watching."  The heads turned back to facing opposite ways and went dead.

Lupin gave it a pat, then put it into the pile of things to take with them.  It could have a spot in the big safe under the house in France.


Dawn concentrated on the world around her.  The flare of magic startled her so she looked that way.  "Hmm.  Janus, and not Ethan."  She looked at the other two rescuers then nodded.  "We're going."  A picture formed in front of her so she latched onto it to test it.  Something was off about it.  She switched to Xander's magical signature, smirking.  "Sneaky, but not nice," she whispered.  One or two realities off this one.  She dripped blood off the new cut on her arm onto the floor.  "Now," she ordered.  She stepped into the hole, holding it steady.  She hated going to unfamiliar points, it was really dangerous and nerve racking.  As soon as it was stable, she opened the other side and stepped through.  Lupin was sitting there staring at her hole in the air so she tested the 'friend' protection she had placed on him way back when.  "Morning," she said happily.  "Want out?"

"Do we have an hour?" he asked.  She grimaced.  "I'll be quick."  He walked out, finding his people eating together in the mess hall.  "Dawn's here."

"I called Pops for a parlay," Jigen told him.  "Xander felt her."  They stood up, following him.  They had finally gotten their own things earlier, plus had taken showers, so no one would notice anything out of place on the other side of the portal.  Lupin grabbed his stack of stuff, following Dawn first.  He shivered as he stepped across. "Are we still in the right realm?"

"I had to make it stronger, I latched onto Xander instead of a locale I had already marked."  She turned, looking at Xander.  "Go last."  He nodded, taking her hand when it was his turn.  He stepped into the portal and that side closed but she walked him through to the hotel.  "Safe and still mental," she teased.

"And tired and cranky," he retorted easily.  "Fujiko?"

"I had her bike brought up," Marcus told him.  "She escaped earlier and took it."

"Good," Goemon praised.  Dawn handed him a piece of paper.  "What is this?"

"Test results."  She looked at Lupin.  "Home?"

"Bali," Xander groaned.  Everyone looked at him.  "Or I can go take a vacation if you guys have other plans."

"I like his idea," Goemon agreed.  "I wish to spend time making plans about the baby.  There is much we have not thought about yet."

Lupin nodded.  "Greece?"  Jigen nodded and shrugged, he didn't care.

"I don't know that place," Dawn reminded him.  "I can't get you there."

"I can handle that," Lupin assured her.  "Car?"

"Downstairs," Marcus promised.  "The four-seater."  He peeked at the folded paper.  "Something good?"

"I'll look later."  Goemon walked away but Lupin snatched it.  He took it back.  "Us first."  He noticed the statue and gave him a look.

"It showed up to taunt me," Xander told him.  "Seven people, four seats?"

"You can cuddle," Goemon told him, trying to drag the boy with him.

"Someone should stay in case Fuji needs help," David suggested.

"True," Dawn agreed.  "She doesn't know where to go."  She looked at Lupin, who groaned.  "Send Xander to her, he's protective."

"He is more than capable of protecting both of them," Goemon agreed, giving the boy a gentle pat to the back.  He winced again but the boy would tell them if he was in pain.

"Ooh!  Legal forgery just in case."  She handed it to Goemon.    "My lap is always open for the baby's needs if something horrible happens to everyone else here."  He looked at it, then smiled and left.

"Emergency adoption papers?" Jigen asked.  She smiled and bounced.  "You going with us, kid?"

"Nope.  David needs to be returned before his father sics the anti-scary vampire on me."  She cleaned up their mess, shooing them down to the car.  She gave Xander a lift to a spot she had marked earlier on the edge of town, just in case they had needed a second portal site.  It was the only road out of the city and Fujiko wouldn't have made it that far yet.


Xander fingered the choker in his pocket, nodding as a familiar woman pulled up beside him an hour later.  "Hey, babe, being chased yet?"

"Hell yes."  She let him climb on behind her then took off again.  "They've got bulletins out already."

"Hey, I'm your violent-type person," he said, grabbing onto her.  "I don't usually ride like this," he said into her ear. She patted his hand and sped up.  He could feel her stomach tensing underneath his hand and stroked it gently as she hunched down over it.  "Park, I'm driving."  She pulled off the road, standing up.  "Was that a real one?"

"No," she groaned.  "The quack said they were practice ones."

"Good."  He pulled her closer, rubbing both her front and her back until it stopped.  "If these are practice pains, they're not that bad," he soothed.  "They're not a danger, only an annoyance."  He grinned at her.  "The other guys are heading to Greece.  Do you want to make any stops?"

"One.  I want to see Fihad."  He helped her onto the back of the bike, letting her curl up against his back. "It's not on the way but not too out of the way."

"We can do that," he promised.  "Hold on tightly."  He took off, going faster than she had.  "Pinch me if you're having problems," he called back.  He felt her nod so he sped up more, going to the limits of the bike.  He only slowed down when the road got a little rough.  By the dawn they were at the border.  The guards were waiting on them.  He had given her his extra necklace, the cats eye hiding charm.  She was now a blonde who looked farther along.  He had put on the choker so he was Sylvia again.  The guard walked back to his side.  "My  mistress is going for medical attention," he said in Arabic.  It was a little oddly accented but not that much to his ear.  "She is due soon and her husband entrusted her to my care."

"You cannot travel without his permission."  He sneered at her.  "Women such as you get into trouble."  He backed away slowly as the gun appeared.  "Proper women do not use those!"

"This one does," she said dryly, shooting him, wounding him badly.  He got the rest of them, only killing one guard.  Then he drove across the border, nodding at the guards on the other side.  A few hundred feet separated the two sides so they hadn't done more than watch.  "My Mistress' husband has paid to have her eliminated," she said firmly.  "He bribed those men to kill her and me after hurting us greatly.  I am her bodyguard.  I am taking her to safety until he gets psychiatric help.  He thinks she is carrying a demon.  Or another Mohammed, depending on the day.  Please let us pass, her father is on this side."  The guard looked at them, then let them through.  "Thank you. Allah be praised for compassionate men who have some sense of decency."  She sped off, heading to the airport.  Once there, he walked her inside the charter terminal.  A guard stopped them.  "My Mistress is in danger from a psychotic relative," he explained.  "We are taking her back to her father's house.  I am her bodyguard.  Let us pass."  He walked them to the security office, helping Fujiko into a chair because she was moaning in pain.  "Shh, princess, it is all right."  He stroked her stomach.  "Remember, it will be fine.  This is nature's way of making sure your body is ready for the pain.  It is reminding you to strengthen those muscles for the birth."  She nodded, relaxing against his side.  "I know we will have trouble since we are women traveling alone, but she will die, as will the child she carries.  It is male and his heir but he believes it to be demonic."

The guard looked at him.  "I see."  He looked at Fujiko.  "Is she in real labor?"

"Braxton-Hicks, false labor," Xander informed him.  "She is only about six months along."  He lifted his chin.  "We wish to charter a flight out of here to get her back to her family.  Can you help us?  As one professional security person to another?"

"I noticed you weren't native.  Where did you grow up?"

"My father was Yemeni," Xander lied.  "I was born Canadian."  The guard smiled.  "My father also died when I was very young, leaving me to my young, pretty, and clueless mother."

"I see."  He reached over to touch her hair but she backed away from him.  "I could help you, for a fee."

"My husband would be most upset with you if you did that," Xander told him.

"He lets you work such a tough job?"

"He is in the same profession.  That is how we met."  She smirked, glancing at Fujiko.  "If you will not help us, we will do it by ourselves."

"You do not have the papers."

"If it's a matter of a bribe, we can do that," Fujiko said, relaxing now that the pain had receded again.  "My father has money.  I can call him and have him wire some for both jobs."

The guard looked interested.  "Bribes are not allowed but in some circles they do work better."  He looked at Xander again.  "You wear no ring?"

"It interferes with my shooting."

"I see."  He smirked. "You do not shoot with that finger."

"No, but it still gets in my way when my hand curls around the grip of my pistol."  She pulled her weapon, showing it to him with the proper handling.  "See?"  He looked stunned.  "Please, help us get away and we will be most grateful."

The guard nodded.  "Fine, I will.  For a million US dollar payment."

Xander rolled his eyes.  "You do dream big."

"You called her princess."

"It is a term of endearment."  Xander put his gun back, staring at the man.  "As I said, we can go around you."

"I can have you arrested."

"How?  When I could kill you before you reach the phone?"

Fujiko screamed, holding her stomach.  "Fine," he spat.  "Ten thousand, US."

"Deal," Xander agreed, pulling out his card.  It was the one Murami had just killed.  "May I use your phone?"  He nodded, getting out of the way.  "Hold on, princess, we will be leaving soon."  He called Murami.  "It's me again.  Yeah, I finally did get it.  Is this the new card or the old card?  Because I've got to pay a bribe so we can get my charge out of Yemen."  He listened, looking at the guard.  "We're chartering a plane and paying a bribe.  No, she wants to see Fihad."  He grinned.  "You are so great.  I'm going to get you the best present for your birthday.  You have kept me sane this whole last week."  He hung up.  "The wire transfer will be here within minutes."  Someone knocked and walked in, startling him.  He hadn't expected Lupin or Jigen.  "Don't trust me?"

"No, I do, but we worry," Lupin said, knowing what cover Xander would have gone with.

Jigen sat down beside her, reaching over to rub her stomach for her.  "Calm down in there," he said with a touch of fondness.  "You're distressing your mother."

"That one's mine," Xander/Sylvia told the guard.  "I had our accountant wire money for the plane rental and bribe."

Lupin nodded. "I figured as much.  The others are heading off to Greece without us.  Her friend was nearly unconscious again because of his leg."  He stroked her hair to keep her from panicking.  He looked at the guard.  "I am her brother-in-law and head of my family.  There is no way you can stop her."  The guard looked stunned.  "We will pay your bribe but it had better be the last one."  He nodded, going out to get the wire agent to check on the money for them.  "Where are you two heading first?"

"Fihad," Fujiko said, sounding miserable. "I don't like this."

"The whole Middle East is dangerous," Jigen pointed out, getting comfortable.  "Especially for girls."  He looked at Xander, who smirked at him.  "Nice job at the border."

"Thanks."  He walked over, sitting curled up against his side.  "Are you guys going with us to Istanbul?"

"We could," Jigen agreed. "Or we could drop you and the bike off and let her take you to the house."

"Whichever's fine," Fujiko agreed.  "All of us showing up at once will alert the natives."  The guard came back with a man with a computer.  "Is it here yet?"  He nodded, showing her the number.

"Thank Allah," Xander said respectfully.  "Is there anyone here to hire?"

"There are two, neither are reputable," the wire agent told him.  "Where are you going?"

"Istanbul.  Her father is traveling.  These two will go to the main house in Greece while we try to find him."  The guard looked at him.  "She has the best chance of doing so and no one would dare hurt her.  Once we are there, she will be better protected, I know people there."

"I will get the better of the two pilots," the guard said, leaving them alone while the wire agent got them cashed out.


Xander pulled into the bazaar in Istanbul, going up the narrow streets on her bike.  Fujiko was still having false pains.  He stopped the clinic but it was closed, so he went to the next source of information. The locals were staring at them too hard for something to not have happened.  He walked Fujiko into the Don's headquarters, bowing to the woman on the throne.  "Good afternoon," he said gently.

"I know of you," she admitted.  "My father spoke of you before he died."

"Did I have something to do with that?"

"No.  My brother did.  He is now dead.  I am now in charge," she said firmly.  He smiled, a friendly enough look for a human.  "What did you need?"

"My traveling companion needs to see Fihad.  Did something happen?"

"Unfortunately, my brother got to him while he was treating a patient.  Neither lived."  She looked at Fujiko, snapping her fingers.  "Bring the poor woman a chair, she is with spawn."  One of the guards went to grab her a comfortable chair, helping her into it.  "May we be of some assistance, consort?"

Xander chuckled.  "He really did tell you about me."  He looked her over.  "You are a vampire now.  I'm glad my suggestion had merit to him.  Is there another doctor you trust?"

She nodded.  "A human one, which would be better.  Unless the child is half?"  He shook his head.  "Then a human one would be better.  The city's underworld does have one.  He usually sees them to terminate them, but I can understand people who want their children.  I wanted mine."  Xander nodded again.  "I will call him.  Where will you be staying?"

"At that same inn," Fujiko said quietly, looking at her.  "Will we have problems?"

"No, no problems," she promised.  "Touching this one is the same as touching royalty.  We do not dare interfere with their wishes."

"I'm a reasonable sort," Xander promised. "All I want is to help her.  She's having false labor pains too early.  She's only six months along."  The demoness frowned, coming down to touch her stomach herself. "Gently, please, she has been having sensory spikes."

"I can feel that," the demoness admitted, giving Fujiko a pat.  "My own spawning was often painful and embarrassing. Proper nest preparation is always key to making it more comfortable."  She stepped back.  "Consort, I will send the doctor to you there, or to whichever inn you end up in if they will not take you.  Try to stay inside.  There are those who would topple me because I am helping you."

Xander shook her hand demon style.  "I appreciate this.  It is now two I owe your family."  She nodded, letting him leave.  He came back.  "What was with Oz?  He said he was here."

"The werewolf?"  He nodded, grinning brightly.  "He was traveling back to his pack and stopped in town because of his needs.  We were quite amused by him.  He was very sweet and gentle.  We only asked him for information on you."

Xander looked thoughtful.  "Speaking of information, where are our medical records?"

"In my personal safe.  I will have her look at it then bring it over to you."  He nodded, giving her another goofy grin before taking off.  "Humans," she said in disgust.


Fujiko drove the bike onto the front lawn and let it fall, heading inside.  She walked into Lupin's chest, giving him a fierce hug.  "We're back," she sighed, falling asleep right there.

Lupin looked outside, then down at her.  "Where's Xan?"  She snored.  He rolled his eyes.  "Xander?" he called.  She mumbled something. "What was that?"  She mumbled it again.  "Okay."  He picked her up, carrying her into her bedroom, where her husband was being forced to rest by his student.  "She dumped her bike on the lawn, walked in, and fell asleep against my chest.  She mumbled something about Xander and clothes."  He shrugged, handing her over so Marcus could fuss over her too.  "How are you feeling?"

"Fine," Goemon said patiently.  "As I have for the last three days."  He looked at his wife, who was curled up around her stomach.  She was rather adorable in this stage.  "Did she get to see Fihad?"

Lupin shrugged.  "I haven't heard anything out of Istanbul in a while."  He walked off to go back to his deck lounger watching the sunset.  "She's back."


"Not quite sure yet," Lupin admitted.  Jigen looked at him. "We would have heard if he had been arrested."  Jigen grunted, sipping his drink as the sun continued to fall.  "She dumped her bike on the lawn, padded in, and fell asleep as she hugged me."

"That'll be good for the job."  Lupin chuckled at that.  "Are we leaving her here while we work?"

"Here, the safehouse in Germany, or the one in Paris itself.  I want her nearer to places where people with experience can give her the drugs she'll want.  I still don't think I could ever touch another woman again if I had to watch her give birth." Jigen snorted.  "Where do you think he is?"

"Who knows with that one."

"Hmm.  Good point.  I'll check the news more carefully tomorrow."  He sipped his drink, sighing in pleasure as nothing went wrong for another five minutes.  "The housekeeper in France thinks we're getting old."

"We've still got some years left in us."

"True, but she's trying to get us to take a year off.  She thinks we'll like retirement."

"I'd miss smelling like gunpowder all day."

"Maybe that's what happened.  Athens does have that new substance analyzer machine at the airport.  He does do a lot of shooting.  I doubt he has many outfits that aren't covered in blowback."

Jigen sighed.  "He's fine.  We would have heard if he had been arrested.  Besides, if Fuji was on the bike, he was somewhere nearby.  He's not letting her or the baby out of his sight until he thinks Goemon has forgiven him."

"Mm.  Good point."  He looked behind him.  Goemon was sneaking their way.  "Get free of Marcus again?"

"He is stroking my future offspring."  He sat down in a lounger, relaxing.  "Much nicer than my five walls."

"Five?" Jigen asked.

"I have a small pseudo-wall next to the closet where it comes out from the bathroom."

"Hmpf."  He finished his drink and put it aside.  "How is she?"

"Fujiko looks like she swallowed a beach ball and is curled protectively around it."

"We won't tell her you said that," Lupin said dryly.  "Remember, she's not fat.  Telling her she's fat will get you hit again."

"Maybe she killed Xander," Jigen offered, cracking the other men up.  "Then again, she'd probably just push him into the water and he'd be picked up by a mermaid or something."

"I would have liked to have gotten out of our room on the cruise.  Do you think we should take one of those?" Goemon suggested.  "It would be relaxing and depending on which one could also be work."

"An interesting idea," Lupin agreed, considering it.  "Dangerous but a fun game.  Plus, it is the season of mafia princesses going on spring break."  The men laughed.  "If I can find one I like, we'll do that."

"Good.  I could use some time in the sun.  Xander as well, he was looking fairly translucent the last time I saw him.  Especially when he was using his darker hair."  Both men nodded and Jigen had to shift uncomfortably.  "I'm sure he'll be back soon."

"He'd better be.  He's the one who wanted the vacation," Jigen reminded them.

Lupin reached over.  "He's fine.  I know he's fine.  He's Xander so he's definitely fine."


Xander looked over as his drinking buddy came out of the bathroom.  "You feel better now?" he asked the inspector.  Who nodded very drunkenly.  "Then let's get you upstairs.  You've had a few too many."  He put down three bills on the bar and tapped them.  "We're going upstairs."  He walked the good inspector away, letting him complain about being promoted.  It was the least he could do since he had gotten promoted because of him.  He used the inspector's key and put him into his room, taking off his shoes and mustard brown overcoat.  Then he gave him a gentle shove, watching as he toppled and bounced on the bed.  "I'll have someone wake you at dawn," he promised, tiptoeing out.  Sneaking wasn't his greatest skill but Zenigata was too drunk to care at the moment.  He left an envelope with the reception desk with some extra cash in case he hadn't paid enough on the bar bill and a quick note reminding him not to go after pretty lounge singers who drew you in and made you want to die for her.  Then he strolled off, not as drunk as he appeared.  He walked into an upscale men's clothier, weathering the disgusted look.  "I need clothes to tempt and tease with," he announced in a suave, smooth voice.  "My present things are all for colder climes."  The man nodded, leading him back to the showroom to look at the models.  "Something soft that says money is my career if possible."

"Of course, sir," the salesman agreed, bowing as he seated him.  "If I may ask, what is your official title?"  Surely this one must be royalty in disguise.  Who else would wear such ugly shirts?

"I'm an illegitimate grandson," he said with a small smirk.  "I'm presently snubbing my grandfather however.  You may call me Antonio."

"Very well, Antonio.  Do you prefer silk, cotton, or something a little more exotic?"

"For some reason I seem to have a slight personality change whenever I wear silk," he admitted.  "I turn into an asshole."  The salesman smiled at him.  "Perhaps it was the silk suits I had been finding in the United States.  LA is not the best for upscale dressing if you're male."

"That is true.  Let me try this one shirt on you.  Authentic silk from China."  He went to retrieve the shirt, letting him feel it.  The man smiled that he did like it and tried it on.  "How does that feel?"

"Much better than the suits did," Xander admitted.   "I like that."  The salesman went to get some in his colors, starting a nice bit of shopping.  When he was done there, he slipped down to his rental car and put on the choker, getting out of the back as Sylvia.  He had changed into the dress he had bought earlier and some of Fujiko's shoes, though her feet were a little smaller.  She walked into the best women's clothier she could find and repeated the same procedure, also getting some very silky undergarments.  Then she walked down to the ethnic markets, coming back with a sari and some new sandals.  She decided on the sari first and went to put it on before driving to the house tonight.  Boy was someone in for some backaches.  She parked and looked at the motorcycle, walking over to lift it back upright and put it on the kickstand.  Then she and her pale blue sari and bare feet walked into the house.  She could hear chatter and headed that way, surprising everyone.  "Gramps is in town," she told them.  "He's drunk in his room, they gave him a promotion so I thought it only fair I got him lit."  She sat down gracefully, blinking at the stunned Jigen.  "I also took the time to find some silk that I *like*.  I'll show you those tomorrow."  She smirked at Lupin, who chuckled, then at Goemon, who shook his head.  Then she looked at her lover, giving him a small pout.  "You're not happy to see me?"

"No games," Jigen told her.  Xander stood up, showing off her incredibly flat stomach and busty chest.  She held out a hand for him and he pulled her down, holding her against his body.  "I want to sit and watch the sunset."  She snuggled into his chest, letting him stroke her back.  That's when he realized she wasn't wearing anything underneath that outfit and groaned.  "Telling me something?"

"Hmm.  I can say it in another way if you want," she purred against his throat.  "You can watch the sunset."  The other two men got up and left them alone, knowing the signs of seduction when they heard them.  Jigen groaned, holding her tighter.  She purred against his throat some more.  "Wanna see what she taught me?"

"You were taking lessons from Fujiko?"

"I did, or actually we took lessons together.  Goemon is in for a show in the morning."  She shifted, straddling his lap to give him a long kiss.  "Upstairs or would you like to look at the stars while I dance for you?"


Xander smirked, a devilish look that promised him many hours of recovery.  "I learned how to belly dance." Jigen groaned.  "Would you like me to show you out here?"

"How about we leave that off for right now?" Jigen suggested.  "You're more than tempting enough without it."  Xander stood up, pulling him up but not letting him move.  "What are you doing now?"

"Holding you.  I like being held."  She looked back at him, seeing the stunned look.  "Come on."  He nodded, following her upstairs.  Now he knew why some men were captivated and would follow their women anywhere. And yet, she was still blushing, he could see it on the back of her neck since her hair was up.  He pulled the barrettes out and tossed them onto a table as they passed.  She moaned, licking her lips.  That did him in.  He picked her up and carried her up the stairs.  He found out he was right when he unwrapped her, she hadn't been wearing anything but the thin silk and small top.  She laid where he pushed her, watching him undress.  "Should I move back?  Spread out for you?"

"No.  I like you there," he admitted, tossing his tie off to the side.  She stretched like a cat, making him miss a button on his shirt.  He figured it out and got it undone, then his pants, stepping out of the pile of clothing he had created.  "Wench," he growled, stopping her shifting.  It was inflammatory.  She was flashing him for a second then doing the shy and demure leg crossing.   He loved this.  He leaned down to kiss her, making her moan up into him and arch up.  "Missed it?"

"Missed you."  She flipped him over, holding him down as she kissed him, making him wiggle underneath her.  She moved backwards, licking at his throat and chest.  "Gramps tried to make a pass at me."  Jigen pushed her onto the pillows, moving to lie on top of her and ignoring the sound of the lamp crashing to the floor.  "I found him with a siren singing in a night club.  She had him ensnared and he transferred it to me."  She leaned up, capturing his mouth.  "It made me decide I was going to do my best to make us both sweaty and delightfully worn out."  He chuckled, sucking a mark on her throat.  "Mm, like that."

He nipped her, making her go limp underneath him.  "Much better.  Less talk."  He licked his way down her body, teasing and tempting her.  He knew what she wanted and he wanted it more than he had even as a teenager.  He slid into her, making her squeal and arch up.  He bit her again and she went limp, laying there patiently, giving him such a trusting look.  "I'm jealous.  He can't have you."

"He'd better not try," Xander agreed.  "But I had to tell you in case he tries to pinch me instead of cuff me."  Jigen growled and started moving harder, making her squeak and grab at his back, clawing him with her short nails.  "Oooh, yes!"  She continued to be her vocal self as she went up and down the scale over and over while he played her body like a master.  When he finally came, he gave her one last one, sending her screeching into one final orgasm.

"Damn it, the baby needs to sleep!" Fujiko yelled, pounding on the door.  "You're worse than I am!"

"Yeah, but I...."

Jigen covered her mouth.  "No sharing that stuff," he requested.  Fujiko snorted and stomped off, probably to go jump her husband.  "And we're not dueling with her."

"Yes, dear."  She batted her lashes at him.  "Want to see what else I've learned?"

He nodded, shifting off to his side.  He hoped it was something he could participate in laying down.  He noticed she had licked a finger and was trailing it down her body. He nearly whimpered when she moved the finger lower, teasing herself.  Never mind, he could have a heart attack for her.

She continued, still jazzed from the playing they had just been doing.  It was easy to send herself crashing over now.  Her body was throbbing.   He was moaning and getting hard.  She continued while shifting to go down on him, making him moan worse.  "Please, more?" she pleaded, licking up him.  "This is the only magic I need.  You're like a drug."  He groaned, pushing up into her tongue.  She suckled him gently and he encouraged her head to go lower, which she did.  She really did like this art.  And the other was making her warm again.  She was going to go off soon.  She pulled back to pant against his damp skin, earning a return into her favorite position while he went down on her this time, doing it for her.  She screamed, wailed, and came, thrashing around him.  Damn he was good.  He finally quit sucking on her clit and reared up, plunging back into her.  "More," she begged, trying to clutch his chest.  "Please, Jigen, please!"

He moved closer, letting her suck a mark onto his upper chest area.  It wouldn't show.  She was moaning into his skin now, making him move faster.  This responsiveness of hers was only making him harder and wanting her more.  He didn't care if she did have a stroke during sex this time.  She wailed, arching up underneath him, rubbing against his hair.  She needed just that little bit more and she would probably be passing out again.  Too bad he wasn't ready yet.  It was going to be a while for her.  Teach her to tease in front of the others.  She was begging and pleading now, and he was ignoring the person pounding on the door.  "Go away! She's fricken' enjoying it!" he shouted, working harder.  If Goemon came through that door, he'd have to do something to him.  Lupin came through it instead and he nearly found his gun but instead watched as he kissed her.  "Mine," he growled.  "Mine, not yours, not Pops.  Mine!"

"Yours."  He handed over the gag.  "Dawn sent it yesterday," he said with a smirk as he strolled out, locking the door behind him.

Jigen tossed it over his shoulder.  "You don't need one of those."  He gave a harder s hove into her and she whimpered, batting at his chest.  "Just a little more," he promised.

"One more?' she pleaded, looking into his eyes.  "Please?"

"Sure, wench, one more.  Or two, I'm not near done yet."  Her breath hitched and she pulled off, flipping over underneath him.  That's what he got for not holding her down tight enough. He pushed back into her, giving her what she so desperately wanted.  She was bouncing herself now, letting him catch his breath.  Maybe he wouldn't have a heart attack.  He stopped her when she started to get too hot, stroking her back.  "You still okay?"

"More!" she growled, pulling off to push him onto his back and pounce him again.

He let her, she wasn't going to ignore his needs.  She howled as she rode him, and he had to silence her because others were coming down the hall to stop them again.  He rolled them over, letting her suck on him again to muffle her as he pounded into her body.  So close.  He could feel her tensing around him and gave it one last flick of his thumb, getting a scream in his ear in reward.  She went limp beneath him, managing to stay conscious as she laid there and panted.  He gave a few last pushes and came with a bellow of his own, flopping down on top of her chest.  She gave him a little push, making him give her more room for air, letting him have her stomach instead.  "Damn, woman."

"Less time between bouts," she panted, her eyes closed.  "That's the cure to the raging horniness.  I know it is."  He chuckled, playing his fingers across her sweaty stomach.  "At least I don't have to worry about gaining weight or getting pregnant."  She shifted, forcing him onto his side so she could be cuddled.  "Damn, you're good," she whispered against his chest.  "One of the best ever recorded."  He smirked.  "Can I tease you again tomorrow?"

"Sure, wear something teasing tomorrow," he agreed, stroking her back.  She was good at that and he liked it when she teased him and Lupin.  "Did you remember us getting interrupted?"  She nodded, eyes closing again.  "You nap, you can punish him tomorrow."  He could feel her smirk against his chest so it was going to be a good morning.


"I believe we have a clothing requirement, Xander," Marcus yelled from upstairs.

Jigen walked into the dining area, shaking his head.  "Morning."

Lupin looked at him, then leaned closer once he sat down.  "Tip.  White shirt the day after a spectacular sex romp, not a good idea.  The hickeys show through," he said, giving the better one a little flick of his finger.  He sat back up again, sipping his morning coffee.  "Where is our loud thing?"

"Getting something from her rental car."  He poured himself some coffee, knowing he'd need it.  Marcus came in.  "Morning."

"Is there not a clothing requirement among us?" he demanded, looking at Lupin.

"Only for meals or working in the kitchen.  Fujiko's got pissed in the past and walked around naked for days to make me sorry."  Lupin took another sip of his coffee.  "Why?"

"Xander ran out to his car naked and then back up the stairs to hide in his room."  He looked at Jigen.  "I blame you.  She used to be a blushing maiden, not that temptress."  He sat down to pout.

"We'll find you a nice woman, Marcus," Jigen promised. He looked at Lupin.  "Xander shared some information.  Pops is in town.  Xan got him drunk last night because he got promoted to a desk position."  Lupin chuckled, shaking his head.  "While drunk, Pops also hit on him."  Lupin looked at him and he nodded.  "She said so."

"Hmm.  We might have to have a talk with the man then."  He finished his coffee and poured some more, smiling as Fujiko was led in and placed gently into a seat by her husband.  "Morning."

"Morning."  She looked at Jigen.  "You need to flip her onto her stomach and muffle her with the pillows.  You two will wake the baby up some day and we'll get you for it."  He smirked at her.  "Oh, my God, is that a hickey!" she said, grabbing his shirt and moving it out of her way to see it.  "Damn it, she was that loud through you!  You need to gain more weight to muffle your woman better!"

"Fujiko," Goemon said gently, completely embarrassed now.  "Xander enjoys it like you do," he reminded her quietly.  She settled down.  "Thank you."  He cleared his throat.  "What were you helping her with this morning?"

"Bathing suit issues," she said smugly, grinning at the other two older men.

"I was planning on going to the beach later," Lupin agreed.  "Or maybe getting a boat so we don't run into Pops."  He shook his head.  "He hit on Xander as a male? I didn't think he swung that way."

"He did?" Goemon asked.  Jigen nodded.  "Interesting."

"Vulcan," Lupin teased.  The samurai shrugged and smirked back.  He looked up, nodding. "I hear bare feet so Xander must be out again."

Jigen looked back, watching as Xander padded into the dining area wearing a shirt just like his usual one and apparently nothing else.  He looked her over, stopping himself from drooling.  "I know that's not mine, mine wouldn't button around your chest."

"I bought it last night," she said, stealing a kiss before sitting down.

"Are you wearing anything under that indecent look?" Marcus demanded.  Xander stood back up and opened the men's dress shirt, showing off the top of her bikini only to him.  "Oh, dear."  He blushed and looked away.  "Never mind," he sighed.  "Please button back up."

Lupin looked at it, then nodded.  "I like that color on you."  He grabbed the plate of bacon before Fujiko could eat it all.  "Thank you for saving me some."

"Yeah, why is it that we're gaining weight when you're pregnant?" Jigen agreed, taking the sausage from her.

"Because you keep snatching food from my hands," she growled, taking both plates from them. Xander was curled up in her chair again.  "That was quick."

"Electric," he said with a small smile.  "Oh, Lupin, I used your razor.  I forgot to pack mine."

"Fine," he said patiently.  He looked, she had shaved her legs.  Somehow he didn't think that needed an electric razor however.  He suddenly caught the clue and looked at Xander.  Who blushed and gave him an innocent look back.  "Uh-huh.  Do I need a new screen?"

"Not that I'm aware of."  Xander nibbled on the lone piece of bacon she had gotten.  She looked down at her plate.  "I was going swimming today.  Does anyone want to go with me?  I was thinking about renting a boat and going out by the ruins to go diving."  The others shrugged and nodded, that was apparently fine with them.  "Cool."  He wiggled a little and Goemon pushed over the coffee urn.  "I'm good this morning.  Not jumpy in the least.  I'll grab a soda for on the boat.  Thanks though."  Everyone looked at her.  "What?"

"So there is a cure for caffeine addiction," Fujiko said happily.  "Jigen, you could go straight and sell that shit.  The world would thank you greatly."  Xander growled at her and she smirked at her.  "Jealous?"

"Insanely.  Just like you are when I tease your mate."  Fujiko quit teasing Jigen and gave Xander a long look.  "Don't worry.  It's done right. I may have left a few pieces but the mirror didn't show any."  Jigen wiped his mouth and took a long drink of his coffee.  "I'd eat, dear.  Diving is hard work," she said, smirking at him.  When she was done, she got up and padded back upstairs to finish her preparation.  She checked, all the hair was gone, even on her legs and thighs.  No armpit hair.  She was good to go.  She pulled her hair back into a loose french braid and grabbed some shoes and a pair of tiny shorts to put on over her bottoms.  She should probably be decent in public.  She padded back downstairs, going to look at her wallet since she had left it in the office.  She had more than enough money, taking it and tucking it into her bra.  Then she went back to the dining room. "I'm ready whenever everyone else is."

Lupin finished his breakfast.  "Let us change.  Go outside and appreciate the view.  We can walk down the boat dock from here."  He looked at Jigen, silently telling him he'd give him a nice funeral if she killed him the next time, then went to change clothes for a day on the water.  "Someone grab the sunscreen too," he yelled as an afterthought.

Jigen reached over and undid her hair, handing her the ponytail holder.  "Put it back up later," he ordered.  She nodded, sitting down again, clearly waiting on him.  He finished his breakfast more quickly, he wanted to look at this bathing suit.  She gave him a little smile then leaned over to kiss him gently.  "Thank you.  What was that for?"

"For being a good sport this morning and humoring me."  She stood up, helping the struggling Fujiko out of her seat.  Goemon was asleep in his chair.  Apparently he wasn't the only person who had fun last night.  "Will you be okay on the water?"

"I'll be fine," she promised.  She waddled off to find a bathing suit to put on.  The big problem with pregnancy, outside of the extra weight, mood swings, and food cravings, was that her chest had increased a whole cup size and she hadn't been shopping recently.  She found a bag on the bed and pulled it open to peek inside.  She smiled, taking out the dark red two-piece bathing suit.  Just like her favorite one only in the right size. "Thank you.  I will be putting this to good use."  She went to shave, she hadn't in days and probably needed it.  Boy, would the boys be surprised.  She took one of Goemon's spare shirts Lupin had bought on a shopping kick as a coverup, adding a pair of old jeans shorts and sandals.  She left her hair down but put a hair ribbon around her wrist so she could pull it back later.  Goemon liked her hair to be down.  She waddled back downstairs, feeling sexy for the first time in a while.  Xander looked at her and she smiled. "Thank you, sweetie."  She kissed her on the lips, making Lupin, who was walking back in, moan.

"Enough," Goemon told her.  "She doesn't need to learn that as well."

Xander pulled back and grinned at her, licking her lips.  "He's right, but you taste good."  She blushed and walked back to her seat.  He looked at Jigen.  "Go change."

"I don't need to swim."

"No, but you'll want something lighter," Xander promised.  "Please?"

"Fine."  He went to change, Goemon heading up with him.  They knew their part in this game, they had to play along to the innocent demands.  It would make the women happier.

Lupin stood Xander up, peeking down the shirt again.  "Off with it, kid."  Xander smirked and took off both her shirt and her shorts, stunning him.  Now he knew why his razor had been dull.  "You're buying me a new screen later."

"Of course."  Xander quickly redressed before Marcus could get a good look, then sat down demurely again.  "Think he'll like?"

"If he doesn't, I damn well do," Lupin grumbled.  Maybe a three-way?  Jigen shouldn't object to that too much. He saw Fujiko's smirk and looked at her.  "Did you remember to remind her that it'll itch when it grows back?"

"I remembered that from my days stripping.  I had to trim," Xander told him, sipping at Jigen's water.  They locked eyes and Xander smirked, blushing slightly.  "I'm being good."

"Now I know we got the wrong woman to teach you how to act innocently," Marcus told him, frowning at him.  "Xander, I do not need tempted."

"Marcus, quit or I'm finding a prostitute and having her jump you," Fujiko warned.  "If you don't believe me, ask Goemon.  It took him nearly an hour to fend her off."  She gave him a look and he swallowed.  "Good boy."  She winced, sitting up straighter.  His hand came over, stroking the baby to make it quit kicking.  "Thank you.  What's this about Pops being in town and getting promoted, Xan?"

Xander beamed.  "Because of the prison thing, he got promoted.  He's now over *two* rookies.  His other was reassigned to a drug case because the commissioner wanted him to behave and not be obsessed.  He's related. Anyway, he was really depressed when I ran into him.  The commissioner has a house on the other side of the city and he was dragging his butt from there down to a bar.  He didn't even try to arrest me when he saw me.  Just looked at me and gave me this big old sigh.  So I felt it was my duty to get him drunk.  I did, I poured him into bed this morning after paying the bar tab."  She leaned closer.  "About halfway through, he made the nicest pass I've ever gotten, pinched me a little and said I looked better as a man than a woman, and that if I would only give it up he was sure I could find someone to take better care of me while I found a real job."  Lupin coughed.  "He was very nice about it."

"I'm sure he was."  Lupin looked over as Jigen rejoined them.  "Are we set?  Marcus, swimwear?" he said patiently.

"But my books," he complained, pointing.

"Now," Xander ordered.  "This way you can meditate on the water about being like water.  I know that was one of my favorites that I didn't quite get."  Goemon shook his head but pointed for his student's benefit.  Marcus sighed and went to find something appropriate for a day on a boat.  "Anything else I forgot, boss?"

"Lunch?" Lupin suggested.

"There's a deli beside the marina," Jigen reminded him.  He helped Xander up as soon as Marcus got back, walking him outside.  "What was the hair in the sink?"

"I thought I had cleaned all that up," he said, grimacing.  "Sorry, I'll clean it up when we get back."  She put her arm through his, weathering his look.  "I'm young and I'm cute in a town full of lecherous Greek men who like pretty women."  Jigen pulled her closer.  "Did you know that there are men who wander up the street in packs here?" she asked, glancing up.  "Like a gang, only nicer and without the colors."  Jigen shook his head.  "They do, and they whistle and make disgusting references in Greek to your breasts."  Fujiko glanced back, nodding.  "I had to cuss one out last night and beat him on the head as I came back from the ethnic market."  She let him go, skipping ahead to get to the boat rental desk first.  Her money, her choice.  She was going to get some tanning done even if she had to use the eternally pale and sallow Marcus as a reflector screen.  "Hi, we need a boat for the day?" she said cutely.

"Can you handle a boat?" he asked, smirking at her.  She batted her lashes and nodded. "You sure?"  She nodded again.  "They're pretty hard to steer."

"That's okay, I've steered many water crafts," she said in her most sultry and smooth voice, the one she would have used while working phone sex if she had been female at the time.  "I'm very good with sticks and wheels."  He swallowed and handed over the form. "Is there something big enough for six people available?"

"We've got one for ten but it's more for fishing."

"I wanted to go skin diving out by the wrecks."  She looked at him through the curtain of her hair.  "Is there anything *big* and *strong* enough?"  He swallowed and nodded, heading to get her the keys and a temporary registration.  She finished filling out the papers and took them, paying the man.  "Thank you.  For the whole day?"  He nodded quickly.  "Thank you.  I and my men are *so* tired of the city."  She sashayed out, handing Lupin the rest of her stash.  "You can get lunch while I drive the boat.  We're in slip," he looked at the paper.  "Eighteen."  He jogged that way, finding the boat and hugging the side.  "Perfect."  She hauled herself up the rope ladder, letting down the gangplank for the others while she looked over the controls.

Jigen walked in, picking her up and putting her out of his way.  "I'll drive."

"But only I know where we're going," Xander complained.  "I promise I've done this before."  Jigen looked at him.  "I could be mean and take off my shorts."  He gave her a look so she took them off, tossing them onto the seat with a flick of her foot.  She slowly unbuttoned her shirt, watching as his interest grew.

"It'll take more than the sight of your tits to make me give you the wheel," he said firmly.  The shirt came open fully and he stared. "You shaved!" he demanded.  Xander grinned, blushing faintly.  "Shit, now I really feel like a pervert."

"Really or really, really?" Xander teased, leaning in to steal a kiss.

"Let's go," Lupin yelled as he climbed on with the bags.  "Xander, I got you two sodas."

"Thanks, boss."  She slipped in front of her boyfriend, wrapping his arms around her waist.  "Let me, you can help," she told him, starting the engine.  He checked the moorings then moved them out of the harbor to the spot she had found a few days back.  It would be fun and a wonderful present.


Xander laid down on her stomach, closing her eyes against the sun. She had just come up from diving, having found her target, and now wanted some sun before going back down.  Fujiko was laid out nearby and was already oiled up and glowing in the early afternoon sunlight.  Warm hands came over to work on her back.  "Thanks, Lupin."  He sat next to her, looking down at her.  "What?" she asked innocently.

"I seem to remember reading something about this spot," he said quietly.  Xander grinned.  "Xander?"

"I used to research too.  Back in the day it was only the four of us mainly.  Someone had to do it when Giles was reading ancient texts on masturbation."  She turned her head in the other direction.  "Do you remember what day it is?"

Lupin thought, then suddenly smirked.  "Nice job.  The ruins of one of Aphrodite's temples and his special day."  He leaned down.  "You're still going to be replacing the screen on my razor so I don't have to think about what you did while I'm shaving in the morning."  Xander grinned again.  "Naughty kid."

"Yes, I am," he said quietly.  She wiggled her eyebrows.  "Lunch?  I figured I'd take him down with me around three or so."

"I've almost got it ready.  You want to eat out here?"  Xander nodded. "That's fine, you could use some sun.  Try not to go topless yet though, okay?"  He left her there, going in to work some more on lunch.  Jigen joined him.  "I've read about the ruins," he told him. "They're supposed to be really pretty in the afternoon sunlight."  He glanced at Jigen, who was staring out at Xander.  "We were only talking."

"I'm not jealous."  He looked at his best friend.  "What is she doing?"

Lupin gave him a nudge on the arm with his fist.  "She found out when your birthday is."

"So she shaved herself for my birthday present?"

"That too."  He winked.  "Don't worry, Fuji will be napping soon.  Marcus and Goemon are meditating together on the other side of the ship.  I'll stay down here and read."

Jigen shook his head.  "She really is corrupted now."

Lupin laughed.  "Not totally.  That blushing isn't an act.  Not yet."  He moved around him, getting the cooking wine.  "We're having lunch in about a half hour.  Go rest in the sun. You're pale too."  He gave him a little shove, getting him out of the galley and outside. The least he could do would be to aid Xander in her grand plan to seduce him underwater.

Jigen walked out, sitting beside Xander.  "How did you find out about my birthday?"

"I knew our first year.  I asked you while you were drunk."  She looked over him, giving him a grin.  "Don't worry, I've hidden your present under the water and around three we'll be going down to get it together."  Jigen raised an eyebrow.  "After that, you can determine what you want for the rest of your birthday."  She leaned over and stole a kiss.  "You need some sun.  You're as pale as I am and I look like a vampire according to one of those packs of boys."  She put her head back down, watching him.  He tipped his hat down and laid back, letting the sun tint his body once again.  "Good boy.  You relax until we go diving and then we'll see what you want for your birthday."  She stroked his arm, making him look at her. "Anything at all."

"I'm still tired from last night."  He hoped he never needed viagra, she'd probably kill him.  She smirked and shifted closer, leaning against his arm with her breast.  "You could go topless."

"Lupin said not to and that I had to replace the screen on his razor since I used it to get so close to smooth."  Jigen groaned.  "Was that a belly rumble?" he teased.

"No, it was the sound of a tired man who desires to do more than his body will allow," Goemon said as he moved to wake up his wife before she burned in the strong sun.  "I hear it nearly every morning from myself."  He gave her a gentle shake.  "You will get a bad burn.  I won't be able to hold you for weeks."

"I've got sunscreen on," she reminded him, smiling at him.  "It's okay.  But my stomach could use another coat."  He sat next to her, working on recoating her stomach for her, making her moan.  Even being twenty-six weeks along she still wanted him.  It was heady for both of them.  He looked at her and blushed so she kissed him.  "Kids, go tan somewhere else.  I'm too comfortable to move."  She squealed as he picked her up and carried her off to tease her on the bow deck.

"I'll hold lunch," Lupin called after them.

"Lunch?" Fujiko said, then she shook her head.  "Sex first.  Thanks, Lupin."  Goemon laughed as he carried her off to have his way with her again.  "What?  The baby's hungry."  She stroked her stomach and he moaned.  "I take it I'm doing this again some day soon?" she asked dryly.

"You had better," he vowed.  "I seem to have no self control when you are this way and I must learn to control myself."

"Control away," she taunted.  He pounced, making her giggle and shriek, wiggling underneath him.  "Pillow," she pleaded.  "For my back."  He moved her onto her side, taking her that way instead.

Jigen shook his head.  "Those two are insane."

"I know that feeling," Xander quipped, opening the back of his small bikini top.  Jigen looked at him.  "He's in the galley taking out his frustration on a fruit salad."

"How appropriate.  Let me oil that for you."  He smoothed some oil under where the cloth had been.  "I didn't need a present."

"Hush or I'm tying you down and teasing myself until I pass out later," Xander threatened.  Jigen groaned, sliding closer.  "Or I guess I could bring in a camera so some people could watch it."  That got a breathing hitch.  "Like I said, whatever you want," she said gently, stealing a kiss.  "However you want me, even if you want me dressed up as some school marm."

"School marm?"

"I hear some guys get off on that and I wasn't going to comment on the state of anyone's deep sexual kinks," he explained.  "If that's what you want for your birthday, I'll do it."

"No, that's okay.  I didn't really like any of my teachers that much."  He moved his oily hands down, teasing the side of her breast.  "What would you like?"

"You.  I'm not that picky otherwise."  She kissed him again.  "Whatever you want, dear, as long as we can dive before five and head back."

He nodded, pulling her into his arms.  He licked his lips before kissing her again, making them softer so they wouldn't ruin hers.  She groaned against his lips.  "I think a quickie would go okay," he told her.  "I want to see."  She wiggled, stripping out of her thong for him.  He flipped her onto her back, looking down at her hairless mound.  He could see a few hairs on the inside and teased them.  "You missed a few."

"I nicked myself when I tried to get those."  She gave him an innocent look.

"Don't do that, you look like you're too young to be legal when you give me that look."  She stretched her arms above her head, exposing herself totally to his inspection.  "Very nice, Xan," he praised.  He leaned in, kissing her again.  "How do you want me?"

"That's what I'm supposed to be asking you," she reminded him.  She sat up, sliding into his lap to kiss him more.  Her fingers worked on his shorts, exposing his briefs, and those were able to be pushed out of the way.  She slid onto him as much as she could, making him arch up into her tight heat.  "Liking?"

"I like a lot.  Let me get those off for you."  He pushed his clothes out of the way, letting her have her way with him.  She did feel different without the hair.  "Is it more sensitive?" he asked.  His finger found her clit and she squealed. "I guess it is."  He smirked at her.  "That's the danger of shaving, little one.  You get much more sensitive."

"Then you'll kill me with sex for your birthday.  Someone will do CPR," she pointed out.  He laughed, wrapping her back into his arms.  She shifted up and down on him, teasing him more than anything in this position.  Her though, she was going to get off soon.  He knew *just* what to do to her and it amazed her how receptive she was to it.  She felt warm hands on her back and looked back.  "Sorry, are we bothering you?"

"No."  He reoiled her back.  "Waterproof stuff so you can sweat and not burn.  He'll be miserable if you get a bad sunburn.  I did the same to Fujiko since she was passed out on top of Goemon."  Jigen looked at him and he shrugged.  "I'll get mine soon."

Jigen looked at Xander, then nodded.  "Join in."  Xander looked stunned.  "Not your idea?"

"Wasn't in my plans, and it's not *my* birthday," she reminded him.

He nipped her lips.  "This way I'm spared dying from this before I get my present tonight."  Xander grinned and wiggled, pushing him backwards.  "Like this?" he asked.

"Perfect," Lupin agreed, using the oil to slick himself and Xander up.  "Go back to what you were doing."  She was pushing back onto him and he was working her slowly.  A long, slow ride then.  He knew how responsive Xander could be to those.  Though she never made those extreme noises for him.  Maybe this time she would.  He slid into her stretched opening, making her breath hitch and her back tense.  "Relax."  He and Jigen looked at each other and the other man flicked her clit.  He could feel her shivering.  He moved, then Jigen moved, then Xander took over.  She was extremely talented at this art.  He had no doubt she would be, but he couldn't do more than hold on.  He hadn't had a ride like this since his youth.  He ended up closing his eyes and leaning against her back, letting her have whatever she wanted from him.

Jigen was in the same state.  His wench was a fiery princess of sluttiness now.  She was going to kill him this time.  His vision was tunneling and she was still going.  She was playing with herself too, and it was making it all the more sweeter as she let herself go.  He grabbed her hips to slow her down but she was writhing in ecstasy and he knew from experience that there was no stopping the first orgasm, or the next two that would follow.  Then she would slow down and he'd have a chance to return the favor.  He heard Lupin moaning and it was making this all the sweeter for him.  It wasn't just him she did this to, it was Lupin too, and that made it more permissible in his mind to die from the sex.  She came, shrieking loudly.  He gave her a nudge in the right spot, sending her crashing into aftershocks.  That g-spot was handy for her.  Her clit was enlarged, rubbing against him, he could feel it spreading slickness through his hair.  She leaned down, stealing what little air he was getting.  "More," he moaned.

"Breathe, sweetheart," she whispered.  "No passing out until after I do."

He smirked and pushed up hard, making her squeal.  Her hand was dislodged and he got her clit back, playing with it until her mind was gone.  Then he went back to what he did best, not caring that other fingers were coming around to help her off.  She was making those loud, beautiful noises and he was soaking them up like the sun.  Her breasts were bouncing right above his face so he sat up to capture one, making her start to pant.  "Tell me," he demanded.

"More!" she demanded, shoving them into his face.  "Shit, more, now!" she ordered.  "Before I have to do it myself."

"Shh, calm down, we've got you," Lupin promised, whispering in her ear.  God she was hot like this.  Now he understood why Jigen took every chance he could to steal her.  He'd have to do it more often.  Xander would never be outside of one of their beds from now on.  She squealed again, and he could feel the tightening around his cock, making him groan.  Just a little longer.  He needed just a little more.  She was bouncing unrhythmically now, he knew she was close to the end of her tether.  The others had been mini-orgasms for her.  He'd only met one other person who had these, and the end one was always amazing.  He worked her clit harder, moving in tandem with Jigen now, they were controlling everything, like she liked.  Her breath caught and she went limp in their arms, prompting both of them to come together.  He groaned, leaning down to catch his breath while he stroked her back.  "And I thought Tisha had those," he shared.

Jigen laughed.  "Is that what those are?"  Lupin nodded, pulling out to flop to the side.  "Damn.  I've never had one like her."  He stroked her back, making her purr and hum.  "I think she's out."

"Probably.  Damn, I'm going to die," Lupin complained.

"It takes time to build up to it.  That's why I only get her like this very rarely.  I'd die."  He closed his eyes, grabbing his hat to put back on.  "Sweetheart, wake up."  She mewled and nuzzled his chest.  "I think she's truly gone. The last time she complained of having a bright spot in her vision.  She said she had a stroke."

"That's one hell of a compliment," Lupin pointed out.  He flopped onto his side.  "Thanks for sharing her."

"No problem.  Next time steal her sooner."  Lupin smirked.  "She's mine tonight but maybe I'll hand her over tomorrow so I can recuperate."  Lupin nodded. "Good. Is there any juice or oxygen?  I feel my age now."

Goemon carried over two glasses of juice.  "Here.  Women like that will always make you feel your age.  I had forgotten it was your birthday.  I'll find you something later."

"That's okay, I'm good on presents," Jigen said smugly.  Xander lifted her head, giving him a bleary look.  "Why don't you go clean up?"  She shook her head, swinging it widely from side to side.  "No?"

"Hell no, I like smelling like you afterwards," she said.  She allowed herself to fall to the side and laid there like a big cat, falling asleep in the sun.

The three men laughed, shaking their heads.  Two of them got her dressed while the other went to blush at his wife.  She gave him a hug and reminded him she'd probably have to be shaved for the birth.  He groaned and buried his red face against her neck, letting her soothe him again.


Xander dove over the edge of the ship, doing a nearly flawless dive into the water.  Jigen jumped in feet first, heading after her.  It was just the two of them since it was his present.  She swam off to the ruins, going slower so he could see some of the sights.  It was a pretty temple.  The remains of the statues were gorgeous.  Even better than the Venus DeMilo in his book.  There was the main chamber.  They swam that way, pausing near the altar.  Xander bowed and moved the stone, exposing two trunks.  Jigen looked at him and he smirked, pulling one out.  She handed it over symbolically then took the other, swimming off.

Jigen surfaced first, he had the lighter one.  His breather was spit out to float near him. He looked up, seeing the inquisitive look.  "I think we're going to need a net or something.  My presents seem to have been hidden in the temple.

Xander came up, taking great breaths.  It hadn't been that far down and she could do that.   "The rest is up to you guys, but the pirates usually come right after sunset.  Can we have something to haul these up?"  Lupin looked stunned, so he beamed.  "Surprise!  And these two are Jigen's birthday presents.  You guys can scour the rest of the ruins."  Fujiko lowered the fishing net, letting them put their trunks into it before turning on the winch.  Xander climbed up the rope ladder, heading up to the deck so she could look.  "Morning," she said happily.  Marcus shook his head, giving her a fond look.  "What?  He needed a spectacular present."  Lupin dove over the side, taking the breather from Jigen so he could head down and look.

Marcus took off his shirt.  If he found something great, if not, still great for him.  He found a few breathers, tossing one back down to Jigen before jumping in feet first.

Goemon stripped down to his loincloth and dove in, heading after them.

"The water's only about eight feet deep," Xander yelled after him. "Be more fucking careful!"  He patted Fujiko's stomach.  "That way he can spoil you, little girl."

"Boy," Jigen said as he joined them.

"The ultrasound said girl.  Well, the bellybutton cord was in the way but the doctor thought it was a girl."

"The genetic test said boy," Jigen told him.  "Goemon nearly danced around at that news."  He sat down to look at his presents.  "Should I open them?"  Xander got out of the way, watching as he opened them.  The first had cash, mostly wet, a few pieces of jewelry, and some other assorted stuff that looked like it had been taken during robberies.  The second trunk had a few more pieces of jewelry.  It was apparently the one they were filling.

"I thought there'd be more down there," Xander said, sounding disappointed.  "Should we wait for them and blow them out of the water, then pick through the wreckage?"

"Not today.  I'd like to have a peaceful birthday."

Lupin surfaced.  "I found the gold stash from that job last month," he said excitedly.  "Fuji, lower the nets.  We'll split it evenly. What was in the others?"

Jigen looked over the side.  "Mostly robbery stuff, some jewelry.  I haven't done an in- depth look yet.  Want help?"

"We could use it.  It's a huge pile."  Xander dove in again, going over top of him.  "Wow.  Be more careful!"  He looked up and Jigen jumped down.  "Watch the boat, Fuji, we'll be right back.  Lower the nets now."

"Fine," she agreed.  "I'm too buoyant to dive anyway."  She got the trunks free then lowered the nets, keeping watch for them.  As soon as the first load was done, she hauled it up and then dumped it, sending it back down again.  This was really nice bullion.  Scummy pirates didn't deserve this stuff.  She could see a boat coming their way so she sat on the edge of the boat, using the beach towels to cover up the stuff they already had.  It was a pleasure boat, a drunk and happy couple who waved at her.  She waved back, smiling.

"Are you all right?" the male called.

"Just fine, my husband is diving," she told him, stroking her obviously pregnant stomach.  The woman nodded, looking like she understood.  "Have a nice day."

"You too."

"Would you know where the temple of Aphrodite ruins might be?" the woman called.

"I think they're over there," she said, pointing behind them.  "We visited some earlier.  We're doing some now, but I don't think this one is a temple."

"Thank you."  The male putted the boat off.  They would still have fun exploring, even if they didn't find anything.

Fujiko saw the net be tugged on and she started it again, watching the other boat.  More gold came up, along with someone's breather.  She tossed that back over the side, watching as it disappeared.  Someone needed to not lean over and admire the gold.  Another two trips had everyone back on the boat and them figuring how to get everything back up to the house.  She nudged Jigen.  "Think he'd do the baby's coming of age party?" she teased.

Jigen shook his head.  "Probably not.  At least Xander's working with us."  He looked at Lupin, who was doing a count of the bars.  "Any ideas yet?"

"The second trunk is nearly empty," Xander offered.  "Most of it could go in there, the rest in the food bags and towels."  Lupin nodded, testing the trunks.  "Or the first could be emptied and then used if it's more sturdy."  The second had looked a little flimsy.

Fujiko looked at her mate.  "Maybe we should put some gold leaf in the nursery?  That way the baby appreciates the good stuff from day one."

He shook his head.  "There will be enough for him to gnaw on once he starts to crawl about.  Let us stick with a more traditional nursery."

"Teddy bears?" Xander suggested.  "Rocking horses, maybe a fantasy dragon or two?"

"A traditional, tasteful nursery," Goemon amended.

"Babies seem to get mental stimulation from large geometric shapes and simple contrasts," Marcus told them.  "I've been doing some research.  They say mobiles with either basic geometric shapes in bright colors or in black and white seem to work best.  It seems to stimulate the baby's budding mentality and make them more interested in the world around them.  The same books also proposed a large border near the ceiling since babies are supposed to be laid on their backs, that will give them more visual stimulation."

"Suddenly, teddy bears do not seem as bad," Goemon noted.

"Grateful Dead bears," Xander suggested.  "Bright, soft, and fun dancing bears."

"There should be no stuffed animals in the crib," Marcus said firmly.  "Babies can roll into them and suffocate.  The same as there should not be quilts, pillows, or other such fluffy things in there.  Light blankets should be enough for a very young child."  Goemon patted him on the back.  "Sorry, but I do want what's best for him.  He'll be the first child I'll be around.  I'll be judging whether to produce any of my own on this one."

"Fortunately I'm infertile so I'm going to live vicariously through yours," Xander told him.  "I've already figured out how to introduce the little guy to the supernatural and magic.  Starting with a long lecture not to pray to Janus or ever make a wish to a strange person."  Lupin and Jigen both snickered.  "What?" he asked.

"I can see you walking the toddler up to a vampire and teaching him," Lupin said, shaking his head.  "This is a vampire, dear," he imitated.  "It's a mean, bad thing who likes to eat people.  That's why it's okay to stake it."

"Go grr," Jigen added.  "Come on, go grr for the baby and I'll make it a quick staking. He needs to know so he can taunt people."

Goemon shook his head, trying not to smile.  That was something he could see the boy doing.  "No."

"Not until he's old enough to hold a stake and know the consequences of his actions," Fujiko ordered.  She smiled. "Then you can do that.  I want to see you telling a vampire to 'go grr for the baby'."  She broke, laughing so hard she was leaning against her husband's side.

"Xander, when did you run into a wish demon?" Marcus asked.

"I dated Anyanka, Vengeance for Scorned Women. She got stuck in Sunnydale because of Cordelia's wish.  She got to see what a vampire me was like.  We just got to see Vamp Willow.  She wasn't that much different than magic addicted Willow come to think of it, only in a leather catsuit."  He shrugged and went back to his helping.  "I'm putting one Grateful Dead bear in the poor guy's room but I'll make it in an out of the way spot.  He'll appreciate it when he gets older."

"Thank you," Goemon agreed.  It was better to give in, Xander would do it without their permission.

"Is this one going to be the fourteenth?" Lupin asked.

Goemon nodded. "A first born son is a good sign of a future prosperity.  Most of us have been firstborns."  He stroked his baby's back, earning a kick for waking him.  "He'll live up to the name and do many great things."

"Of course he will.  The kid can't do anything that one of us won't be able to counter," Jigen told him.  "Shit, between us, we've got all the major vices sewn up.  We can show the kid how bad it is.  Plus, we'll have you teaching him, her teaching him, and us teaching him things now and then."

"The poor thing's going to be a group all in one," Lupin agreed.  He smirked.  "It'll keep some of us from having our own."

"I'm still infertile," Xander said plainly.  "But I'll gladly adopt some day.  I'll find a kid like me and take him from his family, teaching him better and that people do give a damn about him."

Lupin looked at him.  "Are you sure of that?"

"My tubes were scarred over when I was with Anya.  I'm sure."  He finished his count of the money in the trunks, writing it down for Jigen, then moved onto the jewelry.  "Cheap stuff mostly," he said apologetically.

"That's fine, it's the thought that counts," Jigen promised, giving him a pat.  "Maybe we should take another night?"

Xander stood up.  "Let me call the guy."  He padded into the wheelhouse, picking up the phone that was marked with the guy's number.  "Hi, this is the woman from earlier?" he said, using that same smooth and sultry voice.  "Is there *any* way we can stay out tonight too?"  She giggled.  "That's fine, we can do that.  Thank you.  We'll be right in."  She hung up and bounced out.  "We can, but only if we go back and pay him now.  Apparently the pirates are having a bad week and have been bothering boats."

Lupin nodded. "That's convenient anyway.  We can park nearer to the house.  Fujiko, I want you and Marcus to run up to the house and get us some clothes, some strong bags, and that sort of thing."  She nodded.  "Xander, food?"

"I gave you the money I had on me."

"I've got more.  I never leave the house without something when I'm with a woman," he said, giving her a look.  "Every time I do, you want a candy bar."  She leaned down, kissing him gently.  "Thank you. Fujiko, get Jigen a weapon too, and Xander if you can find his."

"I think I left it under the seat in my car," he admitted, looking confused.  "I was a tad bit drunk when I went shopping last night."

"Driving drunk in an unfamiliar city?" Goemon said sternly.

"Not that drunk, slightly tipsy, and I have that neat map feature on the car.  I can't get lost."  She sat down again.  "Unless it's gone off in the heat, it'll be under the seat. Next to the gear shift."  She nodded, making a note of it.  "Or my other three are up in my room in my main bag.  The one in the car is the derringer."

"I'll get that one and toss it into the kitchen to cool off," she promised.  "No more drinking with Pops."

"The poor guy needed it, Fujiko.  They pulled him from the field and gave him *two* rookies.  They even made him work with Dawnie since they found out who she really was and that she was that good."  Lupin hummed in appreciation of that one.  "Speaking of which, who gets the matchmaking assignments?"  Fujiko raised a hand.  "He has the hots for Dawn.  I have no idea but I think she likes him or she would have hurt him worse during the reception.  Something to think about while you're in recovery from the birth."

Fujiko shuddered.  "Eww.  Bad thought, Xander."

"If it'll make him happy, he might quit chasing us," Lupin told her.  "How are we running with a baby?  I know he asked."

"I told him Marcus would demand to sit or I would if you needed him," Xander told him.  "One of us is always not doing something."

"I'm more useful back at the house anyway," Marcus agreed.  "I'm not well trained enough to be in the field but my research and backup skills are excellent."

Lupin nodded.  "Good point.  You want to be the nanny?"  He nodded, looking very pleased.  "Guys?"

"Suits me," Fujiko noted.  "Goemon?"

"Fine," he agreed.  "Though I will be instructing him in the finer family traditions he must uphold."

"You're teaching me them anyway," Marcus reminded him.

"Good point.  Plus Xander can take weeks off now and then to play with the baby as well.  It will soothe any maternal ache he may have in this form."

"Speaking of forms, Fuji broke my cats eye necklace," he announced.  "My other is taking longer to wear off.  Fair warning, 'cause I'm not giving this one up."  Lupin looked at him and he shrugged.  "I'm selfish, yay me."

"That's a good attitude for a thief," Fujiko assured him.  "We all are or we wouldn't be doing this."  She stood up.  "We should head back."  Jigen got up to pilot the boat.  "Any other surprises, Xander?"

He beamed.  "There's a birthday cake in the fridge.  An ice cream cake."

She laughed and hugged him.  "If I do this again, I'll let you be the head spoiler and Lupin can help you.  You seem to know just what I want."  She strolled away, taking the samurai and apprentice samurai with her.

Lupin leaned closer to Xander.  "How much did you keep?" he asked patiently.

"Enough to be slightly empathic when I'm tired, drunk, or agitated.  The prison was hell," he complained.  He went back to looking.  "Isn't that a fake gem that they're claiming is real?"  Lupin nodded.  "Good.  Thought so."  He marked it down.  "Are we expecting me to go on after you guys retire?"

"I doubt we'll ever fully retire, but we'll pull you with us so Jigen and I don't shrivel up like most retirees do," Lupin promised.  "We'll let you go out and play being an assassin to the bad pirates."

"Thanks, boss.  Love you too."  Xander looked at the next piece, writing it down.

The End.

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