Inspector Zenigata, butt of the ICPO's jokes, woke up to an odd feeling. Something was on his chest. He opened his eyes, seeing two green orbs staring at him. "Are you one of those demons Dawn told me about?" he asked. The orbs blinked then the weight shifted as the thing sat down. He carefully reached for a lamp and turned it on, blinding himself and the cat. "How did you get in here, kitty?" He stroked her head for her, making her purr. "You're very pretty but I'm not the human you need. I'm never here. I'm always chasing after that crook." He heard another meow and looked down beside his bed at the basket that wasn't his and the shirt that wasn't his, but that two other cats were lounging on. "Okay. Who gave you to me?" He stroked her gently, making her quite happy. "I don't know what the hell to do about you three. I can't have pets here." He continued to stroke her head, then sighed. "I think I know someone who would take very good care of you and let me visit on occasion. Would you like that?" The cat he was petting meowed and pulled up a paw to clean. "Good. Let's clip those things and then I'll take you over there." He glanced at the clock. "She might be up. Crooks always seem to stay up all night." He got some nail clippers and did the cats' nails like he would his aunt's, with them wrapped in a shirt so they couldn't attack him for it and giving them gentle stroking afterwards.
After that, he bundled them into the basket and put a towel over them, getting them into his car. One of them came out to examine things but she didn't try to escape so it was all good with him. He stopped to get some cat food and cat litter then headed to Dawn's house, with a quick drive through for breakfast. Americans always ate fast food, right? The cat was in his lap by then and meowed at the voice on the speaker. When he pulled around the girl at the window smiled at him and waved at the cat, handing over an extra piece of ham with a wink. He finished his drive, letting the cat nap on him. When he got to Dawn's, he bundled her back into the basket and put the ham slice in there, then carried it and the breakfast up to the door. He rang the bell then had to catch an escapee before it could get away and hide in the car again. Dawn came out and looked at him. "Sorry, they were left at my place and I thought the boys might like them," he admitted, holding up the one he had caught, his new friend.
She laughed. "I'm sure." She carried in the basket, letting him get everything else. That cat seemed more than happy enough to ride in his pocket for now while he grabbed the food and litter. Then breakfast. She sat down on the floor to look at the cats, recognizing the shirt immediately. She had bought it for the idiot. She stroked them all. "Hi, guys. Do you guys like kids?" She looked up as the last one was deposited as well, petting her. "Hi. You're adorable." The cat perked its ears toward her. "The boys'll love you and it'll teach them how to handle things very gently."
"Auntie?" Jerry called. "Who comed?"
"It's me, Jerry," Zenigata called. "Come see what snuck into my house." She grinned up at him. "I know, but I don't know who helped them sneak into my house."
"Lupin probably. That's Lavelle's shirt." She hugged the boy when he came down. "Let them sniff you and be very gentle with it." Jerry reached out, letting them sniff him. The one who liked Zenigata allowed him to pet her. "See, kitties are very nice."
Jerry beamed and patted the other two gently. "Pretty, pretty kitties. I have a book with kitties in it. We should read it."
"We should," Zenigata agreed. "Go get it and wake up your brother." He ran up the stairs as fast as his little legs would carry him. "I know it's an imposition."
"No, it's good for them and me. I need something to make me want to not travel for a bit." She leaned against his legs when he sat down. That cat hopped into his lap. "I think she wants read to too."
"I think she wants to come home with me, but I can't have cats and I'm never home."
"You move in," Jerry offered as he came back. "Then this be her home too and she see you all the time. Just like me." He climbed up to sit next to the cat, letting him have the book. "This one about kitties," he said, petting her gently. "Please, Uncle Zenny?"
"Sure, Jerry. I like reading to you." He opened the book, looking at the first few words. "Sasha was a very naughty kitty. She liked to play in the yard and dig up the flowers."
Dawn grinned at the other cats. "You two think you can live here? If not, I'll call Ethan, see if he needs a cat." Ethan appeared and picked up the older cat, taking it with him. "Hey!"
"Xander said so," he called back.
Dawn picked up the other one, settling it in her lap to pet it. "It's okay. Hey, Morgan, come see what your Uncle Zenny brought," she called when she heard him coming down the stairs. Her nephew ran in and stared in shock at the animal.
"He can only stay if you're very good to him," Zenigata said firmly. "You have to be gentle and nice to him, no being mean."
"I'll be good," he promised, kneeling to pet the kitty. It didn't like him giving it belly scratches but liked the chin scratches instead. "You good kitty. We name you Cupcake."
"This one named Lap," Jerry told him, patting his cat. "Uncle Zenny come live so she live with us too."
The Inspector looked shocked until Dawn shrugged. "You can have the empty room for your office," she offered. "I've already got mine set up." He looked down at her, still having an open mouth. "You can't disappoint the boys. They'll cry."
"Dawn, we haven't even dated yet."
"Yes we have. You chased me all over creation for about a year." She stroked up his leg. "I'll even let you have your own room for a bit if you want."
"We need bigger house. Kitties need their own room and Uncle need his own room," Morgan said firmly.
"Guys, he doesn't need his own room yet," Dawn told them. Zenigata stared down at her, still looking stunned. "Or not. I guess we could sell this one and move to somewhere bigger and safer. There's a really pretty house I loved to break into on the other side of the city that's up for sale because the owners got scared."
"I wonder why," he said dryly.
"They had pretty impressionist paintings," she defended. "I went to look a few times, not to steal anything. Oh, hey, did you hear about Lavelle and his new title?"
"I did," he said dryly. "Totally without any conscience at all."
"He probably asked if she had a heart condition before hand, I know him well enough to know that." She stroked up his leg again, making him shiver. "Want to make the kids happy?"
"I'd rather make you...." He bit back the rest of that sentence, it was mushy. Much too mushy for a third date and a casual sex relationship.
She beamed. "I feel the same way. So you'll be moving in. If I have to, I'll have someone pack up your place while you're off chasing Lupin next time." She went back to helping Morgan pet the kitties.
Zenigata cleared his throat, going back to the story. "Sasha always liked the flowers, she thought they were very nice smelling and she liked to scent herself with them," he read.
"I'm gonna give the woman I marry a kitty instead of a ring some day," Morgan announced.
"That's moving way too fast, son," Zenigata said firmly. "I'm not ready to settle down yet." Dawn snickered, patting her nephew on the head. "You Americans are odd. I brought fast food for breakfast."
"Thank you, daddy," Jerry said, snuggling into his side for a hug. "You're very good at this daddy thing. Much better than ours was."
Morgan looked at him. "Yes, you are," he said seriously.
"I think so too," Dawn promised, straightening out his hair for him. "Let's get breakfast served and no feeding the kitties yours. They can have some kitty food. Guys, we'll need a plastic box too."
"I can find a litter box," Zenigata offered.
"We'll do that later. For now, we'll make do and get them spoiling stuff later. After we look at that other house." He sighed and nodded, looking like he was defeated in another battle.
"You're not using magic on me, right?" he asked finally.
"I haven't needed to magic anyone into my bed since I was seventeen," she quipped. "Why would I have to start with you." She smirked at him and licked a bite of cheese off her lip before taking another bite of her sandwich. He shivered and firmly went back to the story this time. "Good boy. You'll learn to see when I'm using magic. Just wait until you see me decorate the house."
Zenigata walked into his boss' office, saluting him. "Sir, you wanted to see me?"
"Sit, Inspector." Zenigata sat, looking quite attentive. "A note was made that you've been seen around town with a former thief?"
"I checked, sir, she has no warrants out for her arrest. Plus, she has given up the life to raise her two nephews."
"I see." He leaned back, looking at his man. "Are you...attracted to her?"
"Her nephews adore me and she is very persuasive. Plus, I can get some minor help from her to catch Lupin." That got a short nod. "I am not taking advantage of her. She is making all the moves, sir."
"You're letting her have you, Inspector?" Zenigata blushed and shook his head. "I should hope not. You do have a morality clause in your employment contract with us. We don't want to have to enforce it but we will."
Now he knew he was in his bed, still dreaming. The whole thing with the cats earlier was simply a surreal dream brought on by the three-day-old Chinese food that he had for dinner. His boss was suggesting what? "Sir, what would negate it?"
"Moving in with the former thief. If you married her that would be different but simply living with her is not allowable for Interpol's most noticeable inspector, Inspector. It's simply not done."
"Yes, sir, I understand, sir," he agreed quickly, hoping this dream would end soon. "As of this moment, she has offered me a space so I can quit paying rent but I would have separate rooms and a separate office. Her nephews need a strong male influence. Their own father was garbage who needed to be burned. Their mother sent them to a daycare that was training them military style. It took the boys two weeks to smile in her presence and another four days to laugh, sir. I'm simply helping her out with them since she has now gone straight."
His boss looked thoughtful. "Those are very good reasons. Such things are very harmful to young boys from what I understand. What do you feel about her?"
"I .... I don't know what you're asking, sir."
"I was asking if this was a serious relationship or something along the lines of friends working together, Inspector."
Zenigata blushed. "I feel something for her, sir, but I've only known her now for three months."
"Are you compatible?" He nodded quickly. "And she is moving you into her house?" He nodded again. "Then it appears you have no choice in the matter. You'll have to marry her for appearances." Zenigata looked horrified and let out a soft whimper. Nightmare, definitely a nightmare. "It's nothing, I assure you, I had to marry my own wife for similar reasons; that and to get some fans of mine off my back. We ended up being quite close friends. I'm sure you'll do the same. I'll give you two weeks off to arrange things and have a small honeymoon." He signed the papers, shoving it over. "Here you go. A Court marriage would be faster probably."
"Sir, I didn't know Interpol could force me to marry."
"Inspector, that clause is a problem only if you're visible. You're quite visible and probably always will be while Lupin is on the go. You would be encouraging the younger generation to have meaningless sex and then move on. That is not the image we want to give the impressionable next generation, especially not her nephews, correct?" Zenigata shook his head slowly. "Then it comes down to marrying her or your job. Which would you prefer?"
Apparently the only way he was escaping this was to agree so he could wake up. He subtly pinched himself but it didn't work. "I'll marry her right away, sir. I'll need a large advance to deal with the issue of a ring."
"She doesn't have one?"
"That's not proper."
"Good point." He looked him over. "I believe you've had the last four raise periods pass you by. I'll arrange something. Go tell her of your new assignment then report back in two weeks." Zenigata stood up and saluted him before walking out. "I'm not worried, he'll get along just as well as I did," the real Commissioner said, looking at his wife's picture. Then at the picture of his mistress. "She'll help him through this, all women are trained that way."
Zenigata tapped on Dawn's door, smiling down at Jerry as he answered it. "Is Dawn around?"
"She runned out. We in kitchen." He led the way back, letting him pet the cats while he fixed himself some cereal. "She say she be gone ten minutes and we be fine."
He looked around. "No one's staying with you?" The boys shook their heads. "We'll have to fix that. Maybe a housekeeper or something," he said quietly, thinking out loud again. He jumped when the door slammed, heading that way. "You left the boys alone?"
"I put them in the kitchen with some cereal, and told them not to touch anything. Aren't they okay? I only went to pick up some more bread."
"They're fine. We need to talk."
"Okay. Why?" He handed over the paper. She read it a few times, then gave him a confused look. "That's an odd way of proposing."
He grimaced. He had so hoped this was a nightmare. "There's a morality clause in my contract. If I continue to see you without marrying you, I'll be fired." She blinked a few times. "I'm leaving it up to you."
"Okay then. I'll work on buying the new house this week. Am I buying my own ring?" He shook his head, frowning at her. She picked up the nearest phone and dialed a cellphone. "Did you have something to do with a morality clause?" She listened to him recount his recent sins. "Not at all? Nothing with Zenny except the cats?" The confused voice on the other end said 'no' quietly. "That's fine, then there's going to be a wedding. They told him to either marry me or be fired." She hung up. "They'll send tasteful and non-stolen gifts. Boys, we've got to look at a house," she called. She smiled as they came out. "Sorry to have left you guys alone."
"That's okay, kitties hissed each time we moved," Morgan promised. "We not live here?"
"We're moving somewhere bigger so Zenny can move in. We'll work on it together, along with the wedding. Okay?" They nodded, smiling at her. "Go put on real clothes that aren't stained." They ran up the stairs. "We'll be back, kittens." She dialed the realtor she knew. "Hey, it's Dawn. I want to look at that one house. Is it still open?" She listened to the tale of how someone had bought it. "Really?" She grimaced. "We need to move somewhere bigger immediately. Got anywhere that nice?" She smiled. "That's fine. Can we look at it now?" She checked her watch. "Deal. Let me get the boys dressed. I'll meet you at your office." She hung up and kissed him. "It'll be fine. We'll manage it." She went to change as well, grabbing her bank statements. She called Murami from her bedroom, letting her know what was going on. She listened to the available balances then called Lupin again. "Weren't you going to fence that stuff for me? We're having to move. Zenny's boss said if he was going to keep dating me he'd have to marry me because of some morality clause." She laughed. "Yeah, that's what Xan was babbling about. No, we're moving somewhere bigger so I could use it so I don't have to touch what I have left. No, some jewels. Why?" She smirked. "I'll let you see them soon, but you can't be seen. Got it?" She hung up on his assertion. She changed into one of her bodysuits and heels, heading down the stairs to gather up the boys and her future spouse. Apparently the world liked them together.
Lupin came out of his office, looking at Xander in confusion. "Morality clause?"
"Apparently unbridled shagging isn't allowed when you're in Interpol. Another very good reason I'm not a cop," Xander said dryly. "His boss said he had to marry her, break up with her, or be fired."
"Who?" Fujiko asked.
"Pops," Lupin told her. "He was told he had to marry Dawn or be fired for some stupid morality clause in his contract. We'll have to look that over."
"We need to look something else over too. They don't believe in paternity leave," Xander said wisely. "I'm doubting that won't come up sometime soon."
"True," Lupin agreed, patting him on the arm. "Okay, we've got to fence Dawn's stuff for her. I sent David his stuff but Dawn had a room full of crap. We might as well call Louis up and have him look over everything else."
"I like my collection," Xander defended.
"I'm not asking you to get rid of it, Xan. Just anything else you haven't done away with," he said patiently. "That'll make it easier to clean your room." He headed to take an inventory of what they had that needed sold and to call their favorite fence. "Louis, it's Lupin. One of our students asked us to fence some of her stuff for her. Can you come up to the main hideout? Yeah, there. No, we've got crap too that we don't want. Consider it a yard sale. No, she's marrying Zenigata. He was told he had to marry her or be fired." He grinned. "Yeah, that. We're looking for good wedding presents too. Thanks, that's fine." He hung up and called Jigen's room so he wouldn't have to walk all the way up there. "Jigen, Louis is coming up to fence Dawn's stuff. We're doing a clearance too. You need anything gone? Tell Goemon too, okay?" He hung up, going down to the safes. He saw some things that hadn't been there but the signs on them made him want to leave them there. He wasn't going to touch a collar that turned one into a mindless slave to whoever put it on them.
Dawn accepted the check from Xander when he sat down across from her in his clever disguise as a delivery guy, letting him see the stones she had. He picked out nine of them and wrote her a check, then grinned and left to head back to the house. His collection was growing and quite pretty. He even remembered to stop at the local comic shop and get his subscriptions refilled and find out when the next few conventions were. He went down to the Japanese section of town, where most of the recent immigrants and decent shops were, and found someone to make him some kimonos, plus his Inuyasha outfit. Then he headed for home with his new treasures. His box holding them was going to need another layer soon.
He walked in the door to silence. "Guys?" he called. His cat meowed so he picked her up, closing the door behind himself. He headed for the kitchen, stopping in the office and dining room. No one was anywhere. He headed for their bedrooms. Nothing. No note in his either. He sat down, pulling out his cellphone to call Lupin's. "Did you decide to abandon me or was this just a short trip?" he asked dryly. He heard the reason. "Hey, that's not a problem. I'll stay here until they send her back. Why did Jigen go?" He grinned, trust him to be the sane one who could drive. "Fine, I'll be here. You guys be safe." He hung up and leaned back to pet his kitten. "Hey, Dancer. How are you? Are you happy with us?" She purred and snuggled up on his stomach to nap with him. "Sure, we'll nap." He fell asleep petting the cat, an adorable sight.
Lupin walked into his room a few hours later and grinned at the pretty picture, snapping it with one of his hidden cameras. "Xander," he called softly. Xander batted at the noise. He saw the stones coming out of his pocket and gathered them up, putting them on the dresser. He snuck a peek at Xander's collection, smiling at them. They were all quite pretty.
"Quit," Xander said sleepily.
"Sorry, I was putting the new ones beside it and peeked. They're pretty. It's a nice collection." Xander dug in his pocket and came out with two more, all without disturbing the cat. Lupin put those onto the dresser too. "How's Dawn?"
"Fine. Stressed from the move. She was drinking iced coffee." He yawned again. "I renewed my comic subscriptions, got some con information, and am having someone redo my Inuyasha outfit." He shifted the cat to his side as he rolled onto his other one, letting the cat settle herself again. "She met me at the door."
"Not a clue. I didn't see anyone but I didn't search the third floor either." He yawned again. "I'm sleepy."
"You nap, Xan. I'll look for Marcus for you." He nodded, closing his eyes. Lupin covered him as best he could, Dancer liked to be underneath covers sometimes, and left them there to nap. He put a finger to his lips when he met Jigen in the hallway. "He and the cat are napping together."
"I'm sure that's cute. Where's Marcus? Goemon wanted him for some stress relief."
"Xan said he couldn't find him. He said he got a few new stones off Dawn for his collection, reupped his comic subscriptions, and has someone making him an outfit from an anime for the next convention." He headed up to the third floor to look, not finding him in there. He did find where Marcus had been working magic recently but he hadn't been in there recently and it had been cleaned very well. He headed back down to the household answering machine. The housekeeper never answered the phone unless she knew it was them. He pushed the button, listening to the gurgling voice on the other end demand that they steal to get Marcus back. "Someone's an idiot," he called. "They snatched Marcus!"
Goemon came walking down the stairs with the cat. "Really? Who?"
"Someone in the British government. You can't fake that high class accent." He looked over as Xander and Jigen walked down together. "You didn't have to wake him."
"The cat kneaded him awake," Jigen told him. "She wanted to play mouse." He listened to the message, then nodded. "Didn't we already steal that once?"
"Didn't we just sell that?" Xander asked, looking confused. "Why didn't Marcus kill them?"
"I don't know." Lupin called their fence. "Louis, did you buy an eighteenth century vase with porn on it off us?" He listened as the fence described it. "Yeah, that. Someone wanted us to steal that to get our other student back. No, the other one. Lavelle's standing here needing to go back to his nap. Go nap on the couch, Lavelle." Xander nodded and headed that way, curling up in a spot of sunlight like his cat would. His cat was still playing with Goemon's hair from his shoulder, known to her as the great, moving kitty strings. Lupin smirked at Goemon, who was trying to remove his hair from the chewing mouth. "Put her down if she's bothering you." He listened to the fence again. "Yeah, that's fine. How much? That's about twice what you paid for it. Yes, but you make more profit off us because *we* stole it than any one else that you buy for." He smirked. "That's fair. Thanks. Yeah, we'll pick it up in a few hours." He hung up. "The kidnaper will be calling back in a few hours. We'll pick it up on the way. Let the boy nap. Goemon, give me the cat." He snatched her, looking at her. "Don't nibble his hair, you'll get hairballs. Kitties are not supposed to eat human hair, it's not good for you." She put a paw on his nose and pushed. "Fine." He handed her off to Jigen. "Here, play with the cat." He went into the kitchen to get a snack. He had missed breakfast by breaking into Xander's sleep to get some.
Jigen handed the cat back. "Here." He walked off to watch Xander sleep. He was still thinking about what he had learned from the vision. He did miss the little brats of theirs. It made him feel odd.
Goemon looked at the cat. "Let's play with the son," he decided. "You can knead him again." He walked the cat upstairs, letting the cat snuggle up to Fujiko's pregnant stomach and purr at it. When the baby kicked her for it, she kneaded him and then laid back down.
"Have I mentioned that our cat is odder than Xander and Marcus combined?" Fujiko asked. Goemon shook his head. "Well, she is."
"Our son will come out understanding love in all forms," he said with a touch of smirk. She threw a pillow at his head. "Remember, the doctor said not to get too excited." He laid down beside her, stroking her in his own way until the cat nudged her way under his hand for her own attention. "Fine, I will pet you too," he said, scratching her ears. She didn't like the mother-scent on her ears though so she huffed and went to take a bath on their windowsill. Goemon licked off his fingers so he could go back to pleasing his wife.
Marcus looked up as his captor removed his blindfold, then spat at him. "Bastard."
"I am not, I have two parents that I adore quite a lot," the big-nosed man said dryly. "Or at least I did while they lived. You?"
"No, I hated my father and my mother was removed from my life because she gave a damn. The Watchers can be like that when they're breeding the next generation."
"Unsurprising really. You breed for certain traits and then train the rest into them, not caring about the souls you destroy. So, you're Goemon's student," he said, looking him over. "You're very young, boy."
"I'm not that young and I'm not the only one."
"Hmm. I've heard of the other. Lavelle. Such an odd name."
"His parents gave it to him, whine to their dead bodies," Marcus sneered. "My Master won't meet you in combat."
"Your Master will meet me in combat and he'll die."
"I doubt it," Xander said as he walked in. He waved the vase, smirking at him. "Unlike some people, I knew it was you." He tossed the vase at the wall. "Since it was a copy anyway," he said smugly. "Come on, you can face me anytime now. You go through me to get to Goemon."
"If I must. In here? You might damage the boy, or I might. He is a mouthy brat."
"Yeah, we like him like that," Xander said, undoing Marcus' bonds with a swipe of his borrowed sword. "Come on. We can go here, or anywhere you want, little man."
"You talk big for one so strange," he sneered, looking him over. "And for a fairy as well."
"Do you see wings?" The man shook his head. "Then I'm not a fairy. Get it right, I'm bisexual and fairly indiscriminate. Not that I'd *ever* be desperate enough to sleep with you. Out, Marcus. Call Lupin, tell him where you are so he can come rescue you." Marcus disappeared and Xander took off his leather jacket, tossing it aside. "Let's go."
"In here? It's small."
"Which hinders both of us. Unless you want to put it off."
"No, I believe I'll challenge your Master."
"Small problem with that, Goemon's not coming this trip." The man looked stunned. "You get me or you get Lupin or you get Marcus and then you get me. Choose now or be in pieces. I'm bored and you're cutting into my sex time." The man winced and moved closer, holding his sword. "In here or outside?"
"There's less interference in here."
"Fine. There can be only one." He saluted him with the sword, did a sketchy bow, then attacked with his usual battle cry. The man backed away, looking horrified as Xander pinned him against the wall. "That's right, Goemon trains me very well," he said smugly. "Now, are you going to yield or should we have a *real* fight?"
"I'll let you challenge me outside," he gasped, noticing someone coming in. "Help, he's trying to kill me."
"He had my best friend hostage," Xander said without looking, knowing it was a cop. "I'll find you," he said with a wink. "Tenish? When you're usually at your pleasure?" He grabbed his jacket and disappeared.
The assassin looked at his second. "I want everything there is to know about that boy."
"He did the maze at the top level and walked out with only three minor injuries. He's the only one who survived doing it at a harder level and he still did it faster than the people who did it on normal. His time with Jigen was closer to normal and they came in first since the people died two days after the maze was done. The group as a whole came in first. He's Jigen's student."
"With the way he fought!"
"With the way he fought," he agreed quietly, looking respectful. "They're cross-training the kids. Goemon's said some very complimentary things about both of them." He shrugged. "Where are you meeting him?"
"The park," he decided. "It's open and there are those trysting grottos. He picked the time and we can send him notice of the place. Do so." He sat down to calm himself. That boy was fast and he was feeling old again. He would have to win if he wanted to take his vengeance on Goemon.
Goemon looked up as the news report came across the radio of two people with swords fighting in a park in Paris. He grimaced as he slid out of the bed. He walked out of his room, finding Lupin waiting on him. "Which one was it?"
"Xander. He took on the rat." He shrugged and stood up. "Marcus is back. He's in his room if you wanted to check on him. He darted him from behind. The mark's on his shoulder."
"Did Xander survive? The reporter said one didn't."
"No, Xander's in the kitchen," Lupin said. "We're working on a cut he got on his arm. Apparently he's having a problem believing he's not two-dimensional again." Goemon grimaced at that. "You can come help if you want."
"I should. How long did the battle go on?"
"Not more than a half-hour. Xander's tired but not horribly so. The other guy was sliced and diced by the time Xander finished him. Little cuts that wore him down and made him ache. He wanted you, Goemon. Xander took your challenge for you."
"Of course he did. He wouldn't dare take me from my future son." He walked down the stairs to check on Xander, noticing the smaller scratches and the one big cut. "That needs stitches."
"We're putting in staples," Xander admitted. "Jigen went to get the gun." He looked at him. "He's very sorry he ever thought about bothering you and he's quite sorry that he won't live to see your son become as good as you. He said so before I killed him." He looked at his arm again, blotting the blood that was still coming up sluggishly. Jigen came back with the stapler and Xander grabbed the counter, letting him do it without being hit at as each one went in.
"Next time, tell us, Xander," Jigen said firmly.
"You didn't know?"
"About the kidnaping, the same as you did," Jigen defended. "The next thing we know, Marcus is back, Xander's gone, and Marcus said that Xander freed him and took your challenge." Goemon smacked Xander across the back of the head. "You want to paddle him too? Lupin said he was thinking about it."
"If he tries, I'm kicking his ass and leaving you all," Xander warned coolly. "I'm not something that can be spanked when I mess up. Besides, I was being .... helpful," he hissed the last word as another staple was added to his arm. "Did I really need that one?"
"Yes," Goemon said, making the boy look at him. "I could have handled him."
"You could have but I'm faster because I'm younger. He's your age, he's getting slower, he was feeling his age, and he wanted a 'you or him' contest. One of you wasn't going to walk away and Fujiko's in no shape to take care of you right now."
"All good points, but I should have fought him."
"Tough, I took out my aggression at not being laid today on him," Xander said, getting free and heading for the gym to work out on the ropes.
Goemon looked at Jigen. "I believe I see the bad side of being his mate. That overprotective urge must be worse if you're closer than a friend."
"Probably," Jigen agreed, putting down the staple gun. "I'm sure we can train it out of him. It'll get someone killed some day."
"Him, while he's saving one of us."
"Which is what we do," Marcus pointed out as he joined them. "It's our job to help you and to take on fights for you so you, with more experience, can get away. It's what those of us who were trained as good guys and knights are supposed to do." He poured himself some water from the refrigerator. "How is she, Master?"
"She's doing fine. That cramping was said to be normal. She's still in bed, she was sleeping. Are you all right?"
"I have a stiff neck but nothing else." He tried to pop it but it didn't work. "I'll find a chiropractor tomorrow."
"I can do it," Jigen offered.
"No offense, but I only trust people who are smaller than me to do that. I know you wouldn't hurt me on purpose but accidents do happen and I'd hate to haunt you afterwards," he finished with a small grin. "I'd rather have someone smaller and more delicate than I am do it for me." He went back to his room and his book. He would have to study harder, Xander was showing him up and that was smashing his ego flat. He sipped his water while he read, getting back into the fantasy story until Lupin knocked on his door. "Enter." Lupin walked in and closed the door. "Is there a problem?"
"No," Lupin admitted, sitting on the end of his bed. "I'm checking on you. How are you?"
"I'm fine. My neck's a bit stiff but I'll find someone to fix it tomorrow."
"I only let people who are tinier than I am do it. I'm paranoid about accidents."
"Understandable," Lupin admitted, curling up a bit more. "What's going on with you and Xander?"
"With both of us?"
"You two aren't laughing and joking. Are you jealous of him?"
"No, I'm in awe of him. Even with all that knowledge he gained from the vision he's still light years ahead of me."
"So you're only a bit jealous of him?"
"A bit," Marcus sighed. "Not terribly so. I've been pushing myself to catch up to him. My implanted memories should be nearly as good as his."
"Marcus, he had an extra twenty-seven years in there."
"I know that, but it's still sad that I can't match him with a sword. I feel I should and I'll keep working myself harder until I feel I'm good enough. Xander probably has some skills that he feels the same way about. I know he studies his languages through the first book, or the first year of lessons. I'm sure he'd like to learn them better."
"He probably would," Lupin agreed. "Are you sure you can work with him?"
"Of course I can. I'll simply pout at his back now and then when he decides I need to be guarded after this. Eventually he'll get over it, once I put him on his back outside once or twice, but I know I'm not as good as he is. I shouldn't be leading the charge, I should be the rear guard for right now. As I get better, I'll get closer to the front of the skirmish."
"Goemon says you're very good."
"Yes, but I've only trained now for two years. I'm not near good enough to do any of this in a battle situation. One-on-one is different but a mass battle I can't. My memories are screaming at me that I should be," he admitted, "but I haven't gotten there yet."
"Do you know how long Goemon's trained?"
"Yes, I asked. Which is why I'm not disappointed in myself. Using him as a yardstick, I'm about two-thirds to his level. Using Xander, I'm about half because he's very versatile. I'd like that, but for right now I need to concentrate on what I'm good in. I can shoot well enough to hit a target when I need to, even under stress. I may not be able to wound in an arm or a leg but that's more of a specialist skill. I can hit a stomach, a chest, or a head when necessary. My fighting needs work and I'm working on it with the people whom I need the most help from. By the time the baby comes I fully expect myself to be good enough to take on Xander outside, without his special moves he learned off anime, and at least tie. I can nearly do so now, but not every time."
"So you're being realistic but not over confident?"
"I think you'll find that both of us suffer from that. It may seem like low self esteem but in fact it's mostly very high expectations of what we consider 'good enough'." He grinned a bit. "I'm sure Xander's wiling to admit he's good enough with most weapons and probably with some explosives. I admit I'm more than good enough with my hand-to-hand. I can beat Xander there. My swordwork still needs some more fine tuning and that's what I've been working on. I'm narrowing in on my skills while Xander is ready to take on new lessons and add them to his repertoire. That's why he's been studying locks again." Lupin smiled at that. "So, we're fine, Lupin. I don't loathe Xander out of some fit of jealousy. I only envy him the way he gets laid by anyone but Jigen and Goemon or Fujiko."
Lupin snickered. "I remember being that free with my attention. At least the kid plays safely." He stood up. "So you're good, we don't need to send Xander on an assignment in China or anything for six months?"
"Oh, dear Lord no. Who would I work out my frustration on? I'm afraid I'll hurt Goemon since his concentration's on his future son."
"Good point," Lupin agreed, nodding. "Just know that you can come to me if you ever do get to that point."
"If I ever get to that point, I'll tell Xander to go away myself and then go pout in a corner. I've done it once before."
"Thank you, Marcus."
"You're welcome. If you tried to reason with Xander again, you might keep him from going too far in his workout. He tends to lose his concentration when he's pouting."
"That's my next step," Lupin admitted, heading out and down to the gym. He found Xander tangled up in the ropes. "What were you doing?" he asked with a grin.
"Trying for a handless backflip and the ropes got twisted," Xander sighed. "Can you help me get down?"
"Sure. But you know you're not allowed in here without supervision."
"I was using the safety equipment. I was being good."
"That's fine, but you still don't need it, Xan. If we need acrobatics, we're fucked anyway." He lowered the rope setup so he could work the boy loose, then grinned at him. "Was it a well-fought fight?"
"Yeah, but he got desperate after about ten minutes." Xander winced as he shrugged. "One of those is going to pull for days." He sat down, looking at his mentor and boss. "He got desperate because he wasn't prepared to fight someone younger and faster. He wanted a 'one of us will die' match with Goemon. He considered Goemon his equal. I consider Goemon his better, but that's a matter of perception I guess." He grinned. "Anyway. The fight went on, the cops caught me with him on his knees and my sword in his throat. I backed off when the lights started to shine on us, he lunged up and tried to stab me in the chest. I turned so he got my arm and then got him across the side, severing his pancreas and stomach. I also put Goemon's sword back upstairs after I cleaned it," he admitted. Lupin smirked at him. "Hey, I don't have my own blade and the practice blades were all dull. I needed a good sword and he wasn't coming. Not with a baby on the way."
"True. You do know he's upset that you thought he needed protecting?"
"Him taking care of Fujiko is more important than any stupid idiot challenging him. It's totally honorable if his students take it for him. He can always beat them later if we lose."
"True," Goemon said from the doorway, "but how would I have done that if my sword was there?"
"Easy, you would have reclaimed it or I would have sent it back before I died. Didn't I clean it?"
"You did, but I noticed it was moved." He walked inside. "It was an honorable fight?"
"I gave him three chances to yield, including when I had him on his knees, right before the cops got there. Oh, we got some Highlander quips too." He grinned up at him. "It's totally honorable to have a student fight for you."
"It is," he agreed. "If the student agrees, which you did. I find no fault with that action, even though I didn't need the protection."
"Goemon, that baby upstairs should be your only concern at the moment," Xander said firmly. "That's the way it's supposed to be. Idiots with big noses or not. That should be your only concern until he's at least a month old. Even for samurai. Therefore your students are going to keep conspiring to take any challenges for you for a bit longer. Now, go play with your son so I can get back to learning how to do a backflip without my hands and figure out how to find myself a *good* sword."
"Fine," Goemon said, smirking at him. "You are transparent."
"Hey, not an issue in my attitude of caring. Transparent me causes less problems." He grinned. "Now, go stroke the baby from the inside. She needs to make more noise to cover up what I'm going to do later to Lupin or with my stash of toys." Goemon blushed but went to do that. Xander looked at Lupin. "Either way you want it of course." He stood up and did a perfect backflip without his hands. "See, I'm good."
"You are, you're still in trouble for being in here without supervision," Lupin said smugly. "You know better, Xander."
"Yes, sir," he sighed, trudging after him and letting the door be locked with the special lock that took the remote control that Jigen kept around his neck these days. That's okay, Xander could go play outside later. The grass was pretty soft most of the time. After he had worn Lupin out again, he went outside to perfect a back handspring. A bit more energy was required and he had it to spare. He could do it from a cartwheel but not from a standing position and he needed to figure that out.
"No way in hell!" Lupin called out his window. "Get back up here."
"Yes, sir," he complained. "Can't I even..."
"Jigen, he's doing it again. Drag him up here."
"Do I look like superman?" Jigen complained as he came out to grab Xander and drag him back to bed. "Stay up here a bit longer, kid. He's a light sleeper tonight." He left him at the door and went back to his own room.
"Man, make me feel like an inmate," Xander complained as he walked into Lupin's room. Lupin pointed at the other side of his bed and Xander laid down, snuggling in. "Better?"
"Much, thank you. I'll help you with that tomorrow."
"Good boy. Now rest." He laid down on top of Xander's chest so he couldn't move this time. "You need to sleep more anyway. You make me tired."
"Is that like I'm cold put on a sweater?"
"Yes, it is," Lupin said firmly. "Sleep more so I quit being so worn out."
"Yes, Lupin. Hey, boss, I got offered the chance to become a sex toy, can I?"
Lupin lifted his head to look at him. "They want to do what?"
"Make molds of my cock and balls to sell as sex toys," Xander said innocently.
"When do they go on the market?"
"Next week," he said sheepishly. "Marketed under my real name of Alexander."
"That's fine, Xander. As long as it can't be traced back to you. Some of the other crooks might pick on you because of it and I don't want you to have to destroy them all."
"I haven't even made move yet to gain power," Xander defended.
"We like it that way," Lupin reminded him. "Keep it that way." He snuggled in again. "No more sneaking down at night. I want you in bed sleeping, not working out."
"But I don't need that much sleep."
"Then watch tv or something, Xander. Do not make me tie you to the bed every night. You could get very badly hurt by doing that by yourself and we don't want or need that."
"Yes, Lupin," Xander agreed quietly.
"Thank you. I don't want to see you hurt." He gave him a light squeeze. "Nap. You'll need it in the morning when we wake up Ishi."
Xander grinned. "Sure. If you think we can."
"I know we can, we did it the other morning. Ishi kicked her each time you yelled." Xander chuckled, a wicked sounding noise. "Tomorrow morning, Xander. I'm already tired tonight."
"Sure, Lupin." He let the older man snuggle in and laid there, letting him. When Lupin was finally asleep he picked up his night vision goggles and his book, going back to his bookmark. Lupin reached up and took off the goggles, tossing them aside. "I'm not sleepy yet. I didn't even have to turn on a light."
"I don't care, you look funny like that." He put the book down too and sighed, deciding to wear Xander out the only way he knew how. "You've got to take up jogging again. Right before bed each night." He grabbed the hard cock, moving gently to tease him. Xander moaned and lifted his head for a kiss, which he got. "Relax, let me do this."
"I'm sure you can, but you don't."
"Sorry, I'm used to having someone there who wants to take care of it for me," he said defensively. He got out of the bed and went to sulk in the bathtub for a bit.
Lupin laid there and thought about it. Xander had lost everything that he was used to. His loving, tired spouses. His kids. He guessed he'd have to fill in until the guy got comfortable again. He got up but Xander slammed the door so he went back to bed. He wouldn't be coming out for *hours*.
Xander was the first down to breakfast the next morning and he was still pouting. He took his coffee and croissants outside to sit by the fish pond. That's where Jigen found him an hour later with the coffeepot. "Thanks," he said when his cup was refilled. "I can't have that, can I?"
"Nope, sorry, kid." He sat beside him with a grunt for his knees aching. "I wish you could. You were probably happier then than you are now."
"Sometimes," Xander admitted. "It's more that I didn't have to look for things anymore. Even if you guys ignored me, I was still wanted and I could still talk you into putting up with me. Now I've got to start all over again and I know I can't get back to where I was." He looked at him. "It sucks."
"It does," Jigen agreed. "Then again, you're free to date too. You could find someone who's willing to have sex with you until you collapse and probably still have Lupin."
"Jigen, my body's used to having two people who want it most of the time. Unless I break in someone and bring them onto the team to share them with him, it's not going to be happening." He picked up his coffee and took a sip. "I'm figuring it out, it's simply taking a while."
"I know but while you're figuring things out, other things are going on around you. You need to start paying attention to those things."
"When I do, I get lectured. When I don't I get lectured. Seeing the point in that?"
"I don't lecture."
"You do so lecture. You did last night. You did just now." He looked at Jigen again. "You're very good at it, it comes out nicer than most people's, but you do lecture, Jigen." He went back to watching the fish. "Not that I mind, but I'm not a little kid. I wasn't even when I was this age. Sure, I do dumb shit sometimes, but I don't need my hand held."
"Think you're ready to go out on your own?" Jigen asked dryly.
Xander looked at him again. "How many jobs do you think I've done on my own?" Jigen frowned at him. "Honestly."
"Eighteen." He looked at the fish again and finished off his coffee. "If I need to, I can. It'll ease the stress levels around here and will make sure I don't have to deliver Ishi." He stood up and hauled Jigen to his feet. "If you want, I can. That'll give you some time with Marcus. He could use the bolstering."
"He's fine, Xander, it's you who's gone odd."
"What a fucking shock," Xander said bitterly. "I get pulled from my life to replay some of it and my first instinct is to change things so they can't happen the way they did. Am I supposed to not be odd?"
"I thought it was a vision."
"Yeah, me too, but I heard Janus when he was talking to you two. He said I was pulled back. That Lotus sent me back to fix it so no one died like that." He walked off. "No wonder I can still feel the calluses from the heels." He headed up the back stairs to his room and packed a bag, writing out a note about how he needed some space to think, then took Dawn's bike and headed off to spend some time alone.
Jigen walked into Lupin's office, frowning at him. "I fucked up. He said I lectured him."
"He seems to think we do that a lot," Lupin agreed. "Was that him leaving?"
"He's gone to think." He handed over the note. "He said he was there, that was his life." Lupin nodded. "It really happened that way?"
"It really happened that way and Xander's missing what he had. Namely a supportive and loving family that liked to fuss over him." He put his feet up. "He'll be back soon. We're his only link to that life."
"I hope you're right. He took about half of his clothes."
"That's only two weeks worth," Lupin pointed out. "He'll be back by three or we'll chase him."
"Sure, boss. Try calling him tonight, okay? We don't want another two month chase like in the whatever." Lupin grimaced and nodded. "Thanks. I'm going to work with Marcus."
"Let him work with Goemon. He wants to get his specialist knowledge down better."
"What should I do today?"
"Help me find a baby present for Fujiko?" he asked weakly. "What does someone get a woman like Fujiko who's having a baby? If she were mine, I'd be giving her jewelry, but I don't want to step on Goemon's toes."
"I was going to get him a sympathy card but he wants the baby."
Lupin frowned at him. "You got him one of those as a wedding present. Think you should try for something original?"
"Fine," Jigen agreed. "We'll go shopping." He stopped and shook himself. "I just had a flash of buying presents for Sylvia."
"Yeah, I've been having those all morning," Lupin sighed. "We'll figure it out while Xander does." He stood up, following Jigen out to the garage so they could go baby shopping. "I know what they've already got but I'm not sure what they need."
"Then we'll ask," Jigen decided. "Head to a baby store and we'll figure it out, then find it cheaper other places."
"If we have to go to the shopping center, I want to get it done then," Lupin said dryly. "I don't want to be stuck in there for hours on end."
"Good point, boss. Let's head there. They're expensive but we've got money right now thanks to Xan. He said he's pulled eighteen jobs."
"He only paid us for sixteen, but he overpaid us for two of them so I suppose he's thinking it evens out." He sped out of the garage. "We'll probably need a new car."
"Only if we all head out at the same time. If you drive us and Xander drives the others, plus the baby since he likes less open cars, it should be fine."
"Hmm, good point." He patted the dash. "I'd miss this thing if we couldn't take it everywhere."
"As long as we don't crash it again," Jigen said, holding on as they sped around a corner. "Easy, we're not being chased."
"Fine," Lupin complained, slowing down again. "I missed being chased."
"Then appear in Paris in your boxer shorts again."
"Not that way."
"I'm sure Pop's'll be back from his enforced honeymoon soon enough and he'll be after our asses yet again."
"Do you ever get the feeling that he might be after our asses and not just us?"
"No," Jigen spluttered. "Lupin, you're odd. Maybe a break from being screwed into unconsciousness each night will help that."
"Probably not," Lupin said smugly. "Knowing my mind, it'll get worse."
"Yeah, you're probably right," Jigen agreed. "Cop car coming up behind us."
"I see her and she's a very pretty redhead. I wouldn't mind being frisked by her."
"Do you want me to take the wheel so you can masturbate?"
"No, I'm good without it. Xander wore me out last night."
"Good. Hopefully it'll last for a few weeks."
"No, I don't think so," he admitted, glancing down at his pants as they tented. "Looks like the little Lupin is ready to go yet again."
"Fuck. Switch with me so you can that off the side of the car again."
Lupin laughed and they switched drivers, letting Jigen drive while Lupin taunted the cop behind them. He saw her calling into her radio, then she slowed down and turned around and sped in the opposite direction. "Pity. She was cute."
"Have I ever mentioned you make me want to take showers to get clean after you say things like that?" Jigen asked.
Lupin's answer was a laugh.
Xander sat down on the bar stool. He was probably in some sort of trouble for mixing up things in London's syndicate, but he didn't really care at the moment. He didn't care about too many things actually. "Beer me," he told the bartender. The guy looked at him so Xander frowned at him. "I don't care what brand as long as it's not a light and it's not Killian's Red." The guy drew him one from the tap and handed it over so Xander handed over ten Pounds. "I'll need another in about a half hour."
"Sure. You Lavelle?" Xander nodded, taking a sip. It's not like he could hide his freakish silver hair. "There was some freaky stuff last night. Someone said you handle that."
"I do usually. What happened?"
"Big, bright lights in the park. Reporters said some kids set a small fire but the lights were too big for some runaways to do." He looked him over. "I don't know what ta tell ya, but there's a cop in here who was lookin' for ya. They said they'd find you here right now and that it had to be you instead of one'a your gang, that you'd know 'em."
"What kids?" Xander asked, his stomach plummeting. His kids? What had happened to his kids? "What cop?"
"Big, tall, buff guy. Named Harrison. Said he's out of the main Scotland Yard office. Left his card. Said he was going to most of the pubs in town that were lower class." Xander took it and pulled out his cell, then handed over fifty Pounds. "Thanks, mate."
"Thank you. I think I know what's going on but I can't be sure." He dialed the number and put the phone up to his ear as soon as he hit send. "Hi, I need to speak to Inspector Harrison. The one looking for Lavelle, dude. Yes, I'm quite sure. I know where he is but I couldn't talk to him yet." He listened the hold music. "Harrison, this is Lavelle. What kids?" He sighed. "Because there's a good chance they're my kids, now what kids!" He lowered his voice at a look from the bartender and he relaxed. "That's fine. Where are they? No, they're mine. They're my charges in case something happens. Hey, if you want me to walk into Scotland Yard with a bounty on my head, I will, but I'd have to stop anyone who got into my way. Yeah, even that one's mine. He's in my protection until we can get to his father." He grinned. "Because his father's special and he trusts me to watch out for 'em. I'm their Godfather, okay? Just give me a place and a time and I'll even leave London." He snatched a pen off the bartender and a napkin from the stack, writing down the address. "Sure, I know where it is. I'll have to pick up a car, I was on my motorcycle. Thanks, man. I owe you. I protect you from here on out. None of the thugs had better touch you or they deal with me." He hung up and looked at the bartender. "Car dealership? Cheap, used, four door that runs."
"I've got one for sale but it's a mini," one guy offered.
"I've got to put my Godkids into it, man. That's five kids." The man winced. "Yeah, so I need something bigger than a mini. Anyone else?"
"I've got a SUV but it's not for sale," one drunken guy said. "Wife'd kill me. Hates the thing but still."
Xander looked at the bartender, who shook his head and waved at someone in the back. "He's needin' a car to move his godkids somewhere safe. They're the light in the park last night. Five little 'ns. You got something for sale, right?"
"It's ancient and messy but it runs," the dish boy offered. "It's like an eighty Caddy."
"Decent enough," Xander agreed. "Got it here?" The kid nodded. "Then let's see it. I'll come back for my bike. I parked it in back anyway." He followed the guy out, agreeing to his price readily. It was a good car and a better cover. He got in and headed for the park the cop had said to meet him at. He snuck around the other waiting cops, nodding at the one he was there to meet and his partners. "Hey," he called.
"Daddy!" Savannah cried, running for him. "Oh, God, you're okay. Lotus wasn't sure!" She hugged him, crying on him. "We're okay. They're all here. Take us home?"
"Sure, princess, just as soon as I'm sure you're all safe. Then we'll head home." He looked at the cops. "Where's the rest of them?" he asked quietly.
"In one of our squad cars. She's really yours?"
"She's really mine. I left her somewhere safer." He hugged her, getting down to do it. "Oh, Gods, Princess, I missed you guys," he whispered, holding her as tightly as he could. He heard a gun cock. "I kill people who pull weapons around my kids," he said coldly, glaring up at Zenigata. "Didn't like the honeymoon?"
"No, I'm chasing you," he said bitterly. "Your kids? Dawn didn't mention any kids."
"It's a damn long story, Pops, and you won't get me this time. This is my daughter, the others are my kids. There's nothing on this plane or any other that will stop me from taking them from this park. Unless you want to leave the boys fatherless again, I'd back off." Zenigata took two steps back. "Good enough. Guys!" he called, waving a hand. The other kids rushed over. Lotus, but not Ishi. The Fourth and Melissa. Sierra was sucking her thumb as she got his back. Fred and Sarah were toddling behind them. "Oh, damn, most of you," he whispered. "Thank you, Janus!" he called. "No last one?"
"I couldn't," Lotus admitted quietly, hugging him harder. "The Father?"
"Back in Paris, sweets. We'll see him soon. Let's get you guys somewhere safe." He stood up. "Okay, head past Gramps to the old blue Caddy in the parking lot. I'll come back later for my bike." The cops let them pass, they knew he'd kill them with the way he was touching them all. "Everyone into the back, there should be more than enough room," he ordered, setting down Savannah. They all scrambled into place, two of them taking the front seat with him. "That's fine. We all in?" Sarah patted the door so he picked her and Fred up, handing them back. "We all here, Lotus?"
"We're all here, Mommy."
"Thanks, Princess. Let's go then." He checked again then closed the door and headed out to his estate. On the way he called Tornado. "It's Lavelle. I need a huge ass favor. My kids just showed up and I had to get a car to take them with me. That means I left my bike in the back of the pub I was at. Yeah, that one. Can you bring it to my estate. Yes, that was me," he said patiently. "Sorry, did it mess things up that badly?" He grinned. "See, I knew you'd do it fine, sweetheart. Then you're doing fine. You shouldn't have to prove it more than once. Promise." He looked in the mirror, noticing some of the kids were looking really pale. "Gotta go. Yeah, that's fine." He pulled over and looked at them. "What's wrong, guys?"
"We feel kinda icky, Daddy," the Fourth said, rubbing her stomach. "It's not the car either."
"Hmm. Then we're heading to a good witch I know. We'll figure it out."
"Did I mess up?"
"No but traveling back through time often makes one ill," Xander offered. "Trust me, I got really sick both of my times. Especially if you came the Kitsune way."
"We did," Lotus admitted. "Was that okay?"
"It's fine, sweetness. I missed you guys so much." He sniffled then pointed the car at the nearest witch he knew he could trust, on the other side of the city. They got better the closer they came to the park so he called her to get her working on it in advance, letting her know about that linkage as well.
Goemon answered the phone, nearly dropping it when he heard the soft kid's voice on the other end. "Who are you?" The answer he got did make him drop the phone. "LUPIN!" Lupin came running. "Answer that," he ordered, pointing at it.
Lupin put the earpiece up to his ear. "Yes?" He groaned and held his head. "Lotus. Sweetheart, what are you doing already born?" He listened to her. "Where is Xander?" He nodded. "Sure thing. We'll meet you all at the estate. Don't worry about it, we're not mad. Tell Melissa she did the right thing, sweetness. Sure. By tomorrow night. Love you too. We'll work it out then." He hung up and looked at Goemon. "Yes, that was her. Pack. Let me tell Fujiko."
"I'm not sure you should. She'll turn to you for comfort." He headed up the stairs at a dead run. "Jigen, pack. Lotus just called from London." Jigen came out of his room, looking stunned. "They're all there but Ishi and the youngest. Now." Jigen nodded, heading in to do that for himself. Lupin knocked on Goemon's door, walking inside. "Okay, we've got something odd."
"That vision?" He nodded. "Is Lotus from then?"
"She's your next child, Fujiko. Born right after Ishi. She's the one who sent Xander back to fix things." Her mouth fell open as she sat up and she tried to say something. "She couldn't bring Ishi because he's already here. She brought the rest that were living. She also brought two of them back to life," he admitted. "Xander's having them treated to make sure that the trip didn't hurt them. That means you're now a mother to a daughter who's nine if I remember right and Ishi used to be her big brother. We're meeting them at Xander's new estate. If you don't want to come, we'll understand, but we have to be there."
"I'm coming," she agreed. "I want to see this little girl! Is she like me?"
"She was there for a bit but that was mostly because you were possessed. Think a cross of Goemon and a witch. That's Lotus."
"She's a witch?"
"She's a nature witch, Fujiko. She talks to tree nymphs." He turned and found a furry creature behind him. "You again?"
"I helped them get back here. I came to make sure you knew."
"Xander hadn't called yet but he was also exhausted trying to fix the link they had to the spot they appeared." The Lord of the Kitsune nodded. "No last one?"
"No. That one would have to come to be again, Lupin." He scratched a furry eyebrow. "The estate has cops around it already. Tornado warned him. She took his bike to the new place he had just bought. It's not repaired yet however. Xander's being hunted. You'll need to move the children first and then him." Lupin nodded. "Here?"
"It's not safe enough," Fujiko told him. "Is there anyplace else?"
"See, in their time, Xander had multiple hideouts of his own, plus all the ones you've got." He snapped his fingers. "Japan. That hideout. We've never seen it. Does he own it yet?" Lupin dived for the phone to call Murami. The Kitsune looked at Fujiko. "It's good to see Ishi is still calm in this stage."
"Not always. He still kicks a lot and usually in response to Xander yelling." She forced herself out of the bed so she could pack. "Where is the hideout in Japan?"
Lupin hung up. "Murami said it came with the comic and anime company," he said happily. "He just barely owns it now. Fujiko, I need that choker, just in case." She pointed at the box and he took it, going to pack with the Kitsune's help. "Is he okay?"
"He's fine, he was severing the linkage, that's what brought it back to my attention and I took the note that Lotus had from myself. They were supposed to stay with us until I got Xander somewhere alone and safe. He should be fine, he's simply tired. I'll get him on a chartered flight to Japan as soon as I can. Can you meet it at Heathrow or that new one?"
"Sure. Definitely. When?"
"If not, meet them in Tokyo." The Kitsune disappeared, going to where Xander was. "You need to charter a flight, Xander."
"I'm mostly broke," Xander pointed out. "With the recent buying spree I'm pretty broke actually."
"Then dip into that special emergency fund. This is the time for it. Lupin is bringing your choker as well." He looked at the sleeping children. "They look very innocent."
"They do," Xander sighed, calling his estate. "Hey, Celeste. Have the cops gone yet?" He grimaced. "Sure, put him on. Gramps. Listen. If this was the boys, would you let them do this to Dawn? Because I'm apt to act less rationally than she would. Then I'd ask her. Because I had a few of them myself, okay?" he snapped. "Yes, things can do that. Ask Dawn or Ethan if you don't believe me." He took a deep breath. "I don't care, Gramps. They're my kids. I'm protecting them, even if I have to make it so you forget I ever existed." He rubbed his forehead. "That's fine, I can still work on the rest of them. Now get off my property. I'm not going there while you're there and the staff's been there since before I earned it." He hung up and looked at the witch, then up. "Yo, Ethan, can you help me do something unethical so I don't taint the nice woman here?" Ethan appeared, giving him a long look. "Yes, they're chasing after me. The kids showed up." He pointed at them and Ethan moaned, then looked at him again and nodded. "Thanks. You don't have a handy private plane, do you?"
"No, I don't," Ethan admitted. "You, Lord of the Kitsune?"
"No, unfortunately not and none of us have seen the new places yet." He sat down next to Sarah, stroking her back. "You rest, dear. We're working on getting you somewhere safe." She nodded and drifted off again. "Do it, Xander, before Lotus can help."
Xander and Ethan walked outside to keep the taint away from the witch. When Xander stumbled back in he was alone. "Ow," he noted. He shook himself and called Murami. "I need the special account authorized," he said quietly. "I know but I've got to get the kids somewhere safe, Murami. Yeah, my kids. Trust me, you'll be meeting them soon, but for right now, I've got to charter a private plane to Japan and I need it to leave from somewhere mostly unnoticeable. We only did an 'ignore me' spell on the local cops. It won't last if the kids have to sneak into either main airport. That's fine. No, we're going to Tokyo. Sure. Goemon's got a house in the suburbs. He could probably put you up if Lupin doesn't get you a hotel room worthy of your magnificence." He grinned. "Hey, I like flattering you. You blush nicely. Thanks, dear." He hung up and sat down, his eyelids dropping shut. "Wake me."
"You rest, I'll watch," the kitsune said quietly. Xander nodded and let himself finish drifting off. "I know it's odd, lady, but that is Xander Harris."
"I know of him," she agreed. "That's why I agreed to help his children." She looked at them. "A few were ill when they traveled. It's magnified their flu."
"I know. We'll deal with it. If I had a way around it, I'd take them directly there but I don't know what the new house looks like."
"They probably shouldn't travel that way." She looked at Xander. "I thought he had money."
"He does, but he just expanded his personal empire by a few houses and a few other things. He also prepaid for the renovations." She winced. "Yes, so he's mostly poor at the moment until his investments are turned back around. Plus he's got nearly sixty thousand sitting on his dresser." He plucked Xander's phone from his hand and called Lupin. "Did you remember his collection?" He smiled. "Good. No, she's chartering it for him from her office in Paris. We're leaving from a private airstrip here." He listened. "That's fine, Lupin. Whenever is good enough. Or we could meet you there. Xander and Ethan had to make the cops ignore them for now. What caused that rush? Was it the children?" He grimaced. "Of course he should have meddled. It was horrible. Even our people were being run out of business." He hung up and put the phone back into Xander's jacket pocket. "The cops decided that the meddling in the local syndicate is going to bring a war but Xander's already cured that."
"His bike was delivered here," she offered.
"We'll have it sent there," the fox spirit assured her. "They can take it on the plane with them."
Xander opened the door for the new hideout and let the kids inside first. "Find a room, guys, and nap." They nodded, trudging that way. "We'll come up and baby you soon." Xander found the nearest couch and flopped down onto it. "I'm wiped."
"I know you are," Jigen soothed gently, patting him on the head. "Are you sure that's just the flu?" Xander nodded, yawning into the cushion. "Then we'll figure that out." He went to help the kids get into their rooms, leaving Lupin to get everything else settled. He found Lotus hugging a tree. "Suck up natural energy later, Lotus. Nap for now. You need it more."
"I will. I was setting wards." She yawned and went up to her room, finding it because it had more plants. The room next to hers, her brother's if he were here, was empty of course but he was about to be born soon. She wasn't sure what was going on. She looked up. "Mr. Fox?" The Kitsune appeared beside her. "What about Ishi? We need Ishi."
"Would it make you feel better if I went to get him and the swords, Lotus?" She nodded. "The adults here will protect you."
"I know, but he'll be miserable and I miss him. The new one can be someone else or something. I don't know how this works."
"That's fine. I'll see what I can do, Lotus." She nodded so he disappeared. In the future, his self got a sudden jolt as the memory hit him. He looked at the remaining three children he was guarding, Ishi guarding them with both swords. "They're ready for you now," he said quietly. Ishi nodded, gathering up their things and the babies. "You are quite a warrior, young man. I'm proud to know you. Keep that up and you will be fine and very famous." He fluffed the dark hair. "You behave. The flu's gotten worse back then and you're about to be born."
"Won't that warp time?"
"No more than we already have. This future is already closing and it's better if we get you out of here. Also, I'll be sending back other things. Tell the me then to clear the kitchen for trunks and things. Or the basement if you have one. Have him think about where to store it otherwise." Ishi nodded, strapping on the baby carriers and the two diaper bags, plus he sat on the other things that had to go back with him then. "Close your eyes. It'll hurt."
"That's fine," Ishi agreed, closing his eyes. He felt the wrench of the move and opened his eyes to find his mother staring at him in shock. "Mother. Take them, they're heavy." She took the kids and he went to stalk his father, finding him staring at Lotus. "Father, I brought you back your sword," he said quietly.
Goemon spun, then grabbed the boy to hold. "Ishi," he whispered, squeezing him as hard as he dared. "Are you all right?"
"Fine, Father, but I need to pass on a message." He looked at the Kitsune. "There's other inanimate things that have to come back. Think about where you want them. There's a lot of stuff."
The Kitsune nodded and went to find a good spot. The river access in the basement wasn't a good spot but the storehouse behind it was excellent. It probably held cars or planes from the size and levels. He concentrated hard on the picture and things started to appear. He moved them out of the way and more things appeared in the same spot. By the time everything was transferred back he was exhausted but he could feel the other one closing off. One last small box came back and he snatched it, knowing it was for him. He looked inside and smiled. "I will find her and court her," he agreed. "She will be the one who gives me sons." He went to tell Jigen, since he was still awake and pacing. "The things that would have been lost are in the warehouse behind this one. I have no idea if they attach to somewhere else. If they do you may wish to move things to a bedroom or somewhere similar."
"Thank you," Jigen said quietly, staring down at him. "Is that future closed?" He nodded. "What about the kids?"
"It won't cause an instability," he promised. Then he disappeared to find that kitsune maid and make her his.
Jigen walked into where Lupin was sitting with his two girls. "Lupin, everything from then got transferred back to the warehouse. We need to make sure no one else can get to it."
"Coming," he agreed, standing up and following him to where he knew the warehouse had to be. It was the same place most garages were. They were both stunned at the sheer volume of stuff, but that was fine. The only other door led to another warehouse that was empty so they locked and sealed the door, then went back to watch over the kids. "Is Goemon okay?"
"He's still hugging the first son," Jigen assured him. He found Goemon looking at a new sword. "It okay?"
"It's fine," he offered. He looked at Lupin. "The other one my family made, this one for Xander." He let him hold it to look it over.
"Wow. It's heavy too." He handed it back properly. "Are you okay with this?"
"I have to be," Goemon agreed. "They're not leaving?"
"Their possible future was shut down," Jigen told him. "The kitsune said it wouldn't cause any imbalance. They're all ours."
Goemon nodded. "Thank you both." He bowed to them then took his son to his room to help him settle in. He heard a baby crying and went to check on him. "Ah, the last son," he said fondly, picking him up from Fujiko's arms. "How are you, son?" He cuddled him and the baby quit crying. "He was the one you died while carrying."
"No wonder he hates me. Whose is this one?"
"Xander's and one of the men's."
"Xander?" He nodded. "As in one of them carried her?"
"Xander did. With a spell and the choker it is possible to do," Ishi told her. He looked at his baby brother. "Are you sucking on him instead of the mother? Does he taste good?"
"You did the same thing, son," Goemon assured him. That's when he realized he had the memories of their childhoods. He relaxed and smiled at him. "I remember."
"Good. That's always nice to have happen." Ishi took his baby brother. "Come on, little man. We'll nap together before Lotus attacks us to hug and cuddle." He carried him back to his room, settling in to sleep with him.
"That choker does that?" Fujiko asked in a dead voice. Goemon looked down at her and nodded. "How?"
"It's consecrated to Janus," he admitted. "Xander was in and out of it for the longest time."
"Oh." She stood up with a grunt of pain. "What about this one?" She stroked her stomach.
Goemon stroked it as well. "I love all my children, Fujiko. Even though he won't be the fourteenth, he will still be my son. We'll have to find a new name for him since they're staying." She looked hurt. "They are your children as well."
"I don't remember them!"
"Maybe that's because you were dead when the attack happened," Jigen offered as he walked in with a bottle. He took the last baby and fed her, making her a happy baby. "Yeah, you eat. We'll figure out that nasty breastfeeding stuff later."
"Huh?" Fujiko asked.
"You died while carrying that last one, Fujiko," Goemon said quietly. "Xander took him in and breastfed him for me. That way I wouldn't worry about him being malnourished." She shrieked and hit him. "I did not touch her," he said sternly, catching her hands. "I did not touch her," he repeated more gently. "She merely acted as an alternate mother for them."
"The kids consider her their mother anyway," she said bitterly. "I can see it now."
"That was your own choices," Goemon reminded her. Lupin came in. "Are we settled in?"
"We are," he admitted, taking the baby to hold and cuddle. "Hey, Alex. You okay in there?" She cooed at him around the nipple. "Yeah, that's our future princess of pain and misery." Jigen snorted and shook his head. "Fujiko, she filled in when you went off the deep end. That shouldn't surprise you. Shit, the cat."
"I brought her," Jigen said dryly. "She came in my bag."
"Thank you. Xander might beat us if we forgot his cat." He jiggled the baby to shift her around. "There. Better." She fussed and whined. "No, you eat. My arm's not used to carrying you guys right now." He sat down with her, letting her snuggle in. Once she tried to spit out the bottle and breastfeed but he didn't let her. "Sorry, she's not doing that and unless Fujiko wants to offer, you're doing that anymore either. Sorry, Alex."
"I don't think I can handle this," Fujiko admitted, retreating. Goemon took her to their room and settled her into their bed, then left her alone. She laid there and thought until the door opened again. "What, Lupin?"
"It's me, mother." Ishi snuck in and shut the door, coming in and curling up next to her. "I know it's odd. We realize that. I wasn't sure of it either or I would have come with the babies sooner." He patted her on the stomach. "Hello, me."
"He's probably not you," she pointed out.
"That's fine, mother. I know it's odd, but can you please get over it and not be possessed this time? We didn't like you when you were and we don't want it this time." She looked at him. "Really, mother. It was really bad. You abandoned us and we hated it."
"I'm sorry, Ishi."
"It's all right. I understand. I'd be freaked out too. Even Arsene is freaked out and she's usually up for anything as long as it seems fun or necessary. By the way, the flu started with her so you might not want to hug her that much until she's better." He stroked her stomach again. "This one will probably be another warrior and Father will love him, mother. Father loves all of us for being here. If you can't accept that, I'm really sorry, but we need him. We nearly died because Uncle Xan did. Until Little Alex is grown up, Uncle Xan is a anchor point for the world apparently."
"Or at least that one," she pointed out.
"Or at least that one. I don't understand how all that works. Magic scares me and Lotus is very strong. That's how she sent all the girls and Fred back." He grimaced. "Father explained it as being another weapon at her disposal but she does sometimes scare me with how strong she is. Uncle Xan and Uncle Marcus took her into hand though so she'll be fine."
"I hope so," Fujiko agreed, letting the memories hit her now. "I'll try, son, but I can't guarantee anything."
"We're not asking you to, mother. Things are odd enough when you're pregnant. There will be some more magic done once Uncle Xan is awake and able to do so. Uncle Marcus and he will both be exhausted along with Dawn, Ethan, and Ripper. Otherwise their whole world could fall apart and then we'd all die again." He shuddered and she hugged him. "Thank you. I've missed this. Auntie Xander isn't built the same." He snuggled into her arms, letting her hold him as tightly as she wanted. "Thank you, Mother."
"You're welcome, son. Let's nap, okay? Before the little you gets upset with me again and I can't sleep." He nodded, closing his eyes. "Where's the baby?"
"Morris is in my bed."
"Morris? Like the cat?"
"You made sure his name would be Kenji Morris Goemon."
"Oh, man, I must have been hallucinating," she sighed. "We'll have to fix that."
"We usually call him Morris. We think he'll be like the cat." He sighed. "I'll miss our cat."
"We have one in the house, son, you can have her."
"Thank you, Mother."
"How did Xander get twenty-seven years of training if you're only eleven?"
"You made a wish and sent him and Father back in time, plus he went back a second time, plus all the training he took with the Kitsune on and off. Plus whatever he sucked up off others. Uncle Xan is amazing, nearly as great as Dad."
"Yeah, he is," she agreed. "She really breastfed your brother?"
"Along with Fred and Sarah, plus her newest one when she came. I delivered her because everyone else was gone. I've also made my first kill to protect the girls, right after my tenth birthday."
"I'm sorry, son. I know we would have done it for you if we could have." He nodded, then he sniffled. "What?"
"I'll miss Bix."
"You rang?" a female voice said as she appeared. "Ishi, let the poor woman sleep."
"I am, Bix," he said with a grin. "Back together again."
"Yes, and you're still too young for me, young man. Now back to your own bed. Let me gather up the children." She bowed to Fujiko. "I'm Bix. I'm a distant relation and the nanny." She hustled Ishi back to his bedroom and gathered up the children, taking them to the nursery to watch over them. They definitely did not need the flu. Lupin stopped in and raised a finger, even getting to the point where he opened his mouth, then he shook his head and went to sleep with Xander, making her chuckle. "That poor man. Yes he is, huh, Sarah?" she asked, tickling her as she changed her. "You'll have to love him later, sweetness. Then pee on him to show you that you love him a lot."
Jigen walked in. "Don't tempt her, Bix." He patted her on the back, checking on the kids. "Xander's feeling miserable. She thinks it's her fault."
"It's not. The reason that realm closed is because something snapped when she was nearly killed. That person shouldn't have tried." She shrugged. "I'll tell him later." She handed Sarah over. "Here you go, one princess." She got Fred changed and he refused to sleep so she let him wander around the nursery for a bit. He suddenly squealed and went to pounce someone he could see. "I see a cat made it."
"Ours from here. Xander snuck her into the house."
"That's fine. They'd be missing theirs. I don't think Lotus could bring it." She shrugged. "Where is everything?"
"In the warehouse. Why?"
"Because Xander will need to be properly attired to go up to the Kitsune tonight with Sarah. She's being introduced you know."
"I didn't know. When did this happen?"
"Today." She grimaced. "It's another precautionary thing, Jigen." She patted him on the chest and went to dig for the proper clothes, coming up with something for Xander to wear in either form. Then she went to find him and get him showered. "Come, you must get up."
"Bix?" he asked quietly.
"Yes, and Sarah's being presented tonight. Up, up and bathe. Then I'll bring you back. Are you going in that form or in your usual female one?"
"This one. I haven't put on the choker since I refused it when I first showed up."
"Xander, what you did saved everything and everyone. Our world snapped when you nearly died. Alex was the next lynchpin to our reality and she died in your arms while you tried to protect her. Our world snapped like a stretched rubber band. Dawn did get her children out as well, all but her nephews. They weren't at home but they still exist here." She stepped closer. "Now, quit wallowing in misery. You must get changed. You only have an hour." She hustled him into the shower, fixing his hair once he came out and getting him dressed. Lupin came in during it. "He's got to present Sarah tonight. He'll be back soon." She helped Xander finish smoothing out his kimono then they grabbed Sarah and got her dressed in something better, then they left.
When Xander came back, everyone was eating dinner that Goemon had fixed. "Hey," Bix said tiredly. "They argued but nothing bad was said. It was understood to be necessary." She looked at Fujiko. "Well, you won't give birth in a cave in the desert, that was an option." Fujiko dropped her fork. "See, we're saving you some pain, dear." She looked at Goemon. "Cousin, your son is quite the warrior in training. We gave him some lessons while we were waiting to see if he could come back with the other two. Even our arms master was impressed and he hates humans." She looked at Lupin. "Now, which children am I in charge of for right now? The sick or the well?"
"You take the well ones," Jigen decided. "They're mostly the younger ones and they'll need more constant care since Xan's not lactating now."
"There are drugs for that," Bix pointed out.
"There are," Lupin agreed, "but I don't think it's necessary. Fujiko will do their son when he's born."
"You are," Goemon agreed. "It will make them healthier."
"It'll stretch me out."
"It'll do it anyway," Jigen assured her. "They'll have milk no matter what, you might as well use it instead of letting it rot and dry up." He looked at Lupin, then at the exhausted Xander and Marcus. "Is all the magic stuff done?"
"Mostly," Marcus admitted tiredly. "We'll need Dawn and Ethan to help with one and we'll have to travel to do that. Neither of us is untired enough. I wish there were more high ability magic users."
"There are, they're in the Watchers," Xander said tiredly, putting his head down. "Wake me in a few."
"Sure, Xan," Lupin agreed. "What do you need exactly?"
"Warriors for the light," Marcus said tiredly. "In that reality my father had been expelled from Hell after they grew tired of him."
"Then call David and see if he can pull up four powerful witches and wizards," Jigen suggested. Marcus perked up. "Call."
Marcus took the cellphone and dialed David's, which he still had. "David, it's Marcus. We've got a bit of a problem. Really? Good, put the bastard on then. He'll understand." A short quiet pause. "Father, the last of the spells still need done and Xander and I are wiped. Yes, that series. We've done all but the last one and the locking. No, the children are here but Lotus is ill. Xander and I are both exhausted from the rest of it." He sighed. "It doesn't say that, Father. It says it'd be preferable but we are both too tired to pop and won't be able to make it anyplace for another two days at the least." He looked up, then smiled. "Someone's trying. Go help them." He hung up and handed the phone back. "He'll take Ripper with him to help. Poor Ethan may not wake up this week." He sighed and pushed his plate back so he could put his head down too. "Wake me in about ten minutes please. They're draining us for the spells." He closed his eyes.
Lupin reached over to check Xander's pulse, relaxing when he felt one. "They'll be fine."
Goemon looked at the two men as he came out of the kitchen. "They should eat."
"The last two spells are going off," Jigen told him. "The bastard father came back as well."
"We have to take the bad with the good," Goemon reminded them. "It also could be worse. Some of the worst of their world may have come with them."
"I wish he had his contacts already lined up," Lupin admitted.
"He's broke right now," Jigen pointed out. "He just got everything set back up and now he's waiting for it to pay off. He did put Tornado in charge of London. Bastian is looking interested in him after the night they spent together. Even Hal liked him."
"Hal should like him. Xander played fair and Hal always liked that," Fujiko pointed out. "He really had to make his single run harder?"
"They had to set it to the top level," Jigen said tiredly. "Ours was harder too. Made even more so by the assassins cheating for their team, which Xander killed one of."
"By turning his face into hamburger," Lupin added. "We didn't get to see the body, no one did."
"You know, we never swept this place for bugs," Fujiko noted.
"I'll do one after dinner," Jigen promised. "Not that I'll expect to find any. After all, the former owner used to own an anime and manga production company. Not exactly your typical bad guy."
"True," Lupin agreed, "but better safe than having a shootout with the kids around. Not that I think anyone will try. We'll also have to get in contact with the local Don."
"Aren't they about to switch?" Goemon asked. Lupin nodded. "Then should we wait?"
"No, we'll contact the soon to be former one since he'll have it back in a few months anyway when the new one is taken down and he's forced to take it back up again. And if he doesn't it doesn't really matter. We've done our duty."
"All right, men, spread out," Zenigata's voice called. "I know they're hiding in here somewhere."
"Oh, fuck," Jigen and Lupin sighed, tossing down their napkins.
Marcus stood up with a growl, stomping that way. "You are interrupting my nap and unless you want those new children to suddenly disappear again, I'd shut up and go away," he shouted in the cop's face. Zenigata looked stunned. "I do not have the energy or patience to deal with you today! Not when the fate of the damn world rests on my magic!"
"Okay then," he said, backing away. "Never mind. We may have the wrong address. We came through the warehouse?"
"That's our warehouse," Lupin said as he walked out to cover Marcus' mouth. "You need to call home. In that other time, Dawn lived in another house and your kids just showed up too." Zenigata looked stunned. "That's where our kids came from."
"I realize that now," he said bitterly. "All that stuff is yours?"
"No, most of it's Xander's," he admitted dryly. "Xander likes to collect things. He's got a kimono collection worth the millions that he's spent on it. His comic and anime collection. His porn collection. His jewels that he's collected over the years. That's not covered under your warrant, it's a different address. That is the law, is it not?" Zenigata nodded, backing up another step as someone else came out.
"Uncle Zenny, why are you bothering the daddies?" Arsene asked tiredly. "We're sick and you're being mean again. I'll have to go steal Disney to make you go away?"
"No, little one, I'd never put children in the line of fire. Men, we've crossed addresses and that second warehouse is theirs. Apologize to the owner for me," he said stiffly.
"That would be Lavelle."
Zenigata looked at them. "You know, this means I'll have Ray back soon and Myron. This time they'll be warned against him."
"This time he'll know them too," Lupin pointed out.
"No!" Xander shouted, jumping up. "The underground army in Paris. That was next year. They're starting to build now. We need the slayers there." He panted, leaning against Lupin's back as a stomach cramp hit him. "We need to fix that."
"We will, Xan. Go to bed and wait for me. I'll give you a backrub."
"Saintly," Xander vowed, kissing him then taking Arsene away.
"Hey, Pops, if you want to be helpful, find my daughter Demara for me, okay? She's one of those."
"She's back in Paris at school, dumbass. Next time, look closer to home." He led his men away. It wouldn't be legal even if he did arrest them. His men gave him a lot of dirty looks. "There were children in there and it wouldn't have been legal, men. He's gotten out of it before."
"Whose children, sir?" one of the men asked.
"Theirs. The next generation of crime and a few who want to be cops." He grimaced. "He's done it before. The warrant wouldn't be legal. Even with an international bounty on their heads." He rubbed his forehead. "It's moments like these that make me want to retire." He looked at them. "A quick lesson, men. You never bother Lavelle when there are children around. He will attack first to protect them. You never bother Lavelle while he's having some sort of pleasure, or he'll cap you then spit on you and go back to what he had been doing. He's done it in the past when someone tried to break in on him while he was having sex. You never break in on Lavelle when he's that exhausted or he'll start to shoot anyone. He wasn't seeing straight. Forget Lupin, Lavelle is the more dangerous one."
"Lavelle has cross-trained with all of them. He's got Lupin's timing and planning skills, Jigen's ability with many weapons, and Goemon's abilities and patience. I have seen that man stand still for two hours before waiting for exactly the right moment to strike. If you *ever* manage to catch the others and keep them away from Lavelle, expect a high casualty rescue. If you manage to capture Lavelle and one of them, imagine what Lupin would do, or what Goemon would do, and magnify it by ten." They shuddered. "And those children are Lavelle's, even if they're not directly his. So we never bother Lavelle unless he's in a good mood, he's not having sex, and he's not got any kids around. Besides, he's training the kids to be just as tough as he is. Goemon's oldest son is being trained by him too. The girl who came out was Lupin the Fourth. She's already shoplifting massive things."
"We've never seen reports of that, sir."
"Oh, you will be soon," he sighed. "If they're in town, I expect them to stay for a bit. Lavelle's an anime freak. Loves the conventions." He shook his head. "It's too bad, I'd love to get Lavelle. I know my life is forfeit the first time I try it though. Lupin's slippery. Jigen can be like an eel with how skinny he is. Lavelle is a force of nature, men. Never forget that. Marcus is just a bit less formidable than Lavelle is, he's like a younger, nicer version of Lavelle without the snarl and with less gun skills." Maybe he'd talk to his boss about what she did before. She was coming up on having the job again. Maybe she'd decide to do that sooner this time.
The other officers looked at each other behind the old guy's back, deciding to try for themselves the next time the guy was in the open. A single shot rang out and took out the leader.
"I heard you thinking that," Lavelle called. "Not around my children, little boys. I don't play nicely."
They scattered, understanding now. That man was one scary bastard. Zenigata waved. "I warned them."
"I know. Go play with your kids."
"Thanks, Lavelle." He strolled off, heading for home. His boss would have to know then he was done for the week probably. Or else he'd be quitting soon.
The End, for now.
To Part 29:
To Thieves' Index: