Xander padded down to the office the morning after they had returned the boat, going to see if he could help. "Jigen says he's resting before I kill him," he said with a small shrug as he sat down. "Can I help?"
"Sure. Let's find out how much information you have. Pirates?" Xander grinned. "How did you hear about the pirates?"
"I heard in Istanbul. They've been bothering people there too. Up and down the sea. I thought it'd be a neat birthday present and since we were heading this way anyway...." He trailed off. "You didn't like?"
"I did like it, but I would have liked some warning." Xander blew a kiss. "I know, we were safe, but none of us had any weapons."
"Against three pirates who can't fight? I could take them out. Marcus could have taken them out."
"Three who can't fight?"
"That's how I heard about it Istanbul. Some guys saying they were these guys, complete with details that hadn't made the papers, were in one of those nice illegal bars bragging and drunk. One of the small thieves from the city's underground challenged them for some ruby they were tossing around and beat their asses, even though he didn't fight that well. It raised his status a lot and may have found him someone to help him learn new skills. They walked out very shamed men and went back to their boat, the Angeline. I did a newspaper search while we were waiting on the midwife to show up and found out all I could. They've got this hiding spot, one near Istanbul, which I turned over as a show of good faith to the new Donnette in town, and two nearer to Italy. They've got a special cave they live in near Cyprus. The police can't ever seem to find them in it however and any cops they leave there end up floating on the sea in a life raft. I figure they've got inside information. Three men so I'm guessing they've using girlfriends who are secretaries and stuff."
"You got all this from the papers?" Xander nodded. "How?"
"Reading between the lines. The Italian ones mentioned the Cyprus cave. The ones from Istanbul related how they're going up and down the coast and theorized that they've got multiple places to store stuff. The Greek ones I found mentioned that they had been seen in the ruins here off the coast a few different times. The local bar in town told me which ruins out of the six they've visited was the stash." She leaned back, getting comfortable in the chair. Her bare legs were crossed and the small top she had worn under her sari pulled at her breasts. The slim workout shorts were doing great things for her stomach and crotch and it was clear she wasn't wearing underwear again today. "I've thought about scoping some of the other ruins but I figured I'd pull my birthday stunt first. They're back toward Istanbul right now according to the rumors. They work in a cyclical pattern, or more of a figure eight if they've got good targets. They're annoying, and the locals *swear* up and down that they're actually gay pirates, which makes them worse." She grinned. "They seem to hate the gay worse than the pirate part."
Lupin nodded. "That's pretty standard for the area." He got comfortable. "What else have they done?"
"Mostly minor stopping ships and pillaging. There have been no rapes, very little killing or wounding. One of them is supposed to have a cutlass that he waves around in a, and I quote, limp-wristed manner. The other two carry guns but they're regular pistols. They don't seem to have heavier artillery or machine guns, that anyone has seen. They stay away from Lesbos, Crete, and Sicily at all costs. They nearly put into harbor in Lesbos once but they apparently ran away. They hide in and around most of the rest of the islands. No one's got a *good* description of them. Most of the witnesses do say that they've got one guy with a huge nose. Two of the three have black hair and one has medium brown. They're all tanned, one looks leathery now from too much sun. They're all men. One of them likes to wear a pink shirt, probably after having fading or doing the laundry wrong. Their ship is a sloop a little bigger than the one we rented. It's got a single deck with a wheelhouse. It's white with blue sails, mostly sun bleached but apparently they've bought or stolen one new one, a small upper triangle." She shrugged. "That's all I've gotten so far."
Lupin smiled. "Good work, Xander."
"Thanks, boss. Oh, they've all got sweet teeth. Every time they run into a honey shipment they steal entire holds of it." She crossed her legs in the other direction. "We're not sure why."
Lupin laughed. "Another interesting fact." He looked at the list of what they had gotten from the ruins. "Could the other sites be found?"
"Not without some searching. Or some local intel. The gold was their biggest heist and they had to dump it before going out onto the main sea because of the storm that night. They were too heavy and might have capsized. They seem to be at the pleasure-boating level of driving, they do it for fun but they haven't souped up their boat to go faster from what little I've heard. It's already fast, the police boats can't catch them, but that's been more sneaky and good luck on their parts. They go in during high fog and a white ship isn't easy to see in it when it's running silent."
"Interesting." Lupin tapped the notation for the gold bars. "I was going to have those sold. Does that bother you?"
"Nope, I like cash best. It's easier to carry around," she said smugly. "I need a new pair of handcuffs, Fujiko took mine and won't give them back."
Lupin shivered. "I didn't need to know that." He looked at his helper. "Do you really want to back off to help take care of the baby?"
"No, but I do like standard vacations. I can't pull twenty jobs in a year, boss. I'd get really tired."
"True. So would we." Someone rang the doorbell. "Who in the hell?" he muttered, but Xander stood up, heading out to answer it. Her gun had apparently been tucked in her back waistband. He walked out to look out of the office. "More books?"
"No. Just one cop," Xander said. She looked back and Lupin shrugged, waving him to open the door. She opened the door, looking at the police officer. " Yes?"
"Ma'am, I'm a messenger from Inspector Zenigata," he said bitterly. "He said there is a truce and he needs to meet you here." He handed over the paper and backed away. "He said you wouldn't shoot me."
"I haven't yet, feel lucky," Xander told him, making him pass out. "We need someone who can do mind wipes." She walked away, going back to the office since there was obviously going to be a meeting.
Lupin came out to look at the local cop, shaking his head. "That's too bad for you, kid. Xan, can I have your rental?"
"Make sure it's clean first," Xander called.
"Of course." Lupin grabbed the keys, going to make sure he had gotten everything out of it, finding a few bags forgotten in the trunk. Then he put the guy into the backseat, handcuffed with his own cuffs, and drove him down the hill. He hiked back, shaking his head as he locked the gates. "Stupid kids." He walked into his office, taking the note Goemon had been reading. "What's this one about?"
Lupin raised an eyebrow. "What about Dawn?" He read the note, grimacing. "Why is he calling on us to help?"
"His boss said so," Xander said simply. "They like Dawn. They found out who Dawn was and what she had been doing, so they gave her the job officially. They want her back. I suspect Buffy's being a bit overbearing about it."
"Do we need to steal Dawn?" Goemon asked. "That shouldn't be that difficult."
"Nephews," Xander sighed. The older men all groaned. "I know Dawn, she'll be protecting them, this is Buffy's way of getting her back. Is her email account still open?" Lupin turned on his computer, sending a test, then shook his head when it came back seconds later. "Then I'm seeing the hand of Buffy strongly. She's going to try and force Dawn to go straight. Her version of straight." She got comfortable. "Do we get any US newspapers?"
"Only the New York Times," Lupin admitted. He logged onto a news server, clicking on 'Cleveland' and waiting while his usual sorting ran through. "We have here one disturbance down that way. Oops, we have a court case. Dawn filed for custody of the kids." He looked at Xander, who was shaking her head. "Do you think she needs help?"
"I think she needs help but a single person could do it. Ooh, check my mail, my secondary account. I've got it set up so any new bounties hit it from the network." He leaned forward, looking at the screen. "There's a Buffy bounty," he said fondly. "Military?"
"Go," Lupin sighed. Xander kissed him on the cheek. "Are you going like that?"
"Probably. At least this way Gramps won't pinch me on the ass again." She padded up to her room, going to get changed and pack a small bag. Once up there she logged onto her email accounts herself, printing out everything she would need to give Dawn's attorney, or Dawn. She came back down in a power suit, heels, and with a small carryon. "I'm going."
"Do not take my bike," Fujiko called.
"Yes, love." She walked out, going to find a cab instead. The meeting was in the park in about an hour. She had even remembered to bring a book.
Xander looked over the edge of her book as someone coughed, putting her bookmark in her place, which activated that bug, the other was in her phone in her purse. "It's a pretty day and the birds are singing. So why are we meeting?"
"Because my boss wants Summers," Zenigata said firmly. "May I?" Xander waved a hand, letting him sit beside her. "Did you find the bounty?"
"There's one for her whole group now. They found Rosenburg's one against you."
"Which referenced history. So now the Americans know. Shit."
"Not only that, they know more than that. They found that one place's file and went back down into it. What happened to that town?"
"Hellmouth sucked it in." She shifted. "And? What's the rest?"
"They've got video footage from the security cameras. That base was harmed but not enough. It took them this long to decode it. My boss thinks this will change the world order and it's pissing her off. It got dumped onto me and she *ordered* me to work with you on this. She wants Dawn free and clear, even if you have to steal her and her nephews."
"And Rosenburg's," Xander noted. "They're in England though." She grimaced as she thought. "I can easily help Dawn get away. Buffy's hand has been showing for a while. My former friend is not subtlety in action." She stood up. "Fine. Are we both going to Cleveland?" Zenigata nodded. "Deal. I'll work with you. This time."
"My boss promised me a field position if I pulled this off," he said bitterly.
Xander laughed. "I'll write her a glowing recommendation. After all, you make us have to get better. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have learned six languages in the last year and a half." She walked away. "I'll meet you there. I've already got plane tickets."
"And I'm in the seat next to you," he said, hurrying after her. "We are supposed to be working together, Harris."
"Don't call me that. The only ones who have that right are my friends, Zenigata." She glanced back at him as she opened the door to his car. "Which you aren't." He nodded at that, stiffening his back. "Good. Am I driving?"
"That would draw attention to us and I don't want that."
"As long as you don't try to handcuff me as a ruse, we'll be fine," Xander said firmly. She opened her purse and took out her cell. "Morning," she said bitterly.
"Buckle up." He glanced at her. "I'd never try to handcuff you after what you did in LA to those poor guards. Even though you did warn them."
"Yes, that was him," she said as she did so. "He was *ordered* to help me get Dawn free. Or else they'll keep him behind a desk forever." She snorted, handing over the phone. "Him." She checked her makeup in the visor mirror, glancing around them. "Tell him Marcus looks like a stuffy Brit tourist."
Zenigata looked behind them, then at her. "Where?"
"In the park."
Zenigata listened to the returning tirade. "This wasn't my idea, and I don't like it, Lupin, but my boss wants her safe from the freaks in the military. She considers you safer." He sneered. "Of course I did. You didn't try to hide it this time." He hung up and handed the phone back. "He's not pleased."
"What about this do you think would make him happy?" she asked. "Hello, not exactly the natural order of things."
"I tried to argue that too, it didn't work. She was insistent," he said as he pulled away from the curb. "Before you argue, I do obey traffic laws."
"If I had wanted to go faster, I would have taken Fujiko's bike. As long as we make it to the airport in time. Though, the first person who suggests we're bickering lovers, I get to hand them to Jigen."
"None of your business."
"True, it's not. Why are you going this way?"
"Because I was having fun in this form and I don't want it to end yet. So let's do this quickly so I can go back to my vacation and visions of spoiling the baby."
"Oh, yeah," he said, digging in his jacket pocket, then tossing something at her. "He left that at the prison. The DNA off it was very interesting."
"He probably thought it was gone for good," Xander said, looking at his present to Fujiko. "I'll send it back to her." She put it into her purse. "How's your rookie?"
"Not mine anymore."
"I know that, how is he?"
"Obsessed with stopping you if he can find a way. Just you, not Lupin."
"Good. I needed more groupies."
"There are crime groupies?" he asked dryly.
"Yeah, I found one before I went with Goemon. I let her go with her fantasies of danger."
"That was...decent of you."
"She was sixteen, Zenigata, and I prefer my lovers more experienced and realistic about me," she said dryly. "I have no desire to be some girl's bragging point with her friends."
"I made you learn six languages?"
Xander nodded, shifting a little. The seat was much harder than the normal cars she rented. "How else are we going to get by you if we're not smarter, better, and faster."
"Maybe I should retire, make it easier on the next generation," he said bitterly.
"And you'll do what? Grow bonsai trees?" Xander asked. He glared at her as they moved through a red light. "Nice job. Not even an accident. Are you sure I can't drive?"
"Fine. Quit staring at my breasts then." He firmly went back to staring at the traffic in front of them.
Lupin winced as he heard the annoying repartee over the wire Xander had activated with her phone call. "Damn, I'm almost feeling sorry for the old man."
"We could go help," Fujiko pointed out.
"We could, but it won't help much," Lupin told her. "We can better help from here." He looked at Jigen, who was silent and stone faced. "I'm sure Pops won't try anything, and if he does, Xander's going to hit him."
He shook his head. "I'm wandering down the hall of what can go wrong with this scenario."
"Those two won't get along," Fujiko snorted. "Xander will kill him."
Jigen nodded, she was relatively pissed by her voice. Though he had heard it aimed at him before. "Has anyone decided if we're backing her up, just in case? She is known in that form in Cleveland. I doubt he's going to leave her alone long enough to allow her to change with the choker."
"Bathroom at the airport," Fujiko told him. "We've gone over this scenario before." She looked at Lupin. "You forgot my bracelet?"
"I didn't realize you were wearing it. I'm sorry."
She nodded. "That's okay. We have it now." She leaned forward. "DNA off a bracelet?"
"Epithelials," Marcus said as he walked in, handing over Xander's book. "Skin cells. She left it in the park."
"She can buy a new copy in the airport," Lupin offered. "She'll be fine. This isn't a situation where she's going to have to panic. I doubt the American military is going to be coming after them today or tomorrow, and even then we can run to her rescue if they do show up."
"That leaves one horny cop and the problem of an international warrant out for his arrest," Jigen pointed out.
"Technically, he doesn't have any," Fujiko said smugly. "The Minister of Justice decided not to press charges against him because it would make that whole thing more public. Dawn wiped our others the other day so we're all clear for the moment. Unless those pirates complain about us."
"I left a calling card," Lupin said smugly. "Xander found out quite a lot about them." He hit the button to rewind the tape from earlier, letting them hear it.
"When did you bug the office?"
"The last time we were here," he said with a smirk. "I wanted to know why you and Goemon kept ducking in here. Which is why I paid for you to take your honeymoon in Bali instead of here. I liked my old desk chair, thank you," he said dryly.
Jigen looked at her. "You did?"
"I had nothing to do with that," Goemon said, blushing brightly.
"You enjoyed it," she reminded him. He blushed brighter, turning his head away.
"Apologize," Marcus said firmly, glaring at her. "Such honorable and noble men are not made to be embarrassed by their wives!"
Fujiko laughed. "What?"
"Please, no fighting," Jigen complained before he could retort. It wouldn't get them anywhere.
"Kid, you've got some strange notions," Fujiko told him.
He scowled. "Perhaps, but he still deserves better than to be embarrassed every day. I have gotten onto Xander for much the same offense."
"Calm down," Lupin soothed. "She likes picking on him and he can always stop her if he's upset by it. After all, withholding sex works with Fujiko." He looked at her and she blanched. "Now can we move on?" Everyone nodded. "Thank you. We have other pirate treasure sites and no Pops anywhere. Goemon has asked that we look at the possibilities of working a few cruises as well. Do we have a preference?"
"There's the debut event next month," Fujiko noted. "All the company's founders." She grunted, cradling her stomach. "Calm down," she complained. "I'll steal you some pretty stuff." The baby kicked again, harder this time. "Ow."
Marcus stepped in, touching her stomach. "Behave," he said quietly. "Soon enough." The baby quit and he stepped back. "Wouldn't we have to go back to France to pack for such a job?"
"We probably would," Lupin agreed.
Goemon was looking at his student. "It appears he already appreciates your touch."
"According to the sources I've been looking at, all babies are empathic. They react better to calm people. She was probably excited."
Jigen looked at Goemon. "Has he been kicking during sex too?" he asked. Goemon glared at him. "Just asking."
"Last night," Fujiko announced. "All night. We woke him up."
Goemon went back to his blushing. That woman would be the death of him yet.
Xander came out of the bathroom, having changed her appearance. Now she was a brunette again, but her chest was smaller and her body was a little too thin. Basically, a female version of what he would have looked like when he was on the swim team. He found Zenigata chatting with a newspaper person, walking past him to hit the car rental desk. Some things didn't need a badge. She made it nearly all the way through the paperwork before he caught up to her. "Very good," she praised.
"You're still very distinctive," he growled. "Do not try that again."
"Fine." She handed over her working debit card, watching as it was run, and declined. "What?" She took it, looking at the number. "Hmm." She dug around, finding the other copy. "Try this one," she sighed. It was run and accepted. "I have no idea what that was about." She took it back, signing the slip. "Thank you." She took the keys, heading out into the dark night. He was right behind her. "Do you have a hotel in mind? I'll split expenses with you as long as we get a suite or separate rooms."
"I don't care," he said bitterly. "You get paid better than I do."
Xander stopped, turning to look at him. "Was that bitterness for your life's work I hear?" The inspector glared at her. "Do not blame me, or my boss, for your choices. You became a cop for your own reasons. I became a gunwoman for mine. We each make our own choices." She turned and continued to walk to the car, finding it by the lot number. "Not what I rented," she complained. She whistled sharply, bringing the lot attendant. "This isn't what I rented." The man looked at it, then pointed at the next lot up, it had a different letter in front of the number. "Thank you." She walked that way with a sigh. "Another wonderful start to a job in Cleveland. With any luck I won't get trapped here by a blizzard. Or vampires." He got in to drive, letting Zenigata load his stuff into the trunk. Her bag was compact and went into the back seat. She started the engine, prompting him to hurry up. "Buckle up. They will ticket us here," she said patiently, doing the same. Then she pulled out of the lot, the airport, and onto the interstate. She flipped on the radio and joined the other motorists in their excessive speed.
"Not every car is a getaway car," the inspector complained.
"It's an American tradition. You can go up to five miles an hour over the posted speed limit on the interstate and have very little risk of being pulled over. If you go much above eighty, you're screwed, but seventy is usually acceptable. Of course, only Americans would realize this, but still." She glanced at him. "Did your weapon make it through customs?"
"As did yours," Zenigata told her. She shook her head. "It didn't?"
"It's being sent to me. I'm relying on yours tonight, or I can go buy a toss-away cheaply for the next day."
"Here. There are gangs and pawn shops," Xander said patiently. "Weapons aren't that hard to get in America," she pointed out. "People complain about that all the time."
"Why didn't you use the badge Dawn got you?" he sneered. "Too good for it?"
"Left it back at one of the other hideouts." He turned down an exit, heading to his favorite pawn shop. "Stay in the car," she said patiently, heading inside. "Raul," he said, blowing a kiss his way. He blinked. She took off the choker, making him splutter. She put it back on. "I need a gun for a few days. Dirty is fine." He nodded, going into the back and coming out with a compact pistol. "Fine. Great. Bullets?" A platform was handed over. "Bless you, my dear." She blew a kiss again and put some cash on the counter. "I'll only be in town for a few days, I'm rescuing a friend. No jobs or anything." Raul nodded, watching her ass as she walked out. She got into the car, loading everything into her purse. "There, much better," she sighed happily, heading to the hotel she had liked the looks of. Their backup during the museum job. She hadn't stayed there, it'd be fine. She pulled up in front of it, wincing at the sign. "Shit." She got out, heading inside. "Are there any rooms open?" she asked in a sweet, midwestern voice.
The hostess smiled and nodded. "A few. Most of them are doubles."
"I've got a colleague with me, a male colleague." The woman winced. "No suites?"
She shook her head, looking upset. "Unfortunately not, but there's also not any in town. There's a national Shriner's convention in the Civic Center. They're taking up most of the rooms in town." She looked at her computer. "I can put you in adjoining rooms so you can work together," she offered, smiling at the man who came up behind the nice woman. "Would that be all right with you, sir?"
Zenigata looked at her. "How much?"
"Our rooms are presently going for sixty a night. How long was your stay for?"
"Hopefully not more than three days," Xander sighed. "I have a friend in trouble." The hostess nodded, she understood about those things apparently. "That okay with you?"
"No cheaper places?"
"As I just told her, there's a Shriner's convention in town," the hostess told her. "They're taking most of the rooms in the city. We are the most reasonable right now. Even the Day's Inn is going for sixty a night."
"That'll be fine," Xander said, handing over the working card, taking back the bullet that had fallen out. "Good luck charm," she said with a small smile. "My baby sent it with me."
The hostess smiled. "I understand those sort of things. Whenever I travel, I take mine's picture with me." She booked them in, handing over the keys to her. "There you are. I'm sure you can get your friend out of trouble."
"I hope so, she just gets worse and worse each time I see her," Xander sighed. "Thank you." She looked at the number on the envelope as she headed for the elevator. "You can pay me back later." They headed up, Xander leaving her door closed, even when she heard him open his. She opened her laptop, checking her email and sending one to Lupin. He tried to send one to Dawn's but it was still bouncing back. "Wonderful." Someone knocked on his door so he went to let the annoyance in. "What?" She went back to checking her mail, finding the one from Lupin waiting on her. "Funny, boss," she muttered as she typed. "Not."
"What did the crook send?"
"He reminded me not to upset him by ever sleeping with you or Dawn." She typed in their location and room number, sending it back. "As if."
"I'm sure he covets you himself," the inspector said bitterly. He opened the adjoining door. "This way I can keep track of you."
"I'm still going to close it before I go to bed. I sleep naked. As Goemon has found out a few times." He choked. "He comes up to wake me for practice when I'm late," she said dryly. "He's Fujiko's and only hers. She jumps him often to prove it." She pushed back the longing she was feeling at those words. Damn it, she wanted to be with Lupin right now. Jigen was tired and had told her to go jump him today.
"How did you change your look?"
"Uh-huh." He gave her a look. "How?"
She looked up. "Trade secret. You don't ask Broadway starlets how they change their looks. You don't ask me." She went back to checking her mail, finding one from Ethan. "Hmm. Former snuggly bear. What does he have to say?" She opened it, smirking at the opening pleading for his life. Then the smut further on. "I'm not going back to you, Ethan." She wrote out a reply to him, assuring him his life was safe unless Janus tried her patience again, and that she had more than enough men in her life at the moment. Besides, Lupin had promised he could teach her how to do the multiple orgasm thing as a male. Once all her mail was checked, she went to search that 'mini-orgasm' thing on the net. Interesting. She smirked as she read. That was *so* her.
Zenigata looked over her shoulder, then blushed. "Women aren't like that," he said firmly, going back to his room.
"I beg to differ," she called after him. "I know one who is. It's quite fun. Want a testimonial? I'll call and get you one."
"No!" He slammed his connecting door and she smirked, closing her own and locking it.
"Sweet dreams," she said smugly. A new message icon popped up and she clicked on it, reading the smutty one from Lupin for what she had just done to Gramps. "Gee, thanks, love you too, dear. Just think, Jigen sent me to you this morning." A new message came up, a long groan. She laughed and replied, sending a kiss, a cuddle, and a virtual blowjob. Then she surfed and found a kinky card site, sending both her men one of those. She turned off the computer and the listening device, getting ready for bed. Dawn had court at eight in the morning.
Xander walked into the courtroom, tapping Dawn's lawyer on the shoulder and bending down to whisper. "Some information she needs. It's very important." He sat down in the row behind her, giving her a small smile. Then she nodded behind her, making Dawn's eyes widen when she saw the other person who had come in.
"Your Honor, may I please have a few more minutes? Some new information was just handed to me," Dawn's lawyer asked. The judge nodded so he broke open the envelope. He read the first paper, then looked back at Xander. "Hallway, now," he hissed. Xander followed him and Dawn out, giving Dawn a hug. "What is this?"
"The truth," Xander sighed. "We found it last night."
"You're one of her less than savory contacts?" the lawyer asked.
"You might say that," Xander agreed with a grin. "Lupin the Third sent me." He shivered. "I see you've heard of my benefactor. He found the warrants for her, Buffy, and Giles' arrest by the military, even though none of them have served. They'll be wanting the kids as well to test them. The person who came in with me is one of Dawn's new coworkers with the ICPO. He's an inspector. I'm presently being forced to work with him," he said dryly. "His boss wants her back in safe territory with the kids. What do you need from me?"
"I need Lavelle to show up," the lawyer said honestly.
"Tomorrow?" The lawyer's face lit up. "He's traveling. What else?"
"I, um, we need the inspector probably."
"That's what he's here for, but we would like a concession. Have the records sealed." Buffy came out, joining them. "Morning, Buffster." He looked at Dawn, then at her. "Close the door."
"Xander," she whispered, shutting the door in the bailiff's face. "What is going on! I don't want you near Dawn or my kids!"
"Buffy, the military has a bounty out on your head and a warrant out for your arrest as a deserter, even though you were never one of them," he said bitterly. "For all of us actually."
"You're a man?"
"Only some days." He bowed. "Lavelle." He looked at Buffy again. "Her present bosses, the ICPO, want her back and safe. Oh, I want a copy of all Willow's files," he said, looking at Dawn. "Plus my picture album she took after giving me away."
"We had to!" Buffy said angrily.
"Gee, really? Considering it didn't stop it and they still solved it another way?" Xander said, sounding more bitter now. "Just think, if you had been a better friend, I wouldn't be happy now. So thank you." He looked at the lawyer. "I can change form but I didn't bring any male clothes with me. Will you need me this morning?"
"No." He shook his head, giving him a worshipful look. "Tomorrow will be fine. Thank you, sir."
"Hey, I only wanna see Dawn happy. She's one of the few of my friends who didn't try to have me killed and stood up for me in my reasonable anger." She looked at Buffy. "Unlike her sister, who tried to have me killed."
"You killed Cordelia," Buffy snapped. "You had Willow killed. You killed Wesley."
"I allowed Cordelia to fulfil her destiny, Buffy," he said tiredly. "She ascended to a higher plane. If you don't believe me, ask Angel. I will admit that I did Wesley, I got him back for everything that creature did to me." She went pale. "As for Willow, I didn't ask. She earned it by finding a way around Dawn's deal and sending me back to the demon."
"You deserved it," Buffy snapped.
He backhanded her. "No one deserves to be raped, mutilated, and killed twice," he said calmly and coldly. "If you think so, I hope it happens to you some day. I will do whatever is in my power to get those kids away from you so they're not tainted. They're still innocent and I hope like hell they don't grow up like me." He walked Dawn back in, letting her go to her seat while he took his again. Zenigata looked at him and he shot her a glare. The inspector shifted but didn't say anything. Xander looked at the judge.
The lawyer walked Buffy back in, handing her to her lawyer. "I'm ready, your honor. The extraordinary information will be necessary to my case." He cleared his throat.
"Proceed with your opening then," she ordered, looking back at Xander.
The lawyer paused a moment then opened his mouth. "It is our contention that Miss Buffy Summers is not a fit mother. Her sister, while having a slightly indecent past, is a much better mother to the children as she has shown since coming back to help her sister. We have proof that not only is Miss Summers under a federal warrant that may or may not ever be served, but is also a violent and sadistic creature to her friends. Among that end, I have taken the liberty to call an unconventional witness, one who can only be here for a day before he will be arrested. In his reply, he stated he felt strongly enough about this matter to risk being arrested to come in and testify on my client's behalf. I will be presenting him later if it pleases you." The judge looked startled. "The person in question is an old friend of both Miss Summers. He has proof that she managed to ignore his desperate pleas for help and even managed to turn on him because of the situation he found himself in directly because of their mutual friend's influence. In this case, Miss Buffy Summers could have stopped it and did not. Then she tried to convince their friends to have him killed. I have no doubt that such things are relative to her children's upbringing. She has the children in a school and daycare that believes in the most strict punishments and uniforms for infants. She is constantly around dangerous people." He paused again.
"My client is a much better person. She has left her old life behind to come back to the life of non-crime. Even though she was once one of the better jewel thieves in the world, she has left that world to help her sister and take care of her nephews. As such, she has entered into gainful employment with Interpol, helping them catch other criminals. Her direct supervisor has sent one of her coworkers to testify on her behalf, and to try to arrest my star witness." He paused again, taking a drink of his water. "While my client is far from perfect, she joined that life to get away from her overbearing sister. She also joined that life because her sister has some slight mental problems in her belief structure. Not that I doubt she believes such creatures are real, but it is not wholly acceptable." He saw Buffy grimace. "I am also, at this time, putting forth a motion to seal this courtroom due to the violent nature of the witness I am bringing in and to seal the records for the criminal's behalf, only giving them to Interpol when they present a warrant. Had I known that he would agree, I would have requested this sooner."
"Who is this witness?" the judge asked.
"The gunman known as Lavelle, Your Honor." She looked impressed. "And her coworker is the famous Inspector Zenigata. He's already here. If it would please you, I would ask that we seal the courtroom and all records before we go any further. There will be some things said that need not be put into the public record. It could only harm the children later in their lives."
The judge looked thoughtful as she looked at the other table. "Do you have any arguments against that?"
"No, Your Honor, he is right, my client does have certain beliefs that are not strongly held by the masses." He looked at him. "How did you manage to find an international criminal?"
"I emailed him," Dawn told him. "I ran with Lavelle. He's one of my best friends, and one of my sister's former best friends." The other lawyer looked like he got it. "The children will be removed from the courtroom?" she asked.
The judge nodded. "Definitely. I want them out of harm's way in this case."
"He'd never hurt them. Lavelle will not shoot an innocent."
"Be that as it may, they probably won't get to know him?" the judge asked. Dawn shook her head. "Then they don't need to meet him now." Dawn nodded and Buffy slumped. "Can you agree on a person to watch over them during the trial?"
Xander stood up. "There is a couple I know who can, if they're in the city," she offered. "There is a Faith and Ethan Rayne who will not harm the children and know of them already as they have custody of some children that belonged to a friend of both Miss Summers."
"Are they in town?"
"Ethan said he was heading this way. He had just heard, Your Honor."
"That's fine. Until such a time, Bailiff, please put them in my office and watch them. I'm sure we'll be fine with the Inspector in here." He nodded, taking the children into her chambers. "Thank you, ma'am, you may sit." Xander sat, smoothing her skirt underneath her. There was something off about her but she didn't know what. "When will this Lavelle get here?"
"Tomorrow morning, your honor. He's taking a flight in tonight as far as I know. He could have found a hiding place in the city already for all I actually know and be shacked up with a prostitute or six." The judge raised an eyebrow. "It was noted during his first visit that he was quite lively in that area."
"I see. Hopefully he will be coming alone and not with his criminal gang or such unsavory ladies?"
"I'm sure he will," the Inspector agreed. "We have information that he did travel this way partially and will be here tonight. I will allow him to testify before trying to once again arrest him."
"Thank you, Inspector." She looked at them. "Very well. Please clear the courtroom. I want no innocent bystanders anywhere near these proceedings. Just in case gunfire erupts." More officers came in and escorted out people. "Leave her," the judge said when they tried to move Xander. "She brought in information. I believe it is relevant?" She nodded. "Then you may stay." She waited until the doors were closed and locked. "Stop recording for a moment," she ordered. "You're bringing an internationally known gunman into my court? Are you insane!" she snapped.
Xander stood up. "Dawn was right, Lavelle would never harm an innocent. He has much to say on the subject of Miss Buffy Summers and about Dawn. He wishes to be here to do this. He is willing to take this risk to see the children removed from their mother's care before they're hurt like he was. He doesn't want anyone to suffer through the life he lived."
She looked at her. "Who are you? Start recording again."
"Lavelle's official spokeswoman." She smiled. "I know him quite well."
"One of his ladies?"
She shook her head. "A fellow gunwoman who respects him."
Zenigata coughed, shaking his head. "My boss ordered me to bring her, Your Honor. She bent all of Interpol rules to get this case settled. She wants Dawn and the children safely away where she can watch over them. Since Dawn is now profiling thieves and assassins for us, we need her. Lupin's gang alone costs us billions of Euros a year chasing him. "
"I see. Does Miss Dawn Summers know them?"
"She took some minor training under Lupin," Dawn told her. "Then she left the life to come back to her sister's side because her sister needed her. Buffy was badly injured at the time. When things settled out, she saw how horrible things were for the children. What sort of daycare puts the kids into little military uniforms?"
"We have a daycare in the city that has uniforms?" the judge asked. "I thought we only had upper levels and religious schools that did that."
Dawn's lawyer brought over a picture of the children in their uniforms. "There is one. It is a privately run place. It is also very strict. It has rules against loud laughing so you can't disturb others. I'm all for some structure for children, but that's ridiculous in my opinion."
"It's one of the better ones in the city," Buffy defended. "They have high test scores, good behavior, and the kids like it there. Their friends are there. They get to play like normal kids too."
"Play what? Nazi and Jew?" Dawn asked. "I saw Morgan's head the other day, Buffy. It looked like he had been kicked in the head with a dress boot." She looked at the judge. "I admit, they're going to be going to daycare and school with me, and they might have uniforms in regular school, but I'm going to pick schools that have things like art class. This one doesn't. I want the children to have as normal of an upbringing as possible. Even though they'll be in Europe and we'll have bodyguards." The judge looked at her. "In my new position there will probably be people who will be pissed at me. I will probably have bodyguards sometime soon."
"The ICPO has arranged for her to have a decent house in suburban Paris, Your Honor," the Inspector noted. "It already has a good security system on it and she'll be able to work from home most of the time. The schools there are very good. I can get information faxed to you about them if you wanted."
"You want my kids to be French?" Buffy asked. "Home of rude, smelly, unshaving women?"
"That is a stereotype, Miss Summers," Inspector Zenigata told her. "Not all French are rude, they're only rude to the British and the Americans due to their attitude problems."
"That whole 'wanting to rule the world thing'," Xander added for good measure. "It pisses off most of the world. Trust me, done some traveling in my day."
The judge coughed. "While that is interesting, I would like to keep it polite in here." They nodded, settling back in their seats. "Do you have anything you can present today?" she asked Dawn's lawyer.
"I do. I have the notice of the federal warrant and bounty out for Miss Summers, both of them unfortunately, and for very odd reasons." The judge looked at him and he swallowed. "Miss Buffy Summers has done things in the past that got her sister noticed as well. She is listed as a secondary target. They truly want Miss Buffy Summers and a Mister Alexander Harris." He frowned and looked back at Xander. "Lavelle?" She nodded a little. "Ah!" He nodded, suddenly getting it. He turned back around. "I do feel the need to warn you that things will get very odd in this courtroom, Your Honor. Unless we are forced to use euphemisms."
"I had been warned about that already," the judge admitted. "According to some briefs offered by people on Miss Dawn Summer's behalf, both of them are into the occult?"
"More or less," Dawn admitted. "Both of us have fought the occult."
She nodded. "They said you might say that." She looked at Buffy. "It also said that you would probably be dead within another three years due to something coming up. I have made copies available for both of you." She held them out and the lawyers came to get them, handing them over to their clients. "Is that one of the reasons we wanted the court sealed?"
"That and Mr. Lavelle's presence, Your Honor."
"No, this is not happening!" Buffy said angrily, turning to hit Giles with the papers. "The Watchers suggested I give the children to Dawn!"
"Well, Buffy, they do know things that you do not," Xander reminded her calmly. She glared at him. "Hello, needed help last year from Lavelle. Starting to sound familiar?"
"Faith handled that."
"Lavelle handled that and Faith went with him," Dawn corrected. "She got to finish ripping it apart."
"Is this the same Faith?" the judge asked.
Giles cleared his throat as he stood up. "There is more to this story, Your Honor. There is the matter of people who have the duty to this fight. In this case, Buffy is one such, as is Faith. As are others whom we work to train. Faith is not exactly on the same side we are. Faith is healing from going dark herself. In the case that nice young woman mentioned," he said, weathering the snort, "Faith came in after Buffy was severely injured. It was the same injury that led to Dawn turning her back on her profession as a jewel thief. She did *aid* Lavelle in besting the creature. She was also slightly injured from that same event. Inspector Zenigata was here at the time because his boss was tracking Dawn and had gotten captured as well. He can testify that it was both of them who went." He looked at Buffy. "If they're right, the children are targets," he said softly. "Think about what we went through with Glory, Buffy." She shuddered, curling up a little. "Let her have them. They will be safe with her and I dare say Xander will be watching out for her." He looked at Xander, who nodded. He looked at her again. "Or do you really want to rehash the last five years?"
She looked at him. "They're my children, Giles," she said bitterly. "Not hers."
"Yes, but you were warned when you got pregnant with Morgan that this might happen some day. Your duty is to protect all children, not just yours." She nodded, looking down. "You can always go visit. The same as I will be able to."
"What about the biological father?" the judge asked.
"He walked out a few months back," Giles admitted. "We have been unable to trace him."
Xander coughed, not moving from her comfortable position. "He's in a jail in Lima, Peru, awaiting extradition back. He was expelled from Peru but will not be facing charges here. He is also known to have a very bad temper and Buffy has had to file charges against him in the past. If the children go to him, I can only guess that Lavelle would feel obligated to steal them from him and remove them to Dawn's more gentle care. Even though she does swear, a lot, she is still a caring and nurturing creature. As shown by the care she gave Lavelle when he was ill the last time." The judge looked stunned. "What?"
"You know a lot about this man."
"He told me so."
"Hmm. I would like to hear how bad this is going to get. Both mothers have faults." She looked at the young woman. "Can you get him here this afternoon?"
"Sure. I'll have to contact him but I was going to go clothes shopping today anyway." The judge looked at him, looking a little confused. "Anonymous phones."
She looked a little startled. "Fine. This afternoon, no later than three if possible. I will allow a recess until then so the two sides can talk. Hopefully an amiable agreement can be reached without the court interfering in this case." She banged her gavel. "Try to work it out, ladies. If what they wrote was true, it would be better for the children. I'll have them sent out." She walked out, heading to her office.
Xander slipped out of his seat. "Stay," she told the Inspector. "Or go back to the room." She walked off, going to take the car shopping. She got out of her car, adopting a Russian accent, slightly flawed still. "My husband has an interview," she told him. "I need to find him something." The salesman walked her to the suits, letting her test them. "Do you have anything, how do you say, snazzy? He is younger than I."
The salesman smiled. "That's hard to believe. You look very young yourself, ma'am. Do you know what size he is?"
"He is my height, and his shirts barely button over my chest. He'd prefer something like what they wear on TV, in those shows about the gangsters that he loves."
The salesman smirked behind her back. "Of course. Come try this on," he suggested. He loved women shopping for their husbands. There wouldn't be any fitting on this one.
Xander walked into the courthouse through a back door he had scoped out earlier, heading up to the judge's chambers directly. He tapped on the door.
So he did. She squeaked, grabbing her throat. "You wanted me to appear today?" he asked, closing the door. "I'd rather not go out there yet."
"The Inspector has promised not to arrest you yet," she told him.
He nodded. "I know. I heard." He smirked, sitting down. "Do you want me to surrender my weapon to you? It's a toss away so I don't care."
"If you wouldn't mind. I will bring it in with me. I would like to remind you not to shoot at the officers."
"I'd never do that," he promised. "Unless they drew on me." He grinned. "I only hurt those officers in LA a little and that's because they were pricks." She looked startled. "Sorry. Immigration problem a few months back."
"Oh. That was you?" He nodded. "Interesting. Mr. Harris perhaps?" He nodded again, grinning at her. "What happened?"
"You know how they fight the occult? Buffy and Willow helped send me to a big-time demon to hopefully help a situation in LA. They didn't have my permission, they didn't have the authority, and it didn't solve the problem. They ended up solving it a different way and Dawn ended up getting me free." He touched his silver hair. "That's a direct result of that incident. As are these," he said, lifting up his shirt to show her the scars on his stomach. She swallowed. "I had worse. It took me nearly two years to heal fully. During that time, I found someone who not only gives a damn about me but sees me as useful and talented, something Buffy never did. I have someone who likes to look at me, play with me, and listen to my ideas, which Buffy never would, and I have someone who likes to let me spoil her rotten because she's pregnant and deserves it. Which Buffy always liked." The judge nodded. "Yes, I am a bit bitter." He pulled his toss away gun, handing it over. "Here you are. Is it time?"
"Nearly." She stood up. "If you'll give me a few minutes?" He nodded, heading out of her office. She took a few deep breaths. "Who knew criminals were so sexy and exciting?" she muttered. "That is not the average bad guy in this city. It must be the European influence." She fanned herself, calming herself down. She looked at the picture of her and her husband on their honeymoon to remind herself she was married. "He's an internationally wanted felon, I can't have him," she reminded herself, gathering up her papers.
Zenigata saw Lavelle and sneered. "Look, it's a crook," he said bitterly. "You're late."
"I've been here. I had to hand over my weapon, for now," he said with a slight grin. He looked at Buffy, who was staring hard in the other direction. "Giles," he said with a nod. "Faith. No Ethan?"
"He's got the kids back at the shop," she said, getting up to give him a hug. "Will you need me to hurt him for you?"
"If you do, Dawn'll have to take care of him on the way back," he told her, winking at her. She grinned, wrinkling her nose. They were on the same page there. He let her go and walked over, looking at Dawn before pulling her up to hug her. "Whatever I can do," he promised. "I'll even keep the visits rare."
"Good," Zenigata growled. "I don't need you prowling down the street I live on as well."
"You do?" Dawn asked. He nodded. "Wow. I thought you lived out of a hotel room."
"It only seems that way," he said dryly. He watched the boy walk around and sit farther away from him this time. "What? Worried I'll bite?"
"No. Worried you'll pinch." The inspector went pale and looked away quickly. "Oh, heard from Lupin, he said he wants you to help Dawn settle in instead of trying to find him for the next month. He's not doing anything. We're still on vacation." The inspector looked at him and growled. "Now, now, you promised," he said dryly. "Not until after I've ruined Buffy's day." He noticed her hurt look. "What? You wanted me to lie, Buffy? For a crook, I don't do much of that. Maybe it's because I'm crappy at the stealing part of it, but still."
"You still haven't learned how to steal better?" Dawn asked. He shook his head. "Well, you're still talented, that's all that matters," she soothed. "How is Jigen?"
"Good. I got him the most killer birthday present. I found where some pirates were hiding stuff and led him to it for his birthday present." She laughed, shaking her head. "Hey, I've got to give *good* presents. Oh, Fuji's having a boy."
"Cool!" She grinned. "I didn't peek at the paper before I handed it to Goemon. I bet he's so stoked." Xander nodded. The judge walked in so she stopped.
"All rise." They all stood. The judge sat and they sat. "Case number 1030934, continuing."
The judge coughed. "I believe we're here to hear special testimony. Any requests before we do so?" The lawyers didn't say anything. "Then, Mr. Lavelle, please stand and come forward." Xander stood up and came forward. "As the records are going to be sealed and probably destroyed, please give your real name to the bailiff."
The bailiff walked over with a bible. "Please raise your right hand and state that you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
"Do you have a Buddhist book of faith? I don't particularly believe or swear by that version of faith." One was gotten for him and he did as he was told. "I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." He sat down in the witness box, hearing Zenigata grumbling. "Gramps, calm down or the judge will put a leash and muzzle on you."
"Leave him alone," Dawn snapped. "He's a nice man with a duty of his own." She felt the inspector staring at her in shock. "Hey, I know how trying he can be," she pointed out. "He was my first crush and he annoyed me back then." She turned around.
Her lawyer stood up, clearing his throat. "Please state your name for the record."
"Alexander Lavelle Harris."
"And where do you current reside?"
"None of your business," he said dryly, grinning at him. "I'm between houses at the moment. I live wherever my boss wants me to live."
"I see." The lawyer frowned. "I suppose that will do. You live in Europe?"
"Most of the time, yes. There are better hauls over there."
"Thank you," the lawyer said, nodding. He looked down at Dawn, then back at him. "I know that your past, along with both defendants, is a tangled one dealing with the occult. How did you first meet Miss Buffy Summers?"
"I ran into her on my skateboard on the way to school her first day in our high school."
"That would be in Sunnydale?"
"Just for the record, what happened in that town?"
"That is not something I can really answer. I'm not a physicist. I can explain the events leading up to the event, but not why it happened."
"I see. Before the event?"
"We opened the portal to hell and walked inside to fight the things who were trying to take over the world." One of the lawyers and the inspector stared at him. "What?" he asked. "If you don't believe me, ask Buffy." He shrugged. "It wasn't my plan, it was hers."
"As a result, were you not injured?"
"As I have many times in the past, yes. No, I am not discussing the nature of my injury with the inspector in the room. I'm not giving him any extra information on me."
"That's fine," the lawyer agreed. "Perfectly understandable to be a bit paranoid in your life." He smiled nervously. "You were friends with both Miss Summers?" He nodded. "You'll have to speak it, sir."
"Yup, sure was. All through high school and until the town was destroyed. It was a rocky friendship. I was used for most of it and ignored a lot of the time. Even when I had skills they needed it felt like being used."
"You volunteered!" Buffy said angrily. "You stuck around even when we tried to get you to go away for your own good."
"Yes, and one of those times I saved your fucking life, Buffy. I'm the one who stopped Jack from igniting the bomb in the boiler room while you were in the library." She went pale and sat down. "I'm also the one who supported you the whole way through your career. Through all the Spike stuff, through all the Angelus stuff, through all the Initiative stuff. All of it. I was there. You treated me like a pair of shoes you didn't really like but it went with a specific outfit you looked good in so you had to wear them occasionally." She went even more pale. "And that kissing thing with Willow, that was as much her fault as mine. It wasn't like I was tongue raping her or something." She shook her head and he nodded. "Yeah, Buffy, it was. You treated me like shit most of the time we were together. I was damn useful, then slowly got less and less useful as Willow got stronger because," he gasped for show, "I'm a normal person." He gave her the most bitter smile. "The normal people are the ones who keep things moving in the world, Buffy. Learn that soon, huh?" He looked at the lawyer again. "Sorry, this is therapy time for me."
"I understand," he said quickly. "I'm assuming your present boss does some of that for you."
Xander nodded. "Yeah, he does, but he's also tired of it so I've got to learn to let it go. I'll be doing that after today when I force myself to forget she ever existed." Buffy started to cry. "Quit, Buffy, you look horrible when you cry." He didn't even look at her. "What do you want to know? I've got tickets tonight."
"Let's start with the more mundane. You're how old?"
"And you've known her since what year?"
"Tenth grade. Sixteen."
"Almost half of your life. How long have you been on the outs with her?"
"Four years, five if you count my time in captivity." The lawyer sighed. "Sorry. I wasn't exactly on this plane, though they made sure there was an open portal so they could watch."
"This is where you were tortured?" the judge asked. Xander nodded. "I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault. Those whose fault it was have paid." He shrugged. "I'm happier now. I'm the happiest I've been since I found out that creatures do walk in the night, Your Honor. To be truthful, I learned a lot from Buffy and helping her, but none of it was emotional security or happiness. I've since found that with my current boss and instructors. They like me for me. Shitty moods and all." She nodded, relaxing again. "What else?" he asked the lawyer.
"Stop. Dawn can have them," Buffy said quietly. She stood up. "Don't do this, Xander."
He looked at her. "Too late." He stood up. "If I'm no longer needed?" The judge shook her head. "Keep it, babe. Consider it a souvenir." He smirked as he walked out, tossing Zenigata the car's keys. "Here you are, Gramps. Have fun with it. I got it gassed up for you earlier." He strolled out, disappearing down the back stairs before the older man could come out. He had already checked them out of the hotel and moved his things to the train station. All Zenigata's things were in the trunk of the car. He slipped around to the front, catching a cab easily. "Train station," he ordered, handing over a twenty. "I've got a train in an hour. Keep it if you can get me there through the traffic."
The driver smirked. "Sure thing, man." He took off, taking the alleyways. It was only a three dollar fare at best, that was a nice tip. Xander handed him another one as he got out, winking at him. "Thanks. Have a nice trip, buddy."
"You too," Xander called. "Happy tips tonight." He walked in, retrieving his bag and ticket. He went to the gate to wait on his train to be called. It was a little late but not too bad. As soon as he could, he got on and turned off the bug, sitting down in the sleeper and getting comfortable. He opened his phone. "So, why am I heading back to LA? And do I need to stop in and beat Deadboy?" He laughed, listening as the judge's panting was replayed for him. "I'm dressed like Jigen, only in dark blue with gray pinstripes. Why was she panting?" He heard the tired sigh. "Sorry, boss. Never mind. She thought I was cute. Where am I getting off? Vegas? Really? Cool, I've always wanted to go back there. Yeah, Jigen and I left some stuff in a bank back there. I really should get it. How long do I have in town?" He laughed. "Sure, I'll do the tables for you. Happy nap. Hey, I'm more than looking forward to it," he purred. "A week and then LA is great by me. You did remember to pick up my tux or do I need to buy a new one?" He smirked. "Sure, Lupin, I'll buy a new outfit then. Anything else?" He laughed. "Yes, I'll remember to wear underwear. I promise I will not tease you while you're working." He hung up, smooshing himself down some more when he saw the Inspector scanning the train platform. He reached up and pulled down the shade, leaving just enough so he could look out at him. He found the bug Zenigata had put in his stuff and went to toss it out the train at him as it pulled out. "Nice try!" he called, going back to his compartment. The steward looked at him. "I tossed my ring back at him," he said in his most gay voice. "The man was sleeping with someone younger and just *now* showed up to apologize? We're supposed to be going on our honeymoon." He went back to his seat, smirking at his plan. Cleveland was a little too conservative for them to accept an open wedding like that.
Xander looked out across the cruise boarding area, smirking as Jigen walked up to him. She lifted her chin, accepting the gentle kiss. "Morning. Did you have to drink to get to sleep last night?"
"I've missed having someone drool on my chest all night," he complained, sitting next to her. "They're coming, quit waiting."
"I thought we were getting two staterooms."
"We are. He'll be here soon enough." He pinched her. "Wench." She gave him her most sultry grin. "None of that in public," he scolded, smirking at her. "Some of us don't play like that."
"Others of us *love* to," Lupin said as he took Xander's other side, pulling her closer. "So, dear, how was Las Vegas?"
"Very informative. I didn't blow it *all* at the tables." She smiled at him. "I've even got you a very nice present and something for Fuji and the baby."
Lupin laughed. "I'm sure she'll appreciate it. Goemon has been hunting and gathering for her already this morning." He kicked the soft sided bag. "Is that all you brought?" She pointed behind her at the suitcase sitting on the chair. "Ah. Good girl." He gave her shoulders a squeeze. "What did you do to Pops?"
"I tossed his bug back at him and told the steward it was a wedding ring because he had cheated on me and only then shown up to apologize." She smirked. "I guess he must have called a few of his buddies. Is he all right?"
"Just fine. Dawn is taking *very* good care of him."
"Yeah. Morgan likes him too. Calls him neat." Jigen smirked at her. "No noise tonight. Even if I have to gag you with my tie."
"Really?" she teased, reaching over to stroke up his arm. He shivered, giving her a look from underneath his hat. "Promise?"
He groaned. "Damn it, we've got to keep you with us. You go odd when you haven't been laid in a while."
"I enjoy it," Lupin smirked. Their boarding was called and he got up, grabbing his two bags. Xander got hers, Jigen had his single one. They climbed up the gangplank, checking into their stateroom. The person checking them in gave them a funny look. "She couldn't decide," he said dryly.
"Oh. Okay then." She nodded, handing them their keys. "Have a nice cruise, sirs, ma'am." They walked on.
Xander looked all the interesting people, finding a very pregnant blonde and an uncomfortable man in a suit ahead of them. He nudged Jigen, who looked and shook his head. "Are they late?"
"Possibly," Lupin agreed, scanning the area himself. "It's too early for her to be in labor." He heard a familiar giggle behind him and glanced back. "There they are." He led Xander up to their room, tossing their things aside. Jigen went into the bathroom, leaving them all alone. "Hmm. I like that dress on you," he said, walking around her to look at the demure little outfit. The school girl motif was very cute on her. "All you need are flat shoes and pigtails."
"I looked really silly when I tried to put my hair up that way," Xander admitted. "Do you like?" She spun for him. He grabbed her, kissing her senseless. "Lupin," she moaned. "Missed you too."
"Good. Strip for me, princess." Xander stepped back, taking off the sweater vest and tossing it aside. He took off his jacket. She smirked as she removed her button-up shirt, showing off the see-through bra. He panted and undid his tie. She unzipped her skirt and stepped out of it, ending up in the thigh high stockings, bra, matching panties, and two inch stiletto heels. He undid his shirt and pants, sliding out of them as fast as he could. "Do you still like? I found it at a stripper shop." She moved forward, stroking her fingers up his chest. "They said it was a very popular look." Lupin nodded, picking her up and tossing her onto the bed, following to play with her breasts. She laughed, holding his head down. "Should we take a picture?"
"We should," he agreed. He let her go, grabbing his camera as she stood up, standing more demurely. He smiled and snapped the picture, shoving the polaroid under the bathroom door. Then he pounced her again, undoing the bra. "That is in my way." She moaned, arching up into his mouth. "So responsive," he said against her skin. "I like that in a lover." Someone knocked on the door. "Jigen, get that," he demanded. He switched to the other side, licking and sucking the taut nipple.
Jigen came out of the bathroom, glaring at him. "You just had to put something like that on?"
"Wait until you see my outfit for dinner," she panted, wiggling as his fingers managed to find their way under the tight panties. "Damn it, remove those," she complained.
Jigen opened the door, shaking his head at Fujiko. "They're busy." He handed her the photo, then closed the door. He laid down on his bed, watching them go at it. Lupin deserved some of her time, for now. Next it would be his turn. She would have to be female for this whole caper. He smirked when he saw her wiggling. "That's what you get for putting on lingerie like that, it's never comfortable," he reminded her.
"It's damn tight too," Lupin complained. He sat back, pulling it out of his way. She wiggled, sticking her legs in the air so he could remove them, which gave him a wonderful view. "She shaved again."
"No, the nice woman shaved me," Xander said smugly. "She shaved and waxed me." Both men groaned so she spread her legs wider. "Won't you please test it for stray hairs?" Lupin did so, making her groan. "Like that," she pleaded. "More like that."
"You're right, she is the most demanding submissive I've ever met," Lupin told Jigen, going back to his teasing. She'd be getting hers soon enough, he was having fun. She was humping the bed, trying to get his fingers where she wanted them. "Behave," he told her breast, "or no actual sex."
"I'll do it myself," she said, finding just the right spot by arching and moving to the left. He chuckled, teasing it for her. "Thank you!" Lupin chuckled, giving her a few moments before moving his fingers to stroke her outer lips. She growled and flipped them over, looking down at him. "Quit teasing me! I haven't had any since Jigen's birthday!"
"Neither have we," Jigen reminded her.
"I couldn't even get myself off. The rooms were really thin in that casino and Gramps was in the room next to mine in Cleveland. I came down horny that morning."
"Poor baby," Lupin soothed, stroking her gently while she kissed him. "Feel better?" She shook her head, wiggling back and sinking down on him. "Brazen wench at that," he teased, still playing with her clit. "Let me know when you're ready to surrender again."
"Please?" she begged, trying so hard. "I'll be good. I'll follow orders. I won't jump Jigen in public to give him a blowjob." Jigen snickered. "I won't if he'll just let me have what I need," she promised. "I'll be so good you'll think I'm a nun! Please!"
Lupin gently pulled her off and kissed her, putting her back onto her back. "Poor thing. Did he hit on you again?" Jigen growled. "Down, boy. I'm sure Dawn's shown him all sorts of neat things that'll make him want to stay in Paris more often." He stroked her stomach, making her hum and writhe. "I'll give it to you, all in good time. Let me play for now and you'll get it later, when we're leaving port."
"Please! I'll be a puddle of goo by then." She pouted. "I'll tease the dignitary tonight," she offered. "I'll flirt with him like I would with you. I'll wear real clothes to dinner and everything. I'll even wear underwear."
"She's really desperate," Jigen pointed out. That underwear thing had sent that message clearly.
Lupin smirked. "I like them desperate. They'll do interesting things when they're desperate."
"I'd do 'em anyway," Xander complained. "See." She put her arms above her head, not caring when Jigen handcuffed her to the headboard. "Please?" She stroked her foot up his leg. "I'm being as good as I know how."
Lupin kissed her, fondling her breast gently. "I know you are. I want you foaming at the mouth for me," he said. She growled and he laughed. "Close but not quite rabid." He went back to his teasing now that she could only verbally beg. He even went down on her, making her thrash and moan. Not enough to get off, but enough to make her more desperate. "Maybe I should leave her like this until after the dinner? It could make her teasing better."
"If you do, I'm jumping the dignitary at the table," Xander warned. "I don't care if I kill him and he's got the world's tiniest dick, I will." Lupin sighed and leaned up, kissing her as he slid into her. "You want to make me beg?" she asked pitifully. "I will."
"You already are," he pointed out gently, smiling at her.
"I'll be harder to catch tomorrow," Xander reminded him. Lupin groaned, sliding further into her waiting body. "I'm going to tan on the deck all day, then go dancing tomorrow night. I'll move around with the sun so no one can catch me." He smirked. "I mean it. Last chance for this whole trip. Fujiko said I had to play hard to get so you stayed focused."
Lupin laughed. "I'm sure she did." She screamed in the next room over. "It sounds like Goemon's abusing that myth for her." He thrust in gently, making her pout. "Not liking it?"
"No. You made me wait too long. It started to go down again."
"Oh, yeah, she does have a finite attention span," Jigen told him. "You've probably lost the first edge of her lust." He flipped onto his back, smirking at the ceiling. Let those two work it out. She'd be his tonight.
"Not unless I get off soon," Xander said sweetly, looking at him. He looked back at her. "I mean it. I will go sleep next door and sing to the baby all night."
Lupin pulled out his best skills, teasing her back into that begging, mindless state he wanted her in. "Not going to happen," he told her. "Goemon would try to keep you since Fujiko can't have sex starting next week." Xander babbled at him, making him happier again. She wasn't getting off though. He looked over at Jigen, who shook his head. "What?"
"Give her the first mini one and she'll beg you until she passes out. Tease her clit while inside her. She is like that you know."
"Like I've had her like this."
Jigen looked at him. "Your loss." He smirked and went back to his ceiling staring. "Need help yet?"
"No!" He did as ordered and she lurched under him like an old engine getting a kick of nitrate. "Ah, that's what you needed. I forgot how sensitive you were to that." She babbled and thrashed, having her first mini-explosion, and was all his. He was going to enjoy this. Now that he had her primed, he could concentrate on his own pleasure. He still didn't have as much stamina as her. He was too tired by the end to do more than flop off to the side, face-down, while she pleaded. "I'm out of practice," he complained.
"Sure are." Jigen stood up and looked down at her. She was doing her 'one more, need one more' begging now. He gave her a helping finger, making her arch up and scream as she came again. Since Lupin had been wearing a condom he didn't run into any stray sperm and was more than capable of helping her out the other way. He stripped and got on top, holding her arms down. She moaned, arching up into him as he entered her, making him grin down at her. "Needed this, wench?"
"Now, please, now," she begged.
"Shh, I'm not near close enough for that." She purred and wiggled, making him move. He sat back, releasing her arms so he could move her legs, putting them over his shoulders. She babbled at him, nodding to show that she liked that.
"Damn it, I'm supposed to be the lover in the group," Lupin complained into the bedspread.
"You are, boss, but you let her get cold. Like a good performance engine, you've got to rev early and often." He proved his point by hitting that nice spot inside her, making her scream and thrash some more. She was begging for it now. "Gag her." Lupin put a hand up, letting her suck on his fingers. "Thank you." He got back to work, making her tense and shift, she was still rubbing against him. He felt her tensing around him again and knew she was going to finish this time. He sped up, hoping to be near enough this time, he didn't like it when she was passed out beneath him. She squeezed and it was all he needed, coming hard. He went limp across her, giving himself time to catch his breath. "Each time I do this, I seem to lose a few more brain cells."
Lupin got her free and got up to give Jigen his spot, taking the other bed to collapse on. "I feel younger," he admitted. "Maybe she sucked out some of the intelligence."
"I'm not like that," she complained sleepily. "Be more mean to me and I won't give out presents. Nope, no youth serum for you guys." She closed her eyes, falling asleep pinned to the bed. She liked it like that too. "Get you later, Lupin."
"That's fine, Xan. You can have me whenever you want me. Next time, tell me what I'm doing wrong."
"Get into her early," Fujiko said from the doorway. "Then play with her tits." She walked in and closed the door. "I sent away the security guard, he was blushing." Xander flipped her off. "Cute, kid."
"No presents if you don't let me nap," Xander complained, yawning into the dark hair. He knocked the hat out of his way. "Did you use superglue on it this time?" he complained. "Usually you take it off before you climb into bed." Jigen gave her a tired chuckle.
Fujiko set the precious hat aside, shaking her head. "You boys can't even get her off within an hour. What is the world coming to? I should teach her how to be a lesbian."
"Fuji, I love you, but your husband would make bait of me," Xander said tiredly. He opened one eye to look at her. "Really, he would and he would have fun doing it probably. Don't tempt him." She closed that eye and let herself drift off into the land of exhausted sleep. She would have to jump Lupin later to get him to do it right this time. Jigen chuckled so apparently she had said it out loud too. "Tough."
Lupin looked over at them. "Did she say what I think she said?" Jigen nodded, turning his head to smirk at him. "Wait until she wakes up. I'll show her."
"Only if you can get it up again," Fujiko teased. She winked at him. "Maybe she brought you some viagra?" He tossed a pillow at her head, making her laugh. "Fine, I'll go be good up on the deck. Goemon wants to sit in the sun and read." She walked out, locking the door from the outside. She gathered her husband. "They left Xander too long," she told him.
"I figured as much. Usually Lupin is much smarter than that." He took her arm, leading her away. "I would not use him as bait. He would taint the fish." She looked at him. "I am serious."
"Fine. I won't give her that lesson," she agreed, giving him a smile. "Most men would like to watch that. People even pay for it some places."
"I am not one of them. I am very possessive. You are mine," he reminded her. "I will expect you to limit your sexual explorations to my body."
"Does that mean I can be on top?" she asked.
"No." He sat her down in a deck chair and sat beside her. "Rest, Fujiko. Before I encourage my son to kick you again."
She grunted. "Too late." She winced. "Ow!" He reached over, stroking her stomach. It calmed the baby down nearly immediately. "How do you and Marcus do that?"
"Emotional control. The baby will react to strong emotions." He kissed her on the cheek. "You are very passionate and it shows." He opened Xander's book, starting on the first page. It had looked like an interesting summary and Marcus had enjoyed it.
Lupin looked at the outfit Xander was wearing to dinner, nodding in appreciation. "I like it." He led her out of the room. Jigen could join them later. The soft satin whispered in the muted hall lights, and she did look stunning next to him in his tuxedo. "You said you brought us presents?"
"I did," Xander agreed smugly. "And as soon as I'm satisfied, you can have them." She gave him a kiss on the cheek, wiping off her lipstick. "Can we go dancing after this?"
"Sure," he agreed dryly, giving her a look. "You looked sated."
"I've been more so. He was right, the secret is to let me have my first one and then play." She smirked at him. "Otherwise it takes forever and I have to help myself." He groaned, giving her arm a squeeze. She glanced around. "We're alone." She leaned against the wall. "Did you need something."
"You're taking too many lessons from Fujiko," he complained.
Xander kissed him, making him moan and pin her to the wall. "This is all me, boss. I've never taken any lessons about sex from her." He looked startled. "Besides to ask her if it hurt and does instinct really work that way. She said yes to both and went back to her nap." He shrugged, grinning slightly. She kissed him again, letting him get warm. "This temptress is the same me who blushes," she whispered against his lips. His fingers brushed her thigh and she blushed. "Here?"
"Why not? You seem to like being in public."
"Semi-public," she defended. "Elevators are the most public I like." She stole his lips again, making him moan. "If you want, we can break into someone's room if we can't make it back to ours."
Jigen cleared his throat. "Later, children," he said patiently, stealing her for himself. He even stole a kiss. "Did you want to go dancing after dinner?" She nodded. "Good. I like that idea." He led her on, letting Lupin pull himself back together again. "He does well with the slightly frustrated state, not the fully frustrated state," he reminded her as they got onto the elevator. Lupin managed to join them. Then he managed to stick them between the floors. "Guys," he complained, shaking his head.
Lupin pushed Xander against the wall, kissing her long and hard. She went limp under him. He teased her gently, making her mewl at him. He let her have one, then let her go. "No more teasing, Xander. Or you can sleep by yourself tonight." She nodded, straightening out her hair. "Good girl. If you're very good, I'll hold you down and tease you later." She groaned and he smirked. "Better?" She nodded. "Good. Your lipstick needs fixed." He unfroze the elevator while she pulled out her lipstick and a compact to check her makeup. "I feel better now."
"I have to tease the rich guys while I have wet panties," Xander told him. Jigen coughed. "I promise, I'll keep them from pinching me." He kissed her as the doors opened, then walked away. "Grumpy." She fixed her lipstick again as they walked, blotting it on the handkerchief she had stolen off Lupin while he had been working on her. She put everything back in her bag as they walked to the entrance of the room. The Maitre'd looked at her so she checked her hair again, smoothing down some of the more energetic strands. "Sorry." He smiled at her. "What? I needed a new vacation." She took Lupin's arm, letting him walk them in to their table. They were two corporate executives and she was their shared personal assistant. She smiled at the woman sitting next to her, shaking her hand. "Alexandra."
"Tiffany," she said, giggling slightly. "Trophy wife?"
She sighed. "Not yet. Personal assistant for now. They couldn't do a *thing* without me." Tiffany laughed. "Which one is yours?" she asked, looking at the other men. Tiffany pointed him out. "Interesting. Doesn't he run a big company? I think I've seen his picture in Forbes."
"Possibly. He runs a very good computer software firm." Tiffany gave her husband a smile. "It's our honeymoon."
"Congratulations," Xander said, giving her a nudge. "Who is that dish over there?" she asked, nodding at Goemon. Tiffany gave her a look so she was a good source of information that wouldn't leak back their prescence. "What? He looks very sure of himself. I like confident men."
Tiffany giggled. "I heard earlier he was some Japanese stock investor who is very heavily into the old ways. The brunette is his pregnant wife. Poor thing. I hope my Jeffery doesn't expect me to do that."
Xander patted her on the hand. "You'll glow like she does," she promised, not meaning a word of it. She'd sweat like an ox and be about as big. "Besides, I hear having one means that it's harder for him to divorce you and leave you out of the will."
Tiffany sighed. "That's true, but I did marry for love." She looked at her dinner companion. "Been married?"
"Not yet. Hope springs eternal. I'd like to marry for love but I've got this stupid practical streak. I'd like to be able to do really nice charity work for a living but it doesn't pay well. I *love* working with helpless little kids. I just can't pay the rent on it."
Tiffany nodded. "I know the feeling. I have a really old Grandma and I've taken care of her a lot over the years. But it doesn't pay the bills." Xander sighed and nodded. "What about your two? They're cute, if a little thin."
"They work so *hard*," Xander pouted. "They ignore themselves horribly. I've got to nag them to eat and all that good stuff. I try, but they like the work more. They're thinking about expanding the empire to Vegas."
"Wow. I hear there's tons of money there if you get a good idea going." Her husband came over. "Jeffery, this is Alexandra. She's their second-in-command."
Xander shook his hand delicately, blushing the whole time. "It's nice to meet someone I've read about in the papers," she told him.
"Well, you're a charming bit," he said fondly. "Maybe you and my Tiffany can scoot around the ship together." He smiled and nodded at Lupin and Jigen. "One of yours?"
"Our right hand," Lupin told him.
"The business would stop without her," Jigen added.
Xander blushed, swatting him. "Stop it, you're embarrassing me." She looked away, noticing the newlywed Jeffery was very interested. The wine steward brought them their first course of drinks, and she sipped delicately at it, frowning. "This isn't chilled properly," she said, kicking Jigen under the table. "I think someone was nervous and their nerves got out of hand," she told him, smiling at him.
He tasted his and delicately spit it back out, nodding. "It isn't chilled right," he agreed. Lupin didn't even touch his. Soon the food was brought and he tasted a bit of the sauce first, it was easiest to camouflage sedatives in there. "Hmm. Not quite right either. Maybe someone should talk to the chef. It tastes like it was frozen."
Tiffany looked down at him. "You cook?"
"I've been spoiled, my partner cooks very well," he said, giving her a little smile. He had to forgo his hat tonight because of polite etiquette and was missing it more than ever now. "He invites me over all the time."
"It must be nice to have partners you can trust," Jeffery told him. He ate some of his food, not seeming to notice anything was off. Everyone else was too.
"We've had our arguments but we try to keep it like a big family," Jigen told him. Xander nodded, sipping her water. "Aren't you hungry?"
"Not really. That energy bar I had earlier really filled me up. I've got to remember to eat more than a bagel for meals once we get home again."
"Where is home?" Tiffany asked.
"For the time being, we're working out of an office in Paris. We've got multiple offices around the globe. We deal in information."
"That must be interesting," she agreed. She yawned. "Oh, I don't know what's wrong with me. Must be all the honeymooning." She smiled at Jeffery, who was giving her a tolerant look. "Maybe I'll miss the main course and go to bed."
Xander gave her another hand pat. "You do that if necessary, sweetheart. Trust me, this will be one trip you'll want to be awake for. Honeymoons are supposed to be very memorable." Tiffany giggled and blushed. "That way too," she agreed with a blush of her own. Jeffery was giving her another interested look so she looked back at him, making him swallow and drink some of his laced wine. She noticed everyone around them was starting to slow down and gave it ten minutes. Under the table, she undid the hitch to her purse. Her gun was in there with her lipstick and compact, along with a few extra clips. Someone had finally made a compact gun that she liked. As soon as people started to doze off, they pretended to too, watching the entrances.
Sure enough, the 'waiters' came back in with bags. Jigen coughed loudly, waving. "Morning." One of them looked scared and pulled a gun of his own. Jigen shot him in the hand.
Xander stood up, taking out the rest of them with shoulder shots. Then she sat back down and smoothed her skirt while she tidied up the dinnerware she had moved out of her way when she stood. Two more waiters came in, she took one and Lupin took one.
Lupin got up and went to get someone who hadn't been in there. He found a security guard and appeared to be shaking. "Everyone's passed out," he said, clutching him in a fine bit of acting. "The waiters, they came in and removed people's jewelry. My bodyguard took them out." The guard called for the ship's doctor and went running for the room. More guards came running and Lupin went back to his seat, messing up his plate to make it looked like he had eaten something. The others had already done that. Xander had gotten someone else's water. "Did they drink out of that?"
"I got it out of the pitcher on the Captain's table," she promised. "There are no extra germs in my mouth that don't belong to you two." Beside her, Tiffany laughed lightly. "It's wearing off," she called tiredly. "She's coming around." Tiffany was checked by the doctor. "She's his new wife," she said, pointing at Jeffery.
"Ma'am," one of the guards asked. "Why aren't you asleep?"
"I always eat after my bosses," she said firmly. "I'm their assistant and bodyguard. I noticed something was in the wine and one of my bosses tasted something off in the sauce. Will you need my gun? I like this one."
"To check it, yes, ma'am," he said. He walked closer, taking it from her once she had unloaded it. "Thank you, ma'am. Which room are you in?"
"We're in sixty-something," Xander said, looking at her key. She let him see it. "I didn't really get a good look at the door." She noticed Fujiko was asleep and nudged the doctor. "That one over there was very pregnant," she told him. "I saw her waddling around earlier." The doctor left Tiffany, going to check her. "Do you think we'll have much trouble from this?"
"No, I think the company will probably give you a reward, ma'am. You stopped some very dangerous criminals." He walked away to report to his boss, pointing back at her.
The boss came over, smiling at her. "You're a bodyguard?"
Xander stood up, leaning over to shake his hand. "Alexandra DeMain. Personal assistant and trained bodyguard. I noticed something off in the wine, besides that it wasn't chilled properly, and one of my bosses noticed something off in the sauce." He smiled. "We refrained from eating and were on guard for something of this nature. We're in information."
He smiled. Of course they were paranoid being in that business. "Of course it's necessary then. We'll get your personal weapon back to you tonight after we register it for you. You were supposed to register it when you came on the ship. It's just a small paper and I'll do everything but sign it for you. Thank you for your help, Miss DeMain." He walked away, supervising the lifting of bodies. The Coast Guard was already on the way to gather them. They stormed in like it was still an assault, apparently they didn't like having their noses rubbed in the failure to stop a very dangerous criminal a few months back. "We have a bodyguard on the ship, she took them out," he told the Captain. "She neglected to mention it to us. Did you need to do a ballistics test on her weapon, she'd like it back eventually."
"Is she registered?"
"No, she's their personal assistant and bodyguard. They're in information according to her." He pointed her out and the Captain smiled at her. She smiled and waved back. "Such a pretty thing to be so deadly but I guess it's necessary."
"Probably. She's familiar somehow," he said, thinking about it. He shook his head. "Go ahead and give it back. It's not like they're going to do more than plea this out. Send me her information just in case." He followed his crew back, taking them back to LA to get them into the jail facilities.
The guard went to pull her records so he could fill out her registration card, then brought it and the gun back to her. "Here you go, if you'll please sign?" he asked nicely. She signed it, making him smile. "Thank you, ma'am. Did you want to do anything else tonight? I'm afraid most everything is shut down."
"We wouldn't mind dinner," she said quietly. "Did you ever find the real chef? The sauce tasted kind of frozen."
"We've had people looking down there. Can you wait an hour or so?" She nodded. "Then go ahead and call room service, we'll send something down, Miss DeMain." One of his guys whispered something in his ear. "We won't even come running if you and your employers get a little loud again." She blushed and giggled, glancing away. She was so cute! "Have a nice night." He walked away before he could start crushing on her.
Jigen stood up, taking the gun and putting it back into her purse. "Come along, Alexandra. You deserve chocolates for that save and we've got some in our bags." He walked her out, taking her back to their room. "Goemon has already woken up and is down with her in the infirmary," he told her. She nodded and glanced back. "Yes, he's fine too." He gave her a little squeeze once the elevators closed on them, pulling her into his arms. "Nice work, babe."
"Thanks." She smiled at Lupin. "You're really okay?"
"Fine, just shocked that someone else came up with that idea," he noted. He shook his head, leading the way off. "I thought that had went out with the thirties. Besides, how were they going to get it off the ship?"
"Life boats. We're only an hour or so from the Mexican coast," Xander reminded him. She opened the door, leading the way inside. She flopped down onto a bed, taking off her gloves. "What about us?"
"Let me think," Lupin promised. He gave her a kiss. "You need to work on shooting from a sitting position but otherwise you did great." He gave Jigen a pat on the back. "Feeling slow?"
"Did you imbibe?" he demanded. Lupin grimaced. "Fine, you're worried about her. She's fine."
"We don't know that yet."
"We do. The doctor said so," Xander reminded him. "He said she'd be fine as he took her away." He reached over, snagging his soft bag from the floor. "Let's hope none of this spilled," he said as he opened it. One had, but it wasn't anything more than oil. "Okay, my present spilled but otherwise I'm fine with everything here." He looked up. Both men were looking at him. "I've decided I should learn how to use my gifts," he sighed. "Ethan's teaching me via email."
"Good," Lupin agreed. "What else is in there?"
"Well, my vial of scented oil spilled," he said, pulling it out and handing it off. "Put that somewhere drip-proof." He dug into the bag, pulling out stacks of cash and casino chips. "That box has yours but you can't open it yet," he said before Jigen could grab it. "That one's Fujiko's and Goemon's," he said as he put it aside. He pulled out a smaller soft-sided bag and put it aside. "That's my official baby-warming present." He kicked it and it made musical noise. "It's probably fine, I'll check it later." He came to the bottom of the bag and grimaced. "Where did I put that?" She thought for a second, then hit herself on the head. "It'll be there to meet us at our first stop in Mexico." She looked up, seeing the shocked looks. "What?"
"What are you still missing?"
"About six million, five hundred thousand?" Xander suggested. Lupin looked stunned and he nodded. "Yup. That's minus my cut already. I had it deposited into my Swiss account through Murami. She laughed and said I was really fun." She leaned back, giving him a smug look. "The rest are cashier's checks made out to an alias, which also has papers coming." She patted the boxes. "Now, depending on how good you do tonight, I'll explain these and see if you want them or not. Fortunately you guys have all shed hair onto me over the week before I left. I had everyone's but Goemon's but that came from Dawn." They still looked clueless. "Ethan's presents to you actually. And I'll explain them if I get to be loud and noisy tonight."
"Will we like them?"
"I'm not sure," Xander admitted. "Ethan thought so, but he's got a very strict set of priorities about that sort of thing." He shrugged. "Why else would he be attached at the tit to Faith when he loves Giles?"
"What, in general, do they do?" Lupin asked.
"There's one for each of you. If you take them, they'll extend your careers. They're good for exactly one year from the end of manufacture and one day." They both looked confused. "Nothing bad, Ethan was making his own and made a *huge* ass batch. Since he was going to sell it, I convinced him to let me buy it cheaper if he could look at my choker. I figure it'll need fixed some day and I do trust him mostly."
"It's an immortality potion?" Lupin asked. Xander shook her head. "Is there such a thing?" Xander nodded. "How hard is it to make?"
"It takes nearly a hundred years to brew," he said dryly. "Ethan found it last year, he was very upset. This potion will take ten years off your life," he said gently. Jigen frowned.
"Off or from?" Lupin asked, smirking at him.
"Ethan swears from. He said if it's gone bad, off."
"Holy shit," Jigen swore, looking at the boxes. "Ten whole years?"
"It worked on his dog, he showed me on his dog, and Faith, who looked a lot younger." She wiggled her fingers. "I've color coded them and if you take the wrong one it could poison you." Lupin grimaced. "Like I said, if I get to get sweaty and screamy tonight, then it's yours. If not, then I'll just give one to Fujiko for after she gives birth. She can't take it until then it or could deage the baby too and she'd be virtually pregnant for another ten years and seven months." He stroked the top of the nearest box. "You can only use it once. Dawn has Gramp's vial in case you decide to take yours because she whined, pleaded, and begged Ethan until he handed one over. It's only fair after all." She smiled sweetly. "Do we have a deal, boss?"
Lupin groaned. "Why do you do this to me! I would have slept with you anyway." She stood up and carefully put the boxes on the dresser, behind the lamp. Then she opened them to check on the vials. "Are they fine?"
"Still sealed with the wax and seal." He put them into the drawer and turned around. "Because I'm a greedy bitch, Lupin. We both know this. I don't take extra on my cut but I will be greedy when I find someone I like, or two someones I like." She stepped into his arms. "I probably would have given them to you anyway," she pointed out gently, tapping his lips with her fingertip. "We both know that."
"She's right, it would have popped up for someone's birthday," Jigen agreed. Lupin nodded, giving him a wry look. "Wench, come here. You deserve to be spanked for teasing that way."
"What teasing! I'm a demanding wench, you've said so yourself," she pouted. She turned. "Please undo the zipper for me?"
"Sure." He undid the zipper, watching as the dress fell to the floor, showing her in only a pair of stockings and a garter belt. "Huh." He looked at Lupin. "See what you started? She wanted to tease you."
"Xander, is there a 'but' clause to them?"
"Only the time limit and having to take your own part. The no second dose is because it'll be neutralized for your body. So unless you totally change your body it's not going to do anything for you. Though he did say it might change retinal patterns and fingerprints. Forgot about that." She looked at them, smirking. "There are four vials in those boxes." Lupin's mouth opened. "I'm only thirty. You guys won't be much older. Why do I want to deage? It won't cure any of *my* morning aches."
"Is there a reverser?" Jigen asked. She nodded. "Taking the wrong one?" She nodded again. "That's the poison?"
"It'll double your age. But fortunately there's an antidote. You have to take a double dose of it. I watched him as he brewed it, just to make sure he didn't double cross you or anyone else. Though he did take the hair from the voodoo doll he had made of you," he said, kissing Jigen. "Something about treating me right or else he was gonna play...."
Jigen snorted. "I'm not surprised. We'll call him tomorrow. Make sure he didn't change it around." He stroked her stomach. "You ready for more?"
"Since the elevator on the way down," she said dryly. Lupin moved up behind her, kissing the back of her neck. "Surprise, I am a crafty and greedy bitch," she said lightly.
"And I appreciate you for being the crafty and greedy bitch you are," Lupin promised. "I'll think about it, Xander. This is a precious gift."
"It was made three days ago. You have a year and a day from three days ago to decide," she told him. "Fujiko still can't take it until she's given birth, and probably shouldn't until she stops bleeding afterwards, but hers is there too." Someone pounded on the door so he got free, going over to look out the hole. "Morning, Goemon," he said, opening the door. "How is she?"
"She...." He walked in, his hair messed up like he had been running his hands through it. "She was in early labor. The doctor had to give her a shot to stop it." Lupin frowned, sitting down on his bed to stare at him. "He suggested she be looked at as soon as we get home and he will examine her each day."
"The sedative?" Jigen asked. He shook his head. "For how long?"
"She was having Braxton-Hicks before we got to Greece, but those can last for months," Xander told them. Goemon looked at her and she went to put on a towel. "Sorry. I was giving them an ultimatum."
"What in exchange for killing you this time?" he asked.
"A potion to take ten years off you," Xander told him. "One for each of you and Gramps." Goemon blinked a few times, sitting on the edge of the dresser to look at him. He nodded. "Fujiko can't take one until she's had the baby or it'll be like she's stuck pregnant until she reaches this age again. She probably shouldn't take one until she stops bleeding either. Ethan made too large of a batch."
The samurai looked at him. "You'd do this for us?"
Xander pinched him on the nose, earning a swat. "Of course I would. I like you guys." He hugged him. "Get off the dresser. They're in there. And they're poisonous if you don't take your own."
"It'll age us double until we can get the antidote," Jigen said, answering the ringing phone. "Hello." He looked at Goemon. "You're sure?" He nodded and hung up. "They didn't stop the labor."
Xander bent over, digging into her suitcase for something to wear. "Lupin, hide those. Just in case the room is bugged. They're not waterproof." He pulled off his garter and stockings, then pulled on some sweats and a t-shirt, plus his sneakers. "Come on, let's go down there to help her." Lupin stayed long enough to hide them where they wouldn't get crushed or ruined, then followed. Xander walked in, going straight to her side to help calm her down. "Sweetheart, couldn't you wait?" he pleaded. She shook her head, biting her lip. "Now, now, none of that. We don't want a scar, do we? Scream all you want."
Jigen got in a small pat to her stomach. "Will it be okay?" he asked the doctor.
"Babies have been born earlier and survived," he noted. "She's actually a few weeks ahead of where she should be I believe." Goemon raised an eyebrow. "I did an ultrasound and the baby's heart and lungs seem to be developed to nearly the end of the eighth month. That's nearly three weeks later than where they should be."
"I was that way too," Fujiko groaned, coming down out of that pain. "I'm never doing this again," she told her husband. He gave her a gentle kiss on the forehead. "Thank you." She looked over as Lupin came in. "You're late."
"I was hiding Xander's newest present," he explained. He came over to move Xander out of the way. "Shh, it'll be okay. We'll take turns holding your hand and letting you scream at us." She laughed, clutching at him as another one started. "Those are awfully fast, doctor."
"I thought I was having more false pains all day," she said dryly, then she winced. "This shit is really hurting now!"
"You're dilating," Xander soothed, stroking her stomach. She swatted at him. "Fine, I won't find the pressure points."
"I know where they are," Goemon said, stepping up to ease his wife's pain. "Has she had any drugs?"
The doctor shook his head. "No. I don't have anything here to give her. We're not allowed to carry more than novocaine. I'm sorry," he told Fujiko.
"That's okay, it's not your fault. Someone higher up is at fault for that," she told him. "You can deliver children, right?" He nodded. "You're sure?"
"All doctors are taught that. I've delivered others in the past," he promised. "I even delivered some in the Peace Corps." She grimaced. "Trust me, I've delivered them in some dirt huts and still made sure they were healthy little beings." He walked down to her feet. "I'm going to check your dilation. It will ache," he warned, sliding a finger in to test her. He stuck his tongue out. "I think you're at six now. It should be in a few hours. Does your family have quick births?" She nodded. "That's in your favor. Otherwise I'd be putting you in the hospital once we get to Mexico in the morning."
"Should the baby be put in?" Jigen asked.
"That depends on its state. If its too bad, I'll radio the Coast Guard to pick her and the baby up and take them. If it's as healthy as I think it should be fine with some monitoring. I would probably prefer if the little guy went but I can't demand it in those circumstances." Everyone nodded. "Who's the coach?"
"We all are," Lupin told him. "We're all old friends."
The doctor looked at Xander, who shrugged. "I wasn't going to give any remaining thieves a softer target to hit. A pregnant woman is very vulnerable to bad men."
"Good point. I probably would have pretended too." He walked away. "I'm sterilizing the birthing equipment now. It shouldn't be more than a few minutes."
"What equipment!" she yelled. "I'm not a car engine! You won't need tools!"
He chuckled. "Forceps to clamp off the umbilicus. Scissors to cut it. The emergency equipment in case we have to do an emergency c-section. Nothing too bad, my dear." He smiled at the father. "It will get worse, pull over the stools so you can all help." He nodded, getting them. "Talk to her, she'll need it, it will keep her calm. Do you want to deliver on your back, Western fashion, or squatting like most of the known world?" he asked. "I can do either."
"I don't know!" she told him. "What's the difference?"
"Gravity," Jigen told her. Xander nodded. "Marcus said that women started ta deliver on their backs because doctors thought it was easier for *them*, not the mothers."
The doctor nodded. "It is often quicker with a squatting birth. Gravity can help when the baby gets stubborn. It also eliminates some of the wiggling the baby can do right before the birth to get out of position. I've seen them turn themselves around completely right before they came out." He put the tray into the sterilizer and shut it, turning it on. "There we go. It'll be about five minutes. It's an older model but hasn't failed me yet." He came back to her side. "You could also do some limited walking if you wanted, my dear. It wouldn't hurt either of you in the least. Just nearby of course," he said to ease the growing frown on the father's face. "Again, gravity will help."
"We can if you want, Fuji," Lupin offered. "We'll all walk you around." She shook her head, nodding at the doorway. She was biting her lip again, but had to let it out. She let out an awesome scream, startling the guy with the gun. The guy with the gun shot at the doctor. "Fuck," Lupin announced, taking him out with a well-placed kick to the head. "Xander, check him."
"I can already see, it was a heart-shot," Xander said, but went to do it anyway. "No pulse. Lots of blood." He picked up the phone, dialing the shipboard operator. "Hi, this is the infirmary. Apparently they missed a thief from earlier. He walked in and shot the doctor. We'll need any other medially trained staff. We've got a pregnant woman in labor down here, the thief is down, and the doctor's already dead." He listened, then sighed and hung up. "His assistant went with the earlier thieves." He looked around. "Okay, someone improvise a rope. I read this book. Marcus read this book, we can call him for advice." Goemon looked at him. "Do you want to catch?" He mutely shook his head, looking horrified. "What? I've done field injuries before! I dressed yours!" He went to check on the sterilizer. "Lupin, did you want it?"
"Hell no." He looked down at her. "I'd never be able to stand to see you in that sort of pain," he told her. "I just can't."
She shrieked. "I want a doctor!"
"Then we're going to have to medivac you to the mainland," Xander told her, turning to look at her. "That means calling the Coast Guard, getting them out here, getting you loaded, then getting you back to the mainland, checked into the hospital, and hopefully having you wait that long. Do you think you can?" She shook her head. "Fujiko, you know I'd never hurt you. Lupin will kill my ass if I hurt you." She laughed bitterly. "Fortunately, I did read the books. Otherwise we'd *really* be in trouble with Marcus back in France right now." She nodded, wiping her cheeks off. "Now, who do you want to catch? I can do it, Jigen can do it, Lupin can do it, or Goemon can do it."
She started to cry. "You do it. You won't lie about how bad it's going to be. They're nice."
"Shh, I'd never hurt you," he reminded her, stroking her leg. "Remember, women did this for centuries *alone*." She nodded, still crying. "Let me look, okay? I'm not being a perv or anything." She nodded so he glanced down there. "Okay, it looks like you're nearly ten carats open." He looked up at Lupin. "On a brilliant cut."
"About eight or nine centimeters," he said, thinking about it. He shrugged. "We can handle that. Goemon, come take her other hand and talk to her. This is your fault."
"That's right! Damn it, next time I'm going to be in a fucking hospital!" she shouted. The guards coming in stopped to look at her. "What the fuck are you looking at! I'm in fucking pain!"
"She's in labor," Xander explained. He waved a hand at the doctor. "Not a good situation. Is the nurse back yet?"
"She's meeting us in Mexico," the head guard noted. "Have you ever delivered one?" Xander shook her head. "Read up on it?" He nodded. He winced. "I've seen one go," he offered her. "We've got a few mothers on the staff."
She shook her head. "No, him or a doctor. I don't know you. I don't want you looking at that part of my body. My husband gets jealous."
"Not in this situation," he promised. "I only want what is best for you, Fujiko."
The guard smiled. "You two are so cute!" He hauled the thief up. "Come on, idiot." He walked him away. "I'll see if I can find someone with more than basic CPR training among the staff. At least they'd be some help." He walked the man off, letting his guards cover the doctor and follow him. By law, they couldn't move him.
Xander grimaced. "Eww." He shook his head. "Okay, so not the most pleasant birthing room," he told her, grinning at her. "But hey, it beats a vault in the middle of a job." She laughed, then moaned. The timer dinged and he went to turn it off, letting it cool off in there so nothing could get contaminated. He came back and peeked again. "We've got about two more carats worth and the fleshy thing is going away. I'm guessing it's getting closer to time." He nervously went to wash his hands. "You know, I really wish Gramps was here. Hasn't he delivered one?"
"He has," Lupin agreed. "We could call him."
"I wish Fihad was still alive," Jigen muttered, stroking her stomach. She wiggled and kicked. "Sorry."
"No, him, he's tickling me from the inside!" she said angrily. "Put your damn hand back!" She looked at Lupin. "Call a doctor instead," she encouraged. He gave her a pitiful look. "You don't know *any* we can call?" He shook his head. "Fuck you then!"
Goemon gave her a gentle hug. "Calm yourself," he ordered. "Getting more stressed out will hurt both of you."
"You only care about him!" she said, starting to cry again.
"If that were true, I would have saved you this agony by splitting you open before now," he told her, staring into her eyes. She sniffled and nodded, letting him stroke her hair. "We should find someone who one of us knows who has actually done this before. Someone professional would be best." He looked at Lupin. "Out of all the women you know, you know not one doctor?"
"I don't ask their occupations!" he said. Xander chuckled. "Be that way, bitch."
"Keep it up, and I'm keeping my present for ten months," Xander told him. Lupin looked hurt. "Don't yell at me, I'll start to cry too."
"Fine, sorry." He came over, giving him a hug. "Sorry."
"That's okay, this is stressful. We're all really stressed and we'll laugh about this later. Or at least I hope we'll laugh about this later." He looked around. "Does anyone have anyone to call?" They all shook their heads. "Then someone call Gramps. Have him walk me through this." He found gloves, a mask, and a gown, laying them out. "Okay, Fujiko, are you feeling like you've got to push?" She nodded, biting her lip again. "Keep that up, go through it," he pointed out. "Bite on your husband, let him feel part of the pain. Thankfully I'm never going through this." She gave him a bitter look. "Think about how bad mine would be?" She shook her head, turning to bite on her husband's wrist. "Good girl." He put on the gloves and put the tray from the sterilizer on a rolling table, bringing it over. "Give me a stool." One was pushed over for him. "Thanks." He put on the gown and mask, looking up at her. "I know, freakish things from your worst nightmares, but this way the baby doesn't get any of my germs." He carefully moved the sheet. "We've got hair," he announced. "Dark, slimy hair."
Lupin put the phone against his ear, shuddering and turning away so he didn't have to see. "Guess who," he said. The person on the other end groaned. "What? Lupin's being squeamish. I've seen guts before." The phone was moved for him and Jigen came down to hold it, letting Lupin have his place. "Okay, we've got hair. Because some petty thief killed the doctor, Gramps. Now walk me through this. I read the book. I watched the film. I even watched it a few times on the Health and Leisure channel. Right now, I'm staring at hair." The voice in his ear said something. "Yeah, that's it exactly." He nodded, pushing her thighs farther apart. "Fujiko, honey, I need to be able to get in there to help the baby. Your thighs of steel will crush me." He looked up. "He said to push the next time you feel like pushing." She squinted pushing down. "He said to try and hold it for a ten count, pushing with the contractions, and then take a few deep breaths and continue until the contraction ends." He went back to watching. "It's moving!" he said happily.
"Sure, be happy that I'm in agony!" Fujiko shouted.
"Pant," Jigen told her. Everyone looked at him. "That's what they always say on tv." He was giving the sight a look of fascinated horror. "It is moving," he agreed. She screamed. "More pushing or it'll get stuck."
The voice in Xander's ear said something and he stood up, pushing on her stomach. "Someone push there," he said. Lupin moved to do that. "It's coming faster," he announced. "Push, Fujiko." She pushed, screaming some more. "Come on, push *really* hard, like you're ....eww, I'm not saying that," he told the voice in his ear. Who laughed. He looked up. "Gramps said it's like taking a shit after eating seventeen pounds of cheese. He said that would have some meaning for you?" She thumped her head on the table, groaning. "He said I had to say it," he said with a shrug. He went back to his 'helping'. "Hey, the head's almost out." The voice told him to do something kind of nasty, but he did reach up to free it from the mother's body. "No, no tearing," he said, smiling in relief. He didn't want to deal with that issue. The episiotomy was the most gross part he had seen on the films. "Head's free. Give it a few more good ones, Fujiko." She groaned, pushing again and again, then let out one relieved sounding scream as the baby came out into his hands. "Shit, what do I do, it's out!" The voice told him very calmly to sweep out its mouth and nose with the suction bulb. He looked at the instruments. "Suction bulb?"
"Here," Lupin said, taking it to do that part. "Goemon, come cut the cord."
"Clamp it off and cut between them," Xander repeated, doing that. "There, between them." He looked at Jigen. "He wants to know what his name is."
Jigen moved the phone to the mother's ear. "Here, you talk to him for a bit." He found a towel and some sponges, running some water in the sink. "You're nasty," he said as he took the baby to clean it off. It was really gross. He heard a thump and looked behind him at the Xander on the floor. He looked at Lupin, who was shaking his head. "At least he waited. I couldn't have done that."
"Me either. That thing's really big to have come out of that hole." Goemon nodded, watching as his beloved son was bathed. "Let him do it, he'll need to learn sometime soon." Fujiko laughed so he went up to check on her. "Hey. Did he say something funny like he was going to arrest you again?"
"He said he'd give us two weeks before he chased us again and that Xander's stunt in Las Vegas of dancing naked on the table was really cute. It was now making the rounds of Law Enforcement offices everywhere while they tried to figure out who she was." Jigen growled. She handed off the phone. "He hung up." She rolled her head to the side. "I'm done, right?"
"Afterbirth," Jigen told her. "The placenta thing has got to come out. Marcus said it's smaller."
"It had better be!" she told him. "Let me see my kid!"
"Let me get him clean, woman. Shit, give us a minute. He's got nasty shit all over him."
"I suspect all babies are born that way," Goemon pointed out. He kissed his wife gently. "We are getting off in Mexico so you can be examined." She nodded. "You will not argue?"
"Hell no. I want something for this pain," she told him. He smiled and stroked her hair again. "Is he all right?"
"He is fine, just rather messy at the moment." He took the towel-wrapped bundle from his friend, looking at him. "Here is our son."
She was helped into a sitting position, looking down at Xander. "You'd think he had done all the work." She looked at her son, who yawned at her. "Tired of me already?" He made sucking faces. "Oh, no, I'm not breast feeding."
"There's no formula that I've seen," Jigen told her. "You might have to for tonight." She gave him a disgusted look. "One night won't hurt you."
"It'll stretch them out."
"They're already very comfortable to lay on, a little stretching won't matter," Lupin told her. Goemon looked at him, then smiled. "In the past tense," he admitted. He and Jigen came over, lifting Xander up off the floor. "Do you want to stay in here for the afterbirth part?" She nodded. "That's fine. Let us put him into bed." Jigen took her, carrying her out of the room. "Xander came up with an interesting present thanks to Ethan." Fujiko and Goemon both looked at him. "He's got something that will roll our ages back ten years." Her mouth fell open. "He said you can't take it until you quit bleeding, but he saw it work on Faith and on Ethan's dog."
"Was he not blackmailing you for it?" Goemon asked.
"He just wanted to get laid more than anything," Lupin said with a grin. "So we can or it's good up to a year from manufacture, which is about three days ago."
"Ten whole years?" she asked. Lupin nodded. "And he's seen it work?" He nodded. "What's the catch?"
"If we take the wrong ones, it ages us double until we can get the antidote," he admitted. "It can only work once. Pops has one of his own."
Fujiko looked at her husband. "*That's* a present," she told him. He rolled his eyes. "Go steal it for me?"
"He will give it to you when you ask him for it," he promised her. "Even if I have to sleep with him." She chuckled and he shrugged. "If demanded."
"Not a chance in hell," Lupin told him. He touched the baby's covered foot. "Hey, little guy. I'm your Uncle Lupin. Welcome to the world. We'll teach you all about how to steal stuff. Your daddy will teach you how to cut up everything with the big sword. Uncle Jigen and Xander will even help you learn how to shoot better than your mommy and daddy do."
"Not giving Xander a gender?"
"Well, he does seem to enjoy them both," he said with a grin. "So do we." He looked at the doorway. "I know he's taking what's mine tonight."
"You can have him tomorrow," Goemon said patiently. "Who will be delivering this afterbirth?" Lupin shook his head and backed off, heading out the door. "Finally," he said, smiling at her, taking the baby to hold. "Good evening. I am your father. Do not listen to that uncle yet, son." She laughed, giving him a gentle pat. "Lay back down," he said firmly. "You must be dizzy." She nodded, doing as ordered. She could feel the cramping that meant the other stuff was coming out. "We will do what we must in this case." He walked down to look up her, wincing when he saw how open she was. "That will close again, correct?"
She nodded. "By the time I quit bleeding in six weeks," she promised. "All the books Marcus found said so. Plus, I've been doing the neat exercises to make sure it'll go back to being just as tight and talented as before." He blushed, walking back to kiss her. "Thanks. No more."
He nodded. "If you wish no more, then I will not complain. If you do wish more, I will not complain." She swatted at him and he backed out of the way. "Easy."
"Fine. But if I *ever* have to go through this again, I'm castrating you."
He nodded. "Fair enough. I will get a vasectomy in such a case."
"I meant the full procedure."
"Then you would never get sex again," he pointed out. She grimaced. "We will figure it out."
"Owowowowow, it's coming." She winced, grabbing his arm. He got free to put down his son, then came back to help.
Xander woke up to the sight of a pacing Jigen. "Promise me," she said quietly. "I will never go through that." Jigen paused to look at her. "I mean it, promise me I will never have to go through that, or that someone will kill me if it happens."
He smiled. "It's not supposed to be able to happen to you," he pointed out.
"Yeah, but if it does, someone will either have to kill me or I'm jumping off somewhere very high without a bungee cord. I do not want to go through that." The door opened, admitting his other lover. "You too. Promise me that it won't happen to me or you'll kill me."
"If it was one of ours, we'd be honor-bound to tie you to a bed and give you psychiatric drugs until you changed your mind," Lupin told him with a small smile. Xander curled up in a little ball. "I promise it won't happen," he said as he laid behind him, holding him tightly. "Just because you've got the outside doesn't mean you've got the inside."
"I've felt both of you hit my cervix," she told him. "The doctor who examined me in Istanbul couldn't tell the difference either." Lupin looked at Jigen. "She was a paranormal practitioner and she understood the elemental nature of the choker. She said she couldn't tell the difference."
"Did she say you were fertile?"
Xander shook her head. "No. She didn't." She reached behind her to play with the clasp. "I should take this thing off until we can figure that part out," he admitted.
"But your innate selfish nature wants you to keep it on," Lupin quietly reminded him. She nodded. "It shouldn't happen. The scarring you have on your other tubes should transfer if what Marcus has found is right."
"Should, but she thought that I might have some sperm getting through not just the other fluid; she said she couldn't find any live stuff." He flipped over to look at Lupin. "If that happens to me, I'm not going to be able to handle it. I will jump off somewhere very high without a handy rope. My mind will go and so will I."
"You can't until you've started a cycle," Jigen reminded him.
"There are thousands of children the world over who belie that fact," Xander told him. "Your cycle states when your *last* fertile period was, not your next. That's the problem with the rhythm method." He looked stunned. "There are plenty of girls who get pregnant the month before their first cycle. I don't want to be one of them. I love you both with everything in me, but I can't wrap my mind around that." He let out a little hysterical chuckle.
Jigen came over and pulled her up, shaking her. "It can't happen." Xander gave him the most trusting look. "If it does, then we'll do something about it." Xander shook her head. "No?"
"No. I can't. Or I won't actually." He blinked a few times then let her go. "Seeing the quandary?"
"There are methods of protection that won't require you to take a pill every day, non- hormonal ones," Lupin offered. "We can look into that for you." She gave him the most beautiful smile.
"That means you'd have to use them," Jigen pointed out. "It'll take away some of the spontaneous jumping you seem to prefer."
She sat down, looking at them. "So I'm playing russian roulette with my life?" He tried for the clasp on the choker but couldn't get it at all this time. "Ethan!" he snapped. "Quit that!"
Ethan appeared, shaking his head. "It's not me. Not every evil thing on the planet comes from me. I thought you had learned this by now, my little one." Xander pointed at the choker and he nodded. "If you don't *want* to take it off, why would it let you?" Xander frowned. "Now, why are you so conflicted?"
"He had to deliver someone's baby earlier and it's confused him," Lupin said patiently. "Are you always going to pop in like that?"
"Only sometimes," Ethan said with a smirk. "Sometimes I prefer to watch from a distance." He tipped Xander's chin up. "To become pregnant while wearing that would require you to do a spell in addition to be wearing it. And no, your tubes are only partially scarred over on one side and fully on the other." He gave him a light kiss on the lips. "Better now?" Xander nodded so Ethan forced him to lay down. "You take a short nap then jump them. Let me have enough time to set up the viewing portal. I do so enjoy your condition." He knocked Xander out. "The blue one is yours," he told Lupin. Then he smirked and disappeared.
Xander looked over and tugged on the end of Jigen's coat, shaking his head. He closed his eyes and dutifully went to sleep. "Could turn you old for a few minutes," he mumbled as he drifted off.
Lupin got up and found the boxes, looking at the color-coded dots. "I put our box on top. I'm guessing mine's the red one and yours is the black?" He looked over but Jigen was giving him a look. "It's worth it."
"It might be but he just said something else."
"Xander?" Lupin called. The boy hummed in his sleep. "Are there any side effects?"
"Janus made them," he sighed, shifting in his sleep.
Lupin looked at Jigen, holding his out. "We could try, he said there was an antidote."
"Yeah, but Rayne'll screw it out of us."
Lupin smirked. "What could he want that we can't get?"
"At nearly a hundred?"
"Hmm. That Dawn and Xander can't get?"
"Good point," Jigen admitted. He looked at the little vial. "This is the dumbest risk to date."
"It is, but it'll be fine," Lupin assured him. "Even if we have to take the antidote." He opened his and swallowed it.
Jigen felt honor-bound to follow him into this madness and took his too. He winced as he felt himself age, swatting at him. "Bastard," he hissed.
Lupin looked down at his hands. "Xander!"
Xander sat up, looking at them. He looked at the color coding. "Give it two hours. Lay down and take a nap." He stood up, walking out before they could complain. What else did they expect from something coming from Janus? He walked into the infirmary. "Goemon, promise me that if I *ever* end up pregnant you'll kill me," he said seriously. The samurai looked at him. "I mean it. I can't do that. I will go insane." He got a nod. "Thank you. Lupin just threatened me with anti-psychotics. Speaking of, the potion takes a few hours to work correctly. Janus is the laughing God for a reason." Goemon looked startled. "They're napping off their few hours of old age."
"Ah." He stood up. "We shall let them sleep then." He walked over to let him see his son, knowing that's what he was down here for. "He is fine. We found an oxygen canister and have given him some a few times, but he is doing fine otherwise."
"Good. Can we put up something like a tent? Feed some light oxygen into the thing that's surrounding him?"
"I would hesitate to do so. The Captain came down and put us in touch with the hospital we will be at tomorrow. The helicopter for the Coast Guard is broken. We'll be transported over from the dock tomorrow to have them checked out."
"He'll be fine, I'm sure of it," Xander promised. He gave him a pat on the back and picked up the baby. "Morning, baby samurai. How are you feeling? Would you like to help your unclie Xander calm down? Please?" The baby yawned and made sucky faces at him. "No, I'm not the momma moo juice maker. She's over there, sleepin'," he told him. He put the baby's thumb into his mouth, letting him suck on that. "There, try that." The baby let out a contented sigh, falling asleep again. "I've got this if you want to rest for a while. I doubt they'll want me up there until they're younger."
Goemon smirked. "It would come as quite a shock." He checked on Fujiko, waking her slightly. "I am going to nap as well," he whispered. She nodded. "Xander has the baby."
"'Kay, no spoiling yet. Me first." She shifted her position on the clean bed.
Xander grinned. "I've actually got the bag in the room," he admitted. "Baby clothes mostly." Goemon smiled. "I found you a baby kimono." The smile got brighter. "I think it's a bit heavy, but for whatever sort of christening it should be okay, right?" He nodded. "Cool. It's up there, along with some footy sleepers and a musical bear. I'll get it later." He sat down with the baby, cooing and rocking him. "You're going to be so spoiled," he promised. "Uncle Marcus is gonna teach you every ancient language known to man and demon. And I'm gonna keep learning the new ones so you can know those too. Then the daddy's gonna teach you martial arts and the sword while mommy teaches you about sparkly stuff. Then Uncle Lupin will teach you about other sparkly stuff and Uncle Jigen will teach you how to shoot, just like he did me." The baby made another sucky face at him and accepted his thumb back. "We need to get you some formula, little guy. You've got to be hungry."
"She fed him a little bit earlier," Goemon admitted as he laid down on the bed next to his wife's. "He could be hungry again however."
"The books said about every two hours or so."
"Good to know. He'll probably be obstinate."
"Of course he will. We got our influencing in while he was still in the womb." The father chuckled and shook his head, relaxing on his bed. "Say nighty-night, daddy." He waved the baby's hand. "We'll let them sleep while we talk." He curled up, watching the baby sleep. "I wouldn't mind one of you, but one of you will never come from my body," he told him. "Otherwise the uncle Xander will freak out and start to scream and pull his pretty silver hair out in great big handfuls." The baby waved a fist so he captured the hand, letting him hold his finger. "Yeah, maybe some day I'll have one of you. Maybe I'll adopt one of you. That'll be neat. Then I can pick what I want." He felt a gentle touch to his back and looked up at the guard. "Hey. What's wrong?"
"I came to check on them. Are they all right?"
"The baby's fine so far. He's breathing pretty well. Thanks."
"You're welcome. What a way to christen a boat," he said with a grin. "We'll be docking about ten, the Captain's going a little faster than necessary at the moment. Mostly because he wants the dead body off the ship before someone else finds out. It'll look really bad on the company." Xander nodded. "If you need anything, call me, okay?" He nodded. "We've got a can of formula in the emergency rations and a few bottles. Want them?"
"And a few diapers if you've got them," Xander said quietly. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. They're all pretty special at that age." He made a call and one of his guys brought the stuff up. "Here you are." He handed it over. "We'll be in port for nearly five hours, they should be able to know by then." He nodded and walked away.
Xander got up, putting the diaper on the baby. It was too big, but he would deal with it for now. Some medical tape around the top worked wonders. The formula had some confusing instructions but he managed through it since it was in Spanish. How much did a baby eat anyway? He made a full bottle, just in case, and gave it to the baby, earning the eternal gratitude of the little guy. He curled up beside him again, letting him snuggle against his chest while he ate. "There, how's that? Pretty neat, this spoiling stuff, huh?" he asked with a grin.
Jigen and Lupin woke up, seeing the mirrors taped above their heads. They were younger. Jigen looked over at his boss. "It was still a big risk."
Lupin groaned, touching his face. "It was worth it."
Jigen nodded, accepting that. He climbed out of the bed, running into the open bag on the floor. "Xander's been back."
"I figured since the mirrors are stuck up there with medical tape." Lupin swung around until he was siting up, looking at the bag. "What's that?"
"More baby presents if I remember right." He opened it, smiling at the things inside. "Soft and fluffy clothes." He put it out of his way, going to look in the big mirror in the bathroom. "It did work. My wrinkles are down."
"I noticed that." He walked in to get some of the big mirror himself. "I wonder what happened?"
"Janus," Jigen said simply.
"He probably did get a good laugh out of the panic," Lupin agreed. He touched his skin. "I need a facial. So do you."
"Guys don't get those."
"It might help with some of the dead skin," Goemon said, making them both jump. He smirked. "Did I startle you?" he asked, going to the bag of soft baby stuff. He pulled to a bear, looking at it. "What is this?" he said, shaking it. He could feel a switch so he flipped it on. A low thrumming started, making him look concerned.
Lupin came out. "I looked at those. It's a heartbeat bear. It's to mimic what he's missing from the inside. How is he?"
"He's doing fine. We'll be docking soon. I came to get him something clean to wear since he just messed up his other outfit."
"Babies do that," Jigen agreed. He came out. "What dead skin?"
"Everyone has dead skin, it is what makes the wrinkles look worse. So said the wife," he noted. "She was complaining about hers." He held up the cellphone. "We are taking Xander's with us. We will hopefully be back before the ship moves."
"If not, head for the house, whichever one you can get to easiest," Lupin told him. "The job's off officially." Goemon nodded, taking the bag with him. "We should probably find Xander."
"He's in the infirmary," Jigen pointed out. "He's probably been back, showered, changed, and left again." Lupin nodded so they went through their morning routine before heading up to find their boy. Jigen picked him up, taking him away from his diaper changing. Xander looked up at him. "We're sorry we ran you out last night."
Xander touched the side of his face. "Not an issue." He stole a kiss. "I need to finish doing that before he sprays again."
Lupin looked over. "I've got it." He ducked a quick squirt, hastily putting on the diaper. "I thought I was fast," he said, ticking the tiny stomach. The baby wiggled and grunted at him. "Good morning, baby Goemon. We'll have to find a nickname to call you by."
"Mine," Goemon told him.
"No, that's not a good one," Lupin told him, grinning at him. "You can't steal all our fun, we'll come and take the baby."
"Hopefully while he has colic," Fujiko said from her bed. "Is it time yet?"
"Nearly. I saw the harbor when I checked a few minutes ago," Xander told her. He helped her up, smiling at her shocked look. "Feel twenty pounds lighter?" he suggested.
"And then some. Shower?"
"There's one up here and I got you a pretty robe from my stuff." He led her that way, letting her do her own shower. He came out and looked in the bag. "He's gone through that many already?"
"I've moved most of it to my own bag," Goemon admitted. "We may or may not be getting off here."
"Considering you can't fly with the baby, that'll be hard," Xander told him. "Want me to stop in town and pick up some baby supplies for you?"
"If you would not mind," he agreed. "No plans of your own?"
"Oh, we've got a package coming to the dock," Xander said with an impish grin. He picked up the baby. "I will miss you until I see you again, little guy. So you be a good boy for the mommy and daddy, but pee on them a few times, okay?" He patted the baby on the back, making him burp. "Oooh, nasty bellies!" He wiped off his shirt and the tiny mouth, seeing the innocent look. "Yeah, you'll go far in the life, kid. Keep that innocent look and no one will ever be able to resist you."
"Hand over the baby," Fujiko demanded as she came out dressed in one of Xander's robes and pajama sets. "Thanks for this, Xan." She kissed him on the cheek and took her son back, holding them herself. "Yeah, it's me again," she told him, sitting on the bed with a hiss. "Ow. Never again."
"Unless you want to," Goemon said, smirking at her back.
"Never again," she said more firmly. She pulled Xander closer. "Don't let them do this to you. You'll hate it." He nodded. "Good boy." She kissed him on the cheek, noticing the guard in the doorway. "Is it time?"
"Nearly. We're going to let you three off first, then let the cops on, then everyone else," the guard said. He looked at Xander. "Boy?"
"It's like telling a dog that," Fujiko told him. "She needs a lot of praise." The guard nodded, letting it go. "Do I have to walk all the way up there?" She squealed as her husband picked her up and Lupin stole the baby, letting the other two get the bags. "Damn it, you're not usually this strong."
"I managed to lift you all the time while you were pregnant," he reminded her. "Usually up to our bedroom." He walked her up to the main docking point, letting her stand on her own once they were there. He accepted the bags and she stole the baby back. "Thank you. I will call as soon as we know anything."
"Memory dial three," Xander told him. "One is Marcus in case you needed him." Goemon smirked at him and he shrugged. "What? I seem to talk to him more often than I do these two." Jigen pinched him, making him yelp. "Sorry. I'll be good. I'll pick up the baby stuff and bring it to whichever hospital." They waited while the gangplank was lowered and the paramedics rushed up to them. "He was born last night, just ate, and he should need a diaper change in about an hour." The paramedics looked at him. "What? I got to catch."
"What time?" the lead paramedic asked.
"Let's see. Xander woke up at 11:20," Jigen said, thinking back; he had been staring at the clock. "Probably just after eleven."
"That is fine." They got them loaded up and took them off.
"Which hospital?" Xander called.
"The city one," they called back.
"It's only a few blocks away," Lupin promised. "We're going baby shopping?" Xander nodded. "Good. Then we'll discuss your *payment* for the wonderful present." He stroked the firm back, making Xander look at him. "Unless you don't want it."
"No, I want. I'm still deathly afraid of going through that but Goemon promised he'd kill me."
Jigen laughed. "Sure he will. Right after we strap you down and feed you drugs." He gave him a pat on the back. "Do you have everything for the day?" Xander shook her head and jogged back to the room to finish getting ready. "Do we have everything for the day?"
Lupin shook his head, leading the way back to the room to get things like his wallet. He passed by the cops carrying out the body. "Poor guy," he told them. They looked at him but didn't stop him.
Xander came back in time to be one of the first ones off the gangplank, walking over to the ticket counter. "Hi, I had a delivery coming for Alexandra DeMain?" The ticket girl nodded, looking through the dispatch box. She held up two envelopes. "Well, gee, not the ones I expected." He saw a delivery guy from the same company waiting off to the side so he signed for his messages and went to check with him. "DeMain?" he asked. The man nodded, handing over the thick manilla envelope and making him sign another form. He compared the signatures, then nodded and left. Xander whistled as Jigen came off the boat, waving him over. He sat down to read the messages, handing the one from Zenigata to Lupin. The other was from Murami and he handed that one over after a small laugh. He opened the envelope and took out the checks. "Let's see. This one's yours," he said, handing it to Lupin. "This one's yours," he said, handing it to Jigen. "Mine's in the bank. The other two are the other two's and I forwarded Marcus' back to the house."
"You did it solo, you could have kept it," Lupin offered, folding it and putting it into his wallet. He took the envelope to look at the new drivers licences and passports. "Wonderful job." He found his bundle and took it, letting Jigen have his. Xander's were handed over to her. The other two and the two checks were stuffed back in there and carried with them while they went to cash the million and change checks then go baby shopping. The National Bank of Mexico looked at them funny but they couldn't refuse to cash a cashier's check.
The baby shopping was fun. There was all sort of neat stuff in the bazaar and open air markets for babies. They'd need a new house to hold most of it. Xander managed to find the local brujas and talk to them, finding what he needed from them. Then he went back to formula, diaper, and necessity baby shopping. The other guys were looking at outrageous things like gold plated pacifiers. They called Goemon, who was disgruntled to be waiting, and told him they were coming over.
Fujiko looked at the nurse attending her. "Habla Englais?" she asked hopefully. This was the fourth who had come in to check on her and she was really tired of this. She wanted drugs! The nurse shook her head, checking her vitals. "Does anyone around here speak English, French, Arabic, or Japanese?" The nurse gave her a look. "Ah. Translatoro?" she tried. The nurse laughed and handed her the baby, making a motion at her chest. Fujiko shook her head. "No, I'm not breast feeding. I need that shot." The nurse frowned and she shook her head again. The nurse nodded, giving her an impatient look. "No. Damn it, I want someone who speaks English!" she yelled. A harried looking tourist came in and tried to help but he couldn't find the word for breastfeed in his little dictionary. Finally, a doctor came in. "Habla Englias?" she asked.
He nodded. "Actually, yes I do," he admitted with a Northern accent. "I came down here for the sun. What seems to be the problem."
"I can't breastfeed," she told him.
"Can't or won't?"
"Won't fits," she admitted, going into the cover story she had made up last night. "I'm a business woman. I've got seventeen meetings in the next few weeks. My guys won't respect me if they catch me breastfeeding. Plus, he's going to have a nanny part of the time because I can't always be there. Not for another few months anyway. That leaves out even pumping for him with my schedule. I'm going to be on a plane to Hong Kong in another six days and I don't think Fed Ex will ship it back."
"I see." He looked at the baby. "Has he been looked over yet? He's very tiny."
"He was a little premature," she admitted. "A friend had to deliver him since the doctor was shot. We came off the cruise ship in the harbor."
"Ah, then you're her. I was told to expect you," he said with a smile. "The father?"
"He's off staring out the window so he could ignore me getting frustrated. I can't even breast pump. It's not real convenient for me to whip out my tit in the middle of a meeting with my Arabic office."
He laughed. "You're right, they probably would get offended." He said something to the nurse, making her snort in disgust. "She believes all mothers can breastfeed and should. It is healthier but sometimes it's not an option."
"I would if I could, but I really can't," she told him. "Plus, they *ache*." He nodded, writing that down. "Isn't there a shot for that?"
"There is," he admitted. "There's also a progesterone shot to help with the bleeding. We don't like to give that before a few weeks are up," he admitted. "In some extreme circumstances we do." He called out for a different nurse, bringing her running. "Please check the baby," he ordered. She nodded, smiling and holding out her arms. "She'll stay in the room. We've tagged the baby so it can't be taken away from you." She relaxed, letting the nurse take the baby to the other bed in the cubicle. "Now for the gross part. I'll need to examine you." He heard the curtain move and turned, looking into a pair of dark eyes. "The child's father?"
"My husband," she agreed. "Goemon, this nice doctor saved me from shooting the nurse."
"Thank you. She has been getting frustrated easily recently." He went to watch what was being done to his son. "We had to give him oxygen a few times last night," he told her.
"We heard. We got the notes from the doctors on call last night," the doctor told him. "I'm going to have to examine your wife. Did the afterbirth already come out?" He pointed at the bag that contained it. "Thank you. Most people don't think to bring that in. We can do some testing of the baby from it instead of pulling blood from him." He pulled a chair over, dropping the bottom of the bed. "I'm sure you've done this before. Feet into the stirrups," he said as he pulled them out. He lifted the sheet, taking a look. "No tearing. I'm impressed. You must have some very strong muscles." He inserted a gloved finger, making her wince. "I know. I want to make sure that you've undilated." He felt around then pulled back and recovered her. He took off the glove and put the end of the bed back up and the stirrups away. "All right, you can sit up again," he told her. She winced. "I know it hurts," he soothed. "Did you get anything?" She shook her head, giving him a desperate look. "I figured as much. Let me get you some Tylenol and demerol." She reached over and hugged him, making him pat her on the back. "I know. It's painful. My own wife described it as pushing out a bowling ball through her ear." He got free and went to order her drugs. He came back, looking over the child. "He is very healthy for his size."
"Will we be able to take him back to our house in France?" Goemon asked.
"Um, yes and no," the doctor admitted. "Yes, you could probably take him home. Getting to France will be a bit of a problem considering he can't fly for at least a month, possibly two since he's so small." They winced. "You can take a ship. I know there are some that go that way. It's not as sunny as the ones on this side of the world," he admitted with a grin. "But you could do that."
"Hmm." Goemon looked at her. "We could go to Bali."
She shook her head. "I don't feel secure enough there. We could move around the cruise line, take one going through the canal. Otherwise I can't really see us driving across the United States." He nodded, the baby would never fit on a motorcycle with them both and she didn't like to drive regular cars these days. Plus there was the problem of them being wanted felons. "Where does the one we're on go?" He shrugged. "Do you have any ideas?" she asked with a touch of irritation.
"I like yours," he admitted. She smiled at him. He looked at the doctor. "There are rumors I would like to have dispelled if I may. When will she be fertile again?"
"For some women, it's today," he told him. "For some it's not for six months. For some, it's not for a year. I have seen women who come in for their six week post-natal visit and end up being four weeks along." Fujiko shuddered. "Generally, I encourage most couples to wait on having sex for at least two months, mostly because she'd be in pain. If you feel you must because her beauty moves you, use a condom." He nodded quickly. "You should be able to find them on any ship."
"Hopefully. If not, I know someone who does carry them and will probably go with us."
"Oh, yeah, they probably will," Fujiko agreed. "Think we could get Marcus down too?"
"A family member?"
"Our part-time nanny," she explained. "He's back in France being a big worrywart. He's British." The doctor laughed at that. She shrugged. "When did they call?"
"A few minutes before I came in. They said they were coming this way." He looked at her. "If that is what you want," he promised. "If not, we could always get one of those odd minivans and take them across the country and get another ship in New York."
"I don't really like that option," she admitted. "It's risky. At least on a ship we'll have medical people if something happens." She looked at the doctor. "He is fine, right?" He nodded. "He can go home and all that?"
"He's a little small. I'll be sending records with you for the doctor on the ship. Usually they won't let anyone *too* sick on but he's not really sick and it is mostly the only way you'll get home." She nodded. A nurse brought in two needles and a little cup with pills. "Ah-ha. The good stuff." He smiled as he took the first needle. "This will stop the bleeding. I can pass it along to the ship's doctor for you in a week if you want. The body really does need to bleed."
"I'm tired of it," she told him. "This is going to drive me nuts. No tampons, just gushing blood." He nodded wisely, giving her the shot. "Now the other," she demanded. "Before I start to itch again."
"It may take up to three days for your milk to fully dry up," he warned. "You could let the baby do some light sucking now and then." She nodded. "Too much will make it keep going however. Oh, and if he wants a taste," he said quietly, "it's normal." He noticed the father's bright red blush and smiled. "It is. Really." He stuck her with that one as well. Then he handed over the pills and the glass of water. "There you are." She gulped them quickly, sighing in relief. Three more people forced their way inside, one of them speaking spanish at the complaining nurse. "You are?" he asked.
"Our traveling companions," Goemon told him.
"Uncles and aunt," Fujiko agreed. "Part-time baby sitters. Really good spoilers." She smirked at Xander. "Tylenol and demerol."
"Oh, I'm so happy that you finally got something." She gave her a hug. "You rest and we'll do *everything*."
"We have decided to take a ship back to the main house since we cannot fly," Goemon told them. "Otherwise we would have to drive across country and take one anyway."
Lupin nodded. "Okay. Let me check with the cruise line. Can the little fourteenth there go home?" Goemon nodded. "Good job. Get her prescriptions and we'll get them filled on the way back to the boat." He shook the doctor's hand. "Thank you for helping her. She will always be very special to me." He came over to pick up the baby, holding it tightly. "Yeah, we'll go on the big boat and we'll even keep Uncle J over there from tossing you off the boat when you scream and wake him up." The doctor laughed, shaking his head as he wrote out the prescriptions for them and ordered copies of the medical records to go with them. "He can be a bit grumpy in the morning."
Jigen came over, touching him gently on the head. "Don't listen to him. He's just jealous because you haven't peed on me yet." Xander snickered. "Speaking of which, that means we've got to pack."
"Our current one goes somewhere else," Xander offered. "One of the other big ports in Mexico. We could go there, then change ships. That would give us enough time to pack."
Lupin looked at him. "It's your own fault you bring so much stuff with you." He looked at Goemon, handing over the envelope. "For you. He won the baby a trust fund in Vegas."
Goemon smirked at Xander. "That was very kind of you." He looked inside, seeing all the documents. "Thank you."
"Welcome. You guys know I aspire to be the spoiling queen." She took the prescriptions, going to find a pharmacy to get them filled. Plus to call the shipping line about switching to something that would take them to either Miami or New York. Both were accomplished by the time they got around to discharging Fujiko. "Bad news," he admitted. Lupin looked at him. "We will have to pack today. There's one due in that will dock in Miami in a week. It's due in about three hours though."
Lupin nodded. "Okay. We can do that. Let's pack up everything we brought and head back." He supervised, having the baby. Most of the bags had been consolidated. They walked out with a lot more stuff, but it was all good stuff.
Xander walked off the gangplank with his bag and the baby carrier. "Marcus, man," he said, looking behind him. "And two cops, you shouldn't have."
"It was not my choice," Marcus admitted. "They decided I should not be hanging around." He looked back at them. "I am here to meet them. I am the nanny." He wiggled his hands. "Please free me now."
Fujiko came down, not carrying anything. "What is going on?"
"They decided I was loitering and were waiting to see if my excuse for doing such was valid," Marcus said bitterly.
"He's my son's nanny," she said sharply. "Let him the fuck go before I kill you both."
"She's six day postpartum," Xander told them. "She's still having mood swings and can't have sex, chocolate, or coffee yet." They shuddered and undid Marcus, walking off. "Thank you for being reasonable."
"And you did not even have to beat anyone up," Goemon noted as he joined them. Xander gave him a hurt look. "I am sure there will be someone to thrash soon enough." He handed Marcus the bags. "When does the next ship leave?"
"We are not staying in Miami," Lupin announced. "I've got bad memories here."
"The ship doesn't leave until tomorrow morning," Marcus told him.
"Damn it." He came down to look at the little guy. "Hello, Ishi." The baby grunted at him and kicked Xander. "Don't be that way, I don't like this city either." Jigen came down, looking at him. "We're stuck here overnight."
"Oh hell no," he said. He walked to the ticket clerk. "Isn't there anything going north soon?" She shook her head.
"We can go to Disney!" Xander said happily. Everyone looked at him. "What? I *like* Disney. Plus, they've got hotels, Orlando has service to the nearest harbor, and there are many things, like the Disney cruise line."
Lupin shook his head. "Not now, Xander. Disney later, home now. I want to get home so I can make you make noise." Xander blushed and giggled nervously. He looked behind him, giving an irritated grunt to the cop standing there. "We're passing through."
"So I can see," he said dryly, pushing his sunglasses up on top of his red hair. "And a baby now?"
"Mine," Fujiko said firmly. "There are no warrants for us."
"I've seen that as well," he said dryly. "How?"
Lupin shrugged. "Magic?"
The head CSI in the city frowned at him. "Does not exist."
"If you say so," Xander said dryly.
"For him it probably doesn't," Jigen agreed. "You really can't do anything."
"I can take you downtown until we check for new warrants. That should kill your evening."
"Try it. I haven't lost my temper in *weeks*," Xander promised him. "And I do like to sue cities for unlawful harassment. I can make your boss wish he had never been born, and thereby pass it onto you. Your choice of course," he said dryly.
"Calm down," Goemon said patiently. "I will train that urge out of you yet." He stepped forward. "Leave us alone. You have no business being here. We are merely passing through and stranded. You are annoying."
"It is my business, this is my city. I told you never to return." Xander growled and tensed. "Your bodyguard is about to get herself into trouble," he warned.
"Sit," Fujiko ordered. "Don't antagonize him, it'll only make it worse."
"Fine, then I'll do it the other way," Xander said, glaring at him. He started to mutter, and the CSI found himself in the middle of a wind storm that was hitting him from all sides. The woman walked into it with him, glaring at him. "If you try to harm that child, I will make your last few minutes on this plane the most painful things anyone has ever experienced. Don't believe me, try me. This is nothing compared to what I can do." He walked out of it, leaving it there. "Let's go. There is not enough chocolate in the world to make me put up with that man." He stomped off.
Jigen looked impressed and scared. "He takes it off tonight," he told Lupin. "He's getting PMS."
Lupin shuddered. "You're right, he's taking it off tonight. Remind me to stop at the pharmacy on the way to the hotel." He looked at the clerk. "He'll be fine in about five minutes. What time is boarding?"
"Eleven," she said. "This isn't anything compared to some of the Cuban witches."
Lupin smiled. "Xan's a little bit unconventional. Thank you. We'll be here at ten." He walked off, heading out to the taxi stand. Xander had already gotten them one and was waiting against it. "Behave," he said patiently. "And take that thing off."
"When we get to the hotel," Xander agreed. "I'm not feeling good."
"That's why we're taking it from you for a few weeks. "We don't need you with PMS."
"I do not," Xander complained. "I'm just cranky. Maybe if I hadn't woken up cold and alone this morning I'd be in a better mood."
"You're the one who fell asleep on the couch," Jigen reminded him as he joined them.
"And what, you can't wake me up now?"
Jigen smirked. "Exactly. You looked too cute to wake up."
Xander relented. "Fine, but I get sex tonight before I give the stupid thing up."
"That's fine," Jigen agreed. "We can even keep the baby up."
"We'll stay at a different hotel if that's going to happen," Fujiko told them as she came out, Marcus carrying everything but the baby now. "Get the one behind him," she ordered. "Make sure he's got a baby seat. We'll be at the nearest one."
"So will we," Lupin told her. "But we'll get non-adjoining rooms."
"Why?" Goemon asked.
"They just threatened to keep the rest of us up," she told him.
"They do, as do we to them. Obviously why Xander is in a bad mood." He nodded at the driver. "Is there an infant seat?" The driver nodded, getting out to get it installed for them.
Jigen laid the sleepy Xander down onto the bed, smirking at her. "So much for her needing noise."
Lupin came in with their bags. "She out?"
"Fully." He looked behind him. "Are we missing one?"
"It's in the hallway. You could have helped."
"I had her."
"We've got to get her to take that off for a few days," Lupin groaned. "We both called her 'her'." Jigen nodded that he agreed. "Did you know she could get stuck like that?"
"I think she likes being like this," Jigen admitted, sitting down to take off his shoes. "Eleven?"
Lupin looked at his tickets. "Mine says ten." He held it out. "So we need to be there by nine." He opened up the door, going to check Fujiko's tickets for her. "Are we okay in here?" he asked. She nodded from her spot on the bed. "Regretting not breastfeeding?"
"No. Just cuddling." She watched him dig around in her purse. "What are you looking for?"
"Tickets. Mine say departure is at ten." He found them and looked at them. "So do yours. We'll need to get there at nine." He looked back at her and smiled. "That okay with you?"
"Fine," she promised. She yawned. "Go away."
"Going. We're two doors up if you need us. On the other side of Marcus." She nodded, letting him leave. Lupin went back to his room, finding Jigen trying to get the limp body out of her jeans and t-shirt. "Cut them off her," he suggested.
"She just got those," Jigen told him.
"We can always buy her more," Lupin reminded him. He pulled out his pocket knife and came over, taking the clothes off her. Then he moved back and smirked. "I think she's picked up bad underwear habits."
Jigen looked at the thong, then nodded. "I think we should break her of that habit. Those can't be comfortable." Xander moaned, patting herself down, then looked up at him. "Morning."
"Already?" she asked tiredly.
"No, just a saying," Lupin told her, looking down at her. "What are we going to do about your tickets?"
Xander shrugged. "I don't know. Misprint?"
"Maybe," Jigen agreed, laying down next to her. She giggled as he stroked up her side. "We still haven't paid you for the nice presents."
"Very true." She rolled onto her back, spreading out for their approval. "Should I take a few minutes to make sure I don't have to shave?" They shook their heads, both of them leaning down to kiss different parts of her body. "Guys, it's not my birthday," she noted with a grin.
Lupin laughed. "We're enjoying ourselves. Behave."
"Sure. Not complaining in the least." She squeaked and arched up into a nip her stomach had just received. Someone pounded on the door, making her groan. "What!" she yelled.
Goemon walked in, handing over the baby. "We have no idea what is wrong with him. You seem to. Fix it." He crossed his arms, watching as Xander patted the baby gently, making him quit fussing. "That's all you had to do? Hold him and pat him on the back?"
Xander nodded. "It's comforting to him. That's all you had to do." He tried to hand the baby back but Ishi started to cry. "Crap." She sat up, holding the baby against her chest. "Don't do this to me, sweetheart, uncle Xander was about to get sex and he's been missing it recently," he said in his most soothing voice. The baby calmed down but as soon as anyone else tried to move the baby he fussed. "Oh, come on," he complained. "I'm not mom."
Goemon shook his head. "Thank you." He left them alone.
"When they said babies in the house change your sex life, I thought they meant the parents," Jigen said dryly.
Xander shook his head. Then he squealed and stiffened as a loud 'pop' went off around him. "I think we just got a bigger problem," she squealed.
Lupin took the baby, looking at the empty spot on the choker. "Shit." He checked his mouth, but the baby had already swallowed it. "Goemon!" He came back a moment later. "The baby swallowed one of the stones from the choker."
The father's eyes widened comically. "Oh dear." He looked at Xander, who looked very enticing at the moment. "I shall call the local Emergency Room to see if we can encourage it to come out sooner."
"Otherwise I can stay this way," Xander said hysterically. "I want my penis back sometime!"
"Shh," Jigen soothed. "Call Ethan."
"ETHAN!" he sobbed.
Ethan showed up, frowning. Then he groaned. He looked at Lupin. "You have twenty- four hours to have it fixed," he instructed. "Otherwise it may never allow itself to be removed. If you can get the stone reset, she can take it off, but should not for at least another day to let the magic resettle around her. If you can, it *should* be fine." All the men looked at him in shock. "Seriously, people. Where is it?"
"Inside the infant," Goemon said, pointing.
Ethan winced. "Well, you have a shot. I'd get the baby something to make it go faster." He tipped Xander's head up. "Don't worry, I will always adore you even if you are stuck in this form." Xander glared at him. "Fine, I do prefer you as a male, but I could stand you this way if they sent you away."
"Why? She's just as talented in this form as the other," Jigen told him. He picked up the phone, calling the emergency room on the list beside the phone himself. "Hi, I'm babysitting my nephew. He swallowed a diamond off a choker. We're leaving in the morning and we need it back, the owner is heading in another direction." He listened. "No, only a week. He was cuddled next to it and sucked it free. We've checked, he's already swallowed it." He looked at Lupin. "How long?" He nodded. "That's fine, we'll be there." He hung up. "Xan, stay here, we're taking the baby to make it get sick." He pulled back on his jacket and hat, following the others out of the room, locking it behind him.
Ethan sat down, holding his favorite plaything gently. "It will be fine. They do adore you in this form and you'll be able to have them all the time."
"Not helping," Xander told him, sounding miserable. "I like my body."
"I know you do, Xander. I happen to like it as much as your boss does." He gave him a squeeze. "And if not, then you can more than happily come be part of my harem of slayers. Faith would gladly share you with me since you are just as dangerous as she is." Someone knocked on the door so he waved a hand, opening the door magically. "They stole your child."
"Who did?" the mother demanded.
"The guys," Xander said, pointing at her choker. "The baby swallowed one." He looked at Ethan. "There was a loud pop and a tingle."
"There should have been. It released some of the magic stored in the dear thing." He kissed him. "Promise me to learn better and faster and I'll try to recharge it for you once it's fixed." He stood up. "Try to behave, Xander?" He nodded, watching as he left. Faith jumped him as soon as he got home so he told her, making her laugh and shake her head.
Xander slumped. "They've got to get the diamond out of the baby's system and back into the necklace within twenty-four hours," he told her. She winced. "Yeah." He looked at her, then frowned. "Fujiko, have you been feeling off? You look a little odd."
"No. We've been good," she told him. "Define odd."
"I'm going to kill him if the condom broke and he didn't tell me," she said, going back to wake up Marcus. He could deal with the magical stuff.
Jigen paced the waiting area, only the father had been allowed back there. Goemon came out with the baby, a few forms, and a plastic bag. "Did we get it?" He held it up, showing the small diamond in the nasty stuff around it. "Eww."
"Very eww," Lupin agreed, delicately taking the bag. "But we can clean it." He nodded outside. "Let's do that now, so we can get that thing off her. If we're on the cruise we might have some problems." A nurse came out, bringing them a forgotten bottle. "Thank you."
"You're going on a cruise?" she asked.
"We live in Europe," Goemon told her.
"Oh, you poor thing," she soothed, patting him on the cheek. "I guess that is the only way to get home for you guys. You take good care of the little guy and get him something appropriate to suck on." She waved at him as he was taken out. "That kid is going to drive his parents insane," she said happily.
To part 7
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