Xander looked up, unable to watch as his favorite toy was fixed for him.  His chin kept getting in the way and someone had threatened to hold his head still if he didn't quit wiggling.

"The setting's pretty loose.  I'll have to put the prongs on top of the stone for now," Lupin told him. "It'll look off until we can officially repair it."  Xander nodded so he bent the little silver claws over the stone, moving as fast as he could as the choker fizzled and popped dangerously.  "Done."  He put his tools away in their case, then put the case into his carry-on bag.

Xander took it off and rubbed the spot on his neck.  "Let me clean this, then we'll put it into the special box."  He walked in to clean any grime he had missed in his showers.  He hated being dirty these days.  The lack of slime in his daily life had made him soft.  When he came out with his freshly scrubbed neck, he looked at his poor choker.  "That stone really stands out.  Do we have the silk?"  A tie was handed over so he wrapped it around the damaged magical item before putting it into the jewelry box.  "Off you go," he whispered.   "I'll miss you."  He sealed it then put it into the courier pouch that he had addressed earlier.  "Let's hope Ethan can fix you," he muttered.  "I'll miss you."  He sealed it and handed it off.  Lupin took it down to send it off, leaving him with Jigen.  "This sucks."

"Yeah."  He gave him a pat.  "Hopefully it can be fixed."  Otherwise he was going to be miserable.  Because of this, the three of them were flying back so he did a check of the room, pushing Xander out so they could catch a cab to the airport.  He knew Lupin would be following soon, he was giving them time alone.  He was stumped on something to say.  He *really* wanted that necklace fixed!

Xander climbed into the cab, feeling miserable.  This would take his best buddy and lover from him.  He would have to find a way around this!  Even if he had to play with the dark, slick magic!


Xander walked into the house, leading the way.  They were all tired from the last few days so the three cops in the doorway startled him. "Um, hi," he said, wiggling his fingers at them.  "What are you doing in here?"  He felt the other two pause behind him.

Zenigata stepped out.  "We're taking the tour," he said smugly.  "Apparently crime *does* pay."

Xander gave him a confused look.  "How did you find us?"


"I *knew* flirting with him was a bad idea."  He felt the older guys back away from him.  "You know, I'm usually very nice to you, but I'm tired and *really* tired of being chased by you."   Words started to trip off his tongue, unfamiliar to him but sounding somehow familiar for some reason.  A dark hole opened in front of him, startling the cops.  A body was thrown out of the portal and the hole snapped close.  The blond head raised and growled. Then it leapt up, sniffing the air like a bloodhound.  It ran at the startled cops and the first was grabbed easily, his throat being ripped out messily.  The others tried to run.

"Outside, get into the sun!" Zenigata yelled, heading for the gardens.  The thieves might stop him.  Another cop fell within seconds of the first's body hitting the floor and the last one fell as he ran outside.

Xander stood there, stunned stupid.  "Spike?  I brought back Spike?"  Someone went running past him, shaking him free.  He strolled that way, shaking his head.  "You're full, leave my friends and my boss alone," he ordered.

"And me!" Zenigata yelled from his safe spot just in the sunlight.

Xander tapped Spike on the shoulder, hugging him when he got a human-looking Spike.  "Welcome back.  Was your part of hell better than mine?"

Spike laughed.  "Wasn't too bad.  Not as bad as Peaches moaned about."  He hugged him back, letting his demon out

"No biting him!" Lupin yelled.  "Xander!"

"If he eats me, he'd be in trouble," Xander told him.  "No eating the Xander.  We'll send you off so you can eat the Buffy.  I'm sure Dawn would like that."  Spike pulled back, laughing hard.

"You know that thing?" Jigen and Zenigata said angrily.

"Guys, this is Spike.  Spike, these are my family and the guy who chases us," he said, waving a hand outside.  "Bite my guys and I stake you.  Dawn may care if you eat the cop.  I don't, but she would.  Jigen, Lupin, this is Spike."  They waved weakly.  "Oh!  The baby!  He'll be here soon and you can't be!"  He frowned, then shrugged.  "Boss, can I have a kitten?"

"Not that one!"

Zenigata yelled as Spike reached out and grabbed him, beating at the supernaturally strong arm.  He was bitten and fed blood before anyone could say anything.

"Hey!" Xander complained, swatting Spike.  "Bad vampire!  Bad!"  He found himself grabbed and bitten.

"Now you'll be mine!" Spike hissed in his ear.  "I'll teach you to play nicely."

"NO!!!" Xander yelled as he woke up, battling everyone near him.  "I don't wanna be a vampire with Zenigata!  Please!  No!  Lupin!  Jigen!"

Then men looked at each other, then shuddered.  That was a bad thought.

"Xander," Lupin said, grabbing him before he hurt them.

"Xander!" Jigen said, patting his face.  "Wake up!"  Xander whimpered.

"Come on, wake up," Lupin encouraged.  "It's all right.  No vampires are going to get you."  Xander went limp in his arms.  "What was that?"

Xander sat up, looking at them.  "We went home and found cops and Zenigata inside the house.  I brought back Spike and he ate the other cops then us so we would have to be together to amuse him," he babbled, looking panicked.  "I brought back Spike and he wanted me to sleep with Gramps!" he whined when they looked like they didn't get it.

"Shh, no vampire is going to make you do such disgusting things," Lupin soothed, holding him tightly while looking at Jigen.

"What part of your mind did that come from?" Jigen asked.  That was enough to turn him off sex forever.

"It was *horrible*!" Xander complained.  "I don't want that!"  He got up and went to take a long shower.  He paused then came out.  "Mark knows."  The older men nodded.  "Zenigata knows Mark."

"I'll have Dawn deal with him," Lupin promised.

Xander nodded, going back to his scrubbing.

"Does that mean it had a point?" Jigen asked.

Lupin shrugged.  "I hope not.  The same as I'm hoping he's not ever going to become precognitive."


Xander stepped off the boat and saw Zenigata prominently waiting on them.  "Oh, shit," he said, hurrying over to the nearest trash can to get sick.

Zenigata looked at him, then at Lupin.  "What'd you do to him now?"

Lupin shook his head.  "Don't ask.  What are you doing here?"

"Dawn dragged me," he said bitterly.  "It seems you're still warrant free."

"Xander!  That's gross!" Dawn complained.  She hugged Lupin.  "His therapist said he had to deal with not arresting you so I had him escort me to see the baby.  You would not *believe* how much I had to whine, but it's this or drugs.  His therapist is really cutting- edge on making you deal with your mental problems."  She squealed and bounced over to the new parents, handing over an envelope.  "Baby!"

"Marcus," Fujiko said.  "Zenigata?"

"Therapy," she said with a smirk.  She peered back, squealing and running over to look at the new member of the team.  "Hi, baby!" she said happily.  She touched his cheek.  "How are you?  Are you a happy baby?" she cooed as she took him from Marcus.

"Put him down," Goemon demanded.  "He was asleep."

"He's still asleep," she defended.  But she did hand him back.  "Fine, be mean to me.  I bet Xander gets to hold him and he's sick."

"Not while he's sick," he assured her.

"Come over for dinner some night," Jigen told her.  "Alone."  He walked over to pat Xander on the back.  "Flashback to the nightmare?"  Xander started to get sick again.

"He had nightmares about me?" Zenigata asked, sounding and looking pleased.  "I guess I am scary."

Lupin smirked at him.  "He saw a vampire turn you both to have you as his playthings for eternity."

"Which one?" Dawn asked as she came over to give him a hug now that her real reason had been discharged.


She giggled.  "Yeah, that sounds like the blond poof."  She grinned at him.  "Can I come over this weekend to see the baby?"

"Sure, kid," Lupin agreed.  "Let him babysit the nephews."  She nodded.  Then she moved back to her position to control Zenigata.  Lupin shook his head.  "I didn't believe Xander. I guess I owe him a treat."  He pulled Xander up, walking him into the bathroom.  "You okay?"  Xander shook his head.  "Can you sleep in the car?"

"As long as Gramps goes away," he said hoarsely.  He bent over the sink to rinse out his mouth.

"We'll go right home.  You can sleep in the car," Lupin promised.

"Not if we've only got the Benz."

"True.  Then you can nap between the seats."  He gave him a gentle pat on the back.  "Hurry up."  He left him there, going out to find Zenigata and Dawn gone.  "How are we getting home?" he asked Jigen.

"Rental, then we'll dump it," Jigen decided.  "Car seat?"

"We have the carrier," Fujiko offered.  "Xander?"

"Flashback to a nightmare he had in Miami," Lupin told her.  "Marcus, car?"

 "I took the train," Marcus admitted.  "I walked down as part of my daily exercise."  He took the baby back, patting him on the back gently to send him back to his nap.

"Let's do that," Jigen decided.  "We can cab back to the guardhouse."  Xander came out of the bathroom.  "Besides, it'll keep him near a bathroom."

"Let's stay in Paris tonight," Xander suggested quietly.  "We've got stuff we'll need to pick up."

"What stuff?" Jigen asked.

Xander looked at him.  "Car seat, in the Benz?"  Lupin groaned.  "There are no seat belts in the back.  She can't take him on the bikes or some cop will pull her over immediately.  Besides, we'd better pick up some extra diapers and formula, plus maybe some extra baby clothes."

"He's right," Lupin admitted.  "At least there are some tasteful modern cars."

"Including the updated version of the two-seater we can leave in the garage," Fujiko admitted.  "Pretty smart, kid.  Any other things Marcus forgot?" she asked as she and Goemon walked away.

"I hesitated to bring them up," Marcus defended.  "He loves his cars and I wasn't about to suggest a change."  He reached into the bag over his shoulder and pulled out a folder.  "Rated for safety, style, and distinctiveness.  You'll find three names are in the top five of all three lists.  One is a limited edition."

Lupin shook his head in bemusement.  "Fine.  Find us a place to stay for tonight."  He looked at the lists, showing it to Jigen.  "Nice taste."

"Seats six?" he smirked.  He grabbed most of their extra bags.  "How is the trunk?"

"Excellent," Marcus told him, following behind him.  "Twice the size of the bigger Benz and the back seat folds down."  He turned when he saw Xander go running.  "Dirt!"

Xander body slammed the stupid human trying to stick up Fujiko.  "Get up," he encouraged, waving him on.  The man whimpered.  "Fujiko, are you all right?"  She nodded.  He glared at the man, who made low vocal whining noises, like a dog about to be beaten.  "Lupin!"  He walked up to join them.  "Take her."  He was held back by Marcus.  "Oh, come on, let me have him!"

"I'm sure he's already sorry, Lavelle," Marcus soothed.

The thief on the floor groaned and started to cry.  "Why me!  The old guard was bad enough, but *Lavelle* too?" he wailed.  "What did I do to you, God!"  He got to his knees, begging posture firmly in place.  "Please don't kill me.  I'll leave the field.  I'll do anything if you don't sic Jigen or Lavelle on me.  Please, great Lupin?"

Fujiko gave Xander a confused look.  "Why are you scarier?"

"It's said that Lavelle reads souls and takes out those not destined to be great.  Even your greatest enemy fears him.  He has said so!  Lavelle is not only a great marksman, but also trained in the...," he looked around and lowered his voice, "in the occult."  He whimpered when Xander played with a strand of his silver hair.  "Please!  I will go straight.  Do not judge me!"

Jigen hauled him to his feet.  "Do that, kid.  Run away now, before we have to let him go."  The thief nodded and ran off, bouncing off a cop coming to see what the problem was.  The cop looked at him, ignoring the group as they moved on.  Jigen nudged Xander.  "What did you do to Pops?"

Xander shrugged.  "I don't know.  I'm thinking about yelling at him at the moment, but I didn't think I had scared him like that."

"Taunt him later," Lupin suggested.  The baby was taken by Xander to cuddle.  "Remember, no fighting while you're holding him."  He let the boy get ahead of him so the older group could share a look.

Marcus broke out in giggles.  "Him?" he laughed.  "More scary than Goemon?  I'll have to share that."  He jogged off, finding his mentor waiting outside.  "Someone's more scared of Xander than the rest of us," he laughed.

"Hmm."  He looked at Xander as he walked out of the terminal.  "Why?"

"Gramps," he said bitterly.  "The guy trying to rob your wife thought I was weeding out the lesser players."

Goemon looked back at his wife, who smiled and nodded.  "Where is this person?" he asked.

"He ran out in tears," Lupin smirked.  "He begged for his life.  On his knees. *Crying*."  Goemon cracked a smile.

Fujiko gave him a pat on the back.  "He was suitably chastised for coming near me."  He growled.  "He vowed to go straight so we wouldn't sic Xander on him."

"He should."  He looked at Xander. "Did he have our son?"

"No, Marcus did," Jigen told him as he caught up.

"Good."  Goemon looked at Xander.  "No violent actions while holding my son."

"I won't!" Xander defended.  "I wouldn't do that unless there was no other way."

"Hopefully it won't come to that," Lupin said calmly to break up any future hurt feelings.  He looked at his group.  "It was suggested we stay in town tonight."  Fujiko groaned.  "Or, we can rent a car or take the train," he offered.

Goemon shook his head.  "Rent a car.  The trains will be crowded. I would rather not expose the baby to that."

Jigen nodded, going to do that.  "Two fine?"  Everyone nodded.

Soon a rental agency minivan pulled up and parked in front of them.  "All of you?" he asked.  Lupin nodded.  "Do we have a car seat for the infant?"  Marcus held the carrier up and he winced.  "I don't think that's legal.  Will it buckle in?"  Fujiko shook her head.  "Hmm."  He looked at her.  "For now, put the baby in the back, center, position.  It should be safe enough."  They climbed in and he got in to drive.  "He's so tiny, how old is he?"

"He'll be two weeks tomorrow," Lupin said.

"Ah!  So you couldn't fly," the agent noted.  "Taking a ship must have been the best solution to get him home."  He made sure traffic was clear before pulling out.  He counted, six adults and one infant.  "What sort of vehicle are you needing?  We've got a mostly full lot right now."

"Something to get us home," Jigen told him.  "We'll bring it back to Marseilles."  Xander smiled at him.  "Yes, you can see the castle."  Xander wiggled, he had been wanting to go.  Lupin nudged him.  "Keep your elbows to yourself.  You're acting like you're Marcus' age."

"Speaking of Marks," Xander said dryly.  "He's back!  He's using the update being done to the ICPO's server as his Master's project and thesis."  Everyone groaned.  "Dawn thinks he's cute."

Jigen looked back at him.  "How did they meet?"

"Gramps," he said with a small smirk.  This was something Lupin hadn't thought about when he had let him into the house for those flirting lessons.  "He's an uncle in quotes according to her.  He idolizes the man."

"I knew he was going to be a problem," Jigen said bitterly.

Lupin nudged him again.  "Think of all we gained from it," he said quietly.  Jigen grunted but let it drop.  "Will we have to take a minivan?  It'll ruin my image if someone sees me in one."

The agent laughed.  "You could probably fit most of you into a sedan.  Four adults and the baby."  He stopped in front of a department store and looked back at him.  "We really will need you to get a real baby carseat, even if you bring it back later," he explained.  "It is the law and the company won't let me rent to you without you having one in the car.  Otherwise the police could fine us and you could sue us if something happened."

"I'll go," Fujiko said but her husband stopped her by getting out and heading inside.  "Don't get something ugly," she yelled after him.  "That should be my job."

"You'd take forever," Jigen reminded her.  "The poor thing would end up with flowers or something else traumatizing."  She reached back to swat him but he was next to the window.  He smirked at her.  "Temper, temper," he taunted.

"Children," Lupin said tiredly.  "When we get home, both of you go to your rooms."  They groaned and nodded.  "Good.  I hope the nursery is set up."  He looked up.  "Please?"  The rental agent chuckled lightly.  "It's been a long few weeks.  First the doctor died, then the baby came early.  Now this."

"It's clear you love each other," the agent assured him.  "After a long nap, everything should be fine.  My own wife and I have six children.  After finally getting to sleep, we were much happier with each other."

Fujiko looked back at Marcus. "Haven't you been sleeping?"  He nodded, smirking at her.  "Then why haven't I?"

"Because you won't let me keep him for more than a few hours," Marcus pointed out.  Goemon came out with six large bags.  "I think he did what Xander suggested.  He opened the door and took the bags to put into the back.  "Formula and diapers?" he asked.  The samurai groaned.  "We can get it in town," he promised.  "Get in.  We'll strap him in when we get the rental vehicle."

Goemon nodded, sitting his seat again.  Lupin gave him a pat.   "I am not used to this yet," Goemon told him.  "I am not sure I ever will be."

"You will be," Jigen promised. "Give it two years, when he's potty trained and we can bring him with us."  Goemon looked at him.  "No?" he asked with a grin.

"I want him to be safe," Goemon told him.  "Not running around with us."

Lupin laughed.  "That's fine.  We'll switch around."

Xander let the baby suck on his thumb.  "Did anyone make a bottle before we left the ship?"  Marcus dug in the diaper bag, coming up with one.  "Thanks, nanny man."  He fed the baby, weathering the hit to his arm. "You volunteered."

"Boys," Lupin said tiredly.  "You two are as bad as Jigen and Fujiko."

"Yes, dad," they said in unison, cracking each other up.

"Just for that, no allowance," Jigen told them, looking back at them.  "Behave."

"Yes, sir," Xander said, grinning at him.  What would Jigen do, spank him?

Lupin looked back at him.  "Behave or I'm chaining you to my bed tonight while I *read*."  Xander lost his grin, giving him his best pathetic look.  "Behave."  Xander nodded, hanging his head.  "Thank you."  He looked at Jigen, who groaned quietly.  "Home," he agreed.  "That way we can spread out again."

Xander raised his hand.  "If I'm going to be that trying, I could always track down the rumors that have apparently gotten started about me. I've never judged a soul in my life."

Jigen shook his head.  "No."

"Yes, sir."

"Thank you," Lupin told him.  "We can trace it back through the usual networks."  He sighed in relief as they got to the rental agency, looking at the cars.  "Who are we bringing with us?" he asked Goemon.

"One of the boys," he suggested.  "Us."

"Most of the cars seat four adults and a baby," Jigen told him.

"That's as bad as that lifeboat exercise," Fujiko complained.  The guys looked at her.  "The one where you have to agree with a group what eight people in the world you want to save or everyone dies?"  They still looked clueless.  "I found it in a Poly Sci book of Xander's."

Xander nodded.  "It's to encourage cooperation and critical thinking about the traits you want to go on into the future of humanity.  I voted the pope off immediately."  The rental agent chuckled.  "Sorry, I'm not exactly a big fan of some of the things the Church stands for," he said with a shrug.  They got out of the car, him taking the baby for now.  "Like I said, I can stay. You've got Jigen with you guys.  I can even make sure Marcus gets on the train like a good boy."  Marcus glared at him.  "You should go home."

"I'll be fine to get myself on the train.  You want to go to the weapons museum that's just opened," he said dryly.

"It's open?" Xander asked, his face lighting up.  "Yeah, I wanna do that," he agreed.  "I'll come up on the train tomorrow.  Please, boss?" he begged.  "I'll be a good Xander while I'm in the city.  No drinking, no drugs, no whores."  Jigen looked at him.  "What?  I haven't had any recently," he defended.  "Some of us are desperate young people.  Have been since we were fifteen."  Jigen groaned and shook his head.  "Please?" he pleaded.  "I'll be good and check in later and everything.  That'll give you a chance to rest up for when I get back?" he asked with his best shit-eating grin.  "Please?" he leaned against Lupin's chest, making him sigh and nod as he stole the baby.  "Thank you.  Where did you stash my wallet?"

"Call Murami first," Lupin said firmly.  "She said you've managed to screw up everything recently.  She had a whole new set of cards for you and she is in town."  Xander nodded, bouncing off to do that.

"Xander, behave," Jigen called after him.  "Or else we will have to be stern and punish you," he ordered.  Xander looked at him, then nodded and jogged off.  "Well, that frees one spot," he said dryly.  "Fujiko still needs to rest, Goemon won't go anywhere without the baby.  Which one of us isn't heading?"

Lupin looked at him.  "I have things I could pick up in town," he admitted.

"Since both parents will be there, I can easily go back on the train in the morning," Marcus pointed out.  "I did cash my check from Xander's generous gambling."  Lupin looked at him and he nodded.  "He was most fair for me only doing a bit of research for him.  I have my credit cards with me as well."

"Fine," Lupin agreed.  "Be up on the first train tomorrow.  I'll pick you up personally.  I'll call people to bring you things and you can bring them up with you."  Marcus nodded.  "Thank you, Marcus.  If you run into Xander, be gentle with him."

"Of course.  I'm usually gentle with Xander."  He bowed before handing over his bags.  "If you wouldn't mind," he said with a grin.  "Xander left his?"

"I doubt he'll need it," Jigen sighed.  "Most of that is Sylvia's stuff anyway."  He walked over to sign for their car, as he always did.

Lupin looked after the boys, thinking this was probably a bad idea, but he did want to know where those rumors had come from.  That wasn't like Zenigata.  Xander *judging* souls?


Xander tapped on the office door, walking in at the unamused sounding grunt.  The smallish Japanese woman on the other side looked at him, her green eyes widening.   "Hi, Murami," he said, reaching across the desk to hug her.  "How's my favorite woman-type person?"

"I'd hope you realize that I am actually a woman?" she asked dryly, smiling at him.  He nodded.  "Good.  What can I do for you, Xander?"

"The boss ordered me to come see you so you can ream me for the problems we had getting out of Hong Kong and the problems I caused you," he admitted, standing at parade rest.  "So go ahead, I can handle anything except crossbow bolts to the stomach."

She chuckled, standing up to show that she was eight inches shorter than he was.  "I don't blame you for that, Xander.  That was bad luck the whole way around.  Lupin had some too."  She walked over to her wall safe.  "I know you'd never break into my safe," she said firmly, glancing back at him but he had turned around in a show of respect.  Hmm, he had learned very well from Lupin and Jigen.  She opened it and pulled out an envelope with his name on it.  "Here you are."  She handed them over. "All the ones you've let me have access to."  He opened his mouth. "I understand.  You're still slightly insecure," she agreed.  "It's safer to have some things that I don't know about, just in case the office gets raided."  He nodded, looking pitiful.  "Hey, it's smart.  Lupin does the same thing.  Dawn doesn't, but Lupin and Jigen both do.  Fujiko's spent most of her share over the years."  He grinned at her, looking up through the curtain of his hair. He did look adorable.  "Can I do anything else for you before we meet to go over the yearly statements next week?"  He shook his head.  "Good boy.  Behave in the city.  Don't get arrested or anything."

He leaned down, kissing her on the forehead.  "If I ever find a woman to like, I hope she's like you."  He smiled and walked out, stopping to send her some flowers and candy.  She deserved it. Then he went to the weapons museum.  He heard some whispering from some of the people in the room with him, but it was just 'is that him' stuff.  Nothing concrete about these new rumors.  Those he found out at dinner, when someone sat across from him.  "Hey," he said, nodding at the head of the local thieves.  "You wanted something?  Am I buying you dinner?  I didn't think I had asked you on a date."

The man laughed, sounding like a braying ass.  "No.  I've already eaten.  I heard you were in town.  Did you break with the group?"  Xander shook his head, eating another bite of steak.  He leaned closer.  "Are the rumors true?"

"What rumors?  The first I've heard of all this shit is from that guy at the airport who tried to stick up Fuji."  The man shuddered.  "It's amazing, Goemon was already outside.  He begged me to spare him.  Said I judge souls?"  The local boss nodded.  "Where did that come from?"

"Believe it or not, it came from the US.  From a few different spots.  The whole 'strangeness' stuff," he said with a shiver, "came from a few places on the east and west coast."  Xander nodded.  "The thing about judging souls, that came from Istanbul."

"How?  Damn it, I only met with the locals a few times.  I was very respectful."

The local boss shrugged.  "Who knows.  With your showing this year in the maze, anything is possible.  It should die down in a few years."  He smirked.  "So, is it true?"

"Is what true?" Xander asked, cutting another bite of steak and eating it.  He looked at him.  "Is what true?" he asked again as he chewed when he didn't get an answer.

"Is it true that you had to go through the maze a second time, after they added to the security?" he said flatly.  "It's said they had to make it two or three times harder than for the rest of us."

Xander coughed. "The things inside bowed to me.  They had to negate my taint before I could go through it again," he admitted quietly.  "It's still not something I wanted to be done to me."

"Still, you're the only one who survived singly, even at the easier level.  One of four who survived from duos and the others beat you by about five minutes on time.  Plus, your group was won by surviving and being fastest."  He cleared his throat and leaned back as the waiter came back to refill Xander's glass with wine.  "Thanks and all that."  The waiter looked at him.  "I'm fine, we're having a talk."  The waiter nodded and left them alone.  "So, are you?"

"Am I what?  Am I talented?  Am I tainted?  Yes."  He picked up his wine glass to look at it.  "I have no idea why people put so much stock in wine tasting and all that stuff.  It's pretty and it tastes good against the food."  The thief laughed.  "What did you really want to know?  I want to know everything that's being said about me.  So does my boss.  He's concerned to say the least."

"I heard amused, but concerned fits."  He leaned back, sneering at him.  "It's *said* that the new toy of Zenigata's is a plant of yours."

Xander shook his head.  "Dawn's a friend and former thief.  She trained with Lupin too. Next?"

"It's said that the reason the things bowed to you and they had to make the maze harder was your former friends and that you're probably the only person who's lived through that sort of thing."  Xander nodded.  "It's also said that you're very knowledgeable about such matters.  Enough that you've brought one of the stuffy Watcher bastards into the fold."

"Marcus brought himself.  The same person who betrayed me did it to him.  It was his father."

"Hmm."  He raised an eyebrow.  "It's said that you're Jigen's equal."  Xander shrugged.  "No comment?"

"Low self esteem about my skills," Xander informed him.  "He says I'm good."

He leaned forward.  "It's said you planned and carried out the Las Vegas thing by yourself.  It's also said that you've done other things by yourself.  Some hits, some problems.  Some magic."  Xander raised an eyebrow, looking amused.  "It's also being said by the most superstitious that you're bad luck for anyone your boss doesn't respect."

"That could be true, I haven't met many of them," Xander admitted.

"After you broke those pirates' hiding spot, they were caught.  After you broke the local bosses in Las Vegas, they were arrested and one committed suicide instead of going to jail.  After you broke out of LA's holding facility during that *convenient* earthquake the thieves in LA got suddenly religious.  It's said the ones here in Paris are leaving the field by the droves if they're not great already and don't feel they can become great because they think you'll take them out."

"I uphold my bosses standards on who should be in the life, but I'd never enforce them without having to," Xander said quietly.  "I'd never do that to the field.  Yes, I do believe it should only be the really good and those learning and who want to be great.  Them and the street level guys who rob little old ladies have their place.  The mediocre ones who are satisfied with only being able to kite a check I have no desire to work with.  Then again, I'd never do anything about it."  The thief slumped a little.  He took a sip of his wine.  "What else?"  He put down his glass and picked up his fork and knife, cutting off another piece of steak.

"It's said you've got major skills, man.  I want the truth."

Xander glanced at him as he cut the strip into smaller pieces.  "While I do have skills with weapons, and with some elements of the odd and unusual, I'm not as skilled as I would like to be."  The other thief looked stunned.  "I'm not looking to work alone.  I like my current boss.  He has me at his back with whatever he wants. Whenever he wants."

"That's the other thing," he said with a small sneer.  "It's said you're gay."

"I'm indiscriminate, get it right," Xander said firmly.  "Yes, I do happen to enjoy *certain* men, and *certain* women.  You're not one."  The thief gave him a nervous chuckle so he looked at him.  "Really, you're not.  You're more than safe from my lust.  Feel lucky."  The thief nodded quickly.  "Anything else?"

"I want warning if you're working in the city.  I run this city."

"Don Lucretza runs the city," Xander corrected.  "I already have an agreement with him about fair warning if I'm working in the city alone."  The man swallowed.  "It should filter down to you and your friends.  I hear he likes you."

"He likes your boss more," he said bitterly.

Xander grinned.  "Who wouldn't?  With my boss' track record?"  The man grimaced.  "I'd like to see you do what we did this last month."

"Did you share the Vegas thing with them?"

Xander nodded.  "Even though my boss said I didn't have to.  I respect him that way.  Consider me a hunter for his tribe.  A guardian of the pack.  Anything else?" he asked with a small smirk.  The man shook his head.  "Really?"

"Well, there are rumors about some...people going into an uncontrollable lust as soon as they see you."

"It's the silver hair," Xander said with a goofy grin.  "I've never understood that."  The man swallowed.  "Is it hitting you too?"  The thief nodded.  "You're still safe from my lust."  The thief swallowed.  "Do we have other business?"  He shook his head. "Then go take care of that before you injure yourself, Dominick.  Don't let me keep you.  I'm going to be here finishing this excellent meal and then have a long love affair with a sundae up the street.  I'll be heading back in the morning."

Dominick leaned forward again.  "There's something in town looking for you.  A dark man with dark hair.  It's said he's not human, that he's a hunter."

"Angel or Angelus?" he asked, sipping his wine.

"Angel.  Who is he?"

"Stay away from him.  He's a good guy with a mission to atone.  Leave him to me.  If you see him tonight, I'll be at Club Demented after my sundae."  Dominick nodded and left him alone, going to find something to take care of the hard on he had.  Xander chuckled and turned off the recorder he had worn.  He had figured someone would come up to him since he was in town. When he was done, he sent it back to Marcus' room with a message to give it to the boss, then he went for his sundae.  As he was digging in, a man sat across from him. "Angel," he said dryly.  "Want some?"  He waved the spoonful of ice cream and butterscotch sauce.  It had been forever since he had a banana split.

"I came to see you," Angel said bitterly.  "Cordelia said I had to."

"About?"  He ate that spoonful and dug out another one.

"About your life.  She's upset with you."

"Yay.  She hasn't been mine in a long time, Angel.  Besides, she could appear in front of me if she wanted to.  Now, what's the real reason you're in Paris?"  He looked at the stunned vampire.  He glanced behind him, waving his spoon at the spirit.  "Pull up a chair, Cordy."  She sat down in the chair he pushed out, giving him a pathetic look.  "Won't work, Cordy.  I've moved on and I'm happy."

"You're also important," she told him.  "We need you, Xander."

He gave a bitter laugh.  "Sure you do."  He glared at someone staring at them, then at her.  "You don't want me, you need me.  I have people who both want and need me.  Why would I give that up for the noble life of sacrifice?"

"And it's not what you're doing now?" she asked.  He shook his head, eating another bite.  "Are you really satisfied with this life?" she demanded.   He nodded, eating more of his sundae, this time getting some of the banana too.  He had one scoop gone.  "Xander, this isn't you."

He looked at her, smirking at her.  "Yes, it is.  It has been for a very long time, Cordelia.  The same as that's you.  We changed as we grew up.  Life made us different.  You quit caring about your shoes and I started to."  She looked shocked.  "I like my life," he reiterated.  "I like my life and everything in it, even though I don't particularly like my choker being broken at the moment."  She shuddered.  "Ah, that's what's bothering you."  He smirked.  "The guy thing started before we were dating, Cordy.  Before Buffy got to town."  Her mouth opened.  "Back when I was fifteen.  Nearly every weekend, even while we were together.  Oh, and Larry told me about you trying to 'help' him before the game."  He smirked.  "Anything else?"

"Xander, this isn't you," she complained.  "You're not like this!"

Angel nodded.  "She's right, you're not.  You never were before."

"Yes, let's talk about before," he said dryly, keeping the bitterness out of his voice.  Both of the white lighters swallowed. "Go away.  I'm happy and content.  I have been happy and content.  I'm doing what I love with people I adore and I couldn't be happier most of the time.  At least once I can talk my lover into getting me a kitten."  He smirked.  "Anything else?"  They shook their heads.  "Then head off.  I don't need this or you to complete me. I found solace in the quiet a long time ago.  Interestingly enough, it was Buffy who started that one.  If she hadn't sent me away back then and made sure that I'd stop Jack, then I might not be this way.  I had to learn to like my own company since no one else liked it.  At least they didn't before I found my mentor."  He looked at Angel.  "Now, unless you want us to come for a visit the next time we're in town, I'd fly back to LA tonight," he suggested.  He ate another bite of his ice cream, then left it there.  He had already paid.  He went to the hotel he had chosen for the night, heading to shower off the slime of their presence.  He came out and found Cordelia standing there.  "Don't make me shower off your taint again," he said bitterly.  "Go away."

"Fine.  I will.  But know this, the Powers have not forsaken you."

"Yeah, because they've been there for me," he said with an amused chuckle.  "Where were they when I died and it brought me back?"  Her face fell.  "The only higher powers I recognize are Janus, Jigen, and Lupin.  And occasionally Goemon.  Get it now?"  She nodded, disappearing.  He decided against a second shower, heading out to get dressed and go have fun instead.  It would salve the hurt better than anything short of being held by Jigen.  The club was a mass of writhing bodies, having virtual sex with people they didn't know on the dance floor to the trance music covering all the noises they could ever make.  He found his position and someone who gave him a smile as she turned to face him, bringing him into the mass of bodies.


Marcus looked up as his train compartment opened, raising an eyebrow at Xander.  "Did you not sleep?" he demanded.  Xander sat down, shaking his head and closing his eyes.  "What happened?"

"Cordy and Angel were in town," he said hoarsely.  "They wanted me back."  He let out a bitter laugh.  "If I fall asleep, make me get up when we get to town."  He popped his neck.  "I feel better."

"Good."  Marcus shifted over, holding him even though he was stiff.  "Xander, will you be fine?"

"Yup.  The Powers want me back," he said bitterly.  "Fucking yay.  I don't recognize their authority.  Go away, Marcus."

"Of course, Xander."  He moved back to his seat.  "I have the tape in my overnight bag.  Did you want my razor?"

"No thanks."  Xander slumped, turning to put his feet up.  "Just leave me alone.  Hum or something."

"Of course."  He hummed a quiet song while he read.  Xander didn't like noise, he understood that, but sometimes it was necessary.  The train lurched and they were off, speeding to the manor house.


Marcus handed over the tape, then gave Lupin a look.  "He got off the stop before this one," he admitted.  "He said something about going for a run."  Lupin winced.  "He'll be fine.  I'm sure of it."  Lupin nodded, letting him into the car.  If he was being honest, he might have expected something like this.  He got in to drive.  "Did we need to pick up anything for Ishi?"

"No, we're good with everything.  Goemon bought about fifty packs of diapers and a case of formula," he admitted dryly. "We'll have to deal with the clothes stuff next month."  He pulled out of the parking lot, heading back to the manor house.  "Why the stop before this one?"

"Something about a cave," Marcus said with a shrug.  "I don't know.  The tape is from his meeting last night with Dominick, the leader of the thieves in Paris."

Lupin put the adapter into the radio, then stuck the smaller tape into the adapter.  He listened to the meeting, grimacing at the new information.  "Interesting.  Anything else happen?"

"Angel and Cordelia showed up last night," Marcus said quietly.  The car stopped and Lupin looked at him.  "He said they came on behalf of the Powers.  They want him back."  Someone honked as they went around them.  "He turned them down of course."

"Of course."  He got them moving in a forward manner again, frowning as he thought.  "Why?"

"I don't know," Marcus admitted.  "He said the Powers wanted him back and he told them he doesn't recognize their authority any longer."  Lupin nodded.  "I would have killed to have pictures of their faces when Xander turned them down."  He got a pat on the arm for that.  "Will he be fine?"

"Perfectly fine," Lupin agreed.  "What cave was in the last town?"  He hit the number on the car phone for the house.  Jigen grunted as he answered it.  "What cave is in the last town?  The stop before ours?  Xander said he was heading there."

"There's that tomb," Jigen offered.  "Something from the crusades I think but that's supposed to be a myth."  He grunted something at someone else in the room.  "Goemon said it's real but he's not sure where it is.  Why did Xander get off there?"

"Cordelia and Angel were in town last night," Marcus shared.  "They wanted him back.  He came onto the train this morning looking like he had danced all night. Unshaven, messy hair, tired eyes and slumped body.  He took a short nap then suddenly sat up and got off at the stop before ours."

Jigen's 'what' wasn't directed at them, but back at Goemon.  Then he came back, talking into the phone.  "Goemon thinks it's on this side of the town, not on the other side. He did say there could be more than one though.  Do we need to go hunting the Xander?"

"No, he'll be fine.  He did meet with Dominick," Lupin told him.  He rewound the tape and played it for them, hearing the chuckles.  They were on speaker now, that had been Fujiko.  "They reset the maze?"

"They did.  That's why we came in second.  The other team had a five minute lead because their's was easier," Jigen shared.  "They left it at the normal level for the group because the register said we concealed his taint."  Goemon muttered something.  "Goemon said it was him."

"It's possible," Lupin agreed.  "Thanks, Jigen."  He hung up and erased the tape, handing it back to Marcus.  "Now that we know," he said dryly.  "Holy relics from the Crusades around here and Grandfather didn't steal it?"

"Your father had some respect for the Church probably," Marcus told him.  "Xander holds no such respect."  Lupin nodded, accepting that. "What could be in there?"

"Who knows."  He shrugged, pulling through the open gates.  They closed behind him and he continued up to the house.  Once there, he let Marcus out then went to park the car.  He walked into the house, taking the baby from its father to hold him.  Ishi helped him think almost as good as Xander did.  He walked into the office and found Xander sitting there, feet up on the desk.  "That was quick.  You found it already?"  Xander tossed over something, making him catch it, and he noticed the evil looking smirk on his face.  "What's this?"

"A slave bracelet," he said, standing up.  "That will remove the free will of whomever wears it," he explained, getting out of the way.  Lupin sat behind his desk, looking at it.  "The other stuff I found is in the dining room on the table.  Marcus, I found your sword."  He hurried that way.  "I want that destroyed," Xander told him.  "That and the fucking Grail."  He walked away.

"Grail?" Lupin yelled after him.  He started to stand up but his foot hit something metal, making him look down.  "What are you?" he whispered as he picked it up.  "Holy shit.  XANDER!"

"It's not the real one.  It was the blessed Challis the Church had made in the first century," he called back.  "It can heal the sick, but only if they're holy and pure."  He came back in.  "And no, I don't mean children.  I mean nuns who came in virginal and never got touched, never had a thought, never saw a picture, nothing."  Lupin looked stunned.  "It's pretty useless in today's society, don'tcha think?"  Lupin nodded, tossing it to him.  "Thanks.  What about the bracelet?"

"I'll have it destroyed," Lupin promised.  "I'll have the stones destroyed too."  Xander nodded.  "Label that and have Jigen put it downstairs.  Just in case it comes in handy sometime."  Xander nodded, leaving him alone.  Lupin looked down at the baby.  "Wow.  You're very lucky.  I thought the advice to never work with kids and animals would extend to us but you are one lucky little guy," he said, tickling his stomach.  Ishi wiggled for him, making him smile.  "You're a good little guy.  Now, how should we reward Xander for such good things?  Hmm?"  He picked up the bracelet and walked it down to the incinerator.  At the very least, it would melt the metal and destroy some of the stones. The others could be destroyed by a hammer or something. He gave it a look, then decided Xander was right.  It was too dangerous to leave in existence.  He tossed it in with a sigh.  "That could have come in handy."  He walked up to get Goemon to make sure it was fully destroyed.  He could trust him.  He walked into the dining room, ducking the swing from Marcus.  "Hey!  Baby!"  Marcus stopped, going pale.  "Outside.  No sword play in the house.  Goemon knows better.  Goemon, before you do that I tossed something into the incinerator.  It's too dangerous to leave capable of being used.  Make sure it's fully destroyed."  He nodded, going to do that.  "By yourself," he called after him, making Ishi start and fuss.  "Sorry, little guy."  He came over to look at the stuff.  "Stolen stuff from where?"

"Probably from Istanbul or Jerusalem," Jigen offered.  He took the baby so Lupin could examine some stuff.  "Xander appeared with the pile.  He took a book for himself."  Lupin looked at him.  "Yes, that sort of book," he said dryly.  "I'm not sure I want Marcus to see it."

"The day gets more and more interesting all the time," Lupin told him.  "He had me destroy something that could take away free will."  Jigen's face hardened.  "That's what I threw into the incinerator.  The challis?"

"In the big vault downstairs and labeled.   No one's that pure anymore."

"It could still happen," Lupin reminded him.  "In some backwoods country maybe.  If not, maybe they'd like it back."  He smirked.  "That would give Pops another heart attack."

"Yeah.  Yeah, it probably would," Jigen agreed, smirking back.  "Marcus has a sword that he says talks to him.  That's what happened to the chair.  He swears he'll fix it."

"He will or I'll spank him," Lupin agreed.  "What else did Xander take?"

"One small bag," Jigen said, opening the trunk it had come from.  The jewels sparkled up at them.  "He said it was his version of fair share.  He already had it out before he came back. That's all he took unless he had something in his pockets."

Something got tossed in as Xander walked past the doorway.  "Don't need that," he announced.  "Have fun with it."

"Xander!" they yelled.  He came back, giving them a look.

"What did you take?" Lupin asked.

"A book on elemental demons and their uses in warfare, not a magic book.  The teleporting thing was something Ethan wanted me to learn.  It takes a shitload of energy so I can't use it all the time."  He shrugged, leaning against the doorframe.  "That and a small bag of jewels.  Some very pretty dark red rubies and a few sapphires.  One emerald.  The diamonds didn't really speak to me.  Why?"

"Just wondering.  You're probably entitled to more than that," Lupin pointed out.

Xander patted himself down, then pulled out a purple stone. "I got this too but I'm not sure if it's worth anything.  I was going to ask you later."  He handed it over as his boss looked at it.  "It looks like a diamond but it's softer when I did the Moh's scale for hardness."

"These are pretty rare, they're called low atmosphere diamonds," Lupin told him.  "Most of them are hardened artificially these days."  He tossed it back.  "It's not worth that much."

"I just liked the color," Xander admitted with a grin. "Can I have a kitten?"

"Isn't the baby enough for you?"

"No, I want something fuzzy to cuddle.  I realize I'm not going to be the one the baby likes to go to for comfort."  He waved at the baby. "Hi, Ishi."  The baby grunted at him. "I'll take care of it and everything."

"Xander, we travel a lot to have a pet," Lupin reminded him.  "You'd almost never see it and traveling with the pet is even worse."

Xander sighed.  "I know, but I wanted something to cuddle now and then."  He shrugged again and continued on his way to the kitchen for some milk.  "Hey," he said, taking the sword from Marcus.  "Take it outside," he said firmly.  "Before I get Ethan to finish removing that possession of yours."  Marcus nodded and hurried outside with it.  "Thank you."  He found the milk and sniffed it to make sure it wasn't formula.  It was real milk so he found a glass that looked a lot like a vase to pour it into, taking it back to his room to read his new book.  It was fascinating.  He hadn't thought of using ice demons in the desert to promote a panic in a population.  He found another book on his bed and smiled.  "Sun Tzu, The Art of War," he read.  "Cool.  I've been meaning to pull this from the bookcase."  He laid down to read, sipping his milk slowly while he did so.  This was formal education he could appreciate.


Goemon knocked on Xander's door three days later, walking in at his grunt.  "Dinner," he announced.

"Busy.  I'll make a sandwich later," he said absently, tracing his finger over the archaic English he had read so many times back in Sunnydale.

"That is not acceptable.  Lupin said you had to join us tonight."  Xander shrugged.  Goemon sighed.  "He said I could carry you if I had to."

"I'll be fine.  Tell him I said thanks for The Art of War."

"That was me," he admitted.  Xander glanced back at him.  "Did you enjoy it?"  Xander nodded, grinning at him.  "Good.  I thought you might like the theology behind it.  Now come to dinner."  Xander rolled his eyes.  "He meant it."

"Fine."  He looked at his book.  "Let me finish this paragraph."  He went back to his finger tracing.  He found himself picked up and squeaked.  "Hey!  Not liking you like that!"  He was spanked and flung over a shoulder.  "Fine, I'll come eat now," he said.  He still wasn't put down.  "I'll be good.  I'll even make it to practice today."

"You will do that anyway," Goemon reminded him.  "You never miss practice with us."  He walked into the dining room and set Xander back on his feet.  "He was reading his new book."

"It's fascinating.  They were talking about using plant demons to suck up the well under a small town near Jerusalem," Xander told them.  "That's how they broke the standoff."

"Interesting," Goemon told him.  "I would appreciate looking at it after you are done."  Xander nodded, grinning at him.  "He liked The Art of War also," he announced.

"Horribly boring," Fujiko said with a shudder.  "I had a mark who quoted that at me."

Lupin smirked at her.  "You did have some bad taste in marks," he reminded her.  He looked at Xander.  "You missed tea."

"That's okay, I'm still not hungry."

"Eat," Jigen ordered, handing him the bowl of broccoli.  "Before I force feed you tofu."

"I still need a new bracelet," Xander said dryly, taking food for himself.  He could eat now instead of later, when he was done reading.  "There's all sorts of neat stuff in there.  Did you know the Arabic panic about women being seductresses was because of some succubi who were haunting the area back then?  That whole 'no skin showing' thing came from that according to the book."

"That may be debatable," Goemon pointed out.

"Well, yeah, it's a bit biased against anything Arabic and the demonic is to be used and then killed," Xander agreed.  "There's some worse bias shown in there, especially against women.  My modern mind is horrified about what the author tells about some of the atrocities he helped visit on the people back then.  But it's long past and still a fascinating account of a megalomaniac with a little bit of power and the will to rule the world as God."

Lupin looked at him.  "Learning profiling now?"  Xander shook his head, grimacing.  "You're sure?"

"I'm sure.  I'm still on tax accounting and advanced Russian, with a long struggle against Japanese beyond the kindergarten level."

"I can help you with that," Fujiko offered.  "I do speak it."  Xander grinned at her.  "Eat."

"Fine."  Xander dug into his broccoli and felt his foot be nudged.  He took the plate of meatloaf and took some of that too. "Thanks," he said, grinning at his boss. "So, what's happened while I got sucked into my book?"

"We were starting to get worried about you," Goemon told him.  "You did not seem to move from your room for days."

"I did so.  I went out and did my nightly katas. I ate a sandwich before I did that.  I came out for my other practices.  I thought we were on break," he said, looking confused.  "Am I missing meetings?"  Lupin shook his head.  "Then what's wrong?"

"We haven't seen you, heard you, or watched you bounce for days," Jigen told him. "We were worried you were possessed again."

Xander giggled.  "Not hardly.  That would be really hard to do now."  He grinned.  "I'm fine, just interested.  Oh, do we have any graph paper or spare accounting style paper around here or should I go into the city to buy a few ledgers?"

"You could order them," Lupin told him.

"No, I can't," Xander sighed.  "The place forwarding our stuff in Cairo got busted yesterday.  I'm expecting the rest of my stuff from storage in the next few days, it was their last shipment.  They sent off everything with the minor couriers while the cops there busted the big guys.  There was also a fire in the warehouse so the records were destroyed.  I'll have to find a new criminal shipping place."

"They were criminal?" Jigen asked.

Xander nodded.  "Paranormal crooks."  He winked.  "Teleporters, mental fire starters, people like that.  Very anti-Watcher and very useful.  I have no idea what they're going to do now that their home guild is gone."  He cut into his meatloaf, stuffing his mouth.  "They wanted me but I turned them down, we made a pact to support each other," Xander said between bites.

"Slow down and expand that," Fujiko suggested, staring at the boy when he looked at her.  "Please," she ordered nicely.

He shrugged and put down the fork.  "The guild has been around since about 700 BC.  They've always been on the lookout for people who are skilled and can turn to the life of crime.  There have been some very important seconds-in-command that have come out of that organization.  They like to be those who support the power so they're never exposed.  They came to me right after I released Jigen and while he was healing.  It was the person who healed your leg," he told him, getting a nod that the person was remembered.  "She handed me a letter on how to contact them. Dangerous yes, but I wanted to know what they wanted with me.  They wanted me to join them and train the gifts I now bore.  I was still fairly squeamish back then if you remember."

"The woman in the dry cleaning shop?" Jigen asked.

"That was their second contact," Xander told him.  "The first was the fitter who had the problems getting me into the jacket.  He's the second-in-command in Vegas.  He's the empath who supports the local Don there as his personal assistant."  Lupin suddenly smiled, apparently he had met that one.  "They accepted that I wouldn't train my things at that time but they were kinda scared because they had been exposed.  Usually they would have just kidnaped me and I would have woken up looking at my new mentor.  So we made an agreement.  I wouldn't out them while they existed to people who didn't know, which you're not anyway, and they wouldn't work against me.  The shipping thing was extra and something I thought might be necessary considering the business I had stepped into."  He grinned.  "See, good me."  He dug in again.  He was really hungry today.  Maybe he hadn't eaten breakfast.

"Very good you," Fujiko agreed, looking at Lupin.  "You knew about them?"  He nodded.  "Did Dawn?"

"They trained her to break and enter," Xander said between bites.  "Basically a knowledge transfer."  He scraped his plate and reached for more, seeing the tolerant looks.  "Sorry, should I wait?"

"No, eat," Lupin encouraged.  "Is there anything else like that?  Something else you've neglected to tell us?"  Xander swallowed and twirled his fork.  "Confess and I'll give you ice cream."  The boy drooled.  "With chocolate sauce."

"Well, um, the reason I'm learning Russian is because of their students just had a daughter and they said they think she'll be going toward my skills and they wanted me to consider teaching her when she's old enough.  She's two right now though so it's not really a current problem, more of a future problem because I'd never train her before she's legal to make her own decisions.  Even if I took her at sixteen, that's fourteen years from now and I didn't think anyone would mind by then," he said quickly in a single breath.

Lupin frowned, looking at Jigen.  "Did you understand that?  I'm not as skilled at Xanderbabble as I should be."

Jigen nodded.  "They offered him a student in fourteen or so years if she's like him.  That's why he's learning Russian.  She's two."  He looked at his student.  "By then you should be good enough to pass on your skills."  Xander swallowed.  "What?"

He laughed nervously.  "The guild said I'm the most skilled of all of us that they've ever seen.  None of them have ever been gunmen like me or like you.  Apparently we don't get that good."  Jigen nodded.  "That's why I was asked to consider it."

"Good enough reason.  If she's not expected to be that great then it's not a problem."

"Are they hoping to make her into an assassin?" Goemon asked.  Xander nodded, digging into the potatoes to get himself some more.  "Take my helping, I have no desire for that tonight." Xander grinned and did so, taking half the bowl for his plate. "What will you be teaching her?"

"Just the shooting," he assured him.  "Nothing else.  Anything else she needs she'll be getting from them.  Psychic assassination and all that would have to come from them.  I'm just a gunmen to them."

"You're damn well more than that," Lupin told him firmly.

"Oh, I know, but that's the skill they consider my best to them.  Otherwise, they've got people to cover everything else.  Apparently none of them have studied how to shoot that well."  He shrugged and dug into his messy pile of food, eating heartily.  "Maybe I did forget breakfast."

"You didn't make yourself a sandwich last night either," Jigen told him.  "Just the shooting?"  Xander nodded, eating faster.  "Slow down before you choke," he said patiently.  "You're probably good enough to teach that right now.  Not the higher skills, but how to shoot and that sort of thing."  Xander looked up, giving him the most worshipful look again.  It was the second one he had been given and it made him have the third case of warm-fuzzies in his life.  "Thanks, kid."

"Thank you," he said, grinning at him.  He took another bite, slower this time.  "You really think so?"  Everyone nodded.  "Wow.  Cool."  He beamed.  "Lupin, can you look over my accounting problem?  I know I've fucked up somewhere and I can't find the five cents I screwed up by.  I'm hoping a new set of eyes will find it."

"Sure, bring it down later.  I only understand a little accounting but I can help," he agreed.  "Need any other help?"

"I need help with my Japanese.  That and my accents suck in all my languages to my own ear.  My Arabic is better with all the time we spent there, but I still suck."

"We'll practice," Lupin promised.  "You know Murami's coming over next week?"  Xander nodded.  "Will she be meeting with you?"

"Yeah.  She's got seven of my nine accounts," Xander told him.  Fujiko dropped her fork, staring at him.  "A few are kinda small.  I've got my comic shopping account.  It's only got a few thousand in it.  Then I've got my clothes shopping one.  Again, a few thousand, I think nine or ten."  He blinked a few times.  "My retirement account.  My drawing account so I have money to spend for emergencies.  My emergency fund, which she doesn't have but it's Swiss.  My other Swiss one, that's from something I stole back when Jigen told me to go away for a month.  I feel a little guilty about it so I left it alone.  It was supposed to be a holy relic and the demon *offered* it to me in return for me leaving without harming him and showed me the way into the cave so I kinda left him alone."  He blinked again while he thought.  "The rest are pretty much just a way to keep the other accounts from overflowing."  He went back to his eating.  "Hey, Fujiko, do you know anything about Anime?" he asked her.  "I've been meaning to start working on my anime DVD's without the subtitles and I'm not sure I'm getting some of them right since I got one that said 'the dog does bay at the moon so it can pee' earlier."

"I'll try," she offered.  "Was there even a dog?"

Xander shook his head.  "It was some holy man who said it to a warrior.  I have no idea if that's normal or right."

"Depending on the holy man," Goemon offered dryly, starting to chuckle.  "I've gotten such information before."

"Wasn't yours something about laughter being the greatest present?" Jigen asked.  Goemon nodded, smiling.  "Need me for anything, Xander?"

"Always," he said instantly, looking hurt.

Jigen relented.  "I meant for the new stuff you're learning."

"Oh.  Well, do you know accounting?" Jigen shook his head.  "Nothing?"  Jigen shook his head.  "Then can you help me weed out my closets for a charity in Paris that needs clothes?"

"Sure," he agreed.  "What is in those trunks?"  Xander blushed and dug into his food again, his hair covering his face.  "Xander?"

"My comic collection is in one," Xander admitted.  "The second is, um, my, ah, sex toys?" he said, making it sound like a question.  Goemon looked at him.  "That one's under the bed.  Not the one you were perched on the other day," he promised.

"Then what's in the two at the foot of your bed?" Lupin asked.

"Special outfits I wanted to save.  My first suit that Jigen got me.  Things like that."  He went back to eating, embarrassed beyond belief.

"Make sure my son does not open that one until he is old enough to bother you to teach him how to use them," Goemon told him.  Xander choked, giving him a shocked look.  He smirked.  "What?  I do not expect the little one to come to *me*.  The others will be older then and you are the most sexual creature I know of."

Xander got himself calmed down again.  "Okay," he agreed, nodding, eyes still wide as they watered.  "If he comes to me, I'll make sure he's very careful and knowledgeable."

"Thank you," Goemon said, smiling at him.  "That would be helpful. Any future children as well."  Fujiko gave him a look.  "If you relent of course," he said smugly.  She had been missing being pampered, it wouldn't be long.

"Speaking of, Fujiko, are you feeling all right?  You're not eating," Jigen taunted, smirking at her.  She shrieked and hit him, making him fall to get away from her.

"Hey, mine," Xander protested.  "No beating the Master.  Marcus can't beat Goemon for you, you can't beat mine."

"Fine," she said, glaring at Jigen.  "I'll get you when your watch-bitch isn't around," she sneered.

"Technically, I don't have my choker back yet," Xander reminded her.  "Not a bitch today, sweetie.  Just little old Xander.  Who apparently scares the fuck out of most of Paris' underground."  Lupin chuckled, nodding.  "Why?"

"Because you're a scary guy," Jigen told him.  "It's like how you can't see why people pant after your ass, like Dominick did."  Xander relented, apparently that made sense to him.  "Should we institute a monthly pregnancy test?" he asked Goemon.

"No!" Fujiko said angrily.  "I can stab you before he can stop me."

"I can shoot you before you make it out of your chair," Xander reminded her, "and I can do it with only a wound that'll make your husband pamper and spoil you again."  They locked gazes and she backed down.  "Thank you."  He went back to shoveling food into his mouth.  "Where's Marcus?"

"Asleep," Lupin told him.  "Take his portion too if you're hungry, Xander."  Xander added some more meatloaf, breaking it into his potatoes.

"Did you eat like this as a teenager?" Fujiko demanded.  He paused, thinking about it, then shook his head, going back to eating.

"I doubt he had the opportunity," Lupin told her.

"My mother couldn't cook to save her life, we had take out when we ate more than sandwiches," Xander told her.  "Take out is not filling.  No matter what anyone says.  And yet, I still managed to end up six-two and about a hundred-eighty pounds of muscle.  It's amazing."

"More like the carpentry you used to do," Jigen pointed out.  Xander nodded, scraping his plate.  "Can you wait for the rest of us or are you going to go rape the freezer for the ice cream."

"I'd never *rape* a freezer," he said with a small grin.  "I'm sure I could make it give it up with a little sweet talking and some soft stroking of the handle.  Others have."  Lupin choked this time. "Sorry, boss."

"No, that's okay," he wheezed.

"How experienced were you?" Fujiko asked.

Xander looked up, then stuck his tongue out.  Then he shook his head and looked at her.  "If I told you, you'd probably lose all respect for me," he told her.  Her jaw dropped open.  "Mostly from the top, dear, but yeah, Xander was a slut when he was younger."

"I thought you didn't lose your cherry until you were seventeen," Jigen told him.

"Eighteenth birthday and that was to a woman," Xander told him matter-of-factly.  "To a man at fifteen.  I topped most of my life after that.  Faith confused the hell out of me."  He grinned.  "What did you think I did when I left the town every few weekends?"

"I didn't get that much information on your past," Lupin admitted.  "Xander?"  He looked at him.  "I thought you were a bottom."

He thought for a second, deciding how to phrase it without sounding mushy.  "Only to those that I consider good enough to hold that position over me," he shared, standing up.  "Since I'm done, I should probably go work out.  I want to see if our peeper's back."  He strolled out.  "I'll get the ice cream later," he called back.

"So, what, he only goes on his back for 'special people'?" Fujiko snorted.  Jigen looked at her, then nodded.  "Really?" she asked.  He nodded again.  "Prove it."

"I know the last guy he went on his back for," Jigen admitted.  "Larry.  Back in high school."  Lupin looked stunned.  "I asked him one night while we were drinking heavily. He said that was more of a teaching position."  He ate a piece of meatloaf, picking up his beer to sip.  "It's dry again," he noted.  Lupin hit him on the arm, making him grin.  "Sorry.  It is."

"Then you can cook tomorrow night."

"Pizza all right with everyone?" Jigen asked.  Goemon laughed.  "What? I can dial as well as his parents ever did."  He heard a muffled gunshot.  "I guess he's on the range and forgot to close the door."

"I'm surprised he still does practice with as often as he gets to fire in real life," Fujiko said.

"Practice is necessary, even if you are using some of your skills every day," Goemon told her.  "You cannot possibly use all your skills every day and practice keeps them from going stale until you need them.  I do much the same."

"So do I," Jigen admitted.  "I do mine once a week now."  Goemon nodded, he did a full set of routines once a week as well.

"I think Xander's still doing his twice a week," Lupin admitted.  "How did you teach him to ricochet a bullet?  I thought his depth perception would have been shot."

"It is, but we found one guy bothering his woman.  It made him want to master it faster," Jigen said smugly.  "Second shot.  First one went into the building.  Got it right across the future rapist's balls."  Lupin shuddered.  "Only grazed him.  The guy screamed and ran off.  The woman looked around, scared stupid, but nothing happened so she went home.  No one reported the incident.  We were in Cleveland, the second night while you were working."

"Wow," Lupin said, shaking his head.  "I never would have considered teaching him that."

"Why is his depth perception shot?" Goemon asked.  Lupin shook his head.  "You cannot tell?"

"Not without Xander's permission," Jigen admitted.  "I didn't even know until we ran to Sunnydale.  He had eye dominance before," he told Lupin.  "That's how he's doing it."

"Good.  I'm happy for him," Lupin agreed.

Fujiko wiped her mouth and put her napkin into her lap again.  "Is this why one of his eyes is slightly different in color?" Jigen nodded.  "Why?  Is he blind in that side?"

Goemon sat up straight.  "I heard him.  That person with the nails."  Lupin nodded.  "I had forgotten.  That is impressive.  I had not thought to test him that way.  I will have to, to make sure he is fully capable of overcoming it."

"Keeping things from me makes me go hunting them," Fujiko reminded them.

"Tell her," Xander called.  "If she uses it against me, I'm staking her in the garden naked covered in bug bait."  He walked past the doorway.  "Our peeper is back.  I'm going to pay a visit tonight to get him to stop.  Anyone disagree?"  Everyone shook their heads, watching him walk away.  "Goemon, please don't," he called as he walked away.  "I'm still very insecure about that."

They heard his feet going up the stairs. Lupin looked at Fujiko.  "Way back when, when Sunnydale was still a town, something popped one of his eyeballs.  The off-color one is glass," he said quietly.  "And I agree, do not use that against him."  She looked shocked.  "You didn't notice his occasional run into the doorways?"

"His preference for sitting on a certain side of the tv?" Jigen offered.

She shook her head.  "No, I hadn't," she admitted.  "He's had it all this time?"  The guys all nodded.  "Doesn't it need removed and cleaned? Or even checked over now and then?"

"He said he's got some pain in it," Jigen told her.  "He probably should have it examined.  He doesn't want to.  He's very stubborn sometimes."  He listened, Xander was back outside by the noise; he must have gone down the back stairs.  "What happened to his back at the prison?"

"I'm hoping it was either sympathy pain or simple muscle strain.  Did he have it in LA?" Lupin asked Goemon, who shrugged.  "Fine.  Then it was probably simple muscle strain.  Nothing we should worry about."  Jigen nodded, going back to his dinner.  "Has anyone figured out why Pops likes him?" Lupin asked out of the blue.  "He never would have worked with us to save Dawn.  He would have allowed himself to be shot first."

Goemon coughed.  "I believe he has been doing some checking into the boy's past.  While we were in Hong Kong, he was awake while tied up on the floor in the hotel room.  Xander told the doctor that he had been tortured, that was why he did not like to see others in pain."

"Oh, great, so Pops wants him to go straight so he can be healed?" Jigen asked, looking sickened.  "He wants to reform him with love and kindness?"

Lupin shrugged.  "I doubt he'd go for it.  He did tell Zenigata that he was the reason he had learned languages.  To get past him."  Jigen nodded, he had heard that one before.  "Are we going to lose him to Zenigata?"

"Hell no," Fujiko said derisively.  "He's thanking him, not wanting to bear his kids.  If either of you asked him, he would do that for you.  If Zenigata asked him, he'd arrange to have him committed."

"I also see respect for someone at the top of his field," Goemon offered.  "It is kind to respect one's enemies if they are worthy.  In this case, he is sometimes."

Lupin nodded.  "Good.  I'd hate to have to kill Pops for touching him."

"I wouldn't," Jigen offered.  "Let him steal Xander."  Everyone looked at him.  "Things are going smoothly again, right?"  They nodded.  "Is that us or the extra hands?"

"The extra hands," Fujiko admitted.  "Having Xander here as a balance against you two has freed you both to be more devious and clever with things.  He can plan but he does defer.  He can and does shoot, letting you take out the more important targets.  As a second generation, he'll grow into the image.  Very easily."

Lupin smirked at her.  "Half of the European underground is scared of him," he informed them.  "I asked around with some of Dolune's old people and they're scared shitless of Xander.  They said if I can control him, they respect us even more.  The very fact that we have Xander working with us, that he's in control, and that he defers to us is amazing to them.  They expected Xander to come in and take over in the shooters when he left Jigen's care.  They expected it last year."  Jigen nodded, he had heard some of that.  "The maze proved their worst fears were being contained, by us.  I've been sent information and *requests* for jobs recently from sources that never would have talked to me before.  We've had Russians contact us to steal stuff back."  Fujiko looked impressed.  "So yeah, Xander is more than worth the early insecurity.  Every bit of it and then some.  I haven't been this clear headed in years."

"He is like a big comfort snuggle," Goemon agreed.  "For both of you."

"He's not exactly built like a teddy bear," Jigen said, giving him a look.  "But you're right.  He wears out our excess energy so we have to plan for the explosive situations.  I had no idea how to get us out of that prison."

"I had an idea to take it over, if the opportunity came," Lupin admitted.  "I wasn't sure it would."  Fujiko shuddered, and her husband pulled her closer to comfort her.  "He was what we needed.  He does a lot of that."  They all nodded.  Xander was a very good investment, the same way Marcus would be some day.

"Thinking about it, we have as much power now as some of the medium crime syndicates," Jigen pointed out.  "Before, we were a family unto ourselves.  Now we can take some of the families over."  That got some laughter.  "Seriously.  When we were in Greece, none of the families approached us.  That's never happened when we've been down there."

Lupin sipped his water.  "You're right.  No one came to see if we wanted to do anything.  It was like they assumed we would take out the pirates."  That was something that would have been suggested to keep them out of the families' hair and away from their things.  "Xander has a mutual like agreement with the new Don in Istanbul.  The ones in Greece didn't approach him to test him.  They did that to us for years.  The Russians haven't come to test him like they did us either."  He grimaced.  "Is this him or his friends out of Cairo?"

"Before the maze he was 'Jigen's student'," Fujiko said, doing the finger quotes.  "Few people knew who Lavelle was.  Then Zenigata had a news conference on him in Cleveland.  He made it into the press.  Before anyone could jump up to test him, the maze happened.  Then he was 'Lavelle' in big, bold lights."

"Hence the groupie," Goemon agreed.

Lupin nodded.  "True.  By taking him under our wing, we've let him get past a bunch of the lower level bullshit that we had to go through.  It jumped his reputation ahead by years."

"And he has done some things on his own," Jigen reminded him gently.  "They know he's capable.  What was that crack about dancing on the table?"

"I haven't been able to get a copy of that tape yet," Lupin admitted.  "I think it was the distraction for the Vegas job."  He grinned.  "Apparently it's rather inflammatory or interesting.  There are no departments that have auctioned off copies."  They looked impressed.

"How did he hit a casino?" Fujiko asked.  "Then stayed in town for two days?"

"The CSI did question him," Jigen told her.  "I asked.  He said they did.  She said she did a sentimental turn on the pole and they figured out she had the same moves.  But nothing else matched."  He grinned.  "She wore a silver wig of her own hair."  That got some muted giggling from Lupin.  "She changed her shape so they couldn't tell.  She was pretty naked at both times, no hidden padding.  No recent surgery marks.  Nothing that would point to her."

"It's got to be causing conniptions in Vegas," Lupin said with a small smirk.  Everyone nodded.  That was the best part of the job, watching people go nuts figuring out how they had done things.


Xander was keeping an eye on the roof across the gardens and lawn for his peeper while he worked out.  He saw a window open and snuck out of the garden and across the lawns, going over the separating wall between the two manors then through their woods and across their lawn.  There was a nice tree next to the house that would give him access to the roof behind Mark and wouldn't force him to try and sneak through the house with the ICPO's top three cops and their head of computer operations in it.  He shimmied up the tree, landing quietly on the roof.  He strolled over, smirking when Mark winced.  "Hey," he said quietly, sitting next to him.  "What are you doing?  My sister's not in residence today."

"I know who you are," he stage-whispered.

"Good.  Then you know that your infatuation is probably useless," he agreed.  He gave him a gentle smile and reached over, touching him on the cheek.  "You're a really nice guy, Mark, but I was really confused at the time.  That was only my third week like that."

Mark hung his head, nodding.  "I understand.  Still..."  He looked at him.  "You're still the most special and beautiful thing I've ever seen."  He leaned over, kissing him.  "You probably always will be."

"And you're the guy I first flirted with.  Because of you I got a lot of stuff that I not only needed but needed to settle me into a calm and happy place.  That's why I'm over here."  He scooted closer.  "I consider my other half like my sister."  Mark nodded, swallowing hard.  "I'm not the one you really want, Mark, it's in your eyes now."  He kissed him again.  "Tell Uncle Lavelle.  You deserve a boon for being so nice to a shy little girl and for not telling your uncle that we lived next door."  He saw the boy's eyes widen slightly and smirked.  "I didn't know Gramps floated that way."

"He doesn't, not always, but I've seen it," Mark admitted, glancing around.  "I...."  He shook his head and slumped.  "It's too preposterous to even think."

Xander snorted.  "I used to think the same thing when I mooned over Jigen.  Then he got insanely jealous of you."  He pinched the boy's chin.  "He got so jealous that they had a real fight over me."  Mark looked stunned.  "Yeah.  Because you kissed me that way, I got the man I've always wanted.  I got so much from that.  What can I do to get you yours?"

"I don't want to compete with Dawn," he said firmly.  "She's a good girl."

Xander snickered.  "I'll tell her you said that about her.  She'll turn you over her knee and paddle you in front of your friends."  Mark looked stunned.  "Dawn and I are a lot alike.  If she had minded you mooning over Gramps, she would have already faced you down about it."  Mark swallowed.  "Now, what can Uncle Lavelle do to get you your man?" he asked with a sexy grin he hadn't used since his club days.  Mark blushed.  "Ah, I remember that look.  Maybe I should take you downstairs and debauch you on his bed, leaving you lying limp there for him?"  Mark whimpered, leaning toward him for another kiss.  Xander moaned into his mouth, making him groan.  "Come on, I've got an idea.  Let's go to your room."  Mark's eyes opened wide.  "I promise I'll be good and nice."

Mark stood up.  "I shouldn't.  You could hurt the others while they slept."

"Where's the fun in that?" Xander asked with a small smirk.  Mark shivered and nodded, leading him down to the balcony and inside the house.

"Mark, at least leave the doors closed!" a female voice shouted.  "It's cold out tonight!"

"Yes, Aunt, I was just coming back in," he called.  He waved Xander into a room next to the balcony, shutting both doors quickly.  Xander was pacing around his bed, reading from a book.  "What are you doing?"

"Silencing spell."  He said the last word and something went up but it was going to make things echo around the house so he redid it, getting a second one.  That brought it back down to the normal level.  "Where is his room in relation to yours?"  Mark pointed directly down.  "Right below yours?"  Mark nodded, swallowing again.  "By plan or by accident?"

"Sometimes I sneak out onto my ledge and stare down at him," Mark admitted in a hoarse whisper.  "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to place the weak part of the silencing charm over the floor," he said smugly, doing so.  Then he put the book back into his pocket and looked at his little virgin.  "Come here, Mark," he purred.  Mark stepped closer so Xander met him halfway, kissing him stupid.  The boy moaned and his knees went weak.  "Did you want to do that?" he asked gently.  The boy nodded and went to his knees, undoing his pants to free his cock and give it a few very tender licks.  "Hmm."  He half-closed his eyes, considering the room.  He'd need some longer ropes.  "Got any rope?" he asked.  Mark squeaked.  Xander pulled him up, smiling at him, making the boy shiver.  "I'm going to tie you to the bed in a way that you'll be able to get out of," he promised.  "I'd never tie a virgin down so they couldn't get free."  He traced the soft lips.  They had felt like girls lips on him.  "Then I'm going to make you moan and scream my name."

"I'm usually quiet," he protested.

"I've made people scream in the past who said the same thing," he promised, stealing another kiss.  "How do you want to be placed, my sweet little innocent?  How would you like your first time?"

"On my back," he whispered.  "Please, Lavelle."

"That's it, babe, moan my name," he encouraged, stroking him through his pants.  Mark shivered and leaned against his body.  "Got any ropes?"

"A spare sheet," he offered.

"Good enough."  Xander pulled out his pocket knife and went to cut long strips down the length of it.  More than enough room.  He sat on the bed, crossing his legs.  The strips were beside him and it gave him the perfect way to stroke himself.  "Strip for me, Mark.  I know you want to.  You can even tell me more about these fantasies you've had about him since you were how old?"

"Sixteen," Mark said with a blush.  He started to work on his shirt, glancing down at it.

"Ah-ah.  Look at me, Mark.  There is nothing sexier than self-confidence.  Even little bottom boys are sexier for being confident in their appeal."  Mark blushed but did stare at him.  "Tell me, Mark, give me more to work with to set the stage appropriately."

"I..."  He blushed brighter and felt his throat close a little.  "He used to come home from the longer chases hard and swearing," he admitted.  "The Beijing one was the worst."  He stepped closer, down to an open shirt and pants now.  "Take off my belt?" he suggested with a small smirk, trying it out.  Xander teased it, staring into his eyes.  "He came home and I was staying at his house, house sitting during a school vacation.  He walked in and he was so hard," he moaned.  "All I wanted to do was to stop his pacing so I could hold him, then slowly go down on him.  I knew he'd be shocked so I never said anything," he moaned as his belt was slowly drawn out of the loops.  "He would have stuttered and tried to stop me, but I knew he'd want it.  He wouldn't stop me for long."  His eyes closed as his pants were undone for him.  "I've had others.  The newest ones have Dawn in them.  I know he only likes blokes three percent of the time or so but I'm willing to take that."

"Then he deserves you," Xander assured him, leaning in to lick up the firm stomach. "What was that one?"

"I imagined myself under his desk on my knees.  He has the most gorgeous antique desk at his house and the well is just perfect as a hiding spot.  I imagined myself down there, teasing him when Dawn walked in and her being unaware of me.  She walked in and kissed him across the desk, leaning on it to give him a good view down her top."

"Do you like Dawn too?" he prompted.

Mark nodded, his breath catching when Xander licked up the head of his penis.  "Oh, damn, you are good."

"And I have been for a very long time," Xander assured him smugly.  "You are not the first virgin I've popped."  The boy shivered and looked at him like he was God.  "Strip for me, Mark.  Let me play with your body, make you ready for him."  Mark nodded, stripping out of his clothes quickly.  "How big is he?"

Mark's hand shook as he opened a drawer in his dresser, pulling out an enormous dildo he hadn't gotten to play with yet.  "I think he's about that size around.  I had hopes you were built like that too."  He looked at the hard cock.  "Long, but not quite as thick," he said, starting to drool.

"I think we can manage to make you ready for him," Xander promised, internally smirking.  The boy wanted it that badly?  And he wanted it that big?  Yeah, he'd make someone a happy little bottom slut.  He got the boy laying down and tied down, laying the trailing ends of the sheets near his head.  "If you grab either one of those and pull, you'll be free," he instructed.  Mark nodded quickly so Xander stepped back.  "Watch me, Mark, know what's going to be making you scream and howl as I pump into you."

Mark whimpered as he watched, marveling at the confidence the man showed.  The marks on his body didn't seem to faze him at all.  Then Xander found his stash of condoms.  "But I'm a virgin," he uttered.

"Yes, but I don't know what *girls* you've slept with and you don't know who I've slept with," Xander reminded him.  "Always play as safely as possible.  The danger isn't worth it in this arena.  Besides, I doubt he wants to find any traces of me in your body.  You'd become a crime scene, not a lust inducing sight."  He slid one down Mark's body, leaning down to suck on him.  The boy moaned loudly, arching up and squeezing his eyes tightly shut.  Xander pulled back.  "More like that," he agreed.  "I like to hear noise while I work on someone."  Mark laughed nervously as he slicked a finger up and went to stretch him.  Mark wiggled and moaned and called his name.  "Keep your mind on what I'm doing," Xander warned.  "Don't call me by his name."  Mark tossed his head around as he shook it.  Xander added a second finger, making him writhe and howl with pleasure.  "You'll take very well to this art."  He slid one on himself as he laid down beside the boy, kissing him.  "Remember, with someone that wide, try for four fingers of preparation, if not definitely three."  Mark nodded, staring at him.  "There are ways of doing it before he gets home.  I'll leave you with one of those as he comes up."  He gave him another kiss.  "Let's get you loose so you're not in pain when I have to leave suddenly."  He went back to his sucking, making the boy's groans echo around the room.

Xander could hear someone downstairs moving around in an agitated manner and knew he'd not get a full hour with the kid.  He pulled out his best tricks, getting the boy off quickly, with a muted howl of pleasure.  "Very good," he praised.  He slicked himself up and slowly worked his way into the twitching hole.  "Relax.  I'm giving you what you wanted," he reminded, stroking his stomach.  Mark arched up, helping him.  "Very good. You will make an excellent bottom boy.  Next time, you won't even need tied down," he said with a grin, finishing his slow slide in.  The boy's eyes bulged.  "Still think you want something as big as that toy?" he teased, pulling back to push in again.

"No, I want someone normal sized!" he groaned.  "Please.  Lavelle, I will beg," he pleaded.

"Of course you will.  You're already doing it very well," he agreed.  He paused.  "Are you going to tell Gramps where we're hiding?"  The boy tossed his head around again.  "Promise?"

"I promise," he pleaded.  "More, please, Lavelle!  Please!  I'll never tell!"  Xander said a simple binding, binding that promise to him.

Xander started moving again, doing his best to get off.  It had been a while since he had topped and since he was going to leave the boy begging and drooling he could please himself this time.  He felt it coming and Mark was making more very loud noises so he knew it was time.  "Ready?" he asked.  Mark nodded, thumping his head on the pillow.  "Now yell his name," he ordered, staring into his eyes.  "Call him."  He got off with a loud groan of his own, then panted.  "Start calling his name, Mark, so he knows you want him."

"I...I can't."

Xander teased the dripping cock.  "Yes, you can.  Do it.  Or no more sex ever."

"Oh, God, Uncle Zenny," he called, eyes squeezed tightly shut.  "Yes, more!  More! Please, more!"  He opened his eyes as Xander climbed off the bed.  "Where are you going?"

"I don't think he wants to find me in here when he comes in," he said dryly.  "Do you?"  Mark shook his head.  "His door just closed."  He put the condom in the trash, then winked.  "Keep going."  He gave him a kiss, biting him on the lip.  "Play safely, I want you around."  He heard footsteps on the stairs.  "Do it again," he encouraged, sliding over to the window.  The tree was just near enough to grab. He winked.  "Call out for him, he's outside your door."  He removed the three spells as he slid out into the tree, hiding in the shadows as the door opened. Then he put back on the muffling spell and slid down to the ground, heading for the house.

Zenigata looked at his favorite nephew, hand on his open door.  "What are you doing?" he asked.

"Close the door," Mark moaned.  "Please?"  The door slammed and Zenigata came in.  His ears popped then it felt like they got stuffy again.  "I asked him to, Uncle, please," he begged.  He could see he was hard.  "Please, Zenny.  I will beg."

"Who did this?" he asked, looking at the ropes.

"Lavelle."  He undid one of the wrist restraints with a yank of his teeth, getting that arm free to stop him before he tried to capture him.  "He wanted to thank me for giving him everything he had ever wanted so he helped me see what I wanted."  He pulled his uncle down by his tie, kissing him hard.  "I want you.  All I've wanted since the chase through Beijing was you."  The inspector pulled back, giving him a shocked look.  The boy released his other hand and got to his knees.  "He made me wait for you," he pleaded, fisting his hands in the older man's shirt.  "I know you don't usually but just this once?" he pleaded.  "Just so I know?  Then I can be fulfilled and go to an unhappy and loveless marriage thinking about you."

Zenigata swallowed.  "Your obsession....."

"He broke it and made me see I was transferring my one for you onto him."  He kissed him again, breaking the ice sculpture.  "He used a condom, thought the first seed into my body should be yours."  The inspector's eyes went wider, then he frowned. "Please."  He laid back down, putting his arms above his head.  "He knew, uncle, and he gave me to you."

Zenigata took off his tie.  "Mark, I'm not really...."  He had to stop as the boy pounced him.  He was really desperate.  His body was begging in a way that couldn't be faked.  His thighs were clamped around the older man's lap.  "I'm twice your age," he complained.

"So!  I know what I want, the same as you do.  Please, uncle," he pleaded, undoing his pants to suck on him.  Zenigata broke then, it was hard to resist someone desperate enough to molest you when you were fighting against your desires.  Mark found himself back on his back, his wrists retied to the bed.  "Yes, thank you," he said, arching up.  "Please, I need it, now."

"I noticed."  He stood up and stripped.  "Did he have you?"

"He used a condom.  He said he played very safely and that he wanted yours to be the first in me."

"I'll get that later."  He climbed in, kissing him.  "Do you really like being tied down?"  Mark nodded, looking at him.  "You do?"

"I like this position, maybe not in any other one but I like it this time," he said, arching up to rub against him.  His uncle groaned and nodded, kissing him.  "Thank you," he said once he could breathe.  "This is what I wanted.  He was so soft, it wasn't like he was a man, like you."

"You're laying it on thick, kid.  Even he grows a beard."

"Not this time.  He must have shaved.  His whole body was smooth.  I need more scratchy things against me."  He arched his chest up to rub against the scratchy chest hair the other man had.  "Like that."

Zenigata groaned and took control of the situation again.  "I'm not usually like this."

"I'll take the three percent that you are.  After the long chases, when you're frustrated, any of it.  Ooh, I've had so many fantasies of you in your study."  The older man groaned and went down to play with his neck.  "I wanted you to take me on top of it, just bend me over and do me right there.  I wouldn't even care if Dawn came in to watch."

"I'm still fighting her."

"Uncle, you're going to take her too.  I know you.  We intrigue you.  We want you.  Not them.  We've both come to your side from the dark.  You kept me from taking drugs after my overdose and you brought her out of crime.  We are yours."

Zenigata growled, plunging into the waiting body.  The young man howled and writhed, making him warmer.  That wasn't pain, that was pleasure.  "Is this what you wanted?"  Mark nodded, pushing up to do it for himself if he had to.  The boy was really frantic.  For him.  That was an ego stroke he couldn't deny.  It was incredibly intoxicating, even more so than the time he had caught all of them.  He shook that thought away, wanting to concentrate on the one underneath him.  His obsession had gone too far, Dawn was right about that.  He worked his way in and out of the boy, making him howl and scream his name in pleasure.  "I always thought you were quiet."

"I was, until I got this," he panted.  "Please, just a little more.  He left me needy, uncle.  He said you should do that for me."  He sobbed as the older man stroked him gently, the hands much different.  This was the one he had wanted.  Lavelle had been right.  He came with a loud swear and went limp, giving the man above him a look like he was God as he came too.  "Thank you."  He tried to hold him but his wrists were tied better this time.  His uncle looked down at him.  "Undo me so I can hold you?"

"Sure, kid."

"Mark," he reminded him.

"Mark."  He undid the knots, letting the boy go.  Mark immediately curled up on top of him, forcing him onto his back for a long cuddle.  "I still need to get that condom to the crime lab for analysis," he said, thinking out loud.

"Put it in the freezer.  It'll keep.  There's one there beside the dresser."  He let him get up, watching as he bagged the genetic sample and placed it in his small freezer.  "Come back to bed?" he asked with a small smile.

"I'm not as young as you, I have to take time between bouts."

Mark slid closer to him, using a handy babywipe to clean off the lubricant.  "So?"  Once the cock was clean, he did his best impersonation of what Lavelle had done to him.  His uncle stiffened and groaned, grabbing him by the hair.  "Can we do this in your study sometime?" he pleaded.

"Damn, kid, if you keep doing that, I'll bring you home with me for the full term," he promised, eyes closed as the pleasure increased.  He had missed this part of life by chasing Lupin everywhere in the world.  "Can you cook?"

"Very well," he agreed between licks, going down on him again.  His uncle groaned and held his head down.  He learned to ignore his gag reflex almost immediately, enjoying this. It was an art.  Lavelle had been right about that too.


Xander walked into the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of juice to sip.  He had turned off the bug he had placed in the trash as soon as he had heard the Inspector give in.  It was gratifying, his good deed for the year.  Lupin and Jigen walked in and he waved at them.  "No more problems coming from Mark," he told them.  "And Zenigata's going to be a bit less of a grouchy gut soon too."

"What did you do?" Lupin asked, looking him over.  He could guess, the boy was positively rumpled.

"I gave Mark a reward for being so nice to me and being the catalyst for me getting what I've always wanted.  You two."

"What was his reward?" Jigen asked.

"Gramps," he said with a grin.  Both men looked stunned.  "He's not always like that but sometimes he is."  He shrugged.  "I broke the boy in and then left him needy and begging for a second orgasm as Gramps came up the stairs to save him."  He finished his juice and reached for a second bottle, holding it up.  "Since I'm over here, anyone need it?"  They shook their head but he noticed Jigen was looking confused.  "What?" he asked patiently.

"Today's just been a day for shocks of a sexual nature," Lupin told him.  "Fifteen?"

"Jesse and I saved up some money and got permission to go to a comic convention in San Diego."  He grinned.  "It was a wild weekend.  We weren't the only ones without costumes but nearly.  The older guys all gave us very patient and adoring looks, remembering being our ages fondly.  I lost my cherry to Spiderman while his daddy, Wolvie, looked on."  He sighed in remembered pleasure.  "Then he taught me how to do it from the top on his boy.  Damn, he taught me most everything I know in the art."  He sipped his juice.  "After that, I went to Fresno mostly.  It was safer there and there were a lot of twinks in the town who considered me the next step up because I wasn't quite as tiny as they were.  I broke in a lot of future bottom sluts in those days," he said with a small grin.  "Then I was with Larry.  It startled me when he came out to me, but I eventually got over it and showed him what he wanted to do.  Definite top material but I got him onto his back a good few times before he died during graduation.  The football team picked a person to 'help him' before the games so I never saw him that day, but usually the day after that."  He shrugged.  "Then there was Faith and her three second thing.  It was so confusing. I didn't think I liked most women; I thought I liked strength in women, someone who still screamed 'top' to me."  He grinned at Jigen.  "Then I figured out the female thing was kinda nice but I hadn't had enough of a chance to get going so I went and found out more personally with a bi girl at the club I liked to head to.  She was more than happy to finish my education."  Jigen was staring at him.  "You knew I was a party kid sometimes."

"You're too damn shy to be that way."

"No, I'm too damn shy when it comes to being in a long term 'ship," Xander corrected.  "I deal very well with people for a few minutes or an hour.  Over the long term?  I've never had any experience with that.  Cordy was a cover and a quick source of blows but we weren't *together*.  My friends weren't teaching me much beyond the horrors of PMS every month.  I dated Anya and she fucked with my head by always demanding I buy her shit and give her orgasms.  It was like being with a long-term hooker really."  He gave him a wry look.  "I was a slut until about a month before I got delivered.  I thought I wanted something with Gunn and he wouldn't have accepted my frivolities.  So I quit clubbing and I straightened my ass out.  We nearly did too, but that was the night Wesley grabbed me."

"So you're a sexual monster?" Lupin teased.

Xander grinned at him.  "I like to think of myself as more indiscriminate. I have loved a lot of bodies and left them limp.  I've even had people offer to pay me after the fact.  Men and women."  He gave him a smug look. "I've never taken them up on it I am very proud to say."

Jigen growled.  "Yet, you're still blushing?"

"Jigen, I look funny.  If I went into a club these days, everyone would back away from me.  Either they'd see the hair and think I was old, which is not done in the place of pretty people.  Or they'd think I was odd and a bad person to be around.  No one liked me for *me*.  No one thought I was more than cute and well-built.  All that was about was quick sexual release.  Like dancing in a mosh pit, a release of pent-up energy.  Of course I blush.  You guys think I'm more than cute and a good blow!"  He sipped more of his juice.

"He is a good blow," Lupin admitted.

"I consider that an art form to itself.  Sex is another one, one that I'm quickly learning where I do my best work.  Topping for me is like an interpretative or surrealistic piece.  It's nice but not *real*.  It's not me.  The bottom boy both of you see is *me*.  It's where I like to be and where I feel my best times are.  I used to keep a diary of names and places we met, just in case something happened.  I tossed it out when I met Jigen."  Jigen looked stunned.  "You asked me what that diary was.  It was full."  Lupin looked stunned.  "I was cute in the land of cute-lovers.  A little too big to be a twink, not taken by someone to be their boy.  I was young, horny, and smooth enough to not matter much.  That's all they cared about."

"If you're such a slut, then why haven't you jumped him recently?"

"I learned self control.  It seems to come with age," he pointed out, grinning cheekily at him.  "I can't be eighteen forever.  I realized that at twenty-one when I threw out my back after a wild weekend at Lake Mead."

Jigen's eyes narrowed. "You're only with us?"

"Except for those times you've known I've went for the pros.  Yeah," Xander agreed.  "I haven't disrespected you like that.  Lupin won't let me have him half the time, you've been good with me, so I'm satisfied.  I haven't needed anyone else."

Jigen shook his head.  "You're a cocky kid."

"I can be," Xander agreed.  "You knew this when we met."

Jigen walked over, grabbing him by the hair.  "Are you playing with us?"  Xander shook his head, staring into his eyes.  "You're sure?"

"I'm very sure.  Why would I want to play with the people who give me everything and keep me sane?" he asked quietly.  Jigen growled.  "Seriously.  You're the reason I'm still here and sane. Otherwise I probably would have kept going that night and I would have ended up killed within a few days on the street.  Or taken by another creature and used up or killed.  The fact that you needed me was enough to keep me anchored to sanity while I regained my mind.  Then you said I was coming with you because I had talent.  That was the first time I had been told that outside of a bathroom."  Jigen gave a low growl again.  "And you never let me touch you.  You valued me as a person.  It was amazing.  There were people who were nice to me because they liked me."  He gave him a sad smile.  "This is why I didn't tell you, Jigen.  Because you'd freak."  He got his head free and stepped away from him, running into the counter.   "I've always played safely.  I take all my blood tests.  All of it."

Lupin nodded.  "I had a moment of doubt but it was razor burn, nothing more sinister."

"You were damn lucky, kid."

"Yeah, I was," Xander agreed.  "In many things.  Otherwise I could have been turned a long time ago.  I used to wander all night in Sunnydale," he said bitterly.  They looked stunned.  "Anything else I can answer for you?"

"On your knees," Jigen ordered.  Xander gave him a look then did so, coming over to suck at him.  He groaned, liking it.  He hadn't thought he would, but he was.

Lupin turned to look out the window, sighing.  "This is not the place for that," he pointed out.

"Shut up."

"Fine."  Lupin walked outside to give them some privacy.  He knew the boy was experienced.  It didn't surprise him.  Low self esteem often came with the complication of promiscuity in young men.  He had figured it would have been worse.  He sat down to watch the stars, silently thinking at Jigen to not ruin this.  He lit a cigarette to think with, needing it before he went in there and jumped the boy himself.  They could easily hurt the boy and then he would leave and they'd both be miserable.

Jigen pulled the boy off him, looking into his eyes.  "Do you really enjoy that?"

"I enjoyed it more when the person I'm with is into it," he offered, standing there even though he wanted to run.  "I guess that question depends on you, huh?"  He grabbed his juice to finish it, then tossed it into the trash.  "I'm going to my room while you think.  Come talk to me if you want. If not, yell at me tomorrow."  He walked away but his mentor caught him, keeping him there.

"I didn't want to know."

"Then like most things, you shouldn't have asked," Xander pointed out gently.   Jigen nodded, tucking himself back inside his pants and zipping himself back up.  "I haven't touched anyone since we've been together.  Why would I need to?" he asked quietly.  "You've been everything I need until tonight.  Then tonight I went and I opened Mark very well, left him limp, tied to a bed, and waiting on his big hero to come in.  I used protection and so did he."  Jigen opened his mouth and Xander gave him a wry look.  "It's often said of bottom sluts that they need a blow job and some lube and they're ready.  Mark will make a good one of those.  I find I now have a higher price."  He got his arm free.  "Another thing you taught me, Jigen."  He walked away, heading up to his room.

Jigen grabbed some scotch and headed outside to sit and stare at the night.  "Did I just hurt him?"

"Only if you don't apologize and you treat him like he's a whore," Lupin said quietly.  "He wasn't.  It could have been much worse with his upbringing."  He blew out some smoke, then realized how close Jigen was.  And that he wasn't choking yet.  He looked over at him.  "It's not bothering you?"

"It hasn't been recently."  He took the cigarette to suck on, handing it back almost immediately.  "I think it's going away again.  I might be able to smoke for real within a year."  He considered his student, getting back on track.  "I guess I know why he won't do more than tease the marks."  Lupin looked at him.  "I understand.  I get it.  It's a different age."

"The boy grew up in the haven of the remaining seventies' climate.  Remember Studio 54?"  Jigen nodded, looking upset.  "Welcome to the gay underground in rural California."  That got a moan of pain.  "So go talk to him.  Take your shot too, it's beside the stove."

"I will.  I need to think first."  He gulped his scotch, hoping it would help.

"Fine.  Should I talk to him?"

"No.  We're good."  Jigen looked at him.  "He and I are fine too.  I love the little guy for some reason."

"It's often hard when you realize that and then you realize they're not the pure little creatures you've made yourself believe," Lupin said bitterly.  "Been there, done that too."

"Fujiko," he agreed.  "What about you and him?"

"I haven't had him in months," Lupin pointed out.  Jigen glared at him.  "I haven't."

"You should.  He likes you too."

"Yeah, but he loves you."

"You'd be surprised.  He called out for *us* when he had that nightmare.  Not me, both of us to save him from it."  Lupin looked startled.  "I think you've got a bit of that yourself.  For all of the slut you were, there's still that's touch of insecurity sometimes.  But then again, look at who you were obsessed with for most of your adult life."

Lupin laughed.  "Fine, I'll go cuddle him and you can come up and talk to him whenever you're ready.  We won't have anything to do tomorrow."  He got up and went upstairs, finding Xander watching tv on the bed.  He curled up behind him, holding him tightly.  "He'll be up soon," he said quietly.  Xander nodded.  "I need to know, Xander, do you...prefer him?"

"I'm so fucked up, I can't decide," Xander admitted, rolling over to hold him.  "He won't deal with me as a guy and you don't really like me as a girl."

Lupin smoothed the shirt over the boy's back.  "Yeah, but I like you enough to try and so does Jigen apparently."  Xander looked up at him.  "Really."  He smiled.  "The commercial's off."  They flipped over to watch tv together.  It was nice and comfortable.  Not at all what he had with Fujiko.  He hadn't been able to spend any quiet moments with her.  Now he could appreciate them.  Jigen came in and took Xander's front to hold, letting himself fall asleep that way.  It was a big step.

The End.

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