Whoa!  Not What I Expected!

The three thieves looked at each other and sighed.  It was Lupin who said it best.  "We need a vacation, boys."  The other two nodded.  "I'm tired and worn out.  You guys both look like hell too."  He dealt a new hand of poker.  "Let's take a year off, see if we can find something that vaguely resembles fun."  They nodded, putting their cards down and going to pack.  Lupin walked up to their rooms after he was done.  "Remember, if we need to, we can always call each other.  I'll be in Fiji." Jigen smirked at him.  "I know, how typical, I'm going to look at breasts," he said drolly.  "Maybe I'll even get some.  A nice little affair should put some spring back in my step."

"Remember to be safe," Jigen teased.  "We don't want any little Lupins running around."

"Please, not that," Goemon agreed dryly, shaking his head.  "Nothing in the world would ever be safe or sacred."

"Funny," Lupin told him, grinning at him.  "You mean it is now?" Goemon gave him a look, then smirked back.  "Okay, I'm heading to Fiji.  Goemon?"

"Japan.  Back to my residence."  He patted his sword.  "It is time to think about a student."

Jigen shuddered.  "That's a scary thought.  A little Goemon?"

"The baby would grunt and scowl all day," Lupin agreed.  Goemon scowled at him.  "Sorry, couldn't resist," he teased, punching him on the arm.  "Jigen, where are you starting?"

"I got asked to do a job in the US.  I figure I'll take that, then head wherever I want to.  I'll keep in touch."

"Good.  Do that."  Lupin turned, heading down toward the car.  "Am I giving anyone a ride?"

"Please," Goemon agreed, following him.  Jigen followed to, taking his usual spot.  "A whole year?"

"In the next year, half to the world's jewelry will be switching hands," Lupin told him.  "That'll give us new targets and we'll be ready by then.  Full of energy and with the intensity to go steal things again."  He pulled out of the garage, heading for the closest airport.  "Besides, in a year Pops will be healed again and he'll be pouting if we don't come back."

"He does look miserable," Goemon agreed.

"Maybe he needs a hobby," Jigen said, leaning back to get comfortable.  "Or a girl."

"Pops and a girl?" Lupin asked, glancing at him.  "Would he know what to do with one?"  Jigen snickered.  "Seriously, I don't think he could ever find one to put up with him.  The same way we can't."

"You have one," Goemon told him.  "You simply need a tighter leash on her."  Lupin stopped the car to look back at him.  "She may even enjoy it."

"I'll tell Fujiko you said that," he said dryly, turning around to get them moving again.

Jigen looked back at him.  "We'll say nice things for you at your funeral," he noted.  Goemon gave him a look.  "Hide really hard, Goemon."

Goemon snorted.  "I'm sure she will be no problem."  He stroked his sword.  "Lupin, before we part ways, have you found anything about my other sword?"

"A small time thief took it," Lupin told him.  "I haven't heard of it going on the market yet," he admitted.  "I've got my ear to the ground and I'll be on the criminal bulletin boards all the time I'm gone.  We'll find it for you, Goemon.  I promise."

"Thank you.  I miss it."  He went back to stroking his sword.  He missed its little brother.


Goemon settled into his house, looking at the empty holder on the wall with a sigh.  It was still gone.  It had been gone now for a few months.  He really should be taking a more active roll in finding it but no one knew anything about the thief who had taken it from the people who had been redoing the handle for him.  So he was staring at the blank spot on his wall, hoping it would materialize if he thought about it hard enough.  It was a dishonor to have such a family relic taken from his care.  He would have to mitigate it by finding it.   His ancestors would not be happy if he died and it was not back.  He heard someone rattling his door and stood up, hand on his sword.  "Who is it," he demanded.  The door opened and a brunette woman with a large chest and a scandalous outfit walked in.  "Fujiko, do you not knock any longer?" he demanded.

"With you, no," she said, grinning at him.  She walked over, hugging him.  "What is going on?  I can't find Lupin anywhere.  Did something happen to him?"

"He is in Fiji.  We are taking a vacation," he said stiffly, disengaging her from his body.  "Sit if you must."  She sat, looking at him.  "You could call the house there."

"I don't have the new number," she reminded him.  "He told you two not to give it to me."  She flipped her hair back, getting comfortable in the hard chair.  "A vacation?  Like for real and all that?"  Goemon nodded.  "Why?"

"Boredom I suppose."

"You suppose?"  He nodded.  "Okay, why are you taking a vacation," she asked him.

"I need to find my missing sword."  She looked clueless so he pointed at the wall.  "It was a gift to my sixth ancestor.  A mate to the one I carry, a short sword."  She looked at the spot he was staring at over her head, then back at him.  "I was having it repaired and it was stolen from the people repairing it."

"It hasn't gone on the market?"  He shook his head.  "Then it's probably a collector."

"Still, I would have it back," he said firmly.

"Have you checked the auctions?"  He nodded, giving her an impatient look.  "Fine.  You're brooding, I can see that."  She stood up.  "Want to help me do something while you brood?"  He raised an eyebrow.  "I need a convenient male to be on my arm for my newest job and since Lupin's not around...."  She shrugged. "I'll split with you, sixty-forty."  He snorted.  "It's a really pretty jewel.  Said to let you see prophecies."

"Then it should be destroyed," he said firmly.

"Don't be like that," she pleaded.  "I need a guy.  They don't accept women there.  They're a bunch of masochistic pigs who think women are only good for childbirth."  She gave him a smile.  "I'll promise to be good.  I won't even pick on you."  He sighed, shaking his head.  "I will.  I'll even be nice enough to tell them I sleep on the couch because of my back.  Please, otherwise I'm going to have to find a young kid and pay him."

"Your begging needs work," he told her.

"I'd beg you like I do Lupin but my breasts don't make you brainless," she said dryly.  He snorted, shaking his head again.  "Oh, come on," she pleaded.  She stomped her foot.  "If you don't, I can't go on it and I won't have *anything* to do for *months*," she pouted.  "Or anyone to talk to since Lupin's gone.  I'll have to bother you."

"Jigen is in the United States," he told her, sounding like he was dismissing her.

She snorted.  "Yeah, because we'll be good together," she told him dryly.  "Come on, please, Goemon?"

"The way you two argue is like old fisher folk," he told her.  She glared at him.  He caved, like she knew he would.  "Fine.  Perhaps I can find news of my sword there."  He stood up, going to pack his few clothes again.

"Don't worry about clothes for it, I'll find you something," she promised.  He gave her a dirty look. "They're European snobs," she said dryly, sitting down again.  "They think the only good thing that ever came out of Japan was some cute artwork and the pseudo- Buddhism their children practice to amuse themselves."

He groaned, packing anyway. "Do you have a buyer for this stone?"

"Sure do," she said happily.  "They're the ones the assholes stole it from originally.  They put out a bounty on it of a cool million."

"Interesting.  Why did they have it?"

"For it's reported properties," she told him.  "They're big believers.  Some sort of New Age mystics or something."  He raised an eyebrow.  "You know I don't believe in that any more than you do, but they're mostly harmless.  Some guy named Rayne or something."  She shrugged.  He nodded, bringing back his bag.  "Lupin's really in Fiji?"

"Yes," he said patiently.  "As he has been for most of the week."  She grimaced. "We all needed this.  The impetus to do our best has been slowing down again."

"You've all got burn-out so you're on vacation.  I guess that makes sense," she agreed, standing up.  "Ready?"  He nodded, following her out to her rental, making sure his house was locked up and the alarm system turned on.  "Why did you get somewhere so small?"

"I like it.  It suits me," he told her.  "I have all the room I need."

"Yeah, but you could have had a garden or something," she told him.  "Wouldn't that have been nice?"

"Yes, but I can visit the park whenever I want.  It is healthy to get outside, but it is also healthy not to cut yourself off from the rest of the world."  He got in the passenger's side.  "Where are we going?"

"Germany."  She started the car and sped off, taking him before he could change his mind.  "You'll hate these guys.  Not only are they dumb and violent but they're of the pain- desiring sort.  They crave the pain so much that they have get togethers where they challenge each other to hurt the others worse.  One guy cut off another's nose tip last year," she told him.  "He stood there and let him."  He shuddered.  "We're going to a less personal meeting of the group.  They wanted people who could use the stone.  They invited Lupin, but don't know who he is.  They thought he was Jigen until I corrected them.  I said I'd fax over a picture tonight, once I could get one off him."

"Is there anything else?" he asked.  This did not sound like his idea of fun.

"I've had a copy made but there's every chance I got it wrong.  I had to go on Rayne's description and it was his teacher's.  He's only seen it once and it was a long damn time ago."  He nodded shortly.  "He said it was working then."

"Do we have anything on this Rayne person?"

"Just that he's the New Age people's version of chaos.  He supposedly sows trouble among his friends for fun and watches them figure it out.  I figure he's got to be Mr.  Popularity at Halloween, but other than that he's a fruitcake with money."

"And yet, you have not tried to sleep with him," he said dryly.  "Why is that?"

"Because he's odd, Goemon.  That and he's supposed to be gay.  The rumors have him with some little boytoy a few years back.  He's pining for his long lost love, a tough he had when he was a little shit himself."  She switched gears as they hit the highway, going faster now.  "He's also British and you know I couldn't stand living there."

"Not even if he could do what he says?"

"If he can do what he says, then I want to get as far away from him as possible," she said firmly.  "I don't even want to consider that it's real."

"We have seen some odd things in our day," he reminded her gently.

"Odd is one thing.  This guy talks to a statue of Janus like it's able to talk back."

"His personal God is his own matter.  Many people talk to their God that way."

"Yeah, but most of the sane ones don't offer their statues gold and blood."  He grunted, that was true.  "It's said that his boytoy was a virgin sacrifice to the thing.  Just his virginity, to make the statue happy."

"If he is dangerous, why are we working for him?"

"Because these guys are annoying and the money," she said firmly, going faster to get around a slower car.  "If it's real, I don't want to know.  I don't want to see him talking to his statue and I don't want him to bring it with him.  I certainly don't want to have to talk to it myself," she said drolly.  "I can't think of what I'd say to a two-headed statue."  She suddenly grinned.  "Did you know back in Ancient Greece they used to keep statues of penises on their lawns for good luck?  I stole one last week.  It was really funny to look at."

"As a house marker?"

"No, a household good luck statue," she told him.  "Just a stone penis on the front lawn."  He blushed and shook his head.  "Wonder what the pranks would have been like back then?" she teased.

He looked at her, still blushing.  "I do not," he said firmly.  "I would have been out of place back then."

"True. But it might be nice to go back, get a couple of things and bring them forward.  Boom, instant antiques in excellent restored condition."  He shook his head.  "You don't think so?"

"I know it would not be good," he said firmly.  "It could seriously endanger history."

"Not if you did your research first."

"You do not know everything that the item has been through.  It could change someone's life, which would alter history."  He looked at her.  "Which means you could have ended up a housewife."  She shuddered. "That is why you do not do such things."

"Fine, I'll quit thinking about it," she sighed, passing another slower moving car.  She saw the lights go on behind her and groaned.  "How are the warrants for you guys?" she asked.

"Bad.  Yours?"

"The same."  She sped up, taking the cop on a merry chase around the city until she finally got back to the airport after losing him in traffic.


Fujiko walked Goemon off the plane at the small airport and found herself surrounded by people.  Not even cops, just people.  "Yes?" she asked them.  Goemon was led to her side.  "Is this some sort of joke?"

"No, Miss Mine," one of them said.  "Our employer would like to see if you can do what you claim."  He led them to a limo, setting them in the back while everyone else got into other cars, following them.  "When we got the pictures you promised, we did some checking.  We do know what Mr. Lupin looks like."  He looked at Goemon.  "Whereas your training may be what we need instead.  It was very intelligent of her to find you instead of her boyfriend."

"We're not like that," she said firmly.  He gave her a dismissive look.  "What makes you think I can't use the stone?" she asked.

He looked at her.  "Because it has only answered a male's call in the past," he told her.  "No female has ever been able to use it.  That is why we stole it from Mr. Rayne."  He crossed his legs.  "We will let you try.  If you fail, then you do.  If you do not, we will want to speak with you further.  You can keep the woman wherever you want, including somewhere safe from us, though I assure you we do not want her."

"Gay?" Fujiko asked.

He laughed.  "Some of us.  Some of us aren't, but such experienced women as yourself do not run to the tastes of the group.  I can assure you, none of the group's members will touch you or even look at you.  It would be like you wearing a total veil."  He looked at Goemon again, tuning the woman out.

Goemon looked at him.  "What makes you think I can use this stone?  I know nothing of chaos."

The man looked surprised. "What makes you think it takes it?"

"The last owner," he said simply.

"And the six before it who claimed to be able to use it," Fujiko added for good measure.

The man looked thoughtful.  "It is quite possible.  In that case we will send you away."  He shrugged.  "No harm, no foul."

Goemon nodded.  "That seems reasonable enough."  He watched as they pulled into a stone monstrosity of a house, holding in a shudder at the gaudiness of the structure.  Had a blind man on hallucinogenics designed it?  He looked at Fujiko, who was biting her lip to keep from saying something.  He leaned closer.  "Fiji," he told her.  She swatted him, glaring at him.  He gave her a smug look.  "Perhaps you should also take a vacation?"

"Maybe," she agreed, following him inside.

The man behind her smirked at her back.  "I'm sure we could send you on one," he told them.  He let them into the room, letting them look at the stone.  "What do you see?"

"I see a red stone," Fujiko said, touching it.  It made her fingers tingle like some of Lupin's finds had, but nothing more.  She got out of Goemon's way.  "Well?"

"To me it appears pink and cloudy," he admitted.  He looked into the center of the stone and saw a two-headed statue, laughing face looking at him.  Then a second picture.  One he could not believe.  He glared at Fujiko but she wasn't wearing his clothes.  He looked down again.  "That is not possible," he told it.

The man who had escorted them gasped. "You saw something!  What was it!"

He looked at him.  "A two-headed statue, laughing face toward me, then I saw Fujiko pregnant."  He shrugged.  "Things I do not understand nor do I wish to."  The man's face fell. "What did you wish us to see?"

"The new leader of our group," he said angrily.

"Maybe you should talk to the statue," he said facetiously.  "It might do you as much good."

"Fine. It's late, let us show you to a room," he said, leading the way downstairs.  The guards were behind them again so they couldn't escape.  He put them into a larger cell, locking them in.  "You'll be staying there."

"Fine," Goemon agreed.  "It will not do you any good however."  He sat down, looking at her.  "Another brilliant plan," he told her.

She sneered at him.  "That was not my fault."

"No, it was theirs," he agreed.  He closed his eyes, clearing the vision from his head.  It was not possible.

"What did you see?" she asked, sitting next to him.

"What I told them."

"So what was bothering you about that?  Me being pregnant?"

He looked at her.  "You wearing my clothes while pregnant," he informed her.  Her mouth fell open.  "Exactly.  Therefore I will be meditating until it leaves my mind."  He closed his eyes again.

"Well, we have known each other nearly forever," she sighed, "but I doubt it."

"As do I," he said simply.  She gave him a nudge to the arm so he looked at her.  "What, woman?"

"Why does that bother you?"

"Consider it, the answer should become obvious."  He closed his eyes again, making her groan and shake her head.

She sat there, staring at their cell.   It was well constructed, even the stones were smoothly finished.  No cracks.  No chinks.  The door was solid.  The little window was closed.  She didn't have any of her lockpicks on her.  She patted herself down to make sure, bumping him.

"What are you doing, woman?"

"Checking for picks," she told him.  "I used to keep a set in a few of my bras but I don't think this was one of them."

"You wear one of those?" he said dryly.

"Yes, always."

"It never seems as such."

"Women's foundation garments are like that," she told him.  "They're meant to not be seen except at the right moment."  She found one thing, her underwire, and pulled it out to look at it.  Then she looked at the lock.  It was too big.  She tossed it in the corner, startling him.  "Sorry."  She pulled out the other one, better to spend some time in comfort.

"What was that?" he asked.

"The underwire."

"Under wire?" he asked slowly.

"The thing that makes the breasts stand up, Goemon.  Haven't you ever undressed a woman before."  He blushed and nodded, looking away from her.  "Apparently she was wearing the cheap underwear then."  He gave her a heated glare.  "Never mind.  I'll leave you alone about your lack of sexual experience if you get us out of here.  At least for a month."

"They will let us out," he said calmly.

"How do you know?"

"Because I'm the only one who's made the stone work in a while," he pointed out.

"Hmm.  Good point."  She hit him on the arm.  "You do help," she said happily.  "I didn't know he counted on you to do more than cut stuff up."  He gave her another look in the darkening gloom.  "Fine, sorry, that was out of line," she admitted.  "Forgive me?"

He pushed her away.  "Some day."  He went back to his meditating.  She was very strong willed and overpowering in large doses and close quarters.  "Do you not have your own side of this cell?"

"Yeah, but if I'm over there then I'll have to talk louder."

"Meditate.  It is calming."

"No thanks."  She shifted closer.  "You saw me pregnant?"  He nodded.  "Why?"

"I have no idea.  It is not a sight I ever wish to see," he told her.  She hit him on the arm again.  "Desist, woman."

"Or what, you'll hit me."

"The idea bears thinking about but I do not hit women," he reminded her.  "Then again, I have said often enough that you are not one."

"No you haven't.  You've said I'm not a lady," she corrected.

"That either," he agreed.

She glared at him and decided to annoy him further.  "Do you think if I thought real hard at Lupin, he'd hear?" she asked out of the blue.

"Did you imbibe on the plane," he scoffed.

"No.  He always seems to know when I'm in trouble."

"That would require him knowing where we are," he pointed out. "I doubt he has turned on his computer yet this week."

"Oh.  Good point," she said dejectedly.  "Still, we could try.  If you can use the stupid stone, then maybe he can hear you."

"I am not a telepath," he said firmly, moving away from her.  "Go sit on your side of the cell before I feel myself losing control."

"And you'll do what?  Hit me?"

"Woman," he warned. He calmed himself, realizing that the stone had thrown him off balance, that's all this was.   He moved farther away, sure it was her that was causing this.  She was being irritating on purpose, he would have to endure it until they were free.

"You know, I've never really thought about having kids," she admitted.  "Okay, not totally true, I thought about it with Lupin, once, but then I realized I'd never get the baby to quit breastfeeding.  I'd be stretched way out of shape."  She heard his groan.  "What?  A child of his would never let go of a breast, especially not a male child of his."  His groan got louder.  "It's true and you know it."

"Woman, desist," he ordered.  "I do not want to hear this."

"Fine.  Did you ever think about having any?"

"I will have to have one some day.  Until then, I have no desire to father a next generation.  Not until I am at least semi-retired and have the time to train my future son."

"What if it's a girl?"

"Then her mother will be teaching her quite enough and I will teach her what she wants to learn," he said.  "I would not expect a daughter to want to live this life."

"You're going to clone yourself?" she suggested.  He glared at her and she felt it that time.  "Sorry, Goemon, but it sounded like you wanted a son who'd willingly follow you into the life of depravation and self-control."

"It would be expected of him," he said firmly.  "I would not expect a daughter to do so."

"Fine."  She shifted closer again, shivering in the damp air.  "I'm cold.  You?"

"No, I am wearing clothes.  In the future, do the same."

"Funny.  I am wearing clothes."  She felt his look again.  "My usual."

"Your usual is very provocative, short, and non-functional.  If you wore functional clothing it would be more helpful in these times."

"What would you like to see me in?" she asked dryly.

"A full top."

She gaped.  Then she hit him on the arm.  "You're a grumpy bastard today."

"You are the one who asked for my help, not the other way around," he reminded her smugly.  She hit him again.  "Do not do that again," he said, tensing up.  She hit him again and he had to force himself not to strike her back.  He did not hit women.  It was dishonorable; no matter how little honor the woman had, she should not be struck.  She hit him again and he grabbed her, pulling her closer so he could see her eyes in the pale light.  "I said desist," he growled.  She swallowed, he heard it.  He let her go before he frightened her more. "Thank you."  She laid her head against his arm. "What are you doing now?" he asked, shocked.  She did not cuddle him usually.

"I'm tired and cold," she said softly.  She scooted closer.  "You're warm."

"I tend to wear clothes," he reminded her.

"Goemon, get off the subject of my tops before I take it off and put it on you while you're asleep."

He had to laugh at that mental image.  "I do not think it would fit me," he told her.  "Then what would you do for a shirt?"

"Maybe they'll let us out sooner," she grumbled.  He shook his head.  "Why not?"

"If they are this serious about their prophecy things, then they would only value virginal females, like the seers back in history," he told her.  "None of them were married."

"Oh, shit," she hissed, sitting up.  "Tell me you're kidding?"  She heard him move, assuming he was shaking his head.  "Then I've really done it this time.  Lupin!" she called.

"He is still in Fiji," Goemon reminded her. He reached over, patting her on the back.  "I doubt they will sacrifice you yet," he assured her.  She glared at him, he could see her eyes glinting in the dark.  "Perhaps you will listen to your instincts instead of your greed from now on?"

She nodded, relaxing again.  "Fine.  I'm sorry.  If we die, I'll be your sake bearer for eternity."

"My ancestors would laugh at you for saying that and then they would yell at me for letting that sword get out of my possession."

"Let it go," she said firmly.  "You'll get it back eventually."

He groaned. "You do not understand."

"I do, and you'll still get it back eventually.  I know you will. If I have to, I'll help as payment for this mess, but you'll get it back."

"Thank you for being so kind," he said softly.  She still didn't understand however.  She couldn't.  She had no family that was watching her.


Four months passed before they heard from anyone or saw anyone but their captors. Then they heard a cranky British voice.

"What makes you think I have time for this?  The universe has seriously unbalanced and I'm trying to fix it," the voice said angrily.  "You are taking me from my work!"

Fujiko sat up, tugging at the t-shirt her captors had given her during her first week there.  "That's Rayne," she said, making Goemon look up from the contemplation of his heels.  "I've heard him speak, we talked on the phone."  The door opened and she stood up, looking at the man.  "I tried."

"Of course you did," he said dryly.  "Up, both of you."  He walked away, taking them with him back to the stone's room.  They had been up there a few different times.  "What did you see?" he asked them.

"A red stone," she said, looking at it.  "It's purplish now."

"It would be to most women," he agreed briskly.  "That means your cycle should be close at hand.  And you?"

Goemon looked at him.  "A statue the first and most times.  Sometimes it is laughing, most recently it has not been."

He sighed.  "That's what I thought."  He looked at their captors.  "You are taking me away from a direct order from Janus," he told them.  They looked stunned.  "One of the light's best warriors was just sacrificed and it is unbalancing everything.  You're taking me away from fixing it.  Why are you bothering me now?"

"Because we need to see who will be our next leader," one of the old men in the robes around the edges of the wall told him.  "The harlot and the samurai do not see that information."

"I am not!" she said angrily. "I have never charged a day in my life."

"Fine, the slut then," he said, glaring at her.  "Women should be fixed so their lips do not move unless their husbands wish them to."  He looked at Rayne again.  "Please, you are our only hope this time."

Rayne sighed and looked into the stone, seeing the statue frowning at him.  "Can't you just give one of those two the information?" he pleaded.  "This is taking me from my task."  The statue showed him a picture and he smiled.  "Fine, thank you, Lord Janus.  Blessed be your name and all that.  I'm going back to work."  It showed him another picture and he gasped.  "Yes, she could," he agreed.  "Blessed be."  He bowed to it and turned around. "Janus has relented and has given her the sight of him.  It won't be until after her cycle goes again.  When she's most fertile, then she'll see."  He tipped his head and strode out.

The men all looked at Fujiko.  "When would that be?" one asked her.

"I'm on a shot.  I missed my last one because of you, so probably not for at least another month, if not longer.  I've went without for over a year."  They groaned, leaving them with a single guard.  She walked around, looking at the stone which now looked purple to her.  "What are you?' she asked it.  Her vision blanked for a minute, then she found herself in Goemon's arms.  "Damn."

He lifted her up again, helping her to stand.  "What happened?"

She looked at him.  "The stone only gives you things to think about," she told him. "It is a possibility."  The guard went running.  She looked into his eyes.  "It was playing with you."

"Obviously.  I would never marry you," he told her.  She looked stunned.  "That would be the only way I would consent to having a child and you are not who I would pick."  She nodded, accepting that and they both stared into the stone again.  This time, he saw himself watching her rub her stomach, calling her name.  "Infernal stupidity," he grumbled, moving closer to the door.  More of the men walked in, one of them with his sword, which he snatched.  He walked back to her side, holding it tightly in his hand.  This time, the statue showed him it's laughing face and a small ceremony.  "Stupid thing."  He stepped back but she was staring.  "What do you see?" he asked.

"Right now, mist," she admitted.  "The paths are not visible."

"Paths?" one of the men asked.

She looked at him and sneered.  "Janus sees many paths and many beginnings.  This can only show you possibilities.  Take a vote and let us go."  They shook their head and she grabbed the stone, weathering the low current electricity going through it.  "You will or I'll throw it up and let him slice it open."  Goemon opened his sword.  The men looked horrified.  "Now."

"If she does, we can use other methods," one of the younger men noted.  "Auguries have worked in the past."

"We would need someone totally pure," one of the older ones told him harshly.

Fujiko laughed.  "In this day and age?  You'd almost have to pick up a child and raise it past maturity, making sure it never saw the outside world or felt a sexual thought.  Even then you still might not find one that would work."

"Doing so would harm them more," Goemon agreed.  "Leaving them open to mental coercion and psychic conflict within themselves about what the real world was like."

"There are ways," one of the oldest men announced.  "Special preparations that will rob someone of their memories and experiences.  We could test it out.  Make sure that the renewal parts would work."  He looked at Fujiko, who swallowed.  "You will be ready when?"

"He said when I have my next cycle.  I cannot hurry that," she reminded him.  "The hormone shot regulated that for three months at a time.  I'm two months past due for it and it could be up to nine before it comes back."

He nodded.  "We cannot wait that long," he decided, looking at his brethren.  "One more month," he announced and everyone nodded, then they were led back to their cell.

The guard locking them in sneered at her.  "Enjoy it while it lasts," he told her.  "They can fix you and let him go."

Goemon looked at him.  "Over your dead body."  The guard laughed and locked them in.

Fujiko looked at Goemon.  "Let me guess, next you're going to say something about mushrooms growing on one in the dark?"

He shrugged.  "I was not, but I could if you wish.  Instead, I was going to get us out of here.  Shall I?"  She nodded eagerly and he pulled his sword.  He took a deep breath and swung at the wall, cutting through it to find another wall on the other side.  That was also breached and the third was exposed.  He looked stunned.  "What are they doing?"

She walked over, kicking at it.  "It's there," she said, limping back.  "Try it again.  How many walls can this place have?"  He cut again, noticing the movement as the wall shifted.  He growled. "What?" she asked.

"The wall moves," he said bitterly.

"How big is the wall?"

He looked at her, frowning.  "Are you suggesting I keep cutting?"  She nodded.  "Why?"

"Because eventually, they'll either run out of wall or we'll cut near enough to another cut to make it fall out."  He looked impressed and did it again, earning some crumbling.  "See?"

He nodded and did it again, opening up something metal.  A few cops walked in, surrounding them.  He looked at her.  "Instinct?" he asked.

"Isn't the best yet either," she noted, putting her hands up as Inspector Zenigata walked in with a bright smile.  "You don't want us, you want Lupin," she reminded him.

"I want you all," he said cruelly.  "You're all crooks.  Crooks who steal from other crooks are still crooks."  He pulled out handcuffs, putting them on them.  "It's fortunate, you saved us having to get a warrant."  He had his men lead them out to the truck Goemon had cut into, taking the sword personally.  He sat in the back with them, looking at Fujiko.  "You look more like a real woman," he snorted.  "Did you run out of your usual shirts?"

She shrieked and tried to get him but Goemon held her back.  "I'm going to kill him!  Let me go!"

"Being violent will only make things worse," he pointed out. "Keep your calm and everything will be fine."  The Inspector laughed and he glared at him, making him flinch.  "Relax, like you had me teach you."  She nodded, forcing herself to relax.  He looked at the Inspector.  "You will not win this time either," he noted.

"Why not?"

"Because they will come for her.  They want her."

"I hear many rich men feel that way," the Inspector said dryly.  "I can't see why."  She glared at him and he smirked.  "Oh, what's wrong?  Not looking forward to a German women's facility?"

"I spent the last four months in that cell with him," Fujiko said, nodding at Goemon.  "I'll have some of the women there eating out of my hand quickly."  He looked stunned and she smiled.  "What?  You thought I was Lupin's girl too?"  She laughed.  "Not hardly."

"That does seem to be a common misconception," Goemon pointed out.  "I once thought the same until you acted against us."

She grinned and shrugged. "Business and pleasure, Goemon.  That was business.  Kicking Pop's ass will be pleasure."  He smiled at her and they attacked together, understanding each other very well now.  Goemon got his sword and they were free and out of the truck within minutes.   They ran toward the nearest sign of civilization, knowing they could get away once they found other humans.  Even if they had to steal a car and drive most of the way across Europe before finding a flight back to Japan.  Or to Fiji.


Lupin looked up as his computer beeped, smiling at the message header.  He laughed, shaking his head.  "It's good that he's okay."  He read the entire message, sitting up. "Four months in a cell with Fujiko?  And he's still sane?" he said dryly.  "Jigen and I would have killed her by then."  He shook his head.  "Poor guy.  He's probably got Stockholm Syndrome or something."  He sent a reply to that effect, and to warn him about Fujiko being needy sometimes.  He saw her the most often when she was needy.  It was the only time he got to cuddle and hold her.

He went back to watching the women on the beach romp and play, smirking at their bouncing attributes.  It was a pleasing sight, one that was well worth the slacking he was doing.


Fujiko followed Goemon into his house, flopping down onto his couch to look at him. "Thank you for letting me stay tonight," she said tiredly.  "I'd probably miss the sound of your snoring."

"I do not snore," he said firmly, heading back to his bathroom to clean himself up.  He was tired and sweaty, he needed a shower.  When he was done, he found her waiting on him with some soup and let her have his place inside the comforting embrace of the water while he ate.  He smirked at the sigh of relief, heading out to find new clothes.  His others needed cleaned. He found some not often worn Gis in his closet and put one on, going back to his living room to watch the world go past.  He considered it.  He had gotten used to her now.  Four months in that tiny cell and they had learned to get along well enough.  She still irked him and tested his control, but he knew what that was now.  He had figured it out.  He finished his soup and put his mug aside, calming himself.

She came out in a towel, giving him a pitiful look.  "Do you have anything I can wear until I can buy clothes?"

"Look in my closet," he offered generously.  Perhaps Lupin had been right and he was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, or something similar where you identified with your fellow inmate.  At the moment it was comforting.  She came out in one of his other Gis and he looked her over.  It was tied correctly.  He looked at her face and she shrugged.  "You took lessons?"

"A few," she admitted, sitting across from him.  "It helped my balance at that awkward stage."  She worked a towel in her hair, making it less wet and drippy.  "I'm so glad we're out of there," she sighed.

"As am I," he agreed. It was nice to have room to walk around without bumping into her or their lone toilet.  That had been embarrassing for the first week.  After a while, he had learned to tune her out.  As he was doing now, as proven by the pillow that hit him on the head.  "Yes?" he asked.

"I said we're damn lucky Pops showed up then."  He nodded.  "Who do you think tipped him off?"

"Probably Rayne.  He sounded like he thought he was busy."  She blew a wet strand of hair out of her eyes and nodded.  "You are much different than I imagined," he admitted finally.

"Yeah, well, you never had the chance to study me before," she told him dryly.  "I'm guessing four months in a cell will do that to you.  Either that or turn you homicidal."  She saw his look over her shoulder and glanced at the open spot.  "What?"

"I missed the year anniversary of that one being gone," he told her.  "I will have to mourn for it tomorrow."  She gave him a look.  "I know you cannot understand, but it is the way I am.  The way I will always be."

"I think it's cute," she admitted, "but you're right, I don't understand it.  You know you'll get it back."

He nodded.  "Yes, but it is precious to my family so therefore I will have to mourn it."

She looked at him.  "Which hideout do you consider home?" she asked suddenly.

He considered it.  "I consider my sensei's house home, it was where I spent most of my formative years.  After that here, then France."

She nodded.  "I realized a few months back I don't consider any place home."  He gave her a sad look.  "I haven't for a while."  He nodded.  "That incarceration was bad for us," she sighed.  "We both thought funny things."

"I got rid of most of mine after the first month," he told her.  "What had you thought?"  She gave him a look.  "Seriously.  You did share yourself with me many times.  You can tell me this now."

She shrugged.  "It played off your vision thing."  He gave her a look.  "Okay, I had a few funny dreams, all right?  I pictured us married."  She shifted uncomfortably.  "You were complimenting me and driving me insane by being polite all the time."

He laughed.  "I am not always polite," he promised.  She gave him a look.  "I try, it is a general nicety.  I do not always succeed.  I am still human.  That time in the cell taught me that much."  She nodded, looking down at her hands.  "You may continue to talk to me, I would not mind it," he offered.  She gave him a look.  "What was that for?"

"Goemon, I don't want to become attached to you," she admitted.  "I like you, big guy.  You're a great guy, but if this keeps up, I'm going to start becoming really attached to you and my professional life is going to end."

"You could always work with us instead of against us," he pointed out gently.

She sighed.  "That's not the point.  I'm going to become *attached* to you soon."

"I like you as well," he noted.

She stood up, walking around the small table between them, and kissed him hard.  "That sort of attached," she told him.  His eyes widened as he got the point.  "I don't think you want that."  He pulled her closer, kissing her again.  "What are you doing?" she asked, pulling back to look at him.

He shrugged.  "I do not know.  I am following my instincts this time."

"They want me?"

"They do.  They have not led me to any other women, but they do want you."  He kissed her again, making her moan.  He pulled back, shaking his head.  "I should be asking to take you out, not molesting you."  He put her beside him, letting her snuggle into his side if she wanted.  She was still giving him a look he couldn't identify.  "I do not know," he said, answering the unasked question.  "Falling for someone is not my area of experience."

"Falling? As in..."  She swallowed.  "Love?  Goemon?"  He looked at her and shrugged.  "You are?"  He nodded.  "Since when?"

"I do not know," he told her again.  He patted her on the head.  "I will take you to breakfast tomorrow," he said, getting up and heading to his bedroom.  "You can have either the couch or the spare futon," he said, closing his door before she could react.

She collapsed onto the couch, burying her face where he had been sitting.  "Why me, God?" she whispered.  "If this is a joke, I'm going to find you and start stealing from you."  She looked up, finding him standing there, and squeaked.  "What?"  He kissed her again then went back to his room.  She melted.  It was the sweetest thing.  She shook herself.  "I sound like a schoolgirl," she chastised.  She headed into the guest room, hoping to get some sleep soon.  Hopefully without dreams like she had been having for the last week.


Fujiko looked over as they came out of the airport in Fiji, leading Goemon to the rental counter.  She got their car, heading out to find it.  This airport wasn't very well organized.  He found it first, heading right to it, and she grimaced at him.  "Thanks."  She popped the trunk, letting him put his bag in first.  Then she got in to drive.  She got out and shut the trunk again, finding the latch fast.  Then she got back in and started the car again, pulling out of the parking lot.  "Do you remember the way to the house?  I haven't been here in years."

"I do," he admitted, pointing at the right road to take.  "Go that way."  She did so.  "Fujiko, are you sure you want to see Lupin?"  It had been two weeks since they had started to date.  He was worried, Lupin was her ex by all standards.  He was a big problem in Goemon's mind.

"I'm sure."  She pointed at a side road.  "Was that one it?"  He shook his head, pointing at the correct one.  She took it, heading down into the lush forest.  They ran into some mud on the way and he got out to push, letting her gun the engine some more.  By the time he got back in, he was sweaty and nasty.  "I'll stop at the beach on the way so you can rinse off," she promised, continuing on.  It was a good hour spent in comfortable silence.  They had learned to do that their second week in the cell. She had run out of things to talk about and hadn't wanted to get personal with him.  As soon as possible, she let him out on a beach, watching as he went down to the water to get clean.  As soon as he was back she took off again, hoping Lupin could help her figure out her own mind.  What was she doing?  When they pulled in, she found herself shy for some reason as he came out to meet them. "Hi."  She gave him a hug.

"Hi."  He hugged her, smiling at Goemon, mouthing 'We'll talk later,' to him.  Goemon nodded so he let her go.  "You look like you didn't take too much harm from your time in that cell."  He led them inside, getting them something to drink.  Fujiko was bouncing nervously and Goemon was paler than usual.  A fortifying drink would help them both.  He knew why they were there, it was obvious.  Goemon wanted to make sure he wasn't really involved with Fujiko and she was comparing emotions.  He brought back the tray of wine glasses, handing them over before sitting down and sipping his.  "How was Pops when you saw him?"

"Fussy," Goemon told him.  "We broke his hips when we lunged at him."

"I'm sure he's roundly cussing you two out then," he said dryly, smiling at them.  "Fujiko, why don't you go unpack and go sit in the sun?" he suggested, giving her a look.  She nodded, heading to do that.  He looked at Goemon.  "I've been thinking," he admitted, startling the other man.  "She's not mine," he said gently.  "I've come to see how many times she's refused me."

"You act like the man we had hoped you would finally become," Goemon told him, finishing his wine.  "Thank you, Lupin."

"You're welcome, buddy.  If you make her happy, I'm all for it.  If you hurt her, it's on between us, but we're fine because you're a nice guy."  Goemon nodded.  "When are you going to ask her?"

"Tonight," he admitted. "It will not bother you?"

"It'll take some time to get used to it, but not really," he said, lying a little but not totally.  "Of course, we'll have to find Jigen and his apprentice."  Goemon looked startled.  "That's right, you didn't get to hear.  Jigen got into trouble in LA.  His target captured him by some odd fluke of luck and some interference by some guy in a trench coat with dark hair and really pale skin.  He got a little injured and then this kid walked in off the street and saved him without knowing who he was," Lupin told him.  Goemon's mouth fell open.  "It turns out the kid's a natural and he was running from some people trying to kill him.  Jigen said he'd explain it more after we met the guy.  Calls himself Lavelle.  He's damn good from what Jigen was saying."

Goemon looked impressed. "I am happy for him.  He needed someone to understand him."  Fujiko came out in a bathing suit and he smiled at her for it's modesty.  Her breasts were nearly covered, he was incredibly pleased.   "Going to the beach?"

"Yeah, I could use some sun," she told him. "Come with me, guys?"

"Sure, Fuji, give us a second.  We were just talking about Jigen's student."

"He got a what?" she asked, stunned.  "Where?  Was he lecturing at one of the specialists schools?"

"No, the kid walked in off the street and helped him.  He said someone was trying to kill the kid so they helped each other out of LA.  Jigen said the boy's a natural and that we'll meet him soon."

"That's incredible.  There's two Jigens in the world."  She grimaced.  "That's got to be a traveling laugh riot."

"We'll find out soon," Lupin told her.  "Let me change.  Goemon?"

He stood up and looked at her, then produced a ring out of his pocket, handing it to her.  "If you wouldn't mind," he said timidly.  Her mouth fell open and she whimpered.  "Or not," he admitted, blushing.  He was going to walk away if she didn't say anything soon.  He started to move and she grabbed him, kissing him hard.  "Then you agree?"

"I agree," she told him, nodding.  "I mean, yes.  Hell yes!"  She looked up at him and smiled.

"Where are we holding the wedding, so I can call Jigen?" an amused Lupin asked.

They pulled themselves away from each other to look at him, then shrugged.

He chuckled.  "Fine.  Let's hold it in Paris?"  They shrugged again and nodded.  "That's fine, I'll write Jigen. He's somewhere in Europe.  I think he's in Stockholm.  He was saying something about someone testing his student by busting in on him with a hooker and the kid nearly killing him."  He shrugged and left them alone, going to write him a message.  Fujiko followed him, locking them into the office like he knew she would.  "Fuji, if you hurt him, I'm going to have to make him a widow," he said seriously, looking at her to make sure she understood he was serious.  "Do not play with him."

She shook her head.  "I'm not.  I have no idea what is going on."

He grinned.  "It was the captivity.  It made you take a long look at each other and you found things that you liked in each other.  I know he'll treat you right, do the same or else.  Jigen said his apprentice is very ruthless sometimes and I'll let him have you."  She shuddered and nodded.  "Good. When?"

"Soon," she said.  "Before I chicken out."

"Fine.  Next week," he agreed, typing that into the message.   "You two can have this house if you want."  She looked stunned.   "Or we could do Greece."  She nodded, smiling at him.  "That's fine, I'll send them to Greece to wait on us.  Go play," he ordered with a smile.  "Take him with you.  He needs some sun."  She nodded, unlocking the door and leaving.  He put his head down with a groan.  "I will get through this.  She's not right for me," he told himself.  "She wasn't my girl and she likes him more than me.  I will deal with this."

"I do not want to hurt you," Goemon said from the doorway.

Lupin raised his head.  "You're not, I'm reminding myself that she never really was mine." They shared an understanding look.  "Go play in the water with her.  She wants Greece.  That good for you?"  He nodded, smiling a little.  "Good, go play.  Let me arrange everything."  Goemon nodded, leaving him alone.  He finished his email message and sent it, then sat back.  Jigen had a pager that let him know when he had a new message.  Within an hour he had his reply.  Jigen would be there and the kid would be in Paris playing around while they were off commiserating with Goemon.  He smiled and typed in a message, telling the man that he wanted to meet his apprentice for a few minutes at least, sending it so he could get dressed and play with the new couple in the sand.  He was happy for Fujiko if she was happy.


Lupin looked up as Goemon walked in, scowling at a paper in his hand. "What's wrong?"

"This," he said, handing it over.  "We have to have verification that we are residents."

"We could pick another spot," he offered.

"She has her heart set on it," Goemon told him, sitting down stiffly. "Can we have someone make that information for us?"

"This will take some time," Lupin told him.  "We'll have to put you into some sort of database."  The samurai sighed.  "I'll work on it.  Write Jigen and tell him so he doesn't worry about meeting us for a while."  He nodded, getting up to do that.  He could send an email.  "I've found a small something about your sword."  The other man went still, he could tell.  He looked back at him, smirking.  "I told you I would."

"You know who has it?"

"Not exactly.  I do know that the female who took it had it appraised and she's kept it in a respectful manner.  I do know she's in LA.  I forwarded the little information I've found to Jigen but he hasn't heard of her and none of his contacts there know anything."  Goemon nodded a little.  "She's an up and coming thief.  She's hit the Met a few times and a museum in Philly.  She seems to like the Met the most so far."

"This gives us a modus operandi," Goemon agreed.  "It is a start."  He forced himself to relax. "She is honoring it?"

"As far as the appraiser said, she kept it wrapped in silk inside the scabbard.  He looked at it and told her it wasn't worth much outside of being an antique so she couldn't sell it.  She's a brunette going by the last name Summers.  She has a taste for gems, for antique and 'special' weapons, and for some minor artworks that she picks on her personal taste instead of worth.  She's passed over a Renoir to get something less well known that she apparently liked because it was an ugly painting."   Goemon nodded.  "That's all I've found out so far.  Send that message to Jigen.  He knows all I know about her so far in case he runs into her. He's been in and out of the US a few times."

"His apprentice?"

"Is very good," Lupin told him.  "I did some checking on him.  I can't find any background on him, but the bulletin boards are lighting up about him.  Jigen's student is a well known and well wanted thing.  When he's done training he should be able to get nearly any job he wants."  Goemon looked impressed, sitting down at the desk to peck out the short message to Jigen. "Tell him I said hi and he could come visit.  I miss the guy."

"Perhaps he will take a vacation from his student for a small vacation with us," Goemon offered, adding that to his message.  It had been long enough, the boy should be able to survive for at least a few weeks.  Lupin smirked at him.  He smirked back, he had missed Jigen as well.  He wanted to see his face when he insulted him about Fujiko.


Jigen got out of his jeep, looking over as Goemon joined him in the driveway.  "Are you sure we can't get you a shrink?" he asked, giving him a punch on the arm.  "I know torture is bad, but still.  Her?"

Goemon nodded.  "I came to know her as a person instead of an annoyance.  I desire her."

"Goemon, she's dangerous," Jigen pointed out.

"Not to me.  I can deal with that myself."

"If you're sure," Jigen sighed, closing his door.  "We've got to get you up to speed on how to deal with a woman full time if you're going to go through with this."  He followed him inside, slapping Lupin on the back of the head.  "I'm back for two months.  Lavelle's off staring at a few of his old friends.  I'm going to meet him in LA in two months so he can rescue whatever's left of his stuff."

"Fine," Lupin agreed, smiling at him.  "Having fun?"

Jigen stopped pouring himself a drink to look at him.  "Yeah, I am," he admitted.  "The kid is odd, but he's good."

"Will he be your equal?" Goemon asked.

Jigen nodded.  "Hopefully.  He's a bit damaged emotionally.  Has this thing about not leaving witnesses so far."  He took a sip of his drink.  "He didn't even flinch at his first kill with me."  He flopped down in a chair, looking at his friends.  "Where is the little woman?"

"Getting ready for dinner," Lupin shared.  "You're in time, I cooked."

"Good.  I'm starved.  We really need our own plane, Lupin.  Commercial sucks ass."  He finished his drink, putting the glass down.  "Goemon, I've looked for that thief for you.  I can't find much on her.  All I know is that there's something off about her.  People who know anything say she's drawn to the odd and supposedly mystical for a reason.  No one will say why though."  Goemon shuddered. "That's another thing, the guy who had the stone that Fujiko was going after, my Lavelle knows him.  I heard him talking to him the other night.  He joined us for a chat, then disappeared into the night."  Goemon looked confused.  "I have no clue.  All I know is that Ethan Rayne is one of Lavelle's few friends and contacts.  The world is getting smaller."  He grinned as Fujiko came out, dressed for dinner.  "Morning, Little Woman."  She glared at him.  "You will be."

"I'm going to be working and I can still kick your ass," she reminded him.  She made a show of looking around.  "Your student run off already?"

"No, he's staring at someone to see if he can get his stuff back.  He can handle himself for a few months without me."  He looked at Lupin.  "Pop's recognized his existence.  He sent out a memo on us.  It was accidentally forwarded to us," he smirked.  Lupin laughed.  "What's for food?  I'm starved."

"You mean you haven't gotten the boy trained to cook for you? Shame on you," Lupin teased.

Jigen snorted.  "He can't cook.  I've taught him a few things, but nothing very delicate or hard to make.  The kid can live on fast food and do more than subsist."  He stood up.  "Let's eat."

"Fine," Lupin agreed, going to take dinner out of the oven, bringing it to the table.  He saluted them with his wine glass.  "To us.  Back together again."

"For now," Jigen reminded him.  "Lavelle's not ready yet."  Everyone looked at him.  "He's got a passionate streak," he explained.  "The kid goes through multiple hookers at a time, each time.  He's a goofy kid with a past I don't know about yet.  He refuses to tell me why his friends want him dead.  All I know was he was injured very badly when he found me."  Lupin raised an eyebrow, giving him a serious look.  "Very badly," he repeated quietly.  "As in the dealer gave us demerol for free after looking at him."  Lupin gave him a satisfied nod.  "I'm waiting to introduce you until I know more."  He dished himself some food, looking at Goemon, who was giving him a concerned look.  "He won't hurt me.  He likes me.  He told me last week that I had to come back because, and I quote, I'm the only neat, cool, and hip person he knows."  Lupin chuckled at that and Fujiko was giving him a look now. "What?"

"How old is this kid?"

"Mid-twenties," Jigen told her.  "I don't have an exact age. I'd say around twenty-five by his speech patterns.  His silver hair throws you off age-wise."

"Silver hair?" Lupin asked.  Jigen nodded.  He got up and went into his study, printing a  picture he had downloaded to study last month, bringing it out.  Jigen nodded.  "He's your student?"

"He is," Jigen agreed dryly.  "Why?"

"The online criminals put out a 'who is he' last month."

"After Stockholm?" Jigen asked dryly.  Lupin considered, then nodded.  Jigen took the picture to look at, then frowned.  "It's a bad picture.  Their telephoto is weak."  He handed it on.  "Go ahead and tell them who it is."

"Is that his natural hair color?" Fujiko asked, looking at the picture.

"Yeah.  When I first got him, his hair was only inches long.  Someone cut it to treat the bruised scalp."  Lupin dropped his fork.  "He's better now, just some after-pain.   A hooker got sick after looking at his back.  He found a healer who knew Fihad for the both of us.  I don't think she got all of his healed but he hasn't complained, isn't taking anything, and has an incredible pain tolerance.  Unless he jams his finger," he admitted with a small smirk.

"Interesting," Goemon said, taking the photo to look at.   "He looks very stiff.  Where was this taken?"

"The morning after him with the hooker.  He was agitated.  That was pre-caffeine."  Lupin snickered.  "He came to me with that addiction.  I've never seen anyone take to it.  His first kill not even a flinch."

"It may not have been his first," Goemon offered, handing the picture back to Lupin.

"I asked, he said that was his first human kill.  His words."  He ate another bite.  "We're going back to LA soon, then we'll be heading for a Russian job, then there's a job from one of the New York families that they wanted contracted out.  He sucks as a thief, but he's got the diversion part down pat.  He's got nearly no upper body strength outside of his arms.  Said he used to do carpentry."

"That's handy," Lupin agreed.  "Anything else that's interesting about the kid?"

"Yeah, he's *mute* about his past.  He showed me his friends when we were passing through before.  The ones who hurt him.  The one who got me captured was one of them.  Xander wasn't with them at the time, that's all he would say about it."

"If he had that bad of injuries, that could have been during his torture," Fujiko offered.  "Is he native?"

"Local to LA.  That's all he said about where he's from."

"Very interesting," Lupin agreed.  "Secrecy can build a reputation, but it'll drive some people insane with the desire to know.  It's a good strategy when you're starting out and you don't have history in the syndicates."  He ate some of his own dinner.  "Where is he thinking of posting after you?"

Jigen shrugged.  "I don't know.  I'm teaching him long-distance now.   He's going to be a well-rounded gunman, but that's what he is.  He's also got a comic book habit."

"Then he's really just a kid," Lupin agreed.  "Huh.  Congrats."

"Thanks, boss," Jigen said, giving him a fond smirk.  "You'll meet him as soon as I know he's stable.  Going back through LA has not been good for the kid.  He fought long and hard to blow up an old hotel.  His friends live there."  Lupin snickered, shaking his head.  "Not lying, man.  He wanted to blow them up."

"Maybe they tortured him," Goemon offered.

"Maybe," Jigen agreed.  "When is the wedding anyway?"

"We need to get them set into a database to prove they're local," Lupin told him.  "If we were in Athens, the city has a way around that but the town where the hideout is doesn't."  He ate another bite. "I've got someone setting it up but it could be a few more months.  They're getting ready to do a software update later this summer."

Jigen nodded.  "That's fine.  I'll dump the kid somewhere safe so he can play while we throw the bachelor party."  Goemon opened his mouth.  "It's a time honored tradition."

"No strippers," Goemon said firmly.  Jigen and Lupin nodded.  "Then that is fine. All of the attendant traditions should be observed."

Fujiko snorted.  "Strippers are part of that."

"I do not need strippers," Goemon said patiently.  "They do not interest me, neither do those films."

"Don't worry, we'll do that after we make you pass out," Lupin said with a grin.

"Either that or we'll get you really drunk and dress you up and take you out," Jigen told him.  Goemon looked at him so he smirked.  "You don't think you'd make a pretty girl for a night?"

"No, I do not.  If you try, I would have to take your student to train after your horrible mutilation."  Jigen laughed.  "Who's kidding?"

Jigen laughed harder.  "You should see the look on your face, Goemon."

"We missed you too," Lupin agreed.  "Anyone have any problems with continuing the vacation?"  No one said anything.  "Then we'll keep it going until Pops is out of the hospital."  He looked at Jigen.  "I want to see your apprentice in person soon."

"We're doing the US/Western Europe circuit.  Come over anytime.  Lavelle doesn't always make for great company.  Every once in a while he broods worse than Goemon.  I've actually seen days where he didn't speak."

"As he continues to heal from his torture, that will get smoother," Goemon told him.  He heard something beep and looked at Jigen, who looked at his pager before getting up and heading into the office.

Jigen came out a minute later.  "The kid's not exactly in trouble but he was just approached.  Not tried, just someone wanting to talk to him.  LA's Don wanted to know why he was in town."

"What reason did he give him?"

"He was trying to decide if he should blow up his former friends.  The Don said they were keeping the odd trouble down so he couldn't blow them up.  He's headed to 'Frisco.  He also saw Pops.  He's hobbling around there tracing rumors of me."  He sat down again.  "He's fine, just going insane by himself."

"He'll get used to it," Lupin told him.

"I think the kid was too used to it, he's clingy," Jigen told him.  Lupin gave him a look.  "Really.  The kid started to drink so he wouldn't be sober long enough to think.  For a rookie, he's got one hell of a tolerance."

"Alcoholics in his family history," Fujiko noted.  Jigen nodded.  "They weren't in the life at all?"

"Nope.  He said his father was menial labor and his mother a housewife."  He smirked. "Just like you'll be soon."  She glared at him and his smirk got meaner. "Just think, this means you'll have to bear the fourteenth for him."

"Someday," she agreed.  "Not anytime soon.  We agreed I'm going to continue working."

"Yeah, but you won't be able to screw us over anymore," Jigen agreed. "Lupin won't be staring at your tits."  She scowled and he chuckled.  "Hadn't thought about that?"

"If we have to, we can add her to the group," Lupin said, he could see Goemon was getting uncomfortable.  He kicked Jigen under the table and frowned at him. "Not tonight, dear, I've got a headache."

Jigen grimaced.  "I've heard that recently."

"From your student?" Fujiko asked.

"Well, yeah, I have actually, but I'm not like that."  He shook his head.  "Never mind."

"Who was she?" Lupin teased.  "Was she pretty?"

"Very, and still an evil bitch."  He ate some dinner.  "Lavelle gave her a look and she scurried off.  She even sent me back the things she had taken off me."  They laughed.  "Seriously.  He *scares* some people.  I don't know how, he's a nice guy, but he can do it."  His pager went off again, making him sigh.  "And he's still insecure."  He got up to check his mail again, finding the message that made him laugh.  He came back shaking his head.  "He decided to go to Mardi Gras."

"It's January," Lupin pointed out.

"Yes, but apparently there's some pre-parties going on and he's going to enjoy those.  I'll go pick him up after it's done, drag him to the airport with his hangover."  They all laughed, remember when he had done that to Lupin so they could escape.

"He should go to Brazil," Lupin told him.

"Next year," Jigen agreed.  "Let's get him some more experience first."  They all chuckled, that boy was making life interesting again.


Goemon walked up to where Jigen was staring at the sea.  "I am happy with her," he said quietly.

Jigen looked at him.  "Was that a statement or a question?"

"A statement," he said firmly.  He looked out at the sea.  "You could take a real vacation with us."

"He needs me, Goemon.  I understand the kid.  He's good, you'd like him."  He turned to face him, getting the samurai's attention.  "I think he used to be one of Pop's.  Not a cop," he said quickly, "but definitely one of the good guys.  His friends fucked him over badly."

"That happens sometimes," Goemon reminded him.  "They are not immune to the infighting, neither are we."  He reached over to pat him on the shoulder.  "You are doing fine.  Consider it training for having children."

Jigen shuddered.  "Eww."  The samurai chuckled, shaking his head.  "Seriously, not in my lifeplan, man."

"If you say so."  He looked out at the sea again.  "We will be happy together.  She has settled down admirably."

"I noticed her bitchiness had been abraded down.  Good job."  He gave him a nudge with his shoulder.  "How's Lupin taking it?" he asked quietly.

"He's doing well.  He has convinced himself that she was never really his."  He shrugged.  "He has not said anything."

"He won't."

"I haven't noticed either.  Perhaps you should ask him that yourself?"

"I'm fine with it," Lupin said from the doorway, coming out to join them.  Jigen gave him a look.  "Honestly, I'm okay.  Every once in a while I have to stop and think, and I don't even *want* to think about you two and sex, but if you're happy and she's happy then I'm not going to be upset about that."  He gave him a small smirk.  "Of course, I will be a godfather to all the children she'll have from you."  Goemon blushed.

"Start soon and keep her that way," Jigen recommended.  "It'll keep her out of trouble."

"She would kill me if I did that," Goemon pointed out.  "Maybe within five years."  He looked toward his room, seeing the open window, then nodded that way.  Both men chuckled and shook their heads.  "It is pretty here."

"It is," Lupin agreed. "I've always liked this house better than Greece."  He patted Jigen on the back. "You're next, you know that right?"

"Yeah," he snorted.  "With my history with women?"  He shook his head.  "Not happenin'."  He looked back at the sea again.  "Lavelle is much different than he looks, guys.  He's got this frosty shell that's hard to get through, but once you do he's loyal to a fault."

"Who did he jump in front of?" Lupin asked.  He had heard this story on the bulletin boards online, but he wanted to hear Jigen's version of it.

"Tommy Toyota came to try his luck with me.  I was relatively drunk.  So was Lavelle.  Kid can drink like a fucking fish when he's brooding."  He shook his head.  "Tommy came up, put his hand on my shoulder and I sneered at him.  So Lavelle, nice guy that he is," he admitted with a smirk, "stood up and pushed the seven-footer away from me, bitching him out like you would not believe.  Said some strange things in a language I didn't understand, but the guy blanched so he knew what he was saying.   The guy ran for his fucking life."

"I thought him American," Goemon said, looking confused.  They had run into the extra- large human on one job a few years back. He was a decent enough native guide, as long as you were specific in your desires.

"Me too," Lupin agreed.  "I heard he kicked him in the nuts."

"Not that I remember," Jigen told him.  "I've seen him do it before.  For a guy, he's real fond of wrecking other guys."

"Is he straight?" Lupin asked.  Jigen shook his head.

"Does that not cause problems?" Goemon asked.

"The kid's got a bad crush on me, but he takes 'no' reasonably well.  He wears it out with the whores.  He drags ass coming in," he said with a small chuckle.  "That is almost all of what he spends his allowance on."

"You put him on an allowance?" Lupin asked.

Jigen nodded.  "I set him up with Murami to hold the rest for him.  He only wanted a little bit each month and he spends it well.  Three-quarters goes for his sex and the rest goes to his liquor and dry cleaning.  He's even offered to share traveling expenses out of his cut."  Lupin looked impressed. "Like I said, he's a great and nice guy."

"But?" Lupin asked, knowing there was one.

"He'll need a real special boss.  He's still got some ethics.  Won't hit kids.  Won't do women unless they're criminals.  Will do it if they're firing on us.  Has in the past," he admitted.  "If Dolune was still in charge of Europe's Dark Syndicate, I'd hand him over in a heartbeat, but I don't like the new guy."

"He's got time," Lupin reminded him.  "The new Don may not.  He's not well liked."  He shrugged.  "Or there's the one in London."

"Xander said he's not going to Britain until he's ready to go cap someone over there.  Some sort of vendetta."  He shrugged.  "He isn't saying anything so I'm assuming he's part of that shit that got him hurt."

"Does he carry pictures of his friends?" Goemon asked.

"Very few of them.  Some brunette woman.  A picture of him when he was younger and still had dark hair with two other women and some guy.  A picture of a woman he introduced me to in LA.  He capped her damn quick when she appeared, killing her somewhat."

"Somewhat?" Lupin asked.

Jigen looked at him.  "That's the other thing.  He deals in the odd shit.  He killed her, and I *saw* her come out of her body and thank him for it.  Then she disappeared in a flash of light."  Lupin groaned and shook his head. "I told him I didn't want to know.  He went to our next job before me."

"In other words, he likes to run," Goemon noted.  Jigen nodded.

"It sounds like you're his security and parental figure," Lupin told him.  "Be gentle with the kid."

"Oh, I am," Jigen admitted.  "He sulks bad if you threaten him."  He chuckled.  "Then he tries to do something to make you feel better and like him again.  He exercised his meager thieving skills to get me this," he said, showing off his bracelet, "the last time I got onto him about something.  It was laying on my pillow the next morning and he was cooking breakfast.  Hadn't slept either."

Lupin looked at it, smiling.  "It's a good gift," he agreed.  "Solid silver."

"He seems to prefer silver," Jigen agreed.  He let Goemon see it.  "He's a little kid at heart, Lupin, but whoever ends up with him will have something special in him.  If you make him someone's bodyguard, he will not leave their side and he will argue with them about not letting him do his job.  Make him an assistant and he'll do anything for you without much real grumbling."  He grunted, shifting position so his ankle quit hurting.  "The kid could use some more tempering.  I find him a new weapon to learn and he *bounces*.  That first night, when he was out of it and I was injured, he was carrying a miniature crossbow and the automatic he stole off the guy who was going to cap me.  He loaded it like a pro.  He checked the clip and the slot.  I unloaded it just in case and he got it back together efficiently.  Hell, the kid suggested we hit a military base to steal some of their shit once."

Lupin sighed, stretching a little.  "He sounds good, but pretty green.  Give him a few years to find the right spot once he's out of your care.  We'll help him find someone."

"Perhaps the head in Tokyo," Goemon suggested.  "He is willing to take non-Japanese members if they are special.  He also likes people who are strange and distinctive."  He looked at Jigen.  "He used to have dark hair?" Jigen nodded.  "What changed it?"

"He said radiation.  I didn't ask more than that because he was brooding at the time," Jigen noted.  "I don't know if he was sick or what.  I know he's silver everywhere but his pubes.  He has trouble walking around without anything on, but there's always blurry spots on his body, like they're covered even though he's not wearing anything."

"An illusion," Lupin told him.  "We've met someone who could do that."  Jigen grunted, remembering that.  "Any other special skills?"
"Yeah, the kid makes toxic coffee," Jigen shared, cracking them up.  "I mean it.  We were hanging at a bar one night and he took a turn behind the bar when the bartender ran out.   His coffee was toxic.  Ate the plastic cups toxic.  Literally."  Lupin giggled, shaking his head.  "Seriously.  Never make the boy make you coffee.  I was afraid after that.  He said it would sober up drunks; I have no doubt it would.  It'd eat the alcohol with their stomachs."

"We should send him to Pops," Lupin laughed.  "Make him his assistant for a few days, have him make him coffee."

"I'm not that cruel," Jigen told him, smiling.  "Poor Pops would never survive a few days with a hyper Lavelle."

"He will settle down as he grows up," Goemon said.

"He's in his mid-twenties, Goemon, he's already fully grown.  He's as tall as I am.  He's six- two and about a hundred-eighty in muscles.   He's almost got no fat on him now.   He's taken to the life like it was made for him."

Lupin smirked.  "We get to meet him when?" he teased.  "Sounds like you'd have a honey if you ever unbent."

"I don't like men, Lupin.  Otherwise I wouldn't have slugged you a few years back when you got desperate."  Lupin snickered.  "Seriously.  If I ever did, he'd kill me in bed.  He's the only man I've ever met who whores say he's too tiring."  They looked at him, mouths open.  "Really.  He's had one say, in my hearing, that she couldn't take him on, she had too much work to do.  He offered her more money and she gave him a kiss and a blow instead, making him happy enough for ten minutes.  She seriously knew his reputation as someone who wears them out."

Lupin shook his head.  "Damn, and I thought I was bad," he said with a grin.

"You are bad," Jigen and Goemon said in unison.  All three laughed, leaning against each other.


Jigen woke up to someone shaking his shoulder, grunting and swatting at them.  "Let me sleep, Lavelle, or I'm gonna cap you in the head next time," he mumbled.

"I would were I him," Goemon said.  Jigen opened an eye, looking at him.  "I wished to talk to someone more neutral."  He sat on the foot of his bed.  "I know it is late."

"S'okay," he said, forcing himself to sit up.  "What's wrong?"

"I have doubts," he admitted.  Jigen gave him a nod and a look.  "How would I fare settling down?"

"Like you do now, only with a wife to think of," Jigen told him.  "It's like living with another person only you don't get to kick their ass when they piss you off."

"The only people I have lived with were other students and my sensei," he pointed out.  "I had no siblings and I cannot treat her like I did my mother.  She would get rather upset."

Jigen nodded, not able to imagine Fujiko's attitude getting worse if Goemon started to defer to her.  "Think of it like our group," he suggested.  "You have to learn to get along or it falls apart.  You set out roles and try to stick to them, but you get to fill in sometimes."  Goemon nodded, getting more comfortable.   "Show her how you like things done then expect to get frustrated because she hasn't lived in a real house outside of the hideouts in years."

"She's told me as much.  She said she's missed having a home," Goemon shared.

"Then make sure she knows where home now is," Jigen said firmly.  "Let her go running back to it if you're not there, or let her go work if you are.  Shit, Lupin and I fought like cats when we first met up.  You should remember that."

"I do," Goemon agreed, considering it.  "So it is a partnership, only a legal one?"  Jigen nodded.  "I believe I could do that.  What about..."  He glanced around and leaned closer.  "Domestic things?"

Jigen snorted.  "Do you think she'll actually cook and clean, Goemon?"  He shook his head.  "Try it once though, I want to see her face."  The samurai laughed, looking down.  "It'll be fine.  You'll have to learn how to make her scream in pleasure whenever she's pissed at you.  It'll keep you sane when she's on a rip."  He shifted his feet, laying sideways on the bed.  "Are you going to stay at the house for a while?"

"Maybe.  I think she has a few jobs in mind.  I have no idea if I am involved."

"Remember, there is community property between married people," Jigen pointed out.  "If she steals a million, at least half it of is yours."

"We have talked about this.  We agreed to set aside half of our cuts into a joint account and the rest will be hidden away from the other," he said quietly.

Jigen looked impressed.  "Good thinking.  That way she can't find it and take it."  Goemon nodded. "Are you two doing a prenuptial?"

"I had thought of it but I do not believe in divorce," Goemon told him.

"Does she know that?"  He nodded, looking very serious.  "Then she must really like you, man.  Feel lucky."

"I do, but I have doubts," he sighed.  "She is a very worldly woman."

"She's a woman, Goemon.  Worldly or not, they're still women.  They all act the same most of the time.  They have wants, needs, and desires. From what I can see, filling the needs and desires makes them the happiest.  Have sex with her, make sure you can stand her that way before you get married.  With your inexperience, she might have to teach you for a while."  His friend blushed.  "Hey, she likes that stuff.  You're going to have to get used to satisfying that need too.  She'll probably want it a lot more than you do."

"How do I approach that subject?" he asked, still blushing.

"Walk up to her and kiss her hard," Jigen snorted.  "Make it clear what you want.  Either that or go down the hall, knock on her door and blush, then step inside and let her take control," he suggested, knowing Goemon wouldn't be able to walk up to her and kiss her with the way he was blushing.  "Have you two even kissed yet?"

"I have kissed her.  She has very soft lips," he admitted.  "She always looks quite shocked."

"That's a good thing," Jigen promised.  Goemon smiled at him. "Go down the hall, tap on her door and go inside when she opens the door.  Stammer at her and blush some more.  Let her show you what she wants.  Don't let her do anything for herself that first time.  Women get mushy about their first times with new lovers."  Goemon nodded.  "Take a condom," he said, grabbing one out of his drawer.  Lupin had them stashed all over the house, including in all of the bedrooms.  Just in case he wanted to use them.  Not that would be using Jigen's bed - or he had better not use his bed.  Goemon looked at the package.  "Need a quick lesson?"

"No, I've seen them used before," he admitted, blushing brighter.  "Are you sure I should do it tonight?"

"Hell, yes," Jigen told him.  "Better now than finding out on the honeymoon that you're not compatible.  That way, she can rest tomorrow while we go do guy stuff."   His friend nodded, padding out.  He heard him knock on Fujiko's room and her answer.  Then he heard the 'eep'.  Apparently Fujiko had been listening in and taken control.  He chuckled, listening in case Goemon called for someone to save him from her.  It was educational, who knew she was a screamer.


Lupin walked up to where Jigen was sitting on the beach, flopping next to him.  "You had to encourage that last night?" he asked bitterly.  "They woke me up."

"He was worried," Jigen said with a little shrug, glancing at him and smirking behind his book.  "What better way to ease it?"

"They woke me up," Lupin pointed out again.

"Yeah, I've never heard her be that vocal before."  He put aside his book at the depressed sigh.  "She held back from you, boss.  You and I both know she wasn't meant for you."

"Yeah, but we understood each other, or so I thought."

"No, like my student, you only got to see so much of who she really was.  That's the one thing that irks me about the kid. He's honest as hell if you ask, but he's got layers.  I've made it halfway down the onion, but with Fujiko you only got a few layers. The fact that she was so loose with him means he's gotten further down her onion."

"Think she faked it?" Lupin asked.

"Not with the way she was screaming," Jigen admitted.  "Women who fake it don't get that loud."  He stopped talking when she came out onto the porch, nudging Lupin to look.  "Women who fake it don't limp the next morning."

Lupin looked at Jigen.  "Maybe I should give up sex for a while.  Then I could do that to women too."

"Then you'd never get laid," Jigen told him.

"I could always talk you into bed," he teased.  "That way both of us would be happy."

"Man, what makes you think you've got something I haven't seen and I haven't wanted it yet.  Besides, then I'm with the eternal hard-body boy right now.  Everything looks good on the guy.  His t-shirts are tight, his dress shirts are fitted.  His jeans cling to his ass and he gets picked up all the time.  And I still don't like guys so until you grow tits and a clit, you're shit out of luck."

"Maybe me and your student should hook up," Lupin teased.

Jigen groaned.  "Don't.  He reminds me of you on a rip.  He might kill you in bed."

"Maybe, but he's cute," Lupin noted, handing over Jigen's wallet.  Jigen gave him a dirty look.  "Sorry, I wanted to see a real picture of him.  The Alamo?"

"Where better to work on his shooting skills than Texas?" Jigen taunted.   "He and the rednecks got along so well it was scary.  Put him into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and he fit in with them *real* well.  He even listened to country music.  Went to a redneck dance club and everything."

Lupin snorted.  "I'm sure you had fun with that."

"I did, and then he drug me to the only real gay bar in Texas.  Or so the sign proclaimed when you walked in.  Out in the middle of fricken' nowhere, man, and he was kickin' up a storm with them.  He was line dancing with some scary bitches."

Lupin chuckled.  "Let me guess, Texas queers are stronger than the New York ones?"

"Texas queers were scary individuals.  They were like Wyoming ranchers."  Lupin laughed again.  "And their drag queens were tougher than any I've ever met.  The one he was teasing was like that football player we had to work with in upper New York that time."

"So much for sissy men," Lupin snickered.

"True.  Then we went up to New York for a few days and he slid into the lifestyle up there smoothly.  Less manners, but comfortable in most settings.  He's not big on people he doesn't know and he's still pretty unsure in formal settings, but the club honeys adored his tight ass.  I let him be the diversion while I did business to get him to Europe.  Our contact wanted to know if Lavelle would sleep with him for the fee."

"Did you tell him to ask the kid?"

"I did, and Xander gave him this look, then licked his lips, and Michael nearly drooled himself to death.  He and Xander disappeared and then Xander came back alone with his new passport and everything.  Not rumpled, nothing.  He went and played with some of the women, hitting a few of them in the bathroom before we left.  Then he went and collapsed on the bed."


"First name."

"Oh."  Lupin looked at him. "Then where did he get Lavelle?"

Jigen smirked.  "It's his middle name.  He's used it in the past. He won't say where."


"He's too clean for that," Jigen told him.  "He's a pure little boy.  No drugs, no real booze before we met.  A like for sex that's unimaginable, but nothing else.  I'd say a polite club kid but he's never done drugs."

"Interesting.  What's with his thing about left targets?  It was mentioned."

"I don't know.  I think he's got eye dominance.  He does more than good enough even with that minor quirk.  I'd love to see him become someone's assistant and bodyguard," he sighed and shifted deeper into the sand.  He glanced back at Fujiko and found Goemon being solicitous, nudging Lupin to look.

Lupin looked up there.  "They fit," he decided.  "He's sweet to her and she needed it."  He shrugged.  "She's his."

"Good.  Are you gonna be able to live in the same house with them bein' like that?"

"Yeah, but I'll be doing a lot of reading in my study," Lupin said with a sad smile.  "Hurry up with the kid.  I'll need someone to talk to again."

"He won't leave the group," Jigen promised.  "He'll do what he's doing now, going and coming back.  He might even be around more so she has somewhere to go that's safe."  Lupin looked stunned. "It's not like he's going to let her go out and flirt like she used to.  We'll have to stop counting on her and her tits of doom."

Lupin nodded.  "True, he won't let her.  Did you notice?  Her cleavage has been covered for the most part."

"She's got it bad," Jigen sighed.  He looked up at the sun.  "Let's hope we never get locked in a cell for four months."  Lupin swatted him.  "What?  I don't want to give you gushy looks."  He scowled at him. "It'd fuck with my head."

"Hopefully not," Lupin told him, smirking at him.  "If we do, remember, I'm on top."

"Yeah, yeah, that's what you say now," Jigen teased.  Lupin hit him on the arm again.  He hit him back.  Lupin pounced him to fight with him, playing the whole time.  "You're gonna bend my book, Lupin."

"Keep it up and I'll take your student from you and make him my willing love slave."

"Eww, he'd drool on you."

"Children," Goemon yelled. "Quit before you scare the tourists."  The guys grinned at him and he rolled his eyes.

Fujiko patted him on the chest.  "Don't worry, they're playing."

"I know, but it is in public.  They can wrestle on the living room floor if they want to do such things.  Who knows who could be watching."

Fujiko smirked at him.  "Like Pops?  I doubt he'd do more than cheer them on.  He'd probably think they were splitting the group and it was a real fight."  Lupin and Jigen came up the stairs from the beach, so she smirked at them. "Why don't you two hook up finally and end that playing around?"

"Because I like real tits," Jigen told her.  "He couldn't pass as a woman even if he had a set."  He sat down, putting his feet up on the railing.

"It's the same problem he has with his student," Lupin shared, sitting down in his usual seat.  "How did everyone sleep last night?"  Goemon blushed dark red and groaned.   "I thought you were working out, I kept hearing something squeal.  I think we've got a few loose floor boards in the living room."

Fujiko hit him.  "Quit picking on Goemon."

"Finally found a man who does all those things the rest of them wouldn't?" Jigen teased.

"I never had anything like that," Lupin told him.  "I'm very open to trying new things."

"We know, boss, you tell us that all the time.  Keep it up and I will tell Lavelle to pounce your ass.  Let's see you work when you can't walk for two days."

"Two days?  Is he built that big?" Fujiko teased.  Goemon groaned and hid his face.  "Sorry, I'm just picking on him."

"Please pick a different topic, woman," Goemon ordered.

"Woman?  Are you going to keep calling me that?  I think you need work on your endearments."

"You are a woman," Goemon pointed out, looking confused.  She got up and went inside.  He looked at the other men.  "What did I do?"

"Oral sex," Lupin and Jigen said in unison.

"That cures most minor things," Jigen promised.

"Do the Pavlov thing and reward her for taking it from you," Lupin agreed.  "Either that or find her a really pretty present."  Goemon nodded, still bright red.  "What's wrong?  The longer you wait, the worse it'll be."

"How would one do that?" he asked, fully embarrassed now.

"You go down on them, lick them a lot, sucking and nibble at appropriate points," Jigen told him.  "We'll find you a book, man."  Goemon nodded, going in to try and soothe Fujiko.  He sighed.  "He's in for it," he said quietly.

Lupin shook his head, leaning back to get comfortable. "She'll teach him that quickly enough.  Fuji always liked to be licked."

"I didn't need to know that," Jigen said dryly.

"Don't do that for your women?"

"Hardly ever.  It doesn't do a thing for me," he said smoothly.  Lupin broke out in cackles.  "That's for apologies."

"Sorry, but I know how much women like foreplay.  It seems to get them ready to do anything you can think up."

Fujiko's scream echoed around them.

They clapped, both of them laughing hard.  Apparently Goemon had learned his lesson already.


Jigen walked into the hotel in New Orleans two weeks after the end of Mardi Gras, looking around the ancient inn.  "Lavelle?" he asked the clerk.

"You're his mentor.  He's up in the bar," the old man said, grinning at him.  "He's one hell'a boy.  Fun too.  Made Mardi Gras lots of fun."  He pointed at the bar.  "Look for the center of attention, it's your boy."

Jigen nodded, heading that way.  The place was still decorated and they were playing some sort of strip drinking game.  Xander had a ton of beads around his neck.  "The party was over weeks ago," he said dryly in greeting.

Lavelle grinned at him. "Only if you're Catholic."  The other partiers laughed and another round was served.  "Pull up a chair, Jigen. Meet my new buddies.  This is Mac, Mel, and Merlin.  They're triplets," he said with a leer for the three college-aged blond boys.  All of them were geeky looking.  "That's Tasha, she's a girl," he said, grinning at her.  "Then this here is Old Tom," he said, patting the older man beside him.  "He's a good hunter and finder of parties."  He slammed his next round and belched, making everyone sigh.  "Oh, come on," he pleaded.  "It's not like I'm drunk."

"Lavelle, you've had ten shots," Tasha complained. "We'll all be naked soon and I can't handle sleeping with the triplets and Tom."

He leered at her.  "So I'll take Mac and Mel, you get the other two," he said, leering at the triplets again.  Two of them whimpered and slammed their own shots, then one of them passed out and they all took off something.

Jigen shook his head.  "Lavelle," he sighed.

"Yeah, boss?" he asked with a grin.  "Wanna join in?  We've been going now for nearly two days.  We're down to just us.  Sixteen people yesterday and only eight came back today.  We started out Ash Wednesday with over a hundred."

Jigen groaned.  "No, I think I'll pass.  Did you do anything besides drink and get laid?"

"Oh, yeah, up in our room," he said, digging his key out of his pants pocket and handing it over.  "Go look in the extra suitcase.  I found you something pretty during the parties."

Jigen nodded, standing up again.  "Come upstairs before you pass out or I'm leaving you here."  Lavelle nodded, grinning at him.  "Fine.  You have your fun.  Don't get hurt and don't hurt anyone else."  He headed up to the room, looking at the small brass key.  He opened the door, noticing the musty smell of the old wood.  He walked over, opening the window to let some fresh air in, then looked at the three suitcases on the beds.  His, Lavelle's, and a new one.  He sat down, opening the new one, and his eyes bugged out.  Inside were some very pretty pieces of jewelry.  Most of it wasn't even costume stuff.  At the bottom was a bundle of beads.  He winced as he opened Lavelle's suitcase, finding a matching set.  "Only women get those," he muttered, deciding he didn't want to know.   What Lavelle had done to get all those beads was none of his business as long as it didn't hurt business.  When Lavelle came bouncing in later, really drunk, he looked at him.  "How'd you do it?"

"Drunk people partying," he said with fond remembrance.   "They were very sweet, thought I deserved it for being such a good sport."  He sat down, pulling something out from under his bed. "I meant this one," he admitted, handing over the gym bag.  "That's my half."  He took his back, letting Jigen open his present.

Jigen opened it and blinked, then looked at Xander again, pulling up a blood red ruby.  "Whose was this?"

"Someone who thought she was Dracula's mistress," he said honestly.  "She was not very impressive.  He needs better taste in women.  I always thought the Sisters were pretty when I met them, but they're cooped up so much that they're desperate for affection.  This one was not up to his usual standard."  He shrugged.  "Besides, it was Mardi Gras and he shouldn't have been here.  I wanted to rob him the last time we met but he was being picky and made me eat bugs."  He laid down, clutching his bag to his chest.  "Nighty-night, Jigen."

"Good night, Lavelle.  We'll leave tomorrow, okay?"

"Sure.  I don't get hangovers."  He closed his eyes, smiling as he fell asleep.

"Dracula?" Jigen mouthed, looking at the ruby.  It was very pretty.  He'd check Lavelle's count of the cut later, just in case.  Not that he doubted the kid would stiff him but Lavelle didn't have a full idea of worths yet.  He'd have to do something to weed out the costume stuff too, unless the kid really wanted to keep it.

Lupin would laugh his ass off about this when he got to meet the boy next year.

"Pack, we're going to LA next week, after the Russian job.  It'll mark our first year anniversary."

"Cool," Lavelle agreed.

The End.

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