Rated R for language and threats of violence. Plus some squicky stuff with Fred.

All Grown Up and Mischief To Go

Lupin looked out across the hall where the Academy was holding their regular summer meet-and-greet.  It was a nice place, very open, high ceilings, nice paintings.   The stone floors were nicely cleaned up.  The students were on the dance floor chatting and the parents were gathered in groups.  He was waiting with the others in his group for their kids to come in.  They had to change and had went up to their rooms to do that and do their hair.  Brad was with them.  The boy was probably more nervous than the fathers were.  Xander was grinning and chatting with another assassin, glancing at the door now and then.  Finally the doors opened and Lotus walked in.  Her cream-colored dress was not flashy but it suited her body so very well.  Goemon groaned and took a long drink from his glass.  His daughter was beautiful.  Her hair was done up in a formal bun and she looked quite adult.  His son walked in with another female on his arm, Lupin the Fourth.  Lupin looked stupendous.   Her red dress flowed over her body, highlighting all the tight muscles and her womanly body.  Her jewelry made her glow and her hair was slicked back lightly, waving out under the small chain of rubies in her hair that perfectly matched her dress.

Lupin the Fourth stopped in front of their fathers and curtsied.  "Hi, daddy," she said with a bright grin.

"Oh, my God," Lupin breathed, letting his crystal rock glass slip from his hand and break on the stone floor.  "Arsene?" he pleaded.  She winked and walked Ishi off.  His tuxedo looked wonderful on him, it fit perfectly and his hair was tied back tonight.  He looked suave and so very adult.  They made a cute couple.

Jigen gulped his drink, watching as his daughter slipped in, then let out a nervous chuckle.  His little girl wasn't so little.  She looked like Sylvia.  She looked a lot like her mother.  She had her mother's body.  She had her mother's face.  She had her mother's brains.  "Baby girl," he whispered.

Brad swallowed and stepped closer, holding out a hand. "Melissa," he said, his voice squeaking.  "You look...."  He looked her over again, making her blush.  "My God, you look so good.  More than edible.  More than perfect.  You look like a Goddess."  He pulled her closer and kissed the back of her hand.  "My Goddess."

She blushed again but did smile at him.  "Thank you.  It's not my usual outfit."

"No, but you look...."  Words left him and he could only stare at her.  "Dance with me?" he asked finally.

"Sure."  She led him out to the floor, letting him lead them off to the quiet classical music.

Lupin nudged Jigen gently.  "They're not babies any more," he said sadly.

"She's Sylvia, only sweeter," Jigen said quietly, staring at her.

Lupin nodded.  "I noticed."  He stared at his daughter for a few moments, then at Melissa.  "My God, we have beautiful daughters."  He looked at Goemon.  "We need pictures."

"I'm wearing a button camera," he admitted. "I caught them as they came in."  He went to get another drink, nodding politely at the Headmistress.  "They look very grown up."

"They're wonderful thieves, gorgeous children, and intelligent human beings.  You did very good, Goemon.  Many parents have this same realization at these events."  She patted him on the hand.  "Come along, let's get Lupin and Jigen another drink."

He nodded, leading her back to the group.  He saw Marcus leaning against the wall with a traditional videocamera.  "Did it not work?"

"No, it did, but I wanted something with higher resolution," he said with a grin.  "They look marvelous."

"They do," Lupin sighed sadly.  "They're grown up."

"Not yet.  They're still only fifteen," Xander promised as he came over to join them.  "They picked them out, except for Lotus."  He walked out, tapping Lotus on the shoulder.  "Dance with me?"

"Of course, mom."  She took his hand, letting him lead her onto the floor.  "Why are people staring at me?"

"Because you look hot," he promised her.  "You look outstanding and people think you're hot and want you."  He spun her around, smiling at her.  "That's why you do these things, to prove that you're nearly an adult now, Lotus."

She nodded.  "I understand."  She glanced around, watching the people watch them.  "Man, Arsene and Melissa have so many people staring at them."

"As do you," he promised, spinning her out to bring her back, smiling down at her.  "Come along, I'll release you to some dashing young prince of crime."  She gave a nervous chuckle so he walked her off, handing her to one boy who had bowed to them.  "I trust you to treat her correctly during your dance."

"Thank you, Lavelle.  Lotus is safe with me.  She's a beautiful woman."  He led her out, cradling her gently in his arms as they danced off.  He said something and she relaxed against him, laughing gently at what he had said.

Xander grinned at Lupin, taking her out next.  "Baby girl," he whispered.  She pinched him and grinned up at him.  "Gods, you're gorgeous. All three of you are so pretty tonight.  Much better than I ever was."  He smiled when she blushed.  "You are.  Ah, the father," he said, handing her off with a bow.  He looked around and found Melissa and Jigen dancing.  He looked at Brad, who was standing next to him.  "I'd offer but you might get insulted."

"That's fine," he assured him.  "I don't do men."  He grinned up at the older assassin.  "She did a great job."

"She did it herself," he promised.  He patted him on the back.  "Go steal her after her father gets done with her."

"I think he and Lupin are going to switch off."  Brad pulled at his collar.  "Sir.  I think I love her," he said quietly.

"Then you're a good man to her or else."  Brad nodded quickly.  "Then I won't complain.  As long as you're good to her and she's happy."  He saluted him with his champagne.  "I won't butt in, kid."  He strolled off, taking the Headmistress onto the floor.  "They found their dresses but Lupin had to help Lotus," he bragged.

"They're stunning," she agreed happily.  "The enrollment has went up ten percent this year because they're here."

He winked and grinned down at her.  "Of course.  They want to get next to them."  He spun her off and waved.  "I'll be back later."

"Sure, Lavelle."  She watched him walk out, then turned to watch her students.  Many of them were staring at her star pupils.  The girls were the belles of the ball and Ishi was being courted as the crown prince of crime.  Most of the adults in the room were staring at them or instructing their children to make friends with them.  She looked at the doors and saw it close behind Lavelle's back.  She frowned but wiped it away quickly.  It was too important a night to worry about such things.  She squeaked as Lupin pulled her closer.  "No more dancing with your daughter?" she asked in a teasing tone.

"No, she got stolen from me by a boy."  He shook his head.  "My daughter could get so much ass tonight if she were old enough."  She swatted him so he grinned.  "She is a Lupin."

"She is," she agreed.  "And the boys drool over her like you did Fujiko for years."  He nodded, looking sad.  "They're wonderful thieves, Lupin.  They're beautiful women.  You should be proud."

"I am but it's depressing on some levels."  She nodded, patting him on the arm.  He glanced around.  "Where's Xander?"

"He just left."


"I don't know," she admitted.  "He had that air of fake cheer."

"Hmm."  He took her hand, leading her out onto the floor.  This was the first year the band was danced to in as long as he had attended these things but it was getting a good workout this year.  He and Jigen switched off, leaving him with Melissa again.  "Hi."

"Hi.  Did Mom skip?"  He nodded.  "Hmm.  Are you still not sleeping with him?"  Lupin looked stunned. "It's been kinda obvious.  He's been back in his own room again," she shared.  She smiled up at him and kissed him on the cheek.  "Maybe you should take him home later and have him the way you used to when he was her."  She stepped back at the end of the song, clapping gently with the others.   She wandered off to find her boyfriend, making him blush when she leaned against his arm.  "Thirteen more months," she whispered.  He swallowed and nodded, leading her back onto the floor after nodding at the adults next to him.  "Your parents?"

"After this dance," he promised.  "My mother."

"I chased down Vecchio to ask him why he nearly fainted when he saw you back at the convention.  He admitted about the assignment."

Brad nodded.  "Came as a big shock to me too, but he was decent to me," he admitted. "That's how I knew it wasn't my old man.  I kinda liked his style though."  He dipped her then pulled her back up, having to blink a few extra times because he had caught a good look at her cleavage.  "Wow.   You don't look fifteen."

"Well, my mother is American and they do develop a bit faster," she said smugly.  "The sad thing is that they're still growing."  He blushed deep red and she chuckled.  "Sorry, I didn't mean to embarrass you."  She snuggled into his body as a new slow song started.  "You look adorable tonight."

"Not hot and sexy?"

"Well, yes, but adorable is higher in my book," she promised, stroking his ego gently.   He beamed at her.  "Ooh, Trish just pinched Ishi again.  She's going to want to make good on that promise someday soon."

He snorted.  "Your friend has better taste than the dorm whore."  Ishi glanced over at them so he smirked back, running a hand over her back to tease him.  Ishi raised an eyebrow.  "He's unarmed right?"

"Do you think that matters to him?" she said dryly.  "Or to Lotus?"

"No."  He made sure his hands stayed as respectful as they could for the rest of the night.


Xander sat down at the bar in London, waving the bartender over.  "Beer me."

"Any particular brand?"

"Decent flavor but not too strong and not Killians or that Aussie beer."  The bartender nodded and poured him a German import, putting it in front of him.  Xander put down two hundreds, making him look stunned.  "My daughters had their first formal event tonight."  He pulled out the pictures he had taken earlier, showing them off.  "They're almost fifteen."

"Wow," the bartender said in awe.  "They're beautiful."

"Yeah," he said with a goofy grin.  "They're my babies."  He saluted him with his glass.  "Just feed me one when I'm empty.  I'm not driving."

"Yes, sir."  He left the pictures there and went to serve someone else.

Xander glanced over as the door opened a bit later.  This wasn't exactly the most hip of all clubs but it was a nice bar to be quiet at and the guy who walked in looked like he was in the wrong place.  He seemed familiar but fairly calm.  He wasn't another thief or assassin as far as he knew, but the guy sat down next to him.  "Hi."

"Hi."  He grinned.  "I'm Alan."

"I'm Lavelle."  They shook hands.  "Bad night?"

"No, I just killed on stage, I'm recovering."  He grinned again.  "You?"

"My daughters had their first formal event tonight," he sighed, handing over the pictures.

"Wow.  I don't like girls and they're damn hot."

Xander grinned slightly at that.  "They're almost fifteen."

He handed them back.  "I'm not sure I should be saying things like that then.  Might get me into trouble."  He smirked at him.  "So, your daughters are pretty and hot. You're drinking to forget it?"

"No, I'm drinking for whole other reasons," he admitted, taking another drink.  "I'm drinking because my lover hates me because I'm male now."


"No, choker."  He shrugged lightly. "I'm *that* Lavelle."

"I figured that.  No many people have that shade of silver hair, mate."  He fingered a strand of it.  "It's not dyed."

"Nope, it's natural."  He grinned a bit brighter this time.  "Radiation before you ask."

"Wow."  He let the hair go.  "So, your lover's not treating you well.  Let me guess, the rumors of that choker were correct?"  Xander nodded.  "Wonderful.  And now you're male and he won't sleep with you?"

"Got it in one.  It's been nearly nine months since I got laid properly," he sighed.

"That sucks," Alan agreed, brushing back some of his dark hair.  "That can be fixed."

"I'm banned from the local houses of ill repute.  I made six girls and a guy pass out the last time I went."  The bartender bringing him his next drink gave him an odd look.  "Yeah, I'm bi," he agreed sarcastically.  "And damn good at it all."  The bartender blushed and headed off after delivering the beer.  "Sorry if I just squicked you."

"Not me.  That's actually kinda interesting.  How did you get that manor house?"

"She wanted to get off.  I got her off again and again and she ended up dying right after her nephew walked in on us.  Pity, she was a great and nice older lady," he sighed before taking another drink.  "Now I've got a manor house, a title that I can't really use until I retire, and a doctor's appointment in the morning."


"My knees ache."  Another drink. "I don't look like it, but I'm nearly forty-five now."

"No, you certainly don't.  You maybe look twenty."

"Thanks."  He glanced at him.  "Do I know you?"

"I'm a comedian and actor."

"Oh, yeah, I saw that 'coming out' special on Comedy Central the last time I was resting and I thought you kicked ass.  I loved the priest routine."  The man blushed a bit.  "You looked good in that skirt."

"Thanks.  They're fairly comfortable.  You should try it sometime."

"The closest I can get is a kilt.  I got given one as a 'thank you' for breaking a guy in.  It took me forever to find out how to wear the thing and the last time I did Lupin laughed at my legs."

"He's a bloody ungrateful idiot then."

"Yeah, but he's Lupin the Third."

"So?  You're Lavelle."

"Yeah, but he's my boss and they trained me," Xander sighed, taking another drink. "Unfortunately I don't meet the tits requirement.  Nor am I ever planning on doing so again.  I hated that necklace.  I started to forget what it was like to be me."

"I bet.  It'd confuse me too."

"Oh, it is.  It's locked away and powerless for now.  No one's using it anytime soon."  He finished off his first beer and started on his second.  "Want one?  I can treat."

"No, that's okay.  I've got one," he said, holding his up.  "They know me here," he added with a grin.  "Want to hit a table?"

"Sure, why not."  He followed him back to a corner table, flopping down to get comfortable.  "The Academy was hosting a meet-and-greet tonight, that's why I'm in the monkey suit."

"You have an Academy for that stuff?"

"Yeah.  It's been around forever.  The kids are there at the moment."  He looked at the pictures.  "That's Lupin the Fourth."  He laid that one down.  "That's my baby Melissa.  The other two are Goemon's kids.  Lotus and Ishi, the Fourteenth. "

"Wow."  He looked at Melissa.  "She looks a lot like you."

"She's mine," he admitted with a grin, leaning closer. "Labor hurts."

Alan snickered, patting him on the hand.  "You're much braver than I could ever be about those things, Lavelle."

"You can call me Xander.  Not many do."  He snorted. "Only my best friend, the cop, and Jigen and Lupin at home."

"That sucks."

"Yeah, but it's my life."  He saluted him with his beer.  "What a wonderful life it is too."  He gulped a few swallows then put it down.  "I'm not sure if I'm happy that the older kids are ready to go out on their own or not."

"Don't you have others?"

Xander chuckled, but it still sounded sad.  "Yeah, there's Fred, he's Lupin's son.  He's exactly like Lupin and his older sister.  The last fandom convention we went to he was hitting on some Amazons.  He's six.  He got away with trying to breastfeed and trying to crawl up their skirts.  There's Kenji and Yu, Goemon's other kids.  I've got Sarah, Fred's twin sister who's got a small heart condition, and Alex, the next-to-last baby of the family.  They're good kids but it's depressing that the older ones are already gone.  Plus the two good girls who're not really associating at the moment.  They decided to do a police camp straight out of school so they wouldn't have to come home this summer. I've already lost them."

Alan laid a hand on top of his.  "They're still around, you can talk to them."

"They hate me.  I stopped them from being the school sluts," he admitted dryly.  "Got them into a different school and forced them onto birth control."

"That sounds like a parental thing to me," he offered.

"Did to me too but they still hate me for it."  He shrugged.  "I got used to them not liking me that much years ago, even though one of them is Melissa's twin."

"You had two sets of twins?"

"To my bad luck and utter pain and horror, yup, sure did," he agreed smugly.  "It hurts worse, trust me."

"I think I can do that."  He gave him a small grin.  "Why else are you in town?"

"Just to go to the doctor's tomorrow.  The guy I'm seeing is great with knees.  He's seen my knees before so as long as I don't get pawned off onto his partner we'll be fine.  Maybe they'll end up replacing them."

"Aren't you still a bit young for that?"

"Yeah, but it beats taking medicine each and every morning for the rest of my life," he noted. "I hate taking pills.  I can't give myself injections and I hate pills with everything in me.  My party days are *long* over," he sighed.

"You used to be a party boy?"

"Before I got the silver hair," he admitted shyly.  "I was a cute boy who was a bit bigger than a twink and a bit smaller than the other cute boys in the gay clubs.  It got me some attention.  I used to break in a lot of twinks who were scared to go to a 'real' guy.  They thought because I was smaller it'd be easier."  He grinned.  "It's an old, dirty secret in my life."

"So I can tell.  You know this isn't a gay club, right?"  Xander nodded.  "That's fine, I'll expect you to fight whoever complains."

Xander snickered.  "Who's going to fight me?"

"Good point," Alan admitted after considering it.  Not too many people would fight him.  "Well, if they do, I'll cheerlead for you."

"Sure.  I kick ass in many styles."

"I'm supposing that's part of the job?"

"No, that's called I'm hyperactive and don't sleep much at night so I had to do something.  That's also how I learned accounting, Russian, Latin, Japanese, Italian, and Arabic.  Along with some minor electronics and computer skills that really aren't worth mentioning most of the time."


"Yeah, not being able to sleep more than four hours a night can be very helpful if your body cooperates.  Then again, it gave me more time to party when I was younger too."

"I bet," Alan agreed.  "Say, there's a decent enough club nearby if you'd like to go."

"Nah.  I'm not into noise tonight.  Maybe tomorrow, after I get whined at by the doctor, but not tonight.  Got anything going on tomorrow night?"

"No, not really."  He looked him over.  "Did you just ask me out on a date?"

Xander grinned.  "I think you're pretty neat and I can even treat to dinner first if you'd like."

Alan chuckled and nodded. "Fine, Xander.  We can go out to dinner and dancing tomorrow night. There's a wonderful drag show I know about.  I've got a friend in it."

"I haven't been to a drag show since I was nineteen," Xander admitted, looking up at the ceiling.  "Of course, that was the year I took a job stripping too.  It was at the club I was working at.  Hopefully these guys are better?  One of ours had a mustache."

Alan smirked.  "Much better.  A few you can't tell."

"Then I'm all for it."  He grinned and they clinked glasses.  "It's a date."

"It's a date," Alan agreed.


Xander looked over as the doctor came into the room he had been stuffed into.  "Hey, doc."

"Alexander."  He pulled a rolling stool out and sat down.  "How are you?"

"I ache like fuck," he said dryly.  "Hence me coming back."

"I see."  He looked at the scans they had done earlier that day.  "I see you came prepared as well."  He put one up on the lightboard, letting his patient see it.  "Your cartilage is nearly gone, Alexander."

"Doc, I may not look it, but I've lived for nearly forty-five years."  The doctor looked stunned.  "Yeah, me.  It was an exposure to something a few years back that seemed to deage me.  It didn't keep my knees from aching however.  It eased off for a while but my knees have lived a hard life since I was fifteen and I started to work nights doing pizzas and other odd jobs.  Then came hunting, then the thing that got me the silver hair, then being with Lupin and them."  He had been honest with his doctor.  The Watcher's Council used this guy; Ethan had recommended him so he had been brutally honest about his life.  "All I want is something to fix it for a few more years."

"To be perfectly honest, you don't have a few more years on these knees, Alex," he said gently.  "You may not have a few more years before we have to replace them and you're too young for that."

"I know but with my job?"

"Then maybe it's time to retire, young man," he said firmly.  "Like all good warriors, you've got to retire sometime."  He looked at the scan, then at Xander again.  "Is the medicine helping?"

"I hate taking drugs."

"Do you?"

"Yeah, every morning when I first get up.  It takes about an hour and then I'm usually okay from then on but that hour is one hell of a bitch.  Fortunately it's usually before anyone else gets up."

The doctor looked over the chart again.  "Okay.  You've got two choices.  You can continue with the drugs for maybe a year.  We can do some more steroid injections into your knees to help, see if it won't start working up some new cartilage.  Or you can retire and not live in a lot of pain daily."

"Shit," he sighed, hanging his head.  "Now?"

"Now.  Or at least soon.  Arrange it so you can retire within a year."

"Yeah, I might have to," Xander sighed.  "No other hopes?  No replacement knees?"

"If you did, you'd be vulnerable while you were down.  You'd have weeks of rehab.  You'd still have some pain now and then and they'd still only last ten years.  You need to rest.  You've had a long, hard life on those knees.  Not to mention your wrists are starting to ache from what you reported last time.  Your shoulders are starting to ache from injuries there.  Alex, you're a trainwreck waiting to happen.  What happens if you don't get your pain pills soon enough and you end up in a shootout without them?  Or having to run without them?"

"Then the others could die," he sighed, still looking down at his traitorous body.  "If I slow down, would it help?"

"Not really.  The damage has been done.  Short of putting you in a wheelchair so you can't have *any* stress on those joints, I don't see them healing."

"I haven't been doing much recently," he offered.

"Has it helped?"

"A bit."


"But I'm still doing my katas and I'm still walking around and I'm still jogging," he admitted.  "Plus I've got a date tonight to go dancing."

"Good for you," the doctor praised.  "I hope you and your boyfriend have fun."

"No, my boyfriend's been ignoring me," he said bitterly.  "I'm seeing someone nice who knows who I am and still wants to go out with me."

"Then you're damn lucky, my boy."  He patted him on the arm.  "Do you want a refill?"

"Please.  I'm totally out of both drugs."  The doctor looked at him.  "Yes, both of them.  Fred decided to feed some to the fishies in the pond."

"Fine," he agreed patiently.  "I know you're not overusing them."  He wrote out the prescriptions.  "There.  Anything else?"

"How long, honestly?"

"A year if you're lucky."

"Then I guess it's time to start arranging things, huh?" he said bitterly.  "I'm thinking a nap's in order."

"Take a hot bath, it'll help you later," the doctor suggested.  He left him there, going to make notes in his chart.

Xander slid off the table and pulled on his jacket, going out to pay his payment and head into the bright London daytime.  He winced, it was actually very sunny today and he had forgotten his sunglasses back in France.  He headed back to his hotel, going to do what the doctor had ordered.  He stopped for his drugs, a soda, a few pieces of chocolate, then headed up to his room.  He knew one of Gramps' cops was following him so he wasn't going to the townhouse this time.   He walked into his hotel room and grimaced at the cop sitting on his bed.  "If I ask, would you shoot me in the knees so I could have them replaced sooner and they'd quit aching?" he asked as he walked past him, slamming the bathroom door shut once he was inside.

Vecchio stared at the door.  "Xander, why are you in London?" he called.

"Doctor's appointment," drifted out of the bathroom.  Then the sound of something glass being thrown against the door right before Xander opened it and leaned in the opening.  "My knees are shot to hell," he admitted.  "My specialist is here.  Did you *really* want to hear more about this subject?"

"No," he admitted quietly.  "Are you okay?"

"Fuck no.  And I'd like to sulk in peace since I know you don't have a warrant to arrest me."

"Fine."  He stood up.  "Want me to call Ray for you?"

"No, I'm fine.  I've got time to quit sulking before my date tonight."  He closed the bathroom door again.

"Which crook is showing up?"

Xander opened the door again.  "They're ignoring my ass again.  I've got a real date tonight.  Which do you think for dinner?  The Wellington Club or a nice modern place?"

"Let her decide," Ray said with a shrug.  "I only take dinner dates when I cook."

"I can't cook," he admitted, closing the door again.  "Have a nice day, I'm going to be here all day."

"Sure, Lavelle.  You have a nice night."  He walked out, going to call his boss.  This was good, and very interesting, news for their team.  Lupin would be easier to catch without Xander!

Xander muttered and thought while he drew his bath.  "I guess I'm going to have to get meaner for this last year," he decided.  "I can't leave them or the kids that unprotected.  Poor Ray, I'll make sure he's incapacitated and gets the 'hurt in the line of duty' pension.  That way he'll be able to live off it and keep up his comic habit."


Melissa sat up two days later, staring at the 'celebrity gossip' show in horror.  "Oh, Gods," she whispered.  "Oh, Gods, no."

"What's wrong?" Lupin called from the hallway.

"Nothing, uncle."  She turned the channel but he had been walking into the room.  She tried to look innocent but he snatched the remote and hit the 'return' button, staring at the end of the article about Lavelle 'going out on the town' with a famous comedian.  "Um, Uncle Lupin, I'm sure he's a target or something," she offered.

"Comedians are poor," he growled.  "What is he doing?"

"What's who doing?" Jigen asked as he walked in.  "Why are you watching that filth? It's not award ceremony time."

"They were just showing exclusive pictures of Lavelle going out on a date," he told Jigen coldly.

Jigen paused for a moment.  "Well, it's not like we've been taking care of him.  I'm hoping he was careful," he decided, walking off to nurse his anger in private.

"How can you say that!  He's ours!"

"One of the skills Uncle Xander taught some of us was to think like him," Ishi said from his seat, continuing to read.  "In this case, Uncle Xander would probably be thinking that you never redid the vows, Uncle Lupin.  Nor are you officially married, nor are you paying any attention to him recently.  I believe it's been nearly nine months since you slept in the same room.  I'm supposing he felt like it was his right since you're not his by your actions."  He turned the page.  "Or I could be totally off base, but we are talking about Xander."

"Shut up, kid," Lupin said hotly, chasing after Jigen, slamming into the range to get into his face.  "Why is this our fault?"

"Because we don't pay attention to him," Jigen reminded him.  "He hasn't slept in the same room in months, Lupin, what did you expect?  The boy's got needs like yours and you're not satisfying him."

"Why is that only *my* job?"

"Because I can't force myself to do that with him when he's a guy," Jigen said coolly.  "Or don't you remember the last time I tried?"

Lupin shuddered.  "Never mind.  He's in London.  We should go retrieve our gunman."

"Leave him be, he'll be home eventually," Arsene said from the doorway.  "Worry more about other things, daddy, like whether or not he's retiring.  Vecchio just reported that Daddy Xander went to see someone about his knees in London.  The dating thing was because you were ignoring him.  The comedian is a very nice guy.  He makes him laugh.  You haven't done that in over a year."  Her father pushed her and slammed the door in her face.  "If the truth hurts, you're doing something wrong!" she called through the extra- thick door.  She went to help Melissa call their mother to warn him.  They left a long message on his voicemail, detailing everything they knew.  Goemon came in during it and was giving them odd looks by the time they hung up.

"Daddy's been out on a few dates recently.  He looked really happy," Melissa told him quietly.

"Good.  Happiness should be cherished.  What else is wrong?"

"Daddy went to see someone about his knees."

"He's been aching now for a few years," Ishi shared.  "He takes medicines each and every morning and doesn't do a lot of moving until they kick in."


"Think about it, Uncle G," Arsene said dryly.  "He started out having to run and jump and play with vampires and slayers.  Then he nearly died by torture.  Then he came into this job, which isn't exactly easy on the joints.  Why do you think he aches?"

Goemon sighed.  "I understand the aching, I do so myself."

"Yes, but you're not on narcotics for it yet, father," Ishi said dryly.  "Mother is."

"Oh."  He walked away, going to tell this to Lupin.  He tapped on the range door.   "Jigen, is Lupin in there as well?"  Lupin opened the door, giving him a cold look.  "How long has Xander been on medicine for his knees?  I would have taken it easier on him recently had I known."

"Excuse me, he's what?" Jigen asked.

"The children said he was on painkillers.  My son said multiple drugs and he takes them each morning, he mentioned narcotics."

Lupin stormed up the stairs, going into Xander's private room.  He found the bottles prominently displayed on the dresser and picked them up to read them, frowning at them.  "Mild pain killers."

Ishi coughed.  "Are those the same one?  He takes two of them, Uncle Lupin.  Fred managed to get one of the bottles and decided the fish should have them too."  He walked in and looked at them, then went into the bathroom, picking the lock on the cabinet door to get the other one.  "Here."  He handed it over, watching as his uncle sat down when the words hit his brain.  "He's in pain.  You ignore him.  Of course he went for someone who wasn't.   Even if you were married, it's entirely reasonable."  He walked away before his uncle could retaliate.

"Why is everything my fault?" he yelled.

"The injuries aren't.  The lack of attention is," Ishi yelled back.  "You can't take credit for fucking up his knees, his back, or his shoulders."

Lupin shuddered and put the pills down, staring around the room.  Xander had been living in here again, all his stuff from their room was now arranged in here.  "What the hell is going on?" he muttered.  "I pay attention to him.  I've talked with him recently.  We planned jobs together."

"Sometimes people need more.  My former wife had that same problem," Goemon said from the doorway.  "Xander's on the phone.  He'll be at the manor house for a few days then back here.  I didn't mention we knew about anything else."

"Thanks."  Lupin looked at him.  "What're we going to do about this?"

"There are two good choices.  Continue on even if he cannot join us all the time, or retire for good."  Lupin shuddered at those.

"We can pull less jobs once the kids come out," Jigen offered from the hallway.

"True, we could.  Then again, at our ages running would become harder each year," Goemon countered.

"I'm not that old!"

"Lupin, I know my age.  No matter how young I look, I am near sixty now.  Xander is in his forties.  Marcus is in his early thirties.  We have had a long and good run, but we are getting older.  It is not just him."  Lupin looked devastated at that pronouncement.  "Perhaps we should talk about this as a group.  It is time to look things over with a finer attention to detail.  I cannot scale the outside of a building as fast as I used to."

"Me either," Jigen admitted. "I've been feeling old for years now."

"There's got to be something we can do," Lupin whined.

"Lupin, the anti-aging potion was only able to be used once," Goemon reminded him.  "There's no other one.  We are getting older."

"Damn it, I'm not dying in some retirement home!" Lupin shouted, standing up again.  "That is not how I'm going out!"

"That is not how I envision my own death," Goemon admitted.  "I would prefer to be in my own bed with my sons and daughter around me, secure that I had done everything I have ever wanted to do and secure that the family legacy would be carrying on.  Preferably with a grandson there to make sure the family name carries on.  I am realistic however," he pointed out when Lupin stared at him.

"I don't particularly want to die on the job either, boss," Jigen offered.  "I know it's a possibility but it's not one I want to happen.  I'd also like to go before the kids did.  I'm hoping they get to be my age."

"I'm not ready for this conversation," Lupin said, storming out and heading down to his office to get plastered so he wouldn't have to think about this depressing thought.  He sat down with his favorite bottle and decided to test himself.  He pulled out one of the sample locks he had in his desk and a stopwatch, timing himself.  Nearly a minute, and he used to do it in forty-five seconds.  "Not yet," he complained, leaning back to drink.   "It's not time yet.  Grandfather went on into his eighties."

Arsene opened the door, looking at her father.  "Dad, didn't Great-Grandfather pick and choose his jobs instead of being generally on the run for the last half of his life?" she demanded.  He nodded, gulping his liquor.  "Then maybe it's time to consider that option.  Melissa and I don't want to do fifteen jobs a year either."  She walked in, shutting the door behind herself so she could sit next to her father.  "How fast?" she asked quietly, noticing the lock.

"Fifty-eight seconds," he said bitterly.  She sighed.  "Yeah, it's a bad time."

"Dad, I can't do it in that amount of time.  I suck at that lock," she reminded him.  She shrugged at his hurt look.  "We all know I have faults and that lock is one of them.  I twist it wrong each and every time."  She shrugged again.  "Now, you can be reasonable about this or you can sulk and hurt mom more.  Not to mention depressing the rest of us and making Uncles G and Jigen dwell on their ages.  Uncle Jigen's older than you both, remember?"  Lupin shuddered.  "So maybe slowing down some isn't such a bad idea.  Plan six heists a year instead of twelve or fifteen."

"I bet Fujiko doesn't have these problems."

She snorted.  "Yeah, because she had plastic surgery last year, dad.  There's only so much a push-up bra will do," she reminded him dryly.  "That and she had some wrinkles lasered off if what we heard was right."  She reached over and took the bottle from him, taking a swig of it before putting it on the desk.  "Daddy, you outdid the family's rep but *tons*, but you're still a daddy.  You could be a granddaddy in some countries by now," she said dryly, smirking at him.  "But fortunately Mom's got some common sense and stopped Sierra."  She grabbed his hand to hold.

"We hope," he said bitterly.

"She's at an all-girls' school.  Unless she's suddenly turned into a powder-puff sniffer, I doubt she's getting any."  She squeezed his hand.  "We all think it's time for you guys to pull less jobs.  Last year you only pulled seven."

"And most of us were bored out of our minds," Lupin said tiredly.

"So?  You've got the younger crew just old enough to teach now, dad.  Fred's going to need Mom's help if he's not going to turn into a slut monster. Not even I got away with breastfeeding when I was six," she reminded him with a grin.

"True, the woman shoved you away with a horrified scream when you tried," he remembered, grinning at her.  He pulled her closer to hug, letting her settle in his lap.  "It's just been a bad year, kiddo.  You're all grown up now.  Fred's growing up so fast.  Xander's dating someone not me and it's killing me."

"Then pay more attention to him, dad.  That's all he wants, is attention.  That comedian is very nice to him from what I've heard on the bulletin boards."  Lupin groaned.  "They figured he was some sort of target but they said that mom is laughing and happy.  They said they hadn't seen him that way since the Germany job a few years ago."  Lupin nodded against her shoulder so she hugged him.  "Dad, you've got it in you to fix that and to compromise here.  You can do it that way if you want, if you're willing to be a bit bored now and then. Just think about hard it's going to be for Mom when Alex has to go off to slayer school. He's going to want to train her himself."

"He's already training her himself," he muttered.  He looked up at her. "When did you get so smart?"

"When I sucked knowledge from you like a leech," she admitted with a grin.  "Didn't you feel me do it in the middle of the night when I was eight?"

He shook his head.  "No, but then again you always were the sneaky one," he said with a small grin.  "You think he'll come back?"

"He should.   Where else is he going to go?  The manor house is big and drafty to live there all year long."

"He's got houses all over the world, empress."

"Yeah, and we'll be popping around on those along with the ones you've got," she promised sweetly.  "Melissa and I want to do about eight jobs a year, max, if possible.  So we'll be around all the time."  He nodded, putting his head back down.  "Now all you've got to do is send for Mom to come back, daddy.  He'll come if you ask. He always has."

"You're right," he agreed, picking up the phone.   He hit the button for Xander's phone.  "Come home," he ordered quietly.  "Talk to me, Xander."  He hung up and hugged his baby girl again, then let her go with a pat on the back.  "Thanks, Arsene."

"Hey, what else is your female clone going to do?" she teased, kissing him on the cheek.  "By the way, what's the suit rule at the pool now?"

"Nothing that would embarrass Jigen," he said dryly.

"Shoot, take all my fun," she sighed, heading off to check on her clothes.  She was still growing and it was embarrassing.  "No bikinis outside, 'Lis.  Dad said so."

"I was only going to tan in mine," she said with a shrug.  "I can't keep the thing on when I swim, it's loose."

"Probably not anymore," Ishi reminded her.  "You went up two bra sizes this last time."

"Were you peeking?" Arsene demanded.

"No, but it's noticeable," he said dryly, giving her a long look.  She blushed.  "So please don't torment us with bikinis."

"Fine," Melissa agreed, going up to check on her favorite bathing suit.   It was tighter now but she thought she looked okay.  She grabbed some lotion and a towel, heading out to the pool.  She passed by Goemon, weathering his shocked look.  "I'm going to tan in the backyard by the pool."

"Put on some clothes," he squeaked.

She chuckled.  "It's not that bad!"  She trotted down the back stairs, patting Fred on the top of the head as she strolled past him.  "Hi, Fred."

"Sissy," he said, staring at her in awe.  She was pretty and she had soft, squishy, food-like things.  He started to follow her but found his big sissy in the way.  "Me go with her!" he demanded, stomping a foot.

"I doubt it," Lotus told him, taking him to the play room.  "You can't help Melissa sunbathe and you can't be out by the pool without a chaperone.  So you have to stay here until Bix wakes up."  She hurried up to get into her own suit, going to get a tan as well.  She trotted past Marcus, making him whimper.  She stopped to look at him.  "What?"

"Nothing," he muttered, walking away shaking his head.  "Please put on some clothes, Lotus."

"We're tanning by the pool," she said impatiently. "I can't tan in jeans."  She headed out to lay out by the water, finding a good seat in a nice spot of sun.  "That suit finally fits you," she told Melissa.

"I noticed. It's wonderful."

"It is, but I had to stop Fred.  He had his father's look on his face.  Watch your breasts."


"Yeah, but this is Fred we're talking about."

"Yeah, I guess," she admitted, going back to her book.  She shifted some to get comfortable on the chaise she was stretched out on her stomach on.  At least until her father dropped something over her back.  "What are you doing?  I'm trying to tan!"

"Yer naked, go put on clothes," he complained, heading back to the house.

"I'm not!" she complained, sitting up.  "The suit fits properly, daddy."

His eyes bugged out when he saw her chest.  "Go put on clothes!" he said, pointing at the house.  "Now!  Before we get another invasion or something!"  She rolled her eyes and flipped back onto her stomach, shaking her head before she started to read again.  "I mean it, daughter."

"Daddy, it's not a thong."

"You're falling out of the top and I can see the crack of your ass.  Get something less tight or go put on real clothes," he ordered coolly.  "Or be grounded for the rest of the summer."

"But, dad!"


"Fine," she sighed, heading back inside.  She walked past her uncle, who was mixing something in a pitcher.  She heard the crash behind her and spun around, giving him a shocked look.  "What happened?  Was it a cramp!"

"No!" he squeaked.  He cleared his throat.  "Clothes, now, Melissa.  That's indecent."

"Uncle Lupin, are you all right?  You don't look so well and you're babbling."

"Melissa, that looks like something Fujiko would have worn.  Go put on something a little bit less skimpy."

"It fits!"

He grabbed her by the shoulders, forcing himself not to stare at her rack.  "Melissa Jigen, you are a young lady.  There are lecherous men all around this house.  Including a very impressionable one named Fred.  I don't care if that's fashionable.  It's two tiny pieces of cloth that barely cover your nipples," he said, forcing his eyes back up into hers.  "Do the world a favor and change, niece, before one of the dirty men in this house gets an idea that would make your father shoot us."

"It fits properly."

"Tough!" he said firmly, turning her around and patting her on the butt.  "Go put on a real bathing suit."

"This is the only one I have that's not obscene, thank you.  And don't stroke my ass next time, that's icky!  You changed my diapers."

"Melissa," he said, trying to hold onto all patience.  "It doesn't matter that I used to wipe your ass.  When you're in that outfit looking like that, you're not the niece I used to change and cuddle and sing to.  Now, go change before my very thin veneer of civility snaps.  Even Goemon would try to touch you in that outfit."  She shuddered and walked off shaking her head.  He leaned on the counter, holding his head. "God, why did I have daughters?" he muttered.  Ishi walked in and opened the walk-in freezer's door, then walked inside and shut himself in.  Lupin walked over and opened it.  "The quick version of a cold shower?" he guessed.

"More powerful than three pretty girls in bikinis," he said bitterly.  "And one's my sister.  I'm feeling nasty and dirty at the moment."

"So am I, Ishi, so am I," he sighed, walking in there to bond with him for a bit. Before he went up to teach Melissa all sorts of new and interesting things about life.  They both rushed out when they heard Melissa scream, running up the stairs to save her from whoever had just tried something.  "Fred!" Lupin yelled, grabbing his son to pull him off his sister's chest.  "Get off her, you're related to her!"  Ishi helped by breaking the suction of the little boy's mouth and Lupin carried him off, taking them all back down to the freezer for a chat.  "You can't nurse off her, she's not lactating.  I hope.  Never mind, you still can't nurse off her, Fred.  She's not a food source or a source of that sort of snuggling.  Melissa is your big sister and you'll treat her that way."

"But she's pretty and has big milk breasts," he said miserably.  "I just wanted to snuggle!"

"Fred, she's your sister, that would be icky," Ishi told him, patting him on the back.  "Like me kissing Lotus would."

"She pretty," Fred said helpfully.

Lupin let out a choked sob and took his son outside to hand him off to Jigen before diving into the lake. It was still frigid this time of year.

"What did you do?" Jigen asked Fred, staring down at him.

"I tried to suck off sissy," he said.

"Excuse me?" Arsene said, sitting up suddenly.  "You did what?"

"He tried to nurse off Melissa," Ishi clarified.  "Uncle Lupin and I were in the freezer when she screamed.  It was really hard to break his suction."

"Damn, the Lupin genes have passed on and possibly multiplied," Arsene said in awe.  "I never wanted to nurse off her."

"She's nearly the same age you are," Jigen snapped.  "I'd hope not."  He looked down at Fred again.  "You can't snuggle up to your sisters that way, it's not right, Fred.  It's bad and dirty and disgusting.  Do not do it again or I'm letting Goemon lecture you."  The little boy pouted. "Tough!  The answer is no!"

"But they're pretty and big, she'd made a good mommy," Fred offered.

Ishi caught Jigen when he wobbled.  "Uncle Lupin, your son is driving Uncle Jigen to a heart attack!" he screamed as he helped Jigen into a chair, checking his pulse.

Lupin came jogging up to them, handing Fred off to his sister. "What happened?"

"Fred just changed tactics.  He said Melissa had pretty and big breasts so she'd make a good mommy," Ishi reported bitterly.

"Oh, shit, Jigen.  I'm sorry my son's so warped.  Do you need an ambulance?  The doctor up the street maybe?"

Jigen pulled Lupin around to glare at him. "Keep your perverted offspring away from my baby girl before he molests her."

"He can't do that yet," Lupin reminded him, checking Jigen's head.  "I think I'm going to call the doctor.  Keep him here, put up an umbrella if you can."  He jogged up to the house to call the doctor who lived up the street.

"See, that's why you don't do those things," Arsene told her little brother.  "Because it can hurt people."

"Not to mention what it's got to be doing to Melissa," Ishi agreed.  Jigen moaned so he shifted the umbrella over to shade him better.  "There, how's that, Uncle Jigen?  Better?"

"No," he complained.  "Fred, go to your room."

"But I was good!" he whined.

"Now," Arsene ordered sternly, scowling at him.

He pouted at her.  "You not a nice sissy and you don't have pretty breastes like other sissies do!"  He stomped off, sniffling the whole way up to his room.

"I do so have just as good of breasts as they do!" she shouted after him.  She stopped when she heard Jigen moaning again, walking over to kneel beside him.  "It's okay, Uncle Jigen.  We're here.  We'll keep Fred from trying to nurse off her again.  We'll even keep Kenji and Yu from doing it," she offered.

He laid down, covering his eyes while she and Ishi attended to him.   This was not a good day.

His daughter came jogging out of the house in a t-shirt and cut off shorts, but you could tell she wasn't wearing anything underneath them by the way she was bouncing, and he could feel the pain in his head growing now.  "Go change," he hissed.  "No more bouncing."

"Dad, chill.  I'm covered, that's what you wanted."  She pushed Ishi out of the way to check him over, frowning at his pulse.  "Is someone calling an ambulance?"

"Daddy's getting the guy from up the street," Arsene offered.  She grabbed her towel and dipped it into the pool, folding it into a compress for him.  "Here, use this," she offered, helping him get comfortable.  "We'll be fine, Uncle Jigen, and you're not going to die.   We won't let you die.  Mommy would get *way* pissed and destroy half the world if you died."  He let out a weak chuckle at that old threat.  "He said so."

"He started that when he was carrying the girls," he told them.  "The day he found out."

"I bet.  I'd have killed you two on the spot," Melissa said dryly, grinning at him.  "Don't worry, daddy, I'm not making you a grandfather anytime in the near future.  There may not be a third generation because labor pains hurt."

He patted her on the hand.  "I leave that up to you, but go put on a bra.  Please?"

Lupin came jogging back out.  "Is he any better?"

"Not really," Ishi offered.  "Are we taking him to the hospital?"

"Yes.  It'll waste time to wait."  He looked around.  "I'll pull the car around to the side gate.  Can you guys help him that way?"

"He's not that heavy, we could carry him," Ishi offered.  Lupin nodded and ran off that way.  "Okay, everyone's got on shoes, right?"  They nodded so he helped Jigen up, then picked him up.  "Lead the way," he grunted.  "He's not as light as I thought."

"Here, let me take his feet," Arsene ordered, helping carry her favorite uncle out to the car.  They got him stretched out in the back seat, Melissa sitting back there with him to pat his hand and keep him calm, while Lupin drove and they huddled in the passenger's seat together.  "Someone's got to call Uncle Goemon."

"He knows.  I ran past him on the way to the phone," Lupin muttered, shifting up to go faster.  He knew this road very well, he could do a hundred down it.  When lights came on behind him, he flipped the person off out the window and sped up a bit more, taking the sharp turn into the hospital's parking lot on two wheels.  He spun into a place in front of the ER doors and got out to get Jigen a wheelchair and a nurse, a pretty one if he could manage it.  Only the best for his buddy.  "My friend's having a heart attack," he said.  "He's in the car."

"Of course, sir."  The receptionist pushed a button and people came running, following him to the car, where they pulled Jigen out and inside.  When Lupin came back, he stopped him and handed him the forms.  "Does he have his health card on him?"

"We've got private insurance," Ishi said, taking the forms to fill them out.  He was the calm one here.  "Go pace or smoke, Uncle," he ordered.  Lupin nodded, heading outside to catch a quick smoke and call the house.  "Melissa, sit.  Arsene, sit on her if you must."  He filled the forms out efficiently, then handed them back.  "That's all he's ever said about drug allergies."

"Thank you, young man.  Is he your father?"

"Uncle.  He's Melissa's father.  Arsene's is outside.  Mine is dealing with the reason for this attack."  Melissa moaned.  "It's not your fault.  It's Fred's," he assured her, tipping her chin up.  "It was not your fault.  Fred is a horrible little barbarian and it's his fault."  She nodded, pulling him closer to hug him.

"Should we call Brad?" Arsene asked gently.

"No.  I don't want him to see me this way," she sniffled.  "Someone's got to call Mom."

"I will," Ishi promised, continuing to pat her on the back.  When she was calm he walked outside and took his uncle's cellphone, dialing a number he knew by heart. "Father?  Did Uncle Lupin call you yet?  No, he's being looked over now.  Yes, she's fine. Melissa's in tears but I've assured her it wasn't her fault.  That it was Fred's."  He hung up and called the other responsible adult in the family.  "Mother, we're at the hospital with Uncle Jigen," he said softly.  "Fred just tried to nurse off Melissa and it devolved from there.  They're evaluating his heart at the moment."  He looked at Lupin, who was pacing and smoking up a storm.  "Yes, that one.  Please.  I'll keep you informed if we must move."

Lupin snatched his phone back.  "Where are you?"  He paused, then shook his head.  "Yeah, that's fine.  No, just get here as soon as you can."  He hung up.  "He's on his way back."

"Good.  If he could teleport here, you know he would," he soothed.  Lupin snorted.  "He would, we both know that.  He nearly did when I was injured."  He stopped, glaring at the man getting out of the car that had just pulled up.  "Go away."

"Kid," Zenigata said with a smirk.  "I do believe that there's a few warrants that weren't taken care of yet."

Ishi pulled a gun and pointed it at him. "Unless you want to need the facilities, I'd back the hell off and leave," he warned.  "He's having a fucking heart attack."

Melissa stomped out and took the gun, shooting him in the thigh.  "Go the fuck away," she growled.  "How dare you disrespect my father's condition that way!"  She was shrieking and she knew she was shrieking but she didn't care.  "How dare you!   We've always tried to treat you with some respect, even though you're an obsessive-compulsive bastard without a fucking clue!  We do more of your work for you than you do!  If it wasn't for Daddy Lupin, you would have died a long damn time ago!"

"Calm down," Ishi said quietly, taking the gun back before she could use it again.  She would kill him next time.  "Calm down and take a few deep breaths."

"Fuck calming down, Ishi!  He wants to arrest my father while he's fucking dying!"

"He's not dying," Lupin said, sounding positive of that fact.  "Jigen's stronger than that."  He pulled her closer, holding her as tightly as he could.  "He'll be fine, princess.  I promise you he'll be fine.  Jigen won't die because my son said you were pretty and you'd be a good mommy."  She shuddered. "I know.  I nearly had the same reaction.  Jigen will be fine.  We managed to save his life when Fujiko shot him with the anti-nicotine shot that made him allergic to cigarettes and he went cold turkey from four packs a day. We managed through all the allergy attacks.  We can handle this one.  We're not doing anything right now, it'll be fine," he promised, letting her cry on him.  "Shh, princess.  We're here.  He won't die.  You know Xander won't let that happen."

"Where is he?" Zenigata said, trying to sneer while clutching his bleeding thigh.  "Still out on the town with that poof?"

"Fuck you," Ishi reminded him.  "Shut up and go away or I'm going to blow your head off your shoulders.  I can do that in case you hadn't remembered," he said coldly.  The cop limped backwards, leaning against his car.  He noticed a guard giving him a fearful look.  "He's an asshole who wants to hurt our uncle.  Get him attended to in a different space, far  from my Uncle."  The guard nodded and helped the inspector inside, and Arsene let out a shriek right before Zenigata did.  "I believe she got him again," he said dryly, putting his gun back.  "Come along, Melissa.  We'll go for a walk until you can calm down."

She wiped her face off. "Okay."  She latched onto his arm and let him walk her off.

Lupin shook his head.  This was bad.  Fortunately no local cops had been called yet.  He called the house.  "Move the kids to one of the other safe houses," he ordered.  "Pack it all up and move it.  No, he's fine but Melissa just shot Pops for daring to show up," he said bitterly.  "Then Ishi took the gun and told him to back off or he'd finish him off and my empress got him in the leg with her foot.  No, not yet but I'm not taking that chance.  Get Marcus to do it, his magic should come in handy sometime."  He hung up and went back inside, calmer now that the kids had worn him out. "How is he?"

"He's going for a scan at the moment," the receptionist assured him. "He'll be fine.  The doctor will be out soon if you'd like to take a seat."

"Sure."  He sat down beside his daughter, pulling her closer to hug her.  "You didn't put on clothes?"

"Daddy, it was an emergency, be thankful I remembered to retie my top," she said dryly.  "Where's Mom?"

"On the train.  They just came out of the Chunnel."

"Okay.  Is he driving up?  He'll make better time."

"Yeah, I think so.  I'm having the house moved though, just in case."

"Gods, she was wonderful," she whispered.  She could feel her father nodding.  "She really is Jigen's little girl.  Her mother would have went for a killing blow."

"True.  I hadn't thought of that," he admitted.  "I'll have to share that with her dad when I can see him."  He looked over as Marcus and Goemon walked in.  "Do you have anything she can put on, Marcus?"

"Not that'd fit her," he admitted.  "Let me check my trunk."  He jogged back outside.

"If not, she can have my robe," Goemon offered quietly.  "How is he?"

"Doing tests," Arsene said, looking up at him.  "Melissa shot Gramps in the thigh, just like her dad would have."

"Xander would have killed him," Goemon agreed.  He sat down on the girl's other side.  "Where are the other children?"

"Taking a walk to calm Melissa down," Lupin told him.  "She cried on me after shooting him in the thigh."

"Then she'll keep her humanity.  He'll be very proud of her."

"I'm damn proud of her, she didn't hesitate at all," Arsene admitted, looking at him.  "She took your son's gun and did it."

"I'm not surprised."  He looked over as Marcus came back in. "Nothing?"

"I cleaned out the car last week," he admitted, shrugging a bit. "I brought everything inside to clean it."

"Here," Goemon offered, taking off his robe. "You wear that so you do not shock and stun more men," he ordered, handing it to Arsene.

She slipped into it and tied it properly.  "Thanks, Uncle G."

"You're welcome."  He got comfortable, nudging her when a doctor came out and stared at them. "I believe she's in charge of Jigen's care."

"How is he?" Lupin demanded, standing up.  "Is he going to be okay?"

"He'll be fine.  It wasn't a real heart attack but his blood pressure was very high.  He's resting comfortably.  We'd like to keep him tonight for observation."

"What would we need if we said no?" Arsene asked.

"A doctor in case something worse happened," the doctor said honestly.  "It was very close, young lady."  She clutched the chart to her chest.  "We won't be calling the local police force if that's your worry."

"Pops is an old annoyance," Lupin said dryly.  "He should have known better."  He looked at Goemon.  "How long?"

"Probably by tonight.  There is a lot of things at that house to be packed.  Fortunately most of Xander's things were shipped recently."


"The manor house," Arsene told him.  "He's setting up rooms there to show off his kimono collection and Uncle Ray suggested that he put his comics into storage, just in case something happened."

"Fine."  He looked at the doctor.  "You can have him tonight, but we'll be leaving early in the morning."  She nodded, handing him something to sign.  "Thank you, doctor."

"He's in very good shape for the life he leads," she admitted.  "He's a very strong man."   She walked away, going to admit Jigen to a private room. That way no one else would be exposed to the criminals.  She checked on her other patient, noticing him fussing.  "Do not bring more here.  They will not hold back," she ordered calmly.  "I don't want this hospital to look like one from a war zone."  He hung up and stared at her.  "He'll be leaving in the morning.  You will not be due to your injuries.  They'll have to rest him somewhere calmer.  You can deal with him then.  Not while there are innocents, including a floor full of pregnant women and children, in the way."

"I understand," he agreed.  "I'd never want to put innocents at risk."

She nodded.  "Good.  Then call your spouse to come see you."

"She is a cop.  We work together."  She rolled her eyes.  "I just did though."

"Fine.  We'll be putting you on a different floor on the other side of the building from him.  That way there's no possible danger to anyone else."

"Yes, ma'am," he agreed.  "Not that my guys would hurt them."

"Really?  And what about those children?"

"They're actually too well trained to do that," he admitted.  "The one who shot me is the sick man's daughter.  She's a marksman."

"So I can tell.  She didn't hit the bone or the artery."  She checked his vitals and wrote them down.  "Since we've got the bleeding under control, we'll be doing an x-ray then sending you to surgery to close it.  You do have the option of staying awake if you're paranoid about them coming in to help or hurt you."

"No, they wouldn't do that.  The ones who would aren't here yet."  He considered it.  "I'd rather be awake though.  I hate being drugged."

"Very well."  She wrote that down as well and went to order a surgeon for him.  This was going to be a very long shift for her. She stopped to call her husband to tell him she loved him, then went to see the ear infection on the other side of the ER.  A normal case would help her mood a lot.


Jigen woke up and saw a shadow against the window.  "Xander?"

"Yuppers."  He walked over and smoothed back Jigen's hair for him.  "I'm here.  Gramps is upstairs and we've got a non-mingling thing going at the request of the doctors.  Yours wasn't sure we wouldn't be hurting others if they started again."

"That's fine."  He took his hand, holding it gently.  "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, I'm not the one who had the near-heart attack."  He grinned.  "You're coming to my place after this.  Probably the manor house because it'd be safer.  There's still people following me around in London."

"What about your guy?"

"He's got the week off.  I was going to invite him up."  He shrugged. "I'll invite him to a nice hotel instead."

"We can stay in London."

"No, it's okay.  You need to be somewhere quiet and there's a really good hospital not ten miles from the manor house. In London it's farther to a decent one.  Therefore you're going to the manor house."

"But..."  Xander laid a finger over his lips.

"Don't argue with me, I'll turn into a cranky bitch again."   He stroked his cheek.  "You'll be okay, that's all that's important."

"What about you?"

"I'll be fine, I just won't be able to walk for much longer," he admitted with a sigh, sitting on the edge of the bed.  "My doctor said I've got another year of the life on my present knees and I'm too young for a complete replacement."   Jigen shuddered.  "So I'm arranging things so I can retire."

"If we slow down, would it help?"

"Sure, as long as I quit jogging, doing katas, walking around, or chasing after the kids," he said bitterly.

"I'd want a second opinion."

"This guy is world-renowned for this stuff, Jigen.  If he says I've got a year, at the most, then I've got a year if I'm damn lucky."

"The medicines?"

"I hate taking drugs."

"If it's helping...."

"It is but I'm still getting pain through the day.  They can't make them stronger and I'm not going on Oxycottin for my knees, man.  I'm not ready for that yet."

Jigen nodded.  "Okay, I understand."  He patted him on the arm. "We've all got to slow down soon anyway.  Maybe the occasional job would be better for us instead of always being on jobs."

"I may not even have that luxury," Xander reminded him.  "Then again, I've got to set up things so I can retire in anonymity.  New identity and all that.  That way we don't get the manor house raided."

"Let us talk about it first, Xander.  The group as a whole.  I know you and Lupin are fighting right now but give us a chance?"

"You've still got chances left with me," he admitted.

"Then let us work something out.  We're all getting slower.  Hell, I'm not going out anytime soon."

"True."  Xander stroked his cheek again.  "Get some rest. It's the best thing for you. I'm on guard duty tonight since Marc's asleep in the chair."

"Thanks.  You should have seen Melissa."

"Yeah, she pulled something out of your hat," he teased.  "Shooting him in the thigh instead of killing him was just like you."  He fussed with the blankets. "Sleep, Jigen.  You need it."  He went back to the window and sat on the windowsill again, watching the parking lot and entrance to the hospital.

Jigen laid there and thought about that.  His daughter had shot to wound, not kill.  She was damn good if she hadn't killed him anyway.  The thigh was a touchy spot to hit.  He flipped onto his side and got comfortable, watching Xander guard him.  "You could sit."

"I can't.  There's a cop in the parking lot."

"Fine."  He closed his eyes.  "Thanks, Xan."

"Welcome, Jigen.  I spanked Fred for doing that to her."

"Good.  Someone needed to."  He coughed.  "I need a cigarette."

"The nurse put a patch on your arm.  I'll get you another one," he soothed, going out to do that for him.  He came back and applied it to a free spot, making Jigen relax and drift off again.  Then he went back to his place by the window.  This was some major suckage here.


Jigen was walked into the manor house's foyer and paused to look around.  "It's nice," he admitted.

"I know."  He grinned at him as he walked him up the hallway to a bottom floor guest room, settling him into the bed.  "When you feel like you can climb stairs you can come upstairs.  Until then stay in here," he ordered with a fond smile, heading back to the kitchen.  "Hey," he said as he walked in, making the maid squeak.  "Is everyone else here?"  She smiled at him and nodded.  "Cool.  Um, watch out for Fred and Kenji.  They like to try to breastfeed and Fred's a lech already. He likes to try to get under skirts and things too.  That's what caused this present health crisis.  He tried on one of the girls."  He looked around.  "Where is everyone else?"

"Back in the gardens," she said quietly.  "Is he all right?"

"He's fine.  It was a near miss.  He's in the bottom bedroom."  He handed over the diet sheet he had been handed.  "Here, try to stick to this but don't nag him.  He'll pout," he shared with a bright grin. "I'm off to change and then hop off again.  I'll be back later tonight if anyone asks."  He walked up the back stairs, heading up to the master suite, finding Lupin sitting on his bed.  "Hey, Ar."

"Hey, Mom.  Got another date?"

"Emmmmm."  He looked at her. "You're pissed," he sighed.

"Yes and no.  Not only at you however," she offered lightly, frowning at him.  "Dad's fucking morbid about you dating."

"It's his own doing, Arsene.  What did he expect?  I'm not Goemon."

"Good point, which is what we've all pointed out to him," she assured him quickly, "but he's not getting the point yet."  She got up and hugged him.  "Where are you taking him?"

"He's doing a show tonight so I'm going to watch him and then we're going out to dinner, then I'm coming back here tonight."

"Wow.  You're going to be really active."

"Yeah, but I want to be here with you guys and there's too many people following me around in London for me to bring you guys there."  He kissed her on the forehead.  "Help me pick out what I'm wearing."

"Can I come?  I'd like to meet him."

"Next week.  I'm planning on a dinner to introduce you kids to him."

"Okay."  She walked into the closet, then looked back at him.  "Where's *your* clothes?"

He grinned and opened up another door.  "I've only got a few things here.  Besides, I liked those.  I don't look like I'm part of the Mafia in them."

"No, you certainly wouldn't look that way in baby blue or light orange."  She pulled out a classic looking jacket in a medium blue then pulled out a black pants and shirt combo with a blue/black tie.  "Here, wear that.  Then you'll look respectable."  She walked out, letting him change on his own, going to find her father.  "Hi."  She snuggled up to his side.

"He's got a date?" he asked.

She nodded. "He'll be back tonight though.  His new boyfriend has a show tonight so he's going to it and then taking him out to dinner before coming back here.  He said we kids can meet him next week if we want."

"I see."  He looked over as Xander came out the back door and headed for the garage.  "Xander?"  He waved him over, straightening out his tie for him.  "It was crooked."

"Thanks."  He patted Arsene on the back of the head and went for his car.  He loved his Jetta.  He heard someone following him so paused and looked back at his former lover. "Problems already?"

"Can we chat later?"

"Sure.  About?"

"Us," Lupin said patiently.

"Fine."  He opened his car door and flipped the switch for the garage door. "I'll be back late tonight."  He slid into the seat and wiggled for a moment, then started the car and backed out, heading out into the nice morning light.

Lupin put down the garage door, watching as the car disappeared.  It was official.  He had royally fucked up.  Xander was a loyal guy and he had switched sides now.  He went back inside, going to check on Jigen before taking a tour of the house.  He wanted to know about this one too.


Xander looked up from his dinner as a nervous looking brunette walked up to their table.  "Hey, 'Lis.  What's wrong?" he asked patiently.

"I want to kill my baby brother," she admitted as she pulled a chair over and sat down, smoothing down her skirt.  She looked at her father.  "He was pouting at me and I wanted to shake him or beat him so badly that they'd only have to put a headstone next to the spot where I had pounded him into the ground, and then I freaked myself out with the violence I was considering on a six-year-old who did that to me."

He grabbed her hand, squeezing it firmly.  "It's all right.  You have a temper, we all realize this.  I'm damn proud of you for walking away and not screaming at the little monster."

"What happened?" Alan asked gently.

"My little brother Fred decided I was pretty so he tried to nurse off me, he attacked me while I was changing," Melissa told him.  "He's six.  He knows better and he still did it.  And then, when everyone tried to teach him better yet again, he nearly sent my father into a heart attack by suggesting I could be his mother so he could do it again.  Now he's pouting at me for being mean to him," she said coolly.  "I want to smack the brat and make him a sorry mother but I know I shouldn't.  I'm hoping Mom can help me calm down again.  I'm sorry I'm interrupting."

"No, that's okay.  He's a parent and the kids have to come before fascinating new boyfriends," he offered with a small smile.  "Do you feel better now?"

"Some, but I still want to beat the brat until he dies."

"Fred's known for doing stuff like this," Xander explained quietly.  "During a school thing where parents came back for a night he basically did the same thing to a bunch of girls there."

"He refuses to stop it," Melissa added.  She slumped down.  "I couldn't take it anymore.  I'm sorry."

"No, stay," Alan offered gently, patting her on the wrist.  "I can't hope to understand but you seem reasonably adult enough not to play with your food and to go to the show tonight if you want."

"I wouldn't mind," she offered, smiling at him.  "We've all wondered about you.  Mom has not said a single word to us about you yet."

"That's because Lupin would eavesdrop and we both know it," Xander noted dryly, waving a waiter over.  "Get her a salad.  This is my daughter Melissa."

"Very well, sir," he agreed, going to do that for him.

"Thanks, daddy.  I didn't mean to do anything to embarrass you."

"Eh, all of you kids have walked in on us in the past.  If I give him a goodnight kiss you aren't allowed to stand there and make vomiting sounds, that's all I ask."

"I'm not that immature.  That's Lupin the Fourth," she said with a smirk for him.  "I'm the good daughter, outside of Lotus."

"You are," he agreed, grinning at Alan.  "She's also my helper whenever I build robots and things."

"We've Bond'ed two cars together," she said proudly. "We've only got the problem with a taser setting because it's too strong."

"I bet that's fascinating," Alan agreed with a genuine smile for her.  "Why do you call him mom?"

"Because the other parents can get a bit...focused on work now and then.  He did most of our care with Uncle Goemon.  He was basically the mother of the group, no matter what form he was in."  She glanced at him and he nodded quickly, sipping his water so this guy knew about the choker.  "He was really good to us.  When we were sick, he was there.  When we were learning things, he was there pushing us along.  When Ishi started to sneak off to learn in the woods at night mom was there to stop him from hurting himself and helping him learn what he wanted to."

"How do you feel about him dating?"

"Iffy," she said honestly.  She stared in his eyes.  "My father can't touch him when he's like this and I think that's particularly shitty of him.  Uncle Lupin's been ignoring him and I think that's worse.  You make him happy and we appreciate that.  Though, we don't want you to get hurt if something was started by the people who keep following him around."  He nodded at that wisdom.  "Otherwise, you seem very nice.  You seem like you like him.  He seems to like you.  We were going to be meeting next week.  Fair warning, Arsene will try to embarrass you," she admitted with a smile.

"I've dealt with some people that would make even little Lupin the Fourth blush," he promised smugly.

"We'll see, won't we?" she asked with a grin.  "I must say, you're very nice.  I already like you.  So you may do fine.  Just make him happy or else you'll be seeing me under much different circumstances."

"If you do something like that, I would feel justified in stopping you by putting your butt in a locked room for the rest of the year," Xander said dryly.  "That means no school and you'd get to go next year."

"Yes, mother."

"Thank you."  He grinned at Alan.  "The kids are very protective of me."

"It's a good thing in my book, Xander.  They should be careful of who you date.  It will impact them and with your life that can be dangerous."

"True," he agreed with a grin.  He turned it on the waiter when he appeared with their dishes and Melissa's salad.  "Wonderful timing, thank you," he praised, moving his salad plate so his main dish could be set down.  "Ah, real food.  Much better than I can do."

"You don't cook that badly, mom.  You're not up to Uncle Lupin's standards, but you're no slouch in the kitchen.  You simply hate cooking."

"True," he admitted with a goofy grin for her. "Eat."

"Yes, sir."  She carefully spread the napkin on her lap and dug in.  "I borrowed some clothes from your old closet."

"I noticed, it's fine," he promised.  "You look decent enough in it."

"Thanks, mom.  It was the first thing I came to."  She ate another bite and looked at Alan.  "So, you're an actor and a comedian.  Is it fun or is it a lot of work?  That seems like one of those jobs that you do it because you love it and it should come easy to you."

"It does sometimes, and sometimes it's therapy and things," he admitted.   "It is some work though.  What you might find funny the average person might not."

"Well, actually, I learned how to tell dirty jokes from Arsene."  She grinned at him.  "Another fact that daddy probably didn't share was that I'm firmly bi.  I've got a boyfriend right now."  She grabbed her water and looked at her father.  "He's in town."

"We'll see," he said patiently.

"Yes, daddy."

"Are you staying in town tonight?" Alan asked.

"I promised I'd be back tonight to check on the kids and talk to Lupin," he sighed.  "I'll be back tomorrow though."

"I'm staying in town tonight so I don't kill my little brother," Melissa offered.  Xander gave her a long look.  "Uncle Lupin said I could."

"Fine.  As long as you've got permission.  Eat up.  He's got to be there in about an hour."  She nodded and dug in again, so he grinned at Alan.  "She really is a miniature me with her father's quieter nature.  You'd never catch her doing what I did on the dance floor the other night."

"She'd probably be just as good," Alan offered.

"I suck at dancing," Melissa assured him.  "No sense of natural rhythm at all."  She ate another bite.  "Daddy, can we maybe have a longer, more involved talk about boys soon?" she requested.

"Sure," he agreed happily.  "I like Brad.  He seemed very nice when I met him at the dance."

"He is and even Daddy likes him," she said, hoping he'd agree with the consensus.

"We'll see," Xander reminded her.  "For right now, you two can date but I expect you to behave appropriately until you've met all the guidelines I set down."

"Yes, mom."  She blushed a bit. "I'm not quite sixteen yet," she admitted.

"You look much older," he assured her.

"Yes, but if I...consummated my relationship before then I've been promised a horrible political marriage where I'll rue my days and pine away for the freedoms I used to have, or until I kill him."

Xander gave her a smug look.  "It worked."

"It did," she agreed.  "Even on my twin, the ho."

"The ho?" Alan asked dryly.

"She was.  Or at least she was starting off that way.  The two good girls are not the nicest of popular girls."

"Being at an all-girl's school has helped that some," Xander reminded her dryly.  "They only got caught sneaking out once and explained it away as needing chocolate.  The headmistress called us so we could hear what their punishment was.  Speaking of, we need to check on them tonight, 'Lis.  I haven't heard anything from the camp in over a week."

"Um, they're not there now," she said carefully.  "I called the other night to talk to Savannah and they said she'd gotten a letter from home detailing an emergency so they were excused."

"They were what?" Xander asked calmly.

"They were checked out and sent home."

"Then I believe there's a Lupin who has some explaining to do," Xander said coolly.

"Dad, if it had been Daddy Lupin, they'd be with us by now," she pointed out gently.

"I wasn't talking about that one," he retorted, frowning at her.  "Sierra is that good."

"It could be for a good cause," Alan suggested.

"That custody preliminary was this week," Melissa said, sharing an 'oh, shit' look with her father. "I'll call."

"I doubt they'd talk to you, 'Lis," he said bitterly.  "Excuse me for a moment, Alan."  He dug out his phone and dialed Ray K's phone.  "Are the two daughters there?" he asked quietly.  "They checked themselves out of the camp with the explanation of a family emergency and we never sent one."  He sighed.  "Really?  Because he's in deep now.  They knew better.  Yes, them.  No, Ray.  If the girls tried anything like that before they were sixteen, they're being married off to whoever they're with.  And if they die, then they go to a political marriage.  Yes, them.  Which one?"  He groaned and held his head.  "Fine.  I'll tell him tonight.  You get the marriage stuff started so it's not a shotgun affair.  Jigen doesn't need this."  He hung up and looked at Melissa.  "Not a word," he warned. "I'll tell him myself."

"Yes, daddy."

"Good girl, 'Lis.  Thank you.  They found Sierra there last night with Morgan."  Her mouth fell open. "Yeah.  Flagrantly going at it like rabid bunnies.  She's in such a deep cistern of misery when we get hold of her and her sister, who was there but had only gotten to the flirting stage with Jerry."

"Gods, both fathers are going to hit the roof," she moaned.  "Can I come stay with you for a few days, Alan?"

"Sure, I've got a couch," he offered dryly, smirking at her.  "Girls do that, the same as boys do."

"They're fifteen and this isn't the first problem.  They're the reason we have the political marriage threat going," Xander told him.  "They're dead when their fathers hear about this."

"Gramps is going to shit funny for years," Melissa moaned.

"Well, that'll be one fun wedding," Xander said with a smirk for Alan.  "Wanna come?"

"No, I don't like weddings," he admitted.  "There's always that air of desperation involved."

"There will be this time too," Xander assured him with a smirk.  "Eat, you don't need to be late.  Don't let us distract you either," he said, licking his lips.

"How could you distract me, love?  You've given me some wicked ideas already tonight."  He dug into his food, prompting the others to do the same.  He had to go on first so it wasn't like he could be late.


Melissa walked in on her father's arm, chuckling and leaning against him as they talked.  They found both parents in the doorway.  "We've got to talk," she told them.  "Go get Uncle Goemon and Lotus too.  Or, better yet, I'll tell her, daddy."

"Sure."  He patted her on the back as he let her go.  "Have fun and watch out for thrown things."

"Oh, I will," she sighed, heading up to find Lotus.

"Is there a problem?" Jigen asked.

"Um, that's putting it mildly.  The girls got a sudden letter from home about an emergency and were released from camp to travel back."

"They're not here," Lupin said slowly, thinking about it.

"No, they're in Cleveland.  Sierra and Morgan were caught together and going at it like bunnies."  He leaned against the banister, smirking at them.  "They found Savannah and Jerry playing Truth or Dare."

"Oh, God," Jigen moaned.

"Shit, I didn't mean to break that so hard," Xander said quickly, coming over to help him to a seat.  "Are you okay?  I can get my car started really fast and take you to the hospital if you need to go."

"Shh," he ordered, laying a finger across his lips.  "It's not that sort of pain.  Calm down, Xander."

"How was your date?" Lupin asked, still looking a bit stunned.

"He killed on stage and Melissa giggled the whole way through," he said proudly.  "Plus he added a new bit thanks to our inspiration tonight."

"Good for him."   Lupin shook his head like a dog shaking off water.  "I'm going to be ill now."  He wandered off, going to call Vecchio to see when the wedding was.  There was no way he was bending on this, even if he did end up related to Pops.   First though, he needed a drink.  A very large drink.

"So you really like this guy?" Jigen asked quietly.

Xander sat on the stairs next to him, staring at him.  "I do.  He's funny, he's sweet.  He pays attention to me, even when he's trying to create.  He's a very nice guy."

"Which is part of the problem, Xan.  Can he stand the life you live?"

"Which I can't do for much longer," Xander reminded him.   He stood up with a small moan of complaint.  "He knew who I was when he met me.  It hasn't mattered yet."  He headed up the stairs, going to bed.  He found Lupin's bag in his room and snorted, tossing it into the hallway. "He can sleep with Jigen if he's that lonely."  He locked his door and stripped down to his boxers, climbing into bed alone.   He heard someone pause outside the door but didn't even tense up when they continued to walk.


Melissa grinned as she ran into the guy she had intended to run into, pulling him into a corner and giving him a deep kiss. "Hi.  We're in the country and I thought I'd stop by."

"Now's not a great time," he admitted.

Melissa looked back at the person who dared to glare at her, glaring back.  "I'd leave," she threatened.

"Ooh, a little girl.  I'm so scared."

"Actually, I'm a Jigen," she told him.  He backed up, but stayed sneering.  "Fine, your choice."  She pulled out something and fired it, making him yelp and run off.  "Paintballs hurt," she shared with a grin, kissing her boyfriend again.  "We've got to go see my sisters married in Cleveland.  Wanna come with me?"

"I'm supposed to be interning this summer," he said patiently.

She kissed him again.  "So we'll help."  She grinned up at him.  "Was he your target?"

"No, I already did him."

"See, then we may be able to get you sprung.  It'll be a good training thing to come with us.  You can see Cleveland."  He snorted, but shook his head.  "I'll ask for you if you want, or have Arsene do it.  Or even Mom."

"Why are you being so clingy?"

"Because otherwise I'd have to be with Fred the whole trip and I'd kill him."

"Isn't Fred your brother?" he asked, pulling her closer again, his arms going around her waist.  She nodded.  "What could a little boy like him do that would upset you that much?"

"He decided I was a food source and attacked me while I was changing."  His mouth fell open.  "Yeah, so I'm not real pleased with him at the moment and it got so bad that daddy nearly died from his heart because of him.  Therefore you'd be keeping me calm and keeping us from destroying a slayer and her family."  She gave him a light kiss and leaned against him.  "Of course, if you came, you'd probably end up spending time with Zenigata and his crew.  My twin sister decided to sleep with his nephew, who has always chased after Lotus.  She's scowling worse than her father at the moment."

"I'm sure he'll get her into the Academy," he offered dryly.  "I wish I could."

"I can ask," she offered again. "Please?  Save my sanity?  What little of it is left?"

"If you can get my mother to agree and the guy I'm interning with to agree," he promised. It'd be a nice vacation even if there were cops.

"Okay."  She walked him off, taking him up to where his mother had rented a suite in a local hotel, letting him get the door for them.  "Hi."  She shook the woman's hand. "Are you Brad's mom?"

The woman looked this young girl over.  "Yes.  Who're you?"

"I'm Melissa.  His girlfriend.  I thought it time to meet you," she admitted with a bright smile.  She pointed at a nearby picture.  "That's me and Lupin the Fourth."

"You're her helper?"

"Yeah.  Melissa Jigen."  She grinned again. "Off duty at the moment, hence the clothing."

"I see."  She led them into the sitting area, getting them some tea.  "Bradley has mentioned you a few times to me.  You're studying under the thieve's track?"

"We're seniors this upcoming year," Melissa agreed.  "We got to run one of the student groups for the yearly project."

"Mom never went," Brad told her, sitting next to his girlfriend.  "There's another matter, mother.  Her sister's getting married."

"In Cleveland," Melissa agreed, taking her cup of tea and adding a lump of sugar to it. "Thank you.  I make dreadful tea."  She took a long sip and rested the saucer on her thigh.  "My sister has managed to find her way into a political marriage with Zenigata's nephew.  So has the other 'good girl' of the family.  We're heading for the wedding next week and I'd like Bradley to go with me if you'd agree.  I'd be totally proper and he'd be sharing a room with Ishi, Goemon the Fourteenth.  Our parents have made us wait for more than genteel dating until we're at least sixteen."

"I see."  She looked at her son.  "What about your internship?"

"I could learn a lot off her mother, Lavelle," he offered quietly.

"You could and we'd love to work with you too," Melissa promised.  "We were working with Wyatt last year."  She took another long drink.  "Brad understands that I'm a thief, not an assassin, but that I can do the job when necessary.  I simply hate the sight of blood."  She gave the older woman a weak smile.  "Besides, I've been meaning to meet you now for a while since you left early from the dance."

"I had a headache that night," she admitted.

"I've had a few of those," Melissa said lightly. "Arsene gets some migraines too so I know how bad those can get."  She took another drink. "I'm sorry I'm so forward."

"No, it's a delightful change, young lady.  You're honest about what you want.  You like my son enough to date him for real?"

"Yes.  We've been seeing each other since the week before finals.  He finally got around to asking me out," she admitted with a sheepish grin.  "We took a long walk through the woods.  He's already met my parents at that convention in Italy and my father loved him instantly.  Even though he did drink himself to sleep that night because we were talking about the formal."

"I'd like to hear some more concrete arrangements before I agree.  I trust you, mostly because I know you'd not want to end up like your sisters, but I'm not sure that Lupin would agree."

"Sure," Melissa agreed, pulling out her cell.  She called her Uncle's.  "Hey, Uncle Lupin.  I'm here with Brad's mom and she wants to talk to you about the arrangements for the wedding."  She rolled her eyes at his spluttering.  "I'm bringing him to Cleveland," she reminded him patiently. "Not ours, Uncle. Get over it. Daddy didn't hear that jump in illogic, did he?"  She grinned. "Thanks. Nope, she's right here and wanted to talk to you."  She handed over the phone and poured them both some more tea, adding another lump of sugar to hers.  Then she winked at Brad.  "He just took a Time Warp jump to the right."

"Well, the way you phrased that was indicative," Brad said dryly, patting her on the hand.  "How can you stand to drink tea?"

"Uncle Goemon."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "I'd suppose it'd be something he did a lot of too."  He got up and headed into his room, going to call his teacher to see when a good time to show up would be.  You never barged in on an assassin without warning.  It was dumb and impolite.  By the time he got done chatting his mother had made firm arrangements for him to go and sleep in the same room as Ishi was.  He walked back out.  "We can barge in on my teacher in about an hour," he offered quietly.  "Want to get a snack?"

"Sure," Melissa agreed, smiling and shaking his mother's hand again. "I hope we can chat more on the day we bring him back. Maybe a lunch?"

"That would be more than proper," she agreed happily, watching them go.  She was a very nice girl, even though she dressed lower-class.  Very talented too from what she had heard around.


"I can't believe my boss made you take his daughter out for her sixteenth birthday," Brad said in disgust. "That's blackmail."

"I don't mind, Brad.  She's a nice girl who needs a chaperone.  That's all. I made sure he knew I wasn't going to be sleeping with her and that I'd make sure she wasn't molested and got home before dawn.  You can come with us if you want."  She let him into the manor house, waving a hand around.  "Welcome to the present hideout.  Mom?" she called. "I'm back with Brad."

"There's a spare room next to Lotus," Jigen said as he came out of the hallway. "Hey, Brad. You coming to the wedding?"

"Yes, sir.  Your daughter saved me from being pounded for pickpocketing at my boss's order."

"Your boss needs his head examined," Jigen said sarcastically.  "You don't blend in well in London."

"Also, I'm taking his boss's daughter out for her sixteenth, daddy.  It was part of the deal. I made sure he knew I wasn't sleeping with her."

"Good job, princess."  He hugged her, kissing her on the forehead.  "Show him upstairs and then take him out back with the others."  She nodded, leading her boyfriend off.  "At least he'll keep Fred off her," he muttered as he went to find Lupin, who was drinking way too early and alone.  "What's wrong now?"

"My baby girl is marrying into the Zenigata clan," he said bitterly.  "My lover dumped me for a nice guy who tells dirty jokes.  Plus I'm getting old."  He took another gulp and refilled his glass from the bottle beside him.  "Was that Melissa?"

"And Brad," he agreed quietly, coming over to take the bottle from him.  "Are the travel plans set?"

"Yup," he sighed. "All set.  I had a *long* talk with Dawn about this too.  She agreed, they're getting married, even if he doesn't."  He snatched the bottle back.  "Isn't Xander back yet?"

"Not yet.  He only went to the market."  He took the bottle back and put it away, then grabbed Lupin and pulled him to his feet.  "Come on.  We've got to guard Melissa and Lotus from Fred again.  They're tanning out back by now."

"Someone needs to take those girls shopping for better bathing suits."

"They went the other day online," Jigen reminded him.  "Lotus got a one-piece, your daughter got one of those funny swimmer's ones that looks like the old-fashioned bathing costumes, and mine got a more decent looking bikini."

"They're growing up way too fast," Lupin complained.  "I miss the days when I could hold Arsene and read to her."

"And she'd pickpocket you and then give you this sweet little smile," Xander agreed from the doorway.  "I see we've grown a Brad extension.  Is he coming too?"  Jigen nodded.   "Cool.  The wedding's all set up, and so is the reception, and so are the pregnancy tests.  Dawn did want to know if we're sending them back to their school this year.  I told her we'd fund wherever she wanted them to go."

"That's fine, Xander," Lupin agreed calmly.  "Is Alan coming?"

"He hates weddings.  I asked but he said he'd rather be eaten by a girl with PMS."  He grinned and headed for the kitchen, hugging the maid since she looked like she was crying.  "Which kid did it?"

"No, I was doing onions," she assured him.  "The kids have been good as gold."

"Our kids?" Xander said dryly, smirking at her.  "Which kid?"

"That youngest one just tried to nurse off me," she admitted quietly.

"I'll have a talk with his father.  He knows he's weaned too."  He patted her on the back and walked off, going to find Goemon, who was working with the kids. He stopped him by leaning on his shoulder.  "Did you know that Yu is picking up bad habits from Fred again?" he asked quietly.   Goemon groaned.  "He tried to nurse off the maid. I just caught her crying in the kitchen."

"I'll stop him," he promised.

"Thanks, big guy."  He looked over at the older kids.  "Where are they headed?"

"There's a pond about a quarter-mile away. They're heading there."

"Is that still on the property?"  Goemon nodded. "That's fine then.  They can all swim.  Did they mean to take Kenji?"

"Son!" Goemon yelled.  Both of them looked at him, so he pointed at Kenji, who Ishi turned around and gave a slight push to come back. "Thank you."   His middle son pouted the whole way back but he looked quite sorry when his father scowled at him.

"He's sneaky, that's a good thing in our life," Xander said with a grin for the upset father.  "He'll make a great assassin with how sneaky he is."

"Only if he survives that long," Goemon said dryly, still frowning at his son.  "Get back in line, son."

"Yes, father."

"Can we swim later?" Sarah asked sweetly.

"We'll see," Xander told her.  "That depends on having someone who'd monitor you guys."  He went back into the house, and found himself pushed into his library.  "Yes?" he asked patiently.

"I wanted to know how you felt about us slowing down and staying part of the group, Xander," Lupin said calmly, getting comfortable in the wing-backed chair.  "You know, I can tell you didn't decorate this room."

"No, I haven't done much changing around here," he admitted as he sat on the settee.  "To be honest, my doc said that I've got maybe a year left on these knees."  Lupin winced.  "That's about how I feel too."

"Any chance of replacement?"

"Not really.  You can only have so many done in your life and I'm too young to start that.  If I slow down everything, including my katas, then I may have a few extra months."

"Have you gotten a second opinion?"

"My guy's world renowned for knees, Lupin.  I trust him."

"Yeah, but I'd still want a second opinion," Lupin said gently.  "Maybe there's another treatment that can help, other than the drugs."

"I'd see someone but there's only him and his partner that I'm aware of."

"Actually, there's a decent guy in Cleveland," Lupin offered.  "He's an runner himself.  He's got good recommendations.  I was going to drag Jigen to him about his wrists anyway."  He saw Xander rub his.  "I've noticed that you're not on the range as often, Xan. We need you to be okay."

"I'll see him if it makes you feel better."

"Thank you," Lupin said with a small smile.  "Let me call your knee guy to get your records."  He wrote that down on the notepad beside him.  "Now, why isn't Alan coming to the wedding?"

"He hates weddings."

"Oh.  Okay."  Lupin looked him over.  "For what it's worth, I'm sorry, Xander."

"So am I, Lupin.  I wish you would have paid attention to me like I needed and treated me like I needed, but you didn't and I'm sorry you never got the point.  We were good together.  Then again, we were both younger and pains in the ass too," he finished in a lighter tone of voice.  He looked behind him as the doorbell rang, watching the butler answer it.  "I didn't think we'd have neighbors who'd just drop by."  He got up when he heard the butler coming back their way.  "What's up?" he asked, meeting him at the door.

"There's an...unsavory person at the door, sir."

"Thanks."  He headed that way, looking the man over when he got into the foyer. "Yes?"


"Most of the time.  Why?"

"The Watcher's Council sends me."

"They can fuck themselves up the ass with an iron mace," he said sweetly.  The man looked startled, then calmed himself down again.  "What did they need from me?"

"They needed you to give them information on a demon that's coming for them," he admitted, pulling out a paper.  He held it out.  "It's not charmed or anything, sir.  It's from Rupert Giles personally."

Xander snatched it to read quickly, snorting at the last line that said he could kill the messenger this time, that he was a prick but the only one who had been available.  He looked at the human, then snorted and rolled up his sleeves, making the supposed-human flinch.  "Okay, what's really going on?"

"They heard you were retiring and wanted to give you a job, sir," he said, covering his eyes.  "Please, sir, cover those?  They're painful!"

"I know that, that's why I did it.  Tell Ripper I'll pop around on him and Ethan tonight," he said, handing back the paper.  "Now go, before I have to kill you."  The man nodded and ran off.  "Half demons," he sighed, heading back to the library. "Sorry, Ripper just sent a halfie to lure me to work with them."

"You're thinking about retirement instead of slowing down?" Lupin asked sadly.

"It's one of the options I'm looking at.  It's the one most likely to leave my hide intact the longest as well.  I don't want to die of a gunshot wound to the back.  I've even got a second identity set up so my staff doesn't have to be embarrassed about working for an internationally wanted thief."  He shifted to get more comfortable.  "I'm also able to take the kids in if they wanted to stay with me for a while when you guys decide to cut up and party."

"Even if we retire, we'd still want you at the house, Xander."

"Lupin, it hurts, okay?  It hurts to see you every day and know that you didn't like me enough as myself to stay with me.  I don't know how you stand looking at me each and every day but for me it hurts."  He stood up and paused to let the pain go away. "I'm due for some medicine, excuse me."  He walked away, going to take his next dose of medicine.

"You were a bit cold to him," Jigen said when Xander walked past him.

Xander looked at him.  "Jigen, when you look at me, do you see more than regrets?" he asked as he continued up the stairs.

"Yeah, I do, but I see those too," he admitted, turning to look at him.  "We're sorry, Xander."

"Yay."  He made it up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door, startling the cat who was napping on his bed.  "Ah, you guys are here too," he cooed, patting her. "I've got to find the litter boxes so the maid doesn't have to clean those too."  He went into the bathroom, finding his medicine bottles where they should be and a rose lying next to them.  "Hmm."  He picked it up to sniff, then put it back so he could take his pills.  Once he was done, he went to lie on the bed and pet the cat.  At least she loved him for unselfish reasons.  He wasn't the one who fed her so she loved him just because he petted her.  "Hey, precious. Are you enjoying my bedroom?"

Jigen opened the door and leaned in.  "The kids want to go for ice cream. Want to go with us?"

"No, you go," he said quietly. "I'm waiting for my drugs to work."

Jigen walked in and sat on the other side of the cat.  "You can't sulk up here all day, Xan. It'll upset the kids worse."

"Yeah, well, I hear divorce is always bad on the kids," he said dryly, not looking at him.  "Why couldn't you stand to be near me when I'm me?"

"It's not you, it's any guy, Xander.  I'm sorry, I wish I could change that, but I can't.  I can't make myself touch you this way.  Not more than I have been."

"So, in other words, you only liked me when I'm not me."

"No, I still love you, I just can't touch you when you've got male equipment.  It changes nothing else, Xander."

"So I keep hearing but that doesn't make it any easier, Jigen."

"It wouldn't," he agreed, tipping Xander's chin up.  "I'm sorry I can't be like that and Lupin keeps forgetting you.  I am glad that you found someone who can touch you and makes you happy but it's still hard to watch."

"Yeah, well, being around you guys is just as hard on me."

"You're going to retire then?"  Xander shrugged. "What do you want to do, Xan?"

"I want things to be right among us," he said simply.  "But I don't have tits and I'm not putting that stupid choker back on for anything."

"I wouldn't either. It's been like some curse for you," Jigen agreed gently.  "You find what you want and then have it snatched away because they can't handle the real you.  It's gotta suck worse than it does on my side."  He patted the silver hair.  "We'd still like you to come for ice cream."

"I'll go next time."

"Sure."  He stood up.  "You want me to tell Lupin to forget sending you to the other guy?"

"No, because if he's got something better to stop the pain, I'll gladly go for it," Xander admitted. "I'm tired of aching all the time."

"Sure, Xan."  He left him there, going back down the stairs.  Lupin looked at him so he shook his head.  "He just took something for his knees and it's making him sleepy."

"Fine."  Lupin let Jigen head out before him, closing the door behind him.  "Is he okay?"


Lupin nodded once and started to turn but Jigen kept him from going.  "Let go."

"You're only hurting him, Lupin.  Leave it for now."

"It's my fault."

"Yeah, and a gesture of affection now will only make it worse," Jigen retorted.  "You've already gone so far that he's moving on.  He's still loyal to the group but not to us as lovers.  Just drop it so we can all move on."


"Daddy, now's not the time for this," Arsene said, stopping to look at them.  "Trust me, now's not the time."

"How would you know?"

"I'm a girl, it's genetic," she said snidely.  "Besides, think of it this way, daddy.  If this were Auntie Fujiko, what would you have been doing?"

"I'd have been on my knees and begging by now," he admitted.

"Yeah, but you wouldn't do it when she was emotionally fragile, right?" she pressed.  He shook his head.  "Then don't do it to this one.  He's more fragile because he knows you guys only liked him when he had tits."

"I did not!"

"Well, obviously you did because you didn't pay a whole lot of attention to him outside of when he had them," she shot back, hands on her hips now.  "We don't want to take sides, we'd like it if you two were happy again, and we'd like it even more if Uncle Jigen could get off his straight ass and act too, but we're too much like mom.  We're realists about this sort of thing, daddy.  You proved it with your actions and that's all he listens to.  Now get in the car, I want ice cream."

Jigen followed her, smacking her across the back of the head.  "Don't talk to your father that way."

"Someone needed to, he wasn't listening otherwise," she said dryly.  "By the way, we've hidden both chokers.  Before anyone gets any ideas."

"He wouldn't...."

"I said anyone," she reminded him.  "You, him, mom, any of you."   She opened the car door.  "Am I driving?"

"No. I saw you on the wrong side of the road yesterday," Jigen said as he got in, letting her get into the back.  "Lupin!"

"Coming."  He jogged over and got into the front of the SUV.  "Where's the others?"

"Melissa is driving the others in the Jetta," Arsene said patiently.  "Let's go."

"Fine," Jigen agreed, starting the car and backing out.  He glanced up and saw Xander's curtains move but he also saw the cat sunning itself on the windowsill and sighed.  They'd lost him.


Xander walked into Ethan's house late that night, slamming the back door, which made Marcus jump.  "Where's the asshole?"

"Upstairs in bed," he said dryly. "You're popping around rather late, Xander."

"Ripper sent me an invitation to join the Watchers."

"Ah!  He's no longer living here."

"That's fine.  I need guidance anyway," he said bitterly, heading into the shrine Ethan kept and closing the door, making sure it was locked with the hook-and-eye so Marcus couldn't barge in on him.  He knelt with a moan of pain but settled himself as comfortably as he could.  "Okay, you know everything," he whispered.  "You got any ideas before I rip myself to shreds for wanting to be myself?"

The statue looked down at him, then one side moved slightly.  "They do accept you and they do love you."

"Just not enough, I got that already," Xander noted bitterly.

"One does, he's simply distracted."

"You can't be distracted for that long," Xander said simply.  "It's been months and I know damn well he's been getting it somewhere else."

The heads nodded.  "Indeed," they agreed.

"So, got any good advice?"

"Are you happy?" one side asked.


"Then you must make yourself happy, Alexander.  It is your right."

"Yeah, well, neither option makes me really happy in the long run."

"Then find another."

"What other?"

"You could go on as you do now," one side suggested.

"Or you could force the issue with them" the other suggested.

"Or you could even change for them, but we do not like that option.  Not unless you want to have another priest for us."

"Hell no," Xander snorted.  "I'm tired of not being myself. "

"Are you truly yourself now?"

"No," he admitted quietly, "but I'm too old to be the guy I used to be."

"Age is a state of mind."

"In my case, age is a state of body," Xander pointed out bitterly.  "Unless you guys can do something about my knees, my wrists, and my shoulders?"  They stared down at him.  "I didn't think so."  He stood up and wobbled for a moment.  "Ow."  He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm past due for my medicines."

"The deaging potion should have cured most of that," one of them said finally.

"It didn't.  It slowed it down some but I've had bad joints for years."

"Go wake Ethan up, young man.  Perhaps there is more he can do on that front. It would give you other options at the least."

Xander nodded and opened the door, finding a yawning Ethan standing there.  "Hey, just borrowing your shrine."

"That's fine, Xander."  He bowed to the heads. "I heard my name mentioned?"

"They think the anti-aging potion should have helped my knees."

"It didn't?"  Xander shook his head.  "Damn."  He walked in and bowed properly.  "What would you have me do for him, Lords?"

"Fix him," they ordered.

"Short of giving him a numbing potion, I can't do much for joint pain."

"Numbing potion?"

"It's not that bad," Marcus offered.  "A bit too strong on me, I couldn't feel my feet."

"Marc, being honest here, I'm going to be retiring soon anyway.  I can't stand to stay in the same house as those two anymore."

"I had noticed that Alan made you smile."  They both looked as the door crashed open, Marcus going for his sword, which was in the living room, and Xander pulling a gun on the figures standing there.  Marcus came rushing back at the first two shots, seeing them flinch but not go down.  "Vampires!" he hissed, beheading one and turning it to dust.

Xander switched clips quickly and started again, this time taking the more careful shots.  He got all but one of them and that one rushed him.  He ended up on his back, groping for a stake.  One was tossed to him and he got the thing, but not before it had sunk its teeth into his neck. "Ow," he complained, holding onto it.  "Marc, some help?" he called weakly.

"Of course."  He helped him up and sat him in a chair he righted so he could look at his neck. "It's not gushing.  We should be able to bandage it," he promised, heading to find the first aid kid.  He saw Ethan standing in the doorway.  "He's doing it again.  He sent someone for Xander as well."

"He did what?" Ethan asked sharply, going to help Xander.  "Ripper did what?"

"He sent a halfie with an offer to join them as a research guy, and the offer to kill the halfie because he was pissing him off."  He winced when Ethan checked it. "Is it slowing down?"

"It is," he agreed.   "Should I call the manor and tell them to get your room ready?"

"No, we're all there right now," Xander admitted.  "Oh, want to come to the wedding?  The two good girls got caught with their boys, Zenigata's nephews."

"Wonderful. I'm sure Dawn is ecstatic that they're marrying into the family," he said dryly, smirking at him. "I'd rather miss that oncoming of hell."

"Me too, but I did give birth to one of them.  I'd like to kick her ass in person."

"Here, Xander, let me bandage that for you," Marcus said soothingly, taking Ethan's spot to change the bandage and tape it down.  "There, that should be fine.  Let me get you some tea."

"No, no tea," Xander said as he stood up.  "I 'ported over, I can go back that way.  Be safe and remember to come to the wedding."

"Sure," Marcus agreed with a smile for him.  At least until he had gone.  "He wasn't as fast as usual.  Shouldn't the potion have fixed his joints?"

"That's what the heads said," he offered, going back to the shrine. "Was he given the right potion?"

"They mixed it with their mind-control drugs," one face said.

"We looked back and saw them doing that.  Then they cooked it more."

"So it wasn't the real potion?  Would a new dose help him?"

"He'd be a child again," the heads reminded him.

"True."  He sucked on his bottom lip for a moment.  "Do you have any ideas?"

"Not yet.  Let us think, High Priest.  We will tell the other one to bring him back when we have something."

"Thank you."  He bowed and left them to their thinking.   He had other avenues to look for information.


Lupin walked out of the kitchen, stopping when he saw Xander had just appeared and that he was wobbling badly.  "Xan?"  He put down his plate on a table and headed over to help him, sitting him down on the stairs.  "Xander?"  Xander looked up at him, looking a bit confused.  "You're home, babe.  Are you okay?  What happened?"

"Vampire attack at Ethan's."  He touched the side of his neck and hissed.  "Ow."

"Let's get you upstairs so I can look at that for you," he cajoled, leading him up the stairs to the master suite.   Once up there he sat Xander on the toilet and undid one edge of the bandage to look at it. "It's still bleeding."

"Sometimes I do that now," he admitted bitterly.  "It's from the meds."

"That's fine.  Where's the bandage stash?"

"We don't have one here."

"Okay, let me look in the kitchen."  He hurried off, which woke Goemon and brought him jogging to see what was wrong.  "Xander was just at Ethan's.  There was a vampire attack and he's bleeding from the neck.  Go check on him while I find the bandages."  Goemon walked away without having to say anything.   Lupin searched the cabinets, finding some minor bandaides but nothing like a real bandage.  He found the first aid box finally and it had a few gauze pads, those would have to do.  He went back up the stairs, giving Goemon a look. "Usually he's stocked for a war."

"This isn't one of the safehouses for jobs," Xander reminded him.  "I keep that stuff away from here.  There's not an armory either."

"Sorry, Xander."  He opened the box again and sat knelt in front of him, checking his neck. "It's still bleeding.   Press for a bit longer, okay?"  Xander nodded.  "Want to go to the ER?"

"No thanks.  They tend to freak at bite marks."

"As they should," Goemon agreed.  "Most things that bite are dangerous to the public."

"These aren't anymore."

"Good.  Was Marcus there?" Lupin asked, more to keep him talking than anything else.

"Yeah.  He wasn't happy with the attack either.  Ethan and Ripper broke up.  He's been doing it from the way Marcus acted."  Xander yawned.  "I hate this. Each time I get bitten I get sleepy."

"Don't you dare.  We'd have to stake you if you woke up with fangs."  He looked over as the door opened, admitting Bix and Arsene. "Hey, you're back?"

"Just now.  What's happened?"

"Attacked at Ethan's," Lupin told them.  "Arsene, go back to bed."

"Fat chance, he's my mother."

"Out, daughter," Xander ordered. "It's not that bad."

"Then why won't you quit bleeding?"  She looked at her father. "I'll go start the car and bring it around."


"I don't need to go."

"Yes, you do," Bix said primly.  "You won't quit bleeding so you've got to go get that replaced.  Don't forget his medicines, Lupin."  She walked Arsene off, taking her back to the other room with an open door.  Which turned out to be Fred's.  So they hunted him down, stopping him from going into the maid's room.  Bix glared at him. "I've had enough, young man."  She sat down and paddled him properly, then put him back into his bed and tucked him in tightly, closing the door and standing outside of it until he quit crying and fell back to sleep.  Then she waited ten more minutes just in case he was faking it.  He didn't have patience yet and that would be long enough.  When he didn't come back out she found her own room and laid down, listening to Lupin as he ordered Xander down to the car and her cousin got smart and carried him down to the car.  It was probably the only way the stubborn creature would go.


Lupin walked Xander back into the manor house and right up to his room, making the butler give him an odd look.  "He was attacked at a friend's house.  He's fine.  We were just released from the ER."  He got Xander undressed and into bed, and he wasn't complaining since he was nearly asleep.  He laid down next to him and held him so he wouldn't have nightmares, something he knew the younger man still had.  The butler walked in with a breakfast tray.  "Thanks.  Put it on the table.  He won't be up for a while yet."

"That's fine, sir.  Does he have any care instructions?"

"Nothing out of the ordinary.   We've dealt with worse with gunshot wounds."

"Will he need more bandages?"

"No, I picked some of those up," Lupin said with a small smirk for him.  "He'll be fine and they won't be coming here.  They were dealt with."

"Thank you, sir.  If you need me, call down to the kitchen."  He walked off, leaving them to cuddle.   He found the other adults in the kitchen.  "Xander is back," he said calmly.

"Where did he go?" Jigen asked.

"There was an attack at Ethan's last night.  Ripper sent it."  Goemon turned the page on his newspaper.  "His neck wouldn't quit bleeding so Lupin took him to the Emergency Room."

Jigen snatched the paper.  "What?"

"Ripper sent a vampire attack to Ethan's.  Xander helped fight them off.  He was hurt and Lupin took him to the ER," he repeated patiently.

Jigen got up and headed up the stairs to check on them, finding a stranger in there.  "Hi," he said carefully.

"Oh, hello," he said, smiling at him.  He held out a hand.  "What happened?"

"Vampires."  He shook his hand.  "I'm assuming here, but you're Alan?"  He nodded.  "Cool.  I'm Jigen.  Lupin!"  Lupin sat up, blinking at them.  "This is Alan."

"I've seen him on tv," he admitted, lying back down.  "He's fine, he just gets nightmares."

"I've seen."  He walked over and patted Xander on the face.  "Is this a bad day?"

"No.  Go play with the kids for a while and I'll get up in a few hours."  He grinned at him.  "Hi."

"Morning."  He gave him a gentle kiss. "I'll go find Melissa.  She seemed nice."

"She is and her boyfriend is here."

"They're in the backyard," Jigen offered.  "C'mon, I'll lead you down there."  He and Lupin shared a look.

Lupin leaned over him.  "Want him to hold you instead?"

"No.  You're staying on top of the covers, he saw you already."  He yawned and let himself drift off again.  "Night."

"Night, Xander," he whispered, laying his head back down.

Alan looked at Jigen.  "Are you all right with me being here?"

"Yeah, you made him smile."  He whistled from the backdoor, bringing Arsene running.  "This is Alan.  He's up for the day or so.  Play nicely."

"Yes, Uncle Jigen.  Hi."  She grinned and took his hand, leading him off.  "Guys, we're breaking early today," she called.  "Dad's boyfriend is here."

Goemon turned to look at him.  "Good morning."

"Morning.  You must be Goemon.  He's talked a lot about you."  Alan shook his hand and smiled at Melissa.  "So we meet again, and you're much less suitably dressed."

"It's workout clothes," she taunted, smirking at him.  "Guys, be nice to him.  I like him, he's a nice guy."

"Sure," Arsene agreed.  "Want to help us exercise?"


She laughed and shook her head.  "I don't blame you.  We wouldn't either if we could help us, but Uncle G is bad about that stuff."

"So's Mom," Ishi offered.  He nodded at the stranger. "I'm Ishi, that's Arsene.  The one sneaking up behind you is Fred, watch out he bites.   The ones behind us are Kenji, Sarah, and Alex.  The other female is my sister Lotus, and the other guy is 'Lis's guy Brad."

He waved, smiling at the kids.  "I've seen pictures of all of you.  Your father brags compulsively about all of you."

"Enough with the awkward, we've got to plan how to upset the Zenigata clan at the wedding," Arsene said, grinning up at Alan.  "Do you like mean ideas?"

"I don't mind unless they're aimed at me."

"Only if you hurt our mother," she said sweetly.

"Enough," Goemon ordered tiredly.  "You may not torment your sisters at the wedding.  You may not torment the inspectors either.  They'll have enough problems creating a happy home without you four tormenting them."

"Besides, they could join their father-in-law and hunt you down," Brad agreed dryly.   "Not that I don't want to taunt your sisters for being caught, and how Sierra kept going after being caught."

"She did what?" Arsene shrieked. She burst out cackling.  "Only my sister."

"She did what?" Goemon repeated.

"According to the rumors going around, when they were caught, she sneered at Inspector Vecchio and kept on going until she was satisfied," Brad told him with a smirk.  "Kowalski was the second one and he pulled her off by her hair and Zenigata lectured her for hours!"  He chuckled.  "Apparently Vecchio was too stunned to do anything."

"Seeing my sister like that is enough to shock anybody," Arsene said dryly.

Alan looked down at her.  "What is she like without being a slut?"

Melissa dug out her wallet to show him pictures.  "That's Sierra and Savannah last year."

"They're pretty enough to not need that sort of thing," he offered.

"We hoped sending them to an all-girl's school would help but apparently it made it worse," Arsene said bitterly.  "Oh, 'Lis.  Heard an interesting rumor on the boards last night.  Savannah's in Chicago.  Vecchio had to go home for some sort of family event and she went with him to keep herself out of trouble.  She may not be going for Jerry."

"Oh, no," she said, shuddering.  "That's horrible!  That poor Ray!"

Brad snickered.  "I'm betting he feels the same way."

"Do I want to know?"  Jigen called as he walked out the back door.

"Savannah went home with Vecchio to a family event," she called back.

"God," he whined, heading back inside to call someone to make sure it wasn't what he thought.  That would be too much for him.


To Part 49
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