Note: Includes Con stuff. Spike, as in off Cowboy Bebop, not the vampire one you saw last time.
Xander walked Marcus into the hotel where the convention they were staying at was being held and up to the desk. "Hi. I have a registration for the convention and he's got one for a room off the convention floors?" he asked quietly. "Harris?" The clerk smiled at him, finding them both. He handed over his shopping credit card, making the guys' eyes bulge out. "What?" He looked at the name, then back at him. "What? It's a fairly common name."
"I heard someone saying something about you earlier," he said, shaking his head as he ran the card. Both rooms were paid for. "I've put an imprint on this for any necessities you may have," he said with a smile for the younger man. "He's not coming with you?"
"No. I'm watching over him but he'll be picked up in a few days. He's one of my friend's young sons." The clerk smiled and handed him the slate to sign. "Thanks. Where's the con registration desk?"
"In Ballroom one," he said, checking that it had transferred. He created two room card keys and put them into envelopes before handing them over. "Here you are. He's up in room 1786. You're on the fourth floor, where most of the convention's dealers are."
Xander shivered. "An addiction I adore," he shared with a grin. "And it's only expensive, not unhealthy." He smiled and took the keys, handing Marcus his. Then he handed him the bags. "Here you go. I'll come up and get mine in a minute. I'll be wandering for a while." Marcus nodded, heading up to do that. Xander waved and skipped into the ballroom, smiling at the woman behind the desk. "It's you again!" he squealed, hugging her. She laughed and patted him on the back. "I met you in Paris. Do you work all of them?"
"I try to, it gets me in for free," she told him. "Let's see, you were...Iceman?" she asked. He nodded. She found his packet and looked at it. "Not yours." She found the other one and it was definitely him. "Where did you get the funky dye?" she asked.
He ran a hand through his silver locks. "It's natural," he admitted. "Every once in a while a black strand pops up in my beard but I'm like this all over except the things that I shave." She blushed and laughed, handing over his packet. "Thank you." He blew a kiss. "Are we doing much tonight?"
"Mostly check in, the usual meet-and-greet dinner. No costumes tonight at that by the way. Then we'll be doing a fan viewing tonight of Serial Experiment Lain." He shuddered and shook his head. "Not your part of the anime continuum?" she teased.
"No, that's a mind fuck. I like the funny stuff. Give me Vash any day."
"There's one of those coming," she promised with a wink. "Maybe you two should talk." He giggled and walked away, going to look at the dealer tables that were already set up. She leaned over to talk to the dealer behind her. "Isn't he famous?" she hissed. "I *know* I've seen his picture."
"On wanted posters. He's Lavelle," he hissed back. "Big, huge anime whore. He went to Japan and bought tons from what I heard." She looked impressed. "He's apparently decided we're neutral territory and will not act here. On his form he checked that he was a bodyguard but he wouldn't be bringing a weapon. Just like the real Vash lover who's coming. Oh, and Spike's coming too." He wiggled his eyebrows. "I know you like the Bebop honey."
She blushed. "Yeah. But he's always so pleasant. I need to get a little dirty. Maybe I'll talk with Iceman." She went back to her post as someone else walked in and squealed. She was used to it from the newbies.
Xander unpacked the bag he had sent to himself, taking out his very special new outfit. His old one had ketchup on it so he couldn't use it anymore. This new silver one was very pretty though. It was tailored to fit him specially and it did fit like a glove. With his silver hair, all he needed was some clown makeup for his face. He had won an award in Austria for his other costume and this one was better. So what if there was another one down there. He snorted. "I doubt he can turn into Iceman." He went to shower, taking special care with his hair. When he came out, he found someone in his room. "Hey. Vash the Stampede," he said, nodding. "Cool. I missed you in Paris and Austria." He held out a hand. "Lavelle."
"Myron Banks." He shook it. "ICPO."
"Dirt. Dude, I'm here for fun. Can we call a truce for the event?"
Myron shrugged. "I checked, they're still trying to find your files in the system." He nodded at the costume. "Iceman? Not a gunman?"
"There aren't any with silver hair," he said miserably. "Besides, I've always like Bobby's devil-may-care attitude and smart quips." He slid into his suit and turned. "Zip me up please?"
"Sure." He did so, making sure the hair was out of the way. "You do look hot in that." Xander grinned at him. "And I'm still straight."
"That's cool. I'm not totally but I respect all ways." Myron laughed. "Are we having a costume event tonight after all?" He nodded. "Not the meet-and-greet, right?"
"Afterwards. You could change and go as Inuyasha. He does have white hair."
"I suck at working kimonos. I've tried," Xander admitted.
"Try again. This one is more anime centric," he pointed out.
"Yeah. And I do have a sword, just not here." He grimaced and opened his other package, pulling out that outfit to look at. He had found it in Japan.
"Is that an authentic kimono?" Myron asked. Xander beamed and nodded. "Wow. When did you find that?"
"My last trip to Japan. I brought a screen cap in with me and the guy gave me a funny look but he seemed to like it." He chuckled. "Think I'll get some little school girls?"
"Probably. There's a lot of them downstairs." He unzipped Xander, turning so he could change. "I just came to let you know I was watching you."
"Dude, I'm like every other fan in the con. I'm not even packing heat. The only piece I've got is in my main bag upstairs with my trainee."
"Yeah, I noticed Marcus Wyndam-Pryce had checked in. Why?"
"We just got back from a Master/sub event in Germany." He slipped on the loose pants and both tops. "This is really heavy." He adjusted it, knowing Goemon would be shaking his head somewhere about him complaining still.
"You'll get used to it." He turned, watching as Xander pulled out a pair of ninja two-toed socks and sandals. "Interesting. Goemon?" he asked. Xander nodded. "Decent." He watched as Xander looked up and muttered something, getting a sword. "Not exactly authentic." Xander muttered and it changed into a katana. "How did you do that?"
Xander beamed. "Magic." Something fell and hit him on the head, with a bright bow on it. "Ooohh! Thanks, Dawnie!" he called. He picked up the katana, pulling it to look at it. "It's very nice." He took off the other sword he had gotten in Istanbul and put that one on. "There, how is it?"
"Your pants are crooked." Xander looked down and adjusted them. "Excellent. You could be him." He shook his head. "You've obviously trained well." Xander gave him a goofy grin. "Now I know why Zenigata said you were the most dangerous. You're very relaxing."
"I'm not on the job, man. I'm relaxed myself." He blew a kiss. "Let's go." He grabbed his key card and his wallet, stuffing them into the special pockets he had put inside his inner kimono. "Okay, I'm ready." They walked out together. "Are you sure we won't get into trouble during the meet-and-greet?"
"Probably not." He waited while Xander locked his door. "You didn't bring anything?" Xander shook his head. "Can you use that thing?"
"Goemon swears I'll be able to do more than hack and slash with it soon," he said smartly. "I'm nowhere near proficient but I have taken some lessons." He led the way down to the desk to get his profile changed. The woman squealed when she saw him. "Vash pointed out that I really should be my other alter ego for this one," he quipped. "Think I can pull off surly and smart-assed?" She giggled and blushed brighter, finding him and changing his name, making him a new ID tag when he handed in his old one. "Thanks, sweetie. This be okay for the meet-and-greet?"
"It's already been broken," she assured him, waving at Myron. "You are so hot as Vash," she promised. "Oh, the schoolgirl contingent is looking for you, Inuyasha. They think you're famous."
"Groupies," he groaned, shaking his head. "I never expected that." He walked Myron out, liking this kindred spirit. "Do you guys get groupies too?"
"No, not at all," he admitted dryly, looking at his apparent companion. "I've got a duel later with the best Spike, someone said they wanted us to. He's an American cop named Ray. You wanna watch?"
"Sure. Real or pretend?"
"Pretend. None of us are supposed to be carrying weapons around the convention."
"Some of us are weapons," Xander reminded him smoothly. "And don't let Marcus hear you say that, he's very attached to his sword." Myron rolled his eyes. "He's staying upstairs until someone comes to pick him up. This is my reward for going to Germany." He opened the door. "After you, Vash."
"Thank you, Inuyasha." They walked in, and people looked at them. Over half of them were dressed up but none as good as them. They'd be seeing each other again in the finals of the costume contest.
One of the schoolgirls bounced over to Xander. "Wow. You're the best Inuyasha yet. How did you get your hair that color?"
He bowed to her, letting her see his roots. "It's natural," he said. She felt some of it and giggled, heading off to report that. He bowed to Myron. "Come get me whenever the duel's going to happen." A very good Spike impersonator walked up to them and he bowed properly to him too. "Good day," he said in direct imitation of Goemon.
"Damn, you're good," Spike sighed.
"I'm being taught by a Japanese sensei," Xander said smugly. "Don't worry, we're all at peace here. My demonic nature will not come out."
"You don't have the necklace."
"Yes, but I'm also not panting after any little schoolgirls yet either," he said with a wink. "There is no Kagome or Kikiou here." He strolled off, going to the register to find his seat. They had put all the dangerous people together so Spike and Vash soon joined him. He saluted them with his beer. "Bottoms up." He sipped, looking around. The schoolgirls were taking up six tables of their own and there were more spread here and there. One of the other Inuyashas had one on his arm. Or her arm, he couldn't tell. She had bleached her hair until it was fried for her look. The other two were blondes. There was one who was trying so hard but he couldn't quite pull it off. Maybe he'd suggest the kid became Miroku later. He got comfortable, watching the teasing and flirting and bragging going on.
"So," Spike said. "I hear you've been to Japan recently?" Xander nodded, grinning at him. "Get anything?"
"I got this outfit and I got a *ton* of anime. Unsubbed, undubbed, straight from the factory anime." Both men groaned. "Two big, huge shipping boxes of it," he said smugly. "I have no idea what some of it is, it just looked interesting. I go toward the funny and the action stuff anyway."
"Is that why you took up with your boss?" Spike asked.
Xander shook his head. "I saved Jigen, he adopted me." He sipped his beer. "I'm still off duty."
"Good ta know," Spike said, showing his Chicago roots. "I thought you were Iceman."
"That's Vash's fault," Xander said smugly. "He convinced me to change." He stood up as someone slightly familiar walked over. She was very old, very slow, and very not in costume outside of her native kimono. "Grandmother," he said, bowing to her. "What may this humble person do for you?"
"You may sit me down," she ordered. He sat her in his chair, squatting beside her. "The child shall be born nearly on time but you must prepare for a problem during it. There shall be a storm," she told him. He nodded, pushing some of his silver hair behind his ear. "The storm shall knock out power. Something will feel her if you do not guard her."
"If we guard her before that, will it help?" he asked. She nodded. "Will it stop the problems?" She nodded again. "Then let me get my compatriot down here. He is studying that art more fiercely than I am."
"Really?" she asked, smiling at him. "Who?"
"Marcus Wyndam-Pryce," he told her, pulling over Spike's phone. "It's upstairs," he promised. He dialed and waited. "Marcus. Come to the lobby. Yeah, now." He hung up. "Come, Grandmother, let me introduce you. He is much better than his father." She nodded, letting him take her arm and walk her out again.
"Who was that?" Spike asked Vash.
Vash shrugged. "I don't know. I'm still stuck on how his sword appeared out of thin air," he told him, sipping his own beer. "He didn't even bring a weapon with him."
"I doubt the guy needs one," Spike snorted, shaking his head. "That's one dangerous fan."
"With groupies," Vash shared, grinning at him. "He wanted to know if I got them too."
"Nah, not yet. I got that application faxed over. I've got an interview tomorrow." He grinned. "Cool, huh?"
"Sure. I'm being transferred to deal with his home group. Anymore, they take up so much room on the top ten we've just lumped them together as one. They're number two." Spike laughed. "It'll be nice to have a fellow fan in the group. You'll like Zenigata. His task force will be hellishly long but we'll be busy. Lots of traveling."
Xander led the older woman to the elevators, where Marcus was looking around fearfully. "They're just like me," he soothed. "Grandmother, this is Marcus."
She looked at him. "You do bear a resemblance," she agreed. "And also the mark of Janus." She touched his lips. "You will do to protect the child as she is born. Take me somewhere softer to stand," she ordered.
Xander nodded. "She's the seer who found me to tell me about her. Ask her about names too," he said with a grin, waving and jogging back to his table. "Sorry, small problem with the newest Baby Goemon."
Vash looked at him. "Already?" Xander nodded. "Well. What this time?"
"A girl. You can tell Gramps I said so." He grinned. "We heard he's getting a few people and his rookies."
"His rookies are nearly out of their initial year and one's transferring over. Your favorite enemy is transferring back and both of us."
"Wow. I'm honored," Xander said, nodding at Spike. "We should duel sometime."
"I don't do swords."
"Neither do I most of the time," he pointed out gently.
"No, Lavelle wouldn't," Vash agreed. Ray looked stunned. "You hadn't figured it out?"
"I thought he was that chick that ran with them sometimes." Spike looked at him, then shook his head. "Sorry. It's the way the robe fits."
"I know. It sucks sometimes, but I'm fully male. Maybe a shooting contest? We like Gramps but he's a horrible shot."
"I'm not," Vash promised, grinning at him.
"Me either," Spike told him.
"Cool! Shooters. I'll have to pass that back. None of the three rookies have been shooters." He saluted them with his beer. "Here's to a long and productive chase for both sides." They goggled at him. "What?" he asked innocently. He took a sip. "I get paid well for what I do." Upstairs, Marcus had yet to eliminate nearly sixty billion in colored diamonds. They hadn't gotten the vase he had picked out for the shell game, but Marcus had the diamonds before they had left.
Xander walked around the tables, picking up zines and pictures at nearly every spot. His basket was full. He'd have to go upstairs to put things down soon. He found one back in a shady corner and looked at him. "Hey, what's your line?" he asked.
"I'm offering dubbed copies of some popular titles on DVD," he said, smiling at him.
Xander shook his head. "No thanks, I'm learning Japanese." He strolled off, heading to the next one.
"We could use your voice then."
"Sorry," Xander said, shrugging back at him. "I'm kinda busy most of the time and hardly ever in the same place." He looked at the next table. Mostly stuff he already had in Star Trek. There was an unfamiliar title on DVD so he picked it up to read the description. His reading Japanese was much better than his speaking of it.
"Hi," a female voice said shyly. Xander glanced at her. "There are people who are saying that you're...." She swallowed and leaned closer. "Lavelle."
He paid for his new DVD then led her off to the side, out of the way of eavesdroppers. "Who's saying that?" he asked.
"Some of the other girls. They think you are. They think you're going to be turned into a hero of your own anime." His face lit up. "You didn't hear? There's someone here looking for you because of it," she hissed. "I want a kiss if you are and an autograph."
"Shit, if this isn't a setup, I'll do more than kiss you, dear. If you want of course." She blushed brighter and led him to the big table. "Hi." The man goggled at him, saying something in Japanese. "Slow down, my speaking isn't that great," he replied in Japanese. He smiled at the girl and showed her his room number. "Later," he promised. She giggled and ran off to gossip to her friends. Xander pulled a chair over. "She said you wanted to talk to me."
He nodded, leaning forward. "We are thinking something like Witch Hunter Robin, only more paranormal and leaning toward .hack/sign," he said in accented English. "Would you be interested, Lavelle?"
Xander frowned. "I'd like to see a script and have you ask formal permission of my sensei. Would that bother you?" The man shook his head, his eyes widening. "Will you be here the whole convention?" He nodded. "Then give me a room number to call and I will have them get with you as soon as he gets here and you have a script." The man handed over a card. "Thank you." He tucked it into his wallet, then bowed. "You honor me. I am so thrilled," he gushed. "I love anime!" He hugged him then walked off, going back to his browsing.
The man smiled and called his boss. "He's tentatively agreed. He wants to see a script and he said I could meet with his sensei over the idea. Yes, the whole group would be wonderful!" he agreed. "Daisuke Jigen would make a wonderful elf!" He hung up and called his assistant to tell her to expect a shipment from the home office as soon as possible. This would boost their sales! They would be on top again!
Xander walked into his room and found a whole horde of school girls waiting on him. "Did someone bribe a maid?" he teased, putting his basket down. They all sighed and gave him adoring looks. "Oh, crap, you're *all* groupies? I thought I only had a few!" They all nodded, grinning at him. "Wow. Did you guys just wanna talk?" They pounced him, driving him to the floor. His outfit was carefully put aside with his sword, they only wanted the man and a small piece of hair if he relented.
Not that they were going to give him much chance to protest.
Marcus knocked on Xander's door, but he didn't get an answer. He wasn't downstairs. He wasn't anywhere. He knew someone had figured out who he was because people had been whispering about Lavelle being such a nice guy. He glanced around and put the electric lock pick into the card slot, pushing a button before anyone could stop him. He opened the door and disengaged the opener, walking inside. Xander was laying splayed naked out on the floor, napping with the goofiest grin on his face. "Alexander!" he said, slamming the door.
Xander moaned and looked up at him. "Fluids," he moaned. "School girl groupies."
Marcus glared but was nice enough to go into the bathroom to get him some water. He came out, helping him sit up and drink. "Groupies?"
"Groupies," Xander moaned, sipping gently. "Lots of groupies." He sighed and went limp again, going back to sleep. "Call home. They want to make us 'toons."
"What?" Xander didn't respond, he was asleep again. He let him fall to the floor again and poured the remaining water over his face. Xander flipped onto his side and curled up, mumbling something. Marcus sighed and walked over to find Xander's cellphone. He saw the katana and picked it up, taking it out to look at. "A decorative blade," he decided, putting it back. He folded the formal clothing properly before it was wrinkled, then dug through his bag. He found the cell at the bottom of the second bag. He stared at Xander as he called the main number. "House of Porn?" he asked dryly in response to the greeting. "No, they haven't yet." He grimaced at Xander. "No, he's passed out on the floor after someone he called a schoolgirl groupie. Yes, I said groupie. I don't know, he said I was to call you because someone wanted to make us toons? Oh, and I have some information about the Master's daughter's birth. We will need to make some preparations." He smiled. "That would be fine." He hung up. "Alexander," he sighed. "Really. Such disgusting conduct!" He stood up and winced, going back to his room to hope the laxative worked this time.
Xander snored on.
Jigen walked into the convention, nodding at one girl behind a desk. "I'm looking for the guy with silver hair," he said, noticing that it probably could fit a few people.
"Um, that's not real descriptive around here," she said. "Male or female?"
Lupin walked up behind Jigen. "Any luck yet?" Jigen frowned at him. "Hi. We're looking for Harris?"
"Oh, that one!" she said excitedly pointing. "He's with his groupies. They snatched him at breakfast and haven't let him alone yet. They've been with him all morning," she said in awe. "Even some of the ones from yesterday."
"Yesterday?" Lupin asked.
She stood up to lean closer. "Yesterday, a few of them found out who Lavelle was and went to...introduce themselves," she said with a small smirk. "He was supposedly very kind, even giving them a chance to trim the bottom of his hair so they could have some strands." Lupin shook his head. "Really, he's been a real gentleman. Aren't you Lupin the Third?" He nodded and she nearly swooned. "Wow. Are you into anime?"
"Lavelle's teaching us all," Jigen told her. "Which dark corner is he entertaining in?"
"They're in ballroom two right now, back against the dias. The guy from the anime company is in there with a script and so is the stuffy guy."
"Must be Marcus," Jigen noted, giving her a small smile. "Thanks."
She moaned. "If he's Lupin, then you're Jigen," she said with near orgasmic delight. "Oh, wow."
He kissed her on the forehead, making her pass out with a goofy smile on her face. "I guess we've got groupies again," he noted, heading for ballroom two.
"Hey, I didn't get one of those," Lupin complained.
"Maybe he'll share," Jigen said smartly.
Lupin snorted, heading that way until someone screamed and ran over, kissing and hugging him. "Thanks," he said with a sly grin. She cooed and trotted off to giggle with the other people dressed as school girls. He walked after him, shaking his head. "Okay then." He walked into the ballroom and a bunch of the girls sighed in unison at him and Jigen. "Um," he said, his hand moving toward his gun. "Should I be worried?"
"They'll behave or I'm not spanking anyone," Xander said firmly. "Come on over, guys. Pull up a pillow." He gave them a look. "They pounced me," he told them. The girls all giggled. "Ladies, remember, I do have to go to the costume contest." They nodded, giving him adoring looks. "You know, Vash and Spike, the two I was sitting with last night, they're great guys too. Really."
"What do they do?" one girl asked with wide eyes.
"They're both cops. Really nice guys. They're going to be working with Zenigata soon to catch us." A few of them ran out to find them and go glomp themselves onto them. "Guys, this is Dormin, he's from Funimation. He wants to make us into anime." The girls all sighed. "Ladies, please," he begged.
"Should we get you lunch?" one asked. The girls all ran out, going to do that before he could say anything.
Xander looked at them. "I did not encourage that," he said firmly. "Do not tease me later."
The executive bowed to them, getting bowed to back. "We would like to take your lives and likenesses and make a paranormal, adventuring anime," he told them, handing over copies of the few scripts they had. "I realize some things might be questionable to those who do not know, I would happily explain anything to you that you needed."
"I'm an elf?" Jigen asked, looking at him.
"Yes. We would take you from this realm by way of a sacred artifact that you had stolen as a group and send you to there. Of course, your partner might not agree. We could have him back here finding a way to get you back, but barely show him if he would prefer."
"Think D&D the cartoon," Xander said happily. "I wanted him to ask you first, I wasn't even going to agree to anything before you said it was okay, bosses."
Lupin looked at him. "They wanted to do you alone?"
"At first, and then he said we had to ask your formal permission to do him so we thought it best to approach you about it all," the executive offered. "If not, we would still like to use him alone," he said hopefully. "It wouldn't be a mass release, but it would be a cult favorite quickly. As you can see, he does have a following."
Jigen looked at Xander. "I can't promise you won't get teased about this," he said dryly. Xander handed over his katana. "What's this?"
"Dawn's early birthday present for me," he said happily.
"Yes, we would like to talk to her as well," the executive noted. "Her and Zenigata would also be put in there. It would add to the Manga content, which would get us more ratings."
"Give us a week to think about it," Lupin told him. "Some of us aren't here. Where should we meet you?"
"I can be anywhere in the world you want," he offered.
"We need to go talk to Goemon anyway," Xander pointed out. "The seer came to me on the first night of the con about the new one's birth."
"Yes, we would leave the baby out, but it is an interesting plot line," he noted, writing it down.
Xander gave them a hopeless look. "I do not make such decisions for myself."
"No, you don't," Lupin agreed. "We're thankful of that, Lavelle." He looked at him. "We will be Tokyo in a week."
"Mr. Lavelle has my card," he said, standing up and bowing deeply to them. "You would do us a great honor if you would agree. Thank you." He hurried off, letting the schoolgirls back in to tend to their current hero.
"Lavelle," Jigen groaned when one girl loosened his tie for him. She stuffed some food into his mouth, helping him eat. "Thank you. That's very kind," he told her. She giggled and blushed, and Xander looked helpless to stop any of this.
Lupin looked around. "Where's Marcus?"
"Bathroom," he said with a fond smile. "Finally."
A few minutes later, Vash had to come in and save them. "Ladies," he said, grinning at them over top of his sunglasses. "Really. Such criminals? Shouldn't you be going for people with a bigger bounty on their heads?" A few cooed and hurried over to him. "Spike and I have teamed up for a duel."
"Cool, I want to see that," Xander called, getting to his feet and grabbing his sword. "Come on, girls." They followed him, giggling and whispering to each other. "Thanks," he mouthed. Vash gave him a smug look.
Lupin looked at their remaining ones. "Wanted the bigger criminals?" he asked. They blushed and nodded, giving them big-eyed looks.
"Are we in trouble?" Jigen asked.
"Hopefully not," Lupin admitted. "This isn't the ICPO's normal method of capturing us." The girls giggled and held out plates of food for them. "Thanks."
Xander looked up from his snack at the main snack table as six guys in serious suits and guns walked in. He sighed and nudged Marcus, who he had talked down there to educate him in the ways of fanboy behavior. Then he looked over and caught Vash's eye since he was watching them. He nodded at the guys, then shook his head. Vash's eyes widened and he nudged Spike, who turned and apparently swore because the schoolgirl beside him giggled. Xander looked back at Marcus, who was measuring them. More were still outside, he could see them. He finished his snack and dusted off his fingers, glancing at Vash again, who shrugged. Xander grinned and shrugged, heading that way, with Marcus trotting behind him. "May we help you?" he asked politely. "I believe the fandom rooms are still open if you are here for the convention."
One of the men sneered at him. "We're not geeks, kids. Go play with your own kind. There are dangerous people upstairs."
"Are you cops then?" Marcus asked. "I'm afraid I saw a great deal of marijuana being smoked last night." The guy sneered at him. "Oh, well, I tried," he sighed.
Xander looked at him. "Sword?"
"Gun?" Marcus offered, handing his over. "This really is a nice show piece, Lavelle, are you sure?"
"It's sharp," he promised. "I sharpened it last night." He pointed his gun at the men, giving them a bland look. "I'm sorry but we can't allow you to rob the jewel show upstairs. It's really just not done near so many innocents." The men all turned to look at him and he grinned. "What? Is the outfit throwing you, gentlemen?" He bowed. "Lavelle. And this is Marcus." Marcus also bowed. "Leave and no one has to get hurt." The men laughed and he could see the others coming in. "Fine, you leave me no choice. If you're cops, produce the badges now." They continued to laugh. "Marcus, doorway. Guard." He shot three of them in quick succession, wounding them in a very bad manner. Not fatally, but close enough if they didn't find treatment soon. He looked at the other three. "Next?" he suggested dryly. "You're interrupting my fun, like that guy in Stockholm who interrupted my time with the pro." They backed up against the wall, not even moving toward the elevator. "Good. Thank you. Thankfully there are some cops around here." He glanced at Marcus.
Marcus had cut two of them with grace that showed he was training harder than Xander did. One person had disarmed him but he was presently kicking his ass manually. One more jumped out with a battle shriek. He stopped him, tipping up his chin, then he did a beautiful kick to the underside of his chin, knocking him out. He sighed in pleasure, looking at the last three. "Sword?" he offered.
"Thanks. Have the gun." Xander put back on the sword, looking at them. "Morning," he said, making two run and one stare at him. "Don't make me prove I've been training with the thing too." The man squeaked as more people came out of the stairwells. Xander grimaced and pulled his blade, holding it comfortably. It was well-balanced. One of the new group pulled out a short sword and another a baton. He let out a credible battle yell and lunged, hitting those two and two more before they could do more than scream in fear. Marcus shot the other two, going for stomach injuries. "Nice shot," he said, taking the gun and shooting the one behind him own back. He wiped his sword off on one guy's pants, then put it back. "Any others?"
Someone coughed. "I thought you were a gunmen," one of the girls asked.
"Yes, Lavelle, you did seem more experienced with that thing that I supposed," Marcus agreed, looking at him.
"I take the same lessons you do, Marcus, I simply don't spend my whole day in them." Marcus looked hurt. "Hey, it's more your thing, I just like it, it's neat." He grinned and patted him on the shoulder as he walked past, looking at hotel security. "They're injured, not dead, they will all need competent treatment soon. I went for less bloody injuries but feel free to send the carpet cleaning bill to me. By the way, you might want to tell the people upstairs in the gem show to beef up their security." He walked off, running into a familiar body. "Gramps!" he said happily, giving him a hug and then knocked him down with a swung fist. "Welcome to the con! They're living, you can question them later. Come on, Marcus."
"Yes, Lavelle." He walked over and waved. "Good morning, Inspector. Having a pleasant day?"
"Freaks," he muttered, getting up. "I should have known you'd be one of these."
"Now, now," Xander warned, his hand on his sword. "Do not insult my brethren. Fans are what make entertainment better." Some of the fans still standing around clapped and hooted. "I'm here as an appreciater of the artform. These guys interrupted my snack. I always give fair warning." The inspector glared at him. "You might as well arrest them, they're carrying weapons openly into the hotel up to where they're doing a big gem sale."
"Then why are you here?" he sneered. Xander pointed at the convention signs. "Really?"
Xander nodded. "I didn't know about the gem show until yesterday. Why?" He shrugged. "I've been here the whole time. If you don't believe me, ask Vash and Spike."
Xander pointed at the cops. "Them. They've been making sure I stayed out of trouble until you could find our files again." The Inspector growled. "Don't forget your blood pressure. Dawn would not be happy to visit you in the hospital and neither would your other family members, the ones who like to invite you out for dinner every weekend." He looked stunned. "We're going to go back to the convention now. Do you need a statement of how we saved them from potentially shooting any one of over a thousand soft targets?"
"I'm going to arrest you. You can't stop me," he declared.
"Within fifteen seconds, I can be someone else," Xander pointed out gently. "You won't be able to find me in here." He looked stunned. "And so can Marcus. It's a hard skill to learn but we do it so very well." He walked away, giving him a small grin. "Thankfully I was being nice. I don't want to pay to replace the carpet." He tugged on Marcus' arm. "Come on, guy. Let's go get a drink. That battle yell is really throat ripping. Almost as bad as puking each time I saw him for a couple of weeks."
"What was that about?" Marcus asked.
"Oh, I had a nightmare that we had come home before you guys because of the problem with my choker. Since we had stayed for a while longer, we had missed the boat and we flew back. We walked into the house and found him and three cops in there taking the tour of the house. I was tired and had jetlag so I brought back Spike. Spike ate the cops, ate Zenigata after I told him not to, ate me before anyone could stop him, and told me as I was dying that I was going to be *his*," he pointed back at the inspector, "playmate for eternity. It was the thought of sleeping with him. I don't think he'd do it as well as Lupin does." He looked at the two cops. "Sorry if he gives you hell for being fanboys," he said with an apologetic smile. "I couldn't let them hurt any of the kids." He shrugged and walked on, heading into the bar. "Isn't Goemon still at home?" Marcus nodded. "Good. I don't need chastised over mimicking his battle yell." He held up two fingers. "And a shot of scotch," he ordered, putting a fifty on the bar. One of the fangirls walked in and tugged on his sleeve then backed off. He gave her a gentle smile. "I would never hurt you. I only hurt bad guys," he promised.
She gave him a hug. "You're very good as Inuyasha," she said quietly. "We still like you for protecting us. Now more than ever possibly. You didn't kill any of them." She hurried back to the other fangirls to report to them about how he had looked really pleased and stunned.
A young boy dressed in a school uniform sat beside Marcus, giving him a worshipful look. "You're very good," he said, staring at him like he was God. "Are you a ninja?"
Marcus ruffled his hair and smiled. "I'm still studying martial arts. I study under a samurai." The boy sighed in pleasure. "You could train very hard and do the same." The boy nodded and grinned at him. "You're very young." The boy nodded, accepting that and walked off.
Xander saluted him. "Your first groupie, I'm impressed," he said with a grin. "Think we should change looks?"
"Possibly. You've got blood on you," Marcus nodded, nodding at the spot on his sleeve. "Next time take off the tops. The sleeves are very wide."
"I know, but this is what he wears," he pointed out. "It's gotten more comfortable over three days I've been in it. Maybe I will let Goemon teach me how to wear a kimono, just not a formal one." He slammed his shot and drank his beer. "You rest in here. I'm going to change and go back to the con." He strolled off, heading around the bodies and up to his room by going up the side stairs. He found his third outfit and pulled it on along with his choker, becoming a little giggling school girl himself. He even changed into the knee socks and shoes, then skipped down the stairs. She found Spike and cooed, screaming as she came over to pounce him. "I *love* bounty hunters," she purred, leaning against his side.
He gave her a pat on the head. "Thanks. Think I should stay with this?" he asked. She gave him an adoring look and nodded. "Cool." He traced a line down her nose. "You forgot to clean your face," he said with a grin. Xander beamed and bounced off to do that. He looked at Vash. "How did he do that?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "I'm still stuck on the sword that came out of midair." They looked at their boss. "How did he do that?" he asked.
Zenigata looked at them. "I don't know yet, but when I do I'll tell you all. Where is he now?"
"He's one of the school girls," Spike told him. He pointed inside an open door at all the fangirls dressed like school girls. "He's in green." Zenigata shook his head, watching as Marcus came out and went into the convention as well. "Should we even try, sir?"
"No. It's not worth it. They would get off by claiming they were protecting. Mark it on the list of things they'll pay for when we capture them. Getting those two won't get us Lupin or the others. It'll only get us hurt. The younger set has cross-trained. That's why I'm bringing in you men." He looked at them. "Isn't your character a criminal?" he demanded.
"No, he's just really unlucky," Vash said. "People destroy things around him and he's blamed. Actually, he's hunting other bad people. Spike's a bounty hunter though."
"Yeah, but I can't hope to move like that one guy," Spike snorted. "How long has he trained?"
"Two years and a bit," Zenigata said in disgust. "Full time with Goemon." He shook his head. "Apparently the boys are working together."
Vash coughed. "He said something about just coming from a Master and sub event in Germany, sir. Do we have any reports from that way?" Zenigata looked startled. "I don't know. Was it a job, sir?"
"Yes," he said bitterly. "They don't need to hit the gem show. The owner of the house invited him in and dared him to steal something. They got away with sixty billion Euros in colored diamonds but he won't make a report." Both cops looked stunned. "You, are you one of mine?"
"I'm supposed to interview later. I was heading up to change and shower, sir."
"Kowalski. From Chicago."
"Hired. I need someone who can outshoot him and Jigen. You too," he told the other one. They nodded, getting out of the ambulance drivers' ways. "When you're done here, go back to the office, get with Dawn, have her get you up to speed as much as she will." They nodded. "Thank you." He walked away after the last stretcher. These guys had been really dumb. The boy is ruthless. Maybe he should tell Dawn about this, get her to send him a necklace like the costume character he was pretending to be wore. She had made him sit down and watch anime, claiming it would help him understand Lavelle better. She had been right, he had seen some of the moves the boy had done on them. They definitely weren't Goemon's normal ones.
Vash looked at Spike. "I guess I should welcome you to the ICPO. You'll like Dawn. Dawn used to be a jewel thief and run with Lavelle." He walked him away, telling him about their little group. Including about the on-again/off-again vendetta Zenigata had against Lavelle. He even told him about how sometimes they were the ones who saved them, but never intentionally.
Xander jogged up to the two men getting into the car, hugging Jigen by the arm. "Take me with you," she said, batting her big brown eyes at him.
"Kid," Jigen groaned, looking down at her. "Xander?" he asked, looking at the outfit. "What happened to the red one?"
"About thirteen thieves," he said. "Marcus got some, I got some. Zenigata came in." She grinned. "Marcus is still inside. Should I go get him or do I still have time?"
"Go back and play," Lupin said tolerantly. "We'll break up all the packages later."
"Cool. There was a pretty purple one and one really pretty blue/green one I wanted," Xander said, jogging back into the room to go pick on the cops some more. Marcus was getting a lot of attention from the girls and it was gratifying to see him get jumped instead of her. One other girl moved up next to him. "Hi," she said, grinning at her.
"How do you change?" she asked. Xander kissed her on the cheek and walked away. "I know," she called after him. He turned and gave her that same sly grin, making her smile. "I will see you again," she promised, touching her stomach. "I vow it." She turned and went back into the crowd.
He stood there, frowning. "That had better not be what I think it was," he said dryly, heading up to pack. There was a *huge* convention in Vegas that he wanted to go to next month. He'd have to find a new costume by then. Then again, it was a comic and tv one. Maybe he could go as one of the guys on Star Trek or something. He shrugged. He'd look through his costumes later. It was probably going to be a while before he could be Inuyasha again. He found a large bag on his bed, looking inside it. "One of the bags broke?" he asked it. "Huh." He shifted through them, finding the stones he had put in there. Yeah, they were all there it looked like. If not, Marcus would hand them over. He carefully put the bag into his shaving kit and went to do that. He needed it. When he came back out, he was in a different form, now he was a beautiful brunette with a manga-sized chest and flawless darker skin. No more vampire pale for him. He put on his school girl uniform and went back downstairs, tugging on the short skirt. How did girls wear these?
Goemon looked up as people walked in his back door. He accepted the book with a frown of confusion. "What is this?"
"They want to make us anime," Jigen said as he flopped down. Goemon gave them a deadpan look like he wasn't sure they were sane. "They approached Xan at the convention."
"Oh, dear." He sat down, reading the initial page. "Where am I?"
"They said they weren't sure you'd be willing to do it so you're back here trying to find a way to get us back," Lupin said with some humor. This idea was growing on him. Jigen looked at him. "Not looking forward to being an elf?"
Jigen pinched him. "I'll elf you," he said bitterly. "I am not an elf."
Goemon looked at him. Then he shook his head and went back to reading. "How are the children?"
"Doing fine," Jigen told him. "They had to stop some thieves who were trying to stop us from robbing the private gem showing. When did you teach Xander that battle yell?"
"Battle yell?" Goemon asked, looking up at him. "I have not."
"Well, he has it down already," Lupin agreed. "He shot some, slashed some. Marcus slashed some and shot some. The police report was very informative."
"With the nice sword Dawn got him for his birthday," Jigen said smugly. "It's more decorative than practical."
Goemon groaned and shook his head. "The children are going to be spending some time doing an honest practice then. It is not right, if you get to travel that way you will get into trouble without me."
"We're meeting with them in another five days in Tokyo," Lupin told him. "You can tell him that if you want."
Fujiko wandered out of the bedroom yawning. "Hi," she mumbled, going to dig in the refrigerator. "Juice?"
Xander and Marcus came in the back door, Marcus handing her a bag with a kiss on the cheek. They had taken different flights over. "For you," he said with a smile. "How are we?" he asked, touching her stomach.
"Sleeping, let her," she said, going back to the bedroom. She was still so tired. It would be ending soon, then she could do things.
Xander put his sword onto the table as he dropped his bags beside the stove. "Dawn got it for me," he said proudly. "I've cleaned it since we used it."
Goemon sat back so he could draw it, looking at it. He nodded. "Very pretty. Well sharpened, Alexander." He put it up and handed it back. "Later we will see how good you are with it." The boy groaned. "Each time you prove you have skills we do not know about, we have to test it."
"You're the one who set me against Marcus." He sat beside Jigen's leg, resting his head against his leg. "I sent all my anime stuff back to my warehouse. Can I go to the one in Vegas too? I want to go as a Trekkie."
"We'll see," Jigen said, patting him on the head. "You seem to get in trouble, Xander."
Lupin snorted. "Is that what you would call fifty girls dressed as anime school girls waiting hand and foot on him?" he asked.
Goemon stood up, looking down at him. "Groupies as well?"
"They jumped me," he defended. "And I think one's going to be a stalker. She said something about seeing me again." He gave him an innocent look. "I went as Inuyasha. They thought I was cute."
"You were and you wore that kimono very well after you got used to it," Marcus agreed, smirking at him.
"Another thing we shall look forward to seeing," Goemon agreed. "I should be here." Xander's head came up over the edge of the table. "I should be."
Xander grinned. "If they don't agree, we can go together. They were going to do just me."
Goemon snorted. "That would be a long and pornographic adventure," he said dryly. "Months without either of those two would drive you insane. I would have to chain you to the back of a horse and drag you around, only unleashing you when we needed things killed or hunted." Xander looked hurt. "You do not agree?"
"No, that's what inns were for," he told him. "Serving wenches."
Lupin looked at him. "Keep it up, and we'll start treating you like that again," he pointed out.
"Yes, boss," Xander said as cutely as he could manage. "You missed my last day." He handed over the copy of the picture he had taken. One had already went to Ethan for his amusement. He slid over one of him with his costume trophy to Goemon. Then he went back to resting against Jigen's leg.
Jigen looked at it, then down at him. "Couldn't get a larger skirt?"
"That's the point of the outfit," Xander pointed out. "It's supposed to be short. It raises ratings." He yawned. "I think I've got jet lag."
"You did bounce the entire flight," Marcus retorted. "He has a new soundtrack to some anime film or another in his cd player. He bounced all the way across Europe until the stewardess warned him. Then he told her and made her excited. She nearly blew him in the seat." He looked at Xander, who was smiling and asleep. "Hussy."
Lupin laughed. "Did he take her up on it?"
"No, thankfully. That would have gotten us thrown off the plane mid-air. It was full of Japanese businessmen." He sat down beside his mentor. "It was horrible, Master. He left me with girls dressed like that," he said, flicking a finger at Xander's schoolgirl picture. "Ten of them, all of whom wanted to stroke, fondle, or sleep with me." Goemon gave him a gentle pat. "He didn't even try to save me. He even participated once!" he said miserably.
Lupin snorted. "How many do you think jumped him in his room?"
"Probably at least that many," Marcus told him. "I would fumigate him before I touched him were I you. I'm not sure the rabid masses of supposedly innocent schoolgirls let him use a condom or not."
Jigen looked down, tugging on Xander's hair. "Condoms?"
"I went through a big damn box, Jigen," Xander complained. "And they stole them to keep with pieces of hair." He kept his eyes closed. "I was nice and they were gentle enough to put a new one on me as a ritual before I got the next one. Sixteen virgins and two sluts," he sighed, shaking his head.
Lupin shook his head. "That night or the ones we saw you with?"
"I only nailed one of them," Xander defended, opening his eyes to look at him. "And she jumped me that night when I came out of hiding for a soda." Lupin smiled at him. "I was carrying them in my pocket by then. I will never become a scary woman like them." He put his head back down and closed his eyes again. "Please let me sleep? I'll give you great blowjobs later."
"That's a way to cure that clause," Jigen told Lupin, who groaned and swatted him. "It would be. Either that or go with him to the crime families picnic in a few months."
"The present Don wants to meet with him," Lupin admitted.
"I'm sure he'll *love* him," Jigen noted. Xander mumbled so he stroked over his hair again. "Marcus, you had information about the baby's birth?" he suggested.
Goemon looked at his student, nudging him awake. "Give," he demanded.
"The baby's powerful, Master. There are people who will want her. They will be watching for her. I have found out how to ward her and the room she will be born in so none may come for her then. The ones like Xander knows in Cairo have a worse counterpart. It is them." Goemon gave him a steady look. "The seer who came to Xander about her in the first place came to the convention and he introduced us. She told me how to ward whichever house she will be in at the time, or even her hospital room. Otherwise they can create a great storm and use it as cover to come in and try to steal her."
"Very well. You will sit down and explain this fully to me later," Goemon agreed. His daughter would be protected, that's all he really cared about but this magic made him nervous. He went back to his reading. He finally found himself, fretting horribly. "I fret?" he asked Lupin.
"They have you trying to get us back," Lupin said with a shrug. "Stuck here with a frantic Fujiko. Who's probably not going to like how she's portrayed since she's panicking."
"A lot," Jigen agreed.
Goemon smirked. "Indeed? Then perhaps she will find something else to rant about." He turned the page, going on. "Zenigata and Dawn are there too?"
"They fell through the rabbit hole with us," Lupin agreed. "We got away before he could wake up. He apparently knocked himself cold on Xander's head." Goemon laughed and he handed over his script. "Here's the first one."
Goemon took that one, starting at the beginning. "I believe Jigen would make a charming elf," he said, looking at him. Jigen growled and he smirked. "You could keep a hat that way."
"Keep it up. I'll leave a horny Xander here." Goemon shook his head, losing his amused look. Jigen gave him a smug look and nodded.
"Fine, I will leave you alone about your future pointy ears," he noted. "Marcus, what is the nature of the one in Las Vegas?"
"TV and comics, Master," he said tiredly. "May I please nap on the couch?"
"Go for it," Lupin agreed. "Want Xander?"
"He might molest me," Marcus said dryly. "He hasn't gotten any since his groupies jumped him and cut his hair." He went to lay down, falling asleep on the comfortable furniture.
"Were they mean to him?" Goemon asked.
Lupin held up the schoolgirl picture, making him laugh. "He was dressed in the other one when they attacked him. They were Lavelle groupies."
"Yeah, and the two cops couldn't even save him," Jigen agreed.
Goemon broke, laughing and shaking his head. "That poor thing. Perhaps he is part incubus now?"
"Hopefully not," Jigen said dryly. "I don't like the demonic that much. Count me as only going for humans."
Goemon smirked at him. "It could explain the reason why he snared you so well."
"That's respect," Lupin said, breaking into the teasing. "Jigen respects Xander because he's a scary guy. The same as we respect you. Only you'd make one ugly woman, Goemon."
"Thankfully," he said, smirking at Lupin.
"Get some last night?" Jigen asked.
Goemon smirked. "A gentleman does not tell such things." He went back to his reading. It was highly entertaining. He might even watch this if it were on while he was in the house.
Zenigata groaned as Dawn bounced up to the table he was at, but he weathered her kiss to his cheek. "Why are you here?"
"Because I got invited too," she told him, giving him a bright smile. "This is such a cool idea," she said happily.
"What idea," he said suspiciously.
"No one told you?" she asked. He shook his head, all he knew was that his Commissioner had ordered him that it was a good idea and would get them some good recruits. "One of the big anime production companies wants to make a Lupin anime series." His mouth fell open. "The basic premise is that you and I bust in on him as they're about to steal some fantastic artifact. The artifact takes us to another realm, where some of our skills are a little different." He nodded slowly. "You and I are still chasing the gang. About like we are now, with them about a day ahead of us at the moment. I'm not sure if we get them or not at the end. It would look really good on the ICPO if we did catch them and they got us back."
He shook his head. "I don't like this idea already."
"Hush," she said, giving him a frown. "It's neat and think about how many little guys could decide to join the ICPO someday because they decided you were cool." He gave her a shocked look. "I heard they even got Goemon to go along with it. They were going to make him the guy who was stuck back here trying to get everyone back but apparently he wanted to go to keep the others out of trouble and Fujiko wanted to be smart instead of just panicking." His mouth fell open more. "I've heard that they've talked one of them into becoming an elf."
"Probably Lupin," he said bitterly. "I'm sure he likes this idea."
"They were going to just do Xan, but he said they had to get formal permission from Lupin so they decided they wanted all of us. I'm guessing that even if it's just him that you'll still be needed."
"Dawn, they already call me names behind my back at the station. This will only make it worse."
She gave him a hug. "The Commissioner put out an edict that says we're all to do anything that comes our way that will put a positive spin on the job," she told him. "It came out earlier." She pulled a copy of it out of her purse and handed it over. "Morgan drew you a new picture too. He thinks you're sad because you haven't gotten to see him recently." She handed over the picture as well.
He smiled at the nice picture. Then he looked at her. "Are you really excited about this?"
"Hell, yeah, I get to wear a catsuit and wander around again," she said happily. "We'll get to harass Xan and everyone for months about this. And hey, even Goemon is doing it." She gave him a nudge and a pathetic look. "It could make us look really good."
"It could," he sighed. "Fine." He put the picture into his pocket but handed back the edict. "I'll do it." She squealed and hugged him, giving him a big kiss. Which shocked him again. When the person they were to meet with showed up, he was still stunned. "I'm not going to change, right?"
"No, sir," he said excitedly. "You'll be just like you are now. At least until you decide to buy local clothes to not look too different." Zenigata groaned and shook his head. "Only having one outfit would get tiring," he pointed out helpfully.
"And I can have my former working clothes, right?" Dawn prompted. "The catsuit?" He nodded quickly. "Let me guess, I'm going to be the one with breasts?"
"Unless we do something with that female they bring with them. In that case, I'll have to say that they would put her with someone within the other group."
"She's with Jigen," Zenigata said dryly. "And Lavelle might as well be Lupin's already."
"Yeah, well, he is precious," Dawn pointed out. "Lavelle is very precious because he's still got that spark of innocence that makes him so irresistible." He looked over at her. "Remember the award banquet?" He nodded, giving her a look. "Remember how you ended up having to tell certain people that they were pretty?" He nodded faster this time. "Lavelle's like that all the time about himself. Only more so about his abilities."
Zenigata growled. "Those crooks need to let him go and find real help, not their sort. That sort of thing can be cured and then he could go straight and help us capture them."
"Zenny, even if you got him to go straight, he's *loyal*. That's why he went to Cleveland that time. Even though he hated them, they used to be his friends and needed him."
"That's why he took it so hard when Goemon got hurt," he said thoughtfully. She nodded. "Fine. Maybe he's the perfect trap then."
"Only if you trap one of the others to get him. If you trap him, will they react that way?"
"They're a family according to them," Zenigata said firmly. "They would come for him. Maybe not openly but they would rescue him."
"Unless he told them not to," she pointed out gently. His face fell. "He could probably talk his way around Goemon and he would stop the other two, depending on the reason he was arrested. Marcus would probably go to him, but Lupin might not." Her phone rang and she ignored it. "Even Jigen might have to leave him for a while. Maybe even a few months."
Zenigata slumped. "You're right. There are times when they wouldn't be able to get to him immediately." He looked at her. "I wish you were a little less honorable and would help us more."
She gave him a sad smile. "That would betray Lavelle again and I'm the last one he counts on from the original group. I don't like betraying my friends. Even the bad guys. That makes me just as bad as some of them. I'm trying to be better."
He nodded. "I know. You're a loyal and good friend to all your friends. Even those who don't deserve you."
"And aren't we buddies?" she teased. He nodded, giving her a tolerant smile. "Then you're coming over for dinner before Morgan decides it's him and Jerry starts to whine for you."
"Fine," he agreed, he liked the kids a lot. They were adorable. "Should I bring Mark?"
"If you wanted him to amuse you. If not, you could help me finish putting together the library," she offered. He gave her a look. "You don't like it when I climb ladders," she reminded him.
"You were wearing heels," he reminded her back. "It was dangerous."
"So I'll go barefoot tonight," she said with a shrug. The executive gave a polite cough as soon as he was done taking notes. "Sorry," she said with a smile.
"That is all right. Who are Morgan and Jerry? Pets?"
"My nephews, I'm raising them," Dawn told him. "Don't include them." His face lit up. "Thanks."
"Not a problem. We are not including the two infants from the Goemon family either," he promised. He looked at the inspector, looking very young and hopeful. "Do you have anything like that?"
"My semi-nephew, Mark, but he's legal now," he admitted. "He would be working to get us back."
"Good," he agreed, nodding. "We can make mention of him?"
"You'd have to ask him." Her phone rang again and she ignored it again. "I think it's another chewing out," she told him. He snatched her purse but she took it back. "Don't dig into a woman's purse, it'll scare you." He gave her a look. "Really. If it's pertinent I'll let you listen to it later." It rang a third time and she looked at the number, squealing as she answered it. "Yeah, sweetie?" She smirked at the executive. "Lupin said he does want to be an elf." He nodded, making a note of that. "Lavelle said he wants some sort of spirit guide or pet. He really wants a pet something," she told him. "Even an annoying one."
The executive smiled. "I can do that," he agreed, making another note. He looked at her, smiling brightly. "Anything else?"
She listened. "Mostly just an asschewing at the moment. Anything else, Lavelle?" She kept the phone from being snatched. "Fine, sure. Thanks, babe. Yeah, he did want the cat back." She laughed and hung up. "He said you can't put him into leather pants. He said they're not that comfortable. He spent a weekend in them." The executive made a note of it. "And remember, he is more than a pretty face and a gunman. He does have other skills."
"Including learning languages," Zenigata said dryly.
"Also accounting, martial arts, and a bit of a skill with crossbows, arrows, and swords." He looked at her and she nodded. "It was necessary in our past."
"Fine. He's a good shot with multiple weapons and decent enough with a sword to have taken out four people before they could run," he said dryly. The executive was making more notes. "Let's try not to make the thieves gain audience sympathy. They're still murdering crooks."
He looked at him and shook his head. "No. You will have most of the sympathy. Plus a lot of lust in this storyline. When can we sign contract and do photos to draw you from?"
"How are you separating the groups?" Dawn asked. "I haven't seen anything on that."
"Oh. There will be bandits, they will steal Lavelle because of his unusual hair. They will be attracted to him and his group will go after him while you nurse him back to health and then follow them."
"What happens to me?" Zenigata asked.
"You land on top of Lavelle and hurt yourself on his head," he said with a small smile. Zenigata gave him a look. "It is said he is very stubborn. We could have you hurt your leg when you fall if you prefer."
"Please," he said. "My head's harder than his." Dawn snickered. "You, no comments or I'm cooking."
"If you want," she promised. "Or you could do takeout, which is what I was going to do." He nodded, accepting that. "Am I already wearing my catsuit?" The executive nodded. "Which one do you want me in? I've got some that are more and less tight."
"Any that dip?" he asked.
She shook her head and moved the neckline of her top. "I don't expose them much because of this," she said quietly.
"I see." He looked at it and nodded. "We can either find a magical covering means or I can have them eliminate it if you want."
"I've tried to do that," Dawn admitted. "It's not wholly successful on that or the ones on my stomach." He looked interested. "I don't show those. The same as Lavelle is hardly ever seen naked." He made a note of that as well. "Unless he says otherwise, keep a shirt on him." She turned off her phone when it rang that time. "Sorry. You'd have to ask him though."
"That is fine, I will send him an email. I am sure he will answer between whatever capers they're doing this week. Either that or before the convention in Las Vegas."
"He's going to another?"
"He's taking Goemon to his first one," Dawn told him. "He likes Vulcans."
"I wonder why," Zenigata said dryly, giving her a look. "How did he get away during the last one?"
"Hordes of schoolgirls?"
"Good point." He rolled his eyes. Those things had hidden him, he was sure of it.
"We hadn't thought of this. Should we make Lavelle a magical practitioner?" the executive asked.
"Nah, it'll make him even scarier. He does draw people that to him though. Make that Marcus. The martial arts would lead to an orderly mind that would help with the practice of the occult. You could even make him someone who gets sucked into it accidentally." The executive made a noise like he was going to come right there. "Lavelle knows a bit of this and that, I'd keep him that way to make sure he doesn't seem like a God." The executive nodded and Zenigata groaned. "If Lupin's an elf, remember he likes to climb things. Is Jigen staying human?" He nodded, looking raptly at him. "Then remember he's got weapon skills too."
"Why don't you suggest that Lavelle be given as a sacrifice too?" Zenigata suggested.
"Because it would hurt him to see that, even if the others came to save him from it," she said firmly.
"He did not seem to mind when he was nearly given to a Dragon," the executive offered. She nodded that it was okay then. "Is Mr. Goemon really a picky perfectionist?"
"Only about some things in his own life. He expects himself to be perfect or as near as possible. His students have a ways to go to live up to his expectations. He sets very high standards but he does understand about human fallibility. He's actually a very sweet and nice guy who blushes whenever anyone makes a dirty joke around him or in the presence of nudity." The executive gave her a look like she was god.
"You got him to blush?"
"Oh, all the time. He used to get Fujiko to whine at me to quit making him blush," she admitted with a grin. "Nudity, dirty jokes, sick jokes, anything like that." He shook his head, looking bemused. "Remember, he had a very gentle upbringing, he was very sheltered. He probably learned about the sex stuff from the farm animals. And if they only had chickens, I feel really sorry for his first lover." Zenigata cracked, laughing at that. "What?" she asked innocently. "Something like that would have made him blush. As well as the sight of underwear or nudity. Unless it's his loincloth, then he can run around in it all day and not care or notice that anyone's watching him."
"I'll keep that in mind," the executive said, putting his notes away. "When would be a good time for you?"
"This weekend, my house," Dawn told him. "That way you can figure out what you want me in." He nodded, accepting her address. "Thank you." He nodded, bowing and leaving them alone. She grinned at her lunch companion. "Is it my treat since I joined you or yours since you're one of those old fashioned males?"
"Mine," he said. "Or we could split it." She nodded, and he gasped as her hand came over to play with his knee. "Dawn!" he said, looking shocked.
"Zenny, either you come home with me tonight or I'm going to have to steal you as something precious that should be kept away from the world," she said softly. He blinked at her. "I mean it. I have a beautiful room for you to live in until I wear down your resistance."
He swallowed, realizing he had already lost. He nodded. "Dinner only," he said firmly. "I believe in dating."
"Of course." She gave him a blinding smile. "Thank you, Zenny." He blushed and looked away. "Aww, cuteness," she sighed, giving him a smile. "What are we having for lunch?"
"Now that it's a date, I feel honor bound to pay."
"I'm a modern woman, I'll get it," she promised. "It's nearly payday for you." He opened his mouth and she kissed him gently, making him shiver. "Behave or I'll have to team up with Mark," she whispered. He nodded, closing his mouth. "Salads?"
"Fine," he agreed. "You...you don't mind?"
"Why would I mind?" She gave him a look. "As I just pointed out, I am a modern woman." He nodded, relaxing again. "Good boy. Keep it up and I might even show you the contents of my closet to help me pick out what I'd want. I have things you haven't seen, even one that got Goemon's attention once."
"Wear the blue leather," he said quietly. "I liked chasing you in that." She smiled at him and nodded. "Thank you."
"For dinner or just this weekend?"
"Dinner," he groaned.
"Of course, all you have to do is ask. I do like dressing up." She smiled as the waiter came over. "We would like lunch salads," she ordered. "Water with lemon." He nodded, hurrying away. "See, much better now that we're alone," she reminded him, giving his knee a little squeeze.
"Behave," he hissed.
"I am." She removed her hand and resettled herself, crossing her legs. "We'll have to do something nice for Lavelle soon. He thinks one of his groupies is going to become a stalker." He shuddered. "I promise, I won't make you sign the card." He gave her a look. "You've had one?" He nodded. "I'm sorry. Point the woman out so I can hurt her." He gave her a smile. "What? I protect certain priceless treasures so only I can pluck them," she reminded him. "Only the best should take some of them. It's professional pride."
"Then wouldn't your former teacher be the best?"
"Not of the non-violent," she said self-confidently. He reached over, giving her a punch on the shoulder like she was one of the guys. She gave him a look. "Gee, thanks." Their lunch came and she put her card down to pay for it, watching as the waiter walked off and came back.
Xander opened up the letter that had been forwarded from his PO box in Paris, frowning at it. "No fucking way," he decided, heading for the office. He handed it over. Then he shook his head and walked away.
"I didn't sleep with her," Lupin called after him.
"I don't think I did either. Especially if that's my stalker. Can I borrow your lawyer?" Xander called as he walked away.
"Of course you can," Lupin said, smirking at the notice to appear in court for a hearing on the custody of a child. He shrugged and put it aside. Xander would be gone tomorrow apparently. That would give the rest of them time to plan and shop for his birthday. He came back and got the letter, then shook his head and walked away. Lupin snorted, shaking his head. "That boy does liven things up," he muttered, getting back to work on party plans. They needed to get Xander something magnificent this year.
Xander looked at the court guard with the weapons wand and shook his head. "Don't even try." The guard opened his mouth and Xander glared over the top of his sunglasses. "I'm not giving it up, man. Get over it." He walked past the station, ignoring the metal detector's shriek. He walked into the courtroom, looking at the mother. Then he looked at the judge, who was staring at him. He waved his letter. "Sorry I'm late."
"It's understandable. We couldn't find you, Mr....." He looked at the paperwork in front of him. "What is your last name, sir?"
"I go by Lavelle. No last name." He sat down, looking at the mother. "How is there a child? I only met her at a convention recently."
"There is a future child," the judge admitted, looking at him. A guard came in and he waved him off. "I am sure Mr. Lavelle will not be shooting anyone but it probably makes him feel like he has a chance of getting away." The guard nodded, standing at the back of the courtroom. "Mr. Lavelle," he said, smirking at him. "Do you not know what protection is?"
"Yes, and I always use it," Xander told him. "I'm also partially infertile. Even the doctor I've seen recently said I'm only putting out three good sperm at a shot due to some radiation I was exposed to."
"I see. Would you submit to a DNA test?"
"As long as it was done by a private doctor who I name." He looked at the mother. "I only met her two weeks ago." He looked at the judge again. "Can you do a paternity test that early?"
The judge looked at the mother. "Two weeks?"
"I met him in the Riviera last year," she defended.
"I wasn't in the Riviera last year," he told her. "I haven't been near there in nearly two years." She glared at him. "Really. You can check with the ICPO if you want. I've got Zenigata on my speed dial so I can annoy him whenever I'm bored. Want the phone?"
"I would," the judge decided. Xander pulled it and tossed it to him. He caught it, looking in the phone book. He selected that one, listening as it rang into a regular phone. "Inspector Zenigata?" he asked. There was silence. "I am Judge Roberts, I am ruling on a matter of a future paternity. A young woman is saying Mr. Lavelle was on the Riviera late last year. He has stated he has not been there in two years." He listened to the man report when and where the boy had been for the last three years. "Thank you." He hung up and tossed it back. "According to them, he has not been there." He looked at Xander. "Will you still submit to a test, just in case?"
"As long as it's done by a private doctor." He pulled something out of his pocket and handed it over. "My last genetic workup. I had one done last night." He looked at the mother. "Have her present findings that the infant is real."
The judge looked at it, then at him. "This is fairly odd." He looked at the paper again.
"Radiation," Xander said, playing with a piece of his hair. "Some of it is more harmed than others but that was from a sperm sample." He looked at the mother. "It's doubtful anyone could conceive even if the unthinkable happened and the condom broke."
"So I can see." He looked at the mother's paperwork, then frowned. "No, this child shows no genetic instability. I will be sending this to a doctor that I use in such cases for his verification." Lavelle nodded. "Your doctor's number?"
"Is on the form," he admitted. "And he's not my doctor. He is a doctor, a specialist in fertility." The judge nodded, looking at him. "Am I needed? I'm supposed to be finding something wonderful for my birthday."
"Go. Next time, please do not go through the metal detectors with a weapon."
"Of course not," Xander said with a small smirk. He pushed his sunglasses up on his nose and walked past the guard, heading out into the pale sunlight. He walked past the cop car before they could get out and merged with the crowded afternoon rush of people. He found his way down to his hotel room, grumbling the whole way. This did suck for him. It wasn't his if there was even a baby. Which he doubted. He laid down on his bed, trying to think of happier thoughts. Marcus had finally produced the stone that had been giving him such a stomachache and it was one of the ones he had wanted. He had spent a long time last night cleaning it up. He didn't care if the others did look at him funny, he thought they were pretty. He liked pretty things. That's why he was collecting them. His cellphone rang and he answered it. "Joe's House of Wax Underwear Models. What's your brand?" He smirked. "Morning to you too," he snorted. "Sorry, but it's not my kid if there is a kid." He sat up. "Thanks for that by the way. Love you too, Gramps. Take good care of Dawnie for me or else I'll have to teach you the meaning of 'protect what was once mine to protect'." He hung up, shaking his head as he got up to pack and leave to a safer place, just in case the call had been traced.
Lupin walked up behind Xander, handing him a folder with a wink. He smiled at the boy for showing such poise and lack of annoyance. The judge had postponed this second hearing for a week for an independent analysis of the hair the girl had of his. He sat behind him, giving him a nod at the folder.
Xander opened it then burst out laughing. "Really?" he whispered. Lupin nodded. Xander smirked and handed back the sonogram picture of the new baby samurai flipping off the technician. "Cute. I bet he blushed all the way outside."
The judge cleared his throat. "Is that pertinent?"
"Family news," Xander told him. "Sorry." He looked at the potential mother. Then at the judge again. "Should I tell someone to set up a trust?" he asked.
"Not with the samples we have of yours," the judge said. "The independent analysis confirms Mr. Lavelle's assertion that it is highly unlikely that he could ever get any woman pregnant. However, there is a new twist. We have found out that she was not pregnant before but now is." Xander's mouth dropped open. "They did an ultrasound to confirm it. She is approximately a month along according to it." Xander swallowed. "We will not know about this one until it is approximately five months along. I will have you back here then." Xander nodded. "Or we can do the test without you and mail the results."
"Please. I have no idea where I'll be," Xander admitted. "If it's mine, I'll find it a stable mother and set it up a trust fund." The judge gave him a look. "She's already lied once, what is going to keep me believing that she won't hurt the child? As I said, I'll find a suitable situation for any child I end up creating and then set it up with a trust fund. That way I don't have to try and raise it and it can't be tainted by my lifestyle."
"That is more acceptable than raising it while you're on the run, young man." The judge looked at him. "I believe I told you not to come through the metal detectors with a weapon?"
"I didn't. I came through the window in your office from the roof," Xander said smartly. The judge grimaced. "Your wife's picture is very pretty."
"That's my daughter, young man."
"Oops, sorry." He shrugged. "Not my intention to insult. I did catch all the papers that tried to blow away and I put them in their own folder out of your filing cabinet so you could know what was touched and sort through it later." The judge continued to frown. "Next time, I'll use a more conventional entrance."
"See that you do," he ordered grimly. He looked at Lupin. "I have heard that they have nearly found your files."
"So have I," Lupin agreed with a smirk. "Mail it to him, I'll make sure he does right by the child."
"I wouldn't let a child stay with her," Xander said bitterly, standing up. "You know me better than that."
"True, but I can still look over your shoulder," Lupin said with a smirk. "The same as you probably will when I have to produce an heir." He stood up and picked up the sonogram picture. "Was there anything else?"
"No," the judge said patiently, watching as they walked out, leaving their lawyer. "The young woman in question will be kept in touch with by this court," he ordered. "I will see her each month to make sure that nothing is happening to her." Her lawyer nodded. "Thank you." He banged his gavel. "I will see her in three or four weeks." He went back to his office to see how bad it had been messed up. Everything was just as it should be, with the promised extra folder for him to go through. The boy had even alphabetized his files for him. "Nervous gunmen?" he snorted. He sat down to call the inspector and tell him the results, he had wanted to know.
Lupin walked Xander into the house, hands on his shoulders. "We're back!" he called.
Jigen came out of the study. "Is he vindicated?"
"Up to a point. She is actually pregnant," Lupin told him. "One month pregnant."
"That would put it just before the convention," Jigen pointed out.
"So we'll know in five more months," Xander told him. "He'll be mailing me the results of this one's DNA test." He shrugged. "I don't know. If it is, I need to find her a good mother and set up a trust."
Jigen nodded. "That seems fair to me." He pulled the boy closer, giving him a hug. "Did you get to see the picture yet?" Xander grinned and nodded, hugging him back. "Goemon's still shaking his head. He blames you."
"Of course he does. It's one of those blame Xander days," he agreed dryly, heading for the dining room. "I'm back and I may have a child," he announced. "She's a month pregnant." Goemon winced. "Yeah, so I won't know until we can do a paternity test at five months." He sat down, looking at him. "And yes, I did teach her how to flip you off already. It's part of my devious plan to give you a hellish child that will test the limits of your patience and reinforce your training."
Goemon laughed. "I'm sure it will, Xander. She was not very fond of the noise." He reached over, patting the boy on the hand. "What did you want for your birthday?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "I don't have a clue. I don't usually celebrate the thing. I haven't in years."
"Friends do celebrate the important occasions," Goemon reminded him. "We are friends. We will be celebrating this one." Xander nodded. "Thank you. Do you not have a single idea?"
"Not a one," he admitted. "I've got everything I need and most of what I could want."
"Most?" Lupin asked, walking in with a wrapped present. He handed it over with a kiss for the new owner. "For your other side. Fujiko said she didn't have enough jewelry."
Xander opened the present with the biggest and brightest smile on his face. He grinned at his boss when the sapphire and amethyst tennis bracelet was uncovered. "I love it!" he said happily.
"There's one with a ruby on it too," Jigen promised, handing over a larger package. "For you. We had to steal it from Dawn." He sat down to watch him as he opened it.
"Wow. My picture album and oooh... a copy of Willow's files?" he asked, holding up the CDs. Jigen nodded. "Wow. Can we use them to delete our old records and start on new ones?"
"No, but your friend Oz can," Lupin told him. "He said he's going to do that." He passed down the telegram. Xander read it, grinning in happiness. Oz said he didn't understand but that he would support him in his life after dealing with Angel for a few months. That he had found their files and set them to self destruct in four days. He grinned at Lupin. "That may backfire," Lupin warned him.
Xander shrugged. "He's understanding me."
"Hmm. Perhaps I should get you a different present," Goemon offered, handing over an envelope Dawn had given to him. "Dawn gave this to us when we brought Ishi home. We think it should go to you since we are not that suitable to go diving at the moment."
Xander opened it, looking at the copied map, drooling. "Wow." He looked up. "You're sure?" He nodded. "Cool. Of course I always split with the group." He went back to tracing where the wrecks had happened. "Why didn't anyone get these before now?"
"They were illegal shipments. Pirate ships," Jigen told him. "I looked them up. They were reported sunken, nothing else." He looked at the map. "That'll be a hard dive anyway."
"We could get a sub," Xander suggested. "Stock it for a few months?"
"None of us are that good of captains," Jigen reminded him. He gave him a pat on the wrist. "We'll figure it out." Xander nodded, putting it on top of his photo album. "What pictures are in there? We didn't peek."
Xander touched it. "I'll show you later," he decided. Jigen nodded. Xander still saw the worry. "This is a pre-Buffy photo album." He pulled it over, but Jigen shook his head. "It's okay. Jesse would have thanked me." He scooted his chair closer, letting him see the first page. "My parents weren't always sucky," he explained. "My dad liked his life at one time, my mother enjoyed being a housewife, then things went downhill." He touched his baby picture. "That was me, of course." He flipped the page. "And the obligatory embarrassing pictures of course." Jigen chuckled at that. He turned the page, jumping years. "My mother swore up and down I was homely every time she reached for a camera from the time I was six months old to when I was just about three. That's my third birthday. That's Willow, and that's Jesse." He pointed at them. He looked closer. "That's Devon?" he asked. He shook his head. "Friend of Oz's who didn't ever really like me."
He changed the page. "That's the disastrous one with the clown." He changed the picture quickly, finding one that made him smile. "That's us on our first day of first grade. Back then, even Cordelia was cool. That's why she was in the picture. She gained popularity and left the rest of us far behind a few months later." He touched his own face. "I was cute back then, no matter what my mother said." He flipped further back, sparing him the bad hair years as he called them. He paused at the next to last picture. "That was us in the ninth grade. The next-to-last day of school. Seven months later to the day after this was taken everything was different. Jesse was dead. Willow had found a new friend and her crush on me was starting to fade a little. Buffy was in town." He looked up and found everyone staring at him. "What? She used to have it so bad she could tell my blood pressure and pulse from across the room." He moved onto the last picture. "This one was taken six days before Jesse was killed," he said bitterly. "We had some stupid argument that morning and Willow had made us see we were being idiots so we had posed for a picture for her. We made up later that night and everything was fine for the last six days before he was replaced by the soulless creature I killed." He closed the book, stroking it. "I stole that off Willow. She wanted to build a shrine to him but I knew she wouldn't keep it up. I figure she knew where it went but she didn't seem to mind because she never said anything." He slumped in his chair. "That's most of the sad tale. You guys know the rest."
"I would have given it to you later if I had known it was going to depress you," Jigen offered.
Xander grinned at him. "Sometimes it's good to remember, otherwise you forget totally. Then what would I be?"
"You," Goemon told him. "Even if you were to forget everything from this moment back to your first memory, you would still be yourself. Who a person is is more complicated than their memories." He smiled faintly. "You might wonder how you knew to shoot so accurately and how you knew how to do a backflip, but you could still do it. It is instinct as well for you now."
"No philosophical discussions at the table," Lupin ordered. "Xander, did you want to put that in the safe?" Xander shook his head. "You're sure?"
"I'm sure. That way you don't have to break in to look at it. It'll be on my dresser." Lupin snickered. "It'll be underneath my present one."
"You have a present one?" Goemon asked. Xander nodded. "I have never seen you with a camera."
"I've had a small one now for months. It replaced my other small one that I broke during Jigen's birthday." Jigen shook his head. "I wasn't taping that. If I wanted to do that, I would have been more open about it." He stood up and took his presents up the stairs, bringing back his other one to hand over. "Here, you can look. I don't mind."
Goemon flipped through the pictures, first just of Jigen and then of the rest of them. He had caught them at some of the most odd moments. There was one of him meditating. One of Lupin trying to fix something. One of Jigen mid-reload on the range. There were standard ones. Him with Ishi as a newborn, after the hospital since he was wearing the bracelet they had stuck on him. Him with Fujiko, giving her a backrub. He looked at the boy, raising an eyebrow and showing that one off.
"I stole it from Lupin," he admitted. "He took that one and the one with Ishi before it."
"Ah." He went back to his browsing. A few with Marcus working out. Some with his men sleeping in a rumpled bed. One with him sleeping in a rumpled bed next to Jigen. Apparently taken by remote by the stiffness in the boy's body. One of Dawn in there, leaning on Zenigata's arm as they met them when they were coming back. An earlier one of Dawn was stuck on top of that one, making him laugh. "Dawn must have been quite the handful as a young girl."
"Oh, yeah," he agreed, grinning and nodding. "You can't have the next picture either and I will not cite place and time." Goemon looked at him and turned the page, then looked at Xander. It was a candid still of the four of them napping together. When had that happened? Xander gave him a look. "No."
"Fine. You will not even say when?" Xander shook his head.
Lupin got up to come over and look. "That was on the boat. The night after we got done raiding the ruins in Greece. While Xander was in Cleveland." He sat down again. "That looked funny. My tie camera?" Xander shook his head. "Then how?"
"I will not cite my source or place and time," he said firmly. "You're a smart guy, figure it out."
Goemon sat up suddenly. "That funny grip Jigen was complaining about." Xander smirked at him. "What was causing it?"
"A small homing device," Jigen said, looking at Xander. "There?" He shook his head. "Same time though, right?" Xander nodded. "We didn't bring much onto the ship with us."
"Turn the page," Xander suggested. The next one was turned to and Goemon groaned, shaking his head at the picture of him working out on the boat that next morning. "Figured it out yet?" He nodded. "Don't worry, you can have that one. I figured it'd come in handy with your wife."
Jigen looked confused. "What?"
"He put a microfilament camera in my sword grip, on the top of it." Jigen looked impressed. "I never hold it by the very end so I have not noticed it."
"What's the overhang?" Lupin asked, looking at that picture sideways.
"It's in the dragon design," Xander told him. "In the mouth of it." He winked. "Yes, I stole it from the workroom." Lupin shrugged and smiled back at him. "I've got some amazing pictures from that thing. Go over two more. The next one will probably make you blush or pissed." Goemon turned the page, finding a very candid shot of Marcus working out semi-naked and sweaty, apparently with his sword. He grunted and changed it again, finding the next picture funny. He showed it to the rest of the group. They all laughed. It was Ishi's last bad day and they were all worn out from trying to soothe the little prince of the household. Jigen's hat was on sideways. Lupin's hair was sticking up. Goemon was collapsed in exhaustion. Fujiko was sprawled on the floor. Marcus was giving the innocent looking sleeping baby a look like it was demonic. Xander wasn't in the picture. "I took that one with a normal camera but most everyone was too tired to notice."
"You are not in many of these," Goemon noted, turning the page.
"They're my memories, I know I was there."
"Still, most people have a few of themselves." The next one made him smile. Xander had been caught in the water, swimming smoothly through someone's pool. "Like that one." Xander looked, frowning at Lupin.
"I had to. You didn't have many of you in there," he said innocently. He grinned. "Mind much?"
"No. When was that one taken?"
"On board the last ship."
Xander nodded. "It'd almost have to be, I haven't been in the water since then and only on the boat before then for nearly a year." He settled himself back down, taking the photo album. There were other pictures that had been stuck in there by someone else. Pictures of him sleeping, working out, wearing an outfit he hated. He held it up and shook his head. "Get me in something nicer." He pulled it back down to look at the other ones. Dancing with Jigen in that stupid purple outfit made him nudge him and point it out. Jigen nodded, apparently he had put it in there. The next few were more candid. Him collapsed on the bed, a sweaty mess after sex. Him in the tub after that whole scar tissue incident. Him holding Ishi as Sylvia with Murami looking on. Him holding Ishi as a guy and having the baby sucking on his neck. The choker incident. He smiled at that, turning to the last page. It was him cuddled between his two men, collapsed and sleeping. The sun was shining on him, making him look like he had a halo. His arms were around Jigen and Lupin was stroking his back, looking down at him while Jigen gave him a thoughtful look. He looked like a porcelain statue in that one. "When was that one taken?" Jigen shrugged and so did Lupin. "One of you two must have taken it."
Goemon coughed and shook his head. "I did. I found them that way and used his tie camera to catch you all. I thought it was very representative of you three. It is in my own photo album if the wife hasn't shredded it."
"You can have another copy if she has," Xander promised. He let Jigen have the book, watching him looked stunned and hand it on. "That is an excellent picture. I look ethereal in that one."
Goemon nodded. "Very heavenly. Yet much too pale. We need to make you workout in the sun more often. That is why tomorrow afternoon you will bring me your new sword and we shall see what you can really do." Xander sighed and nodded. "Good boy."
Fujiko walked in and stopped to look at the picture in the book. "When was that taken?" she asked, sitting down with their resident prince. "How did it go, Xander?" She tossed him a package. "The baby picked it out. He cooed at it and the new one moved for the first time while I was looking at it so they decided it was you."
He grinned and opened it, holding up the necklace. "It's pretty," he agreed, grinning at her. "Thank you, guys." He waved at Ishi. "Morning, little guy. I'll know in four more months if I have one of you on the way." She frowned. "She was found to be a month pregnant upon examination," he said dryly, looking at her. "If it's mine, it's being taken from her and put into an excellent home with a good trust fund so it won't have to starve and so the parents will take good care of it."
"What about the picture?" she asked.
"I took it," Goemon admitted. "I caught them a few mornings ago. It was too good to waste." He took his son, making him wake up and glare at him. "Do not give me that look, son. It will only come back to make your training harder." His son seemed to sigh and settled onto his chest. "Thank you."
Xander chuckled. "When should he start crawling?"
"In another four or five months," Fujiko said. "Walking right after that. We'll have to go through and move some of the pretty vases out of baby range." Lupin gave her a look, horrified. "Babies, sticky fingers, pulling themselves up on tables like the one in the hall upstairs?" she reminded him. He groaned. "Yeah. Broken stuff. I've got the book on babyproofing upstairs. I'll hand it over later. I've been working on our room."
"The outlet covers need a convenient way to remove them without resorting to a prybar," Goemon warned. Everyone sighed. "I would not let him down upstairs anyway. We do not have a gate on the stairs so he cannot fall."
"Can we designate a wandering range?" Xander asked hopefully. There was a lot of stuff that would have to be moved off decorative tables. "Or can we maybe stick stuff to the tables?" he suggested. "Sticky pads?"
"That might be a solution. I'll talk to the housekeeper," Lupin agreed quickly. He liked how the house was decorated. Jigen simply grunted. "No opinion on the matter?"
"I'm all for putting him in one room and letting him wander in there. Maybe we can pad it for routine freakouts too."
Lupin gave him a look but it was Xander who pinched him. "I haven't had a breakdown recently, thank you." He looked at the disgruntled baby. "Want me, Ishi?" The baby snorted and buried his face against his father's neck, blocking out the nasty older people. "I guess we wore out his patience with us," Xander quipped, making Fujiko smile. "Now what?"
"Now, we were going to have a special dinner, but we haven't called it in yet," Lupin admitted. "Pizza and Chinese?" Xander beamed. "And a cake, which will stay in the freezer for now." Xander gave him a wondrous look. "Hey, I like you, kid. Otherwise I wouldn't order you pizza." Xander got up and came over to hug him. "It's okay. Happy thirty-second, Xander."
"Thanks, Lupin." He gave him a kiss and went to kiss Jigen, then everyone else. Marcus walked in during that, blushing hard. Xander took his present from him and kissed him too, making him moan. "Thanks, Marcus."
Marcus sat down, taking the baby to hide his own blush. "I haven't received one of those since that assignment."
"What did you do to deserve that?" Jigen asked.
"I played along very well," he informed him. He tossed over another bag. "Hopefully that is the last of those. I'm tired of it."
"I don't know why the condom broke," Xander promised. "At least I padded them in fat."
"True, that was the only thing that saved me a probable torn intestine," he agreed. He nuzzled the baby, making Ishi swat him. "Sorry, love. I'll let you sleep." The baby glared at him and closed his eyes again. "You can open it, Xander."
Xander opened it, smiling at the nice wooden box inside. "Is anything trapped in there?"
"No. It's a jewelry box," Marcus said, rolling his eyes. "I would not give you a trapped spirit, you would release it to fight it." Xander grinned at him. "Are we expecting others?"
"Murami sent me a card. So did Gramps," Xander admitted, putting the pretty box aside. Now he had things to put in it. "Dawn went with my fake birthday instead of my real one this year. Maybe she was hoping to stump Gramps but he had my real California's driver's license in Cleveland so I know he knows." He got more comfortable, putting his feet up on Marcus' thighs. "Hold still," he ordered. Marcus gave him a look. "It's my birthday," he pouted. "I'm thinking." He considered it. "Then there's the nice summons from the court early last week. That was one hell of a birthday gift." Everyone snickered. "I don't remember her jumping me but then again....." he trailed off. "If she was there and not helping, the ladies did take the condoms with them," he admitted. "I noticed there weren't enough in the trash the next morning." He shrugged off that thought. "Then there's the summons I got last night to go see the Don of the European Syndicate." He looked at Lupin. "Did you get that too?" He nodded. "That's early next week. Plus, Murami warned me to be more careful with my credit card. The fact that the one I used at the con has my own name worried her. I explained that it's about the only place where I can be myself and she agreed but still warned me to be more careful, comparing it to a secret identity." He shifted again, tipping his head back. "I don't think I'm expecting more unless I suddenly have a fanclub and they send me something." He looked at Lupin, who shook his head. "That's good at least. This whole groupie thing is really starting to freak me out. Am I going to walk off a plane someday to screaming fans waving pens and paper?"
Jigen laughed. "That would make a wonderful distraction," he noted. He looked at Lupin. "If this Oz kid pulls off what he thinks he can, how are we going to restart our records?"
"I vote that we pretend to go legit for a while, while hiding what we're really doing to build back up to it," Xander offered. "Play Stump the Cop."
Lupin shuddered. "Ew. No. Bad idea, Xander. We stump him enough as is. I'd rather stay open with my crime spree." An alarm started to go off and he went to check the security system. "Xander, for your birthday apparently we're being raided," he announced.
Xander and Marcus stood up, going out to stop them. Ishi was taken from them by the worried mother, who went to hide upstairs. Xander pulled his favorite firearm and pointed it at the two people sneaking through the gate when they got close enough. He fired above one's shoulder and below one's feet. "Freeze," he yelled. "Any further and I'm killing someone." Both people looked at him, looking like young kids.
Marcus walked down to meet them, scowling just like his father. "Who are you?" he demanded. "What are you doing on this property?"
They looked clueless and started to sniffle but Xander knew something was up. "Marcus, trap," he called.
Marcus pulled his sword and backed away from them. He backed up against Xander, looking around. "How could you tell?"
"No tears." Xander scanned in the other direction and soon a figure vaulted over the wall to land in front of them. "Oh, gee, let's see. You leapt the wall. Superhero?" The man sneered. "No. Friend of Goemon's?" he suggested. That got an even bigger sneer. "Hmm. Friend of Cummings?" The man lunged and he switched weapons, grabbing Marcus' sword since the guy was pulling a blade. "Shoot the decoys," he demanded as they faced off.
"Xander, you are not a master of the blade," Marcus complained. He shot them both in the leg, wincing when they cried out and more came over the wall. Jigen and Lupin were getting them from further up the drive and Goemon was heading out to help. He looked at the man. "Can't I just shoot him?"
"No. I'm having fun," Xander announced. "Should I quit playing with you now, darling? Or are you gonna get worse?" The man growled and Xander ducked under his next wide swing, gutting him. He stood over the moaning body, shaking his head. "Rank amateur. I've only been doing this for a few years and even I know better than to chop down like that." He looked at the other guys, switching weapons between shots again. His gun was fired behind where he had been standing, taking out someone coming over the wall in that direction. Non-fatally since wasn't sure who it was. For all he knew it could be Dawn or Faith again. When everyone was down or dead, he wiped off his forehead. "Damn, I forgot how hard of work that was." He walked off, shaking his head. "Someone came over the wall. I put it into their shoulder," he said, pointing at the top right one. "They're probably critical." He handed off his gun and went to take a nap. He was tired now.
Lupin looked at the boy's back. "Xander, I will be watching your sword practice tomorrow," he ordered. "For being a rank amateur, that was too good." Xander waved a hand. He looked at Goemon, who shrugged. "It wasn't your style."
"It was not," he agreed, going to check on the person over the wall. He frowned and shoved him back, then went to call their neighbors and warn them that someone had been sneaking around and he had heard a shot on their lawn. The other bodies were quickly cleaned up, dispatched or sent away. Goemon looked around at the mess. "It was nice of the Don to send someone to test him," he noted.
"It was," Lupin agreed, grinning at him. "Think we should target him next?"
"It would please me greatly," Goemon agreed, leading the way back into the house. Xander was cuddling a protesting cat while he napped. "Perhaps we should buy him a bear?" he suggested dryly, saving the poor beast. He went to put it over the wall again, making it hiss at him as it landed. "Stay there," he warned. He went to check on his son, finding his wife pacing in their room. "It is fine. The Don was not pleased."
"I'm going to kill the fucker this time," Fujiko ranted. "How dare he endanger my children!"
Goemon sat down, pulling her into his lap on her next pass so he could hold them both. "That is what we had planned," he promised. "You are still delicate."
"Tough, woman, deal with it. You are pregnant. The baby can be hurt." He put a hand over her stomach. "I do not want any of you hurt. Do not fuss. You can help from the room this time." She nodded, grimacing. "Thank you." He let her go but she stayed so he held her closely, comforting her. The baby woke up and yawned at him. "Go back to sleep, son. It was nothing." The baby closed his eyes again and sucked his thumb, never quite making it back to sleep. "I should have taken a picture of the boy with that cat."
"It would give you teasing material later," she agreed, giving him a kiss. "I can go?"
"As long as you stay out of danger and keep him from it." She nodded. "Did you know why the boy panicked so badly when you gave birth?" She shook her head. "He admitted it to me. He had a nightmare while he was unconscious. It showed him stuck in the necklace and having to have twins to get it free. He had to take it from their dead bodies somehow and have Ethan perform the spell." She shuddered. "I lost you as well," he told her, stroking her chin with his thumb. "I do not want that to happen, Fujiko. I would rather see you safely out of the way if possible. Soon he will need another sort of care and he will start picking up clues. Even with Marcus here all the time, he will need you more." She opened her mouth. "It is something you will have to come to grips with some day. You are a mother now. You can do many things here that are very helpful and still get out sometimes. I would rather have you here than in danger all the time. I do not want either of you hurt."
She nodded, slumping a little. "I'm sure we'll be fine."
"Even if we do bring both you and Marcus along with him, it will still mean that you are in danger and so is our son and eventually our daughter." She looked at him. "Take a few years off," he encouraged. "When they're in school it will be easier to work." She nodded, accepting that. "Besides, this way I will have you three to come home to. Or to come home and babysit while you do your own thing," he admitted at her stare.
"Fine, I'll think about it," she said firmly.
"That is all I ask. Babies are incredibly fragile and cannot help themselves if they are hurt. Unlike you and I." He held her tighter for a moment. "Sometimes I wonder if it was wise to start a family, then the son smiles at me and pees on me." She laughed, giving him a hug. "Thank you. I think it is the universe trying to tell me something."
"That you're too old?" she teased.
"No, that I have been peed on enough and eventually the world will be potty trained and make sense again."
She laughed. "That's not for another two years, Goemon. Then this one." She patted her stomach. The baby shifted and she put his hand over the area, making him smile.
"Food's here," Jigen yelled up the stairs.
Goemon stood up, picking his wife up and taking her to the bed. "We can eat later," he decided, taking his son to put him into his crib and cover the side facing their bed. He was going to have his own celebratory meal.
Lupin went in to wake up Xander, smiling at him. He looked so innocent sleeping there like that. He gave him a gentle touch, earning a sleepy grumble. "Xander, dinner," he said softly. Xander grabbed him and pulled him down, rolling them onto the floor so he could be cuddled. "If this is a seduction all you had to do was ask," he said with a small laugh. Xander was snoring into his neck. "Jigen, help," he called. "He's groping me in his sleep."
Jigen came in and shook his head. "He did that to me too a few times after we first hooked up. He'll struggle if you don't let him phase his own way out of it." Lupin gave him a look. "Seriously. I'm not lyin'," he promised, heading off to get his own food while it was hot.
Xander gave him a squeeze before lifting his head, his eyes only slitted open. "What's wrong?"
"It's dinner. Your birthday dinner," Lupin told him. Xander nodded, giving him a kiss. "Thanks. Let's go." Xander stood up, stumbling in that direction. Lupin winced when he ran into the door frame. "Hold on, Xander." He stood up, helping him into the bathroom to let him use it. The boy was batting at the handle when he was done so he knew what he needed. He got him cleaned up then turned the boy around, leaning him against the sink as he kissed him. Xander made humming noises, his eyes still partially closed. He pulled back and watched the boy lick his lips. "I have soda for you, Xander, or you can have a quick blowjob." Xander gave him a slight grin. "Which would you prefer?"
"Mmm. Kiss," he said, taking one. "Like kisses." He latched onto Lupin's neck, making him pull him closer and kiss him again.
Jigen walked in, shaking his head. "Is he having a technology phobic day?" Lupin nodded, smiling at him. "Xander, wake up. Your food's getting cold." Xander gave him a sated look so he kissed him, making him moan and arch toward him. "Only if you wake up. If you do, I'll try to force myself to give you a handjob later," he promised. Xander groaned and gave him another kiss, then stumbled toward the dining room.
Marcus gave him a dirty look, turning it onto the older men. "You shouldn't have molested him so close to a fight. He's worn out and won't be able to enjoy the subtle wrongness of Frenchmen cooking Chinese food."
Lupin gave him an innocent look. "All I did was kiss him, Marc. Trust me." Someone pounded on the front door so he went to open it, looking at the woman on the other side. He winced. "Which one was it?" he asked.
"Mark," she said, frowning at him. "Xander got him good too! He was trying to help!" She slapped at him, then stomped off. "Be more mean to my family, I do know where you live," she warned, heading over to help heal him some more.
Lupin jogged out to catch her. "Dawn, it was an accident," he said softly. "We were being invaded and all Xander saw was another guy coming over the wall. That's why there's some new dead bodies across the way." She looked stunned. "Yeah, here. The new Don is not happy with Xander. Xander didn't want to talk to him because he's loyal to me and not him. So he decided to stage an invasion for his birthday."
She glared. "Fine. I'll accept his injury this time. What can I do to help?"
He smiled. "Don't worry, we'll plan you into it," he promised. "You and your whole new team." She blushed. "Go play with your man, I'm sure he's fussing over Mark greatly." She nodded, heading up and over the wall to check on him. Lupin headed back inside, finding Jigen with his mouth open and Xander on his knees in front of him. "It's his birthday, not yours."
"He attacked him," Marcus said, bright red now. "Said it made him happy or some such." He buried his face behind a book again, forcing himself not to listen. "I tried to protest but Xander bit me on the knee."
"That's fine." Lupin looked down at Xander. "Hurry up so you can eat," he ordered.
Xander looked up and grinned. "Present," he said with his sleepy/happy voice. Jigen groaned and he went back to what he had been doing, making him make pretty noises.
Lupin dished himself up some food, shaking his head. He could hear more noises coming from the vents so Goemon must be relaxing with the little woman again too. Jigen finally came so he poured him some water, handing over the glass as he felt his own pants be opened. "Xander, I don't have a problem with you and doing that in public, but not at the table," he said gently. "In the living room later, while we're watching tv." Xander nuzzled him. "I mean it or I won't tie you down tonight." Xander recovered him and then shifted back into his seat, grabbing some food for himself. "Thank you, Xander." Xander gave him a sleepy smile, then slowly put his head down again.
"That was one hell of a birthday present," Jigen decided. "Almost as nice as treasure."
"He is a treasure," Lupin reminded him smugly. "We can give him his present from us later." Jigen laughed and finished off his water. "Xander, eat. You'll want it later," he called. Xander shrugged and snuffled into his plate.
To part 10
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