The Long, Strange Trip Home.
Xander looked up as Goemon joined him in the restaurant, giving him a smile. "Morning," he said pleasantly. He was presently in female form as Melody, the half-Asian looking disguise with long, straight black hair and a modestly built body. They were meeting so Goemon could go over her manners since she had asked him to. Fujiko was bothering him most of the time and he had needed the practice anyway. She looked at him as he cleared his throat. "Did you want a kiss?" she teased.
"No," Goemon said firmly. "Why are we eating here?"
"Because I like the food here," she said quietly. "It's a nice place and fairly safe."
"Someone might think I was cheating on Fujiko."
"Someone might think that, but would they be stupid enough to tell her that? Besides, she knows you're here to help me today, right?"
Goemon nodded. "That is true," he admitted. "Fine. What did you like on this menu?"
"The fish is pretty good. The burgers are great. The salads are really big if you're going to go off on my diet again," she said, giving him a sideways look, noticing his smug look. "It's usually pretty decent but I've only had those. The cheesecake isn't as good as some I've had but the shortcake is excellent."
"Very well." He took her menu. "What are you having?"
"I think I'll have the steak." He gave her a long look. "I'm hungry. Sue me, I was up late last night." She gave him a smug look. "Someone had me working out most of the night."
"I'll chastise him later," Goemon said firmly. "You still need to sleep." He looked over as the waiter came over. "I'll have the lunch salad with chicken." The man nodded and wrote it down. "She'll have the side salad and the steak." The waiter glanced at her. Goemon gave him a long look and he smiled and bowed before leaving quickly with their menus.
"Shoot, I need more soda," Xander sighed, sipping the last of hers.
"You need to drink more water."
"I hate water."
"Obviously." Goemon glanced around, noticing the people staring at them. Then he looked at Xander again. "This was a very kind diversion, Xander. Thank you."
"Welcome." She smiled brightly. "I figured you probably needed it with the brat your wife was becoming again. One of these days I'll even have to resort to fighting like a woman against her." Goemon smiled and shook his head. "Seriously. She's being worse of a brat than Lotus is on occasion. Plus she's encouraging bad habits in Lotus and Ishi. I don't like that. They're spreading." She finished her soda and put the cup aside, shifting to cross her feet in the other direction. "I caught Demara having to correct the others from pouting like Lotus and demanding like Ishi."
"She has spoiled them," he agreed sadly. "I don't know how to counter it."
"Easy, find her a long job and spend that time with the kids." Xander retorted gently. "You're the only one who can undo her damage."
"Perhaps," Goemon agreed, gently smiling at her. "You are getting more wise as your own grow older."
"I should. Look at all I've done in my life." She beamed at the waiter as he brought their food and her another soda. "Thank you," she said in Japanese. He nodded and left again. "Think he's the cop or is it someone else?"
"He is," Goemon noted, pushing through his salad. The listening device was tossed over his shoulder, as was Xander's. "We should work on your deportment. Most Japanese women aren't as aggressive as you are."
"Most of them don't have the reason to be aggressive that I do," she quipped, smiling at him. "But I can be a bit more demure and proper if necessary."
"It might be helpful, yes," he agreed, digging in. "Would you like to help me shop for presents for the children later?"
"Sure," Xander said happily. "I'd adore that, you know I like spoiling the kids. The two Mini-Lupins and my twins need new ones anyway."
"Hmm. Probably not, but then again they are more spoiled than my own." She kicked him under the table and he smirked. "You do spoil very often."
"I might, but at least mine don't throw fits that make whole museums full of people upset."
"Thankfully or we'd never have any work." He ate another bite, spitting out the piece of wire. "They really should figure out how to not do that." Xander chuckled and dug for wire in her salad but didn't find any and shoved it over for him. "Thank you." He ate a bite. "Yours is fresher."
"He was flirting earlier," Xander admitted coyly. "Apparently I look good to him."
"You do look good like that," he agreed, looking over her tasteful outfit. It was amazing, he couldn't see a bit of cleavage. Much different from his wife's clothes. You could tell she had on a regular dress under the outer kimono from the way the fabric bunched around her neckline. "That is a nice outfit, where did you find it?"
"Paris. The designer is *wonderful*. She even helps compensate for weapons."
"Good." He smiled at her. "It's always important to hide those." He ate another bite, thinking of a new topic. They didn't often sit down and talk politely like this. "I think the children should get new kimonos. Fujiko is protesting."
"I'd toss out her clothes and only leave her kimonos," Xander offered, smirking at him. "She can't run around naked in front of the kids. She won't do it in front of Jigen or Lupin."
"Hmm. An interesting premise," he agreed. "Logical. She might do it anyway."
"At which point in time you take her out to the treehouse and tie her up in it until she knows better."
"Another idea," he agreed dryly. "I like your idea of sending her away on a job better."
"Yeah, me too. It's amazing, I did more work than she did last year. Marcus even did more work than she did last year." Goemon grunted. "I mean in the field work. She didn't even help plan stuff."
"I hadn't thought of that," he admitted, putting down his fork. "Maybe we can find something for her to retrieve. Or perhaps send Lupin and Jigen with her?"
"Maybe," Xander agreed. "They could use something to do that's not playing with the kids. I caught Jigen singing to them the other day."
"He doesn't sing."
"I know. He's tone deaf. I still caught him singing. I didn't recognize the tune but he had this look like he was some grandpa in Florida with the grandkids down for a visit." She sipped her soda. "I think they're bored."
"Perhaps. It could be paternal feelings come out more firmly however. The twins are nearly old enough to potty train."
"Yup, they just did that," Xander said proudly. "Got the point over a weekend due to the candy. Had a really big stomachache because they did so well. They've even got the nighttime stuff mostly down already."
"I'm impressed, it took nearly three weeks to teach Ishi," Goemon noted.
"He learned it in a few days, it was that peeing off the back porch thing that kept hanging him up," she argued. Which she had taught him but she wouldn't mention that since it had upset Goemon so much.
"I still don't think it's appropriate."
"Hey, he got the basics, he didn't use a diaper," she said with a smug look.
"Yes, but his mother was not happy when she was peed on."
"Maybe he figured it had made you wiser so he was trying to help her. Speaking of her," he said, nudging him under the table again. They both looked up as Fujiko stormed in. "Join us, Fuji?"
"No!" she spat. "I know you're trying to steal my husband."
Xander sipped her soda. "Fujiko, think about who you're addressing before you make outlandish claims. I've got two men already." She glared at him. "Yes, it is me."
"I knew it was you before then," she said snidely. "You and your manners lessons and all that shit need to go to hell!"
"Fine, we'll quit figuring out what to get you for your birthday," Xander said with a one- sided shrug. "It's not like we can't find something spectacular and give you a map."
"My birthday just passed."
"Yes, but all *good* presents require some careful planning," he pointed out. "All my best ones have started at least a few months before. But hey, if you don't want a map for your birthday, we don't have to do that. I can simply get you something nice and cute, like a silver hairbrush or something." She glared at him again. "Up to you, Fujiko. We both know I'm not taking your husband. I like the guy, but he'd never put up with me."
"I wouldn't," Goemon agreed dryly. "You still bounce." He looked at his wife. "This is not whatever you are thinking. Your mind has led you astray yet again, wife."
"Stuff it," she spat. "I know what's going on." She stomped out.
"This sort of situation is why wish demons are so bad," Xander noted, cutting into her steak for a new bite. "If we end up in Hell, or somewhere else, it can be fixed I'm sure."
Goemon gave him a long look. "If we end up in Hell, I'm letting you destroy them."
Xander beamed. "Okay." She ate that bite of steak, looking out the window. "When we get done, why don't we go shopping for something for her to do?"
"Definitely. We can stop by the kimono shop on the way," he agreed.
"Cool. My present one is getting a bit heavy. I decided to wear a new one. Like it?"
"I do," he admitted, looking over the decorated fabric. "It looks heavy though. Is that for summer?"
"Yup. It's just heavy." She shrugged and ate another bite. "Modern designers."
"Ah." He nodded. "They seem to want to change some of the finer traditions. What is that in?"
"It's in a linen/cotton mix," she said, letting him feel it. "The dress underneath is in a pure cotton." He nodded in appreciation. "I simply liked it a lot."
"As do I. The patterns suit you." He ate another bite of salad. "Perhaps I should be home more often. Being there would help both children calm down and learn appropriate manners."
"It couldn't hurt. Lotus is still tweaking noses."
"Hmm. I wish she would quit that," he agreed. "It is distressing." He shuddered. "She's too much like her mother for her own good."
"Well, not really. It's just that her mother's had complete control of her so far. When you're there, she's much different from when she's with her mother."
"An excellent point," Goemon agreed, realizing it was true. "I should take the rest of this year off and work with them and Marcus. You could use the practice as well."
"I could," she sighed, putting down her fork. "Want to go?" He nodded so they paid their tabs and left, heading down to the kimono shop. As they walked over the threshold, a powerful wave of magic hit them, sending them off kilter and into a woods. "Okay," she said, looking around. "Not where we intended. It's not Hell, but it's not where we intended." She looked at Goemon, who was grimacing. "Recognize it?"
"I do. That mountain was on the other side of where I trained as a boy," he noted, pointing it out.
"So we're near Iga?"
"We're just outside of Iga," Goemon corrected. He pointed. "Iga should be that way." He looked at her. "Stay here, do something with your hair and hide your underdress." She nodded, pulling down the elaborate hairdo to turn it into a braid. "Hide if anyone comes," he instructed as he walked away.
"I can handle myself," she called after him, frowning at his stiff back. "I'm not helpless," she reminded herself. "Even though we're in Japan, and it looks and sounds like ancient Japan by the noises and the horses coming this way." She stepped back into the trees, her hair undone and falling down her back. She hoped the riders didn't notice her, even though one turned to look in her direction. She looked behind her, squeaking at the demon standing there. "I should have felt you."
"You are not from here," he said.
She switched to the most common demon language. "No, we're not. My friend and I were transported here, probably by a wish demon because his wife is a jealous bitch. Goemon and I work together."
"Ah. The present one is the fifth." She winced and groaned, shaking her head. "You are far from your time, Consort." She gave him a long look. "I can tell. It radiates off you."
"It was done against my will," she said firmly.
"I have no doubt of that, the chaos of it shines as well. I shall go stop your friend and bring him to the camp of the other Goemon's. I am the protector of this wood and they are here now."
"Thank you. Should I wait here?"
"Yes. Do something about your hair. You look like a maiden and those are in short supply around here."
She got to work braiding it. "Technically, I'm married to someone else, kinda. Promised and all but married." He nodded, watching her work. "He's married to someone else as well. Shit, the kids." She looked up. "Not fair to them."
"You have children?" a rough voice said from behind them.
Xander turned, looking at the older man. "I do. As does my traveling companion, a member of your clan." The guy looked just like her Goemon. They had to be related. "We're not supposed to be here though. I'm not quite sure how we got here." The demon said something and she looked at him. "I can understand you," she said in Japanese.
"Fine." The guardian walked into the open. "She is a guardian of her own time. They were transported here. Her companion comes from further up the line."
"I see." He nodded. "Take her to our camp. Where is the clan member?"
"He headed for the town to find out what year this was and things," Xander admitted, getting the braid done to her neck and hitching it up. "I'll finish it later. My arms are tired." The man on the horse gave her a long look. "I'm more than capable of taking care of myself. Thank you."
"I see." He looked her over. "A woman such as yourself traveling alone is a bad thing."
Xander looked up at him, giving him a bland look. "You'd be surprised. I'm an assassin in my own right, only with the weapons the Westerners use instead of yours. Though if you have a crossbow, I'm fairly good with them. I've hunted enough things in my life." The demon said something again. "Yes, them too. I learned by hunting vampires."
"Hmm." The Goemon member nodded. "Fine. Bring her to our camp. We will watch and look for the other." He rode off.
"Is he a good member or is this before the family split?" she asked the demon.
He groaned. "Just before. We've seen signs of it already. Come." He walked off and she followed him, making sure her clothes didn't catch on anything. "Those are odd fabrics for your clothes."
"Modern times have people who change some of the basics to suit themselves," she said with a shrug. "I've got some more proper ones at home but we were having lunch out to help me with my manners."
"It must have been hard, changing that way."
"That is my choice," she noted.
"If you can, change to be more Asian."
"I have trouble with height."
"Then that is fine. You look enough like us part of the time." He watched as she did something to her necklace and turned more Japanese looking. "Much better." He nodded and led her on. "We can say you're farm folk."
"Sure. Not that I am. I'm more warrior stock actually." He looked impressed. "I am an assassin and a gunman in my own right, plus I know some martial arts and some sword work. Goemon taught me those."
"Ah." He looked impressed. "Very interesting, Consort. What is your name?"
"In this form, it's usually Alexandra. After the great Greek General who made it all the way to the Indus river back in his time."
"We have heard of him," he noted. "A strange name but nothing too out of the ordinary for a warrior's daughter." He walked into a clearing, startling some women, who screamed and ran.
"Don't do that," Xander begged in Japanese. "I'm not evil, really."
"They screamed due to me, Consort."
"Sorry." She gave him a look. "You're damn helpful. Are you around in my time?" He nodded. "Name? So I can look you up and thank you when and if we get back?" He whispered something in her ear. "After the big guy, huh?" She smiled and bowed properly to him. "I thank you, guardian spirit." He bowed back and left. She turned to look at the women. "Sorry. Goemons'?" They nodded and one old woman stepped forward. He noticed she was looking particularly hard at her chest. "It was against my will. A friend gave me for his own power. A member of your clan protects me now."
"The one we felt coming home," she said. Xander nodded. "That is fine. Sit, girl."
"Then sit, Alexandra. Can you cook?"
"Some. I don't usually poison people." The others stared at her. "I mean you no harm. Don't worry about it." She sat delicately on a log, putting on water for tea. Goemon had made sure she knew how to make real tea as soon as she had picked out a form that had any form of Asian leaning. Just in case it was necessary. Men came riding up with her Goemon with them and she nodded at them politely enough while guarding the older woman. "Are they yours?"
"Family retainers," she said, patting her on the arm. "Ah, the new one," she said, bowing to him. "We will talk." She looked at the head of the clan, who nodded, giving the new woman a look. "She came with him. He protects her from those who would want to hurt her again for their own uses."
"I also teach her," Goemon said as he slid off the back of the horse and walked over, checking her over. "You've changed."
"It was suggested." She stood up and bowed to the obvious head of the family. "I'm Alexandra."
"I see." He looked her over. "Your clothes mark you as not being local," he said in English. "As do your manners."
"My clothes and my manners state I'm from a time far in the future, as is this member of your clan."
"Speak so the rest of us understand," one of the women complained.
"Hush," the clan head told her, glaring at her. "Impudent woman." She threw a rock at him. "I will punish you for that later." He looked at them again, going back to English. "How far?"
"This is the thirteenth name carrier."
"Really? I'm only the fifth," he said, looking at Goemon. "Interesting. Which side do you take after?"
"The dark one. I and my children are the last of the line. So far one son and one daughter, who takes after Grandmother's side," he said, nodding at the older woman. "Alexandra is my student and friend. I've trained her for a few years now. We thieve together."
"Very interesting," he grunted, looking at her again. "You use a sword?"
"Definitely. Not as good as Goemon does, but I do use one. I also use some of the Western weapons."
"Hmm." He smiled. "Then you can help around the house and hunt?"
"I'm better with a crossbow than a regular bow. I grew up hunting the legions of darkness." The man looked impressed. "This isn't my natural form."
"I can tell. The necklace looks out of place, is that the reason?" She nodded. "Very well then. Are you normally female?"
"Sometimes, only with the necklace on. I was born male. I also have silver hair in my usual form."
"Stay in this one then," he ordered. "It will cause fewer problems." He looked at his relative. "You will come with us?"
"If you desire it to be that way," Goemon said formally in Japanese.
The head of the clan nodded. "I do, though I do not think the others need to know."
"A good idea," Xander agreed. She got down to test the pot of water, then took it over to where the tea cups were being prepared. "I'm not doing the full ceremony, right?"
Goemon rolled his eyes. "Women in my time are much more fierce and opinionated. She grew up among the Westerners."
"Ah. That explains the stiffness." He nodded, looking at the other men. "He is not from here, but he is a member of our clan. She is under his protection and his betrothed." Xander looked at him and he gave her a long look back.
"My wife would probably not like that very much," Goemon said in English.
"Perhaps, but was she the one who sent you here?" He nodded. "Then it serves her right for being such a shrew. That one obviously needs someone to calm her down."
"Her men do so, just not recently." He sat down, watching Xander as she did what she was supposed to. "Didn't get your hair finished?"
"My arms got tired."
"I'll work on it later."
"I can, just not yet," she pointed out, bringing him over a cup of tea, and one for the clan's head as well to be nice and generous for their help. "Here you go." She sat down at Goemon's feet, looking up at him. "I added a bit of sugar to yours."
"Thank you." He sipped and nodded. "Too much sugar." They traded cups and hers tasted better to him. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome." She yawned, then shook her head. "That late night in the museum was not helpful."
"You do work with him?" one of the men said. She nodded. "You steal things?" She nodded again. "A woman?"
She stood up and handed off her tea cup. "If you wish to challenge me, you may. I can hold my own against everybody but him and his other, full-time student. I've put some ninja on their backs in the past."
"Xander," Goemon said calmly. "Leave him be. He is young and impatient. He knows not who he is addressing." She sat down again, taking her cup back. "Thank you."
"She will have her chance. We will see her in practice, as we will you," the clan head told him. He nodded. "Your sword?"
Goemon pulled it out of his kimono and tossed it over. "The one your generation was making, father."
"Ah." He pulled it, looking it over. "Very fine work." He tested the balance, then put it back and tossed it back to him. "It's good to know that one is so good and well-loved. You honor it?" He nodded, sipping his tea. "Excellent. And hers?"
"She uses many blades. None of them are special to her. Her other weapons are more her usual. Including those guns that the Westerners like so much." He grunted in annoyance. "They serve her well, and are easier to hide than a sword."
"I take it they've gotten better?" She pulled hers out and made sure the safety was on before walking it over. "This is one of them?" She nodded, ejecting the clip and clearing the chamber for him. "Well. These are not like the modern ones at all."
"Mine is more accurate and much more deadly," Xander said quietly. "The bullets come out faster." She reloaded the clip and put it back in, then put the gun back inside her outfit. "If you need my services, all you have to do is ask. I do not mind fighting for his family. He fights for mine sometimes." She went back to her spot, sitting down to finish her tea. "I'm going to have caffeine withdrawal soon," she told her Goemon. He gave her a long look. "Seriously."
"We'll manage." He patted her on the head. "Work on your hair. You look like some maiden."
"Yes, sir." She took down the clip and regathered the trio of hanks of hair, braiding it further. "Why did I give myself hair this long?"
"Because your men like it that way," he reminded her.
"Oh, yeah." She got halfway down her back then pulled it around to finish it off, reclipping it. "There, done," she said proudly. "Unless I need to wind it up?"
"No, that should be fine." He patted her on the head again. "At least this is you and not Marcus. He would be most put upon."
"He'd never make it," Xander pointed out. "He's very obviously British."
"You dare teach one of them our secrets?" the young man who had challenged Xander said angrily.
"He came to me after being infected with the soul of a spirit like the forest guardian who found me," Xander said coldly. "I asked permission and he needed it. He lives over here now and is his nanny."
Goemon cleared his throat. "Xander, temper," he said quietly. She frowned at him. "I mean it."
"Sorry." She looked down at her cup, picking it up to look at it. "This is a very interesting pattern. I've never seen that one before."
"It's unique to the family," the older woman shared, coming over to sit next to her. "Truly you are the daughter of a warrior."
"And one in my own right," she shared with a smile. "With a temper as hot as his is cool and collected." She laughed and patted him on the back. "Thank you. I'm sorry to be so bold but people like him annoy me."
The old woman gave the young idiot a look. "He annoys many sometimes." He had the grace to look away. "You know of magic. Do you heal?"
"Not often. I only know a few spells that way. Destruction is more my thing." She smiled at her and patted her on the knee. "I wouldn't mind leaning more toward that. My own children get into some horrible mischief."
"It's your nature shining through," Goemon said dryly. He looked at his line's father. "I have pictures of mine. Pictures won't be created in your time for many years," he said in English, offering them to him.
The man looked at them. "Like very lifelike portraits," he noted, smiling at the young girl. Goemon nodded at the older woman. "Ah. And the son?"
"The fourteenth," he said proudly. "A bit of a handful still."
"He's young, we were all handfuls."
"It's mostly his mother's fault," Xander told him. "Want to see mine and my step- children?"
"If you wish." Xander pulled out her wallet and tossed it over to him. He looked at the picture of the twin girls and then the two girls who looked alike but weren't twins. "Interesting. I know someone with this face. He's a pirate who just left the life." He tossed it back to her, watching as she caught it and put it away. "Are they good children?"
"Mostly," she said with a faint smile. "The twins are a handful. They're mine. The others are my man's children. He had to have them with someone more appropriate for his grandfather's will."
"Ah. Those are often odd situations." He glared at his own wife. "I inherited her." She glared back.
Someone in the woods walked out and sneered at them. "Isn't this cozy?" he sneered.
Xander picked up a rock but the grandmother stopped her by shaking her head and grabbing her hand.
The clan head looked at him. "You're interrupting a family meeting. Did you need something?" he asked, his hand moving to his sword. "I didn't think you were a member of the family."
"A member of this family? I'd rather be killed." He sneered at the larger than average woman. "Farm bred servants now?"
"No, one like me," the grandmother said. "A warrior's daughter." She removed her hand from the girls' arm.
"Really? I'd like to see that."
Xander shifted, then threw the rock, hitting him and breaking his nose. "Let me get out of this kimono and grab a sword then." She stood up and took it off, taking the sword Goemon handed her, not his but the other he had been carrying for whatever reason. He pulled his and she waved him on. "Come. I don't go for showy moves." He lunged and she had him disarmed in three moves, then down on the ground with her sword against his crotch. "Men like you shouldn't breed so the bad manners can't be passed on. I should do the world a favor. You'd better beg my protector to save you. He's the only one who controls my temper."
"You are no female," he spat. "Women do not fight."
Xander leaned down without moving her sword. "Yet, I am female, am I not? Some of us were forced to learn to fight. It was necessary. When the spirits of the dead kill your relatives you learn as well." He went pale. "Now, you can yield, and I'll let you up, or you can die if no one speaks up for you."
"Leave him," Goemon said.
She looked at him. "You sure?"
"I am." He finished his tea. "Come here, your hair is already coming down."
"Okay." She used his shirt to wipe the blade then handed it back properly and took back her kimono. "Sorry, this thing is not built for fighting. It's a new design in our area and it's really heavy."
"It looks it," the head of the clan noted, giving her a long look. Then he looked at her Goemon. "No battle yell?"
"She doesn't go in for showy tactics most of the time." He shrugged. "She meets up to my bottom standards for students. My other student is better." She sat down in front of him and he undid her hair, working on it to make it a tighter braid. "You should be able to do this by now."
"I don't usually do my own hair, Goemon."
"Hmm. I had forgotten about that. That and Lupin likes to have you leave it down." He finished and clipped it. "There, better than I usually do with my daughter's hair." She settled herself beside him. He looked at the stunned man on the ground. "You're still here?" The man got up and stomped off. "An hour and you already have enemies."
"Be thankful I'm not having caffeine withdrawals," she pointed out.
"I'll wear that out of you," he said firmly. "To spare the rest of the family." The grandmother laughed. "She can be quite horrible without her caffeine boost. She bounces."
"I can tell." She looked back at her son. "Are we done here?"
"Nearly. We need to bargain for the chickens still." He looked at that young woman again, then at her 'betrothed'. "She is well trained."
"Thank you. She is how I learned patience for my son." He burst out laughing, shaking his head as he turned his horse around. "We will wait here if you want."
"Please. I trust you to protect the women." They rode off again, going back to the village.
Goemon looked at Xander, then shook his head. "We'll have to figure out how to get you new clothes."
She pulled something out of the inside of her kimono and handed it to him. "I never travel without a backup."
He looked at the ruby. "That is very nice, Xander." He handed it back. "A wise move. Universally accepted." He nodded, looking at the grandmother. "Would that be acceptable?"
"It would be," she agreed. "You'll have to say it's her dowry and do it for her of course." He nodded. "You are well trained."
"It's a matter of my life's work," she said sheepishly. "That and it helps me control my temper."
She patted her on the hand. "Then we'll set you to helping the men half the time and us the other. Can you do anything homey?"
"Very little, but I can do some," she admitted. "I'm good at simple cooking."
"We'll watch you the first few times," she assured her. "Just so you can't make us sick." She looked at one of the other women, who blushed and looked away. "We fixed her, we can fix you," she said, looking at Xander again. The man came back. "Again?" A few of his friends came back. The young woman stood up and took out her sword, along with the new clan member. The friends and the young idiot were duly injured but graciously not killed. An amusing tactic but probably necessary because they couldn't know who they would have spawned in their time or how the future would change.
Goemon came back from his trip to change her ruby to local currency, and to buy her some proper clothes. He walked in and handed over the package, making her squeal and hug him. "Thank you. Change." She went to do that and he went outside shaking his head and wiggling a finger in his ear.
"Extremely. She likes to spoil others but no one seems to spoil her." He shrugged. "Her men are amiss about such things sometimes. We need to remind them to treat her better." He picked up the axe and went to the wood pile to do his share of the chores. He was good at chopping wood.
"Don't worry about it, "one of the men said. "Your betrothed did most of that earlier." Goemon looked at him. "She was quite efficient."
"I didn't know she knew how to chop wood."
"Once we showed her," another man told him, "she did it fairly easily." He shrugged. "It kept us out of trouble by challenging her."
"Hmm. Perhaps I should work on her training some more. Her excitable nature is showing." She came out of the house wearing an informal kimono and her hair pulled back into a ponytail. "We should work on your fighting in such clothes."
"At least you got ones I can fight in," she noted. "The other I couldn't." She loosened the fabric a little and picked up a stick. "Shall we?"
"If you wish it that way. I promise not to get your throat this time."
"Good idea," she said dryly. He put down the axe and took his own stick from one of the men. They gathered around, having heard from their women about what he could do. Even the higher warriors in the family came to watch them. She looked at them. "You might want to move back," she offered. Then she looked at Goemon. "You know I don't like to attack first," she said, her stick loose in her hand. He lunged and she firmed her grip, going at him with a one-handed swing, then she spun and grabbed it with both hands, going after him for real this time. He was enjoying showing off for once, she could see it in his eyes. So she helped him show off. She wasn't that great, but a good testament to his teaching prowess. He had her 'killed' in sixteen moves and she bowed to him and backed off, attacking first this time. This time she got him onto the ground and beamed but had to backflip out of the way of his swing up at her legs. He got to his feet, growling at her. "If you lose your temper on me, I'll tell Jigen," she taunted. "He'll pick on you again."
"I'm not," he said firmly, going after her again. She ducked under one blow and came up between his arms, her 'sword' sticking in his stomach. "Interesting move. Learned that from Marcus?"
"Yeah, I did," she admitted, getting free. "But it works for my style, don't you think?"
"I do think. Go for it," he said, seeing the hesitation. "They'll appreciate your wilder style." She smirked and waved him on, looking cocky now. He lunged and she ducked one blow, leapt another, and then came at him from the side. He barely got out of her way and countered in time, she was going for blood this time. He had to duck a blow and ended up grabbing her by the arm at one point and tossing her onto the ground, stepping on her back. "Yield?"
"Sure. If you rub the sore spot on my shoulder."
"If you'd like." He got off her and helped her up, bowing to her, which she returned. "You are still in practice. I'm impressed."
"Me too. All those day-long practices are really helping me stay in shape." She brushed herself off then beamed at the stunned men. "What? I'm his student. Have been now for a few years." She bowed to them.
"An ambushing style, a good choice for one such as her," the clan head noted, nodding. "Very well done, young one." He looked at Goemon. "Not as technically proficient, but for a woman not bad at all."
"Her passion is not the sword, but the gun," he said lightly. "With that she is flawless. In this, she challenges me to teach her. My other student is better in the traditions I was taught in." He bowed to him. "Xander, go cool down by doing some katas in the back of the house."
"Yes, Goemon." She handed over her stick and went to do that.
"You have her trained to obey too, very nice," one of the men quipped with a grin. "Can you show us how to do that with our women?"
"Treat them better," Xander called back. "If you treat them gently, they're more likely to like you in return and to respect you." The other men laughed and snickered. "Seriously, guys. They will. Bards and sensitive men get women by the score because of how they treat them." She found a nice spot and started work on her first kata, going slowly to get used to doing it in this sort of outfit. She had never done katas in her kimonos at home.
Goemon shook his head. "She is fierce sometimes. Very strong willed." He shrugged and tossed the second stick to one of the warriors. "I would learn from this time as well." He beamed and stepped into the circle, letting their elder get out of the way before attacking with a yell.
The women went back to their work, talking about this new woman and what she could teach them. They were coddled and taught nearly nothing by the men. She could help them fix that.
Lupin looked up from playing with his older daughter Demara as his cellphone rang. He grabbed it, looking at the number. "Sorry, kitten." He answered it. "Lupin." He listened for a moment. "Of course we can. We're in town anyway. Just me?" He glanced around. "Of course. Thank you. Sure." He hung up. "Jigen, we've got to visit the local Don. He's got news on Xander?" Jigen looked up from teasing the little kids with a string toy. "That's what he said. We're to meet him there in an hour."
"Sure," Jigen agreed, gathering the kids up. They pouted and complained but he was firm on gathering them and their things up. Demara came over to help and they chatted at her about the park they were in, pointing out all the neat things they had seen. It sounded like they were one head speaking in tongues, but he enjoyed it when they did that. He looked at Lupin. "Xander?"
"Xander," he said, looking confused. "I thought she was supposed to be meeting with Goemon for lunch."
"She was." He shrugged. "I don't know. Fujiko?"
"I doubt she killed them. We would have heard that already, he was dancing around the subject." That got Jigen moving faster. The man only danced around odd things, like magic and those sort of things. Demara drove the kids back to their hotel room and they took a cab to the Don's house. Lupin straightened himself up and rang the doorbell, letting the guard let them in and pat them down. "We have an appointment."
"He said to bring you right in," the guard said quietly, leading him to the study.
"You didn't bring the children?"
"No, they're back at the hotel room," Lupin said, sitting across from him. "You didn't say you wanted to see the kids, but we can bring them over to play later."
"I would appreciate that, as would my youngest two children. They've been bored." He looked at them and sighed. "It is bad news for the most part."
"Fuji went psycho and shot them both?" Jigen asked.
He snorted. "I wish. That would have been easier. My wife felt something going wrong." He leaned over and rang a bell. "Bring us some water and biscuits," he ordered the maid. She went to do it for him, bringing it back quickly. Then she disappeared again. "My wife felt something was off. She keeps track of Lavelle since he has the ability to mess up certain works of hers." They both nodded, Jigen coming over to sit down as well. He cleared his throat and reached for a glass of water. "Please, drink."
"Spit it out," Lupin sighed. "How bad?"
"Fujiko sent up a wish and had them sent back in time." He quickly drank his water. They both stared at him, mouths open. He put down his glass when they didn't lose their tempers and start shouting at him. They were known to be quite fierce about their Lavelle. "My wife felt the wish demon take hold of her wish. She wished that they be sent back to a time when their manners were more suitable. She contacted a guardian spirit up near Iga, it's been around since before Japan was officially a country of its own. He said they're back with the fifth and sixth generations." Their mouths closed in unison and he nodded. "I'm sorry to say so, but they're back there."
"I'm going to kill her," Jigen said calmly. He scratched the back of his head. "Have a convenient lime pit?"
"Two, and a coal mine."
"We might need it," Lupin agreed, blinking a few times. "Can we get them back?"
"If you can get the wish demon to reverse himself. Or if they find a temporal device back then. I know from the legends there was one. The Emperor had it in his possession so I doubt they could steal it, but one never knows about your Lavelle and Goemon is fierce."
"Very," Jigen said, licking his lips. "Was she in female form?" He nodded. "Then Goemon will probably protect her."
"They're with his family from what the guardian spirit said. I don't know anyone who can pull off that sort of magic, except that wish demon." They nodded and stood up. "I wish I had better news for you."
"We're going to go kill Fujiko," Lupin told him. "Thank you for warning us." He patted Jigen on the arm. "If you hear anything more, tell us."
"It said that they were pretending to be betrothed."
"It's probably safer," Jigen agreed. Then he shuddered. "I can't see him putting up with her."
"I can't see her dealing with the myriad household tasks that women did back then," Lupin noted. "Maybe she'll be a better cook when they come back." He led the way out, going out to get a cab back to the hotel. They grabbed the car and headed for Goemon's house, going to face down Fujiko. They found her lounging in the front yard getting some sun and walked up to her. "Fujiko, did you make a wish?" he said dryly. She looked up and nodded. "You do realize that you sent your husband and our wife back to Imperial Japan?" She nodded, going back to her book.
"What makes you think you're gonna live through this one?" Jigen asked calmly.
She stood up. "He wanted to be with her, now he can," she said venomously. "That way she can practice her manners and I don't have to deal with the disapproving looks and glances he and the kids give me. They're my kids, now they'll really be my kids!"
"No, now they're our kids," Lupin said calmly. "You're going into a psychiatric hospital." She let out a bitter laugh. "Get whatever wish demon to reverse it or else, Fujiko. Leaving them back there means that history changes, including the Goemon family history. Which means that Ishi could become just like his father." She shrugged. "Fine. Jigen." He waved a hand and turned away, going to find the kids. He carried them out to the car, letting Jigen finish locking her in the trunk. "They were napping."
"Fine," Jigen agreed. "That means they won't have to see her when we drop her off." He got them hitched into the baby seats, then got in to ride in the passenger's seat. He'd watch while Lupin drove. "We should send her to Pops. He gives good lectures and he can out stubborn her into giving up and reversing it."
"He does," Lupin agreed, trying to sound like he was having fun. "Can't we just kill her?"
"No. The kids would miss her for a few hours."
"Damn. We'll let Goemon handle her." He started the engine, waking both kids. "Hi. We're taking you to play with the other ones." They smiled and babbled at him about what they could be doing. "Sure. Demara's there too." They squealed in delight, they liked her.
"Your daddy will be home in a few days," Jigen explained. "Your Ma had ta go help him with something." They smiled at him and nodded. They expected such things.
Lupin took off down the driveway, but stopped to go back and lock the house up. Then he came back and got back in to drive, heading for the local airport. Once they were there, Jigen kept the kids occupied while he drugged Fujiko and got her onto a private plane back to Paris. No one asked too many questions once they were told she was sick. On the way out, he stopped to call Dawn. "Dawn, I'm sending a psychotic Fujiko to you," he said quietly. "She just made a wish and sent Xander and Goemon back to visit with the fifth and sixth in the family lines," he told her. "She's coming in on a private flight, drugged up for your convenience. Please, yell at her enough so we don't kill her." He hung up before she could retort.
Zenigata hung up the phone and looked at his wife. "He thought I was you."
"Was he under a lot of stress?"
"Yes. He said Fujiko sent Xander and Goemon back in time to visit with the fifth and sixth in the family line. He's sending her here on a private flight and heavily drugged so we can yell at her." He shifted, laying down next to her, his magazine forgotten. "He sounded stressed."
"Hmm. Do you want first yell?" He gave her a look. "I know you don't like them, but think about how much history Xander can change without trying, just by being Xander. Even a female Xander. Or maybe especially a female Xander." He shuddered. "So, do you want first yell or second yell?"
"I'll take second. That way you can yell and then call your contacts to see if anyone can reverse the stupid spell."
She beamed. "What a brilliant man I married." She kissed him gently. "Are they coming from Iga?"
"Only her and yes."
"Fine. We've got nearly ten hours then." She shifted over, stretching across him to take him the way she liked. He groaned and rolled her under him, reminding her he liked her underneath him. "Having an old-fashioned moment?" she teased.
"Yes. I like looking down at you." He kissed her again, getting into it. One of the kids knocked on their door. "Yes, Jerry?"
"Water?" he called.
"No, we're fine," Dawn called back. "Go ahead and get a drink from the bathroom." The kid padded down the hallway, going back to his room. "My nephews are a little odd," she told him. He smiled and nodded. "It's the Buffy influence." She kissed him again, trying to take control but he kept her firmly on her back. Not that she would complain, she didn't mind going on her back for him. He always pleasured her very well when he was having a dominant moment.
Marcus Wyndam-Pryce looked up as his name was yelled by an irate Lupin, then looked at his mentor. "I'll be right back, Ethan." The other man nodded so he sent himself there. "You yelled?" he quipped as he appeared.
Lupin grabbed him by his shirt, pulling him closer. "Fujiko made a wish and sent Goemon and Xander back to Imperial Japan," he hissed.
"He's going insane," Jigen informed him, getting the poor guy free. "Fujiko's heading for Dawn. Have any good ideas?"
"Ethan!" Marcus yelped. He appeared, giving his student a long look. "Fujiko made a wish and sent Goemon and Xander back in time."
"Xander was female," Jigen said helpfully. He got Lupin laying down on the couch with a cool compress for his head. "They're with the fifth and sixth of the line."
Ethan shuddered. "Oh, damn, the world will end because of that boy." He looked horrified. "Why?"
"Because she's an evil, jealous, manipulative bitch," Lupin said angrily, but he stayed laying down. His blood pressure was up, he was dizzy.
"Anyanka!" Marcus yelled, bringing her. "Do you know which demon granted Fujiko's wish?" She shook her head slowly. "The one who sent your ex back in time?" She shook her head even slower, looking more confused. "Can you find out so we can *encourage* him to change his mind?" She nodded, going to do that, still looking very confused. She came back a minute later, her mouth open and one finger raised. "Yes, she made a wish. Sent Xander and Goemon back into time." She shuddered and went to fix that. That was a bad thought. Marcus looked at Ethan. "Can we do anything?"
"Perhaps. There were spirits around back then that are still alive now. I'm not sure if they'd help or not however." He grimaced, looking up. "Janus, I know you love the boy, but really."
Lupin let out a bitter chuckle. "Would we even know if this changed anything? Or if he and Goemon were going at it?"
"I doubt they would. Goemon has that honor thing," Jigen reminded him.
"He would never cheat, even though she did this to them," Marcus said firmly.
"I'm having an 'only Xander' moment," Ethan announced. Everyone looked at him. "Ripper told me about them. They're moments when only Xander could do something. Like only Xander could fall in love with a soul-sucking mummy and then stand up to her about her necessity of survival while offering himself in that twat's place." They all groaned. "Ripper said he used to get them fairly frequently. He had them when Anya showed up in a permanent manner quite often." He shook himself free of his thoughts. "Come, Marcus, we've got a lot of pleading and praying to do. Janus will hopefully want the world to continue." They disappeared, going back to pray to Janus as hard as they could until they annoyed him enough to get his help.
Lupin looked at Jigen. "I wondered what those moments were called."
Jigen snickered. "I didn't. It's the only title that made sense." He went to get them some more aspirin. They'd obviously need it before this crisis was over with.
Xander sat on the fence, looking up at the stars. They weren't in the right spots. It was unnerving. He heard someone coming up behind him and glanced back. "They're not in the right spots."
"The universe does expand," Goemon reminded her quietly. He gave her a pat on the back. "Are you all right?"
"I understand." He sighed as he too looked up. "Even though they have changed, they're pretty."
"They might be, but it's wrong. Everything feels really wrong."
"It will until this is solved. If it doesn't then we're getting accustomed to it and are in danger of staying," Goemon reminded him. Xander slumped. "We'll figure out how to get home, Xander. I won't let you stay here with me."
"You're staying?" Goemon gave him a look. "It sounded like it."
"It might have, but I have no plans in that area." He gave the younger one a hug. "I am just as upset as you are. Even though I'm not throwing a fit, the wife and I will be discussing her continued existence in my house when we get back." Xander relaxed into his arms, and he suddenly understood what Jigen saw in her that drew him like a moth to a flame. He let her go with an awkward pat to the back. "You should go rest. Day starts early here."
"Yeah, and I need to hunt down a local demon to see if there's anything they can do to get us home," she sighed, sliding off the fence. "Thanks, Goemon."
"You're welcome. Go sleep."
"You do realize they put us in the same room?"
"I do, but I won't be in for a while yet." Xander nodded, heading inside as quietly as she could. She made sure there were two beds, but they were close together. The grandmother had been nice enough to help her with that when she explained things to her. She stripped down and laid down, covering up her underthings with the light sheet and blanket. She faced the opposite way from his bed when he came in so he could have some privacy. "You arranged for two beds?"
"Thank you, Xander. That was incredibly nice." He got down to his loincloth and laid down on his bed, getting comfortable on the hard surface. He switched to his side and found the worn spot in the mattress, getting comfortable with his sword under his hand. Raiders were all too common in this time period if what he had read was correct.
Fujiko woke up in a stunningly white room, strapped to a bed, and Dawn sitting beside her. "What the hell are you doing?"
"This is a psychiatric hospital, Fuji. You're here until you tell us which demon you used."
She snorted. "Fat chance. They deserve each other."
"Fine. You'll be in here. They think you're having hallucinations and you don't really look like yourself at the moment," she said calmly as she stood up. "You'll be in here, drugged up and chained down, until you tell us." Fujiko laughed again. "At least give us a name."
"I didn't take it down for future use."
"Male, female? Tall, short, dark, light, bald, hair, beard, no beard? Anything?"
"Him." Then she laughed at the sour look. "Oooh, isn't that good enough?"
"No, Fujiko, it does narrow it down. Anya?" She appeared. "She's not cooperating." The demon put her hands on each side of Fujiko's head, reading her mind. "Anyone?"
"Oh, yeah, it's Scott," Anya said confidently. She beamed at Fujiko. "Don't worry, I weakened her wish. After all, if they're back there permanently, then the world could end." She disappeared.
Dawn smirked at her. "You fucked with Xander and you knew better, Fujiko Mine. You were warned when you first met him by me. Nobody fucks with my family and gets away with it. From now on, your daughter is now mine until we get your husband back. Don't worry, I'm sure Zenny can't turn her into a cop overnight, but I know he wants to try." She started to scream abuse and thrash. "If you fight, they give you more drugs," she said, getting out of the way of the attendants. She slipped out of the room, nodding at the doctor. "Don't worry, she'll be fine eventually." She left the ICPO's mental unit and headed home to tell Ethan what they now knew. He was making brownies in her kitchen while he thought since his stove was broken and they needed to pool resources.
He was not going to be amused by this.
Xander looked up as a man came riding up with a child in his hand, babbling about needing the old witch healer. She jogged over. "She's still in bed. Someone get her up," she snapped. They went to do that while she took the child to look at. "My, you had a nasty fall," she soothed, easing the child's fears. "Do not worry, I learn from her. I'll start this while she puts on clothes." The child sniffled and she sat down with the child, pulling the pure energy from the ground. She wouldn't dare taint a child with the nature of her power, natural power was better and wouldn't taint him as much. She soothed the bigger hurts, including the one in his shoulder where it was dislocated. Once the pain blocks had been applied and she knew they were done properly, she looked him over with an eye for larger injuries. He wiggled his toes when she tickled the sole of his feet, so that was a good sign. She found a few broken bones and the dislocated shoulder, working on that first. "Easy, it will hurt while I put this one back in place," she said. She looked up, finding the old woman looking at her. "He has a broken femur, a broken fibula, two broken ribs, a broken collar bone and a dislocated shoulder. Hold him so I can put in the shoulder." The old woman nodded and got down to help her, holding the child still. The shoulder was put back in with a small cry, and they worked to partially heal the other injuries, as much as they could. Then they each kissed the poor thing on the head. Xander looked at the father. "He still has some healing to do," she announced. "His arm, his collar bone, his shoulder, his thigh." She pointed at each injury. "At least one more month in bed, until nothing hurts when he moves." She handed him back carefully.
"What was he climbing?" the old woman asked.
"The oxen. It kicked him into a tree," he said, holding his son tightly. "He will live?"
"His back was not hurt, but he will have weather aches as he ages," the old woman told him. "Have him rest for at least one moon. He'll know when he's healed, he'll be ready to go play." The father nodded and bowed deeply, heading home. She turned and helped Xander up off the ground. "Very well done."
"Thanks. I've had to do that with a few of my own injuries." She dusted her seat and legs off. "I was plucking a chicken."
"Let the children do so. That is their job." She led her inside, taking her to speak of herb healing. Something that Xander didn't know much about. A few lessons would go well and the other child came to help learn, she would be following in her footsteps.
Goemon looked at the other men. "I've never seen her do that. Usually she destroys." He shrugged and went back to practice with the older men. They were good and some skills had been lost over time. This was good for him. Possibly even for her.
Goemon went with the men into town the next time they went. He needed some things and Xander needed something to do before she went more insane. She was already looking for something to help them, taking practice in the mornings to settle her moods, then helping around the house all afternoon, but she was still going insane. He could see it in her eyes. She was getting desperate for something concrete to do that wasn't house work, practice, or magic. She had been learning quite a lot of that recently, but nothing that could help them. He saw the forest guardian and veered that way to talk to him. "Has she found you?"
"She has and there is something that can help you, but the Emperor has it in his possession. He fiercely guards it." Goemon nodded solemnly. "I doubt he would bring it to you and you can't steal it. He will be bringing it around to show off in about six moon cycles." Goemon nodded again. "It is a wish stone."
"Thank you," he said quietly, kneeing his horse to catch up. He considered it. If the demon said he couldn't steal it, it was probably heavily guarded. They probably couldn't get near it and it would dishonor his family if anyone found out. His line's father looked back at him. "An interesting bit of news." He fell back to ride beside him. "The Emperor has a wish stone," he said quietly.
"Hmm. Guarded?" Goemon nodded. "Will it be coming out soon?"
"The forest guardian said six months," he said sadly.
The older man patted him on the arm. "You're both very handy, we don't mind if you stay around. Even if it is permanent, though you will have to marry the girl sometime."
He looked at him. "I doubt my wife at home would like that."
"True, but since this is her fault, perhaps she is giving up on you and leaving? Maybe even committing sepikou?"
"If she is, then I hope she was humane enough to move the children from the house. Otherwise, I would have to have her called back to berate her. Possibly even let Xander deal with her. He is a fierce protector of innocents." The older man nodded. "I do not know what to do. He can't find anything that can send us back, not even the wish creatures in this time."
"Then perhaps it was meant to be."
Goemon looked at him. "That leaves my son and daughter without a suitable teacher. My student is good enough but he is still British and not wholly suitable. My own teacher is dead. I have enemies as well. My friends would keep them safe, but they could never teach them."
"Then we'll work on getting you back. The line must carry on. Try to have one with her," he said with a wink. "They would be strong and durable children who had enough energy to conquer the world."
Goemon laughed. "You should see his twins with one of his mates. They are forever moving. Even while they sleep." He shook his head sadly. "They teach my own son bad habits and his mother is only enforcing them. Xander also spoils them but he does it in a way I don't mind as much. He spoils them with things and attention at the same time." The elder nodded. "My wife," he sighed, "is simply spoiling them. My daughter pouts. My son disobeys. My children are rotten because of her. My daughter is mimicking her mother's way of telling me she wants relations. It bothers me."
"It would bother me too. Why did you marry that wench?"
He gave him a sideways look. "We were stuck in a cell for four months. I got to know her and found her suitable most of the time, but recently she has been having problems that I'm not sure where the cause lies. Why do women suddenly change from someone nicer and sweet enough into a raving psychotic?"
"I don't know," he said. "Women are a mystery to all, even to the Emperor's greatest scholars. Not that they would ever think about figuring out women, they consider it beneath them. How long was she sane for?"
"Our whole marriage. We had our fights about what she was teaching them before but nothing like this. My daughter crawls into my lap and pinches my nose like her mother does when she wants affection. Not even Xander can make her stop it."
"Girls are perverse beings. Is she powerful and strong?"
"She is like the grandmother," he admitted quietly. "Very strong with nature. Lotus is one of the stronger witches born recently in Japan or anywhere. We believe it's because her two guardians had to keep her alive with magic before she was born. Her mother was normal after that though so I'm not sure what her problem is."
"Do you pay attention to her?"
"I try. When I do try, she rebuffs me if it's not her idea." He shrugged. "I have tried many times to take a walk with her, or to sit quietly with her. She refuses."
"What did she do before you were married?"
"She was a thief as well, but even that does not hold her interest."
"Perhaps she is disenchanted with aging then. She is near your age?"
Goemon nodded. "A few years younger."
"Then she is worried about aging too much and you finding your fancy taken in with something younger. Were I you, I would take her home and mate her into the mattress, then make sure she is with child and keep her locked in the bedroom for a few months."
"She made sure it cannot happen again," he said sadly.
"Really? Your time has something to prevent that? Something foolproof?" He nodded. "Why?"
"Because in our time there are many, many thousands of people in the world. It is getting overcrowded. Chin has instituted a policy that says each family may only have one child."
"What do they do with the girls?"
"Horrible things," he said sadly. He shook his head. "Even Japan is that way. Many families stop with only one or two children. She had herself fixed so it could not happen again."
"Is it crowded where you live?"
"No, not really. Everyone moves into the cities because there is more work there and more to do when you're not working." He grimaced. "We live off the great peak on the opposite side looking down at the valley." The elder looked impressed. "We have a large yard for the children to play with. My first house had no yard at all and neighbors very close by."
"That sounds dreadful. Packed like fish in a barrel for a voyage." He shuddered. "I am glad I live now instead of then. Women have no manners and work outside of the home, they don't have enough children to make sure the family prospers, and there are too many people around." He shuddered again and shook his head. "I wish you well if you go back. You must find some sanity in that mess."
"I have," he admitted. "In my children and originally in my wife. Then she started this aberrant behavior. I almost think she is possessed."
"It is possibly. Possibly a Fox Fire Spirit?"
"Possibly. It would make sense. I'll have Xander check her over when we get home." He looked ahead when he noticed they had stopped. "A log blocks the road. Should we cut it up?"
"If you wish. It is unworthy but I'm sure you've had to do that a few times," he said dryly. The younger one gave him a long look. "I figured as much. Your friends appreciate your skill and Xander picks on you about it so they must see you use it quite often."
"My temper comes out as well," he admitted, pushing his horse to move forward. He dismounted and pulled his sword, chopping the log into three parts before anyone could say anything. Then he got out of the way so the others could pull them out of the road. He said a silent apology to his sword as he got back into his saddle, making his horse trot on. He needed to get his ....Xander something nice for her continued good behavior.
Xander looked up as the women gathered around her and put away her sewing. She was getting pretty good at the few things she had been taught. She'd only had four knots in her string so far today. "Yes?" she asked calmly.
One of the younger wives blushed. "How do you stop your husband from sleeping with you?" she asked.
"Ah." Xander got comfortable. "Mostly, he knows better. We are only betrothed here." They giggled. "Seriously." She smirked. "The next best thing to him cooperating is usually to hurt him. Do you play with him with your mouth and hands?" They nodded. "Then you can always pinch or bite."
"They'll hit us."
"I doubt he'll be in much shape to do anything if you do it hard enough and you'll be far out of reach if you move fast enough and tell him you do not want to touch him. If he forces you anyway, then remind him that you won't be sleeping for a long time and he will be. That you can and will use a knife. I find threats to cut off manhoods tends to make them go down and stay down around me." They looked awed. "There's also the sneaky way. Don't clean yourself very well. Watch him complain of the smell and go bother someone else. If all else fails, you don't have to sleep in your marriage bed. Go sleep with grandmother." They all looked on in awe. "You do have the right to not be touched."
The two men who were left behind to watch them walked in and laughed. "They are wives. They have no right to anything that we don't give them."
Xander looked at them. "Shall we speak of this outside?" she suggested, standing up and grabbing the sword she used. "Women have the right to treat their bodies like the temples they are. We procreate, you do not. We have cycles that refresh our bodies and our spirits. You have nothing of the sort. Men are weaker beings who have no right to do anything but beg."
One of them looked at her. "Does your mate know you speak thus?"
"Yes, and he usually laughs. He respects me and I respect him back. That's why I don't have these problems. He knows if he tried anything like you did with your wife, he'd wake up without his manhood in the morning." The men's eyes widened. "Trust me, women know all forms of cutting things, we do so every day with food preparation and in the fields as we cut flowers and herbs. What makes you think your pitiful manhood would be much different? We could flay it open without you knowing it had been done then cut it off and decorate it with carvings before you had time to do more than scream. All that decorative food preparation comes in handy for such tasks." They backed away from her. "Your wives have the right to tell you no and to shove you out of their beds. They did not agree to be your whore. They agreed to be your wives, there's a difference." The girls clapped and hooted. "Now, if you don't like this idea, then go complain to my protector about it. I'm sure he'll tell you the same thing. If not, I can always show you how easy it is to cut those dangly things off." They ran out screaming. "Good! Stay out there!" She sat down, brushing her hair back over her shoulder. "I suggest cutting it off as a last resort. Grandmother would get very peeved if they never created children again, but you do have the right to say no even about that."
The women nodded and went to make plans. Their men had been getting demanding around her recently, proving that they were still men who were virile and tough. They were trying to be better men than her and they had already lost. They had seen her other form one night and knew that she had *chosen* to be female. It was a light in their dismal world of work and serving their menfolk.
Xander sat down to sharpen her sword, just in case some of the men took offense to it. She'd be that kind and make it a quick decapitation.
Goemon came back and found the women gathered in a knot, ignoring the men completely. He groaned. "Xander!" he yelled, heading for the house. "What did you tell them?"
"They asked me how to defeat an amorous husband who forced himself on them," she said coolly. "I told them how, in all manners, up to and including cutting it off." She walked out and patted one girl on the back. "Let us work on that move again. You have to be able to protect the home if more raiders come and the men are away."
"We always leave them with men," one of the warriors pointed out.
Xander looked at him, then pointed at the three bodies tied in the wood pile. "We know. They're hiding. They didn't like the fact that women have complete control of their bodies, including whether or not you use them for your gratification and pleasure without their consent." She looked at the women again. "It was a very pretty chop you did with the axe, Priva. You used the mundane weapon you were used to very well. Are you all right now?" She nodded, straightening up. "Are you sure? No more sickness?" She shook her head. "Good. Then we'll start on the minor way of throwing the axe next since you all know how to use it to chop and swing it at people." She gave the elder a long look. "Your warriors are hiding in the bathhouse. I was out back when they showed up. Priva defeated the one missing part of his leg. The others were gotten by me."
"Very good," he said, patting Priva on the back. "You make me proud, daughter." She smiled at him. "Do you wish to learn some defense for the house?" They all nodded. "Then we shall do that. It is not right that you were left alone." He looked at Xander, who shrugged. "What were you doing?"
"I was in the privy."
"Ah." He nodded. "I have been caught as such before. It is understandable." He walked the women away, talking about all they could do with all they already knew. Their weapons skills were already very advanced, as shown by some of the fancy knife work they did in the kitchen. One of the younger girls giggled and he looked at her. "It was not funny, daughter." She whispered to him. "Xander!"
"What?" she called. "They have the right to tell their husbands no, the same as the men can complain that they're too tired to satisfy them." She went to the wood pile and started to chop wood, making the men very afraid and whimper. "Shut up," she sneered, giving them a cold look. "Unless you want to be the practice dummies?" They all shook their heads and cowered further in the wood to get away from her.
"Xander, I know that it is deplorable the way some men treat their women, but that was a bit much," Goemon said firmly. The others would expect him to take her in hand. She gave him a look. "They needed less counseling than that."
"I told them to cut it off as a last resort," she offered, smiling sweetly. "After all, before that is biting, hitting, pinching, kicking, using a blunt object, going to sleep in another room with the other women, and all manner of other dodges." Then she turned and split a piece of wood in half.
He stepped up behind her and took the axe, walking her off. "Xander, are you feeling all right?" he asked gently.
"No, I'm having one of my rare bouts of PMS."
"Ah." He nodded and hugged her. "I brought you honey treats. If you calm down and keep the women from harming their men in a permanent fashion, I'll allow you to have some." She sucked on her bottom lip. "It's all right," he promised. "You were right to counsel them that way. I agree, men should respect their women's bodies and do their best to please and honor it. We simply think you went a bit too far in telling them how to carve into it and how to take it off."
"Thank you," he said, pulling out a piece of the treat to hand her. "Now go finish scaring the raiders." She beamed as she went back to chopping wood with her treat. The men in the wood pile shrieked and cowered as she grabbed a new piece of wood to cut. He looked at the elder and pointed upwards, getting an understanding look. Then he watched as Xander suddenly picked up a rock and threw it at someone on the road, hitting them as they started to leap over the wall. "Good shot," he called, going over to save the poor man from her wrath. "Hmm. A tax collector." He helped him up and brushed him off. "Excuse my betrothed. She isn't feeling well and we had raiders earlier."
"That is fine," he said, holding his injured eye. "She is very good."
"She is the daughter of a warrior." He smiled at her as he led him to the elder's side. "She has a very good aim."
"She does," the elder agreed. "What did she do to those three?"
"She described in detail how she would decorate their manhoods with the axe, then showed us how to carve the designs on some wood," the youngest girl said with a sigh of hero worship.
"In my time, they make medicine for these times," Goemon said quietly, making the elder laugh and pat him on the back. "Are there special precautions?"
"We send them off to the little house in the woods with some handiwork," he explained.
"Then she'll be going tonight." He went to tell her that and she nodded, going to gather up some books and some stuff to practice her new arts - calligraphy and embroidery. He sighed in relief as one of the women escorted her off. Then he looked up. "Thank you for keeping those rare," he said wholeheartedly. The other men gave him an amazed look. "What?"
"She was having a cycle?"
"Nearly. I would ask your wives' permissions tonight were I you." He went back to help with the captives. He found the carved pieces of wood on them and nodded. "She is very good with the axe. I wonder how she would do with a dagger." They all paled and passed out. "Good." The elder came over and looked at them, then at him. "She did it with the axe."
"Ah." He took them and put them into the fire, before anyone else had to think on that prospect. He patted his wife on the head as he walked past her. "Do not get any ideas."
"I know how to stop you now," she reminded him without looking up. "I will harm you if I do not feel like it."
He stopped, looking at her. "If you do, then you can live out in the woods and fend for yourself, woman."
She gave him a long look. "We do that here anyway. You haven't hunted in a long time, husband, and I don't have any new furs."
"If I brought you one, would you feel better about me?" he asked finally. She nodded, going back to her decorating of a new plate. "Then we'll go hunting tomorrow." He went to tell the men that their wives might relent for pretty presents, especially if they made them themselves, and they all hurried to find something they could do for their wives. Except the new one, he was contentedly sitting in lotus meditating on the trees. "Do you not please your wife?"
"When she is in the mood I do so greatly," he admitted. "I find pleasuring her to be a great joy in my life. It makes her more willing to do anything I could ever want to think up." He looked at the youngest of the men. "Perhaps they should be taught how to enjoy making their wives feel pleasure."
"That would work as well," the elder agreed, going to give that advice. Even their women appreciated being touched with love and affection instead of it just being done nightly. The older pillow books came out of storage and they all looked for tips and tricks to try that night. He made sure grandmother had a good store of muscle rub just in case they got too energetic tonight.
She looked at him. "If the women want, it could lead to more children," she pointed out. "Six of them are in season."
He smiled. "That is good news. Thank you. Try to work on the women?"
"They would be satisfied with the men asking their permission and treating them with respect instead of less than their swords."
"I'll pass that on. They should treat their women like their swords." He went to tell them what she had said and many wives found themselves stroked and handled with great care that night. It got rather noisy but it was enjoyable. The next day Xander even helped the men hunt for their wives so most of them quit giving her looks like she was an evil being sent to destroy the family. The few who hadn't gotten to make noise still glared at her but they did it behind her back. Just in case she took offense and decided to help their wives punish them further.
Dawn looked up as Marcus walked in with a dusty book. "An idea?" she asked hopefully.
"A small one," he admitted, putting it down in front of her. Ethan appeared and came over to read over his shoulder. "If someone who has power pleads with the head of all demons, they can grant the wish be dissolved. That someone would have to be able to withstand Hell however."
"Which would about be Xander," she pointed out.
"Or someone already dead," Marcus told her, staring her down. "Someone who is very remorseful and would see this as a way to make up for some of his stupidity in life."
Ethan gave him a look. "You want to bring your father back for a few moments and have him ask?"
"Why not? He's the reason that Xander had the twins," Marcus said dryly, frowning at him. "I think he would do it if we could tell him what was going on."
"It's an idea," Dawn noted, looking at Ethan. "We can easily call his spirit back and ask him. That wouldn't hurt. If not, maybe we can ask Willow?"
"Perhaps, but I know my father felt remorse before he died. I've been told he begged and pleaded with the Powers to heal Xander from his stupidity."
"Then it's worth a shot," Ethan decided. "Here, Dawn?"
"I don't want him anywhere near my children."
"Very well. The park?"
"Done," Dawn agreed. "What will we need?" She took the book, going to gather the things she had, Ethan would bring the rest with him.
Lupin paced around his bedroom in the hideout, yanking on his hair. "I'm going to go insane," he noted.
"Too late," Jigen said dryly. Lupin frowned at him. "You're also gonna go bald."
He smoothed down his hair and sat down, then stood up and started to pace again. "I wish we had some way of knowing what they were doing. Are they all right? Are they sick or hurt? Are they getting along with Goemon's family? Is he taking what's ours? Is she having fun learning from them? Have they made her pretty for him? Are they all right or are they changing history horribly?" He groaned and sat down, holding his head. "Where is the medicine for my migraines?"
"Here," Jigen said, tossing it at him. "Goemon would never have her that way, Lupin. We both know that."
"We don't know how long they've been back there. He's more used to it now. He might break and take her and we all know she get desperate without any for a long time. It could have been *months*."
"It could have been weeks, like it's been here," Jigen pointed out.
"It could have been *years*. She could come back with kids," he countered, starting to panic. "I won't lose her to him. I'll kill him if I have to."
Jigen sat up, giving him a pat on the back. "That's a fight I'd like to see, but Xander would kick both your asses," he said gently. He got out of the bed with a groan. "He's fine, Lupin. I'm sure of it. The same as I'm sure he's not having sex with our little prize. That would impinge on his honor and he won't do that while Fujiko lives."
Lupin looked at him. "He doesn't know that we haven't killed her yet," he pointed out. "He probably expects that we have."
Ishi pushed open the door and walked in, thumb in his mouth. He climbed up onto the bed, looking at his uncles with his best 'serious big boy' look on his face. "Where's daddy?"
"We're not quite sure, sprout," Jigen said, tipping his chin up to look down at his eyes. "We know he's safe and all that stuff, but he's doing a job with your Uncle Xander. We have no fricken' clue otherwise."
"The Mommy?" he asked sadly.
"She a bit sick and contagious," Lupin said, giving him a hug. "That's why you haven't seen her. The doctors said you could catch what she's got so she's resting and your Auntie Dawn is checking on her since she can't catch it."
Ishi nodded. "Okay." He blinked at them. "Can we go home then? Maybe daddy will go back there?"
"Sure we can," Lupin agreed. It would be just as easy to wait over there. "Go tell the nanny to pack for everyone and we'll head over there." Ishi grinned and gave them both hugs before going on his task. Lupin laid back on his bed. He fished out a pill and took it without any water, then closed his eyes. "Wake me when this tragedy is over. I don't like this play."
"Me either, boss." Jigen went to pack for them, knowing Lupin would be asleep soon. The medicine did it to him every time. He found the nanny looking confused. "We're heading back to the Goemon's to wait on them." She handed over the phone. "Who?"
"Dawn." She walked away, going to find the children.
He dialed her cellphone. "Yeah, kid?" He listened. "Won't that not work?" He listened to the fuller version of the plan. "Tell me you're not callin' back the cunt." He sighed and then groaned when he heard who. "After what he did?" She said something important and he calmed down. "Fine. If you do, I want to be there. We're taking the kids home to wait. Ishi asked. Sure, tonight at eight." He hung up and went to check on Lupin, finding him already asleep. He hunted down the nanny. "He's nappin' on his meds, let him. We'll leave tomorrow." She nodded, smiling at him. "I'm gonna go help Dawnie." He left, heading out to the garage, not noticing he had a shadow who was almost as good as her brother at sneaking around.
Dawn looked up as Jigen pulled up, then looked behind him. "Hi, Lotus. Stay there." She shook her head and walked up to Marcus' side, hugging his leg. "No, you can't help this time."
"Can so," she retorted. "Will." She glared at Ethan. "Bad man helps."
"He's helping your dad," Jigen said, picking her up to hold her. "This isn't your form of magic, kid. That was a good job of sneaking around though." He stepped back, letting them do their thing while he sat there and watched, guarding them from any unnecessary interruptions. She tried to get free at one point so he held on tighter, covering her mouth so she couldn't join in. When the spirit appeared between them, he hissed. The guy did look nearly exactly like his son. He had the look of some scholar. You wouldn't think he had done something like that.
Wesley Wyndam-Pryce looked at the trio. "Why was I summoned back?" he asked calmly. He looked at his son, then groaned. "Son. Chaos?"
"Yes, father, and I'm damn good at it. As well as my martial arts and my thieving skills. Aren't you proud?" he sneered.
"Not the point of this chat," Dawn said firmly. Wesley looked at her. She bowed a little with a sneer. "Xander's in major trouble. He and his friend were sent back through time by an ill-timed wish." Wesley's face fell. "He's presently in female form in Imperial Japan with the same samurai who's been teaching your son and Xander. Also that one's father," she said, pointing back at Lotus. "The only way we can find to break the wish and get them back is to have *someone* go talk to the lord over all demons. We can't summon him."
"Interesting." Wesley looked at Ethan. "You protect him still," he said sadly.
"I've had to. Xander has taken to his new life like it was meant for him but he is still a brash youngster. He still rushes in to solve problems. He still gets injured doing so. Now he works for the dark thanks to you, but he manages to take out some of the darker elements by doing so."
Jigen stood up, putting Lotus down and giving her a look. He moved closer. "Xander is mine and our friend's. We care for him in ways that no one ever has. All he has to do is ask and we're there for him." Wesley sniffled and nodded. "You fucked up badly, but you gave us a great gift in him. He's one of the best gunmen there ever was and he's a damn good crook. He's taken down families all by himself."
Wesley wiped his face off. "I tried to help him after I found out my mistake. I went to the Powers to try and free him while he was there and they laughed at me." He looked at Dawn. "You were incredibly brave," he told her. "I will go talk to the head over us all for him. The world needs more like him." He looked at Lotus, then at Jigen. "Make sure she never follows my son's path," he said quietly. "It will bring everyone harm and she will become Rosenburg." He disappeared, traveling back to his area of punishment, calling out for the head demon. He appeared after a few hours. "Lord, I need to inform you of something. The people who pulled me to the world again told me Consort Alexander had been taken by a wish demon." The demon looked stunned. "They sent him and his companion back into time. I will beg, I will serve more punishment, but please get him back," he pleaded. "He is too important to lose to petty childishness from the companion's wife."
The top demon gave him a look. "Fine. The wish can be broken. Who was it?"
"They did not tell me, Lord. Ethan Rayne knows who. He and the Key called me back with my son's help."
The demon Lord laughed. "So, a son?" He looked him over. "How did *you* produce a son?"
"The Watchers demanded it of me," he said bitterly. "I wasn't there and my son turned to Janus and a sword."
"Ah, Marcus is yours. We had noticed the similarities. He is very strong, but now handicapped so he could not become you." Wesley looked miserable. "Fine, we will check with the future demon Rayne. You will stay here."
"As you will it, sire. I am at your disposal," he agreed, bowing his head. He knew what he had put himself in for. He would suffer as the one he had made suffer had. The demon lord tipped his chin up. "If that is what you want, I will serve," he repeated. "It is only right with what I did."
"It is," he agreed. "You should suffer for what the boy went through and you should suffer more than he did."
"That is fair," Wesley agreed. "I was stupid and blind, Lord. I realized that afterwards and nothing I did could correct it." He looked up at him. "I tried."
"I know. Which is why you were allowed to go back." He snapped his fingers and the wish demon who had done it appeared. "Undo the wish on the Consort Alexander and his friend Goemon. We do not need him to destroy the fabric of the world." The wish demon looked stunned. "Also, whatever is wrong with his wife, fix it."
"S...ss...sshe's possessed," he stuttered.
"Good, fix that. Go to the Key and undo it as soon as humanly possible." The demon nodded, going to do that. He looked at Wesley. "Does that soothe your conscience some?"
"No," he admitted. "Nothing will do that. Not even seeing Xander's new mate and reading how happy he was with Xander will do that."
"Hmm. You speak well. Come, plebe." He took him back to his quarters to serve for this new boon. Through his year of servitude, he would see whether or not he was cured of his addiction to power.
Lupin answered his phone, listening to the quiet voice on the other end over the hum of the plane's engines. "Are you sure?" he asked, nearly pleading. "When?" he relaxed. "Thank you, Dawn. We owe you three. Let me know." He hung up. Jigen reached over and tapped him on the shoulder. "The wish will be reversed. Fujiko was possessed. Dawn's taken care of that." He looked at him. "Within three days. He'll be home within three days." He broke out into his first smile in weeks. "Who did they ask?"
"The twat who offered him. He's remorseful."
"Wonderful," Lupin said dryly. "At least he was helpful this time." He patted Ishi on the head, making the boy look up from his reading. "Your father's on his way home and he'll be back within a week." The boy beamed at him. "Your mother will be home within months."
"Thank you, Uncle Lupin," he said seriously. "I'll be a good boy."
"You're usually a good boy," Lupin promised, stroking over his hair. "All kids cause some grief. Just look at the twins." Ishi beamed and went back to his book. Lupin looked at Jigen. "Whoever gets there first?"
"Sure," Jigen agreed. "How's your head?"
"Hurts," Lupin admitted. "But getting better. No more stress." He tipped his seat back, getting comfortable. "Wake me when we get there."
"Sure, Lupin." Jigen grinned at Lotus, who was pouting. "Your dad will be home soon."
"Want daddy, not mommy," she said.
He gave her a hug. "I think that can be arranged for a few days at least," he promised. She beamed and went back to her coloring while she listened to a book on tape. He got comfortable as well, watching the other kids plan something. "Behave," he called.
"Our kids?" Lupin asked dryly. "I don't think that's possible."
"Yes it is," one of the twins told him. "We're gonna pounce daddy and take him away from you." She glared at him. "You losted him, he's all ours now."
"I'm sure he'll share with us," Jigen told her. She pouted but her eyes were still glaring. "Behave," he repeated, putting more weight behind it. "Your father won't want you to do that."
"Fine. Grumpy prat!" She turned around, arms crossed over her chest while she continued to pout and scowl.
"We've got to stop Marcus from doing their spelling lessons," Jigen said, looking at Lupin, who was giggling. "Sure, it's not your daughter who just used the word 'prat' in a sentence."
"No, mine called me an asshole last night," he admitted, grinning at him. Then he winked and closed his eyes again.
Jigen tipped his hat down, tipping his own seat back so he could nap too. It was a private fight and someone would stop the kids from taking over the plane and making them crash into the Himalayas. Hopefully.
Xander looked up as someone yelled that soldiers were coming. She finished her braid and put on her best kimono, the only one that was clean, before grabbing her sword and heading out. The elder had given her a special sword as well, one just for her use. She walked out to stand beside Goemon, leaning against his arm. "Do you feel the energy?" she whispered. He nodded. "Maybe it's the wish stone?"
"Perhaps," he admitted, noticing it was the Emperor's banner that was coming their way. A herald came forward and read a proclamation saying that the Emperor wanted to see the new witch healer about his daughter's illness.
Xander stepped forward, letting himself be led to the canopied litter. He climbed in and looked at the girl, recognizing it by how she looked. "What happened?" It was clear she was depressed, struggling with something bigger than she could handle.
"I will not marry that animal," she hissed. "I have heard of him."
He put a hand on her calf. "While you have, have you heard the truth about him?" he asked. She looked stunned so he removed his hand. "The truth and rumors hardly have anything to do with each other, princess. You could try to ask. It would ease your mind and depression if you did so."
She shifted, giving her a look. "I could ask the courtier he sent ahead," she admitted. "I have heard he is a smelly barbarian."
Xander opened the curtain. "Did you bring her betrothed's man with you?" he asked. They nodded and went to get the soldier. Xander climbed out and helped the princess out. "She is suffering from depression. She has heard horrible things." He saw how her face lit up and then looked at the warrior, noticing he wasn't dirty, smelly, and he had on *really* good armor. "Hmm. Perhaps you could ease her mind about your Lord?"
"I could," he agreed, looking down at her. "How did you know?"
"Your armor. It's folded like a katana and has gold and jewels on it. Of course you're him." The princess' face lit up; apparently she really liked this one instead of the Lord she had supposedly been betrothed to. It helped matters greatly. "Tell her." He walked away, going to the other litter. "It was a simple disease caused by rumors."
"I had heard you were spoiled and willful, I wanted to see you myself," he told her.
"I heard you were an unwashed barbarian who ate raw meat of humans."
Xander glanced at the Emperor, who was shocked. "It was the armor. How many people have armor that's folded like a good sword, had gold and jewels, and fits properly?"
"Good point. What must we do for this in the future?"
"It's called depression. You handle it by working on the problem that is upsetting her. Now, I believe they wanted some time alone to talk," he announced. "Let them lead the way back." She climbed up behind him and they trotted off with a single guard for her protection. He looked at the Emperor. "You meant it about any boon?" He nodded. "You have in your possession a giant pearl, a wishing stone. We need to get home. We would like to make a wish. My companion and I," she said, nodding back at Goemon. "He is my protector."
"My betrothed," she lied. "My warrior family needs me."
"Fine," he agreed with a wave of his hand. "Everyone wants that instead of jewels or riches."
"I have jewels and riches at home, m'lord. What do I need with more?" She walked back to Goemon's side, giving him a faint smile. The pearl's box was brought up and opened so they could touch it and make their wish to get home. They felt a tingle and Xander suddenly knew how to do it. She whooped and hugged Goemon, heading to talk to the elder. "I know how to do it."
"It'll take three days to charge and six pure crystalline forms. Gems, crystals, whatever. The purer the better, and the more precious the better."
"We have that," he noted, leading her into the storage room that was always kept locked. "Pick, Xander." She picked out five but hesitated over her last one. "Nothing there suits?"
"A few would, but I'm looking for the most pure." She changed one out, then picked that one as the sixth. "It will be joined, a truly rare piece of gem," she told him, going to work at the hearth since it needed fire to help it go. Goemon came in, sitting beside her. "I need to concentrate, big guy." He moved farther away. "Thanks." He worked on joining and charging them.
"The Emperor wants to know if you can cure his problems now, Xander," one of the wives said from the doorway.
Xander looked up. "That depends."
She came over and whispered the rumor she had been told. "That."
She blinked a few times. "We're centuries before that can be cured, but grandmother has something for it. Ask her for the blue bottle and charge a lot for it. It takes forever to make and it stinks badly." She went back to charging the stones. "Praise be to Janus and all the others who left me with my powers when I was brought back. Any God, demon, or otherwise is hereby prayed to for that nice gift. I don't think I could do this without it."
Three days later, Xander put on the kimono she liked best and walked out to the stone implanted on the hearth. Goemon was already beside it. She grabbed her sword and took his hand, putting their joined hands on the stone. "Home," she prayed/whispered. The world twisted and they were outside the robe shop in Goemon's hometown. She looked at him and smiled as a car went roaring past. "Home," she said happily.
"I'll go check on the children," he said, hurrying off.
She patted herself down and found her wallet and checkbook, heading into the robe shop. Her men would find her when they were ready. Or when they got here. Whichever came first. She bowed properly to the man behind the loom. "I am looking for kimonos both for myself and for my children and those children I adore." She moved closer, pulling out pictures. "These children." She tapped the two Goemons. "They are from here, their father is a fierce warrior who is teaching them." He nodded. "They are about five and four I think." She glanced at the calendar on the wall. It had been six months here. She looked at him again. "Five and five. Lotus just had her birthday and Ishi's is in another month. These two," he said, pointing at the Mini-Lupins. "These two are special. This one," he said, tapping the Fourth's picture. "She has a destiny as a great and grand jewel thief from a long line of them. The other will be a cop I think. The twins, the blonde will also be a cop but the other will be just like me."
"Yes, ma'am," he said respectfully. He had recognized two of the children. "I had ordered something in their sizes a few months back when their father came to me." He went to get them all something, letting her see the patterns. "Did you need more than one?"
She pulled out her checkbook, checking the balance. "Do you take check or can you run a credit card?"
"I can do both. We have a service to make sure checks don't bounce." She smiled and waved a hand. "More?"
"Get them whatever you feel is appropriate. This is your art, not mine. I simply enjoy wearing them. And get a few for Lavelle too if you wouldn't mind. His last few were done in America and he wanted something more authentic." He looked impressed and did as she said, coming back with most of his stock of children's and women's kimonos. She mentally added it up. "Fifty?" His eyes bulged and he nodded. "Thank you." She wrote out the check and handed it over. "Can you separate them out?" He nodded, doing so, wrapping them into nice packages for her. "Thank you." She bowed and took them with her, going to the toy shop. There she found some more things for the kids and one last stop got her some fresh fruit. She had missed berries back then. It was a nice berry year. She was nibbling them as she walked up the hill to the house, walking in to find Goemon hugging his children as hard as he could. She handed over the packages with a wink and went to find her own, finding them out in the yard. "Hey!" she called, reaching back to change back into Slyvia. They came running to get their own hugs and presents. "Love you guys too," he said, giving them all grins. "I got you real kimonos." They all oohed and took them to try them on. She walked out, heading to help Goemon's kids with theirs. Apparently their mother had never gotten them any. Theirs had neat drawstrings on the sleeves so they could grow into the full length. She adjusted them both then sent them to help their father change, pinching Lotus on the nose. "No more of that, young lady. It is not appropriate."
She nodded very solemnly. "I understand, Uncle Xan-Xan," she promised, giving him a hug. "You change too? We go eat?"
"Sure. Should I wear blue?" She nodded, grinning at the older person. She went to change, doing her best to look presentable. Even her hair was fixed with the help of a small spell. It was a lot faster. She walked out, letting Lotus see her. "Good?"
"Very good," Goemon agreed, smiling at her. "You stopped to spoil them?"
"I figured my men weren't here yet since I hadn't been pounced. Who wants to eat?" The others came out and they were formally dressed as well. "Sierra, put the berries into the fridge, don't smoosh them into your new clothes." The mini-Lupin did as ordered and they walked out to the car, getting everyone into the back and down the hill to the local restaurant. Each adult took a side and an end, letting the kids pick otherwise. They kept the kids from ruining their new clothes with the food, but a few spots were inevitable. "I'll pay for dry cleaning too," she shared as they walked outside once they were done.
Goemon chuckled as a car skidded to a stop beside them and two men got out, grabbing Xander and taking off with her. "I suppose they were desperate." He ushered the kids back to the car and headed them back up to the house to sit and hold his some more. They needed the attention and he needed them. He would deal with his wife later.
Ishi came out of his bedroom in his workout clothes. "Father, may we please go exercise?" he pleaded.
"Later, at sunset, son," he said, giving him a fond smile and a pat on the head. "For now, let us sit and enjoy holding you." They both curled up in his lap, letting him hold them tightly. "Were you two good for your uncles?"
"What's a migraine?" Lotus asked.
"It's a very bad headache. Who had those?"
"Ah." He nodded. "That was from missing your Uncle Xander, dear. Now that they have him I'm sure he won't have another for a very long time." He gave them a squeeze, pleased to be home and the other children were letting them cuddle alone.
Xander looked up as she was carried into this new apartment. "Where is this?"
"New hideout," Lupin said, turning her around to take off her obi. "I like this one. Back then?"
"Today. I let Goemon go ahead to hug the kids." She turned in his arms, kissing him, then Jigen so he'd quit pouting. "I missed you guys." She sniffled. "It was horrible. They didn't have caffeine. I had to teach the women how to hurt the men so they wouldn't force themselves on their women again." She sniffled again. "Not even a piece of chocolate in the whole country."
"Shh," Jigen soothed, stroking down her arms as he helped her out of her kimono. "We've got you some chocolate and some soda," he promised, pulling her closer for a long kiss.
Lupin kissed the back of her neck. "We won't be mad, Xander, but did Goemon and you get it on?"
She gave him a look. "Are you insane or high?"
"It's the migraine medicine. He was hit with that meteor on the commercials." He kissed her again, making her moan and go limp. "Don't expect to be walking when we're done." He picked her up and took her into the bedroom, stripping off so he could have her first. She was making the squeals and noises he liked so he wore himself out before letting Lupin have her. Then they all rested and had her together.
It was Lupin who noticed her taste had changed. "Xan, I think you may be fertile," he noted carefully.
She pounced him, kissing him hard. "Then I can take the pill pack." She looked over her shoulder at Jigen. "Isn't it your turn to switch around?"
"We're both tired," he soothed, stroking her back gently. "Let's take a bath together and then we'll go again." She nodded and kissed him, making him go pliant in her arms. "I missed you," he groaned, pulling her closer. Damn his age, he felt like he was twenty again and his dick felt like it was sixteen. Lupin came up behind her and took her other hole, sliding into the slickness Jigen had left there the last time. Together they made her limp and smiling, and they were too tired to do more than cuddle. "We're staying here for the next month," Jigen said quietly, stroking the sweaty and sticky back.
"We got the message on the way back that Fujiko was possessed," Xander admitted. She barely lifted her head up to look at him. "I don't think it matters much to him at the moment."
"We'll be here for him, no matter what," Lupin promised. He hugged her tighter. "I had nightmares about you coming back and pouting about having to leave him."
She reached back and pinched him. "I consider myself married, guys. Why would I do that to you?" Lupin growled into the back of her neck, making her turn to look at him. "What?"
"I like that idea," he said, kissing her hard and climbing on top of her. "I might need viagra by tonight, but I want you again." He went down to kiss and lick her, making her squirm.
"Hey, let her rest," Jigen complained. "She'll be too sore to do anything otherwise."
"No! Get your own!"
"She was mine first," Jigen reminded him.
Lupin pulled back to glare at him. "I had him first. You were in denial."
Xander sighed and worked herself slowly, watching them argue. They finally stopped and looked at her, then moved her hand and kissed and licked anyplace and everyplace. She finally came in Jigen's mouth, with Lupin in hers. Then she went limp again. "Damn, you're good."
"Good," Lupin agreed, smirking at her. "No more dirty thoughts about Goemon?"
"I didn't have a single one, but apparently you have," she noted, giving him a long look. "Are we suddenly bringing him in to soothe the ache of the bitch doing this to him?"
"No," Jigen told her, stroking her stomach. "He's obsessed now."
"No shit," she said dryly, giving him a look, then she looked back up at her boss. "Arsene, except for one night where we both hit the saki pretty hard, we slept in different beds, and that night I woke up fully dressed, down to the kimono and my socks. Nothing happened between us. Not a damn thing. If you doubt it, I'm sorry for your continued migraines, but I didn't touch the guy beyond helping him work out some stiff muscles in his back and helping him with his hair. Which I do when you're around," she said at his opening mouth. "Trust me or not, babe. It's the truth and I'll gladly hog Jigen until you come to that conclusion as well."
Lupin grabbed her, sitting her on his lap so he could kiss her. "I'm sorry, Xan. It's just that I kept seeing it happening because you were back there so long." He nibbled his way down to her neck. "I'm sorry."
"Shh, it's okay. It's a reasonable thought, even though you know I wasn't. I certainly wasn't going to come home pregnant by him." Lupin blushed and put his face against her shoulder. "Shhh," she soothed, stroking his back. "It's all right. I know why you thought that. I understand. Not that it's true, but I do understand why you thought that." She pushed his head back to look at him. "I'm sore," she said to stop him from moving anywhere. She tightened around Jigen's finger as he checked her.
"She's swollen. Let's get us into a bath," Jigen ordered.
"Can I maybe have the soda and the chocolate too?" Xander asked hopefully.
"I haven't spoiled you in a while, have I?" Lupin asked thoughtfully. She shook her head, looking very serious. "I'm sorry, Xan. I should take better care of you. Let's get you into a bath, and then we'll work on spoiling you like you deserve." He and Jigen lifted her together, not letting her do anything for herself. Not even bathe her poor swollen parts. They were very gentle with her and left her in there when the kids came back to get their support for her idea. Lupin looked at their kids, smiling at them. "I guess you know your mom's back?"
"She stopped and got us pretties," little Arsene Lupin the Fourth said, holding out her arms. "You like?"
"I think it's very pretty," he promised, kissing her on the head. "But you need your sleeves adjusted." He did that for her, making her beam and grin at both of them. "Your mom is really tired and she's in the bathtub so we're gonna let her soak while we make a great new plan, okay?" They all cheered and gathered around to help him. "What should we spoil mommy with?"
"Anime?" Jigen suggested dryly.
Lupin looked at him. "Already on its way." He looked at the kids again. "You guys have very good taste, what would mommy like?"
"More of us," the Fourth said happily. The others nodded. Jigen chuckled and went to get them bottles of water. "She likes babies. We need more."
"I'm sure that'll happen some day," he soothed, giving her another smile. "How about something we can get her right now."
"Babies not come right now?" one of the twins, Melissa, asked.
The other brushed back her silver streak and gave him a curious look. "Where do babies come from Uncle?"
"Well, Savanna, they come when a man and a woman get together in a certain way and have a lot of fun. Then, if they're not careful, or if there's magic involved, then there's a baby in nine months."
"Ooh," Savanna said slowly. "Can Lotus have one?"
"Not until she's old enough to have a boyfriend," Jigen told her. "It's only done by adults and people who think they are." He patted her on the head. "Don't worry, mom'll explain it more later." She nodded, accepting that answer. "Jewelry?"
"She doesn't have very much of that," Lupin agreed. "New weapon?"
"Nah, I think she likes her old one," Jigen pointed out, sipping his water. "Maybe something pretty to wear out for our pleasure?"
Lupin smirked at him. "Dinner out, like the last time?"
"Without the riot if possible," he noted dryly.
"Hmm. Forgotten about that. I was a bit preoccupied by having her under the table getting her dropped fork." He leered. "I'm all for that. We can get Goemon to babysit."
"True, we can," Jigen agreed smugly. "That good with you guys?"
"Mommy needs ring," Savanna told them. Then she beamed. "She needs pretty ring. Ring is something you get when married."
"It is," Lupin agreed, giving her a long look. "How very astute of you," he praised. "Where did you pick that up?"
"Mommy said the house was like marriage only without the bad stuff before she went to work," the Fourth offered.
"Okay, we'll plan a great wedding and you guys can help," Lupin decided. "Then we'll steal her all sorts of presents and stuff." They all beamed at him but Sierra. "What's wrong, daughter?" he asked the second mini-Lupin.
"Mommy not have stolen stuff," she pouted. "Have pretty stuff that not get her 'rested by Uncle Ray or Uncle Zenny."
"That is a point," Jigen noted. "She always buys the important presents."
"She does," Lupin agreed, getting comfortable. He looked toward the bathroom at the splashing. "I think she dropped a chocolate." He looked at the kids again. "That wouldn't bother you guys?" They all shook their heads. "Then we'll work on that tonight and you guys can help us tomorrow." They all beamed at him.
"What're the others doing?" Jigen asked, finishing his water.
"Playing in the yard," Savanna pouted. "They do exercises and stuff."
"You can help them tomorrow," her father promised. She and her twin grinned at him then at their other father, one of them tipping his hat back to kiss him on the forehead. "Thanks." He patted her on the head. "Isn't it nap time?"
"No," the kids said in semi-unison. They giggled.
"You guys go get a story book and we'll read to you," Lupin promised. They hurried off to do that and Lupin gave Jigen a kiss. "That okay with you?" he asked quietly. He nodded, looking very serious. "You're sure?"
"I'm fine with the idea. You're the one who chases every skirt in existence." He blew a kiss. "We should spoil her rotten to make sure she knows we appreciate her."
Lupin beamed at him. "True, we should. We'll figure out with what tonight." They both shook hands, knowing that it was going to turn into a contest to see who got the best squeal from her. That was fine with them. The kids came back with a book and they settled down to read to them.
Xander looked up from her reading with the kids when someone coughed, sitting up after kissing Savanna on the back of the head. "What's up?" she asked. The messenger held out an envelope. She signed for it and gave him a nice tip then opened it to read it. "Huh." She looked up. "Yo, Marcus?" He appeared and she handed it over, then went back to reading. Her kids shared her like of trains.
Marcus read the letter, then groaned. "Bastard," he said firmly, going to whine at Ethan. "They decided he should come back after they turn him into Xander," he said, handing over the letter.
"Who?" Ethan said, reading the new book he had just gotten. He loved a good mystery.
"My father." The book fell onto the floor and Ethan picked up the letter to read. "Can I go kill the hosts of hell for their stupidity?"
"No," he said, looking up. "The Light obviously wanted more powers on their side again. They're desperate." He pulled the young man down into his lap to hold him. "It will be fine. If he makes a single move toward you, it is more than acceptable to chop him into fish bait." Marcus nodded, sniffling a little. "Shh, it's fine," he soothed, stroking him gently. He appreciated his student and Marcus did need him. "Come, we'll nap," he soothed, letting the younger man help him into the bedroom. He needed to be held.
Xander looked up as her reading was interrupted again, this time by a smiling mad man. Or at least Lupin looked like one. She blew a kiss and turned the page, going on with the story. "Why are you so happy?"
"Because we have a new plan," he said, laying down behind her to cuddle. He kissed the back of her neck, making her pause in her reading to shiver. "Finish up Thomas and we'll tell you all about it." She moaned and kissed him for real, then forced herself to go back to her book. The kids took the book from her and ran outside with it, going up the hill to the Goemon's. Ishi could read and if not, his father liked to read stories. It was clear their daddy needed time with the mommy. Lupin helped Xander turn over and kissed her gently. "We've been thinking about what you said when you got home. That you consider us married." She nodded, kissing him again. "Pay attention," he chided gently, kissing her again. She stared into his eyes. "Jigen and I have agreed, we're kidnaping you until you agree. We're finding a very pretty dress and the perfect ring, or you can do one of those perpetually cute ones where we're all naked behind a screen to shield the kids." She looked awed. "Not a good idea?" he asked when she didn't say anything for a few minutes.
She latched onto his mouth, making him moan. "You sweet, adorable, fuckup." She kissed him again and again, making him roll her underneath him. "If this is what you want I'm not protesting."
"Good. We thought we'd ask you if you wanted one where you were naked or not." He moved down to play with her collarbone, making her hiss. "Sorry, still sore?" he asked, licking across it.
"Yes." She went pliant beneath him, making him move farther down to please her more. Someone knocked and walked in. "Hey, Goemon."
"Hey," Lupin said, moving her shirt to get to her chest. "What?"
Goemon blushed and turned around. "I'll keep the children with me for a bit."
"He just proposed," Xander told him.
"It's about time," he noted, heading back up the hill to his house. No wonder all the children had been giggling. "We must find her a present," he announced. "You may help us." The girls all giggled and followed him inside to figure out what to get the happy trio, and his son claimed his lap first thing. He kissed him on the top of the head and gave him a squeeze. "What should we get your uncles for their wedding?"
"Something precious, like Lotus," Ishi told him, being perfectly serious. His sister was annoying him again.
His father chuckled. "I think they can take care of that need on their own," he explained. He kissed him on the temple. "What else would she like?"
Jigen walked in carrying Lotus. "She was trying to sneak down to the village. They going at it already?"
"On the floor. She told me the wonderful news. It's about time."
Jigen chuckled. "We'd figured you'd say that. You want us or her?"
"I probably should stick up for you and have Marcus or Ethan stick up for her. Are we doing something...indecent?"
"I don't know. That thought came to us earlier," he admitted, sitting down with the kids. "You guys need to help us all figure out what to get Xander and us when we get married, okay?"
The girls all nodded and Ishi gave him a look. "You can have Lotus," he offered again.
Jigen ruffled his hair. "Not a chance. You need her more." He winked at Goemon. "Trust me, she'll calm down soon." Lotus shoved him out of the father's lap and took her rightful place in it. "Hey, share," he ordered. He patted her on the head. "Ishi loves him too."
"So?" She grinned at him. "I'm sneakier. I find present already."
"Did you?" Jigen asked. "Can I see it?" She nodded, climbing out of the comforting spot to get it for him. She came back with the badly wrapped lump. "Can I open it a bit and see?" She nodded and sat on the open thigh, letting her brother have the other side so he'd quit pouting. Jigen looked inside, then blinked and looked at Goemon. "She has good taste in sapphires." He carefully put back that corner and handed it back to her. "It's very pretty, Lotus." He patted her on the head. "Now all we have to do is to have our kids figure out what we're getting her."
"Clothes," the Fourth said immediately. "She needs more clothes." The girls all nodded.
"True, she could use some clothes," Jigen agreed, smirking at them. Maybe not what they had in mind but he had found a darling outfit he wanted to see her in. It was in the trunk of the car actually.
Savanna sucked her thumb while she thought, playing with her hair. Then she suddenly smiled and quit. "Mommy needs more stuff to work. Pretties to make her seem gorgeous to people who don't know her."
"Hmm. That is also very true," Goemon agreed. She had a spectacular body and her men dressed her like they appreciated it. "Perhaps some new jewelry? She hardly has any that she wears. Plus, you could put a locator in it."
Jigen chuckled. "Yeah, we could," he agreed. "We're making a list of stores right now but we are buying her wedding ring according to her own tastes for the important presents."
"Cartier?" Goemon suggested.
"She likes someone in Beverly Hills better," he noted. "We might have to go in wearing disguises but it'll be fine." He patted the kid sneaking into his lap gently. "Wanted a cuddle?" She nodded. "What else should we get her?"
"Spa," she said happily. "Long treat."
"That is an excellent idea," he agreed, giving her a hug. "We hadn't even thought about that." He grinned at the girls and they went on about what they would want to get their mommy, all sorts of fantastic things were mentioned. Including a dragon and a unicorn.
"Apparently that's to go with the bird that Lupin ignores," Goemon shared. Jigen chuckled, swatting at him.
"Hey, my daddy," Lotus complained. "No hit him!"
"Sorry, precious. I was playing."
"That's okay then. Do you tickle him, daddy?"
"No, dear. He doesn't like it," Goemon said seriously.
Jigen gave him a look. "You're as odd as Lupin." He stood up. "You guys behave for a few hours?" They gave him astonished looks. "I mean it." They sighed and nodded. "Thanks. We'll take everyone out for dinner if you're good." They all smiled and settled in to read. He looked at Goemon. "At least Lupin is over thinking that you and she did stuff."
Goemon blushed. "I'd never have survived it."
"True," Jigen said smugly. He headed down to get his share of Xander attention. They should be done and rested by now.
Two weeks later, Inspector Zenigata looked up as a paper hit his desk. "What's that?"
"A report," Ray said dryly, heading back to his desk. "I thought you'd want to know. I have no idea what to get them." He sat down and put his feet up.
The Inspector picked it up, reading it with a fair amount of trepidation. If Ray looked that smug it must be something odd. He frowned and reread the opening. "They're *buying* presents?" He looked up. "Why?"
"This is for Xander and she buys the important ones." He shrugged. "Who knows. They haven't bought them all." He made 'turn the page' motions.
The inspector turned the page, reading on. He finally groaned and put it down. "Fine, okay." He looked up. "We still can't arrest them?"
"I asked a judge that and he said it was unethical and that we couldn't without a warrant. Since we're not taking complaints against them." He shrugged. "There is one left in Africa somewhere but I can't find it." He beamed and tossed over an envelope. "It came in the office mail."
Zenigata opened it and sighed. "We're invited as well." He looked up. "What does one get the well-dressed crook this year?"
"Spa time?" Ray suggested. "Somewhere far, far away?"
Zenigata chuckled. "I like that idea. Does Dawn know?" His coworker shook his head. "Fine, I'll tell her." He picked up the phone and hit the button marked 'home'. "Dawn," he said, smiling at the sound of her voice. "We got an invitation to a wedding today. Your fellow crooks are finally making it semi-legal." He listened and smiled. "Really?" His smile got colder. "Is he available?" He hummed. "Good. You tell me if there's anything I can do about that." He hung up. "Someone so very thoughtfully brought back Marcus' father as a warrior for the light. He's bothering that vampire putz in LA."
Ray's mouth fell open. "I thought Lavelle killed him in the most horrible manner."
"He did. The demons decided he had suffered enough and had him sent back."
"Huh. I pity the vampire then." He shrugged and popped his neck. "I have no idea what to buy for wedding presents for normal couples. What do you get for trios?"
"It says they're going to be doing two ceremonies, one for each."
"Which would be polygamy, but we can't really arrest them on it," Ray pointed out.
"True. We'd need proof." His eyes lit up. "We could use the wedding certificates."
"I doubt you'd get them," Ray said dryly. "Xander will defend them even more now."
"Good point," Zenigata sighed, looking defeated again. "I'm not sure we should attend."
"Of course we should, we're about the only friends Xander has." His boss gave him a look. "Think about it. They might need the extra witnesses."
"Hmm. They did come to mine," he agreed. They were in disguise but he knew they had been there. He had heard Lupin laughing his trademark cackle and they had left an ornate present for them.
"I'm wondering if they're making her wear white," Ray put in, breaking the happy thoughts his boss was having about his own wife.
Zenigata looked shocked. "I'd hope not. They stole that prize years ago. The twins prove that if nothing else does."
Ray giggled. "True, but you know them. I'd be surprised if Marcus didn't have some potion to return it." His boss looked horrified. He giggled harder. "Do we get to call her Mrs. Lupin or Mrs. Jigen?"
"I'm not sure I want to call her either," he said, shuddering. "That's a nasty set of thoughts, Ray. Keep those to yourself or I'm not giving you time off for this year's convention in Paris." He looked contrite, but he knew it was an act. Ray wasn't that innocent. He really wasn't.
Xander bounced up to where Ethan was reading in his garden, climbing into his lap to give him a hug. "They proposed," he said happily, hugging him as hard as he could. "They even *bought* my ring!"
Ethan grabbed the wiggling beast in his lap to hold her still before he got more aroused. "I'm proud," he said, smiling at her. "Am I invited to the wedding?"
She kissed him on the head. "I'm guessing you're about as close to a father as I'll get."
"That is a horrible thought considering what I used to do to you when you were mine," he said dryly.
She kissed him on the forehead. "Yeah, but you're my big protector and it's as close as I can get." She pouted. "Give me away?"
"Of course I will," he said, smiling and teasing her out-struck lip with the tip of his finger. "None of that now. They'll have to put you into a good mood." He grinned. "Good boy, Xander. I see you finally returned to being male." He touched the choker. "Oh, dear, one of the clasps is gone again. Again?" She nodded. "A good idea then, you're probably sore." She nodded, harder this time. He chuckled and hugged her. "Very well then, I'll give you away to those two thieves who keep you sane and happy. What would you like as a present?"
"I don't care," she said happily. "I'm good. They're spoiling me by buying me things instead of stealing them."
"Then I'm doubly impressed," he soothed, giving her a short, friendly kiss. "Off my lap before you make me forget you're not mine." Xander stood up with a blush. "Find Marcus and tell him." He nodded, heading into the house. Ethan shook his head, watching the pert butt walk away. Then he said a silent prayer to Janus for this blessing before going back to his mystery. Marcus hadn't been letting him read recently.
Marcus looked up from his sulk and milkshake when arms went around him. "What, Xander?"
"I'm getting married." Marcus gave him a shocked look. "To both of them." The younger man burst out in giggles and hugged him back. "Now, tell Uncle Lavelle what's wrong."
"I don't want to burst your happy mood," he said, touching the soft skin. "You need to clean that off."
"It's sweat, Marcus." He wiped off his face. "We're sweating over names already." He sat down, letting Marcus sit again. "What?"
"The demons and the Powers finally found a new warrior for the light to take Angel's place once he's atoned enough."
"Your dad?" Marcus gave him a shocked look. "Dawn told me."
"Ah. The sad thing is, I can't kill him."
"Hey, he's immortal again, you probably could," he noted. "Over and over again. Or you could talk to the man. Your problems with him aren't all his fault, they're the Watcher's fault. He might even be able to help you find peace with his shitbagness." He shrugged. "If I have to see him, I'm going to kill him again and again until I feel better."
"Thank you, Xander." Marcus gave him a gentle hug. "What did you want for a present?"
"I don't care," she said happily, beaming again. "I'm good on presents. They're *buying* me things."
"Well. You do rate high in their affections then." He punched him on the arm. "Go tease your men. We'll want you to wear something spectacular." Xander beamed and headed back to the new hideout near Iga. Marcus shook his head. "Such a simple answer," he noted. "Perhaps I should talk to him."
"Yes, you should," Ethan yelled. "That way I get to read."
"Yes, Master," he called, heading to do that. He had been meaning to see David again anyway and this was a juicy piece of gossip for him. He took his milkshake with him, heading to LA via his teleporting spell. He landed with a moan of pain for his legs. They were still cramping from his last practice. David and his father both looked up at him. "David, some excellent news," he said happily. "They've finally gotten off their asses and demanded that Xander marry them. Plus, she's having sons this time." David smirked at him so he walked closer. "It's so good that they're *buying* him presents." David lost his smirk, looking stunned. "Indeed. I just talked to Xander. He's bouncing and giddy, though a bit sore at the moment. That time out of time must have really panicked them." He leaned on the table, taking another sip of his milkshake. "I can find the place if you wanted to attend."
"Please," David agreed. "Formal?"
"I have no earthly idea," Marcus admitted. "If it is, we'll deal with that then. I have a few spare outfits and we're still about the same size. You can borrow one." He shrugged and took another sip. "Gunn, how are you?"
"Fine, Marcus. Thank you. Is Xander happy?"
"Mostly. There are things that are bothering him, but nothing that he's going to concern himself with at this moment." Gunn nodded, understanding he was talking about his father. "Speaking of problematic hellbeasts. Where is he? Xander suggested I should swear at him for leaving me with the Watchers."
"Upstairs resting. He had a bad headache."
Marcus smirked. "Good. I enjoy that state." He and David shared a look. "Ethan's giving him away. Said he was the closest the guy got to a father figure." David snickered. "Reminded him he was his protector so it was only fair. Ethan said that was icky with what they used to do together."
"Eww," the elder Gunn noted, going to do something else while the younger generation gossiped.
"Is it what you and Ethan do together?"
"I doubt they did much spell work, but otherwise probably. Ethan praised me, said I was nearly as good at blowing him yesterday. It was a very nice compliment. Xander's renowned for his skills in the bedroom." He leaned closer. "Lupin got so jealous he was having migraines. He kept thinking Goemon was taking what was his. He even had nightmares about Xander coming back pregnant or with a baby Goemon in tow." David burst out in loud giggles, shaking his head. "Indeed," he said with a smirk. "If they had, one of them would have died. Probably my master." He finished up his milkshake. "How are things going over here without the Great Pouf?"
"Just fine. We've got a ton of things that we're working on right now. Connor's been a really big help recently."
"Good. Remember, if *you* need me you only have to call." They shared a look and a smile. "I believe he also invited Zenigata and Ray."
"It's only fair; Gramps loves him like some odd son and is still obsessed with Lupin. Ray and he are buddies. I saw his Ray impersonation last year and it was damn good." They shared another smirk. "I also saw him a few years back when he was hitting all the area conventions while on vacation from the group. He was too hyper. You wouldn't believe what that guy did while he was in town."
Marcus leaned closer. "Do tell. I need some blackmail material on the boy."
Wesley came down the stairs, giving his son a look. "Is there an apocalypse?" he asked quietly.
Marcus looked at him. "No, David and I are gossiping and I'm ignoring some advice at the moment to kill you repeatedly until I'm no longer pissed at you and can stand to be on the same planet." He looked at David again. "Which costume was he in?"
"One of them he went as one of those little school girls. He teased the guest to no end until he blushed and gave in, laughing at the antics of some of the fans."
"He does play a school girl very well," Marcus agreed dryly. He noticed his father moving closer. "Speaking of Lavelle, father."
"That's fine. He changes gender?"
"With the Deermere choker," Marcus told him. Wesley looked stunned, then slowly nodded. "It suits him. He's very good at playing all parts. Welcomes his future husbands that way all the time." He looked at Marcus again. "Do we have any more groupies coming from the anime adventures?"
"We had two or three Lavelle's and a few Jigen's, but nothing like it was the year after it came out. That is dedication. That silver dye had to fry their hair." Marcus nodded, grinning at him. "Aren't you coming to the next one in town?" He nodded. "Good. We can catch up then. I can hear Connor complaining again. I'd better go alleviate that."
"An interesting way of putting it," Marcus said smugly.
"Hey, I figured Xander had a point when he took up with two men." He smirked as he walked of. "Dad hates it."
"Good for you," Marcus called after him, turning to look at his father. "I really do hate you enough to kill you repeatedly."
"I understand. If I could have taken you from the Watcher gits, I would have," he said calmly. His son gave him a look of disbelief. "I would have, son. I didn't want them to keep you. I wanted you to have a happier childhood than I did."
"Well, I finished having one in a happier state. Lupin and Jigen and the rest made sure of that after you infected me with that warrior's spirit." He stood up and grabbed his glass. "Not that it hasn't made my life complete but it's not what I wanted from you, father." He waved a hand and disappeared.
Wesley slumped. "I did it to protect you," he said quietly, heading back to his bedroom. He noticed Connor in the doorway. "Marcus was just here."
"I saw. You did what to him?"
"The Powers told me to infect him with a demonic warrior's spirit, that it would save him and keep him from following my path. Instead he took up with Xander, Janus, and Ethan." He trudged away, going to sulk some more. He was nearly as good as Angel had been.
Connor looked back at David. "He did what?"
David nodded. "He did. It's why Marcus trains with Goemon. That's why Xander took him in, which has saved his life and made it very full and fulfilling. I went because of my stunning skills at breaking into places."
Connor looked impressed. "Cool. I wondered why Marcus was so good with his sword." He shrugged. "I'm guessing full time training with it has helped him a lot." He pulled David closer and claimed his mouth. "That's better," he growled, then he stalked into the kitchen to get something to eat.
"Wow. The fight must have been good." Connor only attacked him like that when he was happy after a good fight. Marcus had done the same thing. He briefly wondered if Jigen and Xander fell into bed after a successful job in the same manner but shook himself out of it. He didn't want to know that much about Xander's sex life. He stalked his boyfriend to the kitchen and pounced him in there while they waited for his eggs to cook. A simple blow job was fast enough to not overcook his breakfast.
Lupin tapped on the red door and was admitted. He bowed and waved at the study door. "He in?" The guard nodded and let him back that way. He knocked on the study door and walked in. "Hey." He grinned as Tokyo's don looked at him. "We're getting married on your turf."
"I had heard you were buying things." He got comfortable. "Is she happy with you?"
The don laughed. "I had heard an unnamed woman. It is better this way, we won't have to hide your bodies from her. What of Jigen?"
"Him too." He sat down, getting comfortable. "So we're doing it around here somewhere. We've invited Zenigata and Ray." He nodded wisely, it had been polite to warn him. "We were thinking Goemon's lawn but we're not sure if Xander would like somewhere more formal."
"I'm sure wherever you pick will be fine with her. Have you told her?"
Lupin smirked. "She's been squealing for days. When she's not getting sick. We're certain it's boys this time." The Don laughed and reached over to pat him on the arm. "The only flaw in the ointment is Fujiko. She's on her way back."
"I had heard she was possessed."
"She was, but I'm not sure Goemon's going to deal all that well with it. We might need that lime pit after all."
"If so, you may use it," he agreed. "Such actions are often unforgivable."
"Yeah, but Goemon seems to have found some sense of peace and happiness from back there. He didn't even try to take Xander."
"Good. Goemon is a man of honor, I'm sure it never crossed his mind."
Lupin gave him a look. "I haven't met a man that the thought didn't cross his mind," he said dryly. "Including you."
"She is rather pretty in that Asian form," he admitted. "But my own wife would castrate me should I be caught looking." He spread his hands and smiled nicely. "It happens. She is beautiful and pleasing to the eyes. Women such as she becomes were highly treasured for centuries as favorite concubines."
"True," Lupin agreed. "Did you want to attend?" He stood up.
"If it pleases you, I will. If not, I'll send a present."
"Either's fine with us. She likes you." He gave him a long look. "Though you'll never take her from me."
"I would never dream of trying. My wife is a scary woman, she would harm me in many interesting ways."
"Good." He looked smug. "She's the one possession I'm very controlling and possessive about." They shared a look then the Don nodded. "If you want, it'll be next week sometime."
"I'll send a present. We're having that stupid summit." Lupin cackled. "Please, feel free to come liven it up."
"Oh, we will," he said smugly. "That's our honeymoon." He walked out, going to find the ring that would suit his love. It had to be spectacular yet stately, like his princess. He said a silent prayer to his grandfather for some help finding the right thing; he had found six different totally suitable wedding rings in his life. He felt drawn to a shop and headed that way, finding the ring as soon as he walked in. "I want that one," he said, pointing at it. Then he nearly gave the clerk a heart attack by putting down his credit card. "Such important presents should never be stolen," he said.
"That is so romantic!" he sighed, smiling at him. He pulled out the ring in question, holding it up. "Are you sure? It's a very odd ring for a wedding ring, Mr. Lupin." It was a black diamond and blood rubies on silver. A very odd combination.
"I'm sure. It fits Lavelle to a 't'."
The clerk smiled and went to wrap it and run the card. When he came back, he was smiling. "You should do a commercial with that sentiment. It would only boost our sales."
"Only among the anime fans," he said dryly, taking the bag and his card. "Thank you." He signed the slip and handed their copy back. Then he looked around. "And I'll take the rest too."
"Of course you will," he agreed smugly, having expected this. He went to find a large bag for him to carry everything else in and to call his boss. "Lupin the Third is here," he announced. His boss groaned. "He bought the wedding ring he wanted, that black diamond ring, but he's stealing the rest." His boss advised him not to protest and just hand it over, they had insurance. He went and handed over the bag and the keys, watching what he picked out and what he left. He had exquisite taste. He wished he was getting jewelry like that from his love. Lupin looked at him and smirked like he had heard his thought. "My wife would never give me jewelry."
Lupin found a pretty stud and handed it to him. "Wear it in remembrance," he suggested, grinning as he walked out. He had the important gift and something for his girls. He had also put a tag on the ring box, just in case someone tried to pickpocket him. No one would take something marked with Lavelle's name. That would be dumb. They'd be dead and *all* the crooks knew it. Most of them even recognized him. The one punk who did try to steal it ran after him and gave it back. "Thank you," he said, handing over a necklace in reward. He looked at the ring. "It's his wedding ring." The crook looked stunned and bowed before running off to spread the news. He heard him yell at his friends that Lavelle was getting married, he wouldn't be so cranky anymore. It made him laugh and shake his head. "I doubt it," he said fondly. "Not with mood swings coming." He got into his car, heading back to the hideout, smiling the whole trip back. He found Jigen playing with the kids and nudged him, handing him the box. Then he sat down with the girls and parceled out the other stuff, saving the truly adult stuff for his princess.
Jigen looked at the ring, then nodded. "It'll suit him. The right size?"
"Perfectly sized," Lupin admitted. "The clerk was very helpful and didn't seem to mind in the least when I helped him lower their inventory afterward." He looked up and gave Jigen a smug look. "That looser warning that I was going to rob the jewelry store I found the wedding ring in was very handy, thank you for helping with that one."
"Welcome." He took it to Goemon to keep safe for them. Lavelle couldn't get it out of them and she wasn't going to see it until the ceremony. Goemon looked up from teaching his son and daughter a new move as he moved closer. "He found it." He showed off the ring and Goemon looked impressed. "He also cleaned out the store." Lotus gave her father a pleading look and he waved so they went to see if there was anything left of the presents. "It's your job to keep it from him until the ceremony."
"I'll do my best," Goemon said, tucking it inside his kimono. "It does suit him."
"It does," Jigen agreed. "Lupin has good taste." He shrugged and went back to helping the kids play tag. They were so cute when they were frustrated.
Goemon shook his head, smirking at the other man's back. He heard Xander sneaking up on him. "No," he said firmly, swatting at the reaching hand. "You must wait. Learn patience, Xander." He turned and found his wife standing there. "Fujiko," he said blandly. "It's Xander's wedding ring."
"Oh." She moved her hand away from it. She wouldn't touch that. "Can you ever forgive me?"
"I haven't decided yet," he announced, going to get a drink and to hide the ring in his special spot. Not even Lotus got into it since there was a spider who lived in the hole.
She pouted at him. "I didn't mean to do that, I was possessed," she called after him. He didn't answer. She had some major apologizing to do and went to start with the easier one. Lupin wouldn't ignore her if she apologized. He looked up. "I'm sorry."
"That's nice." He went back to helping his daughter put in her new earrings. "How's that?" She beamed and went to look at them in the water. He looked at Lotus and handed over the things he had saved out for her, making her squeal and hug him as she went to show her father. Ishi was looking interested so he waved him closer, handing him the heavy box he had stopped to pick up. "Not jewelry but I didn't think you'd want any."
Ishi sat down to open his present, grinning at the puzzles. "Thank you, Uncle." He hugged him as hard as he could. "I love it." He went to show his father, ignoring his mother totally.
Lupin looked up as Jigen joined him. "Fujiko, I know we've had our problems, but that was unforgivable. You stole our greatest treasure from us. You're damn lucky there's any excuse at the moment."
"We're still pissed in other words," Jigen told her.
She nodded, looking upset. "I understand. I'd hate me too. I couldn't stop that thing from doing it. It got so jealous and mean!" She sighed and sat across from Lupin. "I didn't want to do it and I worried the whole time they were gone that he was going to find Xander more to his liking."
"Us too," Lupin admitted, "but that still doesn't excuse your actions and we're still quite pissed at you. You can attend the wedding but you are not to go near my daughters. You are not to go near Xander unless he wants you to. If your husband lets you back into the house I'd be surprised as well. Ishi and Lotus have been turned around fairly quickly fortunately. All it took was a week of their father and Xander." She nodded, looking even more miserable. "I'd have a damn long think, Fujiko."
She looked at him, eyes wet with tears. "I have been," she admitted. "I have been since that thing took me over two years ago." Jigen looked surprised. "There wasn't much I could do except think and wince at what she was doing. I'm so sorry." She got up and went to cry. She was found by her husband. "I'm so sorry," she whispered when he grabbed her, hiding her face against his chest. "I've been sorry since she took me over two years ago, Goemon. I didn't mean to do those things."
He held her tightly. "I do not blame you for that," he promised. "I can't blame you for what you did not really do." She looked up at him, eyes puffy and red, nose running. He wiped off her cheeks. "You have hurt the children and they are not going to understand. Xander explained that you had something inside you that was evil who had done those bad things. They would like to talk to you eventually but not today." She nodded, stepping back. He pulled her closer again, kissing her, and she responded like she always had before things started to go bad. "I have missed you as well."
"I understand. It was not you." He stroked her back. "We will work it out. Hopefully in time for the wedding since it's on our lawn." She sniffled. "She is also carrying males this time according to Marcus." He was the one who had figured out the twins were girls when the healer thought they were boys.
"Even if they're yours, I'll still love them," she promised.
"They're not. I would never survive a night with her and she is not my wife. No matter how often Lupin thought the same thing."
She looked up. "You're precious to us, like the most precious thing we've ever stolen. We're guarding our treasures. It makes us crazy."
He gave her a long look, then smiled. "Eloquent. Thank you." He kissed her again. "Come watch, Lotus has gotten better." He led her back out to sit her down and let her watch the practice. The kids gave him a look but he stared them down. "It was not her," he reminded them.
"Fine," Ishi said, glaring at his mother. "You nearly made the daddy not love us."
"That would never happen, son. I would be upset but I could never disavow you." He gave him a hug. "A father cares for his children always, even if they are not what he had hoped for." Ishi gave him a loving look and hugged him back. "Thank you. Lotus?" She came over and hugged his leg, staring at her mother. "We will work it out," he told them. "We'll talk tonight after dinner. For now, we will go back to our exercise. Lotus, put your new pretty things in your room." She had to hunt for one earring in the grass but did so once she found it. He put his son down. "Your puzzles as well, son." He nodded and went to do that. He looked at his wife. "We will make them understand."
"Thank you, Goemon. I don't deserve you." She sniffled again. "I'm sorry."
"It will be worked out," he said firmly. He saw Xander coming up the hill and winced. This was going to be a critical thing. The children would follow his lead, not their father's.
Xander stopped, looking at Fujiko. "You clean?" She nodded, starting to cry again. "Good." He looked at Goemon. "Can't I even have a peek?"
"No," he said, giving him a long look. Xander moved closer. "Thank you," he said quietly.
"Hey, I'm holding in the anger," she said quietly. "Otherwise I'd have to find you a new wife once you were a widow." Goemon nodded. "I understand, but it sucks." He gave another pleading look. "At least give me *something* about my wedding ring?"
"It suits your personality," he said. "Lupin found the perfect ring."
"I expected that," she said dryly. "Is it a clear diamond?"
"No. That is all you're getting from me until the ceremony."
"Yes, dear." She swatted him. "Big meany." He grinned down at her. "Fine, be that way then." She shook her head, looking back at Fujiko. "First his ancient family adopts me and I get to give the women lectures on how to protect their innate rights, and now he won't even tell me what my ring is."
Goemon snorted. "Heathen wench. You can wait. It's only a few more days." He picked her up and walked her back to Lupin, putting her down into his lap. "Yours. She's pleading for a glance at the ring." He walked off, going back to help the kids learn some more things. "Ishi, come, let us work on that move some more," he called. He came running out with his sister chasing him. "Quit," he warned. "You two will learn to get along. After all, your Uncle Xander will be having more soon and you will be the elder one, Ishi. You must learn to like the other children as well as protect them." He nodded, looking very serious. "Good boy." He smiled at them. "Come, learn this new one then I will work with your sister while you work on that new kata I have showed you." Ishi stepped up while his sister bounced around.
"Lotus, stillness," he ordered. She calmed herself and sat down to watch. "Good girl." He worked with Ishi until he had that one right and sent him off with a gentle swat to do his kata. Then he waved his daughter over. "Let's see if you have learned it." She tried it and he smiled. "Nearly." He corrected her movements and had her try it again. She got it right and he beamed, kissing her on the forehead. "Good girl. Do your kata as well, then meditate." She nodded, going to do it with her brother, matching his movements like a mirror image. He gave them a satisfied look, they were very good so far. He looked back at his wife, seeing the sadness. "We will have dinner out tonight," he announced. "Each of you will wear something appropriate." Lotus gave him a begging look. "Only if the jewelry matches your outfit." She nodded, getting back to work to make him proud of her. He looked at Fujiko. "Xander left you a new kimono when he bought theirs," he offered. She stood up with some help from him and went to look at it. He smiled at his children and they gave him such trusting looks. "It will be fine."
Xander looked up from her reading as Lupin walked into her room with a dress bag and a large bag. "Finally?" she asked.
He kissed her gently. "Yes, finally. You have someone coming soon to deal with your hair." He kissed her again.
"Should I go as Sylvia?"
"Go as whoever you want," he promised. She gave him a hurt look. "I promise. Go as a male if you want." She tapped her foot. "All right, Jigen would like you to be Melody, but we really don't care."
She undid the necklace enough to change her shape and became the woman she had been before they had gone back in time. "There, how's that?"
He smiled. "You're beautiful in all forms, Xander." He gave her one last kiss and handed over everything. "Don't wrinkle it. It took nearly forever to find that one." He got a long hug. "Relax. Jigen's got your jewelry. He'll be right in." He gave her one last kiss then left to get ready.
Jigen came in with a velvet platform box, putting it on the bed. He was pounced and kissed. "Princess," he said, holding her. "Ready?"
"Not hardly." She looked up at him and grinned. "You like or should I be Sylvia or someone else?"
"Be whomever you want," he promised. "We'd adore anyone. You can be this you or Sylvia or even just plain old Xander. Then tonight you can change if you want." She changed herself back to Sylvia, making him smile. "Our silver haired loon," he said proudly. He gave her a long French kiss, making her moan. "Relax. You've got a masseuse and a hairdresser coming to help you. Come out beautiful for us." He pinched her on the nose. "Or you could come out as yourself. We won't mind."
Xander shook his head. "Not this time. The binding tonight that Dawn's doing I'll be myself."
"That's fine, Xan." He kissed her again, making her go limp against his chest. She was always so responsive for him. "We adore you in all your forms." He left, leaving her to do the hard stuff to get ready. He only had to shower and shave. She had to polish and fix and paint and all that sort of stuff. He walked into their bedroom and found Lupin pacing. "Keep it up, get another migraine." He headed for the bathroom.
Lupin stopped him and kissed him gently. "Thank you, Jigen. You always take very good care of me."
"Someone has to," he snorted, giving him a light shove away from him. "Want first or second shower?"
"Second's fine. I'll be sweating for longer and you always take longer to get dressed." He sat down. "Is she herself?"
"She's Sylvia. She said he'd be himself tonight at the second one Dawn was doing." Lupin relaxed. "Calm down. She's happy and bouncing. She's just as nervous."
Lupin looked up at him. "How?"
"She is. Remember, she's the one with the self esteem problem." He headed into the bathroom, leaving Lupin to calm himself.
Lupin went to his desk and sat down to write out a mushy note. It would soothe him and her. He was still at it as Jigen came out and signed his name to it before having it sent off with one of the kids. "I wasn't done."
"You were so. Your name was on it." He went to his closet and looked inside. "Where are our suits?"
"My side." He looked at him, then went to shower. He had to solve this nervousness and there was only one good way. His last whack off as a free man.
Jigen smirked at the door. "Typical." He sat down to put on his socks.
Xander came out of the door, blinking when everyone stared at her in shock. "What?" she asked, looking down at herself. There had been two dresses in the bag but she had liked this one better than the tight, short sheathe dress that had been in there. This one seemed more like a wedding gown. It was silver, gold, and white, had a long flowing skirt, and a modest bodice that didn't hide but didn't really enhance what she had either. "Yes, it's a dress. I've worn them before." She nearly ran back inside but Ethan patted her hand and walked him down the aisle. She gave her men a desperate look and they both smiled at her. Apparently it was good shock then. Or maybe it was the hairdo. Her hair was piled underneath the tiara Jigen had brought in and the veil was attached to the back of it.
"You look like a true princess," Lupin said, smiling at her.
"You can't even see the weapons," Jigen agreed, taking her other hand.
She relaxed and smiled at them. That was okay then. This was good shock, not she looked horrible shock. She stepped forward with them, letting them escort her the rest of the way to the person officiating. She wasn't sure who he was but he looked happy that there were three of them so she guessed it was okay. She blushed when she felt Lupin entwine their fingers, he was usually much less showy in mushy ways, and gave him a sideways look. He gave her hand a squeeze so she faced front again, not really understanding this at all. But hey, they were happy. She was getting them, and they were taking very good care of her. Or maybe all this was because of the potion Marcus and Ethan had given her 'to relax'. The Jigen and Lupin she was used to weren't this mushy. They barely liked her and her new skills. Jigen squeezed her hand and she glanced at him, smiling a little bit.
Jigen looked at Lupin, who frowned and kissed her, then licked his lips. "I taste herbs and since we know she doesn't drink tea." He looked at Ethan. "What was it?"
"A renewal potion," he said smugly. "Turn about." He made a shooing motion. "Otherwise I'm taking her back."
Lupin turned around, then shook his head once and got back into the theme of the evening. So they had a virginal, slightly confused Xander on their hands? They could deal with that. This time though, he got her first. Jigen had her last time it was his turn. Everything was going normally until Goemon handed over the rings, then Xander squealed and picked up hers to look at. "You like?" he asked, smirking at her.
"You adorable thing," she purred, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him hard. He had to blink a few times to regain his composure but she was mauling Jigen instead.
The minister coughed. "It's not time for that, young lady," he said gently, making the few attendees laugh. She blushed as she faced him again, holding onto their hands more tightly. "Thank you. Does anyone have anything to say against this marriage? Speak now or one of them will probably hurt you." No one said anything though Dawn had to cover her husband's mouth because he was muttering about crooks with spells that did innocent people harm and now they could fix Xander. "Thank you." He smiled at them. "Vows?"
Lupin looked at her, then up beyond her. "News crew," he said, pointing.
Xander pulled her gun off her thigh and pointed it at the helicopter, then fired. It was a large enough gun that it hit the fuselage and had to fly away. "Stupid bastards." She put the gun away again and smiled at him. "You were going to promise to honor, cherish, and obey me?" she quipped.
"How about honor, cherish, and spoil?" Jigen suggested, cracking the others up.
She grinned at him. "Okay, I can accept that instead of obey."
Lupin smirked. "That's good." He looked into her eyes. "Xander, you know you're the only one who's ever made me quit chasing skirts. I want to keep you, even if I do give you mood swings on occasion." She giggled, making him smile. "If you promise to only swat me gently after the next one, I'll spoil you forever and ever."
She cooed. "Ooh, Arsene." She kissed him again.
Jigen tapped her on the shoulder. "My turn." He stroked a finger down her face. "It was odd before you joined us, and then you made it worse, but we figured out we liked it that way." She cooed and kissed him too. He guessed he was done. That was okay with him. He tapped her on the nose. "If you help me prank him later, I'll give you whatever you want," he whispered. She gave him the most innocent look and he laughed, kissing her gently. The minister coughed so he had to let her up. "Sorry."
"It's all right. I see many cases of that. The rings?"
"Mine," Lupin said. "My treasure."
"Ours," Jigen corrected as he reached over. "Though we won't keep you in the big safe."
She picked up the rings she had made for them and looked inside, they had their names on them. Then she slid Jigen's on his hand. "You'd better not try to keep me in the safe." She grinned at him and looked at Lupin. "I agree, both of yours." She slid his onto his hand. "Does that mean we can go back to Greece?" she whispered.
"Later." She beamed and then turned it on the minister, who was temporarily stunned. She blinked up at him.
"Oh, yes, I think we've had enough showing off. Kiss for the first time as a married trio and go on with your lives." They all kissed and then he got out of the way as Dawn squealed and ran up to hug Xander.
"Ours," Jigen said, separating them.
"We don't want your husband to get any ideas," Lupin agreed, walking Xander back toward the house with Jigen right behind them.
Zenigata snorted as they walked past him. "Even with an innocence potion she probably can't be reformed now. You two have warped her too much." Lupin smirked at him as they walked past. His wife patted him on the hand when she finally came back to his side.
"I tried to tell you," she offered. "She's theirs, heart, mind, and soul." She kissed him on the cheek. "Besides, you got a better thief, one who wants to lock you in our safe room." He grinned at her. "Come on, let's party with the happy people." He nodded, letting her lead him away.
Ray walked up to Xander, kissing her on the cheek. "No more school girl outfits?" he teased.
"No," Jigen said.
"Actually, I like her in her school girl outfit," Lupin told him.
"Perv," Jigen retorted.
Xander shook her head and walked Ray off to talk to him. "So now I guess I need a new costume. Got any ideas?"
"As long as you never go as Faye again, we're good," Ray promised, grinning at her.
"I could go as Edward."
"Xander," he whined. "Don't give me those thoughts. It's bad enough I found Spike and Edward stories." She giggled and gave him a hug. "They're right, you are a loon."
Lupin came over and stole her. "Ours." He took her out onto the dance floor they had set up for their first official dance, making her smile self-consciously. "I think you look stunning."
"I also think that I get you first since he got you first the last time." She blushed brighter and that's when Jigen cut in.
"Tell him you're mine tonight and he can have you tomorrow and I'll steal you a beautiful sapphire."
"I've got a twenty-carat ruby," Lupin offered.
She blushed brighter. "Guys!"
Marcus looked at Ethan. "I believe we got it out of proportion. Next time, more of the powder and less of the liquid."
Ethan nodded. "That would probably be for the best. That would take more knowledge, but leave her more innocent." Dawn gave them a long look. "What?" he asked with a small, smug grin. "We're being good."
"I'm sure you are."
Zenigata looked back at them. "Make some for her," he mouthed, making Ethan smirk harder. He smiled at his wife, who was grinning up at him. "Next dance."
"Sure." She leaned up and kissed him. "This is the only problem with you being so tall." She grabbed his tie and pulled him down, kissing him better this time. He got a dazed look on his face and she smiled. "That's better."
David walked over to where Marcus and Ethan were, shaking his head. "How did those two get together?"
"He liked how she responded to his offers of legitimacy," Marcus sighed. "They're very cute together."
"They are," Ethan agreed. "One wonders how they managed to have three children with how delightfully sweet they are."
"Even sweet people can have kids," Marcus remind him, giving him a squeeze on the arm. "Even though they don't play fun games or tie each other down." Ethan smiled at him.
"Okay, more than I wanted to know," David noted, shaking his head quickly.
Dawn looked back at him. "Said who? I learned how to tie people down from Ray and he learned from a Mountie."
"Way more than I wanted to know," David noted, moving away before they contaminated him. He walked over to where Connor was getting some punch. "You okay?"
"Fine." He looked at Xander, then at David. "How does she do that? The changing thing?"
David smirked. "Trade secret."
"I can pounce you right here," he offered.
"I can't tell, Marcus will whoop my ass."
"Fine, I'll go get it out of Marcus," he said, strolling over there. He smiled at him. "How is the change affected?"
Marcus looked at him. "Magic," he said simply.
"Chaos," Ethan told him. "It's been going on now for years and I'm led to understand it's David's fault."
Connor, son of Angel, looked back at his pookie and grimaced. "Really? I didn't know he had magic."
"He doesn't. He's the one who made sure Xander learned how to be a proper lady," Dawn told him. She looked over as a car pulled up. "Looks like Tara couldn't get free without bringing the bitch." She causally strolled over to the car, pushing her sister against it. "The first time you say a word, I'm armed, Xander's armed, David's armed, Connor's armed, and Jigen's armed. Do not ruin this for Xander." Buffy looked stunned. "Got it?" She nodded quickly. "Good. You couldn't wait until the binding tonight?"
"I wanted to see him. We've got problems," Buffy told her. "There's someone attacking the slayers and killing them but we can't figure out who."
"So you show up during his wedding?"
"Wedding? Tara only said that she knew where he was at."
"That's fine, Buffy. Come with me and be quiet." She led her into the house and back into the back bedroom. "Stay here. Do not say a word. I'll try and get Xander to slip away soon, if not Ethan."
"Ethan's here?" she asked hopefully. "Does he know what happened to Giles?"
"I'll send Ethan in," she said, going to do that. She leaned up to hug him, whispering in his ear. "Buffy's desperate, she's in the back bedroom." He nodded, going to refill his punch and deal with her. Dawn gave David and Connor a look as they came over. "Tara's here and had to bring the blonde one with her."
"Really?" David asked dryly. "Why?"
"Someone's attacking slayers."
"Ah." David nodded, looking at his father. "I'll send him in." He went to tell him, touching him on the arm. "Dad, Buffy's here," he said quietly. "She came running for help."
"During the wedding?"
"I don't think anyone told her. She followed Tara."
"Damn." He headed into the house, going to help deal with this. He found Buffy crying on Ethan's shoulder. "She okay?"
"She just found out Giles had been turned," he said quietly. "We've got sixteen dead slayers and no idea how. An anonymous hitter in the dark."
"Wesley's back at the Hyperion."
"That is an excellent idea," Ethan agreed. "He is a warrior for the light." He pushed Buffy's head back. "We can send Wesley to you. He's atoned and they sent him back to finish his servitude."
She sniffled and nodded, grinning up at him. "Please. All I know is that I only feel it right before it happens. I know it's demonic but not what."
"Then he's best suited for it," Ethan admitted. "Come, I'll bring you with me." He created a portal and took her with him, walking into the hotel's lobby. "Wesley?" He came out of the kitchen. "She needs your help. She interrupted the reception."
"I didn't know. Tell Xander I said hi and congrats," she pleaded. He nodded and left the way he had came, closing it behind him so she couldn't come back.
"What's wrong, Buffy?" he asked calmly, looking her over.
"We've got sixteen slayers dead, a demonic entity that I only feel right before it hits, and another one due to be killed before we can make it home tonight." He nodded, and she relaxed. He knew what he was doing. "Did you know Spike turned Giles?"
"I hadn't heard," he said sadly. "I'm sorry."
"Ethan has him but he doesn't let him get near Xander. Xander staked Spike."
"I'm sure." He led her into the kitchen, getting her some water and letting her wash off her face.
Back at the wedding, news was getting around to everyone who dealt with Buffy, but Xander. They were going to hide it from him for a while longer.
By the time they made it back to the new hideout down the hill from Goemon's house that night, Xander was fairly tipsy from the party after the binding ceremony and the men shared a look. "Wait?" Lupin suggested.
"Yeah, I think we should," Jigen agreed. "Let her remember it."
Xander giggled. "Wait for what?"
"For taking you and making you squeal," Lupin said, smiling at him as he kissed him gently. "You're a bit drunk, dear." He giggled again and clutched at him, kissing him desperately. "Shh, in the morning. We'll have you then and make it wonderful." He pouted but Jigen stepped up and took him, kissing him hard as he walked them into the bedroom. Xander pliantly let them strip him out of his second wedding outfit of silver leather pants and a tight black t-shirt, then let them put him into the bed so he could watch them strip each other.
Lupin got himself done faster and moved to help Jigen, getting an odd look. "You're moving slowly and I want to cuddle," he explained. "Xander could use a good few cuddles."
"Yup, sure can," Xander agreed happily. He held up his arms. "Cuddle me?"
"Sure," Jigen agreed, sliding into the bed on one side while Lupin got the other. They cuddled their husband between them, holding him as tightly as he wanted until he drifted off to sleep. Jigen glanced over the silver hair. "I've never seen him like this. Usually he's morose when he's drunk."
"It's a happy occasion, of course he's happy," Lupin pointed out with a smirk. "We'll make him happier in the morning."
Jigen nodded. "Definitely. Will I have to tie you down so I get him first?"
Lupin snorted. "Try." They glared at each other. "It's only fair, you got to be Sylvia's first," he pointed out, knowing Jigen was going to play dirty about this one.
"Yeah, and it was good too," he said smugly. "That's why you're gonna wake up tied to the bed." He pulled Xander closer, letting his little space heater spouse warm him up too. "Night, Lupin."
"Night, Jigen. Night, Xander." Xander flopped a hand around and pulled him closer to hold him. "You sleep. We'll make tomorrow morning a wonderful thing." Xander mumbled and they ignored it. Drunk people often said funny things. They doubted there was really a pink rabbit in the corner with blood-dripping fangs. It must be his imagination.
To part 16
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