Return Trip

Xander knocked briefly on the door before walking into Goemon's house, bowing to the warrior drawing his sword.  "The current one is behind me."

"Which are you?" the warrior demanded.

"Xander."  The man stepped back and bowed deeply.  "Thanks.  Sit and relax.  They've got to wake up the kids."  He looked around.  "Are the others resting?"

The warrior shook his head.  "I do not know.  The women snuck out.  The other guard went to track them."

"Fuck!"  Xander stomped outside.  "Ishi, the women went to explore. Bring your sword, they helped do the handle.  Take the girls with you."  They nodded and took the keys from Lupin so they could leave.

"Is that wise?" Goemon asked.

"You wanted to send Jigen?" Xander asked dryly.  "The others, if there's any left, are getting up.  It's Kenji's namesake."  He led the way back inside, bowing to the elder.  "Did you have a good trip?"

The elder snorted.  "No.  Stupid kitsune."  He looked at his relative.  "You look tired. Is this an extremely bad time?"

"Two of the group's daughters were married today."

"You left the celebration?"

"The cops kept glaring at us," Lupin said with a shrug.  "They're becoming cops too. They married into a clan of them."

"At least they were daughters and not sons," the elder said wisely.

"No, we sent the son after your women with my sword, which we gave to him," Xander said, sitting down in a comfy chair.  Goemon gave him a shove so he got up.  The elder sat down on a woven matt and Lupin took the chair but pulled Xander to sit on the arm of it.

"I see now who you belong to."

"Not anymore.  He ignored me and I went to an actor's home."

"Why do all women and men such as you go after actors?" the warrior asked in disgust.

"Their tongues say sweet things," Xander said smoothly.  Lupin pinched him.  "He does."

"Try to behave," Goemon complained.

"I am.  I'm hyper from the flight."

"That's why the stewardess cut you off after three cokes," Jigen complained.  "Lupin, let him go."

"Fine."  Xander slid to te floor, sitting beside the chair.  "How did you get here?"

"A young kitsune appeared in our compound," the elder said sadly.  "He was merely an infant and was crying.  One of our women sat down with him to calm him down.  His father appeared looking quite displeased.  The woman with him stood up to the father.  It was a terrible fight.  Eventually he said if she wanted to protect him so much she could join him.  All of us in the courtyard were engulfed in light and appeared here.  The others will undoubtedly worry."

"We'll work on getting you back," Xander promised.  He stood up.  "I'm going to talk to the kitsune."

"We tried when one came searching but he sneered."

Xander smirked.  "I'm a Prince of Hell.  They won't or I'll break in."  He disappeared.  His usual portal was closed so he snorted and readied himself.  "Cute," he drawled, "but totally ineffective."  A guard stepped out.  "Don't try."

"There are no visitations today."

"Uh-huh.  Bet me."  He grinned at him as he puled something out of his pocket, holding up the access crystal.  "Making *me* deal with a temporal anomaly means that there'll be little Princes of Hell *all* way back there.  As well as miniskirts, dirty dancing, and other unsuitable things.  After all, we sent Lupin the Fourth after them."  The guard moaned.  "Now then, *who's* dealing with this?"

"The kit who went back was ill," the guard told him.  "It does not transmit to humans.  We are presently quarantined."

"I know something about that stuff.  Can I help?"

"No.  If he comes into contact with a human it can be fatal."

"Fine, then I'll be expecting a visit later.  Or else."  He went away, but he knew the problem was now his.  He hated anomalies.  So his first call was to Ethan.  "Hey, it's me.  A kitsune back then did the spell and now they're quarantined.  Got a handy return spell?"  He listened to the silence.  "Ethan," he said patiently.  He heard Giles stutter.  "The last time I knew, we gave Ethan that phone.  Go give it back."  He hung up and called Marcus.  "The Ancestors came forward this time.  Kitsune did it.  They're quarantined."  Marcus spluttered.  "Yeah.  Very."  He listened while Marcus explained it to Ethan and Willow.  "Call me later when we have a plan.  I'm going back.  Giles has his phone."  He hung up so he could head to his favorite library - Hell's.  "Hola."

"Bueno," the librarian greeted happily.  "What are you looking for today?"

"Ways to fix imbeciles who send ancestors to me and expect me to fix it."  Her jaw fell, literally.  That was one neat thing about the dead sometimes.  "Eww."  He headed for the so-called 'dangerous' section.  "I'll be back here.  Make sure my phone works."

"Yes, sire."  She sent a quick note to her superior so those books would reappear.  If he was involved with this, someone was going to die and maybe she could get a raise.

"Yes, they will," Xander called.  "And I'm going to get creative about it."

"He only borrowed our books, sire," she called back.

He appeared at the end of a row.  "He was a kitsune?"  She nodded, looking very scared.  "Then I'm pissed at more than one person."  He went back to his table and the helpful library imps.


Bix appeared next to Xander a while later.  "The kitsune want to know why the portals are closed."

"Because they dropped a problem in my lap of their own making."

"We did what?" the Lord's first son demanded as he appeared.

"Go to Goemon's house in Japan," he said patiently.

"I've been at the training camp."

"Not there, the house in town," Xander retorted.  "I'm hoping someone found the women."  Bix gasped as he looked up at her.  "Yes, you have relatives visiting.  Go socialize.  I'm figuring out how to send them back since a kitsune brought them forward.  By participant accounts and by testimony from the librarian."  He looked at the young kitsune, noticing his tails were swishing.  "You can tell your father I said that."  The fox spirit disappeared.  "Go talk to them, Bix.  I'm researching."  She left, using the charm Ethan had made for her.  Xander let out a sigh and went back to his research.  "Are you nearly done?" he asked the imp copying for him.  It shook its head.  "Fine.  Be done by when I am.  You'd scare the ancestors."

"Yes, sire."   All the interesting things he could let out as rumors and gain stature, thereby getting himself a personal appointment in one of the higher Prince's chambers.  He could put up with some ordering around by this human for that. And perhaps someone would tell him who he'd been working for.


Ishi found the women staring at fountain in awe.  It was one of those that had directed and choreographed sprays and it was amazing even to him.  He coughed to draw their attention, giving them the same look his father gave him.  "Aunts."

"Prove it," one snapped, grabbing her dagger so she could pull it if he wasn't a relative.  He held up his sword and she slumped.  "Xander sent you?"

"I'm Goemon Ishikawa the Fourteenth.  Xander's presently working on sending you home.  Come, let's head back.  We can sightsee tomorrow."

"Such pretty, wealthy ladies should stay," a rough, male voice said.  "You can try to guard them if you want, boy."

Ishi sighed and tossed over his sheathe, attacking the moron silently.  He could hear the women gasp but shrugged it off for now.  At least until the idiot was dead and his sword was cleaned off.  He reclaimed his scabbard before looking at them.  "Let's go before his friends appear."  They hurried after him, getting into the van.  He made stops to pick up the others, then headed back to the house.  He followed behind them to make sure they went.  "Is that all of them?"

"There's a warrior missing," Goemon told him.

"We found him as he was being carted off in an ambulance. He's going to the university," Melissa told him, sitting next to her father.  "He was banged up but not *too* bad."

"We'll get him later," Lupin promised.  "Xander?"

"Yes?" the kids answered, then grinned at the joke.

"Not a yes/no question," Lupin said sarcastically, frowning at them.  "Xander?" he asked Bix as she appeared.

"In a library," she said quietly.  "Researching, Lupin."

"Fine.  He'll be home soon."  He looked at the whispering girls.  "Did you have fun?"

"I killed the attempted mugger," Ishi told him.

"He fights like the Second did," one young girl put in.

"Hush!" the elder ordered.  "He will not be forced to breed!"

"No, I like girls," Ishi said with a smirk.  "They're fascinating creatures to watch."

"He does fight in a less rigid style," Goemon offered quietly.  "It suited his nature and Xander helped teach him.  My second son fights in the family style."  He looked at Bix.  "The infants?"

"They're with Murami.  I'll rescue her in a few minutes.  Should I bring them here?"

"Xander's house would be more roomy," Jigen suggested.

"Xander!" Lupin yelled. An imp appeared.  "We're stealing Xander's house."  The imp shook his head.  "No?  Why?"  It stepped closer to whisper in his ear.  "Fine, come back with a better suggestion."  It disappeared.  "A library, Bix?"  He stared her down.

"He was!"

"With imps?" Arsene asked dryly.

"Where else would have temporal spells?" Xander asked as he appeared.  "After all, that's where the original one got it."  He sat down with his book.  "I'm expecting a delivery."

"Sure, Xan," Jigen agreed.  "Any hope?"

"Limited.  I'll need more than me doing the spell."  He looked at his daughters.  "You can't help."

"We have no intention of it," Melissa assured him.

"I will if I can, Uncle Xander," Lotus said calmly from her corner.

"Nope.  No demonic magic for you."  He looked up.  "Training camp?" he suggested to Goemon and Lupin.

"I could use work on the balance beams," Melissa offered.

"It'd take forever to get up there," Jigen complained.

"They youngest relative promised we could see more wonders like that fountain that aimed water at you."  The elder snorted.  "It did!"

"It does," Goemon agreed quietly.  "It's a new design."  He stood up.  "It would be better if we got away from such worldly matters."

"Aww, I don't know.  I can imagine a few of them bringing back the latest club dances," Xander said sarcastically, smirking at him.

"If so, history would change and I might end up like Lupin," Goemon said, staring him down.  "That would be horrible and a fate worse than death."

"At the very least I thought we might take them to look at the palace and the shrines," Ishi offered.  "Maybe the Old Market?"

"They still sell stereos and computers there, son.  That would create an anomaly on its own."

"I'd do the spell to keep them from talking about it with those who weren't here," Xander told him.  "We've got to pass by some of the older ones on the way out of town anyway.  Otherwise we're going to have to take over the Dragon Clan's camp and they're not that happy with us at the moment."

"The Dragon Clan?" Lupin asked, looking shocked.  "How do you know about them?"

"I know the Silver Dragon.  She's a fierce warrior and understands about odd things.  I figure we can talk her out of the older training camp for a few weeks since they're not using it.  It's on one of the smaller islands.  There's a fishing village nearby but that's about it."

"What would she want in return?" Jigen snorted.

Xander smirked.  "I haven't asked her yet.  Want me to?"

"No," Lupin decided.  "The training camp for the family would be more familiar."

"Is there not a compound at this time?" the elder asked.

"It burned many years back," Goemon told him.  "Back during the Ninth's reign.   He helped the clan build a new training house but it is not the same as the compound."

"I wish it was," Xander said dryly.  He shrugged at the odd looks he was receiving.  "Is it on the same spot?"  Goemon shook his head.  "Really?"

"Really.  It's a few miles up the road.  The older homestead was claimed by an Emperor because it bordered his lands and he wanted ours."  He looked at the clan elder.  "It is your decision. The longer you stay here the more you will see of things that are not available in your time."

"I would rather that the women be protected from such sights," the elder said grimly.  "There's no telling what they'd take into their heads."

Arsene looked up from the old fashion magazine she had found under the couch, letting him see the pictures.  "All women dress like this these days."  It was a jeans commercial.  He scowled and she shrugged.  "They're casual clothes."

"That is indecent!" the warrior complained.  "You can see their body parts."

"Which is rather the point," Ishi told him dryly, shrugging at his dirty look.  "Otherwise most of them wouldn't wear them very tight."  Someone pounded on the door so he looked around.  "Fine, I'll get it."  He got up and walked around the reappearing imp, answering it.  "Yes?" he asked the officer on the other side.

"Are you Goemon Ishikawa?"

"One of them.  Is this about one of our relatives who ended up in the hospital?"  He nodded, grimacing in distaste.  "We're going to retrieve him once he's healed."

"He's been released."  He nodded behind him.  "Get him out and take better care of him."

"Thank you, Officer," Arsene purred as she came up behind her buddy, smiling sweetly at him.  "He wasn't a problem, was he?"  He blanched and shook his head, backing away.  "Then we'll *gladly* take him and make sure he's fine."  She smiled at the man in the back seat, watching as the cop let him out.  "Inside, now.  The women have been returned," she ordered.

"Who're you!" he said, hand on his scabbard.

"Inside, now," Goemon yelled from inside.  The warrior scurried inside, bowing to his elder and babbling at him rapidly.  "That was a normal temple of healing.  They're all like that these days," Goemon assured him. "Sit, we're figuring out where to bring you so you're safer."

"Thanks, officer.  Needed more help?" Ishi asked.  He shook his head and got back into his car, slamming the door and roaring off into the night.  "Cool.  I scared a cop too."  He grinned at Arsene.  "I haven't done that in weeks."

"Yeah, me either," she admitted.  She closed the door once he was back inside, then opened it at the sniffling.  "Hey, Kori.  Xander's inside."  He toddled in and climbed into his buddy's lap, hugging him.

"Hmm, warm muzzle and shivers," Xander said, stroking his back.  "Yo!  The baby's sick!" he yelled, looking up.

"No shit!" the Lord of the Kitsune said as he appeared.  "He's caught a human disease."

"Which one?  We can tell you how to treat most of them," Lupin assured him.  "We've had them all among us."

Xander looked behind the furry ears.  "Either it's chicken pox or measles.  He's got spots."

"Measles you've got to make sure that he's in a darkened room if he's got any near his eyes, it can blind him," Jigen told the older fox.  "I've seen kids who ended up blind from it. That and the fever."

"If it's chicken pox, keep him from scratching, bathe him daily, wash all his sheets, and keep him away from the others.  Because it was contagious a few days ago," Xander told him.  "That's what Arsene had that one time."

The Lord of the Kitsune stared down at him.  "I remember such an incident," he said bitterly.  He glanced at the ancestors.  Then back at his friend.  "Why is this our job to fix?"

Xander held up the papers he had been delivered by the imp.  "The library's patronage list and list of checked out books.  It was your court magician who sent the baby back then.  It was his father who sent them all forward.  Granted, it's not just your magician's fault, but then again you refused to help earlier too.  Hence the portals being closed."

"Fine.  I can understand why you're upset with us," he said patiently.  "It was not our fault.  It was the action of one selfish individual."

"And when the humans do something against your kind, you blame us all," Ishi reminded him.

"Someone really should make a song about turnabout being fair play," Arsene agreed bitterly.  "Not that I don't like Uncle G's ancestors, but I doubt they're going to like me very much."

"If you did not talk as you did, they would consider you charming," Xander said, glaring at her.  "Butt out."  He looked at his friend again.  "I'm more than willing to help cast the spells to get them back there but it's not exactly my form of magic."

"I see.  So you're endangering diplomatic relations and our long-standing friendship over this incident, which one of us did?"

"You nearly killed me when a human captured one of your foxes and I still helped you."

"QUIT FIGHTING!" Kori yelled.  Then he whimpered and put his head back down.  "Ow."

"It's all right, Kori.  We like you.  You rest.  You need rest to get better."  He patted him on the back.

"Itchies there."

"That's okay.  You can't scratch or you'll end up with scars, which will keep fur from growing in those spots."


"Hey," Xander soothed, calming him back down.  He pushed up his shirt to show off his chicken pox scars.  "You'll get scars like this if you scratch.  Fur can't grow on scars."  The baby sniffled so he kissed him gently on the forehead.  "You need to rest and to take something to lower your fever, little guy.  Before it hurts you."  He handed him off to his Lord and Uncle.  "We find that calamine lotion works well for that sort of thing but I'm not sure if you can do that with fur."

"I'll tell the healers that and make sure that the magician is punished."

"Have him send us back," the elder suggested.

"I can't.  He's unconscious.  The spells to bring you forward nearly killed him."

"That would be a suitable punishment once he wakes," one of the women noted bitterly.  "No one will tend my children or my garden."

"Most likely you'll go back shortly after you left," Goemon told her.  "Someone would tend your children."

"They don't like her children," one of the other women told him.  "They consider them bad because their mother had twins and they don't look like the family.  They look more like Gaijin."

"They are not!" the mother shouted, standing up.  "Their father was not of the clan and he was not honorable but he was Japanese!"

"Calm yourself, daughter," the elder ordered quietly.  "I recognize them as being fully ours.  That is all that matters."  He glared at the other women.  "I told you not to say such things last month."

"But they don't!" the second woman complained.  One of the older women slapped her.  "What was that for?"

"For being intentionally cruel to the mother," Xander told her, glaring at her.  "If the father was not honorable and he forced her, then the onus is not against her or those children.  It is against the father, who should have been killed."

"He was a soldier.  We took him to the commanders," one of the guards noted quietly. "He was punished and made a eunuch.  This wasn't the first set of children he had forced onto someone else.  He had to make suitable compensation for them as well."

"Identical twin boys," the elder told his relation.  Goemon leaned down to whisper in his ear, making him sigh.  "No, they're not there yet.  Thank you for the warning however."  He looked at his daughter.  "Their health concerns were noted through the ages."  She started to cry so Ishi got up to lead her to a bedroom and soothe her, coming out a few minutes later.  "Is she asleep?"  He nodded, sitting down again.  "Thank you.  It has been hard on her."

"Such things can easily kill a parent's spirit, if not their body," Xander told him.  "I have a daughter who has a weak heart.  We've been through hell trying to keep her from hurting herself but trying to let her grow up normally."

"They cannot fix that in this time?"

"It's not bad enough to fix. Just bad enough to affect her," Jigen sighed.  "Um, Bix?"  She disappeared then came back with the kids.  "Hey, Sarah," he said with a smile as she crawled into his lap and snuggled into his chest.  "You nap, sweetheart."

Fred leered at the pretty women sitting around the small living room.  "Hi."

"Sit," Melissa ordered.  He curled up against his father's feet.  "Thank you."  She smiled at Alex as she came over to crawl up into her lap.  "Hey, Al.  Curl up and nap if you want."  She nodded and settled in to nap on her.

Goemon patted the top of his two son's head.  "These are the other two, Kenji and Yu."

"They look very strong, son," the elder said, nodding at them.  Yu pulled up his thumb to suck on.  "You still do that?"

"He's barely over a year," Xander told him.   "I've got an open lap."  Yu and Kenji both scrambled to climb into his lap to cuddle and nap.  "Thanks, guys."

"I'd have offered Alex but she's not getting on with Fred," Melissa offered.

"No, it's okay.  I can handle these two while they nap."  Yu saw Ishi and smiled, toddling over to climb up him and give him a sloppy kiss.  "That's a nice thing, Yu."

"It is. Thank you, little brother," Ishi said, smiling at him.  He settled his baby brother into his lap, letting him curl up on him.  "Hi, Kenji," he said to stop the pouting going on.  "You can come over if you want.  Or Lotus is in the corner napping again."  Kenji got up and ran over there, climbing into her lap to sleep on her.  He loved his big sister.

"Me cuddle pretty ones?" Fred asked his father.  His mother frowned at him.  "Sorry."  He settled in against his father's legs to hug him.  His daddy pulled him up to hold him, making him grin. "Thanks, daddy. You not as pretty as a girl but you nice."

"Thanks, son."  He patted him gently while his son settled in to nap on him.  "Goemon, training camp?"

"I'll call up there to make sure it is clean and empty," he promised, going to do that in the kitchen.  While he was in there he put on tea and pulled out a pitcher to put cold water into.  He didn't quite have enough glasses but with the tea cups he'd be fine.

"That is woman's work," one guard complained, glaring over at Lotus.

"I can kill people," she noted bitterly.  "In this time, the only true women's work is motherhood and I'm not doing that."

"Thankfully.  We'd miss you if you were married," Arsene quipped, grinning at her.  She grinned at her mother.  "What's on at the other house?"

"My editor who's on maternity leave had her house burned down so I'm letting her and her kids live in the house until she delivers or until she settles with the insurance company and finds another one."  He shifted, going back to his book.  "Tell me when we're leaving."

"You could probably nap, Xan," Jigen offered.

"We're going to need at least one more vehicle tomorrow.  That leaves you guys without guards tonight to counter the modern crooks if they try something."

"I hate driving that van," Ishi put in quickly.   "I'll be a tourguide."

"I figured I'd drive and Jigen could drive," Lupin told him.

"Fat chance, daughter," Lupin the Third noted.

"Fine, you'll drive one and he'll drive one and we'll get any overflow."

"Which means that you guys have to nap," Xander reminded them.  "Which leaves no guards tonight who understand guns."

"Good point.  Goemon, Jigen and I are going to steal your bed," Lupin called, taking Fred with him as he headed back that way.

"Fine," Goemon agreed, carrying out the tea pot and pitcher of water.  "Arsene, get the glasses."  She nodded, hopping up to do that.  "Thank you."

She grinned and poured herself some water then sank down into her father's chair.  She looked over her mother's shoulder, frowning at the book.  "What language is that in?"

"Imurral.  It's a common demon language," Xander said absently.  "It's read bottom to top, left to right."  He turned the page, going backward.  He slowly looked up as something started to bother him, growling as he got up to stomp to the front door, startling the person picking the lock.  "Did you *need* something?" he demanded.  The young man squeaked and backed away, letting him glare at the people behind him.  "And you are?"

"Missionaries," one said sarcastically.

Xander pulled his gun and shot that one.  "Any other good answers?"  They backed away another step.  "Let me put this very clearly, boys and girls."  He pulled down his silver hair, watching as some of them shuddered.  "Some of you should recognize me.  Perhaps you should instruct the others who I am."

"You're Lavelle," one of them said.  "We came for you."

"Then you've got me, bitch."  He shot that one too, then emptied his clip into the others, leaving three.  He picked up a fallen dagger.  "You wanna try now?"  They shook their heads and ran off.  "Good!  Keep going!  It's more healthy for you!"  He slammed the door and went back to his reading, rubbing his sore wrist.  "I hate getting old."  He sat down again, picking back up his book.  "They're very sorry they thought about hitting your house, Goemon.   Three are running back to whine that I'm mean."

"No sword?" one of the women asked softly.

He looked at her and shook his head.  "My knees ache.  I don't have my new painkillers."  She shivered.  "Exactly."  He went back to his reading.

"That's his first weapon," Goemon told her.

"A stake was, unless we're counting thrown rocks," Xander said as he turned the page again.

"First official weapon.  Stakes aren't a weapon that's counted in our lives, Xander."

Xander looked up at him.  "No, but they're very handy when you're staking vampires and demons."

"Yes, they are," Goemon agreed.  "You came to us partially trained due to the fighting you had done.  No one doubts that, but a stake isn't an assassin's weapon."

"Actually, there is one who does use one," Melissa told him.  "Someone asked on the thieve's bulletin board if it was Mom."

"No, it's one of the third sons of a Don out of Sicily," Xander told her.

"I told him it wasn't you," she promised.  "Can I help with the research?"

"Since when have you read demon, daughter?" he asked with a smirk.

"Since I was about ten and asked Uncle Marcus to teach me so I could read the books you had in your room because I was bored?" she offered hesitantly.  He glared at her so she shrugged. "I was bored, it was either the demon romance or a Harlequin."

"Demons write romance novels?" Arsene asked tiredly.

"Yeah, they do.  It shocked the hell out of me when I realized what it was," Melissa said with a small smirk for her.

"It was a gift because I was bored too," Xander admitted, going back to his reading.  "I'll teach you the three official languages if you want.  After you graduate of course."

"Sure, Mom."

"No. Way. In. Hell," Jigen called from the bedroom.  "Unless you're going to end up married to one, there's not a chance, Melissa."  He slammed the bedroom door again, muttering all the way back to the bed.

Xander snorted and looked up at her.  "He has no idea what you do in your free time, does he?" he asked dryly.  She smirked and shook her head, pulling out a book to start through it.  "Good girl.  Everyone should probably nap, even though you'll spend a lot of time napping in the vans tomorrow.  Otherwise it'll be a pretty long day."  Everyone found a place to sleep for the night, the women taking the other bedroom and most of the guards taking the hall between the two doors so no one could sneak in and besmirch them.    Melissa wisely kept Fred and Yu from the women's room when the rest of the kids went in there to sleep with them, just in case.  That's also how they caught Fred trying to sneak in there and sent him to sleep with his father since he wasn't going to behave.

Xander continued to read through the night, knowing he could rest on the ride up tomorrow.  He didn't know where the school was so he couldn't drive. But he could plan on what to do to their favorite cops when he retired.  He'd have to make it special.


Lupin walked out of the bedroom the next morning rubbing his chest.  "Fred's really got a bad sucking problem," he complained to Goemon as he walked past him.

"He's probably also got a mouth full of hair since Jigen doesn't shave his chest," Xander said dryly from his spot on the floor.  He finished the book he was working in and put it aside, watching as it went back to the library.  "Are we setting up breakfast?"

"Yes, we should," Goemon agreed. He looked around his modest kitchen.  "Eggs?"

"I'll run to the store," Jigen offered as he made it past the guards with the boys.  He put them down and patted them on the head.  "Next time, don't try to suck on us, guys.  We're still boys too."  He looked at Goemon, who was frowning at his son.  "He was actually asleep when he did it.  That was better than Fred."

"At least Fred only hit my tits," Lupin said sadly, looking down at his son.  "Get me some smokes while you're out?"

"Of course.  That's the other reason I had to run out.  Goemon, will we need pipe tobacco or anything?"  He nodded.  "Fine.  Any particular flavor?"

"It's in the orange canister at the usual place we get smokes," Xander said, struggling to get up.  Lupin helped him up, bracing him while he wobbled. "Thanks.  Ask the guy behind the counter for the usual orange box.  He'll get it.  It should smell like maple and pine."

"Sure, Xander."  He took Lupin's wallet and went out to get real food so that none of them would have to try to cook for all of them.

"I wanna come," Arsene said tiredly.

"No, you go back to sleep," Xander ordered.  "If you're driving, then you'd better not fall asleep behind the wheel."  She nodded and put her head back down again.  He looked at his former lover.  "Who's taking them to get their real licenses?"

"Jigen," he said immediately. "I'm not going to the DMV ever again."  He looked at Goemon.  "You need anything right now?"

"I can wait until we're up there to do the daily exercises with the children," he admitted.  "Xander, would you like first shower?"

"No, I'm good for a while.  I can always pop home to get one if I have to."  He yawned and stretched, wincing a bit as his back popped.  "Ow."  He shook himself.  "As a matter of fact, let me do that since my bag's pretty empty.  I only brought two outfits."  They nodded, watching as he disappeared.

Lupin looked at Goemon.  "You've got to help me with him, man.  Please," he begged quietly.

"You may have already lost him.  Xander is loyal to a fault but even he has tolerance limits and you have overstepped them many times. It shows in how he went back to the choker to try to snare your attention again."

"Goemon, I'll do *anything* to get Xander back.  Not even my thing with your ex was this bad. *Please?*"

"I'll try to talk to him," he offered.  "Perhaps you ignored him because you knew he wouldn't leave you?"

"I don't know why I did it but I'm fricken miserable, Goemon.  I hate this stuff."

"I understand.  I loathe the way my wife went as well."  He patted him on the arm, then looked down at the attentive boys.  "When you are old enough, remember to never ignore your spouse.  It makes them go odd and then leave."  Yu nodded and toddled over to hug his leg.  "Thank you, son.  Come, let us clean you up.  Fred can take a bath with you today."  Fred leered at him.  "Or possibly not."

"Son, no leering at the baby Goemon," Lupin said patiently.  "Yu isn't old enough for that yet and being naked isn't that much fun at your age."  They led the kids into the bathroom to bathe them.  On the way they gathered Alex, who was trying to climb over someone and managed to nearly wake him by stepping on his nose.  When they were done with them they snuck in to get the other two and did their baths, letting those three go wake up the older kids to cuddle them.

That's why Melissa woke up and swatted at Fred.  "Get that disgusting thing out of my face, Frederick, or else I'm cutting it the hell off."

He squealed and covered himself, running back to hide behind his father.  "Sissy mean!  She make me have girl parts!" he cried, hugging his father as hard as he could.

"Melissa, please get some caffeine before you harm someone," Lupin called patiently.  "And do not threaten to castrate Fred again."

"He was standing above me playing with himself," she said in disgust.  "He deserves it."

Jigen came back to find his daughter drugged and happy, singing even, and Arsene giving her a scared look.  "What did she do?"

"Fred was standing above her playing with himself when she woke up.  She threatened to castrate him.  So Daddy gave her some of my drugs," she said in awe.  "She's gone odd, Uncle Jigen!  Make her stop singing!"  She hugged him, starting to cry.  It was horrible. It was worse than Barney and the Wiggles combined!

Jigen patted her on the back, glaring at Lupin.  "Did you have to do that to my daughter?"

"It kept Fred whole," he said grimly.  "I think it's a bit strong.  Next time we'll go with half a pill for each of them."

"Good idea," he agreed.  He looked over as Xander came back with two bags.  "Going somewhere?"

"Clothes and work," he offered.  He looked at his daughter, then tapped her on the top of the head.  "Change the station, that's getting stale."

She grinned and went onto a different song, this time it was the Toys R Us theme song.  In Greek.

"Daddy, she's scarier than I am," Arsene pointed out, staring at her father.  "Please don't do that again.  This is what I imagined a bad acid trip to be like."

Ishi sat up and glared at Melissa, then knocked her out with a careful hit to the back of her neck.  "There, I can sleep now," he said dryly, laying back down and closing his eyes again.  He growled when she continued to sing her sleep, but Lotus got her this time and she was snoring within moments.

"Okay, now I don't know which is scarier," Lupin the Third noted, looking at Lotus.  "Where did you learn that?"

"My instructor.  Since Father never taught me, I found someone who would.  I'm actually quite good."  She stood up and headed into the bathroom, growling at the person in her way.  "I'm having a Kotex moment and you're between me and the Midol.  Move."  The warrior gave her an odd look so she pulled his own sword on him and backed him out of her way, going to take her turn when the door opened and let the Elder out.  "Thank you."  She slammed the door and locked it.

"Is she on her moon cycle?" the Elder asked.  Goemon nodded, rolling his eyes.  "Hmm.  She held that sword very well."

"I was not sure about what to teach her so she learned at the Assassin's Academy from a teacher I respect," he admitted.  "It suits her better."  He pointed at the table.  "We ran out for food.  Serve yourself, there are disposable plates next to the food."  They nodded, going to get something to eat.

When Lotus came out she was in a terry wrap and had her hair up.  "Father, I forgot my bag," she called from the doorway.

Arsene tossed it to her.  "Have fun.  Remember we'll be in the car all day."

"That's fine, I stopped last night apparently."  She closed the door so she could get dressed.

"Lotus, give someone else a chance, get dressed in the bedroom," Lupin the Third called.  She came out and went in there to hide and dress. "Thank you."

"She is a very strong girl, Goemon," the Elder offered quietly.

"She is, and quite good from what I've heard."  He saw his son's lump of blanket moving and coughed.  "Son, it is time to awaken."

"Father, I hate mornings.  That's why I'm an assassin," he complained, rolling over to face the other direction.  His brothers decided to be helpful though, so they pounced him, making him reach back to pat them on the head and push them off.  "Not yet."

"But I wanna play," Kenji complained.

Yu got his devious look and crawled underneath with his big brother and decided he was hungry and his big brother was a good source of food.

Ishi yelped and jumped up, rubbing his chest while he glared down at his baby brother.  "I'm not a cow.  Nor am I a girl who has leaking breasts.  Go suck on Arsene if you must but do not do that to me again."  His brother pouted at him.  "Father, your son is a cannibal."

"He's missing his bottles, son," Goemon said patiently, grabbing Yu to sit down with him.  "Do not try to nurse off your brother again, Yu, that is not polite."  His son pouted but he was firm in that.  "Your brother does not have the equipment to feed you.  Doing so only upsets him, son."

"Why am I good enough to become a cow?" Arsene demanded, glaring at him with her hands on her hips.

"Because you kept me up last night playing with yours," he said bitterly.  "Next time, be more quiet."

"I did not!" she shrieked, picking up a pillow to hit him.  "I didn't do anything like that!  Mom, tell him I didn't!"

"Guys, I was studying last night.  I remember hearing some groans but I'm not sure from who. It could have been Lotus' cramps for all I know."  He sat down with his pastry and some coffee, reading the paper.  "Hey, my stock is up," he said happily, going back to his own life for a bit.

"You own a company that sells stock?" Jigen asked him, giving him an odd look when Xander held up two fingers.  "Two of them?"

"The comic company and the restaurant."

"How is a restaurant traded?" Lupin asked.

"The company that fronts it," he said, turning the page.  "Hmm.  Kabuki festival next week.  Wanna go, Goemon?"

"Please," he agreed.  "What are they showing this year?"  Xander handed over the section with the list of shows.  "Ah, they've changed it again.  My ancestor's is not being shown.  Pity."

"No, but the ones they translated over are," Xander assured him with a grin.  "I'll even treat to dinner."

"Of course I'll go," Goemon agreed lightly.  "It will be an experience for the children."

"I was thinking only us, big guy.  Kenji would nap through kabuki at his age and Yu would fuss the whole way through.  He can't even stand movies yet."

"Good point."  He looked at the others.

"If we're here, I'll sit 'em," Jigen offered.  Anything to not have to go watch kabuki theater.  "I'm sure they'll behave."

"I would hope so," Goemon agreed.

"Why are you two not together?" the awake guard asked him.  "You two seem to like the same things."

"Because my wife is still presently alive, if banished from the house.  It would not be proper."

"You could say he was a concubine.  He would do that very well," the guard pushed.

"If I did so, she could try to file for custody of the children to spite me."

"And do what with us?" Ishi snorted.  "Pat us on the head and sell us?  You know the Mother is not fond of children."

"If she ever got custody of you by some crooked deal, we'd hide you," Jigen promised him.

"We'd simply kill her and move home anyway," Lotus reminded him.  "I would not allow her near the infants."  She stared down her father when he gave her a sideways look.  "Father, I need to practice once we get there.  Is the rope course still up?"

"It should be," he admitted. "May I watch?"

"Of course.  I'm expecting you to have some bit of wisdom to help me with my changing body.  My tits are throwing off my balance again."  She grabbed her own breakfast and went to sit in the corner again.

"I will stop that habit of yours," Ishi vowed, glaring at her.  "Do not disrespect your body that way, Lotus."

"Blow me, Ishi.  It's my body."  She nibbled on her pastry.  "Food's getting cold," she yelled.  More people came out to get something to eat.  "We should probably leave soon to avoid the lunch rush."

"We should," Lupin agreed.  "And I agree with Ishi, quit calling them that, Lotus.  Only girls like strippers do that."

"Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?" Arsene asked dryly, staring down her father.  "For that matter, daddy, my own tits are getting in my way so I need help with my aim again.  Plus, we *still* need to find me a weapon I can use."

"I'll take you to do that today," Xander offered, folding up his paper.  "I know just the place."  She beamed at him.  "Grab food to go, we'll go now so we can meet them on the outskirts of town."  She nodded, grabbing a spare pastry to eat on the way out to the car.

"Need cash?" Lupin asked.

"Nah, I've got it," he offered, heading out to drive her to his favorite local gun shop.  Once there, he walked her inside, an arm around her shoulders.  The man behind the counter smiled brightly at them.  "Lupin the Fourth is ready to pick out her signature weapon," he said happily.

"Come into the back to look at the special cases," he offered, leading them back to where the cops were waiting.  "I'm sorry, they made me."

Xander shrugged and shot two of the three, grinning at the third one.  "Good, you can help us pick out her weapon of choice," he told Vecchio.  "She needs something lighter than what I use."  He noticed the look he was getting and smirked.  "You straightened out the ho.  This is in thanks."  He patted her on the back.  "Go ahead and look, Lupin."

She nodded, strolling over to look in the cases.  She kept coming back to a set and looked at the owner of the shop.  "Can I try these three?" she asked, tapping over their resting spot.  "I think one of them is drawing me."

"Of course.  They're very fine weapons," he said happily, pulling them out.  "I particularly like the Smith and Wesson model."

Vecchio walked over there and drug her off to the side, pointing at a case she hadn't looked at yet.  "That one," he said, pointing at it.  "It's easy, it's expendable, it's stock, and it's interchangeable, but it's lightweight and isn't prone to locking up.  Lots of female cops use it."

"Is there a specialty version?" she asked, squatting down to look at it.  "Uncle Ray, no offense, but can you take a step backward?"  He stepped back after noticing how close she was to his crotch.  "Thanks."  She looked at it.  "Is there a speciality version?"

"There is but it's mostly crap," the owner assured her.  "Very boring."

"I'm not a great shooter," she admitted, "but I'm pretty decent.  Sixth highest at the Assassin's Academy."  He looked impressed.  "What about that one?" she asked, noticing one was sitting on a security pad.  "Is that one real?"

"It is.  It's a limited edition Beretta."

"Can I try it?  Daddy was *insistent* that I get something that would be my signature weapon."

"Of course, young lady."  He pulled it out and handed it over, watching as she handled it.  "It isn't that light."

"Yeah, and I'm sensing many sore wrists in my future," she sighed.  "M...Lavelle?"

He waved her over, pointing down inside one special case, the one he usually picked from.  "There's a gun that usually sits right here that I was thinking about having you try."

"It's in a briefcase out front, Lavelle," the owner said quietly, going to get it for them.  "Here, another wanted to try it for his son as well.  I will tell him that you forced me to sell it to you if she likes it."

"I'll tell him myself," he snorted.  "Try it, Ar."

She picked the locks on the briefcase and opened it, smiling at the pretty black gun inside.  She pulled it up to look it over, liking the weight.  She looked at the clip, then in the chamber.  "Is it prone to locking?"

"No, it's a specially hand-made gun.  It's very good about not locking.  Nearly as good as a revolver."

"I'd rather have an auto," she admitted, pointing it at the wall.  "The sight's off."

"Actually, it's correct with the targets," the owner offered.  "It does have a small leaning to shoot to the right."

"Or there's about fifty of those in the world today," Xander told her.  "We actually gave one to Cali in Miami during the yard sale a few years back."

She looked at the shopkeeper.  "Do you have a range?"  He nodded, leading her back there.  She loaded the gun and fired it, then used the sight on it, grimacing.  "Okay," she decided.  "I like this gun, but I hate this particular one and how it's off to the right."

"Then we'll go to the woman making them and see if she'll make you one, or we'll steal the one in the safe," Xander said with a smirk for her.

"We have another of those?"

"Those are assassin's guns, Lupin," Vecchio said quietly.  "Most likely the three of them have them.  They're only ever gifted."

"Which means you can have mine or Jigen's if he agrees.  What is Melissa using?"

"She's got an auto and a revolver she likes.  She likes your usual gun and she loves her dad's revolver. She carries around a version of each."  She handed it back.  "Thank you."

"You are quite welcome.  I wish you a long and happy career, Lupin the Fourth."

She smiled up at Xander.  "We should probably call them on the way back, before we go up to the training camp."

"We should," Xander agreed, walking out with her.  "Thanks, Vecchio.  Tell the other two that they'll live."  He nodded at the person walking in, smirking at him.  "That forty-eight is in the back."

"Thank you.  Getting one of the girls her first gun?"

"This is Lupin the Fourth.  She's looking for her signature piece."

"She didn't take that one?"

"It fires off to the right," she told him, looking serious.  "I'd rather have a marksman's gun instead."  He nodded at that.  "You are?"

"Oh, sorry, Lupin the Fourth, this is Archibald Vernasis.  He runs the local fences."  She shook his hand.  "Vecchio's in there and two other local cops were mildly put down for a nap," he said with a smirk.  "I've got the knockout ones in the gun right now."

"Thank you for the warning, Lavelle."  He shook Arsene's hand.  "I look forward to working with you someday, young lady."

"It'll probably be sooner than you think," she assured him, smiling now.  "Come on, Lavelle.  We've got to meet with the others."

"Coming."  He waved and got in to let her drive, calling Goemon's house on the way.  "Where are we meeting you?"  He smirked.  "Head back to the house, Ar.  We've got to pick up Goemon and 'Lis."

"Sure."  She swung that way, waving at a cop who stared at her on the way.  "Do I look like a little kid?"

"Your seat's a bit low for you," he admitted.  "Remember, you're taking Jigen or Goemon to the DMV to get your real licenses."

"Yes, mom.  Can we look at cars too?"

"We'll see.  Your dad has a large collection of cars already."

"Fine."  She honked as they pulled up, letting the others run out and climb in the back.  "Hey, Yu.  Didn't want to give up the daddy?" she cooed.  He shook his head and let himself be strapped in.  "We set?"

"Almost.  Mom, your bags are in there and I was told not to touch the laptop."

"Fine."  He got out to grab his things, doing a last check of the house on the way.  He found Lupin's tie as well so brought it out, handing it to his daughter.  "Here.  He forgot it."

"That man would forget his head some days," she complained, letting him get buckled in before taking off again.  "Someone's got to give me directions."

"That's why I stayed," Goemon assured her. "Go past the palace, you're going that way."  She nodded, turning onto the main road and cutting across two lanes to get into the right one.  That way she wouldn't have to worry about it later.


Lupin looked up as the last car pulled up to the house, smiling at his daughter.  "What did you get?"

"She's getting either mine or Jigen's out of the safe," Xander said as he got out.  "It suits her best."

"She can have mine," Jigen agreed.

"I'd like to try them both first," she offered.  Jigen nodded, that made sense.  "Thanks, Uncle Jigen."  She tossed her father his tie.  "You forgot it."  She hugged her father.  "Yu is going to be a very good assassin and thief.  He managed to sneak off Melissa's bra without her realizing it."  Xander groaned and shook his head, the same as Goemon did.  Yu giggled at the noise, knowing it was about him.  He was let go of and headed directly for one of the women's lap, cuddling up to her with a bright grin for her.

"Sure, you can sit with her if she allows it," Lupin agreed, shaking her head.  "So, daddy, when can I get those to try them?  I'd like to have my gun before I go back."

"I'll have Marcus bring the ones from the safe," Lupin promised, grinning at her.  "Come on, Xander.  Lotus wants you to help her too."

"Sure."  He walked around to the back of the house, smiling at Ishi doing a series of tumbling flips.  "Very good."

"Thanks, mom."  He stretched up then sighed.  "Better," he sighed.  "Lotus is on the ropes."

"Going that way then."  He headed out there, watching as Lotus made her way through the tangled ropes to the other side of the maze and then across a rope bridge to the other side.  "Lotus, why are you leaning?" he called.

"I am?"

"You are."

"Crap.  I hate being a girl!"

"If they're that big, we'll get you reduction surgery when you're eighteen," he promised.  She laughed and turned around, going back.  "Straighten your shoulders."  She tried then winced.  "Are you wearing a supportive bra?"

"Yes," she said impatiently.  "I hate bras."

"Then take that one off, see if it helps," he suggested.  She undid it and got one arm free, then pulled it out the other arm hole, dropping it back onto the platform.  She started again and he smirked.  "Much better.  Next time, try for athletic bras, Lotus."

"Yes, Mom.  I guess I did get the ho's rack after all."

"That's why they make reduction surgery," Jigen noted as he came up behind Xander to watch her.  "She's damn good at that," he said quietly, watching as she slithered and wiggled through the rope maze.  The last bit she took the high route, which meant she had to jump.  "Whoa," he breathed.  "I think she's bigger than her mother was."

"Possibly."  Xander continued to watch critically as the young woman made it through the maze and to the other side.  "Very good.  Was that better?"

"Much," she agreed, climbing down to jog over and hug him.  "I'll wear less supportive stuff."

"Wear supportive stuff when you've got to do something like be the bait," Xander suggested.  "Until then, find something comfortable."

"Yes, mom," she agreed with a grin.  She grabbed her other bra and went to stuff it back into her stuff.

"Why aren't you wearing that!" her father yelled.

"Because it was throwing off my balance," she shot back.  "I've got bigger tits than my mother did."

Lupin looked at her and nodded. "Yeah, you do, probably by about a full cup size," he agreed, looking at Goemon.  "We'll get her a way to strap those suckers down."

"Mom said he'd get me reduction surgery."

"Sure," Lupin agreed quickly.

"What is this surgery?" Goemon asked archly.

"It's to take some of the extra stuff out so I'm only a C-cup, dad."  She rolled her eyes.  "That way I'm not bigger than Arsene and I don't look like a stripper."  He shuddered.  "Exactly.  Or haven't you seen me in my latest bathing suit?"  She tossed her bra on top of her bag and went back outside.  She did stop to hug her father on the way, just to make him feel better.  "It's better this way.  I'm not leaning forward anymore."  She grinned up at him.  "It's okay, daddy.  Trust me, I'm your only daughter for a reason."  He nodded, patting her on the head.  "Now all we've got to do is to find you a decent woman to date."  She ran out to help Ishi.

"Go put on a bra!" he yelled.

"It was throwing me off balance."

"Leave her alone, son," Xander called.  He was sitting on the rope swing, watching the kids go through their exercises.  "Goemon, Kenji's doing it again."

He walked over to correct his son's form, straightening his back for him.  "Do not bend down that way," he said gently.  His son grinned at him and did it again, making him nod.  "Thank you, son."

The Elder looked over from watching the oldest son, watching that one.  "For being a mere child he is doing extremely well, son."

"Thank you, grandfather.  Ishi, do it the normal way please. Then you can show off."  He nodded, doing his katas in order.  "Very well done, son."

Ishi started to answer but he heard the arrow coming for him so he flipped out of the way and grabbed his sword to cut it on its way past.  "That reminds me, father, when are you going to teach me to cut bullets?"

"This year, son.  That would be the last thing I teach you," he said, glaring at Alex, who had just shot the arrow.  "At the targets only."  She sniffled.  "Now."

"Alex, honey, Ishi's not a vampire.  Remember, you only shoot vampires with arrows," Xander reminded his baby girl.  She nodded and shot at the target again, making her father happy.  "Good girl, Alex.  Very good girl."  She beamed at him and ran over to get a hug, then went back to her practice.

One of the guards came over to help her aim, making her grin at him.  "Like that, little one."

"I Alex."

"All right, now aim down the shaft, Alex," he repeated.  She nodded and tried it again.  "Does she need glasses?"

"She might, I did when I was younger," Xander offered, hopping down to come over.  He took the bow and used it himself.  "Or this bow could be off to the left," he admitted when his went to the same spot.  He hummed and went to find his usual practice bow, handing it over after trying it out.  She grinned and did it again, getting the outer edge of the center.  "Good job, Al."  He patted her on the head. "That means you can help us cook tonight."  She beamed and danced around.  "Now, get back to practice."  She nodded and grinned at the guard, so he stayed to help her.  Xander put a tag on the bow about the aim, just in case it became necessary.  He beamed at the watching Goemon's.  "She's going to be a White Knight."

"I can tell," the elder said, nodding a bit. "She is very good.  A slayer?"

"No, she's here to take my former spot as a knight.  She doesn't have the mark."  He went back to his swing, watching the kids do their things.  "Ishi, I'd spar with you, guy, but I still ache."

"That's fine, Mom.  I'm good enough with Dad or Uncle Marcus when he shows up."

"Or you could test me," the Elder suggested.  Ishi nodded and grabbed two sticks, tossing him one.  The younger kids were moved and the elder attacked first, putting Ishi on the defensive.  He noticed that the boy used multiple styles and smirked at him.  "Couldn't stay on the pure path?"

"Why?  The more I know, the better I am."  He leapt over his head and got him from behind, grinning at him.  "One point to me.  Are we going to three or five?"

"Five," the elder agreed, facing him again.  The boy fought him in his own style this time, impressing him greatly.  He managed to barely hit the boy once and the boy still got him on the shoulder while not using the arm he had tagged.  "Very good.  I feel old."

"That's the purpose of children," Ishi reminded him.  He bowed and went for his usual style, which was much more flashy and intricate.  The elder managed to get him after about ten minutes.  "Two to one."  He attacked again, using his usual style and his father's tactics.  The elder ended up on his back with the stick against his throat.  "Three to one," he said with a grin.  "You sure you want to continue?"

"Son," Goemon snapped.

"Sorry, dad.  I know, ego is evil and I'm being a smartass."  He helped the elder up.  "Sorry, sometimes I like to get playful."

"It shows in your usual style.  That is much like what the Second nameholder used to do," he admitted.  "He was taught by a Cat Clan teacher first."  Ishi nodded, he'd heard that.  "Do you have many battles with your sword?"

"No.  Not these days, but then again I also know how to shoot as well as any of the marksmen here."  The Elder looked impressed.  "They crosstrained us kids.  Melissa had to take martial arts, as did the rest of them, and I had to learn how to use a gun.  I can use either with brutal efficiency.  I was showing off with you," he finished with another grin.

"I could tell.  You do very good.  One last time, this time for real.  No showing off."  He attacked without warning and Ishi defended himself, getting serious.  He had wanted serious so he would be serious.  He got a small tap to the outer arm again but then he broke the other guy's stick and got him in the chest, brushing back his sweaty hair at the end.  "Very good, Goemon Ishikawa the Fourteenth.  You do the name proud," the elder admitted, standing up and bowing to him.  Ishi bowed back then pushed his hair back again.  "You should tie that back."

"Mom said so too, but sometimes you don't have the time to."

"Good point."  He handed over a leather cord.  "Do so anyway, son."

"Yes, sir."  He tied back his hair and nodded at the watching people.  "Okay, Kenji, you're first.  Come here."  His brother jogged over and took the stick with a grin.  "Not until you're older.  Dad will shit pink kittens if you do what I did and sneak it out to practice in the woods at night."  He tossed the stick onto a pillow and helped him.  "Let's go hand to hand, little guy.  He got onto his knees.  "Okay, now attack me."  Kenji growled and attacked him, just like his father would.  He laughed and blocked him, getting him into the exercise.  "Good job!" he said when he got Kenji onto his back.  "Very good job.  You lasted a lot longer this time."

"He is doing very good," Goemon agreed, smiling down at his son.  "Try it again."  His son nodded and got up, going against his big brother again.  This time he managed to hit his brother and cackled, but he ended up on his butt again too.  "Good try, son.  Once more please.  Then we'll go back to the katas."  His son jumped up and attacked again, going more fiercely.  At the end Ishi hugged him.

"That was very good, Kenji.  Pretty soon you're gonna be as good as me and as great as daddy.  Then you can join us in the field."  He kissed him on the forehead.  "You've got to practice very hard to join us in the field, so you practice while we're at school, all the time, right?"  Kenji nodded, grinning at him again.  "Good boy.  When you're old enough to go to school, we'll start bringing you with us to do your field training.  Then you can pick on Fred."  Kenji kissed him and then ran off to pounce Fred and wrestle with him.

"Back in line, son," Goemon ordered.  "Once more though those two katas then a bath and lunch."  They got back into line, doing as he had ordered.  He looked at the elder.  "We're starting them younger."

"So I noticed, but he is already shaping up very well," the elder agreed, looking impressed. "I wish some of my sons were that good at your son's age."  He helped Ishi up.  "That was very good of you, son."

"Thank you, grandfather.  Kenji's got the family's style.  Yu's still too young yet but he's a lot like me."  He grinned at his father.  "But we won't get him into guns unless it's necessary."

"Thank you, son."

Xander cackled.  "Just think, there's going to be two Lupin's, a Jigen, and four Goemon's working in the world soon. Nothing will be safe."

"Maybe some day your Alex will join them," the elder offered.

"Only if she has done to her what I did," he said dryly, shaking his head.  "I don't want her to join the life, Elder.  I want her to be happy and have many baby knights someday.  After all, someone has to take over for me in that area."

"Good point," Jigen agreed, patting him on the arm.  "Fred's going to be a mini Lavelle anyway."  He grabbed his hat, keeping Fred from stealing it.  "No."

"Meany."  He went to complain to his father.

"Jigen, why does my son want your hat?" Lupin called from the house a few minutes later.

"Because he's too young to want anything else on him," Lupin the Fourth called back with a grin for her uncle.

"Go meditate and wash your brain of those horrible images," Goemon ordered, pointing at a quiet spot.  "Now, Arsene."

"It was just a joke," she complained as she trudged that way.

Melissa smirked at him.  "Good job, Uncle Goemon.  That's one image I didn't want to have either."  Her father patted her on the back, so she stopped him, looking in his eyes.  "I don't mind you and daddy or you and daddy Lupin but you and Fred would be a bit nasty, daddy, that's all I meant," she assured him quietly.  "I think it'd be neat if you could at least kiss Mom again.  It'd make you both happier."  He nodded and gave her a small smirk before heading inside.  She looked at Ishi, then at Arsene, who all nodded.  They'd have to conspire against their fathers it seemed.  That was fine, they could do that, but they'd have to make sure they weren't mean about it.


Xander came in last for dinner, having not gotten to wash his hands because of the kids hogging the bathroom.  He found the only open seat next to Jigen and sat down, taking his plate and chopsticks from Lotus.  "Thanks."  He looked at the food at the center of the table, watching everyone watch him.  "What? I washed my hands."

"We were waiting for you to take first food," Goemon told him.  "Since it's your birthday tomorrow."

"It is?" Xander asked.

Lupin pulled out his planner and checked it, then nodded.  "Yeah, it is," he agreed, putting it back.  "So grab stuff, Xander, we're starving."

Xander shrugged and looked at the offerings, taking some of each of the things he liked, which was most of the meal.  "Thanks, guys."

"Welcome," the kids agreed as they dug in.

"Why don't we celebrate your birthday?" Jigen asked him.

"Maybe because I don't?"

"Good point."  He handed him another egg roll, then dug into his own food.  "I've ordered you something, it'll be at the main house when we get back."

"Sure, Jigen.  You didn't have to."

Jigen kissed him gently.  "I did so.  Shut up."  He went back to eating, watching Xander from the corner of his eye.  Xander was stunned for a moment then shook it off and continued to eat.

"I'm going out tomorrow to pick you up something," Lupin offered.

"It's really not necessary."

"Hush," Lupin ordered, glaring at him.  "I want to give you a birthday present.  I'm giving you something even if you complain."

"Fine," Xander said weakly.  He finished up quickly and went to check on his empire, looking in his email.  Alan had sent him a virtual card until he could get back, making him grin at it.  Alan knew somehow that Lupin and Jigen were getting pushy.

Arsene walked in and gave him a hug.  "I wrote him and told him that Daddy was trying to get back with you because he was miserable.  He said he'd step aside if that's what you wanted but he would be fighting for you."  Xander grinned at her.  "You know I'd love it if you took the two idiots back, but us kids want you to be happy and we do like Alan," she admitted.  "We just think that he can't really understand everything and that you'd be happier with Daddy and Uncle Jigen.  Can you give them a small shot?"

"Sweetheart, your dad had way too many shots already."

"Then what's one more?"

"Another ten months of my ever-shrinking life, the last four of which will be miserable," he said honestly.  "The same as the last two were."  She frowned.  "Really.  I'm not going in the choker ever again.  I can't do that to myself and I won't."

"Then don't," she agreed.  "Daddy would just be happy to be what you needed this time."

"The same as he was the other times, and then what happened?" he asked gently.

"But this time he knows."

"Yeah, but he knew last time too," he pointed out.  He shrugged.  "Your dad knew what he was doing when he ignored me.  He knew it in the other timeline and he knew it in this one.  It's his own fault, princess.  I can almost see Jigen's problem because I'm a guy, but I'm too tired to fight anymore.  I'm not going to stay in the life forever and I'd rather find someone who wanted *me* and wanted to help me settle down.  Your daddy wants his sex toy Lavelle.  He's never wanted the real me.  Alan actually wants the real me, the Xanderish person that first came into the job. He listens to me when I'm planning mild stuff.  He laughs at my anime collection but he knows how much it means to me. He's happy to be with *me*, not with some great gunman.  He's actually said that he wished I hadn't ever been a gunman, he'd like me more."

"Oh."  She sat down beside him.  "I get that, and it's totally cool with us, mom.  If you want him, have him.  He makes you really happy.  He makes you grin and laugh.  Something our fathers haven't done in a while.  But we're not sure he can really be there for you when bad things start to happen.  So you can come to us for that stuff, okay?"  Xander nodded and gave her another hug.  "Thanks, mom.  Send him something mushy."

"You could start writing to him."

"I did last week," she admitted with a small smirk.  "That's when we had this talk about that stuff.  By the way, some of your guys aren't happy that you're taking up with someone outside of the life."

"Bastian's not happy because I'm making moves toward retirement.  He hasn't realized that I'm still doing stuff, just not in the field anymore. I talked with him recently and reminded him of that fact.  He said he'd see how it goes."  She nodded.  "Then again, I'll never be fully out of the life.  I can't ever fully leave, or else I'd never see you guys."  He smirked at her.  "So behave, Ar.  Got it?"  She nodded, going back to her dinner.  He wrote back to Alan, sending him a mushy note and telling him about what he and Arsene had just talked about.  Then he got up and decided to go for a drive.  He sent himself back to London, going to grab his car.  His Jetta was in the garage, but his backup car was still there.  He drove off, going to think to some quiet music and empty roads.  He saw a hazy shape appear on the road in front of him and tried to stop, but he ended up skidding and flipping the car onto its side, blacking out when it hit.

The demon looked at him and groaned.  "That is so bad.  I'm going to be ripped apart for this."  He went to get his Prince some help, before anyone higher up found out about that.  His current toy had a phone.


Melissa found her father's room empty the next morning and sat down to check his empire for him, sending out a 'hi, it's 'Lis' message onto his bulletin boards.  She saw one from Bastian and grimaced.  "What?"  She typed to him, ignoring most everyone else.  "What do you mean you're in the hospital?"  She read the message and went pale.  "How bad?"  She typed in a 'bye' and pulled out her father's phone, calling him.  "What happened?" she demanded when he answered.  She listened to his report.  "No, we're in Japan.  He was here too.  Thanks.  No, I can find Alan and tell him too.  No, don't let him wake up alone.  Go ahead and hand the phone to the nurse."  She took a deep breath.  "This is Alexander Harris' daughter. Yes, him.  Yes, I am.  No, but I'm sending forms over for Bastian to treat him until we can get there.  Do you have a fax number?"  She typed it onto the blank screen.  "Thank you.  No, we've got permission to treat, don't worry about it."  She hung up and searched his computer for the power of attorney papers, then typed up a document stating that Bastian Morales had permission to treat him until the family showed up, going to have Jigen sign it.  "Here, you've got power of attorney for him and Bastian needs it, dad," she said quietly, glancing at Arsene.  "He went out for a midnight ride and had a crash.  He's back in London.  They airlifted him from the local hospital."

"Fuck," she stated, her voice a growl.  "Who the hell hit him?"

"Bastian said that dad was babbling something about a demon appearing on the road.  No drugs or alcohol in his system other than his pain killers.  They checked."

Jigen signed the forms, handing them back.  "Fax them over, tell Bastian we'll be there by tonight."  She nodded, going to do that from the office.  Jigen looked around then went out to talk with Lupin, who was outside with both Goemon elders.  "Xander had a crash last night."

"What!" Goemon demanded.

"He's in London.  Someone contacted Bastian or he found out.  We're sending him papers to have him treated until we can get there."

"Let me pack," Lupin agreed.  "Melissa, make us some transportation plans," he yelled.

"Already done. You're leaving from the local airport on a private jet."

Lupin looked at the Goemons.  "We'll be back as soon as we can.  I'll call tonight to tell you how bad he is."  He ran to get his bag, handing Jigen his on the way out of the door.  They took the sedan, noticing that Arsene was in the backseat.  "You can wait."

"Fat chance, father."  She pulled out her phone and checked the phone book, calling a number on it.  "Alan, it's Arsene.  Daddy had a bad crash last night. He's in London.  I'll call you later to tell you where and how bad."   She hung up and looked at them.  "Drive, father, or I will."  He backed down the driveway, heading for the airport, and she waved at the boys watching.  She glanced behind them, then got to her knees so she could flip down the seat beside her and look in the trunk.  "Hi, Fred.  That was a good job of picking locks.  Come up here."  He crawled up there with his teddy bear.  "Good boy."

"Good job, Fred.  Your sister can bring you home later," Lupin ordered, glaring at his daughter in the mirror.   "You're not going."

"Fat chance, father.  He's my mother, I'm going.  You can drug me if you want and I'll still get Melissa to get my ass over there."  She gave Fred a hug.  "Good boy.  Yes, we'll go see Mommy."  He grinned.

"No, we'll have someone bring him back here," Jigen decided, tapping Lupin on the arm.  "Put him down beside the gate and close it.  We can take Arsene.  She's old enough."  Lupin sighed and did that, putting Fred inside the gate and closing it.  Then they headed back to the main road.  "Thank you for calling him, princess."

"Not a problem, Uncle Jigen. I figured someone else would if I didn't.  Should I call Kowalski as well?"

"Nah.  Let Bix tell him," Lupin decided, speeding up to get to the airport.


Xander woke up in a very bright, cheery room and groaned, pushing himself up with a wince.  "Ow."  He looked beside him, finding his daughter sitting there.  "No one else came?"

"They're talking with the doctors.  Congrats, you fucked your knee bad enough to need it to be replaced.  You didn't have to shoot it."  She stood up and gave him a hug.  "Relax.  You needed the rest."  She helped him down, smoothing out the sheets.  "Alan said he's coming in tonight and he's leaving tomorrow for that show, then he'll be back.  I took it out of your checking account."  He nodded, squeezing her hand.  "Bastian is really worried about you now.   If it hadn't been for that demon, you probably would have laid there until morning.  The Ancestors went home late last night.  The Kitsune Lord came down to help with that.  Melissa told him where you were and why.  He growled and apparently the anger gave him the extra boost he needed.  I gave him that thing that you locked the portals with but he handed it back."  He sighed.  "So I unlocked them and glared at him.  He should be back tonight. He likes to show up in the middle of the night."  She smoothed some of his hair down.  "You'll be fine.  There's a lot of bruises and some minor scraping but your backup car is gone.  Totally totaled.  Daddy said he'd lend you one until you could get yours out of the shop."

"I doubt I'm going to be driving before then," Xander said bitterly, looking down at his knees.  "Just the one?"

"Just the one.  They scanned your other one and have been giving you the normal dose of medicine you should be taking.  They said it'd be fine and that after this you shouldn't need anymore."

"Arsene, both of my knees ache," he pointed out.

"Then you'll just have to make them replace the other one," she said dryly, smirking at him.  The door opened to admit the nurse.  "Hey, he wanted to know what you're doing about his other bad knee."

"The doctor will be in to talk to you soon enough," she said, checking his machines and IV. "As of right now, we're simply killing the pain."

"If I could have a gun, I'll gladly blow it out to get it replaced too," he offered sweetly.  She snorted and patted him on the arm before leaving them alone.

Jigen came in next, followed by Lupin.  "Bastian had to leave, his sister's in labor."

"That's fine, family comes first," he agreed. "I'll call him later."  He tipped the head of the bed up, looking at them.  "I'm fine."

"Mostly," Lupin agreed.  "You are now the proud owner of a new titanium knee."  He sat on the foot of the bed, patting the bandages.  "You'll be fine.  They said you shouldn't have a problem walking with some practice.  So we'll be taking you home after this."

"No, you've got plans," Xander said firmly.  "Go have fun."

"Xander, you'll need help."

"Argue with me again and I'm never coming home.  Go on vacation just like you planned.  I have a staff there."

"Fine," Jigen said mildly.  "Alan should be landing in about an hour."

"That's fine, I didn't want to worry him.  He could have stayed there and just come home at the usual time."

"This is what those who love you do, we worry," Arsene reminded him gently.  "Let them fuss, mom.  Or else we kids will have to.  You hate it when we do."  He nodded, getting comfortable again.  "Okay, you rest.  I'll drive these two to the airport and then be back.  Then we'll head to the main house in France while you rest, until you're ready to be picked up."  He shook his head.  "You can't drive like that."

"No, but I can take the train back to the house and have the butler or someone pick me up at the station."

"Fat chance, Xander," Jigen said coolly.  "You're not going back there alone."

"There's others up there and I can't have Alan at the main house or else he'll be chased by Gramps.  I'll be back once he goes on tour."

"You could stay here in town," Arsene offered.

"Those reporters are still following me around.  I'd rather no one knew where that hideout was.  Besides, this way I don't have to come over later this year to deal with the estate stuff.  I can get it out of the way for another year."  Everyone nodded. "So you two are going on vacation and I'm going back to the manor house.  The kids can come stay with me or go back to France, that's up to them."  They all nodded.  "Any other discussions?"  They shook their heads.  "Then go.  Before the pain killers wear off."  Lupin and Jigen both gave him a hug but they knew better than to argue with him over stuff like this, he'd out- stubborn them.  They left, letting Arsene drive them to the airport.  Xander settled in and was relaxing when his next guest appeared.  "Hey, Ray.  How's it going with Bix?"

"Not bad.  She's real worried about you at the moment."

"I'm fine.  Mostly some big booboos."  He shrugged.  "They replaced one of my knees."

"But that's helpful," he reminded him, smirking at him.  "I could handcuff you to the bed."

"Since I don't have any warrants, you'd be in deep shit if you did," Xander said lightly, smirking at him.  "You're welcome to try however."  Ray shook his head and sat down.  "I'm fine."

"I'm sure you think you are, but you did promise to cap us in a way that meant we couldn't follow the kids when you retired."

"That's in a few months," Xander promised him.  "The kids are going back to school soon.  When they've started, once they pull their first official job."

"Sure, we can handle that," Ray agreed with a grin.  "I called everyone and told them you wouldn't be at Paris this year."

"Bet me."

"It's next week, Xander."

"So?  I can go in a wheelchair."

"Good point.  I'll tell Misty that you'll need to have things changed around then."  He patted him on the hand.  "You sure you're gonna be okay?"

"No, but I've dealt with worse in the past."

"Good point.  You sure you want them to go on vacation?"

"Hell yes, otherwise they'll hover and pout and push me to come back."

"You're not going back?"

"Into the field, probably, into their arms, probably not," he sighed.  "I'm tired of trying to keep their attention.  I need someone who *wants* to be with me. Not someone who I'm a convenient hole for.  Alan actually likes me, it's a nice change."

"Okay, as long as you're happy.  You work less when you're happy," he reminded him smugly.  "I'll call Misty tonight and warn you may still be coming but you're going to be in a chair.  You get better, Xander.  The life's boring without chasing you around the world."  He gave him a gentle pat and left, going back to make his report.  At least this gave them a few more months before they had to make plans to retire.

Xander was starting to dose when Alan burst into the room, grinning at him.  "Hi.  I'm okay."

"You're not all right, you're in that bed!"  He gave him a hug and put the flowers in his hand down on the bedside table.  He looked him over.  "Just banged up?"

"And a replacement knee."

"You poor thing."  He gave him a gentle kiss.  "I can stay."

"No, you're going back to do your show then coming back to let me spoil you," Xander ordered.  "I didn't want to throw off your schedule.  You could have waited."

"Fat chance, Xander.  Now, behave and I'll buy you a treat later.  I might even get you a soda."  Xander grinned at him.  "Good boy.  Need anything?"

"Helped into the bathroom?"

"Of course.  I can't stand those little bedpans and stuff either."  He lowered the bedside railing and helped him up, steadying him into the bathroom.  Then he came back out to fuss in the room until his mate called for him again.   Maybe he'd be able to keep Xander in bed.  He was tucking him back in when the nurse came back.  "He just went to the loo."

"We figured as much."  She smiled at him.  "Time for medicine."

"Ooh, I love medicine time," he agreed happily.  "Can we kill my other knee too?"

"No, Mr. Harris.  Sorry."  She handed over the little cup of pills.  "Fortunately we won't have to shove it into your buttocks again.  Unless you give us trouble."

"I'm a good boy," he said innocently.

Alan snorted.  "Don't believe it.  He's a bad, bad boy."

"So I can tell," she agreed, taking the cup back.  "Good boy. You rest.  Your friend can stay for a few more hours, then we'll have to clear him out for a bit."

"No, he's my boyfriend, he can stay," Xander told her.  "The others are my ex's and the parents of my children, and my children.  The exes are going on vacation, the kids may be back, and they can come up too."

"Fine," she agreed, going to make notes of that for him.

"I'm proud of you, you didn't lock them out," Alan said with a smirk.  "Very good job."

"I wouldn't lock them out.  It'd only be a challenge."  He grinned at him.  "Wanna cuddle?"

"No, I'll sit here and watch you sleep for a bit while I write my agent."

"Use my laptop.  Arsene brought it."  He pointed at it.  "It's my backup one."

"Thanks, Xan."  He grabbed it and plugged it in, writing his agent a nice email about what was going on and how he'd be back there tomorrow, airlines willing.  "Think I should work on a nurse routine?"

"Sure.  You can practice on me," Xander leered, making his lover blush.  "Just think, for the next month or so I've got to be on my back probably.  No kinky stuff."

"Hmm, I could appreciate you on your back for the next month," Alan agreed lightly, smirking at him.  "We'll have to see about that won't we?"

Xander giggled and curled up on his side to watch him type.

The End.

To Part 51

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