To Be Yourself.
Lupin strolled into the range and pulled Xander's earmuffs off to kiss the delicate ear. "I want to go out tonight. Clean up and dress up for me." He kissed her when she looked at him then winked and walked away again.
"Where are we going?" she called as she took the mufflers off.
"Okay." She looked at Jigen and shrugged, putting back on his mufflers to finish his round of targets. Then she went to scrub off really well with the special soap someone had made for Lupin so no residue was left. She also made sure to clean her face to make sure none of the blowback was in her pores, then went to her closet to pick out what to wear. "I doubt he goes to my sort of clubs," she said, passing over the leather and tighter things. She came back to them and pulled out one dress, just in case he wanted to go to a dance club, then went back to her browsing. She had a lot of high class clothes, but almost nothing to club in. Things for jobs, not for looking sexy and deadly. She frowned and pulled out a silver sheathe dress, hanging it on the door as well. Then she pulled out a cream one to hang and look at. She tossed that in the wash since it had a huge stain on it. "How did that get in there?" she complained, checking the things around it. They also went into the wash since it looked like little sticky fingers had been playing with her clothes. Especially since the clothes all smelled like grape jelly. She heard the knock and looked at herself, pulling on a robe quickly. "I'm decent." Ishi walked in. "What sort of club are we going to?"
"He said you're going dancing." He looked at her choices and shook his head. "Not exactly like most of Uncle's women, Auntie."
She shrugged. "That's my fault. I didn't think about going out dancing for most of the clothes. I wish I still had the stuff that I had back at the house in London, it was more suitable for that."
"Your trunks are downstairs," Ishi reminded her.
"Yeah, but I didn't keep any of that stuff," she pouted. "I should have. I don't really look like one of Lupin's girls in most of these things. I look like a professional."
Lupin stuck his head in. "Why are you pouting now?"
"Nothing in here seems to make her look like one of your women; she looks more like Murami," Ishi explained.
Lupin let out a long laugh, shaking his head. "You do so look like one of my women. You've got breasts. You've got a nice rear. Wear something short and comfortable."
"Lupin, I look nothing like Fujiko did. I look like a society girl playing with the dark side."
"Xander, if that's your look then I'm all for it," he pointed out gently, coming in to look through her wardrobe. He found a few other things with jelly and tossed them into the basket. He found the tighter things in the back and pulled out one he had liked her in, handing it over. "There, wear that."
She looked at it, then at him. "We're going to my sort of club?" Lupin nodded. "Okay." She put everything else back and pulled out a pair of shoes. "Stockings too."
He kissed her. "You do so look like one of my women, Xander. You've got a marvelous chest and a cute butt. That's all I demand, so you're so far above the bar you've reset it. I could never be with someone like Fujiko ever again. Yay, she had big tits, you've got a better set and they're more tasty." He kissed her again, making her go limp. "Now, go bathe and spoil yourself. Lotion down really well so I can grope you tonight and not grimace at your elbows again." He walked Ishi out. "Help me here, okay?" he hissed.
"She is though. That woman is the one I want, and she's more than my sort of woman." Jigen met them at the bottom of the stairs. "We're going dancing tonight."
"We, as in the three of us?"
"Only if you wanted to go clubbing."
"No, thanks, really," Jigen said dryly. "Xander still angsting over her clothes?"
Lupin shook his head. "She didn't think she was my sort of woman."
"She's got tits and a cute ass, of course she is," Jigen said with a shrug. He went up to help her, pulling out a different dress and putting it on the bed. He took the cat with him so he couldn't help by kneading the stockings. "Come on, come read with me."
Xander came out of the bathroom, looking at the dress on the bed, then shook his head, putting that one back. There was no way she was going out dressed as Fujiko. She climbed into her mound of bubbles, getting comfortable. This was nice, this spoiling herself stuff. She got out of the tub and put on some clothes, then grabbed her wallet and some shoes, pulling her hair up. She knew of a few stores she could get into magically. They were like that there themselves. She popped herself there, giving the woman a look. "I need to look like I'm really one of Lupin's girls."
"I was wondering why you were buying so many formal things," she agreed, leading her back to the slinky, naughty, and stripper section. Then she called a buddy, who brought over some things from her store. Xander paid for everything and took it back to the house, deciding what she wanted to wear that night before going back to her bath. She had to turn on the heater, but it was good enough within a few minutes. She climbed back in the diminished bubbles, but it was still good. Her friends were very nice to help her that way. She'd have to send them a thank you note. She wouldn't wear the most outrageous outfit, but something more modest and slinky was in store for him tonight. That way she looked like one of his women.
Lupin looked at Xander as she came down the stairs, his mouth falling open. "Did you run out?" She nodded with a grin. "Go change." She stopped and pouted. "I love you in it, Xander, but I wanted you to be comfortable in what you were wearing. Wear something that *you* want to wear."
"Fine," she sighed, heading back up the stairs. She came down in a dress she liked. Lupin smiled and held up a hand. "I like it but it's fussy and it's not for clubbing."
"So? We'll go somewhere the outfit fits in," he said with a shrug. "I want you to be comfortable for this year, Xander. Not to have to match yourself to some personality you think I need. I want *you*, not any of the others in your head."
"No buts," he said firmly. "No buts. I want you. Not the others you create for roles. I want the real Xander, whoever she is at the moment." She sighed and nodded. "Now, do you want to wear that out? I was going to take you to a rave."
She skipped back up the stairs and put on an outfit she had liked but had almost not gotten. She hadn't thought it was right. She came down the stairs after changing shoes, something much lower this time, and he grinned. "Better?"
"If you'll be comfortable in that," he agreed. He took her out to the two-seater Benz and drove her off, taking her to have fun. It was time he corrected all those assumptions. "Did you like the first outfit?"
"It was the most conservative," she admitted. "Jigen pulled out that old purple outfit."
"Be the woman you want, Xan. I want the real you, not Melody, Sylvia, or any of the others. I want you and only you." He felt up her thigh, then shifted gears upward, going faster. "Did you like the stripper clothes?"
"Yeah, I do," she admitted. "The leather is me too."
"I noticed you were grinning in them," he agreed. "Then I want you to be yourself."
"But that's hard!"
"It isn't. Sylvia is you, Xander. So is Melody. Though I did kinda like her outfits sometimes. Sylvia was always work oriented. Melody was your fun side. Let them merge and come up with a female Xander. For that matter, merge Lavelle and become just one Xander if you can." He played with her knee again and she swatted his hand, making him grin at her. "What?" he asked when he noticed the pout. He pulled off to the side. "Don't do that." He kissed her gently. "I just want Xander."
"I did that stuff so you'd stay interested."
"Again, not an issue. I stick with the women in my life if I want to. You're never uninteresting." He kissed her again, making her go limp against his chest. "Should I pull out the dress in the trunk?"
"The black little number that I drooled about." He got out and ran around to get it, handing it over. "Try that. I thought you might like it more."
She looked it over. "I thought I looked like a whore in it."
He laughed, shaking his head. "Not even close, Xander. That's what belts are for. Put it on, unless you want to stay in that one." She changed, smoothing down the tight skirt. "See, I like you in that. It's showy, but not trashy on you." He grabbed the belt and handed it to her, putting the other one in the trunk in the overnight bag. "You can wear the other tomorrow." He helped her back into her seat then got in to drive, waiting until the car had passed by them. "Better?"
"Yeah, I do kinda feel better," she admitted, resting her head against his shoulder. "I still feel really exposed."
"Yeah, but you look hot," he promised. He started the engine and pulled out, speeding off to Paris again. She curled up against his side, making him one happy thief. The top was lower than her usual - he could see cleavage plus some of the lightly tanned flesh on her breasts. The tight fabric coated her hips like black sin, and her stockings and shoes were perfect with that outfit. He wouldn't have minded higher heels, but whatever she was comfortable with was fine with him. Those pumps looked nice anyway. The fabric had a slight sheen to it, but nothing too bright or shiny. The shoes were patent leather. The stockings made a good break between them. The longer sleeves were tight but not binding, and the whole thing made her look wonderful. Again, he stomped on the urge to find Xander's parents to stomp them flat for making her hate her body, but he could wait to do that. Revenge was always sweeter in the long run. He pulled into the alley on the outskirts of the city a few hours later, getting Xander out and brushing a hand over her rear with a grin. "Come on, I want to scare little boys off you all night."
She blushed but followed him inside once he had set the alarm on the car. The bouncer took their money and gave her a long stare, making her feel really uncomfortable. "Lupin, they're staring."
"That's because you're pretty and hot," he assured her.
"You're sure about that? I still say the dress is too tight."
"It's not too tight and you look hot in it," he promised, taking her out into the middle of the crowd to dance with her. He was probably the oldest person in the room but he didn't care. Now all he had to do was to get Xander not to care. It took a few songs but she was lost in the music and the dancing with him.
Dawn looked up as the door to the coffeeshop she was staking out opened, frowning at the couple. "Great," she complained, catching Lupin's eyes and glaring. He shrugged and got them some coffees to go, leading his woman back to the car. "What a slut," she complained just loud enough for him to hear her. "I bet Xander wouldn't like that."
He gave her a look, then kissed his date before walking over. "That is Xander." She looked stunned. "Now, want to revise your opinion?"
She shrugged. "I still say it's too tight and nasty. It's not her look."
"I think she looks adorable." He got the coffees and took Xander back to the car. "She's having cranky pregnant woman hormones," he assured her.
"Maybe," she said glumly. She sipped her coffee, looking at him. "There's no real way to prove this point though. That's a personal opinion."
Lupin smirked and shook his head, turning on the engine, shifting into first as he pulled away from the curb. "There is. Give me ten minutes to get us somewhere." He had a wild idea and it might work. Maybe. He hoped. He took her to his favorite underground club to lose his shirt playing poker in, letting her finish her coffee and suck down a breath mint before leading her inside. The guard at the doorway stared in shock, whimpering slightly. "This is my woman, Xan. Hands off."
"Sure," the guard breathed, opening the door for them. "The boss is in the back room. He wanted to see you if you came in. Ma'am," he said respectfully. "Please stay away from the other girls. They're working girls," he said apologetically. "For the lonely duds in there who can't find a woman." She blushed as she walked in, making him stop Lupin. "Who is she?" he hissed.
"Mine," he said smugly. He winked as he strolled in, taking her hand to lead her into the back room. "You wanted to see me?"
The boss, the head over Paris, stopped to stare at them. "Damn," he breathed. "Your tastes are finally getting better, I'm impressed," he praised. "It's about time." He kicked out a chair. "Sit, honey. Women like you shouldn't have to wait on a man." Lupin sat and put her in his lap. "Lupin, she's not a whore, don't treat her like one!" he snapped. "Treat her like the woman she is."
Xander giggled, shaking her head. "I'm still Xander."
"Xander?" he gaped, blinking a few times. "Oh, God, forgive me and don't kill me. Please." He closed his mouth when the others at the table laughed. "This is Lavelle's sister, guys. Be nicer." That shut them up. "Sorry, but I expected you to dress like Lavelle, young lady. Serious suits, hair pulled back. Things like that."
"She thought she looked slutty in this one," Lupin told him. She pinched him and he grinned. "They had no idea I was coming, except that I might be heading in tonight to go clubbing."
"So, it's really not that bad looking?"
"No," the boss said, shaking his head quickly. "God no. You look like a classy lady. Shit, you look like one of those wives who have rich husbands who spoil them rotten, especially at your age. You are legal, right?"
"Eighteen," she said smugly.
"Good. I like that. Lupin, no more teasing the poor girl. She's a woman and deserves to be treated like one. Let her have the chair."
"Fine," he agreed, getting her standing and ceding the chair to her. "Better?"
"Much. Young lady, he has excellent taste. Let him put you in more things like this one."
"He's the one who put me in the suits," she said. "I picked out longer, gauze skirts."
The boss shook his head. "Not a chance. Lupin, take her to Esmerelda. Let her dress your girl." He noticed the ring. "Or whatever," he said smugly. "The last I knew that was on....." He flinched. "Shit!" Everyone stared at him. "Nothing, go away." They left them alone. "How?"
"Choker," she said, touching it.
"Fine. You are Lavelle, right?" She nodded. "Damn. You're prettier like that. Before you looked much too young to be doing the job. Like you were some twink out for a sugar daddy, namely Jigen." He rolled his eyes at Lupin's smirk. "Do not do that. I may know why but I don't care. She's staying like this?" He nodded. "Then take her to my daughter with my blessings and tell her I said to give it to you at cost. She needs more clothes. I'm sure she'll be working soon as your second gunman, and then she can wear the serious clothes. Get her fun things."
"I got leathers," she offered.
"Not that sort of fun, dear," he said, patting her on the hand. "Let my baby girl help you. She can help you find a spot between the two extremes. Even though you could pull a Fujiko and wear those slutty things, you shouldn't. That's showing, but not extremely so. It's more...hinting. I like that in women. If he treats you wrong, you come running right to me. I'd even try guys now and then to have you," he said with a grin. "Lupin, I've got a sinking suspicion your girl is trying something again. Have you been assigning homework?"
"No. She's promised not to pull anything until she's sixteen. What's going on?"
"The new crown jewels. We've heard from Melissa."
"We never stopped Melissa or Ishi," Xander noted, calling the house. "Put Ishi on, Sierra, and go to bed." She grimaced. "Because I said you have a bedtime, young lady. Now." She handed over the phone and went to pout in her room, she had said so and he knew she was. "Ishi, the crown jewels, leave them alone. Unless you can get your father to go with you, no pulling jobs." She listened to him babbling. "Do I care?" she asked. "I said no." She hung up. "That should take care of it. Unless you wanted to run a job with the kids?"
"No, they're too young and they'll be in school in a few more weeks," he said happily. "Then we're going to Bali before pulling another job in that part of the world. Ever been to Singapore?"
"Nope, not really."
"Good, we'll go there afterwards," he decided. They both looked at the local boss. "Anything else of note going on?"
"No," he said fondly, smirking at them. "Want in on our poker game?"
"Let her play," he offered. "I'll watch her." He got up to let everyone else in. "We're done and she wants to beat the pants off you."
"Lupin, we only play strip poker with working girls, not ladies like yours," one of the guys complained. She laughed and he handed over the cards. "Here, you can deal." They all watched as she shuffled then dealt, one of them going out instantly. He looked at her. "Stacking the deck?"
"Dealing," she said with a grin. "Why would I cheat guys like you? Lupin might get upset and spank me." The guys grunted and the hand was on. She barely made it above them, then the cards were passed to the next dealer, and she won that one better.
Lupin sat back to watch in appreciation. His baby was a bad woman at the card table. He and Jigen knew better than to play with her, except Go Fish, which he never won at. It made up for all the times they had gambled away a new haul.
Fujiko looked up from her drink as her spy returned to her side with pictures. She hadn't known him, but he came highly recommended from the families in America. She took the pictures of her present family, those who were out and about. She paused at one picture, then grimaced, crumpling it up to toss it away. "I hate that he's moved on."
"I noticed she was wearing a ring on her ring finger," Vecchio offered smoothly. He was actually enjoying this undercover assignment a lot. Screwing with her mind was fun and he was learning all sorts of stuff.
She grabbed the picture to uncrumple it, looking closely at the woman's hands. The picture had been taken with that view in mind. She looked at the next few, then grimaced. "What did the ring look like?"
"Black diamond." He shrugged. "Or else some other black stone. Surrounded by rubies it looked like, silver band."
"That seems familiar somehow," she mused. She shook her head. It wasn't important. "Can you take her out stealthily or do I have to do that myself?"
"No, I could probably do that, but it'd draw instant attention from him. One of them is always with that woman."
"She's probably the mother to the horde," she said bitterly. "The little brats need one since I'm not going to do it." He nodded wisely. "Do you have kids?" she asked.
He shook his head quickly. "Nephews and nieces. My sister's prolific."
"Good. Keep it that way. Kids are horrible little monsters, no matter what else they are." She got up and went to get herself a drink. Her clothes fit her again and all it had taken was a small bit of plastic surgery a few days after she had run away. The doctor had wanted her to do aerobics or something but she wasn't like that and had found another doctor who did it for her. She noticed her henchman looking at her body and smirked at him. "Liking what you see, Raymondo?"
"You're a very pretty woman, Fujiko. I was admiring the scenery, nothing more."
"Fine." She poured them both a drink then brought his over. "What do you think would be the easiest way to get them?"
"If you're right and she's the new mother, you could try to get one of the children. I have no idea how they're guarded."
"They're always out on their own," she agreed thoughtfully. "The nanny takes care of the younger children, plus there's the plan to put them in school this fall. So they'll have to shop soon." She tapped her fingers on the pictures, looking at the remaining ones. "Where did you get a picture of Ishi in ninja gear?" she asked when she noticed that.
"From the last convention. I know someone who went so I got copies off him. I've also got ones of your ex in there and that girl from that place. She was in some pornographic outfit of leather and chains with a sword." He had seen what happened when you said Goemon's name in front of her, that's how he was now her direct helper instead of just a lower level guy. She flipped through those, grimacing at the tight, young body. "You want I should try to cap her, bosslady?"
"No, she looks like she's a fighter. Lupin finally found someone worthy of him," she said bitterly. "Beauty and skills. She's probably another thief. Which means she'll be pulling jobs on her own. Watch them for me," she ordered. "I want to know when they're alone and all that. If you get a chance, try to chat her up or steal her. I want to know about her."
"Yes, ma'am," he said respectfully. He stood up. "Anything else I can do for you tonight or can I go back to my boy now?"
"Go." She watched his back, sighing at the injustice of it all. He was good, if only he wasn't gay. Then again, his boyfriend looked like the Hitler Youth with how hard he was. Maybe he'd give him up soon and she could convince him to try women for a bit. With a raise of course if necessary. She stared at the pictures again. It was all Xander's fault. She had a comfortable place before he had shown up to be the super parent. She noticed he wasn't in the pictures and frowned. "Where is he?" she mused. "Never mind, he's probably with the kids. Bastard stole my life." One of the pictures had a sideshot of him so he was still around somewhere. Apparently he was taking a break from working Jigen and Lupin off to deal with the brats. One day, she would get him. His example had made Goemon give her up.
Vecchio got into the van, smirking at his partner in anti-crime, who was rolling around on the floor laughing. Ray K rewound the last few minutes for him to hear, then continued to laugh while Vecchio took off the wire. "How do we play this?"
"We ask Zenny if he wants us ta get Xan involved," Ray K said lightly. "He'd love this one too and it'll endanger the kids otherwise." He shifted up front to drive the observation van back to their house. "Does Benny know you're usin' him as a cover?"
"Oh, yeah. I told him. He went in being his usual Mountie self. She asked me if he was a nazi." Ray K snickered some more. "I know, but she's not used to Mounties." He smirked at him. "You think Xan would play along?"
"I know Xan would play along, if only to get Goemon over her." He pulled into their parking spot and got out to make sure the van was locked up. Then they headed upstairs to check in and talk to their boss. Zenny was in the kitchen hiding from his wife again. "There's a new twist," he announced, letting Vecchio tell it.
"She wants me to cap or pick up Xander."
Zenigata dropped the spatula, staring at him in shock. "She wants you to do what?" Vecchio nodded. "Oh, that stupid woman!" he said, starting to laugh. "She didn't recognize her?" Ray shook his head, starting to laugh again. "To tell Xander or not?" he mused, grinning at Benny as he came out of his bedroom. "She wants him to pick up or shoot Xander so she can have Lupin back."
"Wouldn't that be dangerous?"
"That's why ya tell the big girl. She'll play along really well and Lupin'll let Vecchio get close to her, which means he can overhear things," Ray K noted.
"Which would help us immensely," Zenigata purred. "Do that."
"Sure." He popped his neck, then went to use Ray K's computer to send a message to Xander. He had his email address for convention stuff.
The next morning, Xander woke up with a yawn and had a paper handed to her. "A new convention?"
"No, a request for a meeting," Lupin said smugly. "Vecchio is after you now?"
"He's cute, but you're mine," she said, giving him a kiss. She read the note, then smirked, shaking her head. "This is going to be good, I can feel it." He called the apartment, getting Zenigata. "Oh, Inspector," she said smoothly. "Isn't that nice detective around? I wanted to give him a dirty, mushy call for being so cute and *good*," she purred.
Zenigata looked at the phone, then grimaced. "Lavelle, don't do that to me," he complained. Only the loon would have given her their number. "Vecchio?" He came out of his bedroom. "It's a mash call from a female admirer." He handed the phone over.
"Yeah?" he asked, smirking. "Hey, Xan. What did you do to the boss?" Zenigata growled so he smirked. "She just got up, she's still in a playful mood." He listened. "No, Fujiko wants you." He pulled the phone away from his ear at the loud cackling. "That's why I sent the email. How do you want to do this?" He listened to the quick planners think up the plan of the day, then nodded. "Got it. Tonight at eight." He hung up. Then he called Fujiko's cellphone, getting her voicemail. She was never up this early. "Yo, bosslady," he said, smirking at his boss. "I just got a tip that Lupin'll be in town tonight for dinner so I'm gonna trail him and his lady friend. I won't be in tonight." He hung up and broke out in giggles. "I'll be out with him tonight." He went back to his room to change clothes. Since he didn't need his tie or suit, he wasn't going to wear one. A silk shirt should be enough.
Xander skipped into the dining room, startling Jigen. "Fujiko's put a hit out on me," she announced. Goemon dropped his fork to stare at her. She nodded. "She's being watched by some cops and it got back to Ray K. He wanted to know if I would play along." She stared Goemon down. "If it bothers you, I won't."
"No, that's wrong," he said quietly. "Please try to be gentle."
"Of course, big guy." She gave him a hug. "So we're going out again tonight. We should do some school shopping soon as well."
"Please, mother, not school shopping," Iggy groaned. "I hate clothes shopping."
"Tough, kid." She sat down in her usual place. "Lupin is still giggling upstairs. Someone pass me the pancakes or waffles please." Arsene carefully passed them. "Thanks, guys. Speaking of shopping. We were warned about certain people asking about some crown jewels. You guys are all coming into your pubescent awkwardness. That means your limbs will start to fight you. Which means you may only go out now if you can get an adult to work with you." She stared down her daughter, who blushed and nodded. "Thank you. You too, Ishi."
"Thank you." She pulled a few of the waffles onto her plate and accepted the syrup. "What? I'm dressed."
"You're wearing a leather bra, mother," Arsene pointed out gently. "Are we going to go back in time to the Xenaverse?"
"That was only a show, sweetie, though the guy who played Strife was kinda cute," she admitted with a grin and cheek pinch for her little girl. "It's comfortable and I'll be working with Goemon later."
"Not unless you put on a shirt," Goemon reminded her.
"I need the tan, Goemon. Get over it or I'll just steal your son and work out with him some more. He'd better learn to get away from female assassins too."
"I wouldn't stare at your chest," Ishi said with a bright red blush. "You're my mother!"
"Not quite, and I'm still cute, young, and you're overly full of hormones, it'll happen," she said wisely. "It always does." She dug in, eating quickly. "Whoever I'm working with this morning had better be done by the time I am." The older kids all ate quickly.
Jigen looked at her. "Be careful, all right?"
"Of course I am," she agreed, giving him a gentle smile. "I'm always careful. I'm not losing you now."
Lupin strolled in. "I admit, I was right about that outfit, it does make you look good, Xander." He sat down, looking at the nibbling kids. "Hungry?"
"We're working with her today," Melissa said with a smile. "And Uncle Goemon if he lets mom outside in that outfit."
"She is nearly naked," he said.
"Is it better or worse than her warrior queen outfit?" Ishi asked.
"Better," Goemon admitted. "Not by much."
"See, then it's not a problem," Xander said with a grin. "I should wear that next time."
"Next convention is in December," Lupin reminded her. "Unless we're near Japan for the one in two months." She gave him a hopeful look. "If at all possible, Xander."
"How's the comic company, mommy?" Arsene asked.
"Doing quite well. I just got my weekly update from them and they said they're doing very well right now. Only a few problems and they managed those quickly enough." He patted her on the hand. "I don't mind if you guys call me mother, but the Goemon clan needs to check with their father." Lotus and Ishi looked at Goemon, who shrugged. "I leave that sort of thing to you, Goemon."
"If they wish to, you are their stepmother," he agreed.
"My woman, Goemon. She's not their stepmother," Lupin said firmly. Xander tossed a bit of toast off Ishi's plate at him. "That would require you to be his woman and I'm not giving you up," he pointed out.
"No, you're not. I'm their pseudo-mother. How's that?" Goemon nodded.
"Thank you, mom," Ishi said with a grin. "The other is too long."
"That's fine, son," Goemon agreed. "If I have problems at some point in the future, I'll yell at her about it."
"At the very least she's our aunt and godmother," Lotus pointed out helpfully. "Besides, she did more of the raising than our actual mother did. Where is she by the way?"
"Paris. Leave her alone," Xander said firmly. She nodded. "Thank you." She looked at Lupin again. "Where were we taking me to dinner tonight?"
"We should all go, show some solidarity," Arsene offered.
"Especially if we have to go clothes shopping, at which time I might need a drink," Ishi agreed. His father scowled at him. "Father, the mall," he said simply. "With the girls."
Lupin shuddered, then shook his head. "Uniforms." The kids all groaned. "Tough. It's the rules. You have to play by them. They're in a small shop, Ishi, that's not a problem. That leaves the underwear and off-times clothes." Ishi nodded with a sigh. "So maybe two or three minutes in the mall." The girls all laughed. "Or they can go with Bix," he pointed out. "Or with Xander. I'm not going into the Gap ever again."
Xander grinned at him. "Good. I don't like you in preppie clothes, Lupin." She smirked, picking up her juice glass to take a sip. Then she turned the same look on Jigen. "Okay, I'm nearly done. Who am I working on the basics with this morning?" Marcus backed into the room, waving his hands at something. "Marcus, watch where you're walking," she snapped.
Marcus dove behind his master. "Save me from the pregnant woman," he pleaded.
Xander stood up to look at the portal, finding Giles standing there crying. "Did he insult you?" she cooed, giving him a hug. "I'm sorry he's such a guy. That was just fucking dumb of him. I'll chastise him for you. What did he say?"
"He said I was...was...was glowing," she wailed, going back to get a cuddle from Ethan. The portal banished and Xander was let go.
Xander looked at Marcus. "She's having them early or is there some temporal magic in her womb?"
"Temporal magic. Janus is impatient to have his favorite priestess born," he said, coming out of hiding. "I'm sorry."
"It's all right, tell her she looks beautiful. Not glowing. Glowing bings to mind greasy skin and zits." She sat down again, crossing her legs. "Am I just running the standard self- defense lessons, Goemon?"
"If you wouldn't mind," he agreed. "As long as you put on a shirt so you don't corrupt the children."
"I'll never have tits like hers," Arsene sighed. "Dad, was my mother big chested?" He shook his head. "Why not?"
"Because they get in the way of doing everything," Xander assured her. "Even small ones get in the way; I have to fire my gun funny because they're in the way." Arsene sighed and looked so sad. "If you get a big set, you get a big set. You won't have to worry about that for at last five more years, Arsene."
"Yes, mom." She wiped her mouth. "Can I have plastic surgery?"
"No," her father said. "Trust me, they'll get in the way. Appreciate having smaller ones. All the big chested women in the world want less instead of more."
"Yes, dad. Come on, we should warm up. It's raining so should we go to the gym?" Xander nodded. "Okay. Meet you guys down there." She hurried out to get her favorite spot in the gym, which was against one of the walls. Ishi always shoved her out of the way if he got there first. The others trickled in, followed by the mother and Goemon, who turned her around and pushed her out of the room.
"I said put on a shirt, Xander. I do not need to see that much of your body." He closed the door in her face. "Warm up, now."
"Yes, father," Ishi said, giving him an odd look. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, son. Warm up anyway."
"Yes, father." He warmed up, stretching carefully. "Am I due for range time today?"
"Later this afternoon. You'll be doing it while you're tired."
"Yes, sir." He gave his father another look, then went over to hug him. "I'm not going to hit on her or stare at her, father, relax," he said quietly. "Not even the original mother can have her. She's much too good for that." He relaxed slightly and patted him on the back. "Thank you. Spare me from the girls shopping?" Goemon shook his head. "Please?"
"Consider it a test of patience, son. As I do." Xander came back in, a shirt over her bra but unbuttoned. "That is not a shirt."
She frowned at him and attacked, putting him off balance until he finally fell onto his butt. "I won, therefore I get to teach the class my way." She took off her shirt and handed it to him. "Here, hold this. I may need it later when we go shopping." She looked at the kids, seeing Melissa smiling at her. "What?" she asked innocently. "Line up. Ishi, Arsene, neither of you get the corner. Take the center, both of you." They did so with a sigh, and the lesson progressed.
The master watched from his spot on the floor, the shirt lying across his thigh with an occasional stroke to it. He almost wished he could have gotten Xander first as his apprentice. The things the boy could do were amazing.
Xander walked the kids into the uniform shop, startling the clerks behind the old, expensive counters. She was still in her leather pants and bra, but was wearing flat boots now. The horrified looks they gave her were more than enough to make up for the slight breeze that had been blowing outside. "Yes, I'm the mother," she said dryly. "St. Agnes, all of them." She gave Ishi a small shove. "The only male going."
"Right this way," he said, hurrying them out of the general view. Such an established and well-respected store couldn't afford to have people like her in here. "St. Agnes you said?" She nodded, sitting down and crossing her legs, casually swinging the crossed foot. "Fine. Right this way, young man. We'll do you first and then the ladies." He got Ishi into the changing room with the uniforms. "Skirts for the girls?"
"A few of each," Xander said with a small smirk. "Arsene and Lotus will not want to wear skirts all the time."
"Can mine be longer and gauzy?" Lotus asked. "I hate the short skirts. I'm not some anime schoolgirl out for the hero's attention after the battle is done with." The clerk gaped at her. "Yes, I am intelligent, thank you," she said dryly, smirking at him. "The short skirt look is for hookers; please make sure all ours are of an appropriate length."
"We are too young to worry about such matters," Melissa agreed, fingering a skirt. "Crepe, it's nice."
"Dry cleaning," Xander said fondly.
"Speaking of, I'm sorry I couldn't stop Alex from jellying your closet," Lotus told her. "I tried."
"I noticed. It's not a problem. They all clean, and so does he. My closet door also locks." Ishi came out and she gave him a look. "That's too tight." The clerk looked confused. "They're too tight," she repeated. "He studies the martial arts, he'll have to be able to move in them. As do all these children." He nodded, getting a different pair of pants for the young man and finding pants and skirts for the rest of them. "We'll worry about winter stuff in a bit, guys. Let's make sure we don't outgrow these things before then." She crossed her legs in the other direction, swinging that foot now. "Maybe I should have worn heels."
"No, you look good in that," Ishi admitted as he came back out. "Much better. Still tight in the waist but otherwise it's much better." The man handed him another pair in the same fabric, which were the correct size and had room for him to move in. He came out and turned for his mother's approval. "Well?"
"I like," she admitted. "No tie?"
"No, there's a button cover, they switched last year," the clerk told her. He got Ishi another few days worth of clothes then went to work on the girls' fittings. Lotus got a longer skirt and flat shoes. Melissa got a straight skirt with flats. Arsene got an A-line cut skirt with little, tiny heels. Sierra and Savannah both chose the straight skirt with a few like Lotus' longer ones. Then they all got fitted for their vests and jackets, plus pants for the girls. When it was done with, Xander handed over her card. "Thank you, ma'am," he said, taking it to run. He came back with his eyes wide. "Sign please," he said, holding it out. She sighed the slip and took the card and her copy, standing up to tuck them into her back pocket. "Is there anything else the Lupin clan needs today?"
"Is that enough clothes for a week at least?"
"A week and a day, ma'am."
"That's Mrs. Lupin," Arsene said smugly. "See the ring?" He swallowed and nodded. "Thank you for treating our communal mother so well. Kids, mall." They followed her out to the car, their bags each marked with their names thanks to another clerk helping them. "Why do I have to wear a skirt? Why can't Ishi wear skirts if we have to," she complained when Xander got back into the car.
"If Ishi wants to wear a kilt, he'll have to check with the school," she said patiently. "Thank every deity you know that you're allowed to wear pants at all, Arsene."
"Oh, I am," she agreed quickly. The car pulled out of the parking lot and they were off to the nearest mall. "I need a haircut too. It's getting long."
"That is also on the agenda," Xander agreed dryly. "The same as mine is." She got out, letting the valet have the SUV, taking the kids inside. She had put her shirt back overtop of the sportsbra, but it was still open. Before it had been about shock, now it was about the air conditioning in here. "Girls, stay with the group or I'm making you all wear mumus." They stayed with her, clumped tightly around her and Ishi. "Thank you. Store one?" she pointed to her right. A few of the girls ran in there, with the group waiting outside for them and Xander going in to pay.
Lupin looked up as his girls joined him, smiling at the new haircuts. "I like that look, Arsene. I never would have thought you'd look good with a military style trim, but it does look good at that length."
"Hey, later service cut instead of basic training cut," Jigen agreed. "She could be bald."
"Fat chance," Arsene snorted, giving him a hug. "Thank you, Uncle Jigen."
"You're welcome. Sit." Everyone sat and Xander winked at them as she went up to the bar. She was in a dress she had found, something smart and sassy with high heeled shoes. She found Ray Vecchio waiting there and grinned at him. "Hi," she said softly. "Waiting for a table?"
"No, just relaxing after work. The kids yours? If so, I'm impressed."
She smiled. "I'm their stepmother." She smiled at the bartender, who gave her a glass of wine without asking what she wanted. "Thank you." She flirted with Ray a bit more. "I'm Honey," she said as she held out her hand.
"Raymondo," he said, holding out his. They shook. "Where did you come from? I can't quite place the accent."
"Oh, I'm from *Harvard*," she said with just the lightest touch of smugness. "I'm in the history department, Japanese history and how it influences modern culture is my study." He swallowed some of his beer. "I'm over here studying the local group of immigrants and Master Goemon has been nice enough to help me now and then too." She smiled as she took a sip. "What about you?"
"I'm an assistant," he said with a smirk. "Nothing too exciting. Did Goemon introduce you?" She nodded. "So I'm guessing the guy in red is yours?" She nodded again, blushing a bit. "Hey, if you want to leave him, I'm your man," he said smugly.
"Oh, I could never do that. Lupie said he'd hunt me to the ends of the earth to get back what was his." She felt Jigen come up behind her. "Sorry, I was talking with our fellow American, Jigen. It was nice meeting you, Raymondo," she said with a purr, going back to her seat. She kissed Lupin gently, then nipped him on the lip. "Perfect, as always," she praised.
"Good. I like it when I'm perfect." He patted her hand on the table. "So, how was the mall?"
"Tiring," Ishi said. "Can I have some of the wine too? It was cold, the music was loud, and for some reason Arsene wanted to go into the gothic shop."
"Hey, I went with you when you went to look at swords and stuff," she complained.
"True, you did, and you nearly tipped over a whole case of crystal and pewter figurines too," he reminded her.
"Children," Xander said smoothly. "It was an accident and I don't know why you wanted the leather bustier, Arsene, but you can't have one until *after* puberty. Got it?" She nodded with a sigh of defeat. "Thank you." She grinned at her Lupin again, taking another drink. "I earned this one."
He gave her a light kiss, licking off the flavor of the wine. "I'm sure you did, dear."
"If you two keep that up, I'm gonna be too sick to eat," Jigen complained from behind his menu. "It was bad enough watching her flirt with that guy. Raymondo's not that bad but I don't want you near him, Honey."
"Sure, Jigen. Is he any good?"
"He's a mid-level hitter from what someone said when they suggested we take him in and teach him some subtlety," Lupin offered. It was an excellent cover for Ray, it suited his personality well. "They said his present boss was wasting his talents and he deserved better. I said I'd talk to the man if I ever saw him off the job." He looked at the bar but Ray had disappeared. "Hmm. Must have run back home." He smiled at Xander again. "Very good, precious."
"I'm going to have to agree, I'm going to be sick soon from the sugar," Arsene noted. "Start a brawl or something instead." Melissa kicked her under the table. "It wears it out the same," she defended.
"Behave, daughter, or no dessert and no last job," Xander said firmly.
"Yes, mother," the kids all said, giving her their best 'innocent and sweet' looks. Only Ishi and Lotus could pull it off.
"Nice try," Jigen said, looking around the table. "Ishi, you do that very well, and Lotus has that look naturally. The rest of you don't." He looked at Lupin. "Beef?"
"I'm for some cow," he agreed. "It's been a while since I had cow." He looked up and the waiter ran over. "We'll have roast. Wine for the adults only, and the younger man isn't one." He stared down Ishi. "You don't need it, kid. I went Christmas Eve last year." Ishi groaned and shuddered, curling in on himself. "Did you want something with just veggies, Lotus?"
"Please?" she said respectfully. "Some tempura or something of that nature? Since no one will give me a menu." Jigen handed his over. "Thank you, Uncle Jigen." She read it over, then pointed at the seafood platter. "Can I have that?" He shook his head. "Fine, then I'll have one of the dinner salads with the baby shrimp on it." She handed off the menu with a smile.
"Good enough," Lupin agreed. "Have the sommelier pick something to go with the roast." He handed off his menu and the waiter disappeared again. "He's very good."
"He probably doesn't want tainted," Jigen noted. "Why roast?"
"It's on in the back and it's easier to feed all of us at the same time," Lupin pointed out gently. "Plus it came with salads so we can be good parents and rolls so the kids can nibble while we finish." Jigen nodded, getting that. "Plus, then dessert won't be quite as necessary."
"Oh, no, I get dessert," Ishi insisted. "I still had to brave the world of women's clothing stores to help the mother shop."
Lupin looked at Xander. "Needed a male opinion that badly?"
"The girls were picking on him about him wearing a kilt so they'd all have skirts on."
Lupin winced. "Poor guy. Have a sip of Xan's wine." Ishi gratefully took the glass and took a long sip, handing it back when he was done. "Better?" Ishi nodded. "Good job. No more this year."
"That's fine, as long as I don't have to go back again. I'll order everything and have it shipped for the holidays if I have to."
"Daddy, are we getting prepaid credit cards for our expenses?" Arsene asked.
"Allowances should cover most everything," Xander pointed out. "The school has that as part of their ID cards."
"Thank you." She smiled as the salads were brought, taking hers so she could transfer all the purple cabbage to Lotus' plate. "There, for you."
"The polite thing is to push it aside," her father said firmly. "Not pass it across the table to Lotus."
"Sorry," she said, giving him an odd look.
"You're going to have to learn manners, Arsene, or the other kids will pick on you," Jigen reminded her.
"Are we going to be sorted, like at Hogwarts?" Lotus asked.
Xander shrugged. "You're asking the wrong person, dear." She looked at Lupin. "The clerk seemed to think that the girls weren't going to get along because Lotus wanted longer skirts."
"There's a set skirt pattern," Lupin said thoughtfully. "Straight, small slit up the back. I'll check on that later. We haven't gotten anything from them recently." He smiled at the kids. "Eat, now." They dug in, mostly being mannerly little children, though Arsene did slip up now and then. Lupin and Xander shared a smirk, which they turned on Jigen, who winked. The kids had their own suite and Goemon was waiting on them. They had their own room on another floor of the hotel.
Ray K was cackling as Ray made it back into the car. "I'm your man?" he laughed.
"It's not like I've had to flirt with women in a while," he pointed out bitterly. "It slipped out! Just drive!"
"Fine," he agreed, driving Ray back to the other meeting area, Vecchio going inside while he went to help Benny in the observation van.
"I'm your man?" Fujiko asked with a laugh. "Oh, damn, you are out of practice, Raymondo."
He kept his bout of panic inside. How had she been listening? "Yeah, well, it's not a skill I use daily," he said dryly. "Did you hear everything you needed to?"
"Some parents are cruel," he said with a simple shrug.
"Good point, and just like most of Lupin's women. She's smart and not a thief?"
"No calluses on her hands."
"Damn it!" She stopped herself from throwing her present drink, sipping it instead. "I wonder if she knows Lupin's already got his heir."
"She probably does, even the Goemon kids call her 'mother' from what I heard. She also took them all school shopping."
"Then she's probably wanting to be a society wife," she decided. "She's not a threat to my plans. Did you get anything else?"
"She's not as simple as she looks, boss. If she's in Harvard, she's smart. I'm guessing Lupin might like her brains. He seemed to listen to her whenever she spoke and not be staring down her dress."
She snorted, waving a hand. "Not even close. Lupin can do it without looking now. Letting her yammer on just keeps her from noticing it. Jigen liked her?" He nodded. "Why?"
"I don't know, but he was protective of her. Maybe he likes her and Lupin together. I hear they're going to start doing jobs again once the kids are in school."
"Which gets them out of my hair," she agreed. "Go away."
"Yes, ma'am. Do I still have tomorrow off?"
"Yeah, fine," she agreed, watching as he walked away. She sighed and shook her head. She could use a man like him between her thighs. He wouldn't expect children from her.
Ray got back out to the van and they stripped down everything on him to find the bug, finding it in his phone. It had been a good thing she hadn't listened during the days. Yet.
Lupin smiled as his kids walked into the school in front of him, shaking hands with the Headmistress. "Here they are, all of them for this year."
She looked them over, noticing the differences in skirts. "Those are not our uniforms."
"The clerk knew the school and said it was," he noted. "We weren't too sure about that, especially Lotus' skirts."
"No, they are fine. Longer is always better than shorter. The others will do until they can come up to standards I suppose." She stared down at the girls. "All of your hairs must be tied up."
"My hair's not long enough to tie up," Arsene noted.
"It will grow, it will be then," she said firmly.
"Bet me! My hair gets cut each and every six weeks." Arsene looked at her father, who smirked at her. She knew why she was here now, to give her skills in how to move around society and how to get around this creature in front of her. So they would find a way to make her life miserable while they learned all they could from everyone else. "May we go to our rooms to unpack? It was a bit of a trip this morning, having to get up so early."
Melissa looked at her, then at her uncle, who nodded slightly. She caught on. "Speaking of rooms, where is the room we may use for extra-curricular training? Ishi is continuing our self-defense lessons during our time here."
Ishi smirked at her. "Don't worry, even if we have to use the yard we can," he promised. He looked at the headmistress and bowed politely. "Am I near the girls or in another part of the school? My sister has been known to have horrible nightmares at times and it usually takes a familiar presence to bring her back down."
The headmistress grimaced. "We were not aware of such."
"You never asked for such information," Lupin said dryly. "If you had, we would have told you. The same as we did with the allergy information. Everyone got their medicines?"
"I forgot my pills, dad," Arsene said. "I've got my stuff for my allergies though."
"You can live without them for a while," he offered. She smiled brightly at that thought. No medicine to help her control her mouth? Well all right then! "Give me a hug, guys. We're on our way to Bali so we'll call as soon as possible. Arsene, I finally retrieved your phone and put it in your bags this morning. Do not hesitate to call if you need something. Melissa, the same with the new laptop." She nodded, smirking at him. "Good kids. Hugs?" They all piled on for hugs. "Have a good year and have fun. Make a lot of new friends. Ishi, no dating at your age, your father would have kittens." He shook the headmistress' hand again and walked away, mentally cackling like his grandfather had when he had done the same thing to him.
"There are no cellphones allowed in this school."
"Our parents demand we keep our satellite phones," Melissa noted. "You heard him." She grabbed her bags and waved a hand. "Shall we?" she asked coolly. "I'm also rather tired and we need to settle in and find our training room."
"The only thing a girl like you needs to learn is obedience," the headmistress sneered. "That's why you're here."
"No, that's why *I*'m here, get it right," Arsene retorted. "I'm learning how to get along with social people instead of anti-social people. Melissa is here because our fathers can't always take the time to do her lessons to let her advance at the rate she and Lotus demand of them. Ishi's here because he needs to be exposed to people who aren't his family and Lotus is here as a niceness to keep us from taking over the school and running it in our way." Sierra and Savannah both giggled at that. "And they're here to be around more normal people too since they don't want to join the family business. Anything else? I really am tired." The headmistress glared at her so she sighed. "Take her." Lotus and Ishi brought her to the ground and tied her up, putting her back into her office. They found the room assignments and brought them out, taking the main hallway until they found another student. "Hi, we're new and looking for our rooms," she said lightly, grinning at her. "Can you help us a bit?"
"Sure. Which rooms are you in?" she asked, taking their sheets. "All right. Let me get one of the boys...Goemon?"
"I usually go by Ishi," he offered.
"Okay. Family name?"
He grinned. "I'm the Fourteenth. That's okay though, because Arsene is the Fourth."
"That's kind of interesting. I'll be right back." She ducked into a large room, pulling some of her friends out to help, and one girl came jogging out to hug Ishi. "I see you've met."
"We go to the same conventions," he said smugly over her shoulder. "Oh, I've missed you too, Amanda." She giggled and let him go, stepping back. "You missed it," he said as he took her arm and walked off after the boy leading him to his room. "Auntie Xander, the one in the warrior outfit? She went to the skinhead convention to heckle them. It seems a great lot of them woke up one morning funny colored. Some were shoepolished. Some were painted, and the paint soaked in greatly. There were even a few who were polka dotted or striped." She laughed, leaning against his side. "So, are you going to let me teach you self-defense as well?" he asked with a grin.
"Sure, my mom said it'd be fine, Ishi. Thank you."
The boy looked at him. "How do you know so much?"
"I just took my second level blackbelt in one of the fighting forms. My father's studied the arts of the samurai for his entire life. I've been learning since I started to crawl." The boy looked stunned. "So I'm running one for the rest of the group. You're more than welcome to join, but Lotus does the beginning stuff so much easier than I do."
"Maybe we will. Has the Headmistress seen those girls with you?"
"Yes, and then unfortunately she was a bit ill and retreated to her office," Ishi offered. "She never did tell us where we could practice. We must stay in practice."
Amanda blinked up at him. "Which one was Arsene?"
"The one with the short hair. That's Lupin the Fourth."
She beamed. "I can't wait."
He kissed her on the temple. "Don't wait, it'll start happening soon," he offered, going into his room. "I'll be right out." He tucked everything into his drawers quickly and walked out, finding his girl standing there still and a boy making fun of her. "Hands off," he said dryly. "She's mine." The boy looked at him and Ishi gave him a little smirk. "I know you wouldn't begrudge an old friend meeting up with me to show me around this big, drafty old place, now would you?" The boy shook his head, backing off. "Thank you." He took her arm like a proper gentleman. "Now, let's take the tour. I'm sure most of the kids are done by now. I know Lotus will be." She nodded, taking him back to that section of the school to meet up with everyone but Arsene, who came jogging down the hall a few minutes later. "Problems?"
"Had to find a plug to hook in my phone. My roomie's already in there. She's a Rockefeller."
"Hmm. A rich American and a Lupin in the same room," Melissa said with a grin. "Mine's a mousy little student who was reading a fantasy novel."
"Mine wasn't in there yet and there was only one bed," Lotus noted. "Then again, my room's the size of a closet."
Sierra and Savannah giggled. "They put us together."
"Then let's take the tour. Guys, most of you should remember Amanda from the conventions." She waved. "Amanda, the crew, plus the two good guys." He led her on, letting her steer him so they could learn the layout of this place. They smiled at the Headmistress as they passed her. "Taking the tour. Where can we do our self-defense lessons again?"
"The yard will be fine. There's a shady corner," Lotus noted. "Or maybe a garden for the meditation lessons."
"You meditate?" Amanda asked.
"We all meditate. Uncle Goemon makes sure of it," Arsene told her.
"Hey, Lupin," one boy called.
She turned to smirk at him. "Only call my name in a fit of passion, a nightmare, or if you need my help, boys." They burst out laughing. "Think I'm kidding?"
"No." One of them jogged over. "My dad's in Paris, second in command."
"Welcome to my side," she said, shaking his hand. "I look forward to helping your training and learning from you. This is Melissa Jigen, she's my second and my planner. That's Ishi Goemon, the Fourteenth, and his sister Lotus. The other two are my good sisters, Sierra and Savannah. It's hard to talk them into things, but they will as long as it's legal. And of course the other is Amanda, a friend of Ishi's from the conventions."
"Cool!" He grinned at Arsene, then at Melissa. "Zenigata sent a plant too."
"We expected as much. Gramps is every bit still trying to catch us," Arsene agreed, taking his arm to walk him along. "You don't mind helping Amanda give the tour, do you?"
"No, not in the least," he agreed. "Sierra, Savannah, you two have nothing to fear from me or my friends. If they bother you, tell me." They nodded, smiling sweetly at him. "Thanks. So. I've heard you want to be cops?"
"Oh, yeah, we want to take Uncle Ray's spot," Sierra agreed.
"I want to do CSI stuff," Savannah offered. "That's why I'm here, for the additional science and math lectures."
"Good job," he agreed. "I look forward to helping you. I'm an assistant in chemistry." He whistled and his crew gathered around. "We heard right, Lupin the Fourth and her crew are here. Mix and mingle." The kids all mingled together, chatting as they walked around the school.
The headmistress shuddered. She had remembered their father, having been behind him in school. She would have to stop that little girl from becoming her father by any means possible.
Xander ran out onto the beach behind the house and dove into the water as soon as she got out far enough away, taking off to swim in the ocean again. She had missed this!
Lupin shook his head from the porch, smirking at Jigen. "Our woman is odd."
"It's from where she's American," he joked. "Californian to boot." He lit up and smirked at Goemon, who was pouting. "The kids are fine."
"They may be, but I miss them."
"We'll call them tonight," Lupin promised, patting him on the shoulder. "Xander, not too far out!" he yelled. She body surfed back in with a grin up at him. "Thank you."
"Tentacle!" Jigen yelled, pointing behind her.
She pulled her bodice dagger out of her top and stabbed at it until it went back into the water with a moan. "Touch me again!" she called, kicking sand into the water. "I will kill you next time!" She trotted back up to the porch, leaning against Lupin's side. "Feed me?" she asked in a pitiful voice. "I need sustenance to swim and suntan all day."
"Oh, I'll feed you something," he said smugly, taking her into the bedroom. Jigen rolled his eyes but he did follow.
Goemon looked down at the sleeping children, shaking his head. "They are so nauseating at times," he complained. His son Kenji woke up with a yawn. "Good morning. Did you rest well?" He picked him up, letting him see the water. "That is the ocean, my son." Kenji cooed and pointed at it. "Yes, the ocean. We all came from there."
To Part 39