Ray Kowalski put down the fax on his boss's desk, staring him down.  "I can't not go," he said firmly.  "Vecchio may be broken at the moment with that broken ankle, but I've got to go."

"You can't go alone," he said reasonably.

"So?  It's my department!" he defended.  "They won't shoot me!"

"They will," he said tiredly, handing over a copy of the email he had been sent.  "Here.  From the Chief there, requesting that we send you two back, and that you handle this investigation."  He looked at him.  "I've not let on that Ray's unable to walk with that broken ankle."

"Still, he can direct from the hotel room," he said firmly.  He dialed their home on the phone, getting a very grouchy Ray.  "I know, it's time for pain killers.  You up to a trip?"

"I can't walk!" he said bitterly.  "How am I supposed to chase some crook halfway around the world?"

"Easy, it's our department.  Someone just tried to shoot Huey."

"Excuse me?" Ray demanded.  "Repeat that?"

"Someone tried to shoot Huey coming out of the precinct," he said grimly.  "They think it's another cop and that they've stumbled into something.  We're needed back there."  Ray let out a few muttered swears in Italian.  "Thank you for not teaching me what those mean yet," Stanley said dryly.  "So?"

"I can't," he sighed.  "I can't stand up.  I'm no good in a wheelchair."

"You can go to the hotel and help," Stan promised.

"And do what?"

"Research, talk to people, act like the Don some people thought you were," he said dryly.  "They're still scared'a ya there."

"Fine.  But you're still going to need help and you won't know who to trust.  It's been too long."

"Oh, I have an idea," he admitted.  "There's how many Mounties in Chicago?"

"You want Benny?" he asked bitterly.

"No, I want Turnbull," he said firmly.  "He's a goofball but he's got the skills."

"No," Ray vetoed.  "He don't.  Not enough in this setting.  He's a bit too eager too."  There was silence for a moment.  "That leaves us with two options.  We trust someone, or we blackmail someone."

"You have blackmail material on a cop in Chicago after all this time?" Zenigata asked.

"No, but I have plenty on Lavelle," Stanley said dryly.  "So, how Mountie can we make him?"

"Lavelle?" Ray snorted.  "Let's try for Interpol Inspector."  They heard a beep in the background.  "Hold on, text message.  I still need to find that bug they planted in the new place."  He looked at his phone.  "Lupin said there's not a chance you're taking Xander."

"Fine.  I'll call him directly," Stanley said smugly, dialing while he said it.  Xander answered cheerfully. "Don't sound so fuckin' cheerful.  I've got a problem and I need your help."  He listened to the cautious question.  "No, we got a dirty cop shootin' at others we know and like.  Back home.  Do you think you can play a Mountie?"  He snickered.  "No, I don't think a butt plug would help your posture that much," he said fondly, making Zenigata snicker and fall out of his chair laughing.  He could hear Ray laughing too.  "Please?" he asked.  "Sure.  Leaving now.  Meet me there.  Love you too, and tell Lupin I said you'll be fine."  He hung up.  "Ray?"

"I'll head over tonight."

"I'll meet Lavelle in town and we'll make plans, we'll fly over together.  Get us tickets."  He hung up and looked over the edge of his desk at his boss.  "That fine with you?"

"Go," he said, waving him off.  "I think they're local anyway."

"Nah, he was in Japan.  I heard that twangy guitar thingy going off in the background.  There's no tea houses here."  He took the papers with him, making one more call, to his old boss.  "Coming in," he greeted.  "With a twist.  Trust me."  He hung up and headed home to pack.  Lavelle would come to the house, he knew where it was.


Lupin burst into the room where Xander was tipping the geishas.  "No way you're going."

"Bite me," Xander said sweetly, smiling at one of the girls.  "Thank you, it was lovely, but business calls desperately."  He bowed properly and got up, heading out to get his shoes and head off with Lupin complaining behind him.  "I'm going," he said firmly.  He walked into the back of a cop and smiled.  "Sorry, my mistake, officer," he said in Japanese, walking around him and out to the car.  He grabbed the bag from the back and waved, disappearing.  He landed in front of Ray Vecchio, looking at him and his bug detector.  "That's about a decade behind the bug, Ray.  Do you think it'll work?"

"It makes a good blunt instrument," he said dryly. "So, think you could pull off a Mountie?"

"Actually, I probably could, but I might have to break persona now and then.  It'd be easier if I wasn't."  He looked at his cast, then gently touched it.  "They did a good job," he said, adding a bit of a healing spell to it.  "Boosting Dawn's healing," he offered, pulling back. "That way you don't ache as much when you're an ancient and old man."  He looked around, then at him.  "Where's Bix?"

"Bedroom.  Napping."  He looked him over.  "Where were you?"

"A tea house.  Lupin came in wide-eyed and ranting."  He sat down, politely crossing his legs and looking attentive.  "If I can't do the Mountie thing, I can definitely do a cop well enough to pass.  I did a few years back in New York."  He played with some of his hair and then pulled it back.  "I even got style," he said with a smirk.  Stanley walked in and he waved.  "A Mountie?"

"They're used to us being around one."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "I might have to break persona to protect you.  Unless you send me in as some sort of specialist in undercover?  Or something in narcotics?  Maybe vice?"

"It's an idea," Stanley admitted.  "We're picking up Turnbull on the way in," he told Ray.  "I called him and talked to him and Thatcher.  I told her what was up.  She agreed to play along and keep Benny away from us."  Ray nodded at that.  "But we can have Diefenbaker if we want.  He's shedding on her uniform again."

"Wonderful," Ray agreed. "He's also probably got arthritis."

"He does," Xander agreed, getting a bit more comfortable.  "Then again, there's ways around that."  He shrugged at their looks.  "What?  I think we can fix a few things that way.  Not all Mounties have furry helpers."

"Point," Ray agreed.  "We'll say you're a liaison to us here at the moment."  Xander nodded.  "That means you've got to hide most of your weapons."

"No, really?" he asked dryly.  "Do you think you see a tenth of mine at the moment?  For all I care, you can say I'm one of the stuffy diplomat guys, like Turnbull is.  I do speak a number of languages fairly well."

"Where does Canada have offices at?" Stanley asked.

"Probably nearly every friendly country," Xander said with a small shrug.  "You can say I've been stuck in Japan or the somewhere in the Middle East if you want.  I'll let you concoct my backstory with Thatcher.  By the way, she does know me.  I took her out for a spin at a club the last time I was in town.  Delightful woman but needs the broom shoved the other way sometimes."  They gaped at him and he smirked.  "What?  She's a beautiful lady."

"She is," Stanley agreed smugly.  "Going after Benny?"

"Ishi asked me to make sure he was miserable, which he is."  He stood up.  "So?"


"There," Xander said dryly.  "I can't just produce an official Mountie uniform."  He looked at them.  "Unless we're suggesting I go to the local embassy and ask."  They stared at him.  "Sure."  He walked out, shaking his head and flagged down a cab.  He got into the back.  "Canadian Embassy please?"  The cabby looked at him so he repeated it in Dutch for him.  The driver nodded and took off.  He walked inside and put his sunglasses on top of his head, smiling and saluting the man behind the desk.  "Hello, Constable Harris.  I've been on assignment in Japan and I'm here on vacation, and stupidly didn't bring any uniforms.  I'm being sent to Chicago ASAP because of their problems there with a sniper.  Are there any spares?" he asked quietly.  "I can have it tailored if I have to."

"Maybe," he offered, looking him over.  "You don't stand properly.  Who are you really?"

Xander produced a business card.  "I'm going over to take care of the cop shooting at the embassy as a favor to a Mountie over there.  I thought I'd go quietly instead of going loudly."

"Let me talk to the ambassador," he said quickly, heading that way.  He came out a moment later and held the door open.  "He'll see you now."

"Thank you."  Xander walked that way and saluted him, standing at parade rest.  "I was asked to protect the embassy in Chicago.  They've got a bad cop going sniper who has tried to hit the embassy for the past help they've given to the city."

"You're an assassin?" he asked.

Xander smirked and nodded.  "Definitely.  A very well known one."  He let down his trademark hair, making the man hiss.  "It's a favor to a friend there. They like the Mounties and have a crush on one.  I owe them a huge favor."

"I see."  He looked him over.  "You stand too slouchy."

"I have a small curve in my spine.  It's from all the time spent over books.  I can say I was on embassy duty as a door guard.  Or as a bodyguard.  Let's face it, I am fluent in a few languages as well."

He considered it.  "This is an unusual request."

"You'd rather see them dead?  They've already shot at the embassy twice.  They're not able to put a guard outside now.  Last time the person nearly blew his head off."

"Then it is a danger to Canada and extraordinary circumstances and all that.  By the time you get there, you must be able to quote chapter and verse of the handbook and present the proper image."

"Of course. I expected no less.  I also expect Thatcher to jump on my case if I slip."

He smirked back.  "Oh, she will.  She's affectionately known for chewing on her inferiors."  He looked him over again.  "Well, you meet regulations every other way.  I suppose we can.  Just a uniform?"

"Which you'll get back once I'm done," Xander assured him firmly.  "I only want to protect them."

"Fine.  I'll get you one.  You can have one tailored you said?"  Xander nodded.  "You know a good tailor in town?"

"I know four or five," he admitted.  "Want their names?"  He nodded and Xander took a piece of paper, checking it first, and wrote down their names and addresses.  "By order of preference for suits and things."

"Thank you, Lavelle.  Do Canada proud and we may not arrest you this time."

Xander grinned at him. "I figure my grace runs out about five minutes after I've protected the consulate."  He saluted and walked out behind the receptionist, going to get that uniform.  He came out of the storeroom in it, adjusting the belt.  He had seen enough Mounties to know how to put them on.  She looked at him.  "What?"

"Wrong belt," she noted, taking it off him and going to get another one.  "This will mark you as a Constable instead."  She handed it over, watching as he put it on.  "You look good in it.  You could reform and join us."

He grinned. "I do a lot of traveling this way.  It's one of the good things about the life."  He blew a kiss and saluted her again.  "Thank you kindly, ma'am," he said in direct imitation of the only Mountie he had watched repeatedly.  "Have a nice day."  He walked off, taking his suit with him.  His hair was up under his hat.  He'd deal with that issue in a bit, probably with an illusion over it.  He took a cab back to Ray and Stan's place, tapping first, standing at parade rest until the door was opened.  Stanley gaped and he grinned.  "Good afternoon, Inspector.  You called for me to come attend you for this most heinous situation?"

"Get in here," he said, watching him walk inside.  "New boots?"  Xander nodded.  "Ohh, sorry."

"They'll be broken in by tonight," he promised.  He looked at Ray, who could only gape.  "Maybe a topknot and a bun for my hair," he said thoughtfully, taking off his hat to fix that.  Dawn walked in and gaped so he grinned at her.  "I'm being helpful."

"Oh, God, you're going to the Mounties now?" she whimpered.  "Oh, please, don't become a Mountie."

Xander kissed her on the cheek.  "Have no fear, ma'am."   He looked at Stanley.  "When are our travel arrangements for?  I fear I must brush up on the book of conduct and rules."

"We've got a copy on the bookshelf," Stanley said, staring at him.  "You're good," he said finally, watching him walk.

"He is," Dawn agreed.  "I had no idea."  She went to take pictures and send them to Jigen, who probably wasn't up yet so Lupin couldn't have told him about this.  Maybe she'd make him pass out or something.


Xander walked into the consulate, stopping to salute the guardian just inside the doorway, and his feather duster.  "Constable Harris, reporting as ordered to help out with this heinous and uncivil problem.  Where might the Inspector be?"

"She's probably in her office," he offered, looking him over.  He decided he had better posture, but this guy was better looking and seemed more deadly to him.  He withheld a shudder by the merest means of his control and looked him over again.  "I say, you do look familiar."

Xander grinned. "I get that a lot," he offered back.  "I'm seen at many embassies around the world.  I'm a specialist in defense and offensive maneuvers.  Plus research.  May I?"

"Oh, yes, let me tell her you're here. I'm sure she's expecting you, Constable," he offered as he put down his feather duster and lead the way that way.  "Do you know what's going on?  It was most dreadful that they shot at our consulate."

Xander nodded.  "From what Inspectors Kowalski and Vecchio told me on the plane over, there's a rogue cop going after some of the best."  He waited while Turnbull introduced him, then saluted her as she came out.  "Constable Harris, Inspector.  Where do you need me?"

She looked at him. "You look...familiar. Where did I see you?"

Xander smiled at her. "Probably at a dance, Inspector.  I did do a turn with you once upon a time."  She nodded at that.  "Now, how can I be of service to protect Canada?"

"I heard you're here to work with Kowalski.  Where's he?"

"Heading there at the moment.  I thought it more appropriate to check in first.  That way I could gauge what of my skills you needed to protect this small corner of Canada."  She nodded at that, looking quite regal.  "Shall we adjourn to your office or does Turnbull have that data for me?" he prompted.

"Your belt's on upside down."

He looked at it, then at her.  "The logo is in the correct position but I admit to having to reprovision in Paris."

"That explains it.  The European belts are backwards of ours.  Into my office, Constable.  What can you do?"

"He's a security expert and knows very well how to get around them.  Constable," Benton Fraser greeted firmly.

"Constable Fraser.  Long time no see."  He shook his hand.  "Hello, Diefenbaker."  He nodded politely at the wolf.  "Lotus sends her greetings."  The wolf woofed gently and sat down to stare at him.  He looked at the Inspector, taking off his hat.  "I was asked to protect you by Inspector Vecchio, Inspector."

"I thought so. You're too young to have hair that light."

He ran a hand through the mass that had come down.  "Yes, well, not my fault really," he said dryly, smirking at her.  "Do I pass?"

"You do," she agreed.  "Thank you for reminding me to write my superiors about the belts in Europe as well.  What can you do?"

Xander smiled.  "You'd be surprised.  What do you need?"

"I need things to run as normally as possible without getting a guard shot."

"That's fine.  Would you prefer I work behind the scenes to protect the consulate?  Or would you prefer I help in the investigation?"  He grabbed his bag, pulling out a smaller bag.  "I've also brought alarms with me.  I noticed the signs that someone's been picking the lock."  She looked at her men, who looked clueless. "I'm not sure who, but I can have the security upgraded within two hours, while Inspector Kowalski works with his people.  Then I'll join him if you wanted.  I've also brought a better bulletproof vest for whoever is on guard duty."  He looked at them, then focused on Turnbull.  "It's adjustable but it'll probably fit you better.  It's a slimline but it's made of special metal that's just now being put onto the market in Japan.  It's tank grade."  He moaned at that and handed it over.  "Try that on under your jacket, Constable.  It shouldn't look too bulky."

"What about head shots?" Inspector Thatcher asked.

Xander looked at her.  "I do deal in the strange and unusual as well, Inspector.  I already have ideas for that as well."  She nodded her head at that.  "Did you want me upgrade and then explain or follow me around while I do it?"

"Turnbull can.  Explain it to him.  If he can understand the explanation, I can."

"Of course.  As you wish."  He handed over a card.  "My temporary cellphone number.  I did promise to hand you the uniform when I was done so you could send it back."  She smirked at that.  "I wouldn't want to live like a Mountie, ma'am, I can't travel that way.  My kids would be very disappointed."  He looked around.  "By the way, they may or may not show up, but Ishi has promised to leave the consulate and most of the staff alone."

She looked at him, then at Fraser, then back at him.  "While this is going on, I would prefer we have a truce," she said firmly.

"He's seventeen. He may if you ask him, but I'm not going to promise for him."

"I'll talk to him if you bring him in."

"Yes, Inspector.  Let me start with the front door and work my way to the back.  It'll be easier and then I can plug them into the new monitor.  Constable, could you help me get the four cases out of my car?"  He nodded, coming to help him.  He leaned closer.  "How technically challenged are you?"

"Not in the least," he said with a small smirk, "she just believes I am."

"Ah. That's fine.  I'm putting up the new Berger alarms and I've got a wireless monitor that'll work for most of them.  I'm also putting up some magical protections on the building that should protect you from headshots and should stop a bullet.  That's my personal vest but I can get a new one if I can't get it back.  It will hold against a nine mil or a forty-five bullet," he offered.  "It has in the past, seven times."  Turnbull smiled at that.  "It should also fit under your tunic."

"Thank you, Lavelle."

"You're welcome, Turnbull.  Sorry about the slouching, but I've got a small spine curvature.  I saw you looking.  By the way, have you seen the new embassy in Japan?  It's very beautiful.  Has a wonderful set of grounds.  You'd love it and their main guard is out on maternity leave for six weeks."

"I could do a temporary transfer," he offered, smiling at him. "You need me out of the way?"

"No, just a suggestion.  I think you'd get more out of it than Fraser would.  He doesn't seem to appreciate beauty or youth."  He hefted two of the cases.  "Leave the black one.  It's a weapon's case.  I have a current US license to carry and carry concealed."  He walked back inside, starting with the front door as promised.  By the time he was done, not even Lupin the Fourth could sneak in there and not even Lotus could break the protections on the building itself.  He stepped outside to look at it.  Only one thing showed and it was a new camera.  "Sorry, Inspector, I couldn't hide that," he offered, pointing up at it.

She looked up.  "That's fine.  It's not more obvious than our old one."  She looked at him.  "Passcode?"

"Fingerprint scan.  It's already keyed to yours and Turnbull's.  One of you will put it on 'monitor' in the mornings with that and a flip of the switch, and turn it back on 'active' at night."  He stepped closer.  "On 'monitor' it will still go off if anyone with an excess of gunpowder comes near or other harmful chemicals on their bodies.  It will also go off if anyone carries in a gun-shaped object."  He tossed his plastic one through the door, then looked at her as the alarm went off.  "That's airline safe."

"Well," she said happily, walking in to turn it off at the main desk.  "That is very nice.  What's the time range to get in here?"

He nodded her back outside and pointed at a small panel above the doorknob.  "That's your monitor and active spot," he said quietly.  "That and turning the key."

"Even better.  What about Fraser?"

"I told Turnbull how to include him, but I'm not putting him into the system."

"Fine.  I understand why.  How is your stepson?"

"Well enough.  He's still scarred.  He's still got problems with his eyes from the blast.  If he hadn't ducked, he'd be blind or dead."  She shivered and nodded her understanding.  He looked across the street, then at her, then back.  "Arsene," he snapped.  "Here, now!"  She gave him an odd look but walked over, looking at him funny until she realized who she was staring at, then her eyes went wide.  "Where's Ishi?"

"Here, why?"

"I'd like to ask him for a truce during this incident," the Inspector told her. "I've heard you're fair and I do understand that you want to harm Constable Fraser greatly.  But I do need him until this is settled and we're safe again."

She considered it.  "I'll bring it to him.  We're only passing through.  I was wondering why someone was turning this place into a fortress.  I heard there was a new problem in town."

"Which I'm working on and which is making your father have a heart attack," Xander told her.  "What were you in town for?"

"Melissa.  She went to have a formal meeting with her aunt."  She shrugged.  "I only sat in the car and listened with Lotus.  Ishi's in the park playing with the dogs."

"Fine.  Ask him.  You guys can't stay.  We've got a rogue cop."

"Ooooh," she hissed, shaking her head.  "Not my thing.  I'll ask him, Inspector.  Him and his sister both.  We'll hold a meeting and let you know later.  Here?"  She nodded.  "Very well.  Thank you.  Father."  She nodded and backed away.  "You look good in the uniform.  Dad must be freaking out."  She turned and ran off, heading back to their car to tell the others.

Xander looked at her.  "Expect to be visited tonight if they don't show up here right before closing."

"That's fine. I'd expect nothing else from a thief and assassin."  She looked at him.  "We danced?"

"Salsa club, Cinco de Mayo a few years back?" he prompted.  "You were moaning over something about spilled whiteout in your coffee?"

"Oh, that night," she said, nodding.  "I was fairly drunk."

He nodded.  "I know, I brought you home."  He saluted her.  "With your permission, Inspector, I'm off to the twenty-seventh."

"Go.  Check in daily.  I want to know in exact detail what you've done each day."

"Yes, Inspector."  He walked off, striding firmly like the rest of them did.

She watched him go.  "He walks like Turnbull," she said, frowning a bit.  She went back inside, picking up the weapon and putting it on the front desk.  "Thank you.  Where is the switch for the alarm again?"  Turnbull held up the small pad.  "Thank you.  Constable Fraser?"

"I haven't coded him, Inspector.  I was waiting on your orders on that matter."

"We'll think about it."  She went back to her office, going to make notes and start a file.  She was going to carefully document this for her superiors.  She was not going to get burned over this.  Hopefully they'd get to keep the security upgrades at least.


Xander walked into the twenty-seventh and looked around, then at the desk sergeant.  "Is Inspector Kowalski still in?" he asked pleasantly.  "I was told to liaison with him."

"Another Mountie?"

"A security specialist for the various embassies," he offered.  "On special assignment locally."

"He's still upstairs.  Need a map?"

"No, I can follow the people up there.  Thank you kindly."  He walked that way, taking the stairs two at a time until he got up to the top level.  Fortunately he had changed his hair a bit, it was dark and looked short again.  He took off his hat, putting it under his arm.  "Ma'am, is Inspector Kowalski in?  I was told to liaison with him."

She looked up at him and stared, mouth open.  "Another Mountie?" she asked finally.

"Constable Harris," he said seriously, shaking her hand.  "Here on special assignment to help him and the local consulate.  Is the Inspector still here?"

"He's still in the office.  Go ahead in."

"Thank you kindly."  He headed that way, tapping gently before walking in and shutting the door behind him.  "Sir, Constable Harris reporting as ordered," he said, snapping off a salute.

"We ordered another mountie?" the Lieutenant asked his Inspector.

"He's on special assignment to the local consulate to protect them."  He looked at him.  "Done?"

"They're fully alarmed, warded, and protected, plus I did hand Constable Turnbull a new bullet-proof vest for his times on guard and made sure that not even a head shot would get through.  I included your fingerprints on the alarm system, though I did forget to mention that to the Inspector, but I did remember to tell Constable Turnbull.  He was most helpful while I was setting up the security upgrades."  He looked at the Lieutenant.  "How can I best serve this investigation, sir?"

"You're bold for a Mountie," he said blandly, looking him over.  "Is the belt on upside down?"

"It's European, sir.  Their logo is upside down."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "I don't understand that."

"Something about protocol.  I don't know, I only follow orders," he offered patiently.

"Sit, Constable, let's talk," he said, looking at him.  "You look familiar."

"I get that a lot, sir.  Some say I look like a wanted man even."  Kowalski snorted and shook his head. "I figured you had told him."  He nodded.  "Fine.  They're fully set up and I proved it with my plastic tossaway that I carry onboard planes."  He looked at the Lieutenant again.  "So, how can I best help the Inspector so he's not killed?  By the way, the kids are leaving in a few days.  Melissa was in town for a meeting with her aunt."

"Can we keep Ishi and Melissa?" Stan asked.  Xander handed over his phone.  "Thanks."  He called the number listed for Ishi's phone, getting a surly young man.  "Don't give me lip, kid. I'll taunt you at the next convention.  We could probably use you and Melissa if you'd stay."  He listened. "Fine.  Even you and your sword would be fine, kid.  Sure."  He listened to Arsene.  "No, not you.  You're too flashy.  We need quiet.  By the way, leave Warfield alone.  I mean it."  He smirked.  "I bet," he snorted.  "He's not one to play with.  You yank his chain and he bites."

"Not my kid he doesn't," Xander said firmly.  "I will take offense."  He looked at the Lieutenant.  "So, how can I help?"

"Can you help quietly?"

"Do you think I'd be a Mountie if I couldn't?"

"Point," he admitted.  "You make a good one.  If I didn't know, I couldn't tell."  Someone knocked on his door. "Enter!"   The civilian aid from out front walked in.  "You needed something, Miss Vecchio?"

"Oh, you must be Ray's missing sister," he said, shaking her hand.  "He's said a lot about you."

"Probably mostly lies," she said with a smile.  "Coffee, Constable?"

"No, I'm fine, thank you, Miss Vecchio.  Or are you an officer as well?"

"No, I'm an aid.  Call me Frannie."

"Frannie then," he said with a small smile.  "There may be another, trainee, Constable coming in, I'm not sure yet."  Stanley hung up and nodded.  "He is coming?"

"Yes, he is, but he's not got a uniform.  He's been undercover a lot recently.  He'll be wearin' mob clothes," he told Frannie.  "We need ta see him immediately.  Got it?"  She nodded, giving him a long stare.  "What?"

"Where's my brother?"

"The Hyatt."

"Thanks."  She went back to her desk, smiling as the young man came up the stairs.  "Are you the new Constable?" she asked.  He nodded silently. "They're in the office.  That was fast."

"I was only up the street," he said quietly, heading that way.  He knocked and walked in at the barked 'enter'.  "Reporting for duty, sir," he said, snapping off a salute with a smug look.  "You needed my special skills?"

"Yeah, I do," Xander agreed.  "Close the door."  The door was closed.  "You okay with this?"

"My father will shit pink diamonds," he said patiently. "I'm letting Lotus explain it instead of Arsene."  He looked at the Lieutenant, then at Stanley, who was giving him a smug look.  "They stopped in on Ray, Stan.  Melissa shared some news from her aunt, who insulted her greatly, and they had a wonderful snack together.  One of Warfield's people did come up to complain to Arsene so she calmly tried to rearrange his molecular bonds for him.  Then she told him that not only did her Uncle Lavelle protect him, that she was adding her own since he had tried to turn her straight once and since his mother was a very nice lady.  I'm hoping he got the point."

"I'm hoping so too," Lavelle agreed dryly.  "If not, I'm sure we can reinforce it gently later."  He looked at Stanley.  "We done?  We need info and plans."

"We need info," Stanley said grimly. "We're not sure who it is."

"Fine.  We'll talk to others.  Do we know where we should start?  Drugs, liquor, money and gambling, pros?"  They shook their heads.  "You don't have any sort of a lead?"

"Two," Welsh said, handing over the two bullets.  "The detectives they pulled them out of are still alive.  He's a very good shot.  It may come down to a battle of shooters."

"We both are," Ishi said, taking one to look at.  "This is foreign."

"It is," Xander agreed.  "British."  He looked at him.  "I can track that."  He nodded at that.  "Anything else?"

"I'd prefer to arrest them with proof enough for a court conviction.  If not, make sure they can't do it again."

"Fine.  We'll sit a watch on the precinct."

"He's hit another one and tried to hit two more and the consulate," Stanley told him. He handed over a map.  "That's all they know so far."

Xander looked it over.  "Well, it's a pretty arch."  He looked at them.  "Anything else?"  They shook their heads.  "Then we'll be heading back to the Hyatt.  We've got the room next to these two," he said with a nod toward Stanley.  He handed over one of his business cards.  "That's my real cell and I've got a temporary one written on the back.  If you need me, yell.  It's a nice thing that you put out two detectives who are good enough for me to respect."  He stood up and put back on his hat.  "Anything else, Lieutenant?"

"Which one was you a few years back?"

"I was the supposedly real Stanley," he said with a grin.  "He was busy and I needed to be here to protect Ray."  He winked and walked out with Ishi, talking quietly.  Ishi nodded and stopped to charm the Civilian Aid into getting them the information they needed as a place to start.  He went back to his car and headed back to the Hyatt, going to take the keys from Arsene.  She had left him a large packet at the front desk and he smiled at the girl behind the counter with a 'thank you kindly' before heading up to his room.  He tapped on the connecting door and walked over at Ray's grunt. "You okay?"

"I ache."

"Need pills?"

"You got pills?"

"Usually.  I have some Tylenol 3's at the moment.  I still get those stupid power headaches."  He looked at him. "Or I have a vial of demerol in my traveling first aid kit and a few needles."

"Please.  I'll take the demerol. I get sick on codeine."

"Sure."  He went to grab it and came back, tapping out five cc's of it.  "Where?  Arm or leg?"

"Leg, that way it acts faster."  Xander nodded and injected it for him, weathering the hiss.  "Thanks, Xander."

"Welcome."  He capped the needle and went to toss it into his sharp's container and refrigerate the demerol.  He came back with what little they knew, telling him what he had done.  He also recorded it for the Inspector's records.  He had no doubt she was doing a file at the moment.

"The bullets are nice, but not readily available."

"Ishi's getting your sister to find out which stores sell them."

"He's staying?"  He nodded. "Fine."  Xander handed over the packet he had glanced at. "What's this?"

"From Lupin the Fourth.  Has your name on it."

He pulled out the papers, which were transcripts of a conversation and the tape they had come from.  His eyes bugged and he looked at Xander, who shrugged.  "What did he do?"

"Probably insulted them.  I heard Melissa's aunt did her."  Ray nodded.  "How?"

"Told her no proper girl should ever be a gunman and she was wasting her life and skills on Lupin.  That she'd die very young and painfully if she didn't join her instead.  Offered her a job as her second in training.  Melissa pointed out that she already had a very good reputation in Europe and Asia, plus starting here in the US, and that she didn't want a sedate lifestyle.  Her aunt pointed out that she could marry and Melissa told her she liked girls mostly, so that wasn't really an option in this restrictive country.  She also noted that Chicago wasn't the sort of place that was worthy of her skills because the power brokers were on the West Coast and if she wanted to play those sedate mind games she would go to LA.  Her aunt was not amused, told her she'd never be anything but a gunwoman and reviled and heckled for it.  So Melissa called Warfield to get a report for her on her reputation, letting him give it to her while she sat back and smirked.  Her aunt had a sudden blood pressure spike and possibly an aneurism.  She was drug off babbling about her niece."

"Good," Xander said smugly.  "That trained monkey thought that keeps going around is not making them happy girls."  He smiled at him.  "What did Warfield say?"

"He swore about overblown egos and reputations from the old lines and how they weren't accurate but how her school rating was because the Assassin's Academy was well respected."  He handed over the transcripts.

Xander flipped through them, smirking broadly.  "They don't have an idea about a tenth of what she's done just by herself, not counting with Lupin and the older group."  He handed it back.  "He may be swearing for whole new reasons tomorrow.  You might want to get that to someone."

"Stan's ex is coming up for dinner.  I'll let her have 'em and they can chat about old times."

"You can come watch cartoons and anime with Ishi and I," he offered with a grin.

"No thanks, really.  How was my sister?"


"As usual," he agreed dryly.  Someone tapped on the door.  "What!" he called.

"Housekeeping," Ishi called.  Xander got up to answer the door, nodding at the civilian aid.  "She's still drooling."

"What can I say, you're adorable," she said, pinching his cheek. "Even though I know I've seen you before."

"We've got to work on your disguise," Xander told him, walking him next door.  "Anything?"

"Ten shops sell the stuff.  Stanley said we'd go tomorrow once we had a full plan of attack.  Which leaves me free for Lupin's curtain call job tonight."  He nodded at the door and Ishi grinned. "Thanks, mom."  He headed out, going to do that.

"Do I want to know?" Vecchio asked.

Xander looked at him.  "I think the more important question is do *I* want to know," he noted dryly. "I'm not sure who they're doing, her aunt, Warfield, who knows with Arsene."  He shrugged and went back to his room, finding a note in there from Melissa, which made him grin.  Apparently her father had a bad reaction to seeing him in uniform and Lupin had to have him treated for a blood pressure spike, but he was fine now, just vowing that they'd have to shoot Xander if he really was a cop and they'd have to get Arsene to do it since she was so mean.  He pulled out his laptop, writing him a quick note about what was going on, in code, and sent it to Goemon.  He knew the code better than Jigen, who kept forgetting it.  Then he surfed his groups and his chat list of people, hearing all them complaining about him.  He wrote out a quick note under someone else's name, getting a virtual smack in the head from that person, who was also lurking apparently.


In Japan, Lupin was frantically trying to undo some damage from people spreading around that Xander had been seen in a uniform, putting out that it was for a 'job' but leaving it there.  He looked over as Goemon suddenly got up and went to look at Melissa's secondary laptop, which they were using, and then chuckled. "What?" he asked, sounding very cranky.

"Xander says to tell them that he's doing a favor for someone and testing the suit-of-armor rumors about red serge.  That he's fine, he has my son and Lotus will be explaining that, and to tell the other thieves if he was really going to go good, he wouldn't and couldn't go quite that far toward good."  Lupin typed that in, getting some slightly less paranoid people.  "He said to order Chicago cleared.  He's sending the children off tomorrow, but Arsene had something she wanted to do tonight.  Otherwise, he wants all of Chicago's syndicates and freelancers to take a long vacation.  That this will end up bothering quite a few of the harder families."

"You mean the older families?" Jigen asked.

"No, he said harder families.  He did say that Warfield insulted the girls."

"Why are *our* girls in Chicago?" Lupin demanded, typing that in as well as Lavelle's request to leave Chicago.  What he got back made him blink a few times.  "Oh, hell," he said faintly.  "Jigen, your sister may not live much longer.  She insulted Melissa, Warfield insulted Melissa, and there's a costume ball tonight for charity which they'll both be at."  They shared a look and they each grabbed their phones to call their daughters and warn them.  This was not a playground and not a fun job, they could easily die for this and the repercussions would last for a *very* long time.  Lupin looked as more and more of the thieves decided to follow his lead and leave Chicago for a few weeks.  If it was bad enough that cops were scared, Lavelle was in a uniform pretending to be a cop, and the Mounties were bulking up their embassy, they wanted no part of the upcoming war, and someone did decide to ask if it was a real war or just a gang war.  Lupin typed in that he didn't know, but that Lavelle was there trying to help the situation.  To leave him alone, to not look at him, to just leave the city and ignore it for a few weeks.  That got most of them motivated and headed out of the city for a long vacation, mostly in Florida and New York to visit relatives.

Jigen looked at the message Goemon had translated and smirked, shaking his head.  "They've got a rogue cop, do not tell the others, Lupin."

"I'm not.  Rogue?"  He looked at him.  "You're sure?  They weren't earlier."

"They are now.  All they've got is two bullets, a nice pattern of places hit, including the Canadian embassy and the twenty-seventh, and him and Ishi working with Stan and Ray."

"My son is doing what?" Goemon asked quietly.  Jigen handed him his phone so he called his son.  "You're doing what?" he repeated.  He listened, then slowly nodded.  "I can understand why you're needed there.  Make sure the girls do evacuate.  Your uncle has called for an evacuation of the city.  Let them know, let them also know that all Lupin has said is that he's handling it, that it's important, that Lavelle wanted the city evacuated, and they've drawn their own conclusions about a street war."  He nodded once and hung up.  "The son is staying to help Lavelle as a backstage handler.  He'll be the one going to visit any and all people who get in his way."  Lupin raised an eyebrow.  "My son does look almost exactly like me and it's not safe to have Melissa do so still."

"Point," Jigen agreed bitterly.  "The girls are what?"

"Going to do something about the problems in their lives.  I'm sure we'll hear someone ranting and screaming by tomorrow morning, local time."

Lupin nodded, turning back to the screen to see a quietly worded question in the chat window.  He typed in a subtle answer and got a virtual nod, and the assassins in Chicago left as well, one of them having to change his travel plans to hit a target.  "Xander's handling it," he decided.  "It'll be fine."

"It will be," Jigen agreed.  "Even if it is Zucko returning in this timeline."

"I'd forgotten about him," Lupin admitted, typing that in a new email to Ray.  He'd be online, he couldn't really move from the hotel.  He got back one instantly with a 'thank you' and 'we'll take that into account'.  He relaxed, Xander had it.  It would be fine.  They could watch this disaster from afar and not have to get involved.  He looked at the others, then nodded and went to pack.  They'd hide outside the city and wait to see if they were needed.

The same as the younger group was.

Because no one would believe Lavelle as a Mountie if they knew it was him.


Xander looked over as someone tapped on the interconnecting door, getting up to answer it.  "Yes?  May I help you?"

"Ray said to tell you something about Zucko and past events?" Stan's exwife said patiently. "I don't understand."

"Zucko and I had a few discussions in the past," he offered gently.  "It's nothing and I'm sure things will be fine this time.  Oh, Ray.  There's been a call for quiet and peace locally until whatever is going on is done.  A certain wolf is very much not happy and some people in Paris did see me coming to visit."

"They figured out what?"  Xander got his laptop and handed it over, letting him see it.  "Well, it's not *so* bad.  It's close enough.  He called for an evacuation?"

"No, I called for an evacuation," Xander said honestly.  "It'll be easier to weed someone out if they're getting support.  If their supporters are in Miami, they're either going to go to ground, have to go looking, or make stupid, arrogant mistakes," he pointed at the confused look.   "I'm guessing for option number three."  He took his laptop back and plugged it back in, smiling at the update.  "The assassins locally are leaving as well.  One's having to leave to hunt their target instead of doing the ball tonight and the others are taking sudden trips to Texas."

"Wonderful.  Don't you know someone in Miami?"

"I do," Xander agreed, opening up an email and hitting reply to get her address from it.  He cleared the old message and header line, then simply typed in 'chicago's underground is going on vacation, probably heading south.  Have fun with that'.  He left it unsigned and sent it.  Half of those people pissed him off anyway.

Somewhere in the Miami CSI unit, a young blonde woman opened her new email message and read it, then let out a very ladylike swear, making everyone within hearing distance stare at her.  "Something's happening in Chicago, we're getting the vacation rush early," she announced.  Most of them shuddered and the information worked its way back to the detectives, who would be on the lookout at the airport and the train station for people on wanted lists.

"How did you know?" an older man asked from the doorway.

"Lavelle said so."

"Interesting. We heard from someone in computer crimes who keeps track of Lupin and his gang's chat lines that he's handling something massive up there."

"Yeah, well, he said they're taking a short vacation and mostly heading south," she said, looking back at him.  "He told us to have fun with it."

"Oh, I'm sure we will.  We'll talk about overtime when the crisis is done with.  Any idea what the situation is?"

"No, but I heard from a friend up there that they've got people shooting at embassies and cop stations."

"Interesting.  Very interesting.  I guess we know what's going on now."  He went back to his office to write an email about some overtime possibly coming their way.  If the criminal class of Chicago was headed his way, he wanted to be there to greet them and shake hands as he handcuffed them.  He did get a note from his snitch in computer crimes that everyone knew Lavelle had called them already, and that it was being said that a number of them had insulted the younger group's female members, that's why he was letting them be arrested and giving the warning.  He was sending them off so he could deal with the issue of a rogue up there.  He typed in a query about the younger group and got their last available profile from the criminal bulletin boards and their recent statistics and ratings from the other criminals.  "Why are they not liking them?"

Calliegh leaned in the doorway, smiling as her blonde hair fell from behind her ear. "Because crime, like crime scene investigations, is still a boy's game.  They don't like the fact that they're girls and they rag on them, which makes the girls prove themselves even harder.  Then again, those girls are having fun."  Her boss raised an eyebrow.  "Arsene Lupin the Fourth had her own cruise ship when she was nine.  She bought it at auction and had it renovated, all from her first few crimes.  Her daddy didn't know it was hers, even after she used it to save him."

"Really?  Which one is she?"

"Looks just like her daddy, only female.  Besides, Melissa Jigen's the one we've got to look out for.  She's the techie and inventor of the group.  She's good.  I don't want to go against her, but she's very good.  We're talking chip off the block of momma Sylvia and Daddy Jigen good.  Plus has her Uncle Lavelle's planning abilities.  She's counted as a genius.  Arsene's listed as an annoyance.  The two Goemon children?  Well, Lotus is sweet and nice until you piss her off, and Ishi has that cold man of steel thing going for him.  Plus he's a shooter.  There're people who believe Goemon cheated on his wife and had him with Sylvia since he's so much like Lavelle.  They're not coming this way.  They're going to prove their point yet again and then go have fun, or at least they said so and they told me where you needed to look to find a better profile."  She handed over the email she had gotten.  "Melissa said hi."  She walked off, heading back to her office and her bottle of water and aspirin.  She needed them now.

He read the email, typing in that link instead.  It asked him for a password and he used the one in there, getting a notice it was only for 24 hours.  Then it'd be removed from the system.  He downloaded everything he could.  Then he did a search by 'Miami' and downloaded everything there.  It wasn't much, but it'd be helpful.  Hopefully. By then, his buddy in computer crimes had been summoned over by Calliegh and he went to work on the site.  It earned their entire system a virus from someone, which created hopping blue and pink bunnies going across the screen and occasionally stopping to have sex, but that was fine with him.  At least they had more information now.


Xander walked into the twenty-seventh and smiled and nodded at Frannie.  "Is the Lieutenant in?"

"He is, but he's got a headache," she said plainly.  "Why?"

"Because I know something that'll make him feel a bit better."

"You do?  Better than Lupin the Fourth hitting a charity ball and then having all the jewelry go back into the charity's coffers after being sold?"

He nodded, smirking at her.  "Yes, actually I do."  He walked that way, tapping gently on the door and sticking his head in. "Authorize some vacation time," he said dryly, smirking at him.

"Huh?" Welsh asked, glaring at him.  "Those kids...."

Xander walked in and shut the door.  "Yeah, well, Warfield pissed them off, and so did Melissa's Aunt.  At least she gave it back to the charity, the kids could have kept it."

"Point, but not much of one," he said grimly.  "What's your news?"  He accepted the email he had printed off. Then he reread it, then stared up at him.  "Why?"

"To break the chain of support," he said patiently.  "I'm hoping for arrogant miscalculation."

"And you'll probably get it.  Who's left?"

"Zucko, some minor people.  I'm betting it's either going to be a small gang redistricting this next two weeks or it's going to be very quiet."

"I'm hoping for very quiet."

Xander smirked.  "I went to talk to a few people last night at one of the local clubs.  So are they.  They understood that while I'm here, things had better be quiet, safe, and peaceful.  If not, I'd have to split my attention and make them sorry."  He looked at the hat, then at him.  "Did you know this thing was worse than a boomerang?"

"Yeah, I've seen him use it that way before.  Is the serge really bulletproof and stain proof?"

"Not stain proof.  I had to clean off some eggs this morning.  It is easily washed in the sink however."  He smirked.  "So, better headache?"

"Much," he agreed.  "Your kids?"

"Left afterward.  Melissa wired the money from out of the city.  They're nearby in case Ishi or I need them, I know that without looking, but not too close."

"Fine, I'll take this like the gift from God it is," he agreed.  "Anything new?"

"Two different stores have sold those sort of bullets recently, that they've recorded.  The others are getting personal visits today by Ishi, who is now looking even less official and more like his father.  I don't know why he's wearing a kimono today, but apparently he was missing his dad."  He shrugged.  "I'm off to talk to some people myself, with Stanley if he'd ever get up.  He's still on Paris time.  He's snoring very loudly."  Welsh laughed at that.  "That and Stella made him drink last night for a bit.  Anything else I can do this morning, sir?"

"No, not yet," he offered.  "Go ahead and ask around.  They're used to Mountie interference by now."

Xander's head popped up.  "That was a shot," he said, hurrying outside.  He saw the guy on the roof and pulled his gun, firing at him.  The man yelled and grabbed his arm, hurrying off.  Xander put his hat back on and followed, but missed him since he had picked a different route off that building.  He walked back, going up to check on the area.  He found cops already up there, including Stanley, who was wearing dark sunglasses and not looking very happy.  "I got him in the arm," he reported.  "I heard him yelp, it's probably his first or second."

"We've got blood, fingerprints on the rifle, and other things," Stan offered in return.  "I'll get someone to call the hospitals and the local street docs."

"I'll get the less legal street docs," he agreed, heading off to talk to a few people he had met last night.  He walked up to the front of the strip club and looked at the bouncer, who only looked amused.  He took off his hat and the guy opened the door for him, no questions asked.  He walked inside, looking around the cheap place.  "Morning," he said firmly, making Frank Zucko jump and spill his coffee.  "I want word out on the streets that I just shot the person shooting at the twenty-seventh.  I got him in the arm."

"Who are you to demand?" Zucko asked dryly.

Xander looked around, then grabbed him by the throat, staring into his eyes.  "Who do I look like?  I'm Lavelle's younger brother."  He sneered and Zucko let out a small whimper.  "Now, I just shot the person trying for the twenty-seventh, I got him in the arm.  He held it and yelped.  He spilled a good bit of blood.  It would be his left upper arm.  Got it?"  He nodded quickly.  "Good.  You can have whoever tip me, Constable Turnbull, Inspector Thatcher, or Inspectors Kowalski or Vecchio.  Got it?"  He nodded again.  "Wonderful."  He released him.  "Thank you kindly."

"Not Fraser?" he gasped, rubbing his throat.

"I have issues with Constable Fraser that will have to be worked out among us.  Though no one had better touch Diefenbaker.  Lotus Goemon loves the little wolf."  He spun on his heel and walked out, smiling and nodding his head politely at the bouncer on the door.  "Thank you kindly."

"Welcome, Constable."  He looked him over.  "Which one are you?"

"Harris.  I'm in on special assignment about these horrible shootings.  Have you heard anything by chance?"

"No, Constable.  I haven't heard a thing," he offered. "If I do, who should I call?"

"Inspectors Vecchio and Kowalski are working with their former teammates and myself, Inspector Thatcher, and Constable Turnbull can be reached at the consulate.  I do believe Constable Fraser is taking a short vacation at the moment.  Something about Lotus Goemon wanting to steal his partner Diefenbaker."

"Which one is she?"

"Lotus?  Goemon's only daughter.  Just younger than the Fourteenth by a year.  Very powerful and very good, but a bit on the sweet side now and then, until you piss her off, then she becomes her father."  The bouncer chuckled at that.  "Thank you kindly."

"You're welcome.  Nice shot by the way."

Xander smirked.  "I'm compared to Lavelle's younger brother quite a lot."  He walked up the street, going to talk to someone else, a Crypt he knew hung up at the local corner.  "Good day."

"Constable," he said lazily, smirking at him.  "What's up?"

"I shot a man shooting at the twenty-seventh in the upper left arm.  I'd like to be notified if he goes to a street doc."

"Of course.  You or the cops?"  He nodded.  "That's fine.  Thanks, man."

"Welcome.  Just please keep it down while I'm here," he said, shaking his hand, getting a laugh so he smirked in return.  "Tell me, is Zucko causing you many problems?"

"Not that many.  He's an old schooler, but he doesn't give respect like he should.  Others have complained and Warfield don't like him."

"Yay, I don't like either of them," Xander offered.  "They're a blight on the face of civil Chicago society.  Do you suppose they could be convinced to leave the city?"

"If anyone can, it'd be someone with some balls and some manners," he offered gently.  "Go for it, man, we'll cheer.  I'll even get my boys pom poms for ya."

"Thanks."  He punched fists with him then walked on, going to alert others that he may have a quiet solution already.  He got back to the precinct a few hours later and nodded politely at Stanley, who was sipping coffee and still had his sunglasses on.  "Did Dawn do a soul restoration on you yet?" he joked gently.

"Yeah, but it ain't worked yet," he complained, taking another sip.  "Way too much beer last night to forget her."

Xander leaned down.  "Remember, you have someone better who loves every part of you, even the geeky parts."  Stan smirked at that.  "Have you called her yet?"  He nodded.  "Good boy, Inspector.  I did get the word out that he may be found among the street docs.  The Crypts have been most helpful to me recently.  They promised to cheerlead if I could make some unmannerly people change their ways or their vocations, or possibly their addresses."

"That's a nightmare image," Stanley complained.  "Those guys in cheerleader costumes.  Like in the Nirvana video."

Xander smirked.  "Good point.  Think we could talk Lupin the Fourth into wearing one of those to her next convention?"

"Maybe," he agreed dryly.  "It'd suit her.  She is a pimple on the buttcheek of the world."

"I'll tell her you said that the next time I run into her," he said sweetly, heading into the office.  "Lieutenant," he said, saluting him.  "I've taken the liberty of talking to some people who can get word among the underground medical community.  I did give a brief description of the injury so as to aid finding him."

"Well done, Constable.  Word has also reached us that you went to visit Frankie Zucko?"

"Well, yes, sir, he would know some of the underground medical community since some of them do treat his people.  I thought it only logical.  Besides, it's always good to make new friends," he said with a small grin.  "I didn't think my comparison to his brother would bother anyone."

"He has a brother?"

"He does.  He's just younger than Sylvia, has dark hair, and likes to wear outrageous clothes, like Hawaiian shirts and really loose jeans.  Pisses his brother off big time when he does that."

"I see."  He smirked at him.  "Interesting.  Thank you for telling me about that when asked."

"You're welcome.  I didn't think anyone here would mind either."

"No, no, we're a pretty tolerant bunch.  You being the brother of a gunman works for us."

"I figured someone might notice the name."

"Yeah, someone did.  Called Vecchio, who referred it back to Kowalski, who said that you'd explain."

"It's a family thing," he said happily.  "We're all good shots, just look at Sylvia."

"I wasn't thinking of her, but she is supposedly very good at shooting things as well.  Just like her daughter is.  How is Melissa anyway?"

"Haven't heard from her today.  Why?  Was she injured during her heist last night?"

"Minor graze from a bodyguard, but she basically killed his future by ruining his pretty face with her studded gloves."

"Hmm, the electronics must be broken in those again.  Usually they're used to send electro pulses through something to disrupt it, like cameras and computers."

Welsh stared at him.  "Interesting.  How did she dream that up?"

He smirked.  "Her mother and uncle have hired someone to create gadgets for them, help turn their own inventions into practical reality, and they also occasionally go copy plans from people who make those neat things.  That one is one of her mother's inventions that he helped do the plans for."

"Very interesting.  Huh."  He looked impressed.  "Can you maybe declare Chicago to be a city safe from those kids someday soon?"

Xander smirked.  "It's not like there's much here for them, Lieutenant.  The younger group is more jewels, artwork, and proof jobs at the moment."

"Fine, I'll let others know.  Just ask Lupin the Fourth, okay?"

"Sure.  I'll email her later," he agreed dryly.  He smiled at the detective leaning in.  "Yes, Detective?  Is there news?"

"The shooter was seen at one of the local fixing people's places but he escaped before anyone could get to him.  They reported that his injury was severe and he'd have to go to ground for a few days, just to rest."

"Even better. It gives us time to set up ways to find him faster, before he can take his next shot," Xander decided.  "Thank you kindly."

"You're welcome, Constable.  Um," he said, walking in and shutting the door.  "Who are you?"

"Constable Harris."

"I know that.  You look really familiar."

"He's Lavelle's little brother," Welsh said dryly.  "He should if you do your homework on the ten most wanted lists."

"No wonder you work with Stanley and Ray," he said, getting it.  "I know they know Lavelle."

"Lavelle likes to go to the same conventions and Inspector Kowalski always does the proper thing by taping any and all conversations and meetings they have during it.  I believe Interpol has decided to build their knowledge base about the group since the second group is now active and they're short on inspectors at the moment."

"Do you work with them?"

"No, it would be rather awkward to chase after my brother, or my nieces and nephews."  The detective blanched.  "Melissa is the daughter of Sylvia, our sister, and Lavelle did have a great hand in raising the others.  Though most of the time I do find them rather amusing.  The girls get so frustrated when the older men in crime discount them due to their sex.  Then events like at the charity ball happen and Lupin the Fourth walks off cackling in glee."

"She's some thief," he congratulated.

"She is, and she also got very good marks at the Assassin's Academy, which is a school for the underworld in Italy.  Melissa and Goemon the Fourteenth took top honors with Lotus being right behind them by two points.  Lupin did get good marks, but about ten points below those two."

"So, the kid who was helping you is really smart too?" he asked.

Xander smirked and nodded.  "Definitely.  It's a favor situation.  We will need to deal with some of the underground elements and better to have him do it than Lupin the Fourth, who would piss them off for fun and games."  He winked at the Lieutenant.  "One of the Dons once asked her why she wasn't off playing and she said she was, she was playing with his head, and it was one of her favorite games during a general meeting."

The detective laughed and nodded.  "I can see that.  Can you maybe ask her to leave us alone here in Chicago?  We don't have the targets she'd like.  She's what, eighteen? She should be hitting LA and Hong Kong."

"She hates LA, it holds too many memories for her father, Lavelle, and Sylvia, and she's only sixteen, detective.  She's been doing the work since she was eight.  Then again, she has been to Hong Kong twice so far this year.  Once for a meeting and once for a job."

"Wow," he said.  "Sixteen?"  Xander nodded.  "They're just kids!"

"From what I heard, Lavelle and Lupin did try to hold the children back but Arsene's first job was to sneak off and do a gem show that was upstairs from a convention.  Inspector Kowalski was there at that convention and had to deal with the aftermath I believe."

"Don't remind me," Stanley called.  He walked into the office.  "Lupin the Fourth's still a kid, but she's a mean kid.  Then again she's also a very thoughtful kid.  She likes Ray's Ma so she goes to check on her now and then since she moved to Italy.  Ray's Ma knows who she is and all that, but she doesn't mind, calls her a thoughtful child since she reports back to Ray and fixes anything that she may need.  Someone was botherin' the family a few months back and Arsene came down like tha hand'a God on 'em for botherin' his Ma and the family.  Then she merrily skipped off for ice cream and a coke."

"From what I heard she called while she was having her sundae and told her it would be okay now and that those poor, unmannerly people would be leaving the family alone for good, or else.  Then she grinned and asked after the newest grandchild."

"How do you put up with them?" the detective asked Stanley.

"It's not hard.  They're neat and nice and kinda goofy, and it's real easy to like Lavelle and most of 'em.  Even Ishi, who's shot us in the past.  But they're really easy to like and comfortable to be around and then they'll do somethin' and go back ta bein' nice and easy and comfortable to be around.  Ishi said he understood why we were trying to capture the higher group the last time he shot us and then grinned and pointed out that at least he's a good shot.  He only wounded us in ways that'd make us ache in a few years."

"They've got plans to help Zenigata retire too," Xander said dryly.  "They're going to throw him a massive party, and then make sure he gets to really stay home for a bit."

"Those kids are dangerous," the other detective complained.

"Yes and no," Xander told him.  "Yes, they are dangerous when they want to be.  Most of the time they don't want to be unless they're actively working on a job.  The rest of the time they're neat little rich kids with odd hobbies who like to flirt, tease, go clubbing, go to comic conventions, and do a lot of traveling."

"The same as Lavelle is," Stanley agreed dryly, frowning at the constable.  "So, how was Zucko?"

"Most cooperative once I showed him a good reason to be," he noted dryly.  "Me being who I am did wonders for his desire to help us in this time.  Then again, he may be joining nearly everyone else in taking a sudden vacation."

"Not that we'd mind," Stanley said dryly, "but what did you go to him for?"

"To get the word out for the underground medical community.  From the information I've gathered so far, he is known to use them almost exclusively for his men, so therefore he would know some of them."

Stanley grunted at that.  "Fine, just be your mannerly self and it'll be fine."

"I believe he may have gotten the impression that I was my brother, but we all can see I don't have silver hair."

"What caused that?" Welsh asked.

"Unholy radiation," Xander said dryly, staring him down.  "Inspector Kowalski knows all about it, sir, but I'm not allowed to divulge that information."

"I sweat ta God, don't make me explain that stuff ta them," he complained.

"What stuff?" the other detective asked.

"Lavelle's been known to hunt the....um, non-human community now and then," Xander said carefully.  "The silver hair is due to one of them who hurt him."

"Ah.  I don't believe in that stuff."

"Neither did I but God that's a bad thought," he said suddenly, looking at Xander.  They were usually on the same wavelength.  Xander stared back and shook his head.  "Not a possibility?"

"No.  Sorry. I don't have the local contacts for that outside of that one place and I doubt they'd like to help since he's always hitting in the daylight."

"Point," Stanley agreed, frowning a bit.  "Still....  Maybe they can track him from the doc?"

"I'll have my protege put it around tonight to see if they will."

"Thank you, Constable," Welsh said.  "What's your first name?"


"All right, Al, thank you," he repeated, looking up at him.  He just got a goofy grin in response.  "You should probably check in with Thatcher."

"I'm checking in once each day, at the close of business.  I'm providing a taped report of my duties and my actions during the day so she can upload them into a very nice file for our superiors.  That way she's got a chronological account of what's happened this time and no one can fault her for loopholes and the like."

"Wow, you're really efficient," the other detective offered.  "Just hand her the tape?"

"Yes, it's easier.  Yesterday, after the meetings and briefing Inspector Vecchio, I handed the tape to Constable Turnbull because it was rather late."  He nodded politely, having seen Ishi coming up the stairs.  "If you'll excuse me for a moment."  He walked out there, going to talk to his Godson.  "Anything good come of your morning?"

"Quite, including having remind people that you're his *brother* since Frank Zucko appeared to lose his mind slightly and get you two confused."  He arched an eyebrow up.  "By the way, he's desiring a meeting with Inspector Vecchio.  I told him if he did, I'd be there and that upset him greatly.  Then again, he's presently praying heavily in the church of his choice."  He handed over his notes.  "I'd say it's the second place on the list.  He's sold more than a box of the bullets.  "I'd also say that Warfield probably had a clue since he owns the shop through a cousin.  He's still in town but he did allow most everyone to leave if they were scared.  By the way, a great many of his people were caught in Miami at the airport and he's quite rightly blaming you and Inspector Vecchio for that maneuver.  He said it was unsporting of you."

"Yay," Xander said dryly, reading over the notes.  "What about this last place?"

"Closed, very closed, but not out of business closed.  They still have stock and everything inside but the locals hanging out on the street say the guy's been sick for about a month and it's only him running the business.  I'm going to stop in on him later this afternoon as a courtesy and ask him some delicate questions about who might have bought this particular brand of bullets and if anyone had access to his stock and keys while he was ill."  Xander nodded at that, grinning at him.  "Also, Melissa said to tell you she's fine.  Her arm was just a scratch.  Yes, she broke the wiring in the gloves when she hit him.  She said dad's got to upgrade the wiring in them but she might let the elder Lupin handle that now and then."  He pulled him closer. "Speaking of, Lupin the Second is dead, right?"  Xander nodded quickly. "You're sure?  Absolutely positive?"  He nodded again.  "Then why did I see someone who looked just like him in the park?  He even gave me a startled look when he saw me."

"Could it have been the Third in disguise?"

"No, too many old person characteristics.  The slump in the shoulders, the small curve of the spine, the wrong walk, and it wasn't quite that close to him.  It looked like the painting of his father, only aged forty years."

"I don't know.  He'd have to be about a hundred if it was him."  He considered it.  "Consider it a secondary target, Ishi, and figure that out."

"Yes, Constable."  He smirked at him.  "So, uncle...."

"You know very well you can call me Al.  We might as well be related."

"Fine, Uncle Al.  Anything else I can do today?  I saw the hottest little club for tonight."

"Go, have fun, enjoy being seventeen.  Thank you, Ishi."

"Welcome."  He turned and trotted off, going to do a bit of minor shopping and ask around about that old guy.  It was going to bother him until he did.

Xander walked back into the office.  "There's a bit of new news.  Ishi just showed back up.  He thinks it's the second store in his notes, but the last one has an ill and absent owner so he was going to question him later to see if anyone's had access to the store."  He handed it over.  "It's also owned by one of Warfield's cousins.  How did that man get out of jail?"

"Technicality.  He appealed and got the major things overturned," Stanley said bitterly.  "People down in Organized Crime are waiting and salivating for him to mess up again."  He looked at him.  "Why did Melissa hit the idiot when she had on those shock gloves?"

"I don't know but Ishi said she said that she broke the wiring.  That she's giving them to the elder Lupin to fix this time."

Stanley snorted.  "Wonderful."  He rolled his eyes and looked up.  "Why me?"

"Because they like you, Inspector.  Think about how short your life would have been without them."

"Point," he admitted dryly.

"Huh?" Welsh asked, looking confused.  "He does what?"

"Lavelle's got this thing about cops he respects," Stanley told him.  "Ray and I are cops he respects because of how we do the job.  Myron's another one.  There's a tech in Miami who gets the same respect too."  He shrugged.  "So he watches out for us if things start to go really bad.  My sixth week over there and there's a knock on the apartment door.  Open it and it's this scuzzy serial killer we've been chasing around Paris for a few weeks.  Nasty troll of a guy who don't walk upright part of the time.  Real thrill killer with extra fun sort."  The lieutenant shudders.  "So he knocks on the door, points a gun in my face, and says 'back up'.  Now, Ray's not home yet...."

"You guys shared a spot?"

"Yeah, nice place.  Way cheaper than it was here ta live.   Anyway, it's me and Diefenbaker at home at the moment.  I came home early with a blinding headache.  This guy's pushing me into the apartment and giving me this look like I'm going to be his next bit'a fun.  The freak.  Anyway, he walks me inside, starts to taunt me like.  The next thing I know, Ray and our SWAT team are bustin' in the door.  Lavelle called Ray to tell him that he saw the guy going into our place.  Six weeks later, Ray's trapped in a shootout with a violent drug gang.  Someone takes out the sniper from across the rooftops."

"That wasn't Lavelle," Xander told him simply.

"Who was it?"


"Oh.  Well, tell him Ray said thanks anyway."

"He knew."  He smirked and winked at him.  Then looked at the lieutenant.  "There's not many cops that Lavelle respects for the way they do the job.  These two are some of his favorites because they're still trying to do more than kill him.  They're actually building a plan to capture him.  They're thinking instead of just reacting with a gun."

"I'll remember that," Welsh offered.  "Does your brother bug their place too?"

"All the time," Stanley said dryly, hitting Xander on the arm. "Where's the newest one?"

"I believe he had me drop one into the couch cushions the day I joined you."

"Before that one."

"Um, I don't remember," he said, his face scrunching up.  "Um....oh, painting."

"Painting?  That textural thing?"  Xander nodded.  Stanley hit himself on the head.  "Thanks, Al."

"Welcome, Stan."  Stanley hit him again on the arm.  "Ow!  You're a mean bastard today.  I'm going to go lock the minibar on you."

"No horseplay in uniform," Thatcher said from behind them.

"Sorry, ma'am.  He's very easy to like and I forgot myself."

"That's fine."  She walked in and handed Welsh his copy of the tape.  "Here, his daily reports."

"He said he was handing them over around the close of business every day."

"It's quite handy," she agreed, looking at her temporary employee.  "It's also quite nice that he did not inform us of who his brother was."  She glared at him.  "I had to find out through someone talking to Constable Turnbull?"

"Sorry, Inspector, I thought you would have been told."

"No, I hadn't, but that's fine.  I can deal with that.  Constable Turnbull took this message from a street snitch for you."  She handed over the folded paper.  "Why are they tipping us?"

"Because you're probably going to be shot at more often, Inspector.  This appears to deal with the precincts Inspector Kowalski was formerly stationed."  Stanley gaped at him.  "The seventeenth.  The second.  The eighth?"

"All my former posts.  Which means that the fourteenth would be in there somewhere, I was undercover through them," he said thoughtfully.  "What about Ray?"

"He basically only served here," Welsh admitted.  "He did a short stint at the second if I remember right and the, um, nineteenth if I remember correctly did his first detective year."

"So unless he breaks that pattern and heads for somewhere other than one of those two, we'll be able to see which detective he's after and then go from there as another method to reach who it was," Xander offered.  "By the way, Inspector, in my daily report today will be a set of notes about where the bullets likely came from."

"That's fine.  You're very methodical."

"It's not what I usually do but I have had to investigate in the past," he offered with a small grin.  "It's a nice change from the usual."

"Excellent.  Then I'll want daily updates just as methodically approached at the close of business each day.  As I walk out the door is fine, or to Turnbull if you're running a bit late.  Did you need any more help?"

"No, Inspector.  How is Constable Turnbull?  Did his morning guard session go all right?"

"Just fine and we did provide him with a slightly bigger jacket to hide the vest.  It's very nice.  Where did you get it?"

"Japan.  It's a new alloy they're putting on tanks.  It's already stopped seven bullets coming for me personally."

"I see.  Quite nice.  Also, Turnbull said you had seen the new embassy in Japan?"

"I have.  They've just finished and I took the tour with a few other people.  It's got very pretty grounds.  I suggested Turnbull would find it lovely if he wanted to do a temporary change of location for a few weeks.  Their top people are on maternity leave."

"I hadn't heard.  If he desires, I can lend them Turnbull for a few weeks I suppose.  Cherry trees?"

"Were in blossom right when it opened but by now the maples are starting to get very leafy.  It's got a wonderful set of grounds to walk on, nearly parklike.  Reminded me a lot of the manor in Vancouver that my brother owns."

"Ah.   I see.  Then I'll think about offering them Turnbull for a few weeks.  Thank you."

"Sometimes a change is as good as a vacation for the soul," he said with a slight grin.  "Makes you appreciate what you have at home."

"All too true," Stanley agreed.  "It was amazing, I turned on the tv and there were sports everywhere."

Thatcher smirked at him.  "Don't get much beyond soccer in Paris, Inspector?"

"Not really, and that's pretty spotty most'a the time."  He scratched the back of his head and yawned.  "Sorry, long night."

"Not a problem.  Working on this joint problem as quickly as possible is of benefit to all parties involved."  She nodded.  "I'll listen, copy, then send over the copy," she told Welsh.

"That's fine.  I'm getting verbal updates by the hour with him being here most of the time."

"That's fine.  Thank you, lieutenant.  Constable, Inspector," she said with a nod, getting a salute from one and a grin from the other.  She headed out, going back to her car and the consulate.  She found Fraser standing duty and his jacket was properly covering the vest.  "Good job, Constable.  I can't tell that you're wearing it."  She walked inside and looked at Turnbull.  "Did you want to visit Japan?"

"I wouldn't mind, Inspector, if they needed me.  I'd hate to be a bother."

"No, quite a few foreign posts get requests like this so their people can get working vacations.  We don't because we're here, but I know Paris and London do."  She went to call that consulate, asking them if they needed help.  It would be good for Turnbull, he might find a bit more polish and culture among another set of peoples.  Plus having another Inspector drill him rigorously in protocol would also help him.


Ishi found the man he was looking for back in that same park and sat beside him, looking in the same direction.  "So, how did you supposedly die again?"

"Who are you?  You look familiar."

"I'm Goemon Ishikawa the Fourteenth.  I work with Lupin the Fourth."  The old man looked at him. "Who is a girl," he admitted with a shy grin, looking over at him.  "I trained under Lupin the Third and his crew, along with my father."

"I see."  He looked the young man over.  "You do look a good bit like your father."

"I do," he agreed, "but my sister looks even more like him when she scowls.  I can't properly scowl."  The old man laughed, coughing a bit.  Ishi patted him on the back.  "Your son thinks you're dead."

"I know.  I wanted it that way.  I found a reason to leave the life, though she's left me now."  He looked at his hands, then at the young man.  "You know how to contact him?"

"I do.  I have his cellphone on speeddial.  He's one of my favorite uncles.  Helped give me my first bath and everything."  The old man smiled at that.  "You should see your granddaugther, sir.  She is a pisser."

"I have no doubt.  A girl carrying the name though?"

"The will said he had to have an heir, not that it had to be male.  So he had her come into being and then he was given full custody of her due to the mother's family getting upset at who the father was."

"Ah.  I've seen that in the past.  We used to send those kids to orphanages in my day."  He stood up.  "Come home with me."

"Sure."  He took the older man's arm, walking him off since he looked so unsteady.  He drove them back to the apartment, helping the older man inside and up the stairs.  Once up there he hitched the speaker he carried to the house phone and dialed the number from his cell.  "Uncle Lupin?" he asked.

"Nah, it's me, Ishi," Jigen said fondly.  "You okay?"

"Just fine, but there's someone here who needs to speak to him.  How's Melissa's arm?"

"Fine.  Isn't it?"

"Slight graze.  Oh, and she broke the electro gloves.  Tell Uncle Lupin he'll probably be getting them to fix this time."

"Sure.  Hey, Lupin!" Jigen yelled.  "Phone!  It's Ishi.  Call later, Ishi, just to check in."

"Yes, sir."

"Ishi?" Lupin asked.

"No, young man, I am not," his father said firmly.


"Yes, son, it's me."

"But...but...but you're dead!"

"No, son, I found a reason to move on," he said simply.

"Oh.  Okay.  Where are you?"


"Trace the number, Uncle, I'm on his house phone," Ishi said patiently. "We're in Chicago."

"I'm out in Deerfield.  We'll be in tonight.  Address, Ishi?"

Ishi looked at him and the old man smirked.  "He said I can't, uncle.  You have to find him."

"Fine.  Let me start the trace."  The old man hung up.

Ishi giggled.  "You're just like him sometimes."

"I'd hope my son had better qualities than I did.  It took a good woman to make me right in the head and the heart."

"He's got some good people around him and the rest is a really long story he'll have to tell.  I was too young for part of it."

"That's fine.  He'll be here when?"

"Probably within three hours.  Need me to take you shopping?"

"Sure.  I could always use some beer."


Jigen and Goemon both stiffened when Lupin said 'dad', looking at each other.  Jigen pulled out the car keys and headed outside to warm up the car, while Goemon went to pack him a few snacks, just in case it was a longer trip.  Lupin came out of the office and Goemon handed the bag over.  "For your lunch."

Lupin looked confused for a minute.  "Thanks, Goemon.  Um, Jigen?"

"The car's getting warmed up for you."

"Even better."  He walked that way, no longer stomping.  It was the little things that showed you care.  He opened the door and Jigen got out, handing him his spare pack of cigarettes.  "Thanks, man.  I'll need 'em."  He got in to drive, taking off once the door was closed.  This was just too odd.  Really weird.  This was Lavelle and Xander weird.  Hell, this was worse than Sylvia weird.  Or even Imperial Dragon weird.  He had no idea what was going on but he was freaking out mentally.  He lit the first cigarette and took a heavy hit off it, calming himself down.  Ishi was with him.  The old man wouldn't leave before he got some answers.


Xander looked up as Stanley leaned over the desk he was using and whispered in his ear.  He nodded and looked up.  "It seems his father's in town and has been for a while now.  Unknown to the son."

"Really?  He'd be what?  Dumbledore's age?"

"Not quite. Probably in his nineties.  Ishi found him earlier this morning and asked me about him.  I gave him permission to look into the matter and then tell the son."

"That's fine.  He won't cause no trouble, right?"

"Not a bit.  He'll be too freaked by this to want to."

"Good.  We don't need more trouble."  He went back to his report writing.  He still owed Zenigata about seven of them and that's what he was working on.  He heard heavy, but lightly tapping footsteps outside and leaned back.  "In here, Turnbull."  He walked in and smiled handing Xander a note with a short nod.  "You okay?"

"Yes, quite.  Constable Harris has suggested that the consulate in Japan could use a temporary guard and I was most delighted to be told it hadn't been filled.  So I'll be heading over there for the next three weeks starting tomorrow night.  It's most exciting."

"It is," Xander agreed, grinning at him.  "I'll take you to the bookstore later to help you find a good dictionary and to tell you where to go shopping on the maps we'll find."  Turnbull smiled at that. "You'll have fun.  I always do."

"You go for the comic convention that they won't let you cosplay at," Stanley said dryly.

"Yeah, and for the comic and anime companies and the artist's convention and a few other things," he said dryly.  "Including some of my training."

"You speak Japanese?"

"I do, fluently, though I did have to take lessons from a street tough in Tokyo to learn how to swear properly.  My teacher was most upset that I was too polite."  Stanley gave him a look so he said what he once did that made Jigen have a headache: it is tough eliminating from the body.   Stanley snickered.  "That made him take me to find someone to teach me how to say it properly."

"What did you just say?" Detective Huey asked.

"The very polite version of ...."  Turnbull coughed so he leaned over to whisper what he had said, making him crack up.  "Hence me taking lessons in proper swearing.  As an associate once remarked, each city's got its own way of saying bugger off."

Turnbull was blushing but he was chuckling as well. "I'll remember that, constable.  When's a good time for you?"

"Um, after your shift is fine.  Inspector Kowalski?"

"Not a thing tonight unless that note's better info."

Xander opened it to look at it, then smirked.  "No, just another version of what you told me."  He looked at Turnbull.  "His father's here, he thought he was dead."

"Ah.  I had wondered."  He smiled at him.  "Then tonight?  After shift?"

"That's fine," he agreed.  "I can even help you make reservations at a decent place if you're not staying at the embassy itself."

"That would be nice, thank you, Constable."  He nodded politely.  "I'll see you then.  I'd best get back.  Constable Fraser should be about ready to go to lunch and I've got guard duty this afternoon."  He hurried off, heading back to the consulate.

Stan looked at him.  "He's a nice guy."

"He is," Xander agreed.  "Very eager, very smart but hiding it very well, and very nice. He'll go far with the way he can play the bureaucratic game."

"He can?" Huey asked.  "Turnbull?"

"Yes, Turnbull.  He's not the simple little guy you guys expect.  He's actually quite intelligent about security systems.  Asked me all sorts of technical questions when we were putting the new ones on the consulate."  He smiled at him.  "He's also young, so therefore not expected to be an expert at anything yet.  This is only his second or third posting."

"Why did he get banished here?" Stanley asked.  "It seems like Canada uses this one like the Feds use Iowa and Idaho."

"I'm not sure, but I'm sure it was nothing more than a social gaffe.  He's from a good family, and he's got excellent manners, but I'm not sure."  He shrugged.  "He likes it here."

"He does," Stan agreed.  "He's made it his home."  He looked at Huey, then at Xander.  "Go question that perp for him.  He's bein' stubborn."

"Of course.  Which room?" he asked the detective.  He got up and led him to the room where his prisoner was stewing in the heat.  "Oh, dear, air conditioning out?" he asked as he walked inside.  He took off his hat, running his hands through his hair.  "Hello, Constable Albert Harris," he said with a fond smile.


"Yes, Harris.  I'm sure you know someone with that name?  Perhaps someone a bit more famous than most of the thugs you deal with?"

"You know Sylvia?"

"I'm her little brother."  He smiled coldly.  "As you can see, I am a Mountie, and I am on special assignment, but they did want to know if you would talk to me instead of Detective Huey.  Would you be so kind?"

"No," he snorted, turning his head away.  Xander grabbed his chin and forced his face back around.  "Hey!  You can't torture me!"

"Am I?"  He smiled sweetly and the man started to sweat.  "While my brother did teach me all about what he does, and what Sylvia does when she's not being the mother figure to Lupin the Fourth and her crew, it's not really the Mountie way, sir."  He added pressure to the pressure point under his thumb, making the man gag.  "Oh, terribly sorry.  I know that reflex is terribly strong in some people."  He backed off.  "Now then, what are you in here for?"

"What brother?"

"You didn't know Sylvia and Lavelle are siblings?  Which makes them my siblings?" he asked gently, smirking at him, quirking an eyebrow up ever so subtly.

"Oh, shit," he sighed, shaking his head.  "You're *that* Mountie?"  He nodded, smiling heartily now.  "Yeah, well, the guy you want is on West Racine somewhere.  He's mad at you guys for corrupting the uncorruptable."

"Interesting.  I had wondered about his motives.  Do you know a name perhaps?"

"No.  Sorry, all I know is that he's on West Racine somewhere and that he liked Constable Fraser, looked up to the guy before he left for Interpol."

"I see.  Thank you kindly.  Now about why you're in here?"

"Cut me a deal?"

"That would be up to Detective Huey."  They both looked at him and he smirked.

"That depends on what you tell us.  You know that."

"Yeah, sure, fine.  Whatcha wanna know?" he sighed, putting his feet up.  "I've got all day but I'm sure you're needin' ta get back to being a jack booted thug."

"No I think you'll find that's motorcycle cops.  That's their sort of boots.  Most detectives wear dress shoes that they don't want to get dirty," Xander corrected gently.  "His are nicely polished and of very good leather with weak laces."  The crook looked, then looked at him.  "Therefore detectives can't really do the 'kicking in doors' things that they show on American tv.  It takes officer's shoes, or indeed Mountie boots to do so.  That's one of the reasons why we wear boots, beyond the snow that is."  The crook looked at his and swallowed.  "I see you've seen reason.  Detective Huey, did you need more help?"

"No, Constable, thank you," he said with a nice smile, shaking his hand.  "It's nice to have one of you around more often."

"Not a problem, I live to serve and protect."  He nodded.  "Good day, gentlemen."  He walked back to his desk, going back to his searching.  "Stanley?" he called quietly.  Stan came out of the office.  "He lives on West Racine and he had a mentor/hero worship feeling for a certain Constable."

"You're kidding," Welsh said flatly.  Xander shook his head.  "Said who?"

"Said the guy he just went in ta help Huey with," Stanley said dryly.  "Well, that narrows it down some.  Following in his footsteps too."  He grimaced.  "We need Ray."

"Should I go retrieve him?"

"Please.  Carry his big, heavy butt here if he's done complainin'."  He went back into the office.

Xander saluted the lieutenant. "I'll be back in approximately twenty-seven minutes should he be dressed, or thirty-eight should he need to change."  He walked out, pulling out the keys to his car and heading that way.  He let the valet take the car.  "I'll be right back," he offered, tipping him before heading inside.  The elevator ride was fast but not quite that fast.  He walked out of the elevator and found Ishi listening at the door.  "He having problems?"

"No, he's talking to someone."  He straightened up.  "I didn't want to interrupt."

"Unfortunately there's been a call for him to appear at the station," he said, tapping gently.  "Inspector."  The door opened after a few minutes.  "Ah, Inspector, Inspector Kowalski requests your presence now.  It appears this has more to do with another Constable than not."

"Huh?  Hold on, Maria.  What?" he asked, looking confused.

"The man held a certain Mountie in high regard before he traveled to Interpol."

"Oh, crap," he sighed.  "Yeah, let me put on a shirt."  He listened to his sister laugh.  "What?  I've been in the room all day.  This broken ankle business is killin' me."  He grinned.  "Love ya too, and I'll pop down sometime soon since I'm on leave.  Sure.  Kiss the babies for me but smack the husband."  He smiled.  "Later."  He hung up.  "Sorry, Tony refused to go fix the roof today but her oldest son did a good job."

"Excellent.  Carpentry is an honorable field and one that's usually easy to get into."  He smiled at him.  "I do know of a set of tools going to rust if you needed some."

"Nah, he's a smart kid.  I want him doing something with that instead of his hands. Something that won't make him upset at the day's end."

"I find that the completion rush once something you've built is finished is much more satisfying than the daily grind at any office," Ishi offered.

Ray looked at him.  "True," he admitted.  "But I still want him somewhere he won't get hurt."

"People shoot up offices all the time plus there's the stress," Ishi reminded him.

"Letting him do something he loves, even if it's menial or he doesn't do it well, makes up for all the negatives of most jobs," Xander told him.  "I had that with carpentry for a while.  Shall we?  Traffic's light so we'll make it back quickly."  He kissed Ishi on the side of the head.  "Thank you for helping your godfather earlier today.  I've been told he's already in town."

"They're in Deerfield if you need 'em," Ishi offered.  "I'm going to watch soaps."  He went into their suite and plopped down in front of the tv.

Ray came out shaking his head.  "Those girls have ruined him."

"Not really.  His father watches them now and then too.  It's almost the only thing on in the afternoons during nap time."  He waited while Ray locked his door then helped him down to the car, smiling at the valet and tipping him again.  "Thank you kindly."  He got Ray settled in and came around to drive, heading back to the station.  He slowly pulled in and looked around since there were so many officers outside.  "Problems?" he asked.

Ray looked.  "Smoke break before afternoon briefing."  He got out and let Xander help him inside, smiling at the cops who greeted him.  "Yeah, I'm back for a few more days," he offered.  "Just injured, again."  He hobbled up the stairs with help and his sister squealed, hugging him.  "Easy!" he complained.  "Maria's son just had ta fix the roof.  Tony wouldn't."

"Smack him for me," she said firmly.  "Constable, Thatcher is in the office."

"That's fine, we're heading that way anyway," he said with a slight smile for her.  "You can have him back in a minute."  He walked Ray that way, tapping gently before opening the door and helping Ray into a chair.  "There we are, one more Inspector."  He saluted his superior.  "Inspector Thatcher, new news?"

"Constable Fraser was taken from his post," she said calmly.  "Did you have a tracking device on that vest?"

"I do," he admitted. "It's down in the car.  Let me get that other case."  He headed down there, popping the trunk and pulling the weapons case out.  He relocked it and walked back inside, smiling and nodding at the cop who held the door for him.  "Thank you kindly," he called back, heading up the stairs.  Frannie gave him an odd look.  "What?"


"Weapons and electronics case," he told her.  "I never travel that lightly.  People depend on me that way."  He headed into the office and shut the door, putting the case on the floor and opening it up.  Stanley gaped at what was inside.  Xander found the monitor and pulled it out, handing it over.  "It's an older model so may have been found by a more modern detector," he offered. Stanley and Welsh continued to gape.  "What?  I've got permits, people.  They're not hard to get in the US."

"Put that on the desk, Constable, so we can all see," Welsh ordered.

Xander lifted it and released the front panel as well, opening the case up fully.  "It's my traveling case for weapons and electronics."

"Dear God, it's an arsenal," Thatcher said quietly.  "Everything but the sniper rifle."  Xander pulled out two trays and exposed the take-apart rifle.  "Never mind."

"Is that...specially made?" Ray asked.  "We could use that when we have to chase people around the world."

"No, I got it in Germany from an underground movement supply shop. They deal with terrorists and white supremacists and people who belong to 'ist' groups."  He found the card and handed it over.  "It's very handy and they can custom the interior for you.  I do assure you, I have permits for all of this."

"Including the explosive?" Stan asked.

Xander dug around in the top fabric compartment, coming out with his permits and handing them over.  "You can check.  If not, I'll gladly hand it over.  I can always make more," he noted.  He smiled at Thatcher.  "Sometimes I have to travel with a minimum of bags.  It's this, my briefcase, and my carryon with clothes."

"I see.  That's very handy...Constable."  She looked it over.  "Turnbull would go insane for that.  He likes spy gear apparently."

"He's quite good and he did drool a bit when I had to get the extra monitor out of here."

"Can you use all those?" Welsh asked.  Xander gave him a look.  "Never mind.  What're you carrying right this moment?"

"Hmm."  Xander started to unload. "My usual long distance carry," he said as he put it on the desk.  "Two spare clips," he offered as he put them onto the desk beside it.  "A knife, a specially blessed dagger, and ooh, a bobby pin," he said as he emptied the other pocket.  He patted down his chest, undoing his buttons to show off his new vest, and the small pockets sewn onto it.  "Money, cards, ID's, um, more spare bullets," he offered, putting those down next to the gun.  He patted his legs down and put the knife from inside his boot onto the table.  Then he checked his back waistband.  "There it is, my short distance carry."  He looked at the lieutenant and smiled. "They're well made but my short distance doesn't have the range to be one of the bad boys on the block, sir."

"At least you're honest about it," he said dryly. "Put that up.  You are allowed to carry concealed?"  Stanley nodded, waving that permit.  "Thank you.  Who gave you those?"

"Cleveland."  He put everything back, checking the money and the ID pouches.  "Have to refill that one," he noted, checking his wallet as well.  "That as well.  ATM?"

"Downstairs, by the front desk," Ray told him dryly.  Xander finished putting everything back and then headed down there.  He shook his head.  "Some days, he's like a little kid in a candy store."

Stan put the folder back and looked over the case.  "Two boxes of bullets, a revolver, I'm guessing for Jigen in case, seven automatics, a pound of C-4, a timer, a detonator cap, some wires, that rifle, a set of electronic's tools...."

"That's in case a gadget breaks down. Most practical applications in the field would need heavier cutters than those," Xander said as he walked back in.  "Out of order."  He closed the door.  "You know my field kit is a fanny pack, Stan."

"I do," he agreed dryly, going back to looking.  "A bypass switch with leads, a few batteries, a small scope," he checked it out the window, "high powered with night vision, and oooh, there's the spare comic book and pictures for when you've got to wait."  He let Xander put everything back in place and close it up again, putting it back onto the floor.  "How heavy is that?"

"Lightening spell," Xander said smugly.  "Five pounds. It's x-ray proof too."

"Smug bastard," Ray complained.  "So, they're after Fraser.  Anything on the monitor?"

Xander turned it on for Thatcher, getting an odd look but she did look.  "Looks like the docks."  He checked and nodded.  "Why?"

"That means they either took the vest off him and tossed it or the bug and tossed it," Xander told her.  He hit a few switches and smiled.  "They just found the bug.  So let's track the old fashioned way."  He called Ishi.  "Someone took your fun.  Know where?"  He wrote down the address.  "You're sure? Thanks, kid."  He handed it to Thatcher.  "They entered this building together and Fraser was not handcuffed, tied up, or otherwise being detained.  He was being pulled by the arm however and the gentleman with him did have a gun."

"Whose fun?" Welsh asked.

"That kid who's helpin' him is Geomon the Fourteenth," Stan told him.  "The one Benny tried ta kill with that bomb."

"There's a truce in place during this time," Thatcher told him.

"Then Ishi and I are heading out of the city," Xander told him.  "He can come back if he wants to hit him."

Ray snatched the address.  "That building's got six or seven entrances.  They could have used it as a gateway."

"Yes, but Diefenbaker can track him," Xander said dryly.  "All he needed was a place to start."

"Point," Stan agreed.  "Ray?"

"Here, not like I can move."

"Point.  Come on...constable."  He drug Xander off, taking the address back so he could drive them.  Though they did take Xander's car since it was nicer.  The stop at the consulate only took a moment, Diefenbaker was outside with Turnbull, who was back on guard duty.  Xander got out and opened the door, then nodded.  The wolf jumped in and settled into the back seat, waiting while Xander got back in and headed off.  The address was an old, rundown factory that they had solved a case in and Ray had been right, it had multiple entrances.  Diefenbaker hopped out and started to sniff.  "Find Fraser, Dief.  Some bad guy's got him and wants to brainwash him back to his old self."  Diefenbaker hurried off and Xander trotted after him, making Stanley jog to catch up.  Xander must work out a lot because he seemed to be doing his jogging effortlessly.  They caught up to the wolf, who was sniffing around.  "Lost him?"

"Car," Xander said, pointing at the tracks.  "Looks like they peeled out too."   He looked around.  "Diefenbaker, try the elevators," he ordered, pointing.  The wolf trotted that way and barked, pawing at the doors.  "I see."  He walked over and pushed the button.  "Once for Fraser, twice for the bad guy."  The wolf barked twice.  "Good deal."  The elevator came and they followed him onto the elevator.  Diefenbaker sniffed the buttons, then pawed at one so Xander pushed it, waving at Stanley.  "Track the car."  He waited impatiently while they rose, coming out in a nice office.  Diefenbaker tracked it right to the man on the right side of the desk, making him jump up and stare.  "Good day," he said calmly.  "I do believe that you're wanted back on Canadian soil to talk about how you kidnaped Constable Fraser."

"You can't prove anything"

"Actually, I can.  You see, wolves have highly developed senses of smell.  They're scent dogs in the wild.  Which this one was for most of his life."  The man blanched.  Xander turned and smiled.  "Mr.  Zucko, and Mr. Warfield, how nice to see you again."

"You as well," Warfield said.  "Do I know you?"

"Why yes, you do, you insulted my daughter the other day."  Then he hit him in the nose, making him yell.  Xander took off his hat, then his illusion choker, becoming Lavelle for a moment.  "Good day," he said with a gentle smile at the bodyguards.  "Do you think you'll win?"

"Shit, I knew it was him!" Zucko shouted, backing away.  "I knew it was him and not his brother!"

"No, honey, I'm an only child," he said dryly, glaring at him.  The man flinched.  "Diefenbaker, hold the nice kidnaper while I deal with these menaces to polite society?"  The wolf barked and growled at the man, making him back up.  Diefenbaker laid down, staring at him.  Xander looked from one to the other, then at the bodyguards.  "I'd leave," he ordered.  "This is not going to be pretty."

"Shoot him and the wolf!" Warfield yelled.

"Fat chance," Stanley said from behind the group.  "Hi, guys.  Oh, and Dennis.  Nice ta see ya."  The kidnaper shuddered, he remembered this one from when he was Fraser's super.  "He got the wound?"

"He's the one who took him this time.  I haven't ascertained if he's wounded yet or not. But that guy is bleeding in the right spot," he offered, pointing at a guard.

"So he is," Stan agreed.  "Put it down!  Now!"

"Make me," the man sneered.  "You're just one man."

Xander coughed.  "Two men, gentlemen, and one's better than you'll ever be."  He flicked his wrist and threw a knife, hitting him in the stomach.  "You were saying?"  He sneered at the rest. "I'd drop 'em, boys.  Think about how many weapons I've got on me."  Most of them dropped them.

"You're all dead!" Warfield ordered, standing up. His nose was still bleeding but he didn't care.  He would be stopping this. "How dare you come into my city...." he started.  Xander calmly hit him again, this time in the throat.

"It's not your city, it's Ray's city.  It's Stan's city.  It's Turnbull's city.  You're just fucked."  Then he grinned sweetly.  "That's right, that's what you'll be doing tonight.  I forgot all about that."  Both men blanched.  "Awww, did we not like the gay sex?  Pity, I find I enjoy the hell outta it every day and every night and most often every afternoon. Ishi?"  He walked in, slicing the few remaining guns.  Including Stan's.  He blushed and handed over his spare.  "Thanks, son."

"Welcome, mom."

"I thought he was Goemon's kid," Zucko said hoarsely.

"He is, I just helped raise him with my others.  You know, Lupin the Fourth, Melissa Jigen, who I had.  Those kids."  Zucko whimpered.  "That's right, you guys have been bested by one of the gayest of the gay and taken down by one of the gayest of the gay who'll be celebrating your capture tonight by being gay with a few good men up his ass.  How does that make you feel?" he asked dryly.  Zucko lunged and Lavelle caught him, tossing him onto the floor and stomping on his chest.  "What's wrong?  Didn't you like taking it up the ass from your cellmate?  You'd make a cute bitch. I'm sure they kept your old dress and apron."  Zucko moaned and shook his head.  Xander leaned down a bit. "Unless you want me to make sure that you're the bitch of the block, I'd confess and ask for a deal in those nice supermax's where you only see daylight one hour a day.  It's much safer for you after all."  He grinned the same grin at Warfield. "You as well.  Because your guards were only trying to defend you.  They can turn evidence easily and not even get probation."  His smirk got colder.  "Or I could have a word with someone about you, make sure you get a *nice* cellmate and all that," he offered coolly.   "Because you're interrupting my nap."

Ishi snickered.  "What's wrong, mom, missing the naptime sex?" he teased.

"Well, yeah, and I can't pick on Stan since he's married to Bix and I can't turn Ray to the darker side of lovin'.  So what's a lonely guy like me to do?  But turn Mountie and make the world safer for gay guys like me."

Warfield rushed him and Xander hit him in the chest, breaking his ribs and the center bone holding them in place.  "Ow, that's got to hurt," Ishi said with a wince.  He looked at the bodyguards.  "Since he just put you all under a death sentence, anyone wanna make Lavelle a happy boy in a non-gay way so he can get laid?  Or hey, in a gay way that way he'd be in a good mood later?"

"If you say one word, you'll be dead and your families will be dead too!" Zucko shouted.

"Not if you're in jail, princess," Ishi said with a smirk.  "So, do you enjoy it on your back or on your knees?  I've heard there's advantages to both positions but my women never say which one's better."

"Your dad would kill you if he thought you were a playboy," Stan said dryly.  "The same as he would when he finds out your sister is dating."

"Oh, she's done more than that and yes, Goemon did blow the top of his head off when he heard," Xander said dryly, pulling out some plastic cuffs to start working on people.  "Besides, Ishi's only got two lovers at the moment and they're both very nice young ladies who like to be made to howl."  He flipped Warfield over and cuffed him, watching as blood started to trickle out of his mouth.  He flipped him back over. "You know what they say about last minute confessions," he said dryly.  He looked at the last guy. "Where's Fraser? You're taking Ishi's fun."

"He's headed for the cemetery.  They're gonna make him dig himself a grave since he already had one professionally."

"Again, that would be my fun," Ishi said, heading out to deal with that.

Stan called it in, getting Welsh in dispatch fairly quickly.  He gave precise instructions. Including the cemetery.  There were only ten of them in town after all.


Welsh, Ray, and Huey found Fraser that night, still standing on the small, rocking piece of wood Ishi had placed him on while the noose was around his neck.  He had his eyes closed but he was breathing.  "You gonna jump now, Benny?" Ray asked bitterly.  "Make it all go away?"

"I should.  I fear he didn't put the knot in the right place so I'd suffocate instead of having an instantaneous death."  He looked at them.  "I'm sorry, Ray."

"The thought crosses every cop's mind at least once, Constable," Welsh said grimly.  "Lets get him down from there.  Now."  Huey walked closer carefully and untied the rope from the tree, then helped the constable down.  "I want a report on my desk about what you did to deserve this.  I do mean a full report.  If that kid comes back, I wanna know why. In detail."  He walked off.

Ray looked at him and shook his head. "You're damn lucky he stuck to the letter of the truce," he noted, hobbling off.

Huey walked Fraser off to his car, helping him into it and ignoring the fact that he was crying.  He had heard rumors and they were enough for him.  He wasn't sure he wouldn't have done the same thing under those circumstances, either that or Fraser snapped and went mental there for a bit.  He got around to drive them back to the precinct, letting Fraser proceed him, looking like he was in as much control as always.  He looked at Ray.  "You staying?"

"For a few days, until everything's wrapped up.  Then I promised Ma I'd visit."  Frannie pouted at that.  "If I could afford it, I'd send you too," he sighed, looking up at the ceiling.  Then at his sister.  "Why don't you plan ahead and get cheap tickets now?"

"Because my guy left me and I'm doing all my bills myself," she said bitterly, not looking at him.

"Ah."  He nodded.  "It happens to the best of us," he reminded her.  She looked up at him.  "If I can, Frannie."

"Thanks, Ray.  How's the newest baby?"

"Hell.  Colic."  She shuddered.  "With the runs on and off all the time."  She shuddered again, even harder. "Maybe you can trade places with Tony.  He doesn't seem to like it over there that much."  He hobbled into the office, going to hand in his brief report that he'd done on the way back in the car.  Laptops were nice things.  He noticed the case and frowned.  "He left the box."

"He was doing something with Turnbull tonight," Thatcher noted.  "How did he make them cry?"

"Taunted them about being the gayest of the gay and taking down such manly men," Stan said as he joined them.  He looked at the box, then at Ray.  "He's still in town."

"He was doing something with Turnbull later," Ray offered.  Stan shook his head and smiled, picking up the bag and heading back to his desk to pet it.  "We can't keep that. It's evidence."

"It's all legit.  Nothing of his is in here but the permits.  We'll talk to the boss on the way home.  Maybe we can.  Seizure laws and all that."

"There's no drugs in there," Ray complained.

Stan opened the bottom drawer, pulling out the small baggie.  "Tylenol 3's and I do believe you saw him with a vial of demerol?"

"Well, yeah," Ray admitted dryly.  "I guess that could count. Call Zenigata first though.  I don't need another butt chewin', it's already flat enough from sitting down for the last two weeks."  He sat down in his old desk chair, smiling at the comfort of it.  "Hey, it's the same one."

"We're too cheap to buy a new one," Welsh called. "I want better reports."

"Of course you do," Stanley agreed.  He flipped open his laptop, smiling at the message. "He said we could have it.  It's all generic stuff."

"Which he?" Thatcher asked.  "And where might he be?"

"Lavelle and the uniform's in your office, ready to be sent to the cleaners.  The final tape was handed to Turnbull when he picked him up, back in civy clothes, but he said he wanted to keep the hat and the boots."  He looked up and grinned.  "But he did say Ray and I could have the gear case if we wanted."

"I'm sorry, the hat and the boots are part of the uniform, he promised to hand it all back," she said firmly.  Stanley typed that in, getting a sigh and a 'fine'.  She looked and snorted.  "He really is a big kid some days."

"Yes, he is," Ray agreed dryly.

"You mean that *was* Lavelle?  The real Lavelle?" Huey demanded.  Everyone nodded.  "Why was he here?" Stan raised his hand.  "You asked him to?"

Stan looked at him.  "Hell yeah.  It had to do with the underground, which we're out of touch in.  Ray's injured in case you hadn't noticed."  He grinned.  "It was even my idea to have him be a Mountie so no one would question things."

"He's helped in the past when we needed it," Ray admitted.  "He likes us.  We're like fun and neat friends who do questionable work to him. He's the one who moved Ma to Italy and found her the best house he could when she said she wanted to and started to look around on her trip."  Frannie nodded at that.  "He even gave her a low interest mortgage for it," he admitted.  "It's like three percent."

"Does he run a bank here?" Frannie asked. "I could use that help to refinance."

Stan looked at the screen. "He said he can't, but to talk to the bank and tell them that he's left and the payments are too high with just your income.  They may be able to refinance if you've been a good customer."

"I'll do that tomorrow.  I've got to make another payment then anyway," she said bitterly.  She went back to work.  "So the kid?"

"Goemon the Fourteenth," Ray told her.  "Ishi."

"Fellow comic freak with me and Lavelle," Stan admitted.

Thatcher shook her head.  "I don't envy you trying to catch him. Or the younger set.  Lupin the Fourth was impressive close up when she visited to talk about the terms of the truce."

Ray grinned at her.  "He's listed as 'do not touch unless on a job'."

"Because he will shootcha harmlessly and then skip off and go for ice cream," Stan finished.  "Him, Ishi, Melissa, Arsene, and probably Lotus but she doesn't like to injure or kill since she's empathic and a Wiccan of some sort."

Thatcher shook her head.  "I'm very glad I'm not part of that task force."

"We get normal people too," Ray offered.  "When he's bored he likes to help by sending notes.  Helps keep our averages up.  Got us a commendation too."

"Yeah, and medals, and a reward since one had one on his head," Stan agreed dryly. "Helped paint the nursery and buy new furniture for it since what we found broke."  He looked at Ray.

"Not my fault I tripped on the wrinkle in the carpet and broke my ankle," he complained.

"No, probably not," he agreed dryly.  "Bix doesn't mind but she said she'll be fixing everything for the next one."

"You're having more than one?" Ray demanded. "How many are you planning?" Stan held up two fingers while typing with his other hand.  "Fine.  One'a each?"

"If possible.  Oh, this one's a daughter.  We're naming her Oroyo Rogue.  Whatcha think? He asked with a grin.

"Is she gonna be a stripper?" Frannie asked.

"We're hoping for a cop," he said dryly.

"You're naming her after comic book characters?" Ray demanded, groaning and holding his head.  "Hey, Welsh, can I borrow some aspirin?  He's namin' his kids after comic book characters."

"Hey, she's a fan too," Stan demanded. "She's always liked Storm."

"You're weird," Ray told him. "You both are.  I don't know why I live with you two because you're both so weird."

"So you'd never have to live alone?" Stan suggested.  "Besides, she won't let you cook unless she feels miserable."

"Yeah, I've got to break her of that habit too," he agreed grimly.  "That and walking behind me and turning lights off."

"Well, she's from a time and a place where they used candles mostly.  It must have saved them a lot of making them."

"Still.  She turned off the Bulls the last time we were there."

"I'll remind her not to touch the sacred sports games," Stan sighed, shaking his head.

"You're married?" Huey demanded.

Stan looked at him.  "You met her!  That barbecue at Ray's Ma's house?  Tiny little Japanese woman named Bix?  Her."

"Oh, I thought she was a new cop to your unit."

"No, she's Lupin's former nanny," Frannie said dryly.  "Ma loved her.  She was polite, she changed diapers, and she's a sweet girl."

"She is, and she can still kick my ass," Stan said dryly.  "Nag Ray, he's dating another cop in the unit too.  Emmajean's a nice girl from a long line'a cops."

"She is," Ray agreed, "we're still just dating though."

"Where might she be?" Huey asked.

"With Myron in Istanbul chasing after an assassin who likes to shoot people up the nose," Ray said dryly.

"Eww," Welsh said.

"Tell me about it," Stan muttered, finishing his report and handing it over once it was printed.  "Here, we've mastered the 'on the run' report from the airplane," he offered with a grin.

"Eh, it's only been ten countries this year for you and six for me," Ray reminded him.  "Not as bad as our first year."

"True.  Not that bad.  That year we did, what, twenty, each?" he asked Ray, who nodded.  "On separate cases.  Plus the Lupin chasing."

"Don't remind me," Ray ordered.  "Why does that man never stay in one place?"

"Because we'd have to build a harem for him to be satisfied and then Xander would kill you," Stan said dryly.  "Oh, he said Ishi's got two girlfriends and Lotus was found to be dating by her father, if not more.  Said he blew the top of his head off when he found her."

"I'm not surprised.  Goemon's a very strict and old fashioned father.  I'm surprised she's not married to him."

"Yeah, but the marriage clause ran out when they turned sixteen," Stan said smugly.  "Remember, Fred's just starting to notice girls as more than pillows and someone to steal from.  He'll have to have that same 'sixteen' lecture the girls and Ishi did.  Plus the others."

"I still think Yu may like boys," Ray offered dryly, finishing his report and checking it over before printing it.  "Someone toss that into the office for me."  He leaned back, looking at him.  "He seems to like to cuddle up to guys a lot."

"He does," Stan agreed, "but Goemon would throw fits.  We all know he'd throw fits."  His computer beeped and he let Thatcher read the message while he was chuckling. "He said Goemon's already sighing about it," he said between laughs, "and that Xander got him really drunk when he realized that about his son.  He has no idea how to talk to the kid about liking boys, so Xander's going to get to give the sex lecture to another set."

"He did good enough with Zenigata's kids," Ray offered. "Those cards are handy."

"They are."  Stan smirked at him.  "I can't wait until I get him ta give it ta my kid."

"If he's around that long."

Stan snorted.  "The guy might as well immortal.  He's been shot, stabbed, and beaten a few too many times.  Besides, he's already died twice and been brought back.  I'm not sure how many more he's got in him but I'm thinkin' my little girl'll be chasin' him in his old age."  He hit himself on the head.  "Oh, that bug's in that painting you like.  The new one's in the couch cushions."

"Wonderful.  We'll find them both when we get home."  He shook his head.  "Anyone wanna come catch him for us?"

"Hell no," Huey muttered.  "I like normal crooks, thank you."

"Me too," Welsh agreed dryly, looking at the reports.  "Kowalski, spelling mistakes abound."

"Sorry, sir.  Let me spell check it and do it again."

"Thank you.  How about you, Inspector?"

"No, I'd rather not.  I am rather worried about Turnbull."

"He's off duty, he's a nice guy," Stan assured her.  "He's probably found a neat new friend or possibly a boyfriend on the side if Turnbull swings that way.  I don't know if he does or not."

"I have no idea, I don't get that involved," she admitted.  She shook her head quickly. "I did not want that mental picture, Inspector."  Stan beamed.  "You're just as bad as he is."

"Sometimes, but I shoot people for better reasons."

"Except for the time you hadn't slept in two days and you pulled your gun on the coffee guy at the station," Ray taunted.

"Yeah, well, hell, I hadn't had chocolate, caffeine, or sleep in two days and no sex for six months.  What'd ya expect?"

"Now I'm doubly glad I didn't join Interpol," Huey noted, going to get his next person to process.

"I'm up to four now," Stan called after him, smirking at Thatcher.  "Ya think ya wanna help?"

"No, thank you. I like sleeping much too much to give it up most of the time.  Why?  Are you recruiting?"

"Yeah, always," Ray admitted. "We've got two open spots on our team.  Think Turnbull might like it?"

"You may ask him, but I'd doubt it," she said firmly.  She took her copies of the reports and headed back to her office to finish off that file and send it to her superiors in Ottawa.  They'd want to know and they could yell at Paris for aiding and abetting this ridiculous plan.


Xander looked across the table at Turnbull, then sipped his wine before glancing around.  "So, what sin did you commit to get moved here?" he asked quietly, taking a bite of his dinner.  The younger man blushed.  "I'm figuring someone noticed your thing with cleaning?" he teased and got a brighter blush.  "They didn't send you because of that, did they?"

"In a round-about way, they did," he admitted.  "I was cleaning at home when my superior came to my door demanding I come back and do an inventory of files that wasn't needed and wasn't required to find a single file he couldn't find.  I was dusting and in this fetching little apron with blue flowers when he burst into my apartment."

"Which is against the law," Xander noted.

"You should know," he said dryly, smirking at him. "Anyway it was deemed and reported that I had strange urges while in uniform so I got quietly sent to a foreign posting."

Xander snorted.  "Honey, liking to clean and protecting your uniform with an apron isn't that odd.  I've seen odd.  That's actually kind of endearing."  He smiled at him.  "You did look cute."

"Thank you.  I think that apron sets off my uniform beautifully as well," he joked back.  "You didn't have to get me to Japan you know."

"I did.  I hate to see talented people wasted and withering away."  He took another sip of his wine. "Besides, you're young, you should travel. It'll make you appreciate home and what you have more.  It always does me. I appreciate my bed very much when I've spent more than a few days in a hotel."  He swallowed a bigger gulp.  "Besides, if you like it, you might just come to Paris now and then to visit. I could use more normal friends."

"As could I," he agreed gently, smiling at him, "but to sleep with you would put my uniform in jeopardy and my commission out the window."

"Not really.  Half the time I'm not really me."

"I had noticed.  Is it true MPD or just disassociation these days?"

"Disassociation mostly.  Has been since I was tortured before I was found and taken as an apprentice.  You could be so much more, Renfield.  You could be one of the top Mounties.  Or tops in Interpol.  You'd do good working with Stan, Ray, and Gramps."

"Yes, but they have atrocious hours and duties.  Here, I dust, I guard, I do some mild paperwork and now and then I get other orders, like picking up the dry cleaning."  He smiled a bit. "It's not the best posting but probably one of the easiest.  I'm not in the Territories wandering around.  I'm not actively chasing people down a crowded street and risk having to shoot them or a bystander if they move wrong.  I'm not having to teach.  It's not what I joined for but I've become accustomed to it."

"Then consider this.  Zenigata needs good security people now and then for foreign dignitaries.  Their unit has to do it every three or four months since he's the top officer from Japan and Stan speaks the language nearly as good as I do.  The Canadians in Interpol are fairly weak and mostly on guns and drugs.  One's working on stolen people with one of the Brit cops, but he's a bit obsessed.  They need someone with your skills for that alone.  You could do that as a specialist, on special assignment to Interpol now and then."

"I could," he agreed.  "It would be about the same without the cleaning."

"You'd be surprised.  If Bix isn't in a cleaning mood, their office never gets cleaned," Xander said dryly.  "Plus, Zenigata wouldn't care if you came in wearing fishnet hose and heels with your uniform as long as you could do the work."

Renfield smiled.  "I only like aprons, and those heels always look so uncomfortable."

"They are," Xander agreed dryly, smirking at him.  "I speak from experience. They are.  They hurt you when you break them in too."  That got a small grin.  "You could do that.  It'd get you traveling every now and then.  The guy who trains teams for those assignments is a big blond guy, looks like Thor.  Six and a half foot tall but a gentle pussycat if you don't hurt what's his.  You and he, if you like guys, would be either great friends or great lovers.  He will be in Japan while you're there.  He's working on a diplomatic meeting in Britain with two of the Japanese diplomats.  They requested Zenigata because he does speak the language, even though they don't like him, and Ray and Stan because they're good.  They still need a fourth.  You're good.  I've seen your personnel file on the way over.  You scored nearly as high as I did on my last range test."  Renfield tipped his head at that. "You'll be right there while that's all going on.  I can introduce you to him and to Zenigata.  If you want."

"I wouldn't mind, but that seems like I'd owe you a favor."

Xander snorted. "Each year I do something good for someone else.  It's part of who I am," he said dryly.  "Lupin hates it.  Jigen hates it.  I don't care."  Renfield chuckled at that.  "Born needs a new friend.  People are scared of him because of his height and how big he is.  His last girlfriend couldn't get to the sex part because of how big he is.  She walked off crying and he spent that night drunk, and I picked him up not knowing who he was.  Besides, we never hit diplomats on the road.  Anything they have is easier stolen at home, where the originals are."  Renfield nodded that idea was probably true.  "So, can I?"

"You could," he agreed.  "As long as I won't owe you."

"Nah," he said with a grin and a wink.  "If I can't have you, I'd best turn you over to someone who should and would appreciate you in every meaning of the word.  By the way, you'll like Born.  He spent his first seven years at Interpol looking like the doorman.  He insulted someone because he, well, he's got a thing for, well...guys who are like bards to put it mildly.  He likes guys who can tell stories, can sing, will want to dance with him, and all that good stuff."

"I don't tell Inuit stories," he offered.

"I know and that was his only fascination with Fraser but even he said that you and Born would get along well."

"I see.  I'd like to meet him," he offered.  "I thank you, Lavelle."

"Xander.  I'm off duty."

"Fine, Xander then," he said with a small grin.  "You must be fascinating in bed."

"And out," he quipped with a grin.  "But you're a bit too good for my tastes.  I'd get you dirty."  Renfield nodded.  "Born, he likes 'em clean and neat and tidy.  With a taste for white boxer shorts for some reason."  Turnbull laughed at that, giggling unmanfully but it was so odd and so him.  "When you're over there, I'll drop by with him."  He winked and put down some money on the table.  "Take the rest to get you home.  I left the hat and the boots in the car since Thatcher said I couldn't keep 'em."  He winked and walked away.

Turnbull finished his excellent dinner, ordered dessert, and then paid the bill and headed home in a cab, only stopping to gather the hat and boots from the rental car.  He walked them into the consulate and put them with the rest of the uniform, then headed to his office for a nap.  He needed a nap before packing.


Xander walked up behind the big, dangerous man, smirking at him.  "Hey."

He looked around, then at him. "You'd better be a figment or invisible."

"No, but I've got a solution for a problem of yours."

"Going to give me a terrorist cell's home address?"

Xander looked at them, then at him.  "They're living in Brighton.  No, I've got a Mountie with extensive duty at the Canadian Consulate in Chicago here in Japan, who could use some traveling and is very nice.  With weapons skills nearly as good as mine and skills with alarm systems.  He helped me update their embassy there."


"Turnbull.  Renfield Turnbull.  He's on temporary assignment locally to get some travel in."  He leaned closer.  "You'll like him, Born.  You'll like him a lot.  If he wasn't so clean and neat and tidy, I'd have him begging and writhing under me.  Instead, I think I'll let you two meet.  He needs what you can offer him and he's more than nice enough for a big, sweet guy like you.  He's got a thing about cleaning in aprons."

"Really?  Is this the same Turnbull that Fraser introduced me to?"  He nodded.  "Well."  He grinned.  "Thank you.  The local embassy?"  Xander nodded again.  "Thank you for your good deeds, Lavelle.  Now, disappear before I remember I wear a badge."  Xander disappeared from that spot.  He shook his head.  "Figment, I knew it was."  He ignored the warmth remaining from the breath near his neck.  But he did shiver.  He had wanted to meet this Mountie for a while now.  He gathered up his things, making note that they were living in Brighton presently, going to pass that on as he walked out the door.  He headed as fast as he could to the embassy, smiling at the guard.  "Ah, Turnbull.  I'm Born Faigaen.  You'll be called inside in a few moments," he told the still and stiff door guard, looking him over.  He wasn't a small man but he was well-built and oooooh, he was still in a few meanings of the word.  He walked inside, smiling politely at the receptionist.  "Is the top Inspector in?  I'd like to borrow Turnbull myself."

"We'd all like to borrow Turnbull," she offered with a sly grin.  "He's in his office, let me call."  She called the head office.  "Sir, there's an officer from Interpol here who would like to borrow Turnbull for a bit. Yes, sir."  She hung up. "Let me go relieve him so you can walk him in there."  She walked outside, tapping Renfield on the shoulder.  "Needed in the office, sweetie."  He nodded and moved, letting her have his spot.  He even blushed when she looked him over.  "Pity."

He smiled.  "Not really."  He walked inside. "This way, Inspector."  He walked him into the office, tapping first of course.  He followed behind and went to parade rest.  "Inspector, this is the officer who wanted to see you and me."

"Thank you, Turnbull.  Sit.  I hate people being that stiff and formal in here."  He nodded and sat down properly, looking quite confident.  "What can I and Constable Turnbull do for you, Inspector?"

"I'm Born Faigaen from Interpol, Inspector. I handle the diplomatic entourages."  The older man looked impressed at that.  "It was recently dropped in our ear that Constable Turnbull has some skills we could use, including a slight desire to travel now and then.  I'd not want him permanently, but we do have a few diplomatic missions coming up where we need someone who can tread lightly but say mean things in public while smiling and seeming innocuous."

"Which he does very well," the inspector agreed dryly.  "He does socially polite very well.  We had a reception the night he got here and he fit right in, even though he was just coming off his plane and reporting for duty.  No one knew he was fatigued, had just been traveling, or was even not supposed to be here full-time."

"Excellent.  That's what we need, but we can also use his skills on the range and with alarms."  Turnbull blushed at that.  "I believe you know the one who told me?"

"Yes, I do."

"Does this have to do with why Ottawa said that Lavelle was impersonating one of us?"

"He was asked to come help protect Chicago's consulate from a deranged person shooting at us, Inspector," Turnbull said gently.  "He was working with Inspectors Kowalski and Vecchio from Interpol to stop this heinous act."

"I heard about him in the Mountie uniform.  Did he fit in?" Born asked.  Turnbull nodded, smiling a bit. "Except his slouch?"

"That and he was a bit impetuous at times," he offered.  "With more time to prepare I'm sure he could have mastered the calm civility we're known for."

"Maybe.  Lavelle like his action a bit too much.  Anyway, I do have an upcoming mission that is right up your alley if you'd care to participate?  It'll be in two weeks."

"I'm leaving then," he admitted. "On the 30th."

"Even better.  We're leaving on the 31st for Paris.  We need someone to travel with us, be part of the team in Paris, travel back here, then do a day of reporting before reporting back to duty.  If you can do this, we'd put you on as a special reserve member for such events.  We get four or five a year, usually about a week long, plus travel time now and then.  Since you're stationed in Chicago, we could use you in the US, or anytime we're going to Canada."

"It would be very good for your career, Turnbull," the Inspector offered.

"It would," he agreed.  "I'd love to, but I do have to point out I don't know Japanese."

"That's fine, Turnbull.  We all have our own advantages to the team.  You'll be paired with Zenigata, who is very experienced and is Japanese.  You'll have him, the two from Chicago he works with, and the ones he's training as a secondary line of defense.  Is that acceptable?"

"Quite," he agreed with a small grin.  "When should I come in for the briefing?"

"How about we do it tonight after work?  I'm backed up tomorrow with a new training class for retrieval situations.  By the way, you'll have to do a refresher course in that with me before we leave.  I'll try to get you into the one on Sunday."  He nodded at that, he did have that day off.  "Good.  When do you get off tonight?"

The Inspector coughed.  "For such an important event, I'll let him go now if he wants."

"I wouldn't mind, but I'd hate to leave you short," Turnbull said quietly.  "I'm here to help fill in for a gap."

"Turnbull, it's only two hours.  I'm not worried about it.  As a matter of fact, I was going to slip out early myself.  I have a hair appointment today."  Turnbull nodded at that.  "So you're free to go out tonight, though you might want to change first."

"I can take him to his hotel. Did you drive?" Born asked as he stood up and shook the Inspector's hand.

"I took one of those nice little bike taxi's actually.  I like them, they're very nice," he said, saluting his superior officer.  "I'll be back bright and early and on time in the morning, sir."  He got waved at so he left, following the giant man out to his car.  "He said he was going to introduce us."

"He told me the same," he admitted with a smile.  "He's a funny little guy sometimes, but I adore the little freak.  I'd love to see him reform and join our side."

"I could see him being a Mountie," Renfield teased.  "But he'd have to learn proper manners.  He was using his cellphone at the table to send text messages when we had dinner.  Wanted to keep the hat and the boots."  He got into the car indicated, smiling as he buckled up.  "This is nice."

"It's a rental.  I'm only in town for four days.  Then I've got to head back to Paris for a two-day event, then come back here for the sunday class."  He started the car with a yawn.  "Sorry, just got in earlier today."

"Not a problem.  Jetlag is horrible."  He shifted to look at him.  "Which diplomat?"

"The princess and her mother.  They're going to officially meet with some diplomats over there for a charity ball and to make a few new connections and then come back here.  The Princess must marry soon and there's a few very wealthy Japanese businessmen who are eligible but don't stay here all the time.  They're officially going to look at schools."

"Ah I see."  He smiled.  "It does happen at those levels.  Marriages are highly sought and carefully planned for public image and effectiveness."   Born grinned at him.  "So, he said you were also a very nice man."

"He said the same about you."  He pulled out of the parking lot and headed downtown. "Which hotel?"

"The Regent."  He nodded, heading that way.  "Where did you want to have dinner?  So I know how to dress?"

"Wherever you want would be fine.  Half the time I end up eating in Ramen shops and the other half I spend at diplomatic dinners."

"How about somewhere in between?  Say a nice, inexpensive sit down place with a good variety?"

"That sounds wonderful.  Does he have you bugged?"

"I'm not sure," he admitted.  "Possibly.  Then again it could be where he has vouched for me being one of the good guys to certain people in Chicago.  One of the Crypts came up to me recently and asked my opinion on baby names.  I was quite flustered but I did give him my suggestions, he wanted something musical that sounded nice.  I was quite alone in the park having lunch."  He shook his head.  "He was quite the nicest young man.  Very young to be a father but it happens sometimes I suppose."

"It sounds it," he agreed, pulling into the driveway.  "Go upstairs and change, I'll park and wait in the lobby."

"Come up instead of waiting.  I'm in room 1246."  He got out and headed up the stairs, smiling and nodding at the doorman.  "Thank you kindly."  He checked for any messages, taking that one and the package that had just been dropped for him according to the desk girl, and headed up the stairs.  He opened the package and found a wonderful outfit, including boxers, so put it on since it was pressed and so very good against his looks.  He looked at the note included and smiled as the door was knocked on.  He walked over to answer it.  "I am apparently bugged or your car is."  He handed over the note.  "Let me hide the rest of his present."  He pulled out the carefully folded apron and put it into his suitcase, turning and blushing because the other man was looking.  "Sorry, it's a habit of mine to clean."

Born moved closer and gently kissed him.  "I like tidy men."  He smiled and walked Renfield out, taking him to the suggested spot.


Lupin looked up from listening to the bug as Xander walked in.  "I sent him clothes, and a restaurant suggestion.  Plus an apron."

"Thanks."  He kissed him gently.  "See, I told you doing one good deed a year like that would make you happy."  He handed over his present and walked into their bedroom, waking Jigen up when he dug around inside his gear bag.  "Sorry.  Go back to your nap."

"What's going on?"

"Oh, idiot hitting on Lotus.  I thought I'd go scare him."

 Lupin pounced him from behind, dragging him to the bed.  "Arsene called and said she did already.  So you're all ours tonight."  He smirked at him and stripped off the bright shirt and dress pants, getting down to the bare skin and it was his, all his!  Jigen was just giving them odd looks.  "What?" he defended. "I haven't had any in a while."

"He's got lipstick on his neck," Jigen noted.

Lupin looked and then looked into Xander's eyes.  "Why?"

"Because I was setting a new idea in motion and she was grateful."

"Oh.  No sex?

"No, dear.  No sex. You can taste me and prove it to yourself."  Lupin went down to do just that, making Xander one happy guy.


Arsene looked at her uncle.  "I think I need a fortress.  I've been considering the options and I think I'm ready for a fortress for my evil plans to hatch in."

"You can't have a fortress until I build my harem so your fathers stick around," Xander said dryly.

"You're building a what?" she asked, staring at him.  "A harem?"  He nodded, smirking at her.  "Now that's just wrong on so many levels, mom."  She got up and stomped toward the front of the house, finding an older man sitting in the sitting room.  "Hey, who're you?" she asked.

The old man stared at her.  "You look just like your father at your age, young lady.  You must be Lupin the fourth?"  She nodded. "I'm Lupin the second."

She shook his hand.  "Welcome to the house, gramps."  He looked shocked. "Sorry, apparently it's a low manner day for me.  So, Grandfather, we thought you had died a number of years ago," she said, sitting across from him.  Her father walked in with a tea tray.  "Daddy, we have a housekeeper."

"Who broke her leg last night," he reminded her.  He set down the tray and looked at his father.  "I see you've met the next generation.  Where's the Fifth?"

"Curled up with Lotus.  She's not a happy ferret at the moment.  Daddy, Mom said I couldn't have a fortress until he built a harem to keep you guys.  When do you think that'll be?  I've been studying up on how to be an evil overlord and I'm sure it's the right career for me."

He kissed her on the head.  "Daughter, you're just odd.  Very odd.  But what's this about a harem?"

"Mom said he's going to be building a harem to make sure you guys stay around."

"First I've heard of it," Lupin the Third admitted.  He poured out some tea and handed it to her, then made himself and his father laced cups.  "So, now that you've seen the future of the family, scared yet?" he joked.

"Not really.  I've done some quiet checking and she seems quite competent for her age.  Though she must be very young."

"I'm not as little as I look," Arsene assured him smugly.  "How old do you think I am?"

"Twelve, fourteen at the most."

"Try late sixteen, grandfather.  Been doing the job since I was eight."  She sipped her tea.  "I was sixth in my class at the Assassin's Academy, with my three crew members above me, two took tops actually.  We all graduated early.  We went in and only had to do a year of contact making.  The one who needed the most work was Melissa and she only had to get over a bad mental image problem."  She took another sip.  "So why did you die?"

"Sorry, she's learned a lot but manners aren't always her strong suit," Lupin excused, glaring at his daughter.

"No, she's right to ask, son.  Arsene, I left because I found someone I loved more than the pretty things and she said her or theft.  I chose her."

She nodded.  "I've seen loves like that.  Melissa's first chose between his future as an assassin or her.  He ended up going to the cops for protection and joining them."  He nodded at that.  "When did she die?"

He looked at the ring on his hand, then smiled at her.  "Nearly five years ago now.  She was one hell of a woman.  You'd have loved her and she would have swatted you greatly for your mouthiness, but there would've been love in it."  She nodded at that.  "Why do you steal?"

"Because it's expected of me and it's fun.  It's like a constant challenge and I adore the challenge and the puzzles.  Besides, it's in the blood and I'm good at it," she pointed out.  "There are full grown cops who both fear and respect me, for my skills and the other things that make me me."  She put down her cup.  "I know you'd rather have a male Fourth, but the will said he had to have *someone* to carry on the name."

"I know.  That's the same reason I had him."  Lupin the Third chuckled at that.  "So she's a chip off Grandfather's block?"
"She's just as good as I am," Lupin agreed proudly, smiling at his daughter.  "We occasionally get into it over her mouth and her skills coming out at inappropriate times but the other kids have been very good at helping her when she feels the absolute need to get into trouble at the wrong time."

"Other children? Yours?"

"Mine, Jigen's, Goemon's.  We're all together like a big communal family, mostly held together by Lavelle."

"Who is Lavelle?"

"Me?" Xander asked, sticking his head in.  "Hey.  Ishi said he saw you in Chicago.  I'm glad I let him go on that tangent while we were fixing the situation."

"You were that Mountie," he said, frowning a bit.

"I'm also their second gunman," he said with a cocky smirk.  "I'm also Sylvia when the choker's recharged. Melissa and the later kids are all mine but Goemon's.  Don't worry, I freak out a lot of people."

"Daddy, tell him to build his harem faster so I can have a fortress," Arsene ordered.

"Xander, harem?" Lupin asked dryly.

He smirked.  "I'm making damn sure you're staying with me, Lupin.  For good.  No more roaming for either of us."  He turned and headed up the stairs.  "Arsene, you don't need a fortress, someday this house'll be yours."

"But I want to be an evil overlord," she called.

"Then go take over a syndicate and run it," he called back.  "Do the paperwork and everything."

"Ick," she said, shuddering a bit.  "I hate paperwork.  Taxes suck ass."  Her father swatted her.  "Sorry, daddy, grandfather."

"Not a problem, I agree that taxes are a horrible imposition," he agreed gently.  "Do we keep scrapbooks around here?"

"I do of my crimes," Arsene said proudly.  "Daddy's got the baby books in his office."

"Which did you want, dad?"

"Let's start with the baby books," he said with a smile.  "I'd like to know her as a person before I know her as a thief and a follower of the line.  What of that girl, Melissa?"

"She's my second and my gunwoman," Arsene told her.  "We were all raised together.   She's a very good cuddle in the middle of the night when you have nightmares too."

Lotus came down the stairs.  "Arsene, have you seen my father?  I need to work out."

"Not recently," she admitted.  "Mom just went up the stairs."

"No, I don't need that stringent of one. I just need a general destresser."  She headed for the kitchen, finding her brother, the vacuum, fixing a snack.  "Where's dad?"

"Meditating.  Why?"  He looked at her. "I can workout with you."

"I don't want to have to defend myself that much, Ishi.  I just need to unwind and destress."

"He's out by the pond."

"Thanks.  Who's the old man?"

"Lupin the Second," he said, smirking at her. "I found him in Chicago.  He left crime for a woman."

"Interesting."  She went to find her father, pouncing him from behind.  "Daddy, I'm stressed out, will you work with me?" she asked sweetly.

"Only if you quit impersonating a limpet," he sighed, getting up and removing her from his neck.  "Thank you, Lotus."

"Welcome, daddy."  She grinned at him and they went back to the usual practice area, starting off on some mild hand-to-hand.  "So that's really Arsene's grandfather?"  He nodded.  "Wow.  That's kinda cool.  Maybe he'll yell at her for swearing about not being able to build her evil fortress yet.  Or at Mom for wanting to build a harem."  Geomon stopped cold, staring at her.  "It's his grand plan to make sure Uncles Lupin and Jigen stay with him forever."

"I see.  When was he planning on this so I know when to escape?"

"I don't know," she admitted, shrugging and attacking again.  "Come on, dad, you're no fun."

He picked her up and tossed her onto her back.  "I'm never fun," he reminded her with a smirk.

"Well if you weren't a Vulcan, you could be," she pointed out, pouncing him again and making him laugh.  She loved her father most of the time.  "Daddy, are you really mad that I'm dating?"

"I'm more mad that I did not meet the boy before you started to have carnal relations.  I should have met him long before that, daughter.  To sneak him about disrespects him and you."

"Yes, daddy.  What about Ishi and his two women?"

"Excuse me?  Two?  Son!" he bellowed.  Ishi came to the doorway.  "Two women?"

"Sorry, dad, but I couldn't decide," he said miserably.  "One of them broke up with me anyway."

"I knew that," Lotus sighed, rolling her eyes.  "She sent the email to my address.  Had you looked at the bottom it had my note to keep your illicit rendevous out of my email."

"Son, stringing two women along is not honorable," Goemon chided.  "You do not do that.  It dishonors the woman and makes them very upset with you.  As Lupin has proved time and again.  Even Marcus had that point proven to him. Men are meant to have *one* woman at a time, son.  Or else we would have two sexual organs."

"I tried to make a decision, father, but it was so hard.  One's so nice and sweet and willing and the other's a bit naughty and a hacker.  I have no idea how they found out about each other.  I was very careful."  He grimaced and ate a bite of his sandwich.

"Unless she hacked you while you were chatting some night," Lotus offered dryly.

"She could have," he admitted. He ate another bite.  "I didn't intentionally decide to dishonor them or myself, father, I simply couldn't decide which one I wanted more."  He took another bite. "I'm sorry if you're disappointed in me."

"Son, by now you should have learned how to control your sexual urges."

"I'm sorry, dad, but sometimes it's hard!" he complained.  "I can't be made of stone.  My body does overrule me now and then!  I'm a sexual being and I like being cuddled."  His father frowned at him.  "Yes, sir, I'll work harder on that urge," he sighed, shaking his head and heading back inside.  He ran into Jigen in the halls.  "How does one control their sexual urges?  I just got lectured because Lotus narked about my two women."

"Two?" Jigen demanded.  "Ishi!"

"I couldn't decide!  One was so sweet and nice and gentle and the other was a naughty little hacker who liked having sex in closets!"

"God, and we're gonna have to have this talk with Fred soon too," he complained, walking off shaking his head.  "Goemon, your son needs instruction in the art of control."

"I heard," he admitted, flipping his hair back between Lotus' blows.  "I have been remiss.  I should take him off to meditate in the woods with me for a bit."

"Well, Ishi did ask me last night if he should try boys once to see if he likes it," Lotus joked.  Her father stopped and stared at her again.  "Sorry, dad, joke."

He groaned and headed inside to talk to his oldest son.  He apparently needed more help than he had guessed.  His hormones were overruling his common sense.

Jigen looked at her.  "Uncool to nark on your brother, Lotus."

"I knew the one had broken up with him.  She sent it to my email."  Jigen just gave her a look.  "Sorry, Uncle Jigen.  When is Mom building her harem?  Arsene is hot to build her fortress of evil."

Jigen shook his head quickly, heading up the stairs.  "Xander?  Harem?" he called as he walked.

"The only sure way to make sure you can't leave me," he called back, then locked his door.  "Working on my plans, sorry."

"Let me in," Jigen demanded, rattling the knob.  He pulled out his favorite hairpin and went to work on the lock, then walked inside.  "You know it's not necessary, Xander."  Xander gave him a look. "I'm not leaving."

"Having a harem nearby means that Lupin won't have to stray, you won't have to stray, I won't have to stray, and we can all have women when we want," he said dryly, going back to his plans.  "Should my next job be in the Carribean or in Asia?"

"Asia.  There's more moguls and stupid people."  He gave him a hug.  "I'm satisfied, imp."

"No you're not.  You woke up sucking on my breast this morning," he said sarcastically.  He gave him a kiss.  "Just hush, Jigen.  It'll be nice and pretty."  He got up and walked him out, locking his door again.  "I'll see you at dinner."

Jigen walked away shaking his head, mimicking Goemon's flight down the back stairs after talking to his oldest son.


Ishi looked at his uncles across the dinner table.  "Mom, should I try men once to see if I like them?" he asked plainly.

Xander considered it over the choking going on then nodded.  "Probably just the once, that way you know for sure and can make an educated judgement.  If you want, I'll bring you somewhere you can try that out safely."

"No, that's quite all right," he said.  "I had one in mind if I wanted to try that out."

"Son, you need to learn control before confusing the issue further," Goemon said patiently. "Before you turn into your uncle or your friend."

"I've never tried girls," Arsene defended. "I'm going to make my way through the pretty men first, Uncle G.  Get your thong out of its present twist.  I think it's good that he's thinking about it instead of just going out and doing it to see."

Goemon groaned and held his head.  "Arsene, it is not proper for him to blurt such things out over dinner, the same as it is not proper for you to do so.  That is something he should have asked in private to gain others' opinions.  For the record, son, I do not believe that you would like men.  You like to be in control of everything around you."

"I can still be in control while under a guy, dad," he defended.  "Uncle Lupin?"

"Your father is going to kill you soon," he said.  "That's my honest opinion.  If you want to try gay sex, try gay sex, just do it carefully.  Talk to Xander first so you get all the neat safety lectures and precautions and things.  Use condoms, that sort of thing."  Goemon let out another groan.  "Sorry, Goemon."

"No, it is best I come to terms with this now.  Son, I do not wish to know.  I only wish you to have better control over this urge and the urge to blurt out things like that.  Are you trying to make me have a stroke?  First two women and then this?"

"Sorry, dad."  He gave him his best 'pitiful' look.  "I didn't mean to upset you or anyone else.  I'm sorry if I was rude."

"That's okay, child.  It's more fun than I've had at a table in years," Lupin the Second noted dryly.  "Your father brought home his first girl at eight."

"He made me wait until I was sixteen," Arsene complained.

"No, *I* made you wait until you were sixteen," Xander said firmly.  "Otherwise we'd be diapering the fifth by now and watching them walk around.  If not plan their first job."

"Yes, mom," she said weakly, blushing a bit.

"The fifth being a ferret suits me for now," Lupin decided.  "That's a horrible thought, Xander."

"She's the one who went to the bathroom with a guy at thirteen."

"Point," he agreed, counting backwards.  "That would give me a grandkid who'd be about three by now.  Oh, shit.  Thank you for making her wait."

"Welcome," he agreed, glaring at the kids. "There'd better be no grandkids for a very long time.  Until I find a white hair."

"How would you know with silver hair?" Lotus asked.

"That's the point, Lotus," he said firmly.

"There'll have to be a fifteenth sometime, Uncle," she pointed out.  "With Ishi's risky nature, he should probably start on that one now."

"Should I become a grandfather within the next ten years, I will have to kill children and rename the rest," Goemon said firmly.

"Might be hard to do since I'm pretty sure Kenji likes guys," Arsene joked.

Melissa poked her with her fork.  "Excuse her, she took stupid candy today."

"Well, he does always cuddle up to the guys, unlike Fred and Yu who are breast magnets," Lotus agreed.

Goemon held his head and walked off, shaking the sore thing.  "If so, that will be fine, I'll expect more grandchildren from the rest of you."

"That means you have to quit walking into my bedroom unannounced," Lotus called after him.

Jigen swatted her. "You have better taste than that," he assured her.  "Xander gave you better taste and better manners than that.  Use 'em."

"Yes, Uncle Jigen.  Sorry, daddy!"

In the kitchen, Goemon was looking up.  "Janus, I know you watch over the family, but would you mind leaving my poor daughter alone?  You're warping her and she's the only one I have.  I want her to be a good girl, even if she is an assassin.  Please?  Thank you."   He found the stuff for his headache and took some, heading up for a nap.  The others could be entertaining, he just wanted a rest.  "Why did I want children?" he muttered as he walked.

the end

Back to Thieves' Index