Xander sighed as he picked up the phone, calling his might-as-well-be-son. "Son, sit," he said quietly. "You know how I hacked into Interpol? Yeah, through Uncle Ray's email. I did it again just now. Your mother's missing. They think Lupin and Jigen, the younger set, stole her."
Ishi looked at the wall across from him. "Are we sure it was them? Sister and Lupin are gone right now." He nodded once, listening to the wise advice. "Thank you, mom. I'll talk to you later. Listen for a dead body hitting the ground outside." He hung up and looked at the teacher. "I need to find a reasonable person to speak to. I'll be right back." She nodded, watching as he walked out, wincing as he slammed the door. Ishi headed up to the Headmistress' office, gently knocking before walking inside. "Apparently my sister and Lupin were blackmailed?" he asked. She stared at him. "I know what they went to do."
"They were blackmailed, your father made them, Ishi," she said gently. "He didn't want you told until he had talked to her. The plan was to put her back once they had that talk."
"I doubt it," he said bitterly. "My father is not exactly worldly about his women. Call Uncle Lupin for me please?" She nodded, dialing the number. "Uncle?" he asked when he heard the grunt. "Why did my father have my mother stolen from Interpol?" Jigen choked and grumbled, but a moment later Lupin came on. "The same question if you wouldn't mind, Uncle," he said, his voice cool and calm sounding, even though he was seething.
"Ishi, he only wanted to speak to her, nothing further."
"Then you might want to check the transmitter, Lupin," Jigen said from the other end. "The Fiat is heading back this way already."
"Exactly, Uncle Lupin. Father blackmailed my sister to get her free. My father, who took her in knowing what she had done to you for ages and what she had done to the rest of us as well, had her stolen from ICPO headquarters by my sister and Lupin."
"Let me call them and I'll get back with you, Ishi," Lupin promised. "He's not that dumb."
"No, but he's got a slight romantic streak, Uncle. Otherwise he wouldn't have married her."
"Who told you, kid?"
"Fine. Where is she?"
"Oh, that one," Jigen said flatly.
"Where is he?" Lupin asked.
"Fuck if I know, he tapped into Uncle Ray's email again. I'll await word on whether or not I get the honor of killing her this time."
"No, let your father figure it out, Ishi. You don't have to talk to her," the Headmistress reminded him. "You won't be going home for another two months. That's plenty of time for them to straighten that out."
"If he's right, then Goemon's back in love with her," Lupin sighed. "We'll figure it out and tell you guys, Ishi. Just stay calm."
"If she's at the house, I'm not coming back. I'll go to Japan, I'll go to Mom's. I'm not going to stay in the same house as her. I will lose my temper and I will kill her," he noted calmly.
"Of course, kid. Just try to keep calm," Jigen ordered quietly. "Don't tell anyone else yet. Melissa will throw a massive fit."
"I feel I should, that way no one else can," he offered.
"Then do it in private, Ishi," Lupin ordered.
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." He shook his head and turned to slam his fist into a wall, cracking the wall. "I'm going to do something to calm down. May I head out to swim, Headmistress?"
"Go only to the pond and bring Melissa with you, Ishi. I don't want you alone right now," she told him. He nodded and went to gather his sister in spirit, taking her out there even though she looked confused. "Lupin, what do you want to do if they show up here?" she asked.
"Was that the wall?" Jigen asked.
"He cracked the wall next to the doorframe, Jigen. He's pissed beyond belief. He's got that scary calm look that Lupin used to have when he wanted to kill someone."
"I'll call Xander, get him onto his case," Lupin promised. "For right now, don't force it. Unless she shows up with Goemon she's not to see the kids at all. If they do, leave it up to the kids. Let them walk away or we may end up losing Goemon." The other side clicked and went to a dialtone.
She hung her head, saying a silent prayer for those children. They didn't need this.
Ishi looked at Melissa as they got to the pond. "You know that my mother was brought up, correct?" he asked as he stripped off.
"Ishi, not to be rude or anything, but I don't want to see you naked."
"Father had her stolen from Interpol by Lupin and my sister."
"Excuse me? Our Lupin?" He nodded, getting down to his briefs before diving in. "Oh, shit," she said, shaking her head. She looked up. "Why me!"
"You're here to keep me from killing myself in my anger."
"Sure. Been there, done that," she agreed, sitting down to watch him. "Are you okay?"
"No, but I'm wondering what he blackmailed her with. Mother called me."
"That's what the phone call was then," she said wisely. She found his phone and dialed it, getting her mother. "Mom? What's going on? No, Ishi's so mad he's steaming in the water. Yeah, he's swimming." She winced at the beep. "I think that's Daddy Lupin. Want me to hang up?" She smiled as he blipped over to talk to them, then came back. "Are they okay?"
"No, they're shocked," Ishi told her. He dove down then took off to do laps to wear himself out. Otherwise he would hurt someone without realizing it. He turned and went in the other direction. "People," he called between strokes.
Melissa looked back over her shoulder, then back at Ishi, shrugging. They could handle anything they needed to. Someone lurking in the woods wasn't that big a problem. "Sure, Mom, I'm still here. What's going on?" She listened to the whole tale, this time from both sources since her mother had conferenced in the other two. "What did he blackmail her with? I know Lupin wouldn't and Lotus still wants to eviscerate her." She heard a twig snap and glared back at the woods. "It's a private conference between us and our parents, moron. Go back to the school. We've got permission." She listened some more. "He's in the pond, I'm on the bank. We've got a lurker. Should I start in code?" She smirked. "Fine, Daddy. Thank you. Now, what's going on? Ishi's ready to kill." She listened to the whole tale, as told by Xander, then hummed and put a hand on her forehead. "Okay. We need to talk to Lupin and Goemon, the elder one. I'm surprised Lotus didn't poison her already. Yeah, that's fine. Conference us in to that talk. Thanks, daddy." She hung up. "There's not much you probably don't already know. Uncle Goemon called after they hung up with you and asked for a week off." Ishi growled and dove off to do more laps. "Slow down, Ishi, or you'll get too tired to walk back so I'd have to carry you and I'm cramping."
"Sorry," he called. He flipped over and dove down, then came out of the water and stomped toward where someone was listening to them. It turned out to be the student who hated Arsene most, DeMarllion. He had gotten captured during his field exercises because he was an arrogant prick. He hated her for having him saved. "What do *you* want?" he demanded.
"What's wrong? Not out here to get some? Pity, she's a pretty bitch if you put a bag over her head."
Ishi grabbed him by the throat and pulled him closer, growling in his face. "I'd leave, DeMarllion. I'm not in the mood for you. I will kill you today. We're out here to keep my temper in check before I rip someone to pieces." The other boy sneered so Ishi used his free hand to hit him in the jaw, cracking it.
"No, Ishi," Melissa ordered coolly. "Don't kill him. He's not a punching bag. He doesn't deserve your anger." She got between them, backing Ishi down. "Don't. He's not worth being expelled." The other boy sneered so she roundhouse kicked him in the other side of the jaw. "Shut up, you arrogant prick. No one asked your opinion on his family or his anger." She looked at Ishi. "I'll be right back. Wait for me before going back in." He nodded, going to sit on the bank where she had been. She grabbed the stupid boy's arms, dragging him back to the practice area, stunning the teacher. "He was eavesdropping and Ishi's in a high temper moment. We're out by the pond with permission. He got one side and I got the other when he tried to taunt Ishi into killing him." She dropped him and walked off.
"Did you shoot him?"
"No, Ishi hit him and I kicked him. Uncle Goemon taught us all," she said, bowing to him before leaving. She wasn't going to get into it with the teacher, Ishi needed her more. She came back and shooed off the girl trying to coo him into better humor, which was making him grimace at her. "Did you want her?"
"No. Thank you for saving me, Melissa." He hugged her, then shook his head and dove back in.
She sat there, watching him wear himself out so he wouldn't be able to hurt anyone else tonight. She'd get him up to his room and tucked in before dinner. He couldn't go much longer.
Lupin walked in with Lotus and held up a hand at the angry staring people. "Before you say it, Uncle G blackmailed her with having to stay that big. He was going to withhold her reduction surgery. I thought it better I do it than he come to you guys for this one," she told the other students. "Leave Lotus alone."
"Fine," Ishi agreed, staring her down. "What the hell is going on?"
"We came to take her back and they were hugging, she was crying about how sorry she was," Lotus said with a small sneer. "Father knows how I feel. I called him on the way back and told him I wasn't coming home as long as she was there. He didn't like it but he said he understood."
"Good, the Uncles told him I'm not either." He walked over to her. "Are you all right? Did she try anything?" he asked quietly. She shook her head. "Is she still whole?"
"For now. That may change," she promised, staring into his eyes. She could see his rage and knew the source, the same as he could see hers. "I'm leaving it up to the adults for now."
"What's the matter?" a boy called. "Did the mommy try something on you?"
Melissa calmly pulled her gun and shot his plate, making him shriek and run away crying. "Shut up, you little pissant." She looked at Lupin. "Are you okay?" she asked calmly, putting her gun back.
"I'm fine. I stole someone from Interpol Headquarters in broad daylight, during a shift change, with three Inspectors in the room," she noted, shrugging a bit. "We can always put her back."
Melissa nodded. "That's fine. The fathers are in agreement. We do not have to socialize or be in the same house as her. They called earlier. Your father wants to talk to you."
"I can't let Lotus suffer, Melissa, you know that."
"I do, and so does he. Daddy figured it was something like that. Even if he gets into a funny mindset, she'll still get it." Lotus looked at them. "Daddy Lupin promised, Lotus. And so did Mom." She relaxed. "We don't have to go home for the holidays if we don't want to."
"I need to go to Japan around then," she offered.
"Then we'll escort you," Lupin agreed. "We can easily bring the kids. Sarah could use the training anyway and Bix could probably use the vacation."
"Fine," she agreed. "Let's eat, Ishi."
"Of course. If you can stomach food after being in the same car with her."
"She was crying about how sorry she was."
"She did that to Daddy Lupin a few times too, I'm sure," he said coolly. "She's not the one I recognize as my mother. To me, my real mother is dead."
"I agree," Lotus decided. "Any woman who would try to harm her infant child is not worthy of the title."
"Then we're agreed, she's a Fujiko-shade," Lupin agreed calmly. They nodded. "Melissa?"
"I'm ignoring the bitch. If she wants my attention, she can ask someone else to talk to me on her behalf. If we're in the middle of a job and she needs saved, one of the adults had better do it."
"Fine," Ishi agreed. "I can concur."
"Me as well," Lotus agreed quietly, looking at her hands.
"Hey, shunning worked for centuries," Arsene agreed, putting her hand out. They all shook on it.
"How sweet," DeMarllion hissed. "Little sissies all in agreement."
"Lotus, don't!" Melissa said as Lotus got up, but she had already attacked, beating the boy into the floor. "No!" She pulled her off, letting Arsene and Ishi help hold her. "You can't attack him, we already had to deal with him earlier for trying this. You don't want expelled, do you?" She shook her head but her face was set and she had that thousand- yard stare of ice that her father had sometimes. "You can't kill him, Lotus. Even though he's an annoyance and a bunion on the butt of crime. You can't take him out yet. Wait until he gets in the way on a job," she hissed. Lotus nodded once, then stomped off to clean up.
Lupin looked down at the stupid person. "Are you terminally insane or is this just momentary stupidity? Did you *not* hear how Lotus is very deadly and not to take her on when she's having a bad day?" He gurgled something. "Um, I think he's got broken things. He's gurgling air." The teachers rushed to pick him up and take him away. She shook her head quickly. "Wow, Lotus was really fast," she said as she sat down to eat again. "I had no idea she could move like her father."
"She's a lot like daddy," Ishi offered calmly. "And it's better her than me in this case."
"Oh, we know," Arsene agreed. "We saw the dent in the wall, Ishi, and heard how it got there. Are you calmer?" He shrugged. "Fine. If you need us to, I'll go find a lot of protection and spar with you. If Mom doesn't suddenly show up."
Ishi bowed his head, then nodded. "Thank you, Arsene. I don't think I can keep myself from harming others yet however. Perhaps tomorrow."
"Sure, Ishi. Want to go upstairs? I'll call if Lotus gets called in to talk with the 'rents."
"Thank you." He got up and went upstairs to try to meditate on the roof of the dorm. Not that he'd succeed for a very long time. He could not get rid of that anger. His sister joined him, sitting against his back and doing the same. "In trouble?"
"Yup, sure am. They called Daddy directly. He grunted in displeasure but said it was understandable when my buttons were being pushed. Mom butted in and was told to stay out of it by the Headmistress. I'm suspended to the school for the next month."
"That's fine. We'll pick you up chocolate and things."
"Thanks. Dad's on his way up with her."
"Fuck him. I don't recognize her as an intelligent species."
"You're welcome, Lotus. We'll protect Kenji and Yu as well." She nodded, he could feel it. "For now, let us try to get rid of some of this anger before it gets worse." The roof door slammed open and both of them glared at the teacher. "We're meditating together."
"She's not supposed to be up here."
"She's still angry enough to hurt people, we're calming each other down," Ishi retorted.
"Still, it's not right," the range teacher noted calmly. "She can't be up here, Ishi, it'll get you both in trouble."
"Listen, he's the only one who understands what it's like to watch your mother turn into a money-grubbing whore, treat me like the nanny when we had one she refused near her children, and then belittle me for doing so. Not to mention treating me like a whore in training. If you don't like it, kick my ass out," she said firmly. "I'll simply go kill her directly. Father won't be stopping me." He shuddered, backing away from them. "The only people who understand are those who watched as my mother ignored our brother Kenji for nearly two whole days without feeding him, changing him, or anything else. I don't care if she's God reincarnated. My anger is greater than my brother's. He only had to watch it happen. Now, please leave so my brother can get me calmed down again. I promise I won't go after any of the boys. They have nothing to fear from me as long as they don't attack us like the idiot earlier."
He nodded. "I understand how you need him, Lotus. The problem is where you are. If you were doing this in the practice area or any other part of the school except overtop of the girls' dorms, you'd be fine and we'd gladly leave you alone. Unfortunately you're in a place where you can get in more trouble and we don't want to lose you to expulsion when you're very close at the moment. The boy's father is on his way up to try for you himself. Now, please, find another place where you two can do this together that won't get you in trouble. I promise you, if Fujiko walks through the doorway, I'll stop her myself before she tries anything on either of you. I'm on your senior boards. You know that I'll do that. Jigen didn't have to ask, but he did." They nodded. "Now, go find somewhere less damaging." They nodded and got up, walking past him. He kept himself from shaking. That girl had some anger in her and it was easy to see how she had nearly killed that boy earlier. He was just glad she didn't do it to him. He went back down to his room to call Jigen and warn him so he could warn Goemon.
Lotus looked as an adult male was let into the room, standing up. "You wished to see me?" she asked quietly.
"You attacked my son."
"After your son made some disgusting insinuations and had bothered us already once that day." He looked stunned. "Feel lucky he lived, sir. I am an assassin candidate. I am very well trained and I have passed my mastery. That does not keep my temper from coming out now and then. Your son brought it on himself. I'm sorry I nearly killed him but he basically got what he deserved."
"And what about you, missy? If I attacked you for saying he's that bad, wouldn't you deserve it?"
"If you do attack me, I can easily hold you off," she noted calmly. "He did not try to stop me. He knew his actions were incorrect." His father yelled and lunged so she kicked his ass, then sat down again, staring down at him. "Do you feel better?" she asked quietly. "Now you know why your son will never come near me again, nor Lupin the Fourth. It was stupidity on his part and brashness on yours. Fortunately, you're not as badly hurt." The Headmistress came in and paused. "He attacked me."
"I saw. I also heard, Lotus."
"It's not bragging, Headmistress. We both know it to be true, including him. I did leave him uninjured enough to get up if he would care to."
"I'll turn you in to Zenigata," he sneered as he carefully stood up.
"I doubt it. He already knows I could care less if he lives or not," she said coolly, getting comfortable. "When is my father due in?"
"He's downstairs. Your mother is in town." Lotus nodded at that. "Do you need an ice pack, Mr. DeMarllion?"
"No, but I want her expelled! She attacked me!"
"You acted first," the Headmistress noted. "We have tape to prove it. Which her father will be seeing."
"Fine, then I want to watch as he beats her."
"Why would he?" Lotus asked. "I protected myself from a much larger and heavier opponent. He may scowl, as is his right as my father, but he will not beat me for protecting myself." Her father walked in an indeed he was scowling already. "He attacked me, I defended myself."
"I see." He looked at the other father. "Is his son the one who bothered you the other night and you nearly killed?" She nodded. "Then why did he attack you?"
"I told him the truth, his son started it and I ended the problem his son was creating. I'm sorry that I nearly killed him but he did not defend himself and he did deserve to get his ass kicked."
"We will be speaking on your temper, daughter, at length," he advised. She shrugged. "Now then, what is going on?" he asked the headmistress.
"Basically, you've about heard both sides, Goemon. Mr. DeMarllion's son did indeed start it earlier by trying to catch Ishi while Melissa was getting him calmed down. Ishi hit him once, the boy got back up and tried his tactics on Melissa, who broke the other side of his jaw. Fortunately we got him treated well enough, and then he came back and started on the group once Lupin and your daughter came back. He insinuated that Fujiko was doing...inappropriate things with her when they were speaking, she lost her temper, by her own admission, and beat him severely for it." Goemon gave his daughter a look, and she nodded. "Then today, Mr. DeMarllion came in here and taunted her a bit, where she taunted back. He attacked her after she warned him that she could harm him, and she was polite enough to leave him living, mobile, and mostly unharmed."
"I see," Goemon said calmly. He looked at the other father. "Is this true about your son?"
"No! My son is an innocent little boy!" he spat.
"His son was one of the ones Lupin had to save on the field exercises, father. He's the one that got them all arrested." Her father nodded. "He hates us. It's very clear he hates us. His first day back and he tries to sneak peeks at Lupin. She kicked his butt then. He tried to insinuate things with Melissa, and she about shot him on the range one day. He tried with Ishi when he wasn't calm and his temper was high, and Melissa pulled him off before he tried a second time within moments. Then later that night, he tried me and I wasn't in as good of a mood as brother was. I attacked and I was pulled off when I realized what I had done. I'm sorry I nearly killed him, but at least I didn't. His son could be bred to get a next generation and taught better."
Goemon coughed. "That was unkind, daughter. Shut up, now."
"Yes, father. Sorry." She looked at the Headmistress and grimaced. "Is he really needed? He should probably get that bleeding gum stopped."
"Here, have a tissue," the Headmistress offered, holding out the box. He snatched it and sat down far from Lotus to clean himself up. "Thank you. Lotus, are you calmer now?"
"I only defended myself this time," she repeated dryly. "I could have really hurt him if I had been angrier."
"Daughter, when did you grow a temper?"
"When you blackmailed me into taking that bitch out of police custody," she noted sarcastically. "How about you, father?"
He glared at her. "This is not the forum for that discussion."
"That's fine, let's solve the matter of needing one. We're not acknowledging that she exists. End of subject. No need for a forum." She looked at the Headmistress again. "Did it bother people that Ishi and I were meditating outside again last night?"
"No," she admitted quietly. "We figured it was necessary. We simply did not want you on top of the boy's dorm with him. We do have teenagers and they would be wanting to try to touch you and things, which could get them attacked as well. It was for your safety as well as theirs."
"I understood the reason, but they would have been safe," she noted calmly. "Is the practice area agreeable?"
"Yes, the teacher said that you may use it anytime you want. You have both passed your masteries and only have the harder levels ahead of you. You both have earned the right to use the course whenever you feel the need to."
"Thank you," Goemon said quietly, then looked at his daughter. "We will be speaking, daughter."
"No, father, we won't be. Not on that subject. My anger has a reason and a cause. My anger is reasonable for that cause. My anger is going to continue to seethe while she's unpunished."
"She has been punished."
"Not enough," Lotus assured him, standing up. "Father, I do not want to discuss family business in front of outsiders. So I will end this here and now. I will not speak to her. I will not be in her presence. I will not acknowledge her existence. It is keeping my temper in check. It will also help when we take the younger sons away and protect them this time. Just so that they don't end up with the same anger issues. You can ask your first born son the same questions and he will answer the same way. We may love you, but we're going to punish her ourselves if no one else does."
"She was already tortured."
"Yay. Whine. That about puts us even, father. Now, let's talk about all the other things she did once we're alone." Goemon paled. "Now you see why. This holiday, I'm going to Japan to be presented to the Order. Ishi said he'd accompany me if you did not wish to. I leave that up to you. I will gladly associate with the family, but one." She nodded at the Headmistress. "May I get a drink?"
"Go, Lotus." She bowed before leaving. "Goemon, this is disturbing to her. Her anger is only getting worse. His son was responsible for her letting it out the other night during dinner. Now, we need to work on it before it gets worse than before. Preferably before his son gets more stupid and tries again."
Goemon nodded. "I agree, but this is not something he can help with. Lotus has apologized?"
"Not enough," the other father complained. "She nearly killed my only son."
"Then your son should learn how to guard his mouth better," Goemon noted coolly. "Did you have another problem with my daughter?" The other father sneered. "Remember, your son's reputation will hinge on such attitudes," he warned smoothly. "My daughter is a better thief and assassin than your son, without being like her mother." He got up and stomped off. Goemon took a deep breath. "It must be something in the family that sets us all off. I wished to finish what my daughter started."
"You and Lupin both," the Headmistress admitted. "What are we going to do about this, Goemon? Ishi's taken himself out of practice before he harmed someone. Lotus won't go because she *knows* she'll hurt someone. Your children are in pain but at least they know not to inflict it on others. We need to work out a way to get them over this pain."
"Won't happen," Lupin said from the doorway, walking in and petting Goemon on the head. "Sorry, needed to see the daughter. Goemon, where's she?"
"Your daughter? Perhaps she is on the range?"
"Not the she I meant, Goemon. Arsene's not in her room, not in the school, and neither is Melissa." They shared a look and Goemon groaned. "Is she at the inn?" He nodded. "Thanks. I'll bring the girls back."
"When you do, we need to discuss this, Lupin. The kids will hurt someone for real the next time." He nodded, heading back out at a run. "Take Lotus with you," she yelled.
She looked at Goemon again. "This way you don't feel like beating her to death for it," she said, sounding very practical.
"I did not wish to beat her, I have control of my temper," he admitted bitterly. "Why can they not see that she's changed?"
"Goemon, think about what she did to them. If what Lotus said on the roof to the range teacher was true, she will never like her mother. Did her mother try to turn her into a whore?"
"Fujiko tried to get Lotus to be like her," he admitted. "She is pretty and Fujiko only works in two manners. Lotus would not."
"Agreeable. Lotus is pretty but she'll never be the maneater that Fujiko is. Or was. She'll never be the distraction. She'll never be the loose one with the boys. She'll never be the one in the short skirt and heels unless it's *absolutely* necessary. It gives her nightmares. She had a few good ones after that single day in the distraction class. She knows that people aren't going to look past her breasts to see her or her skills. Now, what about where Fujiko tried to sell her? Or to harm her from a distance, which we intercepted?" He frowned at that. "She tried to set her up an interview with the head Courtesan in Europe, Goemon. We intercepted the invitation. We knew who had set it up because I called her to talk to her on Lotus' behalf. No, I never told her, I brought it to Melissa. She's the calm one of the group about such things. She was also needing a nap because she had spent all night helping Lotus calm down after her nightmares. That was after the wine tasting." Goemon nodded. "Now, your kids are in pain. I want to help you with them. Ishi and Lotus are some of our best students. We adore them. Ishi is doing very well handling his temper, but as she noted he only had to watch their mother pick on her and try to harm her and others. We need to figure out what to do."
"Would screaming at others help?" Ishi asked as he walked in. "Where is Lotus?"
"Lupin came to talk to his daughter, who was off campus, so he took her with my permission," the Headmistress told him. "Why?" Ishi held up a box. "What's that?" He handed it over. "Goemon, did you know that your wife was sending her things?"
"No." He took the package and opened it, then shook his head, handing it back to his son. "Do not give that to her, let Melissa have it. It won't fit Lotus anyway."
"Yes, father." He looked at the outfit, then shook his head. "That is fairly tasteless." He tucked it in his pocket, then looked at the headmistress. "With your permission, I'm going to meditate in the woods, ma'am."
"Agreeable, Ishi. Thank you for taking yourself out of the way of possible harm." He nodded and left, after giving his father a short hug. She looked at Goemon. "Now do you see, Goemon?"
"I did before," he admitted. "I will talk with the children tonight." He heard Arsene complaining as she was drug up the stairs, looking back at her. "Stop it," he ordered. "You are older than your brother." He got up and said something in the older Lupin's ear, making him groan. "Ishi is in the woods."
"Which is a very good place for him at the moment," Lotus agreed as she walked in with Melissa. "What's happened now?"
Everyone looked at Goemon, who shook his head. "You got a present in questionable taste," he admitted.
"I doubt Xander would send me something like that."
"Your birth mother," Goemon corrected.
"She's dead to me, father. How do shades send tacky presents?" He stared her down so he shrugged. "We have agreed, she is dead to us all." She walked away.
"She is, Uncle G," Lupin the Fourth agreed. "I refuse to see my best friends hurt that way. She's hurting Ishi and Lotus is in so much pain the other empath in school looks at her and bursts out crying. We've made our decision. We will not see her, talk to her, acknowledge her, save her, or anything. This holiday, if she's at the main house, we'll be going to Japan with Bix and the kids for Lotus' presentation. You are all more than welcome to come with us, but her."
Lupin looked down at his daughter, the one he considered his near-clone. "Ar," he started.
"No, father. We've made our decision. Even if she turns into Mary fricken Sunshine, we're not accepting that she's more than a shade."
"She hurt Lotus so badly that Lotus doesn't like to be dressed up and is nearly phobic about parenthood, Uncle Lupin," Melissa reminded him. "She nearly killed Kenji. She was starting in on myself and Lupin as well. We only got the edges of what Lotus was getting and it was too much at that time. We've made our decision. That, of course, was when DeMarllion jumped in with another bout of trying to prove himself and nearly died. I'm sure she's sorry about nearly killing him."
Goemon nodded. "So she said. She is not a shade."
"To us she is," Lupin the Fourth told him.
"She was playing with Fred earlier," Lupin offered.
"Fred is old enough to think and get around her, father. Yu still isn't. Neither is Kenji really."
Melissa looked around. "Please tell me you left my father with the kids?"
"Fujiko's in town," Lupin reminded her. "Fred's back in Germany."
"Has anyone told Bix?" Lupin asked. The elder Lupin nodded. "What was her reaction?"
"That she'd stay up there for a bit longer, even though the kids wanted to come home," Goemon admitted. "She has changed, can you not give her one last chance?"
"Not to quote or anything, but no, she's used too many turns already," Melissa told him. Lupin winced at that.
"If Lotus and Ishi feel the need to, then we will support them, but we will not be happy about it, Uncle Goemon," Lupin the Fourth said seriously. "Then again, if she hurts Lotus or Ishi again, she's ours to handle."
"No," Lupin said.
"Tough, father. She's not hurting your generation, she's hurting ours."
"Yeah, and you're still our kids. That's a parent's job." They stared each other down but he could see he wasn't going to win this one.
"Father, you couldn't harm her because of your prior affection for her," she said gently. "We're trying to spare you greater pain from this. She's ours if she hurts Lotus or Ishi again."
Goemon shook his head. "It is my duty to my family. You may help if I need it," he admitted when they stared him down. "I will not allow them to be harmed."
"Then you allowed her to send Lotus a trashy outfit?" Melissa asked. "Your daughter is nearly phobic of short skirts thanks to her mother. Every once in a while she will dress up and then she'll have nightmares all night. I should know, I sat up with her the last time."
"You could have called."
"You were dead to the world," Melissa reminded her. She stared her uncle down. "She's already hurting Lotus, Uncle. Otherwise she wouldn't be in the woods with Ishi." She looked up at Lupin. "If you want to help us cushion them, we'd more than welcome it, Uncle Lupin. As is, it's a good thing I don't have classes tomorrow. She's going to be up all night with nightmares as she was most of last night too."
"At least Miriam is a natural counselor," Arsene offered. Melissa nodded at that. "We really should get her into that field instead of assassinations."
"I'll suggest it to her, girls," the Headmistress agreed. "For now, let's figure out how to help Lotus and Ishi calm down." Everyone nodded and sat down, looking at her. "What will help this?"
"Ishi will start to calm down today," Melissa offered. "He's already showing signs of controlling his temper again. Ishi can control his internally, Lotus needs to let hers out."
"I will help my daughter," Goemon assured them.
"Good, but what about next time, Uncle Goemon?" Lupin asked. "She's pissed enough to kill you at the moment."
"It'd hopefully be an accident?" the older Lupin asked.
"We'd hope so too," Melissa agreed. "How is Mom getting rid of hers?"
"Alan can't walk and got him calmed down," Lupin said tiredly. "He's to the point where he's only vibrating, not blurting and screaming in frustration."
"Marcus offered to spar with him and Xander turned him down for the same reason my children did their practices," Goemon told him. "It was very wise of him."
"I'll tell him you said that, Goemon. Xander's already picked his side though. He's sticking up for your kids." Goemon nodded at that. "He'll do anything you need him to do, he said so, but he said he's ignoring her being there. He even did it without the kids telling him what they were doing about this."
"He did have the most influence in our lives," Arsene offered dryly. "After all, it was him and Uncle G who basically raised all of us." She shifted some, crossing her legs. "What are we doing about the holidays?"
"You're coming home," Lupin said firmly. "Then we'll all escort Lotus to Japan to witness that." They nodded, that seemed reasonable. "If she's there, you guys can ignore her like she's a shade. I will agree with that approach. It'll keep any direct snarking and picking down to the barest minimum. We've got to let Goemon decide on his own relationship."
"She has changed."
Lupin looked at him. "Not to quote or anything, Goemon, but how would you know? She's a constant problem in our lives and she always says such things." Goemon sighed. "You said that about her how many times?"
"This time she has, even Jigen saw it."
"No, Jigen said he saw her crying, that's not a change."
"A woman's tears are a weapon," Melissa told him. "We're taught that and she tried to teach us that too."
"Fine. What would convince you all?" Goemon asked.
"Mom saying it," Lupin the Fourth told him. "Uncle Jigen saying it."
"Very well. I will ask Xander to come back for now. His is wise about people because he watches them so often." Goemon looked at Lupin. "Would that be fine?"
"As long as you help him keep him calm," Lupin agreed. "Remember, Xander's got a temper like Lotus'. He will have to let it out."
"Agreeable," Goemon agreed. "What of the children?"
"I'd rather have them at home, Goemon. They're in a critical time for their training. I will be telling Bix that she's not allowed access to the kids without someone else there. I don't think it'll be a problem, but I'm not going to chance it with Sarah being so weak at the moment."
"Excuse me, what's wrong with my baby sister?" Melissa asked dryly.
"She caught the flu," Lupin told her. "She's in that long recovery stage. She's already seen the doctor to be checked over again. They did another EKG. They said it's getting to the point where they might want to fix a valve."
"Fine. We'll be home for the holidays," Melissa agreed calmly. "If she needs to be operated on, I want to be there."
"Of course." Lupin looked at Goemon. "Is that good for you?"
"It is a good compromise," he admitted. "She won't be able to hold an act that long so we would know if it was real before the holidays." His children walked back in with the range teacher. "Was there another problem?"
"One of the assassin candidates just tried to jump them," the range teacher noted. "He's on his way to the hospital, Headmistress."
"Agreeable. I deplore that idea."
"Thank you. Ishi was attacked first, and he did fight the boy off, who ran and went for Lotus. She was taking apart his ribs when Ishi saved him by blowing a large hole in his knee. She came to get us and report the incident."
"Very well done, children. Are you all right?"
"I need an ice pack," Lotus offered, holding up her swollen knuckles. "He was wearing body armor. You might also want to have them check the dagger mark on his side."
"I'm sure they've already found it, Lotus," he assured her, patting her on the back. "Melissa, can I have you three work with a few of the first years today?"
"Sure," she agreed. "Lupin?"
"Good with me. Ishi?" He nodded. "We'll be out once we're done here."
"That's fine, they'll be out in two classes." He smiled and nodded at Lupin. "Your daughter is excellent. It's clear she eared her own forty-eight." He left, going back to his students.
"I'm sorry, but he did attack us first," Ishi noted calmly.
"You did the correct thing, Ishi," the Headmistress promised. "You're not in trouble for that. A compromise has been reached. Are you willing to listen?"
"If they can assure us we don't have to interact," Lotus admitted, pulling the bug off the desk and holding it up. "We were listening."
"You can treat her as a shade," Lupin promised.
"You will take your other mother's recommendations?"
"Probably," Lotus agreed. "I'm not promising anything."
"Agreeable, daughter," Goemon said, opening his arms. His daughter hugged him gently. "I'm sorry I used that against you," he whispered. "It was wrong of me, daughter." She nodded, pulling back. "Will you forgive me?"
"She has you blinded, father. I'm not surprised," she admitted. "I know you'll never do it again. Or else you won't have a daughter." He nodded, accepting that. She looked at her brother. "Are you okay with this?"
"She hurt you worse," Ishi reminded her. "If you can, I can, and we'll wear each other out if we must. Or mom."
"Good point. Thank you, Ishi." She sat down in her uncle's lap, looking at the Headmistress. "If someone's going off campus, I need some things."
"Your father may take you off for an hour," the Headmistress offered. "That way you can stock up on some necessities." Lotus nodded. "Is there anything else to discuss?"
"I'm still not ready to spar yet," Lotus admitted.
"Then go meditate or watch, Lotus," she offered. "You've already passed your mastery. The teacher saw you attack that boy and was quite in awe. He said you never showed moves like that in class."
"I try very hard not to do that at all," Lotus admitted.
"Daughter, do not hide your true skills," Goemon complained. "That is one thing I wish Xander hadn't taught you."
"Father, I can beat you. I tamed my skills to my opponent in this case." He gave her a long look. "Don't believe me? We can easily spar. I am calm enough and you can stop me from killing you if I lose it in the middle of the fight."
"Fine, we will do so," Goemon agreed. He stood up and pulled her up. "The regular practice area?"
"There's classes all day. We can use the inside ring," she offered. "It's sand."
"That's fine." He followed her down, letting his son hold his sword. He stripped off his robe when he saw she was down to a tanktop and the pants part of her gi. "Are you prepared?"
"I'm stretched. I was doing katas in the woods." She waved a hand. "I did learn not to attack first." He nodded and started off on a gentle attack. She attacked back, making him frown and match himself to her skills. It was a deadly fight back and forth, two masters working on each other, going so fast at times it was a blur. Lotus finally ducked a blow and got him in the stomach, then backflipped away and looked at him, arranging herself for a new attack. Goemon groaned and went down. She bowed to him before walking back over. "Daddy, women in crime have to be doubly, if not more, talented to get anywhere near the bottom levels," she reminded him. "I worked damn hard to impress you at this moment. Are you?"
He sat up and hugged her. "You are quite impressive, Lotus. I congratulate and honor you." He gave her a squeeze. "You are very good, daughter." He smiled at her. "Very well done." He pushed some of her hair off her neck. "Which weapon are you specializing in?"
"I thought possibly daggers, I do seem to like them," she admitted, pulling some hair around to play with it. "I do very well with a sword though."
"I remember. You can learn them both," he promised, giving her another hug. "You are wonderful, daughter."
"Thanks, daddy." She grinned at him. "Are you okay? I kept myself from reaching for my dagger to stab you."
"No, I'm fine, daughter. You did very well." He stood up, setting her on her feet, then bowed to her. "You will be quite an assassin if you choose, daughter. You are my equal when I was twenty-six."
"Thank you, father," she said, bowing back. She beamed at the others. "Did you catch it on tape?"
"I did," Lupin the Fourth promised. "Damn, girl. You're good."
"Yes, she is," the martial arts teacher admitted. "I had hints but nothing of the real skills."
"Why would I unleash that on a bunch of kids who are green belts?" Lotus asked him.
"Indeed, which also shows a master's skill." He bowed to her. Then to Goemon and Ishi. "Your family's skill is well built, Goemon. I have been most pleased to teach such as them. I will prepare myself for the other sons. I will expect them to be just as good." He smirked at Ishi, who smirked and blushed. "He is just as good. You should try him sometime."
"Once I'm not tired," Goemon offered. "Thank you for watching out and helping Lotus where I couldn't."
"She was a joy to polish, Goemon. She already knew much of it, only needed some edges sanded down. She does not do many flying moves, you may want to expand her that way with her weapons." He left, going back to his students. The few who had snuck in with him followed. "That is what I expect," he noted to them. "You need more practice, but it is attainable." They nodded and got to work again.
Lupin smirked at Lotus, then waved her over, giving her his own hug. "You're brilliant, Lotus. When you find a sword and daggers you want, you tell me and I'll gladly get them for you, baby. Very good job."
"Thank you, Uncle Lupin." She beamed up at him, then at her brother. "Well?"
"A few form faults due to the heaviness of your chest. You'll have to spend time refinding your balance and practicing when they're trimmed down. Otherwise, I'm damn impressed. You never tried that on me." He was nearly pouting.
"I didn't want to hurt your prettiness. The girls might lynch me."
Lupin patted her on the back but let her go. "Were you going to choose to go by Goemon or Lotus, sweetheart?"
"I like Lotus. Most everyone realizes I'm Lotus Goemon though."
"Sure. Like Lupin, you can be Lotus." He grinned at Melissa. "Are you going to stay Jigen the Second?"
"Sure," she agreed. "By the way, I could use some shopping."
"Sure, Melissa," Lupin agreed. "Lotus can be taken off for an hour. We can go do that."
"Let me shower first, Uncle, I stink," Lotus noted, heading for her dorms. A few people looked at her so she smirked at them. "My father wanted to test me." One girl whispered in her ear. "I know, that's another good reason to shower. Thanks though." She wrapped her jacket around her waist to hide the blood spots and hurried on.
Lupin looked at Goemon. "Got any ideas of which one she'll want?"
"I do," he admitted. "There are two that would be excellent for her further training. I will find mention of them and send them to her so she can look them over." He smirked at his son. "Were I not so tired, I would test you myself. Instead I may make you go against Xander or Marcus."
"Or both," he agreed happily. It was an advanced skill to take on more than one attacker. "You both do me proud," he promised, giving him a hug. "Very good work, Ishi. I am proud."
"Thanks, dad. You're gushing though." Goemon chuckled and let him go. "Can we have real ice cream?"
"Of course, son," he agreed, walking them back to the entryway. He took back his sword. "Where is yours?"
"In another boy's trunk. I'm going to kill him later tonight," he admitted dryly. "It was stolen from my room last night." Goemon snorted. "Should I gather it?"
"Please, I wish to check it for you." Ishi nodded and jogged off, going to take his sword back and leave a smart note instead. He found it in the guy's roommate's stuff instead and shrugged, sitting down to write the note to Wyatt about not letting his roommate use him again. Then he walked out, going back to his father's side. "They were using Wyatt's stuff to hide it," he said dryly. Melissa snorted, shaking her head.
"Wyatt has been with Chad this year," Lotus noted as she came back. "We really *have* to stop at a pharmacy on the way," she noted quietly. Lupin looked at her and nodded. "Thanks, Uncle."
"Welcome, dear. Into the car!" They headed that way, arranging themselves in the Fiat while Lupin got the roadster.
Xander smiled at Alan as he came in from his shower. "What are you doing? I thought I said I was too sore?" Alan asked cautiously.
"Just oil for a massage, Alan, you've got to be able to walk tomorrow." He held up the small bottle. "Come on, I've already got the bed set up. You could use the relaxation."
"So you're going to knock me out tonight?"
Xander leered. "And then I'm going to leave my personal Sleeping Beauty so he can get to work on time in the morning."
"You're going to knock me out, then leave?"
"Yup, sorry. Lupin wants me back at the house for a bit."
"Because I'm going to be the one to tell the kids if Fujiko has changed or not."
"Ah. I'll expect calls or emails daily."
"I'll start with emails so I don't interrupt at the wrong time," he promised, helping Alan into the prepared spot. He gave him a gentle kiss, then went to work on his shoulders, making him one happy, sleepy man. Xander wanted to write his name on Alan's butt but he knew he couldn't since Alan had a towel scene coming up in a few days. So he left the bracelet he had someone weave for him, leaving it beside his watch. Once Alan was cleaned off and tucked in, he grabbed the bags he had already packed and left him there, turning off the lights as he went. He left the key on the counter, he wouldn't be needing it anytime soon. Besides, he could pick this lock. He jogged down the stairs, getting into his rental car and heading for the airport. He noticed someone following him and sped up, heading for the interstate. It'd be safer this time. He saw a set of lights go on and put on the illusion choker before pulling over and turning off the engine. "There was a car following me and I'm dating an actor," he said when the cop came up to him. "I'm leaving the city so he can work."
"Which one are you dating?" he asked dryly.
"Alan...." He mentally winced but kept it inside.
"Ah, then you are Lavelle. I thought I saw the silver hair. Step out of the car please, sir, and don't even try for any weapons." He smiled as he opened the car door.
"Oh, man." He stood up and sighed, then shook his head. "I don't need a weapon, officer."
"Good. I'm glad you'll do this calmly."
"Yeah, I think I can." Xander shifted in his shoes, pressing on a small button that led to a gas canister on his collar. The cop moaned and slumped to the ground. Xander put him in his car and turned on his hazards, then locked the doors before closing him in. He tested it to make sure it was sealed. He had been a nice guy, he didn't want to see him hurt. He got back into his car, heading on at a more normal pace, calling on his carphone. "This is Lavelle. I was nice to the cop who caught me speeding. He's only asleep. I locked him in his car on the highway, just before the Hollywood Sign exit, heading toward the city limits. He may have a slight headache from the gas I used." He hung up and turned on the radio, singing along with the music. His flight wasn't too soon so he had time.
Jigen looked up at Xander as he walked into the office. "Have fun with the cop?"
"I was being chased by someone, I hit the interstate. I pulled over to throw the person off my tail. I made a rookie error by saying I was dating Alan and he was up on his gossip. I gassed him."
"That's what I thought," Jigen agreed. "Happens to the best of us. Have Lupin tell you about the time I left the map in the room with our route on it." Xander smirked at him. "The kids will be coming home for the holidays. They've decided she's a shade until you say otherwise." Xander nodded. "The kids are back too. They're napping upstairs. Bix had to medicate Fred and Kenji on the plane. Sarah's still doing better. Thanks for that name in Germany."
"Not an issue. She needs to have the best ever." He sat down, crossing his legs. "Do we have a job besides the kids?"
"No, but there's some news," Jigen said, smirking at him. "Lotus kicked her father's ass."
"Good. I knew she could. She knew she'd have to and she lived up to her expectations."
"She even did it in the family style."
"I had no doubts of that," he agreed. "You should tell that to Marcus, he was working with her."
Jigen snickered. "Sure, kid, if you say so."
"I do. I was working with Ishi. I barely worked with Lotus because I didn't use the same style. I did spar with her now and then."
"I saw. She's damn good. Lupin forwarded the tape if you wanted to see it."
"Later. We can watch it together?"
"Sure, but Fujiko wanted to join in."
"Hey, to me she's a shade too," Xander noted. "Anything else going on yet?"
"Nope. Lotus is going over this holiday for her presentation. She's already finalized it."
"Cool beans. I'll take her to get her first kimono as soon as I can. What about the others?"
"We're all heading over to be there for her," he admitted.
"Sure. I've got formal clothes I can wear." Jigen smirked at him again. "I know, transparent," he sighed, "but yay."
"Good point, kid. How's Alan?"
"Able to walk today," he said smugly, smirking back. "I only gave him a backrub last night."
"Good job. I'm sure his producers or whoever appreciate that. Did you leave him a present?"
"I had someone locally weave a bracelet with our initials, I left it beside his watch. He may not be able to wear it on screen."
"That's fine. It's subtle, I'm sure he likes that." He stood up. "Other than that, we're free until Lupin and Goemon come back, but we're being haunted."
"Easily dealt with. What about Bix?"
"She's been given instructions and she's cool with them, man."
"Even better. I like that." He stood up. "Let me drop my crap upstairs. Unless she took my room?" he asked at the odd look.
"No. She didn't take your room. Lupin did clean your altar for you though."
"That's fine. He knows how to be respectful of Janus and that special candle." He headed up the stairs, dropping his bags on his bed, then heading back down to the kitchen to get a snack. "I didn't stop for breakfast," he said with a grin for the housekeeper.
"You naughty boy, Xander," she said, kissing him on the cheek.
He looked at her. "You're not Hilda." She backed away. "Hey, Jigen, have we realized this isn't Hilda?"
"Yeah, but I don't know who she is."
Xander reached for his necklace but the demon fuzzed up, becoming his ex. "Hey, Ahn. You good today?"
"I'm very good, Xander, but I want you back," she pouted. "I'd do *anything*."
He patted her on the back. "Fat chance, Anya. Where's our housekeeper?"
"In the park. She took the day off at my suggestion. Please?" He shook his head, sighing when she added puppy eyes. "Please?"
Jigen walked in and grabbed her by the arm. "Why is it that they're addicted to you?" he asked as he tossed her outside, then slammed and locked the door. Someone knocked so he let the kids in. "What are you guys doing up?"
"We play," Fred told him. "Who she?"
"My ex girlfriend," Xander told him. "She's a demon."
"Oh. Hi, demon lady ex girlfriend," Kenji said, smiling and waving. "Why you here?"
"I want Xander back."
"My mommy," Fred stated, glaring at her. "Get your own mommy."
"Fine," she sighed, disappearing, leaving a small scorch mark on the grass. Which Xander poured his vial of holy water over.
"I feel better now," Jigen noted, shaking his head. "Why you again?"
"Because I'm so good," Xander reminded him smugly, making him snort and shake his head. "You don't remember that?"
"Oh, I do, but I'm not addicted."
"I guess that's good at the moment," Xander agreed. They both quit teasing each other when Fujiko walked in, Xander going back to his sandwich making. "Want one, Jigen?"
"No thanks. I actually ate breakfast. Where is the housekeeper?"
"Day off. Anya suggested it to her. She's supposed to be in the park."
"That's fine, I'll warn Lupin to pick up dinner. He should be back in a few hours."
"Before you check, I did do a check for bugs," Xander offered when Jigen paused. "My bags are shielded for electronics so you can if you want, or I'll go do it again."
"Sure, we can do that later. Then you can show me where you're going to be buying a replacement for Ishi's DVD that you broke." Xander nodded, then shook his head. "Thanks. I wanted to get Lupin something for his birthday."
"He likes Gundam," he agreed dryly. "Sure, we can go do that. Guys, wanna help me sort my DVD collection?" he asked as he carried his breakfast up the back stairs. They cheered and ran after him, only stopping to check on Sarah. She came in to lay on his bed to watch him, giving him a faint smile. "Hey, baby girl. How are you feeling? The doctor said you were feeling better when I called him."
"Am," she offered, smiling as he hugged her, squeezing her hard. "Love you."
"Love you too, Sarah. I love you so much, baby girl. I'm even back for a while. Alan said he'd love to have you with us next time he's free." She grinned at that; she like Alan, he braided her hair for her. "You rest, love. We're going to sort the DVD's and order a few more, okay?" She nodded. "Guys, help Uncle Jigen search for bugs first," he ordered, getting down to pull the other DVD's out from under his bed, along with the new holder for them. He had been meaning to put it together. He sat down to construct that on the other side of the bed, grinning when the boys helped by pulling all the DVD's out and piling them up. "Put them in alphabetical piles, guys, by letter."
"Remember to put any that start with a, an, or the in the piles for the second word," Jigen offered. They grinned and did that for him, so Jigen came over to help build the holder. 'This is nice. How much?"
"Eighteen. I got it online at walmart."
"I noticed when it came." They finally got it all together and moved to start putting the DVD's in, starting with the massive series first.
"Not Gundam, those are Ishi's and he's got those nice crates for his."
"Sure." He sorted those out by series and number, putting the broken one aside. The rest of the collections went into the new holder, then the individual stuff went back on top of the DVD player. "You need more storage."
"Yeah, but remember, this is only what's up here. We've got cases downstairs." Jigen shuddered. "Don't worry, I'm moving the majority of those to the house in England, the one in London. The kids won't mind for now."
"You need one really good showhouse," Jigen told him, getting comfortable as the boys sat up with Sarah to watch him order more videos. "That's the place?"
"That's the place I use," Xander agreed, typing in the title to search it. He found one that was already signed and smirked. "Hey, I won't even have to forge it." He checked the sender's address, making sure it wasn't Ishi's copy, then bought it and ten more. Then he turned it over to Jigen. "I've already got a card on file so just add yours and you can sort it out."
"Sure, Xan, thanks. I'll pay you back in a minute." He found the one the older Lupin had been looking for and ordered it. Then found the one the younger Lupin was looking for and ordered it, then one for Ishi, that followed up to Xander's present. "What are we getting Melissa?"
"Hmm. Not sure yet," Xander admitted. "She hasn't even dropped a hint. I thought we'd get Lotus her own kimonos. I've got one for her presentation. Speaking of, I've got to call and have them send it over." He took the phone from Sarah's hand, grinning at her. "Thanks, princess." He called the house in England. "Hey, dude, it's Xander. You know that one kimono, the one I had you make sure had no spots or anything? Can you box that up and send it my way? It's for Lotus for her presentation. Thanks, man. Sure." He grinned and hung up. "It should be here in a few days."
"Good. Are we getting her another one?"
"We can. She's only got one kids' one." Little arms hugged her. "Yes, dear?"
"I get one?" Sarah asked.
"How about if we give you Lotus' old one?" he suggested, grinning at her. "It's very pretty white with blue and gold." She shook her head. "No?"
"No, daddy. Want my own."
"Okay, the next time we go to buy one, we'll take you, princess."
"Thanks, daddy." She gave him another hug and a kiss on the ear. "Love you."
"Love you too, baby girl." He winced as his head started to hurt, grabbing the phone and dialing the house again. "I saw a fire. The kitchen, took the whole house. Be careful and get the electrician up to check on the wiring." He hung up with a moan. "Ow."
"You okay?" Kenji asked.
"Just fine, baby. Just a vision, a necessary one." He looked at Jigen. "I don't want to have to rebuy all my kimonos and rebuild the house over there."
"I agree," Jigen offered. "Your collection is enough to make an insurance agent cry."
"They did when I insured it. The same place that does dancers' legs and singers' throats has it. They came up for an appraisal and the guy did walk out crying at the worth of the collection. I pulled out the *full* collection," he said with a smirk.
"How many do you have?" Jigen asked. "A thousand?"
"Only a few hundred. I think." He shrugged. "I quit counting." He looked back at the kids. "Should we order another holder for the other DVD's?" They nodded, giving him odd looks. "Okay, Jigen, go ahead and find one of those on there and finalize the order."
"We have a spare bookcase in the kids' playroom," Bix offered from the doorway. "We can always give you that one, Xander."
"That's an idea," Jigen agreed. "Then you could unbox some of the ones downstairs."
"I've got six hundred DVD's downstairs, Jigen. Besides, some of it is porn."
"Hmm." Jigen shrugged. "So leave the porn down there. You don't really have room for more furniture."
"Point. Sure, Bix, I'll come get it in a minute. Are you sure we won't need it for their books?"
"No, they've got plenty and I'm about to go through some of them and see if we can donate some to a local children's shelter."
"Sounds like an idea," Jigen agreed. "Then happy boy here can buy them more."
Xander grinned and nodded. "Yup, sure can!"
"Will you read us a story, Bix? About the kitsune?" Sarah asked. "I not see my buddy recently."
"Sorry, honey, but we had a small fight about the ancestors when they were here," Xander explained. "You could try calling him, but I'm not sure if he can come down to cuddle you."
"Sure." She rubbed the necklace the big fox had given her, getting him. She smiled. "Can I play with my friend?"
"Of course, Sarah," he agreed gently. "Are you all right? You look very tired."
"She had the flu and with her heart condition it takes a while for her to heal," Xander said, looking back at him. "The portals are unsealed." He got up to get the bookcase, letting Kenji ride on his back since he was clinging to him. "You wanted to help?"
"Yes. Daddy not back yet."
"He'll be home with the big Lupin soon enough, little man," he promised, reaching back to pat him. Bix helped him move the bookcase into his room, then helped him figure out where to put it. They ended up moving a few pieces closer together, like the desk and the dresser, to fit it in. Then the boys got down to put the DVD's in, still sorting by alphabetical order. "Very good job, kids," he praised when they were done. Only two were out of place. "I'm impressed. We're going to show the daddy how good you were!" They grinned. "Go get books!" They ran to get books for them to read. "I'm impressed. It took me a while to get that one."
"Me too," Jigen agreed, looking at the bookcase. "Nearly perfect. Only two out of place, and those were 'the' cases."
Downstairs a door slammed. "I'm home!" Lupin yelled.
"We're up here!" Xander yelled, but the boys squealed and ran for Lupin and Goemon to get hugs. "You forgot to tell him to get dinner."
"I can get it later," he said with a shrug. He looked back at the Lord of the Kitsune. "Are you two still fighting over what one of your rogues did?"
"I'm not," Xander told him.
"He was punished, Xander. He's still being punished."
"Fine. That's good," Xander agreed. "That's why I reopened the portal."
"Then can we take Sarah?"
"Not until she's feeling better. She doesn't need the stress," Jigen told him. "She's supposed to be resting."
"That's fine. I'll bring one of the healers down to look at her when I bring her friend." He smiled at Xander. "We're not fighting?"
"I haven't been since I unsealed the portals."
"Thank you, Xander," he said, bowing to him. "We really do like the new plastic surgery office and idea." He disappeared, going to get her a healer and her friend to play with.
Lupin walked in with the boys, smirking at them. "Back at work I see?"
"Just on the DVD's," Jigen told him. "They sorted the bookcase, got all but two in the right place," he said proudly.
Lupin looked, then nodded. "Very good job, guys. What should we ask the housekeeper to make tonight since you were so good?"
"Sketti," Kenji said. "She not here though."
"Where is she?" Goemon asked from behind them.
"Anya decided to take her place today to beg to have me back," Xander said honestly. "She's taking the day off apparently."
"That's fine, we can order dinner or I can cook," Lupin promised, leaning down to kiss Sarah. "Hi, Sarah."
"Hi, Unclie. I feel better. I help."
"I can see how very helpful you are," he agreed, setting the boys down. "If only because you keep them out of trouble."
Goemon looked at the bookcase. "That's a very good job, boys."
"Thank you, daddy," Kenji said with a grin. "Alex and Yu play in nursery."
"That's fine, I'll go see them in a minute," he promised, patting his son on the head. "Were you told that Lotus passed her mastery with me?"
"I did hear that she kicked your butt," Xander said with a grin for him. "Good job teaching her, Goemon. She's a wonderful girl."
"Yes, she is, though I believe most of the praise belongs on other shoulders," he noted modestly.
"Marcus," Xander told him. "Not me. I took Ishi since he uses my style."
"I'll call to congratulate him later then," Goemon agreed quietly. "Are you back for a while?"
"Yeah, Alan has to be able to walk and not move funny when he's shooting so I'm here until he's done, unless he gets a few days off in a row. Then I might fly him back to England and meet him there."
"That's fine," Lupin agreed, smirking at him. "Cop, Xander?"
"No worse than my thing with the map," Jigen noted calmly. "He let it slip that he was dating Alan and the guy had been reading the trades."
"That's fine then. At least you locked him in his car so he wouldn't get hurt."
"He was nice to me," Xander said with a shrug. "I'm still wondering who was chasing me."
"It could have been a reporter," Jigen offered.
"Which is why I ran. It was better for Alan's career." Xander shifted so he could stretch, and his daughter squealed and bent over to tickle him, making him giggle and wiggle until he could get free and do the same to her, but she started to cough so he settled for hugging her. "I'm sorry, precious."
"It's okay," she panted. "I be better soon, daddy, or you can beat up on the nasty germies for me." She sounded so sure of that fact.
"I'd do it if I could, princes. I'd beat those nasty germs up all the time for you." He kissed her cheek, looking over as a healer and a baby kitsune appeared. "Hmm, baby kitsune," he said in awe.
"He pretty," Sarah giggled, crawling over to look at him, coughing a bit on the way. "Is he a tiny baby, like a newborn?"
"Nearly," he agreed, patting her on the back. "Unfortunately I can't get him to let me go." He looked her over. "Why are you coughing?"
"I was sick. The bad germies got me and then they made me really tired so I sleep a lot."
"She's got a heart condition," Xander reminded him gently.
"I'd forgotten. Here, let me try to hand this one off again. Xander? Most babies seem to like you." Xander stretched back and took the baby, cradling him gently against his chest as he crooned to keep him calm. "Thank you, Xander." He sat down next to Sarah, looking her over, one hand on her chest, one on her head. "Well, I think I can make you a bit stronger, but you're still going to need to rest for a while longer. I wish I could heal that for you, Sarah. I'd love to."
"Me too," Xander said dryly. He looked at him. "Where's the usual guy?"
"He's asleep right now. He did that one's birth and was worn out. The mother was having a very hard time. It's actually a half-kitsune, half human baby."
"I didn't know that was possible," Goemon said quietly.
"Apparently so," he said with a shrug. "Let me feed you some energy, Sarah, then I'll get the other guy up. Or you can wait if you want."
"Not to insult or anything, but I'd almost rather wait," Jigen told him. "She's got her daddy's nature and she's hard to work on sometimes. The other guy said sometimes she sucked up all his energy before he could stop her."
"Then I'd rather wait," the healer agreed. "Sometimes that can cause other complications." He patted Sarah on the head. "You'll be just fine."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure, I'm a healer, I know so." He ruffled her hair. "Now, you lay down and let me tell your normal healer. He'll come down after he's had a nap." He smiled at Xander. "Can I have him back?"
"Sure, if you can unwind his tail and undo his nails," he said gently, smiling down at the baby. "You're not the first to find my chest comfy, little guy." The Lord of the Kitsune appeared and gave him an odd look. "He's tangled up on me."
"What's wrong with this healer?"
"Sarah has the ability to sponge energy, my Lord, I do not wish to do harm. We discussed it and they agreed with me. It's better to have someone who understands her energy flows already in such delicate cases. Has someone found the heart valve problem?" Jigen nodded. "They are working on it?"
"She's on medicine right now, and they're talking about replacing it."
"All of this from pre-birth magic instabilities," Xander agreed. "Fred's mostly normal, except for his entire universe revolving around breasts." He looked up, smiling gently at the Lord of the Kitsune. "He's precious."
"He is. He'll also be wetting soon, Xander. How tangled up is he?"
"Claws and tail." He shifted so the fox spirit could get the baby undone. "He's not really healthy either. He feels like Sarah to me," he said quietly.
"I'll have him looked over, Xander. Thank you for testing him."
"He's trying to suck, our magics touched." The baby was carefully released and handed over. "He's got one too," he told the healer.
"We knew he was going to have an instability."
"His magic is reaching out, it touched mine and recoiled, as it should, but he needs stabilized."
"I'll do my best, Lord. Should we take Sarah with us?"
"Please, Daddy? I'll be good and sit a whole lot."
"When you're stronger and not sleeping all the time," Jigen reminded her. She pouted. "Sweetheart, you're not strong enough yet."
"Lotus would let me and so would Bix," she pouted.
"Bix?" Jigen called.
"It may help her. Her energies are bent toward their spectrum," Xander offered. "Sarah, honey, have you felt more tired since you came in here?"
"No, mommy." She kissed him on the cheek. "Janus is a big meany to Arsene but he likes me, he makes me giggle and happy." She looked at the Lord. "Please?"
"It could help her, guys," the fox spirit offered.
"It could," Xander admitted. "But she still needs to rest."
"She can do that in my apartment," the Lord offered. "You trusted her to stay over before."
"Fine. Just watch out for her. She's coughing now and then. Do you need her medicines?" He nodded so Jigen got up to get them, having a word with Bix in the hall from the mumbling going on. He came back with two bottles and a pill bottle.
"On the front. She's due for the liquids in the next hour," he ordered, handing them to the healer. "The pill's not due until two from now."
"Of course, consort. Thank you for your trust," the healer agreed, lifting the little girl up. "Come along, Sarah. We'll tuck you in and let your friends come visit you on the couch." She grinned and nodded, going with him, even letting him tuck her feet in. He took the infant back, taking him to check him over and to tell the other healer she was there for him.
The Lord sat down next to her feet, smiling at her. "That's a very pretty nightgown, Sarah. Who bought it for you?"
"Bix did. She said I'd still look pretty while I was sick in it."
"You do," he assured her with a small smile. She was starting to get stronger, he could feel her sucking up the local energy. Xander had been right, she was a sponge and the healer shouldn't treat her without realizing that. It could kill him if she stripped him bare. "When is Lotus being presented? We wanted to witness that."
"This holiday. She's got a pretty kimono coming from mommy's collection. He had the butler guy who lets me help dust send it over for her. Daddy had to call him back because he had a vision of a fire."
"Hopefully he averted it," the Lord agreed. He smiled as his daughter toddled in and climbed into his lap, waving at Sarah. "You remember Sarah."
"Hi. You sick too?"
Sarah nodded. "I had the flu but then it made my heart worse. So I've got to rest instead of play. Mommy got paranoid and sent me to 'nother doctor 'gain too. He was nice though, talked in funny language."
"He was German," the Lord told her. "It's another of the mortal's languages."
Sarah nodded. "But I'm good learning English and Japanese right now," she admitted. "Fred's better at it, but he uses naughty words in them."
"I bet he does," the healer agreed as he came in. He bowed to the Lord and his daughter. "Hi, Sarah. What's wrong?"
"She had the flu, it set off another bout of weakness."
"Hmm. You feel better up here?" She nodded, grinning at him. "We'll have to tell your mother to let up come up to play more often then," he promised, picking her up. "I'll bring her right back, Lord. The baby does have a small problem but the mother is fighting hard that the baby isn't hers now."
"Really?" he asked dryly, glaring at the wall. "Remind her of the birth, see if it stirs any memories." The healer nodded. "If not, find the child a good home. It already likes Xander."
"Fine, Lord. Thank you, Lord." He walked Sarah out, chatting with her about the new baby. They paused so Sarah could hug the Incubus ambassador from Hell's realms. She liked him, he told good stories to her.
Xander looked up from his sorting his DVD's, grinning when Lupin came in. "This is why we moved the bookcase in."
"It's not a problem, Xander, I was coming in to help. I have no idea what's in the bottom boxes."
"Mostly porn by the titles," he said with a grin, going back into that box. There was only a single layer and each box had a manifest of what was in it. The main list was on his computer. "I still have to follow Alan's orders and take my Chronicle and diaries to that artist."
"So I'm going to be a cartoon again?" Lupin teased.
"Yup, sure am. Don't worry, I'll have him let you chase all the pretty women."
"Sure, Xander." He gave him a gentle kiss. "Need help?"
"Sure. I was going to leave most of the porn down here. Start in the back?" He nodded, heding to the back stacks. "I have no idea what half of this is, it looked interesting so I bought it. It's like Ethan and Giles with books."
"Should I worry about demons coming out to eat me?" One had in one of Ethan's books until Xander and Marcus had glared it to death.
"No, I haven't done that to any of them. So unless the company did it, they're safe."
"Good." He pulled down a box he knew was porn, putting it aside. "I've got two of these upstairs."
"That's fine, as long as they make it into the right box. Arsene's got four or five of the het ones too." Lupin chuckled at that. "I'm not going to worry about it until Fred or Kenji start stealing some of them."
"Me?" Kenji asked from the doorway. "Need help? Daddy nap."
"Gee, you really are your daddy's boy," Lupin teased, letting him sit on his lap to help him. "Whenever we talk or think about your daddy he shows up too." He tickled him, making the boy wiggle and laugh. "Help the uncle, Kenji. Help him by sorting out the cartoons from everything else."
"May not work," Xander said in a sing-song voice.
"I'll monitor those," Lupin reminded him.
"Fine. I've got room for about two hundred DVD's upstairs." They nodded, sorting out everything. Then Xander could sort out what he wanted upstairs. Of the six hundred down here, only two-hundred and fifty were clean enough to go upstairs, though a few boxes were pulled up and slid under his bed. That way he could have smut. They came out and took the boys down to the backyard to work with them. It was time to wear the kids out so they'd sit still for dinner.
Goemon looked up as Xander sat next to him, giving him a gentle smile. "She has changed." Xander handed over a journal, something he was familiar with. "Where did you get this?"
"Her room. Just now. Dated for today. I didn't read past the first few lines."
Goemon flipped to the last page with writing, reading the entry. He shuddered after a moment and closed the journal, handing it back. "It will not happen."
Xander gave him a long look. "Goemon, I know you love her. I know she's the light at the end of the tunnel for you. I'm not letting her hurt my kids." Goemon nodded, that was reasonable and what he'd expect. "This is the only warning," he said gently. "I like you, big guy, but I'll help you find someone much better once she's dead."
"She won't do that, Xander."
"If you're sure, I'll sit back and watch."
"Why did you take that?"
"I heard her on the phone talking to someone about the kids and how pretty her daughter was. Lupin's tracing the phone call since she tried to get the top Courtesan in Europe to take Lotus in as a student." He shuddered again, hunching over some. "So, no. I'm not going to trust yet. Got me?" He nodded. "Now, if you want, there are things we can do to change her," he offered quietly. "There's things to totally change her personality."
"No. It is fine, Xander. She can be discouraged from trying for the children, nothing else." He looked at him again. "Thank you."
"Welcome, man." He got up, going to put Fujiko's diary back and then head for the office. "Her current plan was to breed Lotus to Jigen, breed Arsene to Goemon, and have you take in Melissa," he announced. "That way the kids would supposedly be more stable and more usable."
Lupin shook his head, sitting back. "Are you sure?"
"Her journal said so, Lupin. I heard her talking to someone about the kids. Who was it?"
"The top Courtesan in Europe, Countessa Domini."
"The same one who she tried to get to teach Lotus?" Xander suggested. Lupin nodded and put his head back down. "Goemon said I could make her fucking sorry for what she's done to those kids."
"Go for it," Jigen said from the corner. "I doubt it's a real plan though."
"Bet me," Xander said dryly. "Check her phone logs. How many calls and to where?"
"One to Montreal, one to Switzerland, one to Japan, and one to Italy, to the Madam," Lupin admitted tiredly. "I don't want to deal with this."
"I don't blame you." Xander sat down. "We've got to warn the kids, Lupin."
"No, I've talked to the Countess and she said she'd never take Lotus in, that her destiny lies in another form of work. She did say that Lotus would probably grow out of her distaste for dressing like her mother when I asked her advice. She said once her anger settles and is released, it should help a lot. She offered a place for Melissa or Arsene, until she learned that Melissa is a marksman and that Arsene is who she is." He shrugged. "She said she'd gladly work with them in the future if they needed her special skills."
"That's something at least," Jigen said grimly. "Maybe she'll be the one to find Arsene a permanent consort." He leaned forward. "We do what, Lupin?"
"Right now, we do nothing," he admitted. "I'm tracing the other numbers to see where they are. Xander, what were you planning?" Xander shrugged. "Let me know beforehand?"
"No. The only one I'll tell is Goemon. It involves him most, it's his wife." He stood up. "Anything else? I'm going to watch a DVD."
"Go ahead," Lupin agreed, watching him leave. He looked at Jigen. "You okay?"
"No," he admitted. "That's a low plan, even for Fujiko, man. I can't stand that idea in the least."
"You and me both, Jigen. Don't worry, the princesses of crime will be doing something spectacular in a few days," he said with a smug look. "The empress said so."
"Good," Jigen agreed, standing up. "I'm going to head up too. Need anything?"
"No, go ahead and set the security alarms if Goemon's inside." He nodded, leaving him there to put his head down and moan in peace. Fujiko vs Xander was not something that he wanted to witness. Fujiko was the mistress of low blows and teasing, but Xander was in a level of his own. He was ruthless when it came to his kids. He heard a scream and hopped up, running up the stairs to see what was wrong. "What's going on?"
Xander came out of the nursery, holding up Alex. "I'm going to kill someone," he said in a deathly calm voice. He looked over as Goemon came up the stairs, holding up his daughter. "I've now had enough, Goemon."
"Let me, Xander," he offered quietly. Xander shook his head. "Please? There may be some other reason."
"Bet me! She was asleep, Goemon!"
"What's going on?" Fujiko asked as she came out of Goemon's bedroom.
"Fujiko, did you put Alex into that outfit?" Lupin asked. She nodded. "Why?"
"Because it's cute."
"She's three, Fujiko," Xander said, glaring at her. "She's also not going to be a whore for her career. She's going to be one of those nice knights like I used to be." He set his daughter down and stripped her, then gave her a hug and whispered in her ear, making her nod and head for Bix's room. He dropped the clothes there, walking over to where Fujiko was standing. He slammed her into the wall, holding her there by the hand on her throat. "If you go near any of those children ever again, I will make you wish you were still in that coffin," he promised in a cold hiss. "You have just fucked with the wrong person, Fujiko Mine. There is nothing that will save you from my wrath. Not your husband. Not your children. Nothing. You touched my child. You made disgusting plans about the others. Yes, I heard you," he said with a smug look for her. "You will be paying and paying heavily. I will make sure that what I went through in Hell is *nothing* compared to what you will be going through for this. Do not come near my children again." He let her go when Jigen pried his hand off her, watching as she ran down the stairs crying. "Good," he agreed, watching her.
Goemon coughed. "Xander, I understand the anger," he noted. "I will punish her."
"No, Goemon, you won't." He looked at him. "Did you know she called Madam Domini about Lotus?" He shuddered. "Exactly. I'm betting at least one of those other calls she made was to a DNA lab." Lupin nodded, he knew that much. "Then she's fucked. She's harming my family."
"Lotus is my daughter, Xander."
"And do you really think that those plans of her won't hurt Melissa?" he demanded. "I sincerely doubt I want my daughter bred to Lupin." He got away from the others. "Your spouse is now endangering my children's lives, Goemon. I don't give a damn if you still love her. If you do, you've got a week, a single week, to fucking well fix her. Or else I'm going to react. When I do, we'll let you grieve and help you find someone more suitable. Someone more like Bix." Goemon nodded, going after his wife to speak with her. He stood there, drawing in breaths through his nose and letting them out slowly. "I'm going to deal with the punching bag," he noted, heading down to do that. Maybe he wouldn't kill her if he could wear some of that anger out.
Lupin looked at Jigen. "I'm agreeing with Xander."
"Me too. I'll hold her, you know that."
Lupin nodded. "I remember." He went to check on the other kids, bringing Jigen to help with Sarah since she was tangled up in her blankets again and panting because of her nightmare.
Ishi looked up as his sister came back from the office. "What happened?"
"Mother tried to get Countessa Domini to take me in as a student again," she said blandly, staring at him. "She called to tell me that she was going to ignore such requests unless I made one personally, and said that Uncle Lupin had told her I was phobic about dressing up, and offered some advice on the subject." Ishi scowled. "Then we called the house and got Bix. Mother dressed Alex up in her favorite purple outfit, only sized just for the baby." Ishi shuddered at that. "I'm going to go wear out some of my anger by screaming. You don't have to follow me." She walked out, slamming the door, which stunned a few others watching from the other tables.
Her scream of rage made some jump but Ishi shook his head. "Let her. It's necessary." He got up so he could find the others, finding them watching Lotus. "Did you hear?"
"No, not yet," Melissa said grimly. "It's on the boards though. Fujiko noted that since we're girls, we can't be expected to be real thieves."
"Fat lot she knows," Arsene said dryly. "We on for that plan?" Melissa nodded. "You're sure it's going to be there?"
"It'll be there. It's the largest showing of pirate treasure ever. It's all real stones. I talked with someone who was casing it for us. He had been going for himself, but then he heard you were interested, Ar. He said he'd watch you work and report. That way we can use it as a proof job."
"Fine." Arsene looked at Ishi. "Get her armed. We'll go do that now. I'll get us permission." Ishi nodded, going to change clothes and pack his weapons bag. On the way past, he drug Lotus with him, talking quietly to her. Arsene looked at Melissa. "When does it get unloaded?"
"Tonight. It goes from the ship and starts on the trek to the museum by truck."
"Good deal," she agreed coldly. She stomped off, heading for the office. She barged in during a staff meeting. "Sorry to intrude, but some people have been convinced that since we're *girls* we're going to be like Fujiko. We're proving ourselves yet again. We'll be back in four days."
"Lotus is grounded to the academy," the Headmistress said gently.
"If she doesn't, her mother can do more like this," she countered. "She's put it around on the bulletin boards that we're going to be following in her footsteps instead of our father's." The staff shuddered, hopefully at the coldness in her voice. "So we need to go. If you want to expel us, do so. We'll be back in about four days. Ishi's got her calmed down so she's no longer screaming in rage." She nodded and left, going to pack a bag and change clothes. The family colors were red and black for the most part. Her favorite unitard and skirt were easily found, along with her shoes and socks. She jogged out to the car, getting in to drive. Melissa's car it may be, but a Lupin always drove on jobs. Ishi and Lotus came out, Lotus with his sword and Ishi with another one. Melissa followed, smirking at Ishi's leather-clad rear-end. "Well," she said as they got in. "Cute pants, Ishi."
"They're comfy and warm. It's winter where we're going. Let's go."
"Are we in trouble?" Lotus asked.
"Do I care?" Lupin asked. Melissa closed her door so she backed out, heading toward the gates. She paused there. "We're going to prove that we're more than girls yet again. We'll be back in about four or five days. I've told the headmistress." She drove on, heading for the airport. "Did you call ahead, Melissa?"
"Yeah, while I was packing. Cecilia has the plane ready for us."
"Good." She sped up once they hit the main road, getting comfortable for the short trip. There was a private airstrip nearby and their plane was there.
Four days later, Lupin looked up as his office door opened, his mouth opening when he saw his very smug daughter standing there. "Arsene, why are you out of school?" She held up a strand of pearls, making him swallow. "Where did you get that from?"
"The pirate treasure." She shrugged. "Some of us are just like you, daddy. No matter what whores say on the bulletin boards. We even had someone spotting us to report back to the bulletin boards that we're not going to be following in her footsteps. I do believe we're tithing the senior group twenty percent still?" He swallowed and nodded so she snapped her fingers, letting Lotus carry in their tithe. "Split it however, daddy. I'll be right back, then we're flying back to Italy tonight." She strolled off, finding Goemon, Xander, and Jigen in the back yard, with Fujiko in the kitchen. She opened the back door. "I've just dropped a tithe in the office with father," she said loudly enough to break into Xander's kata. "The pirate treasure was very pretty and now it's very ours." Jigen's cigarette fell out of his mouth. Goemon looked stunned. "Speaking of treasures, Uncle G. Lotus has Ishi's sword and Ishi presently has Kenji's. We need to find her a blade worthy of her skills sooner." She turned and strolled back to the office. She found her father babbling at the pretty jewels, smirking at him as she leaned in the doorway. "Good enough, daddy?"
"Very good, empress," he said with a smirk for her. "I checked the bulletin boards. You're right, it worked."
"Thanks, daddy." She walked in and kissed him on the cheek. "I wanted the ruby set, but we thought you'd like that." She winked at him, looking over as the rest of the older group came in. "Melissa's adding oil to the Fiat's engine. She said it needs an overhaul. Ishi's gathering bullets to take with us."
"That's fine," Jigen agreed. He looked at the tithe, mouth open. "That's ten percent?"
"We tithe twenty to the whole group," she reminded him. "But they're pretty," she agreed smugly. "Lotus, where's ours?"
"In the trunk of the car," she said quietly. "We had one of the fences in Paris split it for us. That way there could be no quibbling and he could estimate the worth of the haul." She bowed to her father. "Ishi's sword does very well cutting open cases and guards."
He hugged her, letting out a quiet sniffle. "I have one I want you to look over," he promised. "It is very good. Made by the family but not with the same recipe. It is a bit lighter."
"I would appreciate that. My wrists aren't quite as used to the heaviness of yours."
"Where did you find it?" Lupin the Third asked.
"In Japan, at the castle," Goemon reminded him, making him smirk. "It should go to her. She will use it honorably." He tipped his chin up. "I'm very proud, Lotus."
"Thank you, Father. We let Ishi be the backup this time. He even got to play distraction. We left just as Gramps' plane was coming in. He flew us out." He smiled at that. Melissa and Ishi walked in with their bags. "Is that the haul?"
"No, that's still in the two chests." She nodded at her father. "We got it. A real proof job."
"How did you do that?" Fujiko asked. The kids ignored her, it was like they couldn't hear her. "Lupin?"
"Let's see what the bulletin boards say," Lupin decided, logging back into one. He smiled at the first entry. "Someone wants to know if they should grade you." He typed in a 'yes' and laughed at the remarks. "For audacity, you guys get an A, for daring you guys got an A, for plan management you guys got a B?" he asked, looking at his daughter, then Melissa.
"Another shipment came in earlier than we estimated," Melissa said with a shrug. "Nothing very stunning. Church art from the Vatican."
"Fine," he agreed, going back to his reading. "Overall they gave you guys an A, and suggested that you guys do more research before you do your next job. Someone else noted that they had another helper casing the museum?"
"He had wanted to do it, but then Melissa talked him into working for us in this case. We paid him ten grand," Arsene admitted smugly, sitting down to sprawl in her chair. "He was more than happy enough to provide us with plans. Which we put into the store online."
"Good job," he praised. He went back to reading. "Hmm. Jigen's plan was very well thought out, they noted that the second shipment was nearly twelve hours early," he read, nodding at Melissa. "Another two bosses gave you girls, and Ishi, an A. One dissenting score from a Russian family but they're upset that you're so young and girls." He typed a response to that and warned him about the rest of the family starting. He laughed at one last comment. "What pearl and diamond?"
Lotus pulled the pearl out of her pocket and held up the softball sized jewel. "This?" she asked smugly, tossing it to him. He drooled as he looked it over. "It's got one spot where there's some discoloration. The diamond?"
Melissa pulled it out of her pocket and held it up. "Very pretty and very nicely red," she said proudly. Lupin did drool about that. She tossed it over, watching as he stroked it and muttered to it.
"Having a Golem moment, Lupin?" Xander teased. He hugged them all. "I'm so proud! You guys have done your training proud! You guys have done the family proud! I'm so happy!" He hugged Lotus last, grinning at her. "Better?" he mouthed. She nodded, smirking at him. "Good girl." He released her, grinning at Goemon. "You owe me a bottle of saki."
"I do," he agreed. "Lotus was more than capable in her first field exercise as the samurai behind the thieves." He nodded at his daughter. "I expected no less but I did expect you to pause for a moment."
"I nearly did but then the guy tried to shoot at me. By the way, I figured out how you cut bullets. Will my new sword be able to do that?"
"Hopefully," he agreed. "Sometimes it is the wielder that determines strength. Even my own blade has been broken in the past."
She nodded at that wisdom. "That's fine, father. Ishi, here." He accepted his sword back and followed her father up to look at the other blade, smiling at the beauty of the blade. "I like this," she announced, walking it back into the office. "Ishi?" She let him look it over.
"Very well conformed. A few nicks. A dent. It needs some care and sharpening. I'll help you do it later." She nodded, taking it back and putting it back into the scabbard, holding it. "Thank you, father."
"You're welcome, son. You both do me very proud. The younger two can only look up to your example."
Jigen smirked at his daughter. "Good job," he offered quietly. She winked at him. "What's wrong with the engine?"
"I think it needs an overhaul. We're leaking oil now and then. We're going through a lot too. Do we have a family mechanic?"
"We do, but you'd have to leave the car here," Lupin told her, looking up from petting the pretty diamond. "Precious. Can we have this one?"
Arsene looked at her group, who all shrugged. "Fine, but we don't have to tithe so much next time, dad."
"Fine," he agreed happily. "Thanks, kids. By the way, you're not expelled, but you're all grounded to the school for the next month. She said she understood but you guys were very brash. She also said that you're supposed to tithe the school. I told her you didn't know about that."
"We'll find her something pretty," Ishi promised. "Kids, we've got to go. Especially if we're leaving the Fiat."
"My rental's outside, take it," Xander offered, tossing over the keys. Ishi grinned. "Usual place please."
"Sure, mom. Thanks." They got hugs, stole some lunch, then headed out to switch cars and leave.
Xander looked at the tithe. "I'm damn impressed. They thought that was going to be so tight it was unlikely anyone could break into it. Did she send a letter?" Lupin nodded. "Is that why Gramps and his Rays were coming in?" Jigen nodded, smirking. "Good job then." He looked at the tithe, smiling at a long string of rubies and sapphires done. "I had one of these in diamonds."
"I remember," Lupin agreed smugly. "Gods, this is great. Someone check them for bugs." He went back to stroking the pearl and the diamond together. They were amazing and he loved them. "Break up the rest between the fathers, Xander."
"Sure, Lupin." He claimed his three pieces, letting Goemon and Jigen get theirs. His was probably the smaller cut but he didn't care, they'd fit in very well with his collections. Jigen did the check for bugs, then they took their cuts to their rooms. Lupin left to put his new precious things in his personal safe, the one only he knew about.
Fujiko sat in the middle of the office floor, staring at the desk. "They're girls though," she said in disgust. "They don't have to do it the hard way."
Goemon walked in and closed the door. "Fujiko, they may be girls but they want to be like their fathers. They are every bit as good as we were in our prime. You must leave them alone. They will never follow your ways. You have nearly ruined my daughter of ever being girlish when she finds a spouse, I cannot allow you to harm the others. If you do not quit, Xander has vowed that you will suffer and I will not be able to stop him. They did this one to prove you wrong. Did it?"
She looked up at him. "They're girls, Goemon! They didn't have to do it this way!"
"So? They chose to do it this way. They may be girls, but they know their minds on this matter. They will not be following you into the service of your body for riches. These girls are not like that and never will they be. Please leave them alone, Fujiko, I do not wish to lose you for good. Especially leave my daughter alone." He left her there, hopefully to think. He also went to call his son to ask about the leather pants he was wearing. It was not exactly something the family was known for after all. His son answered his phone. "Leather, son?" He listened to his son's chuckle and explanation. "Fine, I understand. Do not live in them. People might think you were trying to change the family image and I would look horrible in them." His son chuckled and shared that one. "Was your sister well?" He listened to the critique of their last job, his son was honest about what went on. It was not as smooth as the bulletin board had said but it had gone better than some of their jobs had in the past. "Very well. I await you coming home for the holidays, son. Be safe." He hung up and went to hide his cut of the job. It was very generous of the children to tithe them that way.
Arsene got out of their rental, snapping her fingers to get the case and present it to the Headmistress. "For you, my lady, a tithe since our fathers told us we had to. I hope that five percent is enough?" She smirked as the older woman opened the jewel case and gasped. "I thought it would look stunning on you at that next mixer. We agreed, that set should go on you. It's a bit old for us."
"Lupin, this is magnificent," she agreed, smiling at her. "You stole the whole thing?"
"They hadn't finished unpacking it yet, so it was easy enough to take their cases and all. We found the six bugs and tossed them away already," Melissa told her. "The plans and photos we have for that museum are now in the storage site with the others. We were also graded online. We got mostly A's, except for one Russian family who thought we're too young."
"Also, we found my weapon for me," Lotus admitted as she climbed out, presenting it to her teacher so he could examine it as a matter of courtesy.
"It suits you, Lotus. It is very pretty, yet very deadly. I'll get you the sharpening set later." She nodded. "Very well." He handed it back with a bow. "Ishi? Did you participate?"
"I was look-out and distraction," he admitted. "Lotus had this one."
"Very well. You four will present the heist to the planning classes," the Headmistress ordered. They nodded. "No Fiat?"
"It needed an engine overhaul," Melissa reminded her. "We left it at the house. This is a rental, so the next person heading into town can drop it off."
"Fine," she agreed with a smirk. "It is very nice and can easily be used for Driver's Ed at that time. Thank you, children. Inside. It's nearly dinner." They grabbed their things, hauling them up to their rooms, and the safes in them. She had them opened in preparation for their return. She looked at the other teachers. "They did very well."
"They did, and having another thief there to watch them and to prove that they're more than good bodies with small minds behind them was a brilliant move," the planning teacher agreed happily. "I'm sure Fujiko is now regretting her words."
"Oh, not really," she said dryly. "She's still not seeing the point that girls can do more than be pretty." She sneered at them. "We must shield them better from her. She's still ranting that they're girls and that they should only be doing her sort of thefts. Arsene has seen and countered a few times, but it is up to us to point out their faults and points."
They nodded, going to do evaluations. They usually only did them on graduating seniors, but those four might as well be gone. They only had to pass Practical Education and Art Appreciation.
The Headmistress smiled at her new jewelry as she carried it up to the office, calling on her appraisal teacher to come examine them and to arrange for a sale. Those children were very good and very generous. This would definitely fix the heating system in the school.
Xander smiled at the old car coming up to the house, nodding politely at the mechanic. He'd talked with him in the past about the Roadster and his bike, which Ishi still had at the school. "Hi. It's one of my creations this time. It's got some modifications and I've got to take the alarm off and discharge the taser." He nodded, watching as Xander undid the alarm, then discharged the taser into a tree. "There you go," he offered, popping the hood. "All yours. I can answer any questions about funny stuff."
"That's fine. What make is this one? I've never quite seen this type before."
"It's a Fiat Spider Volumex, four seater. It's a rare one. They only made five hundred of them and it's rare to find one with four seats. I've only found three online after I found this one. The other's in the garage. It's a 1982 Fiat Spider CS, four seater also. Four seaters are really rare from Fiat. Then again, I've got three cars in a separate garage in town too," he said with a small grin. "A 1932 Bugatti roadster, a 1937 Bugatti, and one of my usual little sports cars." The mechanic looked impressed. "Do you think you can look at the '32 too? It sounds like it's really tired and dragging."
"Sure, let me fix this one first," he agreed. "Let me guess, Lupin doesn't know about them?" Xander shook his head quickly, looking a bit embarrassed. "Your secret's safe with me, Xander."
Xander walked over and took the mask off the mechanic, frowning at him. "Cute, Ray. Lupin, it's Ray!"
"You're showing me that garage later," Lupin called as he came out to grab Ray. "The mechanic's on his way up." He smirked at him. "I've rebuilt one of those."
"Yay, I still want a mechanic to look at it," he said smugly. "Mine."
"Wanna go for a ride?"
"No! They're showpieces!"
"Fine." He walked Ray into the house, handing him to Goemon to deal with this time. He'd just have to find the garage by himself and go look. Xander had some very good taste in cars.
Xander sighed and sat down, nodding at the real mechanic. "Did he knock you out?"
"Put me in a closet," he admitted tiredly. "What's it doing?"
"Sounds like it's grinding and guzzles oil. I've discharged the taser so you've got about two hours before I've got to do it again."
"That's fine, Lavelle. How's the other one? I know you were looking for a new sports car last month."
"I've got a '32 Bugatti roadster that sounds tired if you're not busy later," he offered. "Right after I go knock out Lupin again."
The mechanic smiled. "Sure, Lavelle. Let me fix this one. One of your creations?" He nodded, smirking at him. "That's fine. Stay nearby, kid." He looked in the engine, then at him. "What's that?"
"Which?" he asked, coming over to check. "That's the taser. It's been fine since we got it to work finally last year, but it's been guzzling oil for the last few months according to Melissa. She's been driving it at school."
"You let her drive such a rare car?"
"It was that or they were going to take the roadster and piss off Lupin." He smirked. "Besides, she helped me build the modifications. She was using it to show off to her teachers."
"I see. That's fine, let me tear this open. How do we disarm the taser?"
"We don't," he admitted. "It's now soldered in since it wasn't making good contact. That's how they ended up fixing it."
"Uh-huh. Okay. Go sit. Don't let me get electrocuted." He dove back in, finding the problem easily enough. He even had the parts for it back at the shop. "I'll need to drive it in."
"Sure. Want me to discharge it again or should I go with you?"
"No, you can come with me. You know where it is well enough. How's the other Fiat?"
"Doing well. I need to make more missiles for them both actually." He got up, letting the mechanic close the hood before going back to his own car. He followed the nice older guy off the property and down into town, stopping on the way to electrocute a mean store that had tried to kick him out the other night. It set their security system off nicely and made them very paranoid. He drove it into the garage, smirking at the older man. "What?" he asked innocently.
"They figured you'd retaliate somehow," he admitted. "Go get your roadster so I can look at it too." Xander nodded, going to do that. It was only up the street. He shook his head, that boy was something else.
Lupin pounced Xander as he came back, hugging him as he walked him toward the office. "We want to look at your collections, Xander."
"Then you might steal from me," he said patiently. "You can't have my cars!"
"I'll buy them off you," he offered sweetly.
"Oh, come on. Can't we even *look*?"
"Hell no!" he snorted, getting free and heading for the kitchen instead. "My cars, like my kimonos, are not for sale or rent or touching. Mine and only mine."
"You let me wear a few of them," Goemon offered from his spot making iced tea.
"Maybe, but you still can't see my cars."
"Fine. I have no interest in automobiles. Is the Fiat fixed?" Xander nodded, heading outside after grabbing a soda. "The children are napping."
"That doesn't keep me from needing to keep in shape, Goemon."
"Good point," he agreed. The boy was an excellent student and role model for his children in that matter. He took Lupin some of the tea, watching him pout. "Why does this surprise you?"
"It doesn't, not really. I'm wondering if he stole them or if they were bought?"
"Probably bought. Something like that would be noted fairly quickly if stolen. Like your roadster." He went to give Jigen some of the tea. "Xander's back."
"That's fine. What's Lupin pouting about now?"
"Xander apparently has a few classic cars hidden somewhere nearby."
"Hmm. The roadster acting up again?"
"You've seen them?" Lupin yelled, walking into the room to frown at him. "You didn't tell me about those, Jigen."
"I saw him driving one and it sounded like it had engine troubles," he said patiently. "Xander looked really happy with it too." He shrugged, smirking at him. "They're in town, boss."
"Yay! Xander said I can't even look at them."
"That's because he fears you'll steal them," Goemon reminded him. "If you would not do such things to his collections, he would not care to let you drool on them I'm sure."
"It'd ruin the wax job," Xander called from the kitchen. "No!" He went back outside, slamming the door this time.
"So, Jigen, where are they?" Lupin asked. Jigen gave him a look from under his hat, going back to petting the cat using him as a pillow. "Oh, come on, Jigen! I'm being good! I just wanna see!"
"No, that's not how you earn his trust," Jigen reminded him. Lupin started to pout. "He won't let you see it if he won't let you see it. If we get him back, he'll tell us about them I'm sure. Until then, I'm not breaking his trust that way. He'll leave again."
"Fine," he complained, heading outside to pout at the person responsible. "I only wanna look," he offered.
"Pretty please? I'll give you part of a job I'm going on tonight."
"Oh, come on, Xander!"
"You're whining and the answer is still no." Xander stretched in the other direction.
"I swear, I'm not going to steal it, borrow it, or beg to drive it. I only wanna look. Please? Just for a minute? I'll even help you wax them next time. Or help you build missiles for the Fiats. Please?"
"You're all but doing the pee-pee dance, do you realize this?" Xander asked with a small smirk. "No."
Xander gave him a long look. "Because I know you, Lupin. You'll look, then you'll wanna touch, then you'll wanna drive, and then we'll get photo'd in it and Gramp's be putting out an APB on my totally legitimate car, which means I can't drive it ever again. I don't want to own cars I can't drive."
"I promise, I won't drive it. I won't touch it. I may sit in the seat and wiggle, but I'm not going to pressure you to drive it, Xander. Besides, we can hold Ray hostage against that sort of thing. Please?" He saw Xander wobble, he was wearing him down. "Just for a moment? We've got to go get liquor anyway."
"Yeah, well, I tasered the store on the way up since they pissed me off the other night. It might not be a good day for that, Lupin." He turned around to face the other direction, stretching some more.
Lupin walked up behind him, putting his chin on his buddy's shoulder. "I only wanna look, Xander," he said quietly. "It's like an obsession. You've seen my collection. I've seen some of yours. I just wanna see. It's one of those neat things we have in common. I promise I won't try to bribe you to let me drive it. I won't take it out of the garage if you don't want me to. All I want to do is look."
Xander turned, looking him in the eyes. "Thieves' Honor?"
"Thieves' Honor," Lupin swore, holding up a hand. "I like old cars. I always have. Those are really rare and really pretty. Like the roadster. Can we go now?"
"Go to the bathroom first, before you wet yourself," he said patiently. Lupin ran into the house, leaving Xander to looked up and shake his head. "He's like a big kid sometimes," he sighed, heading out to get into the Fiat and drive it back into town. "Heading out to get liquor."
"Can I see too?" Jigen called.
Jigen came out brushing cat hair off as he walked, letting Lupin get the passenger's seat this time. Xander slid in to drive, still shaking his head. "What still needs done on this one?"
"More missiles," Xander admitted. "I've got the stuff in the lab." He started the engine and drove around the driveway, heading back into town. When he got there, the garage was on fire, but it was the top levels. "Shit!" He jumped out and headed for the garage, pulling out his keys for the padlock. The other two were right behind him. They got inside and the cars started without much trouble, taking them outside to safety. Xander rushed back in for two boxes and a bag, then tossed them into the trunk of the Fiat. They stood there and watched as the fire department pulled up and went to work. Xander gave one a miserable look. "It's a good thing Lupin begged and pleaded, huh?"
"Was there gas or anything downstairs, Lavelle?"
"No. No gas. Maybe some oil. I did an oil change last week but I got rid of the old stuff. There may have been a bottle or two left over of new though." He looked up and sighed as the roof caved in. "I liked that apartment."
"I know you did. Have you gotten any threats recently?"
"No. Almost no one knew I lived there." He looked at the owner of the liquor store. "Of course, he kicked me out a few days ago so I tasered his store on the way in," he offered. "Set off their alarm system." The fireman nodded, making note of that. "Is anything going to be saveable?"
"Probably not," he admitted. "You're sure there's no gas?"
"No. There were a few blocks of C-4 upstairs, but they should only melt." He looked at his cars. "Lupin's going to be bugging me for days to drive them."
"You're going to have to get them home anyway," he offered gently. He patted him on the back. "We'll do what we can, Lavelle. Thank you for getting those out of there. I'm sure your insurance company will be thankful too. You might want to move the Fiat first though."
"Alarm system's on," Xander yelled before anyone could touch that car. Lupin and Jigen both let him handle it. He frowned at them. "Fine. Take them home. We'll have to deal with the extra one in a few minutes, and the other Bugatti in the garage."
"Fine," Lupin agreed happily. "I promise, Pops won't take pictures of them. If he does, we won't give back Ray." He cackled as he went to drive the Bugatti and Jigen got the Austin Healy. Xander parked the Fiat out of the way and watched as the garage finished dying. He looked at the mechanic when he joined him. "How's the other baby?"
"Just fine. I've found the parts you'll need and they should be in within a week. Hopefully those two won't crash your cars."
"They'd better not. Otherwise I'm piercing Lupin's tongue and making him use the piercing to pull out any and all dents." The mechanic chuckled, patting him on the back. "Tell me when it's ready please."
"Sure, Lavelle." He walked off.
Xander took off the shirt and put the bug onto the ground, then moved both cars farther off so it couldn't accidentally stick to them. He knew how hard it was to find parts so he knew it was going to be more than a few days. Probably more like a few months. He'd have to get Zenigata for that later. The shirt got tossed onto the fire and Xander went to do the usual liquor run, weathering the dirty looks and the few customers who gave him pitying looks. "It's fine," he offered. "They were saved. Lupin was pouting and whining so it was a good thing I gave in." He heard someone scream and looked outside, smirking at the lightbulb that was now Zenigata's head. "Huh. He should know that thing has a security system on it by now." He went back to get more bottles. They were all heavy drinkers and they only came into town once a week for this stuff. The owner put them into an old box, letting Xander pick out a bottle of wine as well, then took his money and shooed him out.
Xander put the liquor in the backseat of the remaining classic car, then smirked at Zenigata. "Problems, Gramps? By the way, it usually takes months to find parts for a car that old, unless you know someone who machines them. Since this isn't a machinable part issue, it's going to be months, not days." Zenigata mumbled something before falling onto the ground. "You knew I had a security system. Pity. By the way, Ray tried the same thing so he's presently locked in a room with Fred. We'll release him when he begs and cries. Do not tempt Lupin to use my cars, I'd get upset." He stared down at the man, making him whimper. "Good, I'm glad we came to an understanding. I restored them, I bought them, they're legitimate. Get over it."
Lupin came back in his roadster, with Jigen driving that one. He got into the Fiat, since he was the only one who could turn off the security system on this one, while Lupin got the other car. "Thanks, Xander," Lupin called, driving off.
Xander shook his head. "Just like a little kid at the holidays," he sighed, getting in and driving off, leaving one toasty inspector lying on the ground.
Jigen paused beside the body. "You okay, Pops? We can call you an ambulance if you want." The cop glared at him as he tried to move. "That's fine. Make sure the mechanic's not hurt. He's the only guy Xan lets deal with his bike." He sped off, heading after the lunatic and the collector. He'd have to ask later, see what else Xander collected. Comics and anime, kimonos, gems, and now classic cars? Interesting but not really tied together. He pulled up outside the house, noticing that Marcus and Goemon were erecting a tent over Xander's cars, apparently the garage was full. He got out, parking the roadster back in its spot, then went to help them. Xander had the liquor sitting on the hood of the Fiat and was checking over his babies to make sure they hadn't scratched them. Jigen almost grabbed the bottles, but he wasn't sure the security system was off again. "Xander? System down?"
"Yeah. Should be," he said absently.
Jigen looked at Goemon, who used his scabbard to move the box so Jigen could get a hand under one side. It came off and he wasn't electrocuted, so it was all good to him. He carried it inside, wondering why Xander had gotten red wine. "Are we having Chinese tonight?" he called as he walked.
"Yes," Xander called. "Otherwise I'll have to cook."
"I'll buy you anything you want," Lupin said in a dozy voice, clearly happy and about ready to get off from the new cars. "Xander, if I asked, would you marry me?"
"Hell no. Tried that, you ignored me then too after I got pregnant." He walked off shaking his head, taking Goemon and Marcus with him. "Come on. He's gonna be a while. If there's stains on my cars, you're licking them off and then redoing the whole wax job, Lupin."
"Fine," he agreed, waving at them. He hugged the hood of one of them, smiling happily. This just made him want Xander more since they appreciated the same finer things in life.
Alan got out of the cab, looking at the tent and shaking his head. "Poor man." He walked up to the door and knocked, smirking at Jigen. "Did Lupin steal more cars? Or is his collection growing? I swear I've never seen a collection like his."
"No, the new three are Xander's. Obviously you've never seen his comic, kimono, or jewelry collection," he said dryly, letting him inside. "Collector boy's out back working out."
"Thanks, Jigen. He collects things?" Jigen nodded, leading him to the storage area so he could see. Alan hissed then shook his head. "Xander?"
"Xander's anime collection. Mostly just the porn. He's got the other stuff upstairs." He led him to the back door, letting him go pounce his man.
"Xander, you collect very pretty things, but isn't that a bit much?" Alan asked patiently.
Xander beamed and shook his head. "Nope." He jogged over to hug him, then drug him back to watch him work out.
Lupin looked up from his reading. "I take it you've never seen his kimono collection or heard how much his personal librarian makes a year?" he asked dryly.
"Yup, for the comic collection. It's in a warehouse." He went back to his reading. "Xander, can I take the '37 out for a spin around the property?"
"No," he said impatiently. "I told you that yesterday."
"Fine. When are you going to release Ray?"
"I told Zenigata we'd release him when Fred made him beg for sanity." He started on a new kata, making Alan look him over. "Yes, I am stacked," he said proudly. "Many, many days and nights of this stuff have given me a body that many people drool over."
"You should become a stunt double, Xander. You'd love it."
"Nah, it's not fun," he said with a grin. "Besides, I hate being photographed. Each time they do it, the pictures get worse and worse. My last one was stupid."
"You're the one who stuck his tongue out at Vecchio," Jigen said from the doorway. "Speaking of, it's Vecchio," he said, holding out the phone.
Xander caught it when Jigen tossed it, putting it up to his ear. "House of classic sluts." He listened to the rant. "Fred hasn't made him beg yet. He's been being good. Besides, Ray's liking the warping Fred to the light thing he's got going. Fred's trying to talk him into being a thief at the same time." He smirked. "Sure, Ray. Ray!" Ray came to the doorway. "Vecchio." He held out the phone and went back to his workout.
"I'm fine. Fred's trying to get me to be a thief while I make him be a good boy. Hey, I got the boy to quit trying to suck on Bix and the housekeeper," he said dryly. "I'm doing good for the universe at this moment." He snickered. "Fine. Xander, am I thoroughly chastised enough?"
"Only if we can wipe out the location of the house," Lupin said from his seat.
"Fine. Ray said it's my turn to order dinner and to keep Dawnie from exploding in a rage." He put the phone back up to his ear. "Sure, Ray. Give me a day and I'll be back by then. They've got to block the location of this place." He listened to the exact address. "Huh." He looked at Lupin. "He knows too."
"If he bugged my cars, I have the right to torture him," Xander said fondly. "You can tell him I said that."
Ray snickered. "Xander said if you bugged his cars, he's going to torture you. Sure!" He hung up. "He's shredding that before Zenigata finds it. By the way, Fred's cutting a new tooth again." He headed up to pack his stuff and kiss Bix, taking the medicine that had been left on his dresser after that first day. Once it had worked, he headed down to his car, letting someone stop Fred before he got out there.
"No, mine!" Fred yelled, struggling to get down. "He not leave me!"
"I'm sure you'll seen him soon," Jigen said patiently, waving Ray to go quickly. He walked the boy out to his father. "He's gotten attached."
"Ray mine!" Fred complained, glaring at Jigen. "Meanie! I shoot you!" He pointed his finger at him. "Bang!"
"Stop it," Xander snapped, making Fred curl up and suck his thumb. "You can see Ray at the next convention and I'm sure he'll be back sometime. You do not threaten your uncles, no matter what the hell you think is wrong. Do you understand?" Fred nodded, looking pathetic. "Good. Go to your room and nap. It's obvious you need one." Fred got down and trudged off, heading upstairs looking miserable. "Sorry, but that's a bad habit that needs stopped before he's carrying a weapon full-time," Xander explained.
"No, I agree, it's a bad thing to pout and whine like that," Alan agreed quickly.
"Thanks, Xan," Lupin agreed. "Good job."
"Thank," Jigen agreed, heading back into the kitchen.
"Xander, when were you going to tell me that you're one of those mad collector types?" Alan asked patiently.
"I thought you knew I collected anime, comics, and kimonos."
"I heard you say that you had a few of them, not that you're *collecting* them in mass numbers. How many cars do you have?"
"Well, let's see. The Fiats were a challenge, a new design. They're going to Melissa once she graduates. The bike that Ishi's stolen is mine. I've got those three and one other one. The Jetta in England, which is my baby. Not that many." He shrugged and grinned at him.
"Hmm. How many comics do you think you have?"
"Um, last note from the librarian shaped-person was close to six thousand. I collect in a few different titles," he assured him. "Back issues as far back as I can go and all that. In Marvel alone I collect in ten titles, plus all the X-Men stuff and spinoffs." Alan blinked. "I know people who're worse. Just ask Lupin." Alan looked at Lupin, who nodded. "See? I'm perfectly normal. Speaking of, there's a con next week. Wanna go with me? You won't have to dress up at all, but you'd make a cute Jedi," he offered with a cute grin.
Alan mentally shuddered. "Dear, I've only got the weekend off," he pointed out gently. "Then I'm back to taping for the next three weeks straight."
"Shoot. I wanted to show you off," he pouted.
Alan got up to hug him. Xander was like a little kid some days. He could do pitiful very well. "Maybe next time, Xander. Why did you start collecting cars?"
"They were pretty and it gave me something to do in my free time."
"Oh. So you restored them?"
"Three of the four classic cars. One of the Bugattis was already restored. I only keep it shiny." Alan sighed, shaking his head, so Xander kissed him, making him moan instead. "It's not really a collection, just a bunch of stuff that I was working on in my free time before we had kids."
"Can I buy the '37 and the Austin Healy off you then?" Lupin asked, looking hopeful.
"Since when did you have cash?" Xander asked.
Lupin frowned, thinking fast. "I can do that. Blue book value?"
"Insurance estimated value," Xander countered. Lupin shrugged. "Fine. It's not like it's a serious collection for me. They do not go on jobs though."
"Fine," Lupin agreed happily, picking up the phone to call Murami. "I'm adding to the car collection," he said happily. "Can you pull Xan's insurance on his '37 Bugatti and the Austin Healy so I know how much I've got to fence?" He grinned, then blinked a few times. "Excuse me?" He listened, then sighed. "Sure, why didn't they cover it? Fine, I'll talk to her later. She can pay me back. No, they've got plenty," he said dryly. "No, there's a kid there at the Academy who's been helping until their formal debut. No, Wyatt? Out of Chicago? Him, yeah. Sure. Thanks for the warning." He hung up and dialed the school. "Tell Melissa that she forgot to pay paychecks and she's to call her father and I about her collection habits. She's nearly as bad as her mother." He hung up, frowning at Xander. "See what you started? They forgot to pay their pilot's salary."
"They have a pilot?" Xander asked, looking confused. "I thought Arsene was planning for a future plane purchase when she had me looking over the auction."
Lupin shook his head with a sigh. "What did she get, Xander? And when?"
"Back when she got the cruise ship," he said honestly. Lupin's hand drifted up to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Sorry, but they used that to rescue you that time." Lupin held up a hand to stop him. "Sorry, Lupin." He smirked at Alan as he hauled him up and took him on a walk of the woods. "How's taping going?"
"Very well," he admitted, smirking at him. "You're so bad."
"Well, yeah, but they have no idea what the kids have added to both empires." He stole a kiss. "There, I'm a happy Xander now."
Alan smiled at him, even though he wanted to sigh. Xander was such a little kid some days.
"XANDER!" Jigen yelled. "House, now!"
"No, dear, that's later," Alan assured him sweetly. They turned, heading back to the house. "Did Lupin have a stroke?"
"No, not yet," he admitted grimly, letting them inside. "The kids are collecting things?"
"Arsene's got a few DVD's, but I think she wants my porn collection really," he admitted. "The Fiat's are Melissa's, as are half the stuff in the lab that works when she graduates and they do their coming out job. Ishi's got his anime collection. I don't think Lotus collects at all at the moment."
Jigen swatted him. "I'm talking about big things, like the cruise ship. She didn't rent that?"
"No, that was bought when she was nine. It was a mutual decision from a haul. Then she's been slowly renovating it. It's really pretty." He grinned. "The airplane was a future purchase as far as I knew, Jigen."
"Sure it was, Xander," Jigen said, staring him down. "What else?" Xander shrugged. "Cars? Apartments?"
"They are using one of my apartments and I told them they could have the house in London, not the big trio of houses together, but the actual house-house in London. It's by the zoo and the big park."
The phone rang and Jigen dove for it, growling at the child on the other end. "Melissa, what other major purchases have you kids bought?"
Melissa looked at the phone Lotus was holding out. "Which parent?"
"Yours and he was growling."
"Wonderful," she said dryly. "Hi, daddy," she said as she took it. She grinned at his continued growling. "What's wrong?" She looked at her computer. "Shit, sorry, I'll correct that tonight." She winced as he started to yell. "It's practical and we all got together to do it with a few hauls," she offered weakly. She winced again, moving the phone away from her ear. "Yes, daddy. We'll do a financial disclosure with Auntie Murami this holiday," she promised. "Thanks, daddy. No, just those two." She winced a third time and rubbed her ear as she switched sides. "No, honestly. I don't know about any others. I'll ask Arsene. Sure, daddy. Love you too. Watch your blood pressure." She hung up quickly before he could start again. "Damn it. Go get Wyatt. He forgot to pay Cecilia." Lotus nodded, going to find their money manager. "Fuck me," she complained, opening up her laptop to take care of that payment. She sent it to Murami, who would either forward it to Cecilia or to Lupin if he paid her for them. She checked on the status of everything else while she was in there, noticing there were a few investments she really didn't agree with. She'd be yelling at Wyatt later for more than one reason apparently. She text messaged Lupin, warning her not to answer her phone for a bit. Just in case her father called to whine too.
Alan looked at the lists Xander had opened up on his computer, then back at his lover. "Are you addicted?" he asked finally.
"No. I haven't bought any new anime or anything in a while. I bought a few when I replaced Ishi's broken one but they're new ones in a series I already have." He grinned at him. "It's not an addiction, Alan. We went through this with Lupin a few years back. Then I took him to a convention and he started to enjoy it too."
"Ah, then it's a cult," he said wisely, glaring at his boyfriend. "Xander, you've tied up an extremely large amount of money in things that can easily be destroyed."
"They're all insured. So are the houses, but three apartments." Alan blinked. "That's under the stuff you didn't want to know about the life."
"You have more than the house in London, the one you gave the kids, and the manor house?" Xander nodded. "Why?"
"Jobs. Storage areas, emergency locations and supplies. Most of them were taken over by the guy who I'm letting run things while I'm slowing down. You met Bastian at the hospital."
"I remember him. He seemed very nice. Is he a thief too?"
"Ah." He nodded slowly. "And the reason for the large collection of kimonos?"
"I like them. They're neat, I like wearing them. They're handy to have when you need to change personas." Alan moaned. "Sorry. I'll drop the subject now if you will."
Alan gave him a gentle kiss. "You know they make drugs for those who over-collect, correct?" he asked gently. Xander frowned at him. "You've got stuff that you can't hope to sell, Xander. Not if they know who you are."
"Actually, plenty of people like my collection and don't care who I am. Besides, I've got a different identity for those things," he admitted. "Not to mention my real one."
"Fine, dear, you know what you're doing. Are they like a hard asset retirement fund?"
"No, but the kids may keep them when I die."
"Fine. I'll not bother you about your collections again."
"Wanna see the comic one?"
"No, that's fine, Xander. That'd be a very long list." He kissed him again, making Xander forget all about this conversation. Though he'd be watching him for more collecting habits. This was probably not healthy for the boy or for his future solvency. Though, if he could sell it, he'd be quite rich. He shook that thought off. He didn't care if Xander was poor or rich, he was Xander.
"Quit thinking," Xander whispered in his ear. "Before I have to nip and bite." He nipped the earlobe he was whispering into, making Alan shiver. "Now, if you're a good boy and can be quiet, we can have a lot of fun."
Alan moaned and let Xander lay him back on the bed, going with whatever he wanted to do. The man was addictive. Xander chuckled as he kissed down his chest, making Alan smile at that. He knew where Xander was heading. He loved his very oral boyfriend and all his little quirks, like how he slurped while he was giving him a blow. He arched up into the talented mouth, biting on his hand to keep himself from howling in pleasure.
"You might as well let it go, we don't mind this time," Lupin called as he walked down the hall. "Xander's louder than anyone ever created."
"Were you watching?" he called.
"No, but I remember those noises and that's how Xander redirects any fights," Lupin assured him. "Remember to lock the door so Fred can't get in, and have fun." They heard his door slam.
"Have I ever mentioned how odd it is to have sex in your ex's house?" Alan said conversationally.
Xander looked up at him and shrugged, then went back to what he was doing, which was to make Alan scream in pleasure and forget there had ever been any sort of fight. It only took two hours and by then Alan was begging to be allowed to sleep or die. Xander was very good.
Sarah smiled as Alan wandered into breakfast the next morning and flopped down, head going into his plate. "Mr. Alan, will you play with us later today?" she asked sweetly.
"Sure, kid. Let me recover first," he groaned, lifting his head long enough to sight the juice. "Can you push the juice this way?"
Jigen came in with a plate of bacon and poured it for him, nudging him to take it. "You'll want at least two and some meat. Trust me," he said grimly. "Feel thankful he's not female at the moment. It's worse to satisfy him then."
"Dear Lord, he can get *worse*?" Alan asked, looking horrified. "The man wore me out last night and I've slept seven hours and I'm still tired, and he gets worse?"
Jigen nodded, smirking at him. "Often. He was being playful. Lupin's had some weeks where he couldn't walk after topping him." He sat down, handing Sarah some bacon. "There you are, princess."
"Thank you, daddy," she said happily, biting into the first piece. "Maybe he should go back to bed."
"He can nap in a bit. Let's let him eat first, then he can nap. He needs to eat."
"Yes, I do," Alan agreed, digging into his food. He managed to get down a plate of food and three glasses of juice before asking the important question. "Was he holding back on our first time?" Jigen nodded. "Why?"
"So he didn't scare you off," he said wisely. "Remember we're talking about the guy who has to pay extra at the whorehouses he used to visit because he wore the girls and guys out too much."
"No wonder he had to have two of you."
Jigen smirked. "No, Lupin was enough for him. He's a bit hyper. I can't top Xander when he's a guy. I can't...." He let that trail off.
Alan patted him on the hand. "I've seen it before. Sometimes you can get past it, sometimes you can't. For some, the knowledge that their lover is going to leave them for good is enough to start working on it. For some, they'll never be able to get over it." He shrugged. "I guess I'm lucky though."
"You are," Jigen agreed. "That's why I'll hunt you down and kill you horribly if you hurt him."
"Good to know," he agreed with a light smile. "Now, I believe Miss Sarah wanted to play. What did you want to play, sweetness?" They looked over when she didn't answer, noticing she was asleep. "Is she all right?" he asked when Jigen got up to check her over.
"Maybe. I hope so." He hit the button the wall, which summoned Lupin from the office. "She fell asleep on her plate. Get Xan to call that healer back."
Lupin turned and ran up the stairs. "Xander!" he yelled. "Call the kitsune healer. Sarah's collapsed over her breakfast."
Xander came out of his bedroom in his boxers, the Lord of the Kitsune already disappearing behind him. He rushed down to check on his baby. "Sarah, it's mommy, can you hear me?" he whispered in her ear. She batted at him with a moan. "It's all right, sweetheart, the healer's on his way. We'll make you feel all better." He kissed her on the back of the head, lifting her up to carry her toward a couch. He had gotten her comfortable when the healer came rushing in, and got out of his way without a question. "Is she okay?" he asked. "She collapsed over breakfast."
"The valve problem was getting better the last time she was up there," the healer said, frowning at her. "Okay. I'm going to take her up there. It may be that she's so attuned, being down here is making her weak." He looked at the worried parents. "Jigen, coming?" He nodded, taking the girl and the healer's hand to go with him.
Xander rushed up the stairs to put on clothes, rushing off to help if he could. He got there and found his daughter giggling and playing. He looked at Jigen, who was frowning. "She's fine now?"
"Absolutely perfect. No heart problem, no weakness, nothing," Jigen said glumly. He and Xander held one of their silent conversations. "She'll have to," he agreed, looking at the healer.
"I agree," the Lord said from behind them. "She'll be staying with me of course," he offered when Xander looked back at him. "You missed a fashion step, Xander," he noted, nodding at his unbuttoned shirt. Xander buttoned it while he went to talk to Sarah. She grinned up at him. "Sarah, you realize that you're stronger up here, correct?" She nodded, giving him a trusting and loving look. "Well, we've always planned on you coming up to stay with us as an ambassador to the criminals like your Uncle Lupin and since you're stronger up here we think you should come up here to live all the time."
"We don't want to, but we don't want to see you sick," Jigen assured her. "We'll be up all the time."
"Daddy?" she asked, looking at him. "I live up here and wear pretty clothes and be with my friends?"
"Yes, princess, you'd get to do all those things," Xander promised, coming in to hug her. "I promise, you'll have the prettiest of kimonos and stuff like that. You're our most special daughter, but we hate that you're sick all the time."
She kissed him on the cheek like he did her. "I'm not mad, daddy. You visit all the time?" He nodded, tearing up. "Then I stay up here if I can." She looked at the Lord. "May I stay up here with you?"
"Yes, I think it's for the best," he agreed, stroking over her hair. "Xander, I'm going to assign your usual maid to be her guardian," he said gently. Xander looked up at him. "I swear, Xander, she'll be protected like my own. The Incubus we have here will say the same thing."
"He reads to me too," Sarah offered.
Xander nodded. "Then we can do that. Give us a few hours to pack up her room and tell Fred."
"Fred help you move stuff up, it'll help him," she offered. "Besides, he come up to see me too. We can do the mirror thingy like Lotus."
"We can," the Lord agreed with a small smile for her. It was obvious she knew this was coming and hand planned for it. "Do you have anything hidden down there?"
"No, I've got boxes in my closet though. I'll need those," she said seriously. "I had Lotus help me find them."
"Sure, kiddo," Jigen agreed, giving her a hug. "We'll be up later with your stuff and we'll move the mirror to the study since someone's usually in there. Expect to hear from us all the time and for us to come up nearly as often." She nodded, hugging him again. Then she hugged Xander and went back to playing. She had missed playing.
"I'll have someone come help," the Lord said quietly, leading them back to the manor house through the portal Xander had set up years ago. "Lupin," he said, nodding to him. "She's coming up permanently."
"That's fine," he agreed weakly. "She's fine?"
"She's playing and laughing and happy," Xander said miserably. "She's still too young."
"She'll be *fine*, Xander. Much better than she was down here," the Lord of the Kitsune reminded him, patting him on the back. "Now, go pack her pretty things. I know she had Lotus help her steal a kimono recently. I'll be back in a few hours." He disappeared, going to arrange things for her. Starting with her maid/guardian. He found the kitsune he wanted in the garden and motioned her over. "Sarah is now up here permanently. You will take care of her as you did her mother."
"Yes, Lord," she said immediately. "Is she in your suite? Should I prepare the family's suite for her?"
"She's still very young, we'll leave her with me for now. They're bringing up her things so help her rearrange her room later. We'll work out everything else over the next few days." She bowed and hurried to do that for him. He went to find the demonic ambassador, stopping him in the halls. "Sarah is up for good," he said quietly, glancing around. "She'll be part of my family. I've sworn that you'd help protect her."
"Of course," he agreed immediately. "You have my sworn word, I shall protect her, even from the elves if necessary." The fox spirit smirked at that but nodded to show he accepted. "Is she in your rooms?" He nodded again. "That's fine, I'll pop around tonight to read to her, then see if I can distract her when the newness starts to wear off."
"She's been planning this," the fox admitted. "She knew it was coming and she's arranged things for herself. Including stealing some kimonos."
"Very well then," he agreed happily. "I'll still pop around tonight." He bowed and walked off, going to report that to his Lord and Master. That was something he'd want to know.
Xander and Jigen looked at the boxes, then burst out laughing. Sarah had wanted a few kimonos, she had apparently talked someone into helping her steal some. She had a good collection going. "I'll give her some of mine when she's old enough to wear them," he promised, making Jigen smile and nod. "Hey, she's only on another plane. We can always go see her and talk to her. She's happy, she's playing, she's healthy like she hasn't been in years. We've got to be happy for her."
"I am, but I'm sad. She's too young."
"Agreed," Xander offered, hugging him gently. "She'll be fine and we'll be nosy parents all the time," he promised quietly. Jigen nodded, relaxing against his chest. "Now, let's get our princess packed up and see if there's anything we should send."
"Chocolate and nuts," Jigen reminded him. He wrote it on the list he was making for her first care package. He planned on having something left out so he'd have to send it up in the next few days. It might be pathetic but at least he'd be assured she was settling in well. He helped Xander pack up the clothes in her dresser. "She'll need new stuff soon."
"We can easily borrow her to buy some fun clothes," Xander reminded him with a grin. "Plus underwear."
"Yeah, and her first real bra," Jigen sighed. "That's only in another six years."
"We'll work it out, Jigen. Even if we die, she's got people to watch out for her and Lotus goes up there all the time too for lessons." Jigen nodded, allowing himself to calm down again. "You know, I feel like I should be bawling and I'm not. I'm the calm one."
"Yeah, but you'll do it later," Jigen reminded him. "Alan'll go back to work all damp."
"He'll dry out on the flight," Lupin said from the doorway, handing over a couple of shopping bags. "The next few sizes so she's not stuck before we can take her shopping," he explained. He smiled at the pile of kimonos. "Those are new?"
"Yeah, she said she had Lotus help her steal them," Jigen said with a weak grin. "Thanks, Lupin."
"Put 'em in her closet, Jigen," Lupin offered. Jigen nodded, stuffing them inside. "Where's the mirror going?"
"The study," Xander told him. "There's usually someone in there. Either there or in the tv room, but it's more open and the study won't have people nosing around in there."
"Good point." He went to take the mirror from Lotus' room and put it down in his study, turning a chair so it was facing it. He decided the mirror was too high so he found a small stand and a table, putting it on there instead. Now they had a good spot to talk to their daughter. He sat down to do the hard thing, calling the other kids, then Ray. He decided to call Ray first, getting a sleepy, grumpy Vecchio instead. "It's me. Tell him Sarah went to live with the kitsune." He leaned back in his chair. "No, she was able to play and laugh and be a normal little girl. They took her after she collapsed this morning. So, no, Xander won't be a happy person for a long time. Thanks, man." He hung up and called Ishi, he was usually up by then. "Ishi, where's everyone?" he asked gently. "No, I need to talk to the group. Sarah. No, son, not dead. She's with the kistune for good though. She collapsed this morning and once she got up there she was like a normal little girl. Yeah, I know Melissa'd want to know at the least. Thanks, Ishi. Yeah, he's nearly in tears. No, we'll handle it. Alan's up for the weekend. Just let them cry on you." He hung up and went up to help and tell them they didn't have to call the kids.
Ishi walked into the breakfast and sat down, looking at everyone. "Put down the forks," he ordered quietly, leaning on the table. He looked at Melissa once hers was down. "Sarah collapsed over breakfast. She's fine. She's with the kitsune playing, laughing, and happy," he said gently. She broke out in a sob. "She's happy, 'Lis. She's healthy like she hasn't been in years. We'll be able to see her. I'm sure of it."
"I can get you up there, not a problem," Lotus agreed calmly. "She's better?"
"Much better. She's playing. Uncle Lupin said she's playing." Melissa nodded, wiping off her eyes. "She's better up there, 'Lis. We understand, and I'm here for you. Whatever you need."
"Damn it," Lupin complained. "Why so suddenly?"
"She's linked into the energy up there, Ar," Lotus reminded her. "It was like pulling her from her native habitat and putting her into a fishtank with another habitat down here. That's where she's supposed to be."
"She's too damn small to leave home!" Melissa complained.
"She's got guards," Lotus reminded her. "She's got to be living with the big guy and she's got the incubus up there who likes to read to her. Plus, I'm sure she's got her own personal nanny at the moment. We can call Bix to find out who that is or you can go up there tonight to talk to her, or even tomorrow."
"We need to send her stuff," Lupin noted quietly. "Pictures, chocolates, stuff like that."
"We're grounded to the school," Ishi reminded her. "We can order stuff, have it sent here, and then send it to her. Or even let Melissa deliver it," he suggested. She nodded, breaking down again. "Hey, it's better than it could be. She could have died, 'Lis. If she was collapsing like that, there was a chance it was getting worse. She's better up there. She's healthy. She's playing. She's happy." She nodded, but continued to cry.
"What's wrong?" the Headmistress asked as she walked up to their table. "Is your sister all right? I know she's ill."
"They sent her to live with the kitsune," Ishi said calmly. He could see the confusion on her face. "Yes, they're real. We're the family of the ambassador from the criminal element. Mom does it."
"Lavelle?" she asked hopefully. Lotus nodded quickly. "They're...they're really real?"
"Yup, sure are. They helped me learn a lot of magic," Lotus offered with a small shrug. "A good part of Sarah's problem stems from the fact that her energy is warped toward what theirs is. It's like her natural energy is warped against what's down here. So it took a small heart condition and made it thousands times worse. They've been planning on sending her up there to live, but not yet. She's only six."
"Oh, okay then." She gave Melissa a hug. "Order things and send them to her. I'm sure Lotus can get it to them." She nodded again. "Now, calm yourself, dear. If she's alive, there's always a chance to heal," she reminded her gently. "One can always get better."
"She's playing and healthy up there according to her dad," Ishi offered. "This isn't really grief. Melissa knows she'll see her again." Melissa got up and walked off. "Go with her, Lupin." Arsene nodded, taking her latest bite of sausage with her. "Sarah is Melissa's little sister," he explained. "She's the nice, sweet one of the family. Always smiling, always happy. She's special."
"I understand. We all had siblings like that. Give her the time she needs. Help her order whatever she wants. I'll give you a shipping address later." He nodded. "Thank you, Ishi." She went back to her seat, looking at the person at the table who might have a clue, the marksmanship teacher. "Kitsune are real?" she asked quietly.
He coughed and nodded. "Yeah, Lavelle and Sylvia have been ambassadors to them for a while now. Sarah?" She nodded. "She all right?"
"She apparently went up there to be their new ambassador."
"She's a good choice. She's the one who was petting your shoes during that dinner."
"Ah, her." She nodded, understanding more now. She was very sweet and happy. "There shouldn't be any political incidents then."
"They're probably very strict traditionalists, but she was trained by Goemon," he agreed. "Besides, at her age, allowances will be made for a while longer. Melissa all right?"
"No, not really. Sarah's her little sister."
"Then Jigen's got to be torn up. I'll call him later and ask if he wants to talk to her. Or let her find ways of wearing out the anger and sadness. I'd eat, it's going to be a long day. Someone tried to get Lupin's haul last night."
"Yes, I heard we sent another child to the hospital for missing his fingertips from acid burns. Much nicer than the one with the explosives."
"He'll never crack another safe, but I'm sure he's learned his lesson. His father won't mind anyway, he wants him to be higher in the food chain." He ate another bite of breakfast. "Hmm, how did DeMarllion stay?"
"Political pressure. His father is married to one of my cousins, who pressured the head of the family to have me keep him."
"Pity. Looks like he's going to be next."
"Pity," she agreed.
Arsene looked at Wyatt, frowning at him. "Wyatt, dear, you're falling down on the job. Daddy found out about the plane because you forgot to pay Cecilia." He winced. "He found out about the ship because of that. Needless to say, we got chewed a new one. Melissa's not in a good mood, which is why you get me. So let's sit down and chat about this new investment strategy, because it looks really risky to me. Also, we're being ordered that you're going to have to turn over things to Auntie Murami. She's our financial manager and Daddy ordered, Wyatt, we can't get around that one," she said at his pout. "Sorry."
"No, it's not your fault. Do we have Melissa's laptop?" She nodded, handing it over, already open to the correct page. "That investment series isn't doing as well as I had hoped anyway. Let me cancel that and sell it off," he offered, doing so. He had the money deposited back into their main account, that was the only one he had access to. "Okay, I've put in sell orders on those stocks." She nodded. "Can you get me with Murami?"
"Sure, press the pause button for the voice chat," she said dryly. "Daddy said he was going to lock my ass in an everlasting chastity belt that was magically glued to my skin if we didn't do this."
He nodded. "That'd be horrible." He pressed the button. "Ma'am? This is Wyatt. I'm here with Lupin the Fourth, ma'am."
"Good," she said, sounding cool and professional. "I'm looking at their records at the moment, what Melissa forwarded to me on Lupin the Third's orders. It looks like you've been doing a bit of risky investing, but nothing too high risk or with great amounts of money until this point. Hopefully that one will sell tonight?"
"The brokerage I use takes orders after hours until eight, eastern US time," he offered calmly. "I'm sorry if you think I led them down the wrong path, ma'am."
"No, Wyatt, I don't think you did. Though I do wonder at a few of the draws on the accounts. Usually we note why each amount is taken out. You'll soon find most criminals are very paranoid about their money. The girls are fairly lax about that and Ishi lets me handle most of his money, he always has." She looked over the information and he noticed that the screen he was looking at was also moving. "Hmm, looks like they've lost about six thousand dollars. Not much compared to their actual worth, but still worrisome. Who's your intern manager? I think you'd do better with a session of stocks and bonds for a few months. It might help you attune to the movement of the market."
"I'm doing it with Melissa's Aunt actually," he offered quietly. "I asked her opinion generally speaking and she said it was a bold strategy but not too risky."
"Overall it's not, not until you put in more money this time, Wyatt. Relax, I'm not going to get you into trouble. Now, I want you to do a few things. Arsene, go get him something to drink, dear. This is going to get boring very quickly."
"Sure, Auntie Money Lady," she joked. She got up and left them alone, sitting outside the room but taking the sodas Lotus had been bringing up.
"Now then, Wyatt. Why are you taking their money?" Murami asked quietly. "Are they not your friends?"
"Yes, but I didn't think they'd mind and I was told I was supposed to be taking fees out," he defended.
"Very well. I'd say that you've gotten very good at that. From now on, Wyatt, you're interned to me. You'll be learning honor, and quickly, or else I will have to report you to the school. Do we have a clear understanding?"
"Good boy. Now set the sell order for real, Wyatt. That is much too risky. Remember, they're teenagers, they're going to have to live for a very long time on what they're stealing. Even if they make more, they'll still need this cushion." He undid what he had done earlier, sending the sell order to the correct people. He got a confirmation back immediately and the funds were returned, minus the small fee to sell. "Very good. Click on the green icon." He did so and winced as her computer fuzzed up. "Come see me in Paris, Wyatt. We'll be talking in a few days. Correct?"
"Yes, ma'am." He hung up and opened the door. "I got confirmation, the money's been returned, minus the small seller's fee. Most of your assets are in liquid form again. Your family's manager has invited me up for a chat."
"Sure. We'll book you on a flight," Melissa offered, giving him a gentle smile. He nodded, leaving them there. "We're not mad, Wyatt, we're only disappointed," she assured him. "It could have been much worse, that's why people look out for these things."
"Nice try though, we'll give you a B for effort," Arsene offered with a small shrug. "No hard feelings, kid. Don't worry about it." He nodded, going back to his room. "He's fallen in with a very bad crowd," she noted, sipping her soda.
"Murami will straighten him out," Melissa offered quietly. "What did she do?"
"She removed access from your computer. She'll have to give it back to you soon. She's also going to be changing all the access codes and everything within the next ten minutes in case he wants to become malicious. The only thing she can't do is take off the voice print but she'll have his access suspended to fact-finding only. Taking him off completely requires me or you to call."
"I'll do it in a minute," Melissa agreed.
"Girls," Murami called. "Get in here."
"Yes, ma'am," they sighed, heading in to talk to her. They closed the door so no one could eavesdrop. Hopefully she wouldn't be telling the fathers.
Xander looked up as Murami tapped on his door. "Come on in. This is Alan, he's my guy," he said with a grin. He accepted his binder. "Am I poor again?"
"Not hardly," she admitted, kissing him on the cheek. "I accepted the check from Lupin this morning and put it into your main account, Xander. I had the titles transferred at that point." He nodded, going over the pages. "How are your other ones going?"
"Not as well but I mostly leave them alone," he admitted, grinning up at her. "Why is this so large? Did we not split it off?"
"I narrowed it back down to five accounts instead of eleven. With the insurance limit going up, I could safely do that. That means you can't use your mastercard after next week." He looked up and nodded again. "Overall, you're doing okay. I looked at the other accounts you gave me the listings for, just in case, and they're doing healthy. You could be doing a bit more with some of them but I know that one's just to pay the insurance on your collections and those three salaries."
"Three? Librarian, inventor, and who?"
She smirked as she handed over a letter. "Sent to me by Dawn," she noted dryly. "He said he's being a babysitter, he should be paid as one."
"I'll get him later," he said with a small shrug. "How much?"
"Fifty bucks, which when confronted he said you owed him from a poker game anyway." She sat down beside him, pointing at the few places where she had highlighted numbers. "Those are worrying to me, Xander. We've got to do something about a few of those numbers."
"Is he overspending on is collections?" Alan asked quietly.
"No, actually he hasn't used his shopping accounts recently so they're getting too high. Xander's very good at saving and he's done some wonderfully high-income jobs." Xander grabbed a velvet box and held it out to her. "What's this?"
"Your dividends from the comic and anime company," he said with a grin. "I know you like cash, but I thought you might like these more. They're worth more too." She opened the box and gasped. "I found them at auction and thought you'd look cute in them. They're worth about ten grand more than the dividends would have been." He grinned at her. "That good with you?"
"Yes, Xander, they're wonderful! Thank you," she said with a genuine smile, kissing him on the cheek. "You are my most thoughtful client."
"Xander, sucking up to her won't get you better interest," Lupin said as he leaned in the door. She held up the earrings, making him gasp. "Wow."
"Dividends. I saw them on auction and thought she might enjoy them more than the actual cash. They won't go down in value."
"No, they're wonderful. I can use them as collateral to repair my flat again." He gave her a long look. "It's nothing, dear. Water damage from upstairs."
"You could always move," Lupin reminded her. "Don't use those, I'll give you what you need and you can pay me back."
"You're fairly poor after those car payments, Lupin."
"Then I will," Xander promised. "You said I had to do something with some of that money, so use some and pay me back when you can. Say four percent interest each year?"
"Xander...are you sure?"
He nodded. "I am. Move somewhere nicer, Murami. You deserve to live on the top of a building if you want." He kissed her on the tip of the nose. "Now . What else do I need to work on?"
"Those guys in Japan. They're getting cocky and slow again."
"I have to pop around on my anime company anyway," he said dryly. "Not an issue. Anything else?"
"Do we need to talk about adding beneficiaries to your insurance policies? Or taking ones off?"
"No, I'm good where I am at the moment," Xander offered, pulling his knees up to rest his chin on them. "I've got ones with the guys and the kids on them and one with Alan on it. That should have gotten to you already." She nodded. "So we'll play it by ear," he offered.
"I don't want it, Xander."
"That's why there's only one. In case something happens because you're with me. Like an idiot takes you and hurts you because you're dating me. This one'll pay out to you directly because of that. That way you wouldn't have to worry about me losing all my money or me being around. It's good until I die and then for another year." Alan shook his head. "It's necessary."
"It is," Lupin agreed, coming in some to look down at him. "It's also there in case something happens and Xander doesn't get to you in time, Alan. He's protecting you from some of the dumbasses in the world. Let him or he'll pout and you won't be walking for weeks this time."
"Fine. I won't protest at this moment, but I will be protesting, Xander. I don't need it." Xander kissed him, making him lose that thought. "What were we talking about?"
"What I can do to you before you've got to leave," Xander suggested with a wicked smirk.
"Dear, I'll have to jump and play on Monday afternoon. You can't do to me what you did before. I'll be fired."
"At least you'll be living," Murami offered. She hugged Xander. "I'm glad you're happy, Xander. By the way, the kids wouldn't give me permission to talk to any of you but you about their assets."
"Sure. Give me a few. Go deal with the others and come back for me."
"Sure." She got up with a small chuckle when he pounced Alan, leading Lupin out so he couldn't watch. It was clear he was still obsessed. "Come along, Lupin. There's a lot we've got to go over. Jigen?" He came out of his bedroom. "Goemon?" Fujiko came to the doorway. "Oh, you're back. No one told me. I didn't bring up your portfolio, Fujiko. I'm sorry. If I had known I would have. I do have Goemon's though, is he not here?"
"He's outside somewhere," she admitted. "Is he doing okay?"
"He's just fine, Fujiko. I'll send yours up so you can look it over and we'll talk over the phone about it if you have any questions." She led Lupin and Jigen down to the office, smirking at them. "She's back?" she asked quietly.
"Goemon decided to take her back," Jigen said, stretching out on a couch and taking the folder with his investments in it. "Am I okay? This looks really large."
"That bond paid off," she admitted. "It did it about a month early." He nodded, liking that. She looked them over. "Which is probably a good idea since each time I come up here you guys look younger and younger," she noted dryly.
"Ethan," Lupin told her.
"How much is he selling it for?"
"Sixty grand a dose," Jigen admitted. "There's a shop in Hollywood that's got it."
"Xander's?" They nodded. "Then I'm going to think very hard about popping around there." She sat down behind Lupin's desk. "How are the children, boys?"
"They're good," Lupin said with a smirk. "How are they doing financially?"
"They said I can only talk to Xander."
"Not really. They signed paperwork with me to name me manager of their finances instead of their parents, which means that you didn't have to worry about saving some of their cuts from jobs for their future wealth. By the way, you signed those too." Lupin shook his head so she pulled it out and held it up. "I'm not sure which one is the forger of the group, but they weren't that skilled at that point. Still, I don't want to break their trust, Lupin."
"They're not sixteen yet," Jigen noted calmly.
"They've just gotten rid of a guy at the school who was listening to your sister, Jigen. He was playing a bit risky with their money but they were doing fine for the most part. He's now my apprentice until I've got him straightened out and send him to Kurt in New York. Who, by the way, handles the rest of Xander's for him. He had been going through Philip in England but he got sick so he retired." Lupin sighed and nodded, that meant some of his had been transferred to. "I've got those, Lupin. He called all of us. We'll go over those in a minute." He nodded, liking that a bit better. "Your main account is still nearly gone because you bought those two cars." Jigen let out a small snicker. "I'm sure Xander only let him buy them because he got pushy."
"Yup," Jigen agreed. "Pouty and begging."
"I like classic cars," Lupin defended.
"I know you do," she promised. "Do you want me to loot one of the emergency funds and put it into the main one?" He nodded, frowning at her. "Sorry, Lupin." She gave him a gentle smile, so he grinned back. "Let's call the kids. I don't want to break their trust so soon." They nodded, settling in while she called Melissa's cell and got her voicemail. "Melissa, it's Murami. Your parents still wish to do a financial disclosure on you kids. Technically, since you are under sixteen they can force it, but I don't want to do that without you guys hearing it at the same time. Call us back, we're in the study." She hung up. "Her voice mail. She's got classes today?"
"It's Saturday, she's only doing stuff," Jigen assured her. "Should we get Goemon?"
"Probably," she agreed, smiling at him. She waited until they were alone. "You're mad about something?"
"I don't like the fact that the kids are using you to hide things from us," he agreed. "It's wrong. It's one of those things I hate Xander doing too."
"Arsene, he's never going to leave you for good," she said gently. "Even if he retires, he's still going to be around. Which I doubt, it looked to me like Alan's getting a new perspective of Xander. He asked about his collections."
"He wasn't too happy to find out that Xander was some mad collector, his phrasing," Jigen offered as he came back. "Is Xander doing okay?"
"Just fine. His businesses are all showing profits," she offered. The phone rang so she answered it, smiling and putting her on speaking phone.
"We agreed," Melissa admitted. "The pops can know what we're doing this time, then they get to be nosy and ask us themselves."
"We would, but we figured that you'd hide it like Xander does," Jigen said dryly. "Which we all hate by the way."
"All you had to do was ask," Arsene complained. "It's not like we're unwilling to brag."
"Still, empress, we didn't want to have to ask," Lupin reminded her.
"Daddy, I don't ask you how much is in your bank account," Arsene reminded him. She shifted. "Okay, everyone there?" That got a grunt. "Fine. The way we worked out our team is that Melissa and I take cuts, but that Ishi and Lotus get steady salaries."
"Why?" Goemon asked patiently.
"Because it leaves us with limited liability in case something happens and we can't afford to make payments on things like the plane," Ishi explained. "It gives us more than enough to live on, we stepped it up by worth of the haul. Anything under eighty thousand, whichever of us goes on the job gets ten thousand automatically off the top," Ishi told him. "Anything from eighty to five hundred thousand we get ten percent off the top, anything over five hundred thousand we take fifteen percent off the top. That leaves us with plenty to live off of, to save a lot of, and to go on the next job without the financial risk of having to pay for things like the next big purchase."
"Good job," Jigen admitted. "Should we have Xander?"
"Yeah, since we're trusting Mom to do it for us if we can't, we should probably have him," Arsene noted.
Lupin got up and stuck his head out the door. "Xander! Kids are on the phone to do a disclosure!" He slammed the door before Fujiko could come back in. "Fair warning, Fujiko's in the hallway," he said quietly.
"We net more in one job than she probably did her whole career," Melissa said sarcastically. "By the way, we set up trusts so no one could claim Ishi's or Lotus' money. Just in case."
"That's a good thing," Lupin agreed.
"Very reasonable," Murami agreed. "With who?"
"That nice guy in Switzerland who Mom goes to for the legit stuff."
"Ah. Good idea then," Murami agreed. She knew him and agreed. Lupin gave her a look. "I don't run the legit stuff, Lupin, he's got one of the guys at one of the banks in Bern, which is a multi-national and has offices in Zurich, Paris, London, Rome, etc." She smiled at Xander as he came in. "You introduced the kids to the guy in the bank?"
"Yeah, he set up trust funds for all the kids that they'll get when they're eighteen, even the good kids and Alex." He flopped down. "What's going on?"
"We're doing a full financial disclosure with the kids," Murami explained.
Xander looked at Lupin. "Pouted at her too?" he asked dryly, smirking at him to show he was teasing.
Lupin nodded. "Definitely. We don't like that hiding thing you taught the kids. It's bad enough you do it to us." Xander shrugged and handed over his portfolio, then looked at their financial manager. "Okay, thanks. Let's start with the kids, it'll be shorter."
"Sure, daddy. Since I'm here, I'll go first," Arsene offered. "Let's see. I'm worth about six million at the moment, excluding a plane and a boat, and an apartment in Venice. That one's in mine and Melissa's name at the moment."
"I don't like Venice, it smells," Ishi reminded her. "Since I just spoke up, I can go next. I'm worth about seventy thousand at the moment, after school shopping and anime shopping. Most of that's in an interest-bearing checking account with low risk for investment purposes. Then again, I mostly live off my debit card."
Lotus coughed. "I'm about the same way," she admitted quietly. "I'm worth about fifty thousand at the moment. I didn't go on as many jobs as the others. Then again, that guy in Bern started that account for me since Murami was on vacation and I didn't want to bother her to do something that simple. We have her looking over his shoulder on it though."
"Very true, and interest is due to be dropped in there soon," Murami agreed. "Sometime next week. Those do not count their trusts that Xander set them up so they'd have something upon their majority in case something happened." Goemon nodded at that. "Melissa? Since you're the most diverse of the group?"
"Hmm. Well, let's see now. I've got royalties coming from two of my plans going through. I've got some income from the fixing stuff that I've been doing here. Thank you for teaching me how to fix the archaic weapons, mom, I earn about fifty bucks a week doing that down here. The school's arsenal is really ancient and worn out. I've got a few designs that I'm waiting to be paid for that I built from plans. Other than that, I've got my trust, I've got the cars, I've got the apartment in Venice, the house-house in London, and about five and a half million in various investments around the world. Most of it in low risk stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and things that leave me about half a mil in ready cash at any given time. By the way, Murami, are you sure about that mutual fund?"
"It's fairly low risk and has been doing good. I talked to Kurt and he said it was expected to go very well. You don't have to take that suggestion if you don't want to."
"No, I like it, but a few of the companies in it looked iffy when I looked them over. Overall I liked the plan and the purpose of the mutual fund, but a few of the companies looked fairly off to me. One of them is mafia run and a cover I know for sure."
"I'll pass that back, they may want to take that out of there," she said, making a note on a nearby notepad. "Send me that information in an email later. I'll pass it on to Kurt after I look it over. Xander, you've got some in that same fund."
"Sure," he agreed easily. "I thought you guys had more than that."
"I'm waiting to buy my first real car when I come out," Arsene offered. "I like classic cars but I'd rather have something faster and sleeker. Something more modern that could still fit us all."
"I've got a few good suggestions about that," Jigen offered. "We'll talk about that over the holidays too."
"How much are these trusts worth?" Goemon asked quietly.
"I made them take half of their first seven hauls and set it up when they were ten," Xander said, looking back at him. "So they're probably close to about a million with interest." He looked at Murami. "As a rough guess?"
"Just over," she admitted. "It's set up to open to them when they turn eighteen, Goemon. That way their mother couldn't steal it and if something happened they had it in reserve but untouchable by the cops. We're not bugged in here, right?"
"If we are, I get to make those cops retire," Xander said dryly, smirking at her. "They'll be wounded very heavily in the line of duty and get to retire and do neat stuff, like cook and read comics all day."
Murami smiled at him. "Thank you, Xander. You make a very good insurance policy." She grinned at him. "Did you guys need to ask the kids anything else?"
"No, but Melissa still needs to know the depth of Mom's empire so she can take it over," Arsene said smoothly. "Since she and Bastian are taking it over when she's eighteen and then he'll slowly let her have it."
"Fine," Xander agreed, taking back his binder and getting up to pull a folder out of Lupin's filing cabinet. "Okay. We've got ten houses, sixteen apartments, sixteen cars spread around those safe houses. We've got the arsenals in most of them, various prepaid cards amounting up to probably about half a mil spread around them for necessities. We've got the restaurant, the anime and comic company, the electronics company, the security company, which she's not ever getting, and a few other legit businesses that she's not getting." He turned the page. "There's the satellite and the registered wavelengths for communications gear, which the electronics company is making so be looking for new phones within a year. There's the computer programs that we're marketing, and the anime company has a game portion that's under their wing and being slowly sucked in as it's bought. That leaves the manor house and other house that I bought on that persona. The warehouses of stuff, and the money stuff." Lupin snatched that and the portfolio back, making Xander grin at him. "Hi, boss."
"Bastard," he muttered, reading it over. "When did you put that in there?"
"When you wanted to know what my empire was doing."
"Fine. Thank you, Xander. You could have told me." He looked at the money on hand and gasped, staring at Xander, who shrugged. "How?" he squeaked.
"I do more and don't have to split it with as many people." He looked at Murami. "Alan's reminded me that my other retirement fund, the hard asset one, is probably a bit too big. That leaves the LA warehouse, the one in the desert, and the one in New York, right?"
"The one in Switzerland, Xander," Murami said with a touch of humor. "You also need to sort out which money's going with Melissa into your empire and which is just yours."
"I thought I had done that."
"Maybe," she admitted, looking over the folder Lupin held out for her. "Yes, I do see you've marked it," she said, smiling at him. "That's fine, I'll start separating those out and put her name on those."
"Why do I have the feeling that if we asked, you would have told us?" Jigen asked sarcastically.
"Because I would have." He shrugged and slid down a bit, smirking at Murami. "So I guess I'm ordering dinner tonight?"
"Sure, Xander, and then we can work on getting you set up with some good, long-term investments."
"He's got those set up in the persona from the manor house, in his real name," Murami told him. "The ones that list him as Lavelle are working accounts and what he's playing on. By the way, one of the usual conventions you have me send in applications for isn't running this year. They ended one of the Paris conventions, but yours is starting next month. You forgot to make hotel reservations." Xander nodded. "I found that out and did it last night. As usual, a suite. Unfortunately one of the larger one in the hotel. It's all they had left."
"That's fine," Xander agreed. "I'm inviting one of the artists over so make sure he's got a room too please."
"Already done, Xander. Anything else?" Lupin looked up, giving her an odd look. "I'll take that as a yes. I'll let you kids go. Call me when Wyatt leaves."
"Yes, ma'am," they agreed, and hung up, giggling on their way back outside.
"You have a horse?" Lupin asked.
"I have partial stock in a race horse," Xander admitted. "It's pretty. It also lives near me. It's an Irish bred and mostly raised one. She's training at the one where you wear the hats and the Queen comes."
Jigen moaned. "A race horse?"
"Partial interest," Xander pointed out again. "It's pretty." He looked at Lupin again. "Anything in there that you don't agree with?"
"No, I agree with most of this," he admitted, flipping through it. "You've been very careful, Xander. I'm damn impressed," he said finally, handing them both back to him. "Thank you for sharing that with me." He got up to get a drink. "Jigen?"
"No, I'm good at the moment," he said, looking at Xander. "Feel better?"
"I feel the same way I did before. I'm solvent, I've got enough money to do things I enjoy. My future's taken care of in legit and illegal issues. My empire's going to someone who's got a very good clue about what to do with it. Bastian and Homer have been working with Melissa to get her up to speed since late last year. They all know I'm going to be watching over her shoulder for a few years then let her have it. By the way, my empire's having a ball to introduce her to everyone next month as well. Remind me to tell her she needs something to wear."
"Sure, Xander," Lupin agreed. "Are we invited?"
"Sure." He grinned. "I can't count you as part of my empire, but they seem to work very well together. I do more support, information, and things."
"Thanks. The kid and I will escort you two." He gulped a large swallow of scotch. "Anything else that needs to be discussed?"
"Xander, what do you want to do about the comic warehouse? It's getting a bit tight."
"Buy a damn building already," Fujiko said from the doorway. "It'll be cheaper in the long run."
"We can do that," Murami agreed, looking at Xander, who nodded and shrugged. "That's fine, I'll help her find one. Use one of the backup funds for it?" He nodded. "Okay, anything else on your list you need to work on?"
"The robotics guys are coming to Raycon as well. They're about to find that out. I want practical demonstration models ready at that time." She grinned at him for that so he smirked back. "Other than that, I need you to pull my Chronicle out of the safe and the rest of my journals so I can give them to the artist coming in. I don't want it to be literally me, but something that's kinda like me."
"Sure, Xander. I can do that." She made a note of that as well. "You'll pop around to pick them up?"
"If I'm not there by the day before, send them to the hotel in his name. It's the same guy who did our anime adventures in the other timeline."
"Agreed. Anything else you need to work on right now?"
"No, I think I'm pretty well set. I'm enjoying having knees that work as well as they did before my torture. It's nice," he said happily. "How's the plastic wizardry business going?"
"I looked over their first month's stats, they're doing *very* well, and that ...person running it was giddy and happy. Apparently she's been upped on the ladder of success due to this." She stood up. "Would you mind if I went to take some of that potion?"
"Please, go ahead. I'll tell her to give you a discount. Not an issue," he promised, getting up to hug her. "We love you. You earn me good interest and keep me in check when I want to go insane." He left, heading out to find Alan and cuddle him. Maybe he'd tell him about the race horse.
"Now that you know, Lupin, are you okay?" Murami asked.
"They're doing better than I did at their ages," he said quietly, smiling at her. "Thanks, Murami."
"You're welcome, Arsene. You know we like you and your insane offspring and your semi- sane helper Xander." Jigen snorted, shaking his head. "You two are more normal than not, he's just slightly warped. By the way, will I see you guys at Raycon?" They all nodded. "Cool. I've still got to mail the invitation to Kowalski personally." She gathered everything and put them in her briefcase. "I'll send yours up by courier, Fujiko."
"Just email me the balances," she offered quietly. "The kids are fine?"
"They are," Lupin assured her. "They've got stuff held back so they can't touch it until they're an adult. They've got enough in play at the moment so they can live and shop off it. They've been very careful to make sure they're solvent and doing well financially. IRA's, Murami?"
"When they're eighteen," she reminded him. "We'll probably roll over most of their trusts at that time, unless Melissa goes into evil creator overload and needs it. I'm sure she'll put more back though. She's good about that so far."
"Good," Jigen agreed. "She's got income from creating and building?"
"Mostly building," Murami assured him. "She's not really creating. She builds very well though and a lot of people are looking at her as someone who can build things for them. She finished a mini-laser for Bastian before school." She locked her briefcase. "Do we need me for anything else?" They shook their heads. "Can I play with the kids?"
"Sure, but Sarah's with the kitsune now," Jigen said quietly.
"I'm sorry, Jigen. I know it's hard to lose her already."
"At least we can see her and play with her," Lupin offered. "C'mon. Ray actually got through to Fred so he won't try to eat you this time." He grinned as he walked her up the stairs, chatting about the kids. They both giggled when Alan moaned, taking the kids from the doorway to play with them. "He's really as good as I am?"
"He is, Lupin. He's not the lockpick but Xander finds many ways of making money and makes them all his."
"I'm happy then. He's my equal."
"He's your partner, Lupin. You'll get him back someday, I promise. Alan can't hope to understand everything in Xander's mind. He's a complicated guy and only you seem to understand him fully." She patted him on the arm before helping Alex dress her dolly for a tea party.
Xander bounced in a few minutes later. "Hey, Murami, I want to make sure Bix has something to retire on when she's finally ready to leave us lunatics and marry Ray. Can you set up something like that?" he asked, giving her a hug. "Thanks." He bounced out again, going to play with Goemon and practice with him.
Murami smiled at Lupin. "Do I need to set something up the minute I get back?"
"Probably not," he admitted. "She doesn't want to leave until Yu's old enough to survive in the household."
"That's fine. I'll take a short-term strategy then," she said with a small smile. "Are they happy together?"
"Very. He's very sweet to her. He pulls out her chair and things all the time. Goemon approves of him."
"Then I'll make plans for it to be within two years," she said with a wink and a grin for him. "Should I tell her?"
"I will, or Xander will." He shrugged and hugged Yu as tightly as he could. "I'm having empty nest feelings," he admitted.
"There's some orphan thieves," she offered. "You could always raise a new generation in your greatness."
Lupin smirked at her. "Yeah, I can. Plus, I keep being reminded that I'll have grandchildren within a few years. Maybe even ten or so."
"Maybe," she agreed. "Should I tell the two who're now married that they've got that other trust? I didn't send anything on those."
"No, that's fine. Just send it to Pops. Make sure he or Vecchio deals with it, not them and not Dawn."
"Sure, Lupin. She doesn't do very well with her money anyway." She kissed him on the cheek. "You're a naughty boy, Lupin the Third. But very sweet at times."
"Hey, anything for my ladies," he said with a small smirk for her. "So, where are you moving? Since Xan ordered you to."
"There's a wonderful condo I've wanted to see someone about. I'm going to talk to them. It's on top of a very prestigious building and closer to the office so I can jog in. It's also twice as big and I can have a dog."
"Congrats. Tell me if you need help moving in or anything."
"No, Xander's got a moving company. I'm sure I'll get a discount."
"He's in silent partnership with a few guys who just started their own. They were thieves who wanted to go straight. They came to him seeking funds to get out of the life, he agreed. It's really handy, they're very good and careful. They take in some kids who leave jail and want to start straight."
"Wow. That's very...wow." He grinned at Alex. "I'm sure you're gonna be just like your momma," he assured her. "You'll be that sweet and generous too." She grinned up at him. Yu patted him on the cheek so he kissed him and let him get down to play with the dolls too. "Let's have that tea party, guys." They cheered and settled in t o help, even the big kids because they knew that the adults would play with them next.
To Part 54