"I gotta ask," Jigen said as the plane landed. "Even for all of us, a cruise ship seems a bit much." Xander's smirk told him that he had at least thought of that already. "Did you redecorate?"
"Reconfigured actually. There's one whole level that we left alone, the same suites that were there are still there. Everything else has been changed around. The kids have their own suite. We've got our own suite. It's actually a two-level suite, I had them change it so there's a spiral staircase between two floors and had them join a few suites into separate bedrooms. I left most everything else alone, though I did update the medical facilities. Each time the ship goes out, it goes with at least a nurse on board, along with the party planner, the chef, the wait staff, and all of them. Fortunately, the two booked parties this summer are a wedding without an overnight stay, or else we'd have to move, and a party for a local group that's showing off a new donation. They wanted somewhere different this time. So we're going out to this small island then coming back into port. I figure those days, we can make ourselves scarce."
Jigen nodded. "I can see that happening. By then the kids'll wanna do some shopping anyway." He stretched as they neared the gate, standing up to grab his things.
"You know better, Uncle Jigen," Arsene chided. "Naughty you."
"Oh, hush. Where is your pilot anyway? Last time it was a wedding. What is it this time?"
"Food poisoning made her fall off her balcony and break her legs," Melissa said dryly. "We're looking into a temporary replacement." Once the stewardess signaled that they could get up, she grabbed her laptop case and carry-on, plus her jacket, and headed for the door. She hated being enclosed in such tiny places with so many people. They got off and found a driver waiting on them, which made everyone stare at Xander in shock.
"Jacques," he said happily, hugging the man. "I had no idea you were back, mon ami."
"Eh, it is the life, non?" He smiled at them. "I see you have finally brought someone worthy to party with you. Are you going to the restaurant tonight?"
"Probably. We're waiting to load supplies last I heard. Guys, this is Jacques, his brother is my head chef, Jacques has the cushy and easy job." Everyone waved. "Into the limo. We'll go to the ship, get settled in, go out for dinner and any last minute shopping for the girls, then back to the ship and off tomorrow." Everyone followed him, Lupin getting a trolley for the baggage. They made a quick stop for the things that had been checked, then headed off again. Outside was a beautiful midnight blue limo.
Jacques hurried to open the trunk and the back door, smiling and tipping his hat at the ladies of the group. "They are beautiful, Xander. How do you stand it?"
"A few of them are my kids, one's the nanny and she's engaged to one of my buddies, and the other's the samurai's wife." He winked as he got in. "Whenever you're ready, my man."
"Of course." He closed the door and went around, getting in to drive. "Any particular radio station?"
"Something classic rock," Xander called. One was put on. "Thanks, man." He grinned at Lupin. "Hi."
"We're going to be talking about this later, Xander. I never knew you had this either." Xander just beamed at him. "Fine. I'd expect this sort of thing from you." He squeezed his hand. "Is this okay?"
"Just fine. Hey, Jacques, don't crash or anything but I'm with two guys now. That bother you?"
"Non. With your appetites I would expect many more than just two. Should I put up the window?"
"Only if you feel like it," he said with a shrug, getting a laugh and the window going up. "See, not an issue." He stole kisses from each of them. "Hi, Jigen."
"Hi, Xander." He put an arm around his shoulders. "Do you do many gay weddings on the thing?"
"Often. We advertised in the gay yellow pages first, and then the news spread to straight couples. We've done a lot of marriages on the decks, and inside. That's the beauty of a cruise ship, even if it rains, there's always room." The kids snickered at that. "Aren't the renovations done on yours yet, Ar?"
"Not yet, Mom. They had them done and then we sprung a leak. So now they're fixing the leak and the stuff that got messed up."
"That's fine." He ruffled her hair. "Gelled again?"
"Had to. It wouldn't do anything this morning." She looked out the window, never having really seen this city before. "It's a beautiful city."
"I thought about retiring here," he admitted. "It is very pretty. I could live on the ship and not pay taxes too." The others laughed. "You think I'm kidding? It was registered in Lebanon. Less taxes." They all nodded. "So, are we excited?"
"Very. We haven't been on a real cruise in a while," Fujiko offered. She looked at the kids, then at Bix. "Do you get sea sick?" She nodded, grimacing. "There's things to help that."
"The infirmary is stocked with a case of it, Bix. Don't worry about it. Unless we hit really rough seas, there's not going to be a problem." She nodded, smiling at him for that thoughtfulness. "Also, if you absolutely must, I can always lure Ray to a port of call," he said with a wink. She blushed and shook her head, ducking it down some.
"It's okay, you deserve a few nights off, you put up with us," Melissa reminded her. "That alone makes you a saint." She looked out the back window. "That's pretty cool, that pointy building."
Lupin looked back and nodded. "It is. On the way back, we'll stop to sightsee." They grinned at him.
"Plus we'll have two days when we'll have to be back here, and we'll be off the ship those days," he reminded them. "We might as well stay off overnight on one of them." The limo continued on, stopping down by a deserted part of the docks. "Here we be." He opened the door and stepped out, helping out each of the girls and Bix, letting Goemon handle his own wife since he had gotten out after Bix. He smiled at his captain, who waved. "We doing good on supplies?"
"The rest will be in by tonight," he called down. "Welcome aboard, sir!" he said, saluting him. "We'll be ready to be underway by midnight."
"Good job, my man." He clapped him on the arm. "This is the family. The kids, the husbands, the nanny, the friends," he said, waving at them with a grin. He knew the instant the Captain recognized him, his eyes went wide. "We're taking the summer off."
"Oh, good. Why?"
"We just graduated the Assassin's Academy," Melissa said with a smile. "I'm Melissa, I'm his second-in-command now."
"I got that memo, young lady," he agreed, shaking her hand. "Would you like a tour?"
"How about tomorrow? Once we're underway and you're ready to scream at someone?" He chuckled. "I'll be with the other kids whenever you've got time."
"Thank you, ma'am." He nodded at Lupin and Jigen. "Husbands? Or did he marry Goemon?"
"No, I married Goemon, he married those two," Fujiko said with a smile. "Captain."
"Ma'am." He let them have the doorway behind him. "Again, we'll be underway about midnight."
"We were going to settle in, rest a bit, go to dinner, then come back," Xander offered. "Is the helicopter not working? I notice it's not on the prow."
"It's being serviced and gassed up, sir. Just in case."
"Thanks. The kids are in the Sultana Suite. We're in the Sultan's suite. Go that way, kids," he said, pointing to his right. "Down one floor." They nodded, trooping that way. "Bix, if you want, you can stay with us?" he offered. "We've got a massive suite with six bedrooms."
"If you wouldn't mind," she agreed calmly, following with the remaining youngsters.
Xander trotted to his room and threw open the doors. "Tada!"
Lupin walked in and gasped. It was beautiful. Xander had done a wonderful job recreating an ancient harem poster that hung in his room. "Wow." He got out of everyone's way, going over to sit on a padded bench that let you look out a window. "This is nice," he offered.
"It should be for the price I paid for it," he said smartly. He grinned at Bix. "If you want the bottom floor rooms, they're that way," he said, pointing to his right. "Behind the stairs and beside the kitchen. There's two bathrooms between four of the rooms." She smiled and went that way, getting everyone settled into a room. Kenji refused to share, loudly, so Yu and Alex got their own, which left her with hers. "Goemon, Fujiko, to the left and behind the bathroom, there's a nice bedroom." He nodded, going that way. "Guys, up the stairs." They trooped up that way, smiling at the luxurious bed done in gold silk sheets and a maroon comforter. "You like?" he asked, sliding down onto the bed.
"I do like," Lupin promised, taking a kiss. "I like quite a lot."
"No walls so we'll have to be quiet."
"Every other room has a shutting door and soundproofing," Xander said smugly. "We do have drawable heavy curtains though." He pointed at a recessed holder. "In there."
"Thanks." He laid down behind him, wiggling a bit. "Soft, but nice."
"Very nice," Xander agreed happily. "I didn't want too firm. For you, the blue sofa is very nice to nap on."
"Good to know. Where are the cats?" Lupin asked.
"Um, in the kids' suite?" he suggested with a grin.
Arsene walked in a few moments later, slamming the door shut. "We have kittens," she announced. "On the big bed."
"Sheets change," Xander called sweetly.
"They may, but I'm not touching that nastiness. Do you know what comes out during birth?"
"Yes, dear, intimately," Xander said, getting up to look over the railing. "Take the sheets off, put the kittens into a laundry basket, and bring the bunch of them up here."
"Ishi's doing that with Lotus. I'm the advanced scout." She looked around. "This is nice," she admitted. "Ours is water colors."
"I know, dear, I picked them out," Xander said dryly. "Open the door, let the beasts in." She did so, then went to sit down. "Satellite will work later on. We've got to activate it again."
"Fine." She turned on the stereo, picking a jazz station. The other kids trooped in with the beasts, and a basket full of them, leaving them in the middle of the living room before heading off. "Hey, wait for me!" She trotted after them, forgetting to shut the door.
Xander jogged down the stairs, stopping an escaping cat and shutting the door, locking it this time. "There, no more kids for a while," he said happily, smiling at the kittens. "Hi, mama cat. Aren't you so pretty." He scratched her ears, getting a purr. "There you are. Bix, we've got kittens," he called. He went back up the stairs, going to pounce Jigen since he was still on the bed. "Hi, Jigen," he said with a leer.
Jigen rolled him under him. "Not yet, but I'm sure you can change that feeling."
Lupin sat in a chair beside the bed, watching those two go at it. They were very nice together. He could also stop the kids this way. So when Yu climbed up the stairs, he grabbed him and took him back down, silently showing him the way to his parents' room. Yu grinned and toddled that way, opening the door to a squeal of pleasure. Lupin went back up the stairs, drawing the curtains to seal them in.
"Son, why do you have a kitten in your arms?" Goemon asked as he walked his youngest back into the living room. "Where did the kittens come from?"
"Arsene's bed," Lupin shouted. He smirked at the heavy footsteps coming up the stairs and the quiet knock on the curtain. "We're still dressed." Goemon walked in and shut the curtain again. "All of the other rooms have soundproofing but ours. We get a curtain."
"It is very thick, you were muffled," he admitted. "Fujiko has a headache since my son suggested that she nurse the kittens to help the mother cat." Xander burst out in giggles. "It wouldn't have been too bad, except that she was topless and he was holding it up at just the right spot. He tried to get it to latch on." Lupin burst out in snickers at that, making Goemon start to chuckle as well. "We may be leaving her here for dinner."
"That's fine, we'll bring her back something," Xander agreed with a grin for him. "So, how do you like my decorating taste?"
"I like it quite a lot. Our room has a wonderful view." He bowed to him. "Thank you for this indulgence."
"Ehh, it's nothing. I wanted to get away from the city for a while too. This way we've got all we need." He looked up as he heard the helicopter. "Hopefully that's ours." He shrugged it off and stood up, hugging Goemon. "Now, go back down and play with your sons. There's a practice room the next deck down, it used to be two suites together. It's got a nice hardwood floor and mats you can drag out." He nodded, heading down there. "We'll call when it's time."
"Fine, Xander. Do not get too loud. We don't want to scare the children." He looked over as Bix suddenly rushed for her room, and the bathroom it contained. "Hmm." He went to get something for her stomach, leaving it on her dresser with a bottle of water. "I've left something for the motion sickness," he called before leaving her room. He pulled the children in to sit and play with the cats, naming the new ones. Inky, Blinky, Santa, and Cheese all seemed quite happy with their names and settled down to have a meal.
"Did I eat like that?" Kenji asked.
"Yes, son, from Xander you did."
"Me too?" Yu asked.
"No, unfortunately you didn't get to do much of that son. I wish you had been able to." He pulled his youngest son into his lap to hug, making him grin. "Fred, you did quite a lot of that."
"I know," he said with a small leer. "Where's mommy?"
"Having a nap with your fathers. You may not interrupt them."
"Where sissy then?"
"In her own room. You'll be seeing her shortly I'm sure." Bix came out sipping the water. "Are you all right?"
"I'll be fine," she promised, smiling weakly at him. She sat down to admire the cats, stroking the mother's head for her. "Hello, dear. How are you today? When did you give birth?"
Lupin came down the stairs with Jigen, who was redoing his tie. "Arsene said that there was a mess on her bed so I'm guessing recently," he offered, sitting down to look at them. "What're their names?"
"Inky, Blinky, Santa, and Cheese," Goemon told him, smirking at his shaking head. "The children picked them out."
"Yeah, I'd expect that, is Inky the white one?" Goemon nodded. "Cute, guys. Good names." He sat down on the couch, and fell backwards, liking this one a lot. "I think I'll be right here."
"Sure, Jigen, you nap," Lupin said tolerantly. "We'll wake you for dinner." They all watched as Bix got up and ran back to the bathroom. "Wow, that's strong motion sickness. I can't even feel any movement." He looked at Goemon, who shrugged, apparently not thinking anything of it. "We'll bring you stuff back if you want to rest tonight, Bix," he called. "We can handle the kids."
"Thank you," floated out, then the door slammed.
Lupin smirked at Jigen, who gave him a happy grin back. "So, dinner at Xander's other place?" Jigen nodded. "Cool. Where's the bags?"
"Out in the hallway," Kenji told him. "I saw them when I peeked."
"Thanks, little man." Lupin got up to grab the bags, putting them where they belonged. Then he found Arsene's bag so he carried it down to their suite, following Xander's rudimentary directions from the doorway, and the signs on the walls. He tapped on the marked door, holding out the bag to his daughter. "It was in with our stuff."
"Thanks, I was wondering if I had left it at home," she said, letting him inside. "I put the laundry into the laundry shoot. I'm sure it'll make someone unhappy, but it was still nasty."
Lupin looked around, this one was done in blues and greens, with an underwater motif. It was kinda neat and very sixties-ish, and it suited their kids very well. He grinned at her and hugged her. "You okay? I know you get motion sickness now and then."
"I'm fine. We're not moving yet."
"Bix is already puking her guts up," he said dryly. "We're going to Xander's place for dinner tonight, then back here. So wear something mildly upscale if you have it. We plan on going around seven." She nodded. "Did you bring anything besides shorts and a bathing suit?"
"Two working outfits with shoes and a sundress. Other than that, ten pairs of shorts, fifteen t-shirts, and about twelve bikinis." She beamed at him. "Did you ever talk Uncle Jigen into shorts?"
"Two pairs," he agreed. "Melissa, did you bring real clothes?"
"I brought my leather pants and a nice t-shirt," Ishi offered. "Other than that it's mostly gi's and shorts."
Lotus snorted. "Don't look at me, I have nothing to wear tonight except a certain kimono." They all groaned. "Hey, I had to bring the book," she reminded them.
"Good point," Lupin agreed. "Can you wear that tonight?"
She nodded. "I can even do it without feeling the desire to put on kabuki or geisha makeup too," she said with a smirk.
"Your dad would have a heart attack if you did that," he teased. He smiled down at the cat twining around his feet. "Want to join the others?"
"Go ahead, she was napping on my leather pants," Ishi offered. He nodded, picking up the cat and taking it back to their room. It went for Goemon as soon as it jumped down. "The kids brought a single working outfit, except for Lotus. Fortunately she had that kimono wrapped around her new book." Goemon nodded at that. "Seven good?" Everyone nodded, even Xander. "Did you have sometime different planned?"
"Nope, I planned to eat about seven-thirty, that's usually a lull. We've got a quiet corner table to ourselves." Lupin smiled as he flopped down. "I know I've got to activate the satellite dish, go unlock the library, and check on the status of the loads. Anything else I missed?" Everyone shook their head. "Then I'll be right back." He walked out, one of the kittens on his shoulder and refusing to let go, another one in his arms. He ran into the First Mate and nodded, grinning. "Hi."
"Sir!" he said, saluting.
"Not the navy, kid, really. Satellite dish plug?"
"In the main restaurant, sir."
"Going according to schedule, sir."
"Kid, sir me again and I'm making you date one of the kids," Xander said dryly. The boy blushed. "If they like you," he offered with a careful shrug. "Library needs unlocked as well. I'm going to plug that in, then head to the infirmary to stock up on the motion sickness medicine for a member of my party. We're leaving for dinner at about six-thirty if it matters."
"That's fine, sir, we'll stay out of your way. The chef would like your opinion on the menu as well."
"Sure. Have him meet me in the restaurant so I can plug in the dish, before the kids get upset at the lack of MTV Europe." He grinned and walked on, continuing to pet his precious cones. "Hey," he said, grinning at the chef, who took both cats from him. "Let me get the dish first." He went behind the bar and found the switch and the plug, doing them both. He turned on the tv next to his head, watching as a picture came on. He flipped the switch again, allowing each room to have their own choice of channels. "There." He turned off that tv and walked back around to repossess his cats and to sit with the chef.
"I took the liberty of drawing up proposed menus for your stay, Xander. How many?"
Xander did a quick head count. "Thirteen?" He recounted. "Thirteen," he agreed. "Plus me, fourteen." He shook his head. "Sorry, long flight." He looked over as Arsene walked in, waving her over. "Come help."
"Sure. TV working?" He nodded. "Cool." She looked at the menu. "That's a lot of food for us. Are you trying to make Ishi so fat he can't fit in his leather pants?" she asked with a teasing grin.
The chef blushed. "Not really. I've been preparing dinners for receptions recently." He slid it over to Xander. "As a general estimate?"
"That's a lot of food," Xander agreed. "Breakfast can be a buffet thing for us and the staff," he offered. "We probably won't be getting up at dawn and those of us who do like to mediate around that time. Coffee and tea, a must. Not so much the tea, but definitely the coffee and the coke. The kids and I like cold caffeine." The chef nodded. "Fruits, veggies, eggs, bacon on the breakfast thing, muffins and stuff if you want. Lunch, we can probably make do with smaller meals. It'll be grab and go in the middle of the afternoon."
"Another buffet style?" he suggested.
"Would be fine. The kids will have the most regular schedule but the older kids and the adults are pretty muchly sandwich and chips people. Maybe some salads and cut up veggies, like with dip?" he offered. The chef nodded at that. "Dinner, please, make real food. With meat. That one especially needs meat right now. Plus, you know, teenagers. Ishi's seventeen so he's no longer a bottomless pit. Lotus is sixteen. Arsene and Melissa are almost sixteen but they're girls. Change it around, however you want. Get creative as long as it's edible by normal people standards." He pushed it back. "I liked that pork chop one though. I haven't had those in a while."
"I'll make those tomorrow night then," he promised. "Is there anything else you can think of?"
"Yeah, we've got a seasick person," Xander said dryly. "Our nanny. So you might wanna keep some crackers on hand. And again, go ahead and let the staff eat the same stuff, that way you're not making extra stuff."
"Thank you, sir. That meshes well enough with my plans that I don't have to order much. Should I order olives and other treats like that?"
"Jigen occasionally likes them, but no. We're more a crunchy veggie family. Cucumbers, peppers, some hot peppers because this one likes them," he said, patting Arsene on the back. "Cauliflower heads things like that are fine." He nodded. "We all like tomatoes. They've been in Italy at school recently."
"We couldn't get anything other than Italian food, even when we were in Venice. We'd appreciate raw tomatoes and stuff, but go light on the pasta." He smiled and nodded. "Oh, add some chips. We're teenagers. Some popcorn, things like that." The chef nodded again. "Thanks. Yell if the cats wander this way. We'll come get them." He smiled and left. "Bix is that seasick?"
"Yeah, she's already getting sick. I'm headed down to the infirmary to get some more motion sickness medicine for our suite. You guys okay?"
"Yeah, I was hunting the satellite link for Melissa." Xander pointed at a plug in the wall. "We've all got them?" He nodded. "Thanks, mom." She kissed his cheek and rushed off.
Xander got up, grabbing the playing cats, and headed down to the infirmary to grab some of the necessities. Some Tylenol, some Bonine, some bandaids, some cough syrup just in case, and a small bag to put them in. He paused, then one more thing went into his pocket. Then he headed back to their room, handing it to Lupin. "Satellite's on. Computer hookups are the black wall jacks. Chef's been reminded that we're not really a horde, so he's making most things buffet style except for dinner. I told him we could share with the crew." Everyone nodded. "Bix, I got you more medicine and stuff for your head." He took out the Bonine and headed into her room quietly, tapping first. She moaned from her bed so he closed the door, holding out the box. "For you. Of course, so's this, because I had a feeling," he offered, pulling out the other box. She blanched. "Yes? No? Way off base?"
"Possibly," she said quietly. "Please don't tell my cousin, or Ishi?"
"Not an issue. If it's positive, we'll kidnap him for you. You can have a wedding on board." He winked and handed it over. "Use it when necessary. We're leaving for dinner around six-thirty if you wanted to do it in absolute privacy." She nodded. "Read the warnings, just in case it's counter-indicated for you to take bonine while pregnant." She smiled up at him. "You rest. We'll be out here." He walked out, closing and locking her door behind himself. "She's resting, she'll rest through dinner."
"Why did you bring up a pregnancy test?" Goemon asked.
"So she could hide it in her things in case your wife needed one," he retorted with a smirk. "That way we wouldn't have to go searching for one." Goemon blushed at that. "Good idea, huh?"
"Very," he admitted quietly. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome, Goemon." He gave him a hug. "If it does, I hope it's twin girls." He felt the smile so let him go. "Okay, it's four. We've got two and a half hours. Go explore!" Everyone went to explore, the adults taking their children with them. Xander snuck down to the infirmary to get a second test kit to put in Bix's things, just like he had said he would.
Xander grinned as Bix walked into his office, pushing the button to seal them in there. "Yes?"
"I think we'll need a good kidnaping plot." She sat down, looking at her hands in her lap. "I'm sorry about this."
"Not a big, that's how I had the twins," he admitted, smiling at her. "It happens. You do what you feel you must and move on." He looked at his computer. "We're going to be in Hawaii for the next day and a half starting tomorrow evening. That good for you?" She nodded quickly, still staring at her hands. "It happens, Bix. We love you anyway. Trust me, even with condoms and birth control it can still happen. Let us arrange things. Should I tell anyone?"
"Please, don't. I don't want him to be disappointed with me."
"Eh, you really have to worry about Ishi, he'll be so happy he might forget that he'll want to carve Ray up for a few minutes." She let out a quiet chuckle at that. "I'll announce it once he's here. Not an issue. We'll just say that you're being romantic. I'll tell Murami to release your trust fund to you." She nodded, looking up at him. "Hey, we love you, you're still family. No matter that you are marrying a cop." She gave him a gentle smile. "Plus, if the kid ends up being a slayer, we'll train her with Alex." She nodded more firmly at that, her line had a few of them. "Go rest. Can you take that?" She shook her head. "Should I call a pharmacy or Fihad?"
"No, I'll be fine. There's tea to help. I'll go off while you get dinner to find some."
"That's fine. We should be back by nine." She nodded, getting up and leaving him alone. He looked at his computer, then plugged it in, getting into his email. He typed a note to Ray to meet him in Hawaii, saying that there were some very bad things going to happen and they were on vacation, so he'd be saving lives. He gave him the dates, then sent the email. He got one back within two minutes from Zenigata and groaned. "No, not you, Gramps." He typed one to Zenigata's email address, putting in the facts. He was a traditional guy, he'd make sure Ray got to Hawaii on time.
Zenigata looked out as his wife's computer beeped. "Is that for me?"
"From the crook's mother," she called. "Should I read it to you?"
"No, I have a bad feeling about this. He just invited Ray to Hawaii to save some lives." He walked out there and moved her out of the way, reading the short note. Then he deleted it and went back to his office, calling Chicago. "Vecchio, put Kowalski on a plane to Hawaii. He's got to be there to meet Lavelle by tomorrow night. They dock in Maui tomorrow night, they'll be there for a day. He's to be on the ship with them." He got a confused sounding grunt. "Now." He hung up, leaving it at that. Then he wrote back to Lavelle, telling him that Vecchio would be doing as ordered, this time. That they had better not hurt him, and that Ray now had an extra two weeks of leave coming to him. Then he filed the leave papers for him and sent the message. He got up and went out, handing in the copies of the paperwork on his way to a bar. He needed a drink.
Vecchio looked across the living room at his partner. "You're needed in Hawaii. You're to meet Lavelle there by tomorrow night in Maui. Zenigata said to get your butt on a plane now. No specifics given."
"Nothing?" Ray shook his head so he went to check his email at the kids' computer, finding the message. "Okay then." He printed it off and handed it over. "I guess I'm going tomorrow sometime. That way I can do a bit of relaxing after the flight." He pulled out his cell, he had the travel department's number on speed dial.
Vecchio read the letter, confused as anything. What couldn't those guys handle?
Xander snuck down to the kitchen, tapping the chef on the shoulder and taking the kitten he was holding. "Thanks. We've got a bit of an event of our own coming up," he admitted quietly. "I'm sorry to spring this on you."
"The sea sick one?"
"Isn't," he agreed gently, smiling at him. "We're picking up the other person in Maui. Can you?"
"Of course. It is nothing unusual. Just a small cake?"
"Please. You don't have to be extra specially fancy or anything, but something nice."
"Of course. Anything else?"
"Yeah, she's bringing on some tea to help her stomach. So you might want to put out a pot of hot water most of the time."
"I figured I might. That's not a problem either," he promised. "Go, shoo. Take the furry helper with you."
"Thanks, chef." He walked out, heading back to change and put the cat safely back into the room. "You stay in here, before he cooks you," he told the cat. He trotted up the stairs to get redressed.
Lupin walked out of the other side of the kitchen. "Who's pregnant and getting married?"
"Ah-huh. Sure. We like Ray," he agreed happily. "Want help with the cake?"
"No, I do many of them. We have molds specially for them and everything. Shoo, out of the kitchen. Get ready to eat with your children and husbands." Lupin smiled and nodded. "She didn't want anyone to know."
"That's fine. I can agree with that. It'll cause less damage." He walked off, still smiling when he met Bix in the hallway. He gave her a hug. "Ask us if you need anything, Bix," he said quietly. "We've got it all arranged." She blanched so he kissed her on the cheek. "I was just in the kitchen when Xander came in with a special request. He doesn't know I know either. If you need me, yell. Got it?" She nodded. "Good girl. We'll make sure you get settled into Ray's place once he goes back home." He kissed her on the cheek again and wandered off, going to jump his Xander now instead of later. They still had a good hour, and when he got up there Xander was down to his shorts anyway. He let out an evil chuckle as he pounced, messing up those pretty gold sheets.
Ray looked up as a man walked out of the cruise ship terminal, wandering over to him, glancing around to make sure no one saw him talking to this guy. "What is going on?"
"All I know is that Xander said he needed to talk to you very badly. That something horrible was going to happen if you didn't come with us," Jigen repeated. "I'm in the dark, no one's told me a thing. Did you bring Bix flowers? She's been nervous and edgy, apparently she doesn't like boats much."
"I can get her some," he offered, running to do that for his girl. He came back, following Jigen onto the boat. Then the gangplank went up and the ship backed off while they were walking. "This is awfully fast."
"Xander said he wanted us in international waters," Lupin said as they walked in. "Shouldn't take too long. Then we'll be back in the morning." Ray shrugged and put his bag on a chair. "Up here, Xander's changing clothes." He walked down the stairs, smirking at Jigen. "Go make sure Goemon and Fujiko are attired. Plus the kids. Would you, Jigen?"
"What's going on?" he asked quietly. Lupin tapped the back of his left hand. Jigen's eyes went wide. Lupin glanced at the sleeping Yu on the couch, then back at him.
Jigen snickered and nodded, going to check on Goemon and Fujiko, then the kids. He found the couple on their balcony. "Hate to say it folks, but we've got something going on that'll require more than a loincloth or a string bikini. Ray's on board too."
"Why?" Fujiko asked.
"The same reason we've all got to get dressed." He walked off, whistling all the way down to the kids' room, tapping before walking in. Not that they'd need to hide anything but Arsene was a nudist at heart. "Get dressed."
"Why? Are we going off the boat?" Melissa asked from behind her book.
"Ray's here. We're all doing something that requires some clothes. So at least be presentable."
"Sure, Jigen," Ishi agreed, getting up to find his leather pants and t-shirt. Arsene got up to put on shorts and a t-shirt, and Melissa got up to put on shorts, she figured she could keep on her bikini top. "Nope, shirt too, daughter," he ordered. She sighed and did that, but didn't put on shoes. They followed him up to the pool area, picking out seats in the sun.
"We're pulling away from shore," Arsene said. "Why?"
"The same reason," Xander said as he walked up with Ray. "You, sit there," he ordered, pointing at a chair. Ray sat down, still looking confused. "Good. Family conference time, guys. Be right back with everyone else." He jogged back to their suite, getting everyone else shooed out before Bix could come out. He adjusted her veil, which was a very thin piece of lace left over from the decorating, and her obi, which was traditional. He noticed Fujiko staring in shock. "Yeah, there's a reason. Out." She hurried off. Xander grinned at her and took her arm, walking her out and up to the main deck. They'd be in international waters within two minutes according to the captain. He was met in the hallway by Goemon, who still looked quite confused, and the Captain, who was smiling happily. Goemon's mouth came open when he saw his cousin. "It's time?" The captain nodded. "Good. Goemon, I do believe this is your job since you're her real family." He got out of the way and opened the door, letting the captain walk in first, with him following like the bridesmaid. Lupin got Ray standing. The captain cleared his throat and Goemon came out with Bix, which made everyone stand up and gasp, but Fujiko, who was still staring at her in awe.
"Holy shit," Ray whispered, looking at Lavelle. "What is going on?"
"You're getting married, Ray, before we have to find a shotgun," Xander said quietly. Ray's eyes went wide so Xander nodded. "I'm about the only one who knows." Lupin shook his head subtly. "But him."
"Sure." He looked at his bride and grinned. "Wow. You look wonderful," he told her as she joined him. "I love you." She blushed so he took her hand, kissing the back of it. "Are we in international waters?" The captain looked up, hearing a whistle blow, then nodded. "Then please, marry us." Bix went to her knees so he followed suit. "Whatever you want," he promised.
"Hush," Xander ordered. "Captain?"
"We are here to marry this very adorable couple. Stanley Raymond Kowalski, do you take this woman, Bixana Aiko Goemon to be your lawfully wedded wife?"
"I do," he breathed.
"Do you, Bixana Aiko Goemon, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
"I do," she said quietly, glancing at him. "For now and forever."
"Is there any objection to this event?" No one said anything. "None at all?" he asked again. "Then by the powers vested in me by the International Treaties and being a Captain of this fine Vessel, I pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride."
Ray stood up, pulling her up with him, and kissed her like he'd always wanted to. "Yours," he promised against her lips. She smiled and nodded at him. "All mine?" he asked with a grin.
"All yours." She walked him over to the railing, taking the flower that was holding her veil in place and tossing it into the water. "As an offering to the Sea Gods, so they may bless us also."
He kissed her again. "They've already done that," he promised her.
"Enough kissing, let's eat," Lotus said.
"Daughter," Goemon warned.
She laughed. "It's not like she can eat anyway, father."
"She's what?" Ishi asked, suddenly catching a clue. He scowled at Ray. "You touched her before you were wedded!"
"Like you've done to a few others, son, so is she allowed. They were betrothed at the time," Xander said firmly. "Back down or face me." Ishi scowled but backed down. "Thank you. Bix? Other happy news to share?"
"I am pregnant," she admitted, staring up at Ray. "I'm sorry."
"Not an issue, just moved up the time table," he promised, smiling at her. "I always wanted kids." She blushed. "So we'll be happy raising little cops." He gave her another kiss. "I agree with the samurai-ette. Let's eat. I didn't get any last night."
"That won't be a problem now," Jigen said dryly. "Just wait a few months, you'll beg and plead for some rest." They both blushed at that. "Come on, guys, it's hot out here, the cake's gonna melt if we make them bring it out here."
"Buffet's in the restaurant, which is down a floor," Xander reminded them. They all trooped that way, letting the couple follow behind when they were ready. With Kenji since he had snuck back to hug them both. He smiled at the captain. "Thanks. This was unexpected but very nice."
"Not a problem, Xander. You know it's never a problem." He clapped as the couple came in with the baby in their arms. "She looks very good with him."
"That's Goemon's second son," he admitted. He took Kenji. "No sucking up to her," he whispered in his ear. "She's Ray's now." He nodded, getting down to hug his father and mother. "To the new couple," he shouted, raising his glass. The others grabbed one and raised it.
"To the new couple!"
Ray decided to get them off at Hawaii, that way she could go back to Chicago with him. Since he had more leave and all thanks to his boss, who had known what this was about. He got her onto the plane, calling from the plane to have Vecchio meet them at the airport so he didn't have to pay cab fare. Now that he had a kid on the way, he needed to think about these things. He and Bix walked off, stunning the cop standing there. "Benny," he said quietly. "I'd heard you were back. Ray around?"
"He's at the main gates. I'm waiting for someone. It was...good to see you, Ray."
"You too," he agreed, letting Bix mutter under her breath. "Did you just call him a camel dung wearing princess?"
"Close enough," she agreed with a smile for him. She heard someone groan and found Vecchio in front of them. "Inspector," she said with a bow.
"Hey, Ray, big news," Ray said with a bright grin. "Wanna be a Godfather?"
"What?" he asked flatly. Ray nodded, grinning at him. "That's why...." He trailed off. "You're married!" Ray beamed and nodded, showing off the ring he had let her wear for now. He'd have to get her a real one soon. Vecchio sighed and nodded. "Okay. To the car, we can go from the top when we get there."
"We taped it for you," she offered, laying a hand on his arm. "I agree with Ray, I want you to stay with us in Paris once we're back there." He gave her a gentle hug. "Thank you, Ray."
"Speaking of, maybe we should move before the camel dung princess joins us," Ray said worriedly.
"Huh?" Vecchio asked.
"Benny's here," he said quietly. "He was at the gate."
"Wonderful." He got their bags for them and walked them out of the airport, taking them out to his car. "What was the emergency?"
"If Goemon had found out, I'd be in little pieces of fish bait."
"So the lives that you saved...."
"Was my own and my kid's," he agreed, stroking her stomach. "I'm so happy! I could sing and dance and laugh and play! Do you want a boy, Bix, or a girl?"
"Either's fine," she offered. "I know that Westerners don't care, but traditionally a firstborn son is a wonderful omen."
"I'm good either way, as long as you're happy and fine," he promised. "Tomorrow, I gotta find her a real ring."
"Sure, Stanley," Ray agreed. "Need to stop on the way in?"
"No, I'm fine. She's not sick, you did remember the tea stuff, right?" She nodded quickly. "Good. So we're good ta introduce her to your Ma if she wouldn't mind."
"Nah, family's never too big," Ray reminded him, heading for the Loop. It'd be the fastest way to get him home, which would mean he could wake up again. He felt a pinch and looked down, shrieking at the creature coming out of Ray's pocket. "What is that!"
"Ooh, a sand crab," Bix sighed, picking it up to put into her lap. "There you go, precious. We'll let one of the children keep you as a pet." Stanley grinned back at her, making her blush again. "Eyes forward, before we embarrass Ray, dear."
"Sure." He turned and slumped down some. "So, are ya pissed? I didn't even know until the minute before she walked out onto the deck."
"No, I'm good with this," Vecchio admitted. "Did Zenigata? I know he applied for more leave time for you."
"Yeah, he did. I called him, he was drunk, he knew."
"Good. What about the apartment?"
"We can stay with you, or we can move and kidnap you with us," Bix offered. "Your choice, Inspector."
"It's Ray, Bix. Don't get formal now. Sure, I'll move in with you two. I'm not the babysitter or cook though."
"I believe that's my job, Ray," she said firmly. "I am a traditional woman. I would not dare let a man in my kitchen."
"Fine," he agreed, grinning some in the mirror. "I can cook."
"Good, then you can do meals when I'm too ill." He nodded, liking that idea. "Just don't make me pick up your dirty laundry, use a basket."
"Of course," the men agreed. She'd probably had enough of that with the kids.
"Then decide if we're moving to somewhere larger or not please, Ray."
"I like the little place but there's no room for a baby," Ray told him. "Move?"
"I could move," Ray admitted. "One of the nephews wants to come over to go to college. Maybe somewhere with a garage apartment?"
"I'll have Murami look," she offered.
"Nope, no way. It'll look bad on us," Ray said quickly. "We'll have Zenny look. He's got a good enough eye and so does Dawn. She picked out their current house. Exit, Ray." Ray changed lanes to take the exit. "Less traffic. The last time I took the other one, it was ungodly."
"I forgot about the construction," he admitted. "We should call the guys in to celebrate."
"Sure," Ray agreed, grinning at him. "You'll like most of the guys. Watch out for Huey's jokes though." She nodded, smiling at him. "Isn't worse than Lupin's, I promise."
"That's fine. I look forward to meeting your friends and clan."
"Actually, Ray's clan. I'm adopted inta it," he promised. "Lots and lots of Vecchios now."
"Yeah, and about to add by another Kowalski. How far along are you, Bix?"
"That pitiful stage where nothing wants to stay down from four in the afternoon until midnight."
"Morning sickness, so first trimester, we'll warn Ma to make dinner subtle," he promised. "Speaking of, call Ma, Stan."
Stanley pulled out his phone to call Ray's mother. "Hi, Ma. I'm back, I'm bringing a guest. No, it's good news," he said happily. "Maybe," he admitted. "Ray said to make dinner subtle if possible. No, not that way. Like ya did when we first came in should be fine. Sure, Ma. See you soon, we're about a half-hour away. Yup, soon." He hung up. "She thinks she knows what's going on."
"Ma's not dumb. She's seen this before. Maria basically brought Tony home to announce she was pregnant and they were getting married," he admitted dryly. He turned onto the correct street, going slower. "It'll be soon, Bix, just hold on."
"I think I can." Ray handed back an airsickness bag. "Thank you, husband."
"Welcome, love," he said with a dopey grin. Even after she started to get sick.
Ray pulled over and got out, leaving the door open to air out the car, just in case she missed the bag. His mother came out onto the porch so he waved her off. "Not yet, Ma."
"What's wrong?" She came down, wiping her hands on her apron. Ray got out, helping Bix out of the back and supporting her. "You poor thing, are you ill? Did the flight upset your stomach?" She took her arm and led her away.
"Ma, my wife," Stan complained as he followed her. "Besides, this is normal from what Xander said." Ma shrieked and hugged them both, which brought every other Vecchio out onto the porch. "Hi," he said with a wicked grin. "Guys, this is Bix. Bix, this is the Vecchio clan. Be nice ta her or else. She just got done bein' a nanny for thieves." He walked her through the crowd, sitting her on the couch. "Let me get you some water."
"Thank you," she said weakly.
Maria walked in with her bag, handing it over. "Want hot or cold, sweetie?" she asked with a sympathetic smile.
"Warm would be nice. I have some tea that helps."
"Hey, it's all good. This house has seen many pregnant women." She went to get the hot water for her, coming back to find her being cuddled by one of the kids. "Let her make some tea, then you can hug her," she ordered her youngest, pulling her away. "Sorry. She's in a cuddly mood."
"I was just the nanny for my cousin, Goemon, and his friends. Nothing is more cuddly than his youngest son, who thinks he is not weaned," she shared with a small smile. Maria burst out laughing at that, patting her on the shoulder. "Thank you for the hot water."
"Welcome. Not an issue. Go bug your Uncle for a hug." She let down the youngest, who was now seeking a different target. She sat down, smiling as Ma came in with some cookies. "Let her get the tea down first, Ma. It's to help with her stomach."
"Of course. Whenever she's ready," she promised, smiling at her. "You are very polite. Chinese?"
"Japanese. I'm a cousin to Goemon Ishikawa the Thirteenth, and the Fourteenth, and his various other children," she admitted with a small smile. She heard a confused sounding sniffle and looked back, frowning at the small being standing there. "Visible?" she asked in Japanese. The baby became visible, making Maria and Ma gasp. "Don't worry, it's a baby kitsune. I was their nanny for many years and some of them still seek me out. Come sit." The baby climbed up next to her, hugging her. "Hmm, sleeping sickness. You should be in bed."
"No, not want bed. Want you, Bix." She pouted at Ray. "Mine!"
"She's mine now. She's got my baby in her."
"Meany." She pouted, at least until a veiled woman came to get her. "No! Not wanna go!"
"Hush," she whispered and the child quit. "She is not the nanny. She is now a married woman and runs her own family. You may visit when she is at home and you are better." She bowed to Ma, then to Bix. "Our lord sends his greeting and his many wishes for your happiness. He said that Xander has sent you a few of his special kimonos to your husband's house and to wear them in peace and happiness." She bowed again before leaving with the little one.
"Well, that was certainly nice of her," Ma admitted. "She was very pleasant."
"She is. She trained me how to take care of children," Bix admitted, making her tea. "Thank you for welcoming me, Mrs. Vecchio."
"Call her Ma, everyone does," Maria offered. "So, you're pregnant how far?"
"Morning sickness," Ray said as he walked in. "Zenigata said he could find you a place, knew just the spot, had more than enough room if you wanted to have more kids than him, and it has a garage apartment for the nephew. That good?" Ray nodded. Bix swallowed some tea and nodded as well. He put the phone back up to his ear. "Yeah, that's fine, sir. No, she's having morning sickness. Yeah, very pretty. Why?" He smirked. "She said she had it on tape. Sure, thanks." He hung up. "He said he'd have us moved by the time I got back there. He also suggested that you file the paperwork as soon as you get back. Do you have a marriage license?"
"Already mailed from Hawaii," Ray assured him. "Plus the Interpol paperwork to put her into my file as my wife and onto my insurance as my wife."
"Good." He stole a cookie as he sat down. "What's wrong, Ma?"
"One of the baby kitsune just showed up," Bix explained.
"Hmm, little baby foxes who like to cuddle," Ray agreed. "I've had a few of them come visit me." Ma gave him an odd look. "They like Xander, so they think the people he likes will like them. So they come bug us now and then. I taught one of the older ones how to take dictation and type." He smirked at his sister, then at his mother. "Calm down, it's normal for them."
"Fine, Raymondo. Eat, Bix. They will help as well." She nodded, taking a cookie to nibble, then smiling at her. "Ah, you are not easily cowed by my sons. That is a good thing. They could use a firm hand, especially one with a spoon sometimes."
"She can already kick my butt," Ray offered with a smile for his girl. "She don't need a spoon."
Ma chucked, patting the new daughter on the knee. "Welcome to the family. It can only make things happier and more lively. Why didn't you stay on the ship?"
"Because she was gettin' so sick from the water it wasn't nice, Ma," Ray said patiently. "Besides, I figured you guys'd want more than a day to meet her."
"Good! We'll switch you and my Ray out, Stanley. You two will take his room, he will take that couch. It has a lock," she assured Bix. "That way the children cannot help."
"Children are children. If they cannot help, they will fuss to interrupt at the wrong moment. Then you soothe them and go back to what you were doing before." Ma laughed and so did Maria, and Ray shook his head but he was smiling about that. "I have helped raise many children. These are not much different than the furry ones or the thieving ones. Only they seem better behaved at times."
"Lotus was the sweetest little thing, until you upset her, then she'd scowl just like her daddy," Ray shared.
"Arsene used to crawl into bed between her parents and push them out of their own beds," she retorted with a smirk.
"Are we talking the thieve's kids?" Maria asked. "I've never heard that name Arsene."
"Also known as Lupin the Fourth," her brother Ray told her. "Mouthy little brat, but damn good. Not quite sixteen and already so far up the most wanted list she's got her own investigator. Not the one she wants, yet, but one of her own."
"She's turning sixteen in three more days," Ray told him. "While they're back in San Francisco." Ray shuddered. "So I'm guessing we might be getting calls from a drunk Xander about his baby being so grown up. She took off the same time we did, heading for Berlin."
"I'm sure her father didn't want to hear it anyway," he said dryly.
"No, he's vowed that he's going to lock her in a tower if she ever gets pregnant," Bix told him with a small smirk. "Either that or he's going to pounce you, make you marry her, and straighten her out." Vecchio shuddered. "She is pretty."
"She's also got a big mouth, a dirty mouth, a dirty mind, and she's a klepto."
"Not really. She has exquisite taste in targets. Some of that pirate treasure is very pretty."
"As is Xander's cruise ship," Ray agreed, giving her a squeeze. "Eat another cookie."
"Trust me, eat while you can, you'll have a month of losing weight," Maria assured her.
"She's already too tiny to begin with," Ma said, frowning at her daughter. "Ray will just have to feed her."
"No, no men in my kitchen unless I am too ill to cook. No traditional woman of my clan would ever let a man cook more than over a pit of his hunts." She quickly nibbled her next cookie.
"Japanese women are much more traditional than Italian women, Ma. She was born to be a homemaker and wife."
"Good, Stanley could use a good cook to feed him up," she agreed. "You may help me in the kitchen if you want." Bix gave her another gentle smile. "Are you feeling better?"
"Much. Do you need help now?" Ma shrugged and got up, helping her up and into the kitchen. "Do you have an apron I might borrow? This is Lotus' kimono and I don't want to stain it."
"That is very pretty. Traditional?" She nodded quickly. "It looks good on you."
"Thank you." She accepted the apron and saw some vegetables. "Are those to be minced or sliced?"
"Minced, dear." She watched as Bix washed her hands, then picked up the knife and minced those vegetables before she could blink. "Well. You're very quick." She smiled and they bonded over the meal. This new daughter was very proper and stiff, but she was fun and had a good sense of humor. She could learn to like this new daughter a lot. Even if she did have odd ideas about frying meat in small chunks without sauce.
Xander lazed around on his lounger, smiling when a shadow went across him. "Yeah, Jigen?"
"Xander, is there anything to do but read, watch tv, and play?"
"You mean like the gym, the libraries, the bar, the pool? That sort of stuff? Or like the fact that we'll be in port tomorrow night?" He pulled him down, letting him sit on him. That way he could have another kiss. "Bored?"
"Kinda. There's not even any crosswords."
"I put a whole box in the library." Jigen smiled at that. "Know where it is?" Jigen shook his head so Xander got him up and lead him down there, opening the door and flipping on the lights. "The library," he said happily. "Real books, e-books, and other books. The crosswords are here," he said, pointing at a box on the table with a big grin. "The copier's in the corner if you wanted to copy them, that way the original is still intact. Also, we've got some mysteries, some histories, some biographies, some religious stuff, some other stuff... I'm not sure what all we have. I gave Marcus a grand and sent him to Walden Books." Jigen snickered at that. "I told him to be diverse. I'm hoping he listened." He stole another kiss. "What would help you not be bored, Jigen?"
"Another kiss and the first crossword book." Xander gave him both, then gave him a smug smile and walked off, going back to his tanning. Jigen copied a few off, then took them back up onto the deck by the pool. Lupin was sunning himself up there, looking like a hairless cat with how he was laying. "The library is open."
"I saw that," he mumbled. "Too tired to read. This is good, napping good."
Jigen snickered again. "Did Xander wear you out?"
"Hell yeah," he said tiredly. "Damn nymph." He flopped onto his side. "Watch out, he's playful." He drifted off again.
Jigen settled in to work on his crosswords, happier now. It was a nice day. There wasn't any reason he couldn't nap. He was finally getting a tan. He didn't watch as Lotus decided to take off her bathing suit to swim or dive into the pool, but then again not even Lupin was looking. He glanced over, seeing the half-slitted eyes, and smirked. Never mind, some things never changed.
To Part 57