All Together Now....
Xander looked at the kids. They were all healthy now and wondering what to do with each other. Ishi had been practicing and running drills for the girls, making his father very proud of him. Lotus had been doing what she could with Marcus and to help make sure everything was stable. Lupin and Jigen had went over everything in his accounts with Murami and she was really impressed with his collections. Zenigata had been put on suspension pending the investigation but they had written a very nice note about how Inspector Zenigata had not only not been aware they had been trying to search the wrong residence, but also that he had acted to save life by pulling back because Lavelle would have hurt the rest of them without any qualms in the least. Lupin was going through everything with Melissa and Arsene's help to figure out what was supposed to have been cashed in, with Sierra watching just to make sure nothing too precious to her father was gotten rid of since she played with his jewelry collections the most.
"You know, I just had a thought," Xander admitted. "The stuff in the basement in London."
"Is in the back of the warehouse," Lupin admitted. "They consolidated."
"Then I'm not really *enamored* of that tool chest, but I want the sapphires and rubies. I had something special planned for them."
Lupin looked at him. "Are you sure, Xan?" Xander nodded. "Then we'll do that. You know, we could almost put the diamond market on the rocks with what you've got."
"Most of it's legitimate if you want to be technical about it. I've got the bill of sale around here somewhere," Xander admitted, looking at all the stacks of things. "Plus some really ugly paintings. I never really liked them, I took them to get bad taste out of the world."
"So I can tell," Lupin agreed, looking at one painting of a golden phoenix. He looked at Xander, who was staring at something else. He reached over and tapped the painting, making the thing on it wake up and fluff itself up before flying off to go find some food. "Thought so," he said dryly.
"Baby hungry?" Sierra said through her thumb.
"Probably," Lupin agreed dryly. "Quit doing that."
"Excuse me?" Lupin said, sounding shocked. His daughter had just talked back to him! When did this start! "Remove your thumb from your mouth, young lady, and do not backtalk me again."
Xander gave her a look. "I know it's comforting but hug us instead, Sierra."
"Fine," she sighed, letting it go and hugging him. "I need new crocheting stuff, daddy."
"Hey, not an issue. If we don't have some yarn around here somewhere, we can send you out with your auntie later and she can help you get some."
"Okay. You know I like to think with my hands doing something."
"That doesn't excuse the backtalk," Lupin said firmly. Ethan appeared. "You're probably the cause of it."
"She's a Lupin, Lupin, of course she's got a smart mouth," Ethan said with a small smirk. He smiled down at her. "Do you feel better now?" She nodded. "Good. The bird is rather ravenous and I'm sure you could help if you wanted." She headed that way since her father was sitting right there and they could ask him questions. "Now, what's this about being broke?"
"More like I have money set aside in hard assets," Xander admitted, waving a hand. "Six houses worth of my collections."
"Dear God, don't they make drugs for that?" Xander pinched him. "Ow! Heathen! See if I bring you good news ever again." He looked down at Lupin. "You'll want to call your fence in Paris. He's apparently looking for some things." He waved a hand. "I'm sure you have some somewhere since it was brought to my attention by Ripper." He rolled his eyes. "Having them both around is driving me insane."
"Then stake the living one," Xander suggested. "Or have him turn himself."
"Good point," Ethan agreed, rolling his eyes. "I haven't met a vampire yet that was squeamish in the bedroom, Spike being that way as well. I saved the original Ripper from him and the new Ripper purred and licked him until he laughed and patted him on the back. Now they want to do a foursome."
"Ethan, children," Lupin said firmly.
"What's a foursome?" Arsene asked. "Is that like four people having sex?"
Xander looked at her. "No more tv for you. Not even PBS. How you can learn dirty things watching Teletubbies and Barney I'm not sure but I'd almost rather have you watching naughty stuff instead." He looked at Lupin. "She's your daughter."
"Yeah, she is," he said proudly. He patted her on the head. "You can find that out for yourself when you're older, daughter."
"Daddy, boys are icky," she said patiently.
"Fathers are boys," Ethan informed her. "The same as I am." She looked hurt and shocked, sniffling a bit. "The same as mothers are girls. They've simply grown up." He glanced down at Xander. "Most of the time."
"See if you ever get laid again by me," Xander hissed, pinching him again.
"Xander, I'm not sharing you with him," Lupin reminded him.
Xander looked at his left hand, then held it up. "Do I see a ring?" Lupin sighed and shook his head. "Then that's your thing. You never said we were exclusive. You keep pushing me at people to wear me out. You can't have it both ways."
"I'd rather have you both ways," Lupin leered.
"I'm tired of tits, Lupin. It's gonna be a while. I warned you when I got knocked up with Sarah and Fred that it'd take a while." Lupin nodded, looking hurt. "It doesn't mean we can't do other things, dear."
"Yeah, but I miss that multiple thing you had going."
"Hey, get fixed. Make me a happy woman," Xander reminded him. "There shall be no more from this body."
"Daddy, if I ever have babies will I have a litter like Mommy did?" Melissa asked. Everyone stared at her. "The kitty had a litter with two."
"For humans, a litter is four or more, daughter, and if you do, we'll make sure you don't go insane."
"The vast majority of births are single births, Melissa," Ethan said impatiently. "Why Xander has twins I'm not sure."
"I thought it was the spell," Xander told him. "Most bang for the buck thing."
"No, then you would have had litters of babies. You've been like bunnies." He looked around again. "What is all this?"
"Paintings, jewels, jewelry, clothes, comic collection, anime collection, porn collection, kimono collection," Xander recited.
"Dear lord, woman, you need a house just to store all this crap in."
"I do not and I'm not a woman at the moment, thank you," Xander said, looking hurt. "Mean bastard."
"I thought mood swings went away when you took off the choker," Arsene said worriedly. "Are you okay, daddy?" Xander nodded and hugged her. "Okay, as long as you're okay."
"It's me and I've brought a Civil Servant," Murami called.
"Again?" Lupin called back. "Are you hinting that one of us should take one as a love slave or something?"
"No!" She walked back to where they were. "I'm not suggesting any such thing. This one is over business taxes and things." Xander opened his mouth. "Behave, young man, or I'll paddle you."
"Yes, ma'am," he said meekly. She would and he wouldn't be able to stop her.
"Thank you." She looked at Ethan. "It's handy being older than most of them."
"I'm older than you," Lupin reminded her dryly, smirking at her.
"Not mentally you're not." Lupin winced but Ethan laughed so she patted him on the back. "Now then, this nice man wanted to know why you bought the company."
Xander looked at him and said in flawless Japanese. "Because I love anime. It's how I learned most of your culture, language, and demonic entities." The man looked stunned so he grinned. "Sorry, you've caught us at a bad time. Our ready cash is presently being used at the moment if this is a bribe situation. You'd have to come back in a month."
"How are you expecting to pay salaries?" the civil servant demanded.
"There should be enough within the company to do that, right, Murami?" She nodded. "Then it's not a problem this payday?"
"Not in the least, Xander," she agreed. "I've already worked that out with them and nothing's wrong with what's going on or what's planned as long as you get some capital to put in soon."
"Yeah, give me two weeks," he agreed, waving a hand. "This stuff was all in storage and we're going through it now."
"Some of those are very bad fakes," the civil servant noted.
"Gee, 'cause they're the real ones, I've had them authenticated," Xander quipped. "Anything else, sir?" He shook his head. "Then you can come back in a month when everything's running smoothly. This sudden move has screwed a great many things up. Go, now." The man stomped out. Marcus helpfully erased the man's memories down to where he only remembered his name, his address, and his wife's name. Then he sent him on his way. "That wasn't nice," Xander called.
"Oh, well," Marcus called back. "Ethan, come watch. Lotus is floating a branch now and making it sprout." Ethan smirked as he followed him.
Lupin looked at Murami. "Didn't we promise you a pay raise?"
"Well, yes, but I can wait until next year, when things are running smoothly again." She smiled at Xander. "I'll try to keep them away but he demanded an immediate interview or he would start proceedings to shut down the company." She shrugged, getting down to help sort out stones. "This one, Xander?"
"No, not that pile. The other one, Murami." She nodded, moving them aside so she could help on the other one. "Thanks." Xander put another stone into the 'keep' pile and four more into the 'going' pile. "Are you sure we can get rid of all this easily?"
"Yeah, not an issue," Lupin agreed. "Easy as calling some buyers. I've got six or seven in mind and they can split it up among them." He added more stones to the 'going' pile, letting Xander pick from the higher-end stones. Another one was taken out and put aside, probably for its color. "Okay, so I'll save most of the colored ones for you. Do you like those?" Xander looked at them then put four into the pile keeping one he liked the cut on. "How did you get all these?"
"Buyer's show in New York ten years ago, that time," Xander said quietly. "Most were bought but a few weren't legal."
"You bad collecting genius you," Murami teased, pinching him on the cheek. "I'm glad to know that I helped you a lot in that time, Xander."
"Yup, you headed over a lot of stuff that wasn't the totally legit stuff," he agreed with a small grin. "I'm going to need to save the security company at the end of this year," he sighed as he lost his smile. He had counted on them for a lot of things. "Or else they'll go under and they were really good guys."
"Oh, we will," Murami promised. "You do still have *some* money. You're not down to watching each penny yet, just each hundred." She patted him on the back. "It'll be fine, Xander."
"I know, and that's why I got all this, just in case." He looked at the stacks of things that still needed to be sold. "Can we stop on the gems for now? They're easier to carry."
"Sure," Lupin agreed, loading the rest back into the shoe box they had been pulling from. The 'keep' pile went back in the drawer and the tool chest was relocked so none of the kids got any ideas, especially not Arsene. "Okay, girls, for helping you get *one* stone each." Melissa picked a purple one, Arsene picked a pink one, and Sierra came back to pick a pretty clear one. The rest were loaded up and tied in a bag so they could be looked over by his people. "Xander, are there *any* artworks you *have* to keep?"
"Two," he admitted, looking them over. He pulled out the two he liked and added a third that had always intrigued him. "Just those. The statues can go. We can work on the rest later, once things are more cleared out."
"Done," Jigen agreed as he joined them. "The fences are here."
"Wonderful," Lupin said tiredly. "Murami?" He helped her up. "Why don't you spend some time with Arsene and tell her about the will?" She nodded, taking the girls to the kitchen and then taking Arsene to the office to chat with her to make sure she was a proper heir. "Bring 'em in, Jigen." The fences came in, five of the seven he knew. "Guys, it's odd, but Lavelle did this stuff through time."
"And usually put fakes in the real one's place," Lavelle offered tiredly. "The paintings, the statues, and that bag of gems for now, guys. There's a shoebox full we haven't gotten to go through yet." The fences looked stunned and walked around. "Not those three," he said quickly, moving his ones out of the way. "Nothing past the artwork either. Most of that is personal stuff from the houses I used to have."
"Long, strange story, but let's say I slipped realities and went sideways," Xander offered.
"So the paintings could be duplicates?"
"I have no idea," Xander admitted. You had to be honest with the fences or you'd be without them and then stuck with whatever you had stolen. Fences were a law unto themselves. "I'll leave that up to you to deal with."
The fences nodded, picking out the things they liked. The stones were gone over. Most of them were lower end stones but the prettier ones would still go and some people would want them because Lavelle had stolen them.
"Any more stones coming?"
Xander opened the shoebox to show them. "We've got to go through them for the things I *really* liked."
"Just the colored ones?"
"The colored, the exceptionally pretty ones, and things to gift the girls with as they get older." The fences took the box, moving through it quickly. They gave Xander back the box with the colored stones and the ones he had said he wanted. Xander shifted through them, handing over three-quarters of what was in there. They smiled in unison. "I know it's a lot, but we can't move all this, guys."
"Oh, we understand fully," one of the fences told him. "We'll hold an auction or three." He pulled out a phone and called someone. "Is there a loading door?" Xander pointed it out and handed over the control. "Thank you, sir." He had a truck back up and things were put in for his part of them, and he listed each thing as it went onto the truck. The others did the same thing. "Two days," he offered. They disappeared with their trucks.
"Ten percent, like usual," the last one assured him, waving as he left. He closed the door then tossed in the control as it worked its way lower. "Thank you!"
"They make a great profit off us," Lupin said, holding Lavelle close. "I'm proud of you for getting rid of so much of it." Xander opened a trunk and he laughed. "No wonder. Put your favorite ones in there, Xan."
"I can't lift it as is." He dropped the ones he liked in there then reloaded the shoebox. "When should they come begging with special requests?"
"Within a day of the catalog being announced." He patted him on the back, leading him out to the kitchen to get him something to eat. "Here, you need it. You didn't sleep well last night."
"Thanks. I had another of those nightmares but for some reason I don't think this one will come true." He ate a bite of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "I had a dream that Gramps had to catch me, his boss made him, and that they put me on trial for something minor. It only took a few weeks but I managed to run the cellblock and get out of it because it was self-defense."
"If it happens, we'll protect you," Lupin promised, giving him a short hug. "Okay, let's deal with the rest of that stuff. The kimono collection?"
"I need to find a place to show off," Xander agreed. "The London house would have been perfect but it's not renovated yet." He ate another bite. "We'll have to conference with the contractors soon. They had the most problem with the concept of padding the floor and the computers going in up top."
"Let us, Xander. We liked that one, even though it had a ton of marble."
"Sorry, I was in a marble mood," he said tiredly, looking at him. "I don't know why."
"Let's put you down for a nap. It's already been a long day for you." He tucked Xander into bed then went to dig around in the boxes and trunks. Some of this he hadn't seen before. He found Jigen already in there, staring at the trunk of gems. "Those are his."
"No shit." Jigen closed it and locked it. "I found Arsene trying to break the lock."
"They're getting earrings for when they're pierced." He had pitched his voice loud enough for the girls waiting for them to leave to hear. "Unless they try to hurt their father's things." The kids trooped out, going to play on the laptop they had found. They had gotten away from all the chat areas and were playing the games. "Thank you." He looked at Jigen again. "I know some of it, but how much of this is comics, anime, and kimonos?"
"All the kimonos and clothes are against the east wall," Jigen said, pointing them out. "All the furnishings are on the west wall. The rest was just piled together."
"Hey, I'm impressed that he got some of it sorted out. This is an atrocious amount of stuff."
"Girl clothes, boy clothes, kimonos, fighting clothes," Jigen ticked off. He walked over, finding the edge of the clothing section. "Plus our stuff, Goemon's stuff, Fujiko's stuff, and the rest of the kids' stuff."
"That makes more sense," Lupin admitted. "We're going to have to get them to come clean things out. There's no reason for all of this." He opened a trunk and paused to stare at the ballgowns. "Why did she buy this?"
Jigen looked at it, then at him. "For work?"
"She'd look stunning but we don't need that many gowns," Lupin decided. "Let's sort by person. Fujiko can go through hers and Goemon can go through his. We can go through ours and then help the kids."
"Xander's always been big on charity," Jigen pointed out.
"And we'll be doing that, except for the ballgowns. Those we'll give to a consignment shop or something." He shrugged and sat down, sorting through the boxes and trunks until the various people's things were in their own stacks. "Goemon owns three boxes of clothes?" Lupin asked Jigen, giving him a confused look.
"Apparently," Jigen agreed. He shrugged. "Who knows. Goemon!" Goemon stuck his head in. "We're working on the clothing stuff. Come paw through yours to pick out what you want to keep."
"Of course. Where is my wife's stack?" The second largest stack was pointed out, but Xander's far eclipsed her by three times. "The other is Xander's?"
"Male and female clothes," Jigen agreed dryly.
"Fujiko can look through those as well if she wants," Lupin admitted. "Once we get Xander to go through them." Xander padded out, giving him a hug. "Hey, sort through your clothes. Let's try for reasonable, okay?"
"Most of them were presents and things that had to happen. I used to do a lot of the social circuit." He wandered over, pulling open the first box. It was kimonos so it was automatically put aside. "You couldn't sort out my collection?"
"Sorry," Jigen offered. "Can you pare that down too?" Xander gave him a dirty look. "Never mind."
"I've got some coming in to Paris too," Xander admitted. "A new Inuyasha outfit and two new regular male kimonos since most of mine are female." He continued to work, separating out things for his pleasure. "Why did I not clean out my closet like I had sworn to?" he complained. Most of the gowns went into the 'going' pile but six were kept.
"Do you need that many?"
"Sorry," Lupin said sheepishly. He had no idea what women needed in clothes to be high society. Men only needed a tux or two. Shoes were added to the pile as well. In the end, Xander got his stack down to what Fujiko's was, but that was with his collection and both gender's clothing. Lupin looked at it, then at Xander. "You could have kept some things."
"I did. I kept the suits I liked. I kept the female clothes I liked. I kept the workout clothes. I did ditch the maternity clothes so Fujiko can look those over if she wants. Goemon, are you going to do that romantic picnic on the roof you had planned? If so, bring an umbrella just in case," she said, giving him a long look. He nodded, accepting that advice. He did need to spoil his wife. Xander levitated the first box up and put it in a corner, then added the others to it. He roped it off as his things and put his name on it. "There." He dusted himself off as he stood up. "What else am I going through?"
"Wow, are we having a yard sale?" Fujiko asked as she waddled in.
"No, this was all our stuff from then," Xander told her. "We're going through our clothes for now to see what we want to keep." He saw one bag and picked it up, then carefully placed it in his pile, then he sat down to fold things and organize the 'going' pile to make sure he hadn't thrown out anything else that he wanted. Two more things were sent over to his section and then Fujiko got to go through the maternity clothes. Two of her seven boxes landed in the 'going' pile as well but he shamelessly stole the kimonos for his own collection. He grinned at her. "Sue me, I like the things."
"That's fine. Have fun with them. I hate wearing kimonos."
"They were your maternity stuff with Lotus."
"I know, but I still hate wearing them," she said firmly. She looked at her big, strong husband and grinned. "Can you move the rest to our room?"
"Fine," he agreed, taking them to their closet. He would help her weed out the things later. She brought in the maternity clothes she liked, and two gowns that would look stunning on her. "Where were you wearing those?"
"Dinner and theater?" she offered.
"How about a picnic on the roof tonight?" he asked softly, smiling at her. She blushed and nodded. "Thank you, Fujiko." He helped her hang everything up, then offered to get them more suitcases. She kissed him on the cheek. He went to get his things, coming back to put them up as well. He had no idea why he had such a formal kimono, or three of them even, but he did. One he remembered was Xander's but he had given it to him. "I wonder if he wants it back."
"Probably not." She pushed him onto the bed and climbed on top of him, smirking down at him. "Time to pet the baby."
He reached up to stroke her stomach. "I have no fonder desire, wife."
Two days later, Lupin looked around the warehouse. It was much cleaner. Three-quarters of everything was gone. The other cats had been found in a box and were being pampered by Lotus, their acknowledged mother. Goemon and Xander were off looking at the house they had bought before to see if they still wanted it or if they wanted something bigger now that there were more children. Fujiko was resting on the couch watching Lotus take care of the cats. Jigen was doing a crossword with their cat on his lap to help. Lupin was in charge of letting the fences take the other stuff out of there. That would clean out most everything. He was also guarding Xander's kimono collection because one of them had been asked if he was getting rid of certain pieces but Xander was being firm about keeping them all. Xander had moved all his collections to a specially guarded warehouse in Europe with Murami's support and it was quite safe there. With a few notable exceptions, one of which he had worn to look at the new house. The fences finally left after giving him lists and the doors were shut. The warehouse was practically empty. He turned and found Zenigata behind him. "I knew we should have taken it from you," he said dryly.
"Thieves yard sale?"
"More or less. Xander's excess collections. Minus his kimonos, porn, anime, comics, and jewelry. Why?"
"Anything in there that can be proven to be from here?"
"No, we got rid of all that stuff recently. Why?"
"Because I have a warrant and I have no desire to be killed today." He presented it. "I'm supposed to be looking for loose gems." Lupin sighed and shook his head. "Certain ones."
"They came from then, Pops. Even if they're the same, they're duplicates."
"I know, but still. Where are they? So I can leave quicker. Morgan's outside flirting with Lotus again."
"He is, but an older woman will do him some good." He sighed and looked around, heading for the trunks in Xander's section. He found the trunk with the jewels and gasped, looking stunned. He finally rubbed his chest a bit and moaned. "I don't think I can do this."
"Xander's a collector," Lupin agreed. He looked at the ashen man and grabbed his cellphone, using the address on the warrant for the dispatcher. "This is 22 Old Heron Way. We have a cop in here having a heart attack. Yes, I'm quite sure. He saw my husband's collection and went pale, grabbed his chest, and moaned in pain. He's still doing it." He hung up and came over to help the older man. "Jigen!" Jigen came jogging in with the cat on his hat. "Cute. He's having a heart attack. Clear the kids out of harm's way. Keep the cats inside. Lock this thing again." He got the man out to the couch and settled in while they waited. "Don't die on Dawn, all right?"
"Never crossed my mind," he admitted with a wince. "Damn, those hurt. I forgot how badly they hurt."
"Next time, remember your medicine," Fujiko said bitterly. "What happened?"
He handed over the warrant. "He's looking for those."
She went to look, coming up with four of them. Then she came out to present them. "However you want."
"I don't want," he moaned. "I don't want to die when Lavelle kills me."
She took them back and ripped up the warrant. "That's fine then," she said happily. "Retire soon, Pops. We don't want you to die." She winked and carried the things off to look at them with the kids. She was doing lessons in gem evaluation.
Lupin got the door, letting them come in. He kept two cats from running outside by tossing them into the kitchen and closing the door, then went to help them by giving the people Pop's gun and badge. They hurried him out. "It's his second or third one," he called after them.
"And you caused the other two," Zenigata called back. The door slammed shut.
Lupin looked around. "We need a better hideout now." He went to talk to his people online, maybe they'd have an idea. He was out of them at the moment. The suggestion of an abandoned castle in the desert got soundly turned down. They did not want Fujiko to deliver away from a hospital.
Xander answered the door later that night when more cops showed up. "Yes?" he said, lounging in their way.
"Sir, there was a warrant presented earlier to search for some gems that are missing."
"There was a search earlier? Jigen, was there a search warrant earlier?"
"I don't know," he called from the kitchen. "Lupin?"
Lupin came out of the back, wet from bath times. "What?"
"They said there was a warrant earlier and a search?"
"I think Fujiko had a mood swing on it," he said apologetically. "Zenigata didn't find what he was looking for before he had his heart attack."
"We still have to search, gentlemen." One of the cops tried to move inside. "Sir, a warrant was presented."
"Not to me, who is the owner. Giving a warrant to a pregnant woman is really dumb."
"She picked it up off the coffeetable," Lupin admitted. "Let 'em in. It'll only make 'em cranky otherwise. Can we hurry this up, I'm doing bath time tonight." The cop gave him stereo horrified looks. "Yes, I do like my children, thank you. Hurry up." He went back to the bathroom, letting Jigen handle this. He had more patience at the moment. "Hey, what did I tell you about trying to drown Sarah, Fred!" Xander moaned. "She's fine, just bubble covered," he called to the worried parent.
"Hurting her means you get to spend your whole life alone, Fred," Jigen called. Xander looked at him. "Twins are often closer than marriage."
"True," Xander agreed, following the cops into the warehouse to watch them look through the rest of the stored stuff. "That door's not ours," he said when someone tried to go through it. "That's where your original warrant went bad."
They groaned and dug through things, being careful not to destroy anything. Their boss had said to do this one by the book. Otherwise their lives would be forfeit to Lavelle and the rest of his gang. They found some jewels but nothing matched their warrant in size and description. One was held up so they could compare it. "That's a ruby?"
"It is," Xander agreed. "It's from a weak vein in India. It's fairly precious but I bought it last year as a present for the kids."
"Oh." They put it back and the trunk was closed once everything was back in there. "Thank you, sir."
"The warrant is still good for another two days, sir," the other cop reminded him.
"That's fine. We'll be here taking care of the kids who have the flu and the pregnant woman." One of the younger twins ran out and shouted 'boo' at the men, making them jump, then she cackled. "Sarah," he said fondly, picking her up to hug her. "That was very good. Nice job, daughter." He kissed her on the cheek. "Shouldn't you be wearing clothes?"
"Fur!" she said happily.
"No, you don't need fur. You have body hair for that." He put her down and patted her on the butt. "Clothes, no fur. Now please." She ran off to do that for him, still smiling. "As you can see, it's never dull."
"Oh." The cops nodded in unison then walked through the group heading in to eat dinner. One of the girls looked at him and glared, so they walked faster. They had been briefed on which child was which of the older ones.
Arsene looked at her father and smiled. "Daddy, we need to go back to Disney since we didn't get to do that here. I'll do better this time and won't get caught shoplifting."
"I'd appreciate that," Lupin agreed. "We'll see, kids." They cheered and he grinned at the cops. "They're such mini-uses some days."
The cops nodded and got out of there. That was scary. Those children were unnatural and the fathers were happy to be raising such little criminals. One of the girls opened the door and caught the cat that had escaped with them, grinning at them. "You know, two of us are going to be good cops," she told him. "I'm going to working in a Crime Scene unit when I grow up and my sister's going to be in Interpol." She wiggled her fingers and closed the doors. The cops looked at each other and decided to call the Commissioner to warn him what they had seen. A miniature Lavelle or his gang in Interpol would warp the system horribly. Now they knew why Lupin had decided to let someone else take over his gang. Lavelle was scary and had them wrapped around his fingers.
Jigen opened up the paper the next morning, looking at the 'Ten Most Wanted Get a New Name' article. He groaned and folded the paper. Then he looked at Lupin. "When did we get a name change?" he asked conversationally. Lupin looked confused, pouring himself some more coffee before taking the paper to read. Jigen counted down until Lupin spluttered his coffee out his nose. He handed over a napkin. "Not that I mind, boss, but when did we change the name?"
"We haven't," Lupin said, glancing toward the bedrooms. "Xander!"
"Coming!" He walked out, taking the held-out paper. Then his mouth opened and he let out a whining noise before grabbing the phone and sitting on the couch, holding his head as he dialed. "Put on the Commissioner. It's Lavelle, bitch, put me on with him before I have a fucking heart attack of my own. I haven't even got to have coffee yet this morning. Thank you." He accepted Lupin's coffee with a weak smile. "I didn't ask for this." The other end of the phone had a deep male voice come across it. "Listen, fuckwit. I did not take over Lupin's gang. I work for Lupin, not the other way around. Lupin is still in charge of his happy little family and I do not run a syndicate. You're going to get me picked on by the other thieves and hitters! You need to fix this shit! I refuse to be picked on because you decided I'm scarier! I might be, but I still work for Lupin! I work for him so he doesn't have to be as scary and he can be brilliant again! Yes, it's me," he snapped, his eyes narrowing. "Your article was insulting and horrifying. I'll have nightmares because you named me the head of our gang and us a syndicate. Do you think we keep an office and run part of the world from it? If I did, there'd be a lot of changes going on. There'd be no more child molesters in the world for one thing and all kids would have access to food. Trust me, I do not run a syndicate. I work for Lupin. I like working for Lupin and you're going to get me picked on by my lovers for this. Do you think I care that I'm the scary one? Shit, man, I'm more scared of Goemon than Jigen but that doesn't mean he runs the gang, and we're still a gang, thank you, not a syndicate. We don't need that sort of stress, we have children for that." He hung up and 'eeped' when someone hugged him.
"It's okay, Auntie, we still love you," Ishi promised, giving him a squeeze.
"Thanks, Ishi, I love you guys too." He pulled him into his lap to cuddle. "You're a great kid and just as comforting as your daddy. Here, take the paper in there so he's warned if I suddenly start to rant again." Ishi grinned and went to surprise his father again. Xander looked at his lovers, who had a serious look on their faces. "I didn't ask for that. Like some convention memories, I certainly didn't ask for that or want that. I don't run the gang, I know I don't. I refuse to run things like that. You guys know me better than that." Jigen cracked and started to laugh. "Asshole." He threw a pillow at them then stretched out on the couch. "I left Alex and Kenji on our bed." Lupin went to help the kids off the bed before they suffocated in the bedding. Both babies cooed as he carried them out. "Hey, guys. Your mommy got a bad shock today," he cooed as he took them to hold. "Hug the mommy, babies, we need it." They cooed and baby babbled at him, happy to be loved and held.
"The mommy?" Fujiko said dryly as she walked out.
"I was for one of them and the stand-in for the other," Xander pointed out. "I don't mind. I love the kids. They make me happy and calm."
"I can tell by the way you're vibrating," Fujiko said dryly, taking her son. "Come on, Kenji. Let's go back to bed with the father." Kenji kicked and babbled at her, but she carried him held away from her body until Goemon took him. "Xander calls himself the mommy."
"She was," he agreed. "She filled in a great number of times and is the acknowledged mother of the rest of the horde. Lotus and Ishi occasionally call her such as well." He cuddled his youngest son, patting him gently until he belched. "That was loud," he said, patting him some more. "Have more in there?" Kenji latched onto his nose and tried to suckle. "That's not a nipple, son. I know it sticks out but it's not a nipple."
Fujiko backed away from them. "I'm not breastfeeding. I refuse!" She ran away before he got any ideas. "He wants me to odd and sickening things."
Xander raised his head. "Breastfeeding makes you feel really close to the baby and it makes them feel loved and wanted. It's not strange or odd, Fujiko. I enjoyed doing it."
"Then you put back on that choker and go right ahead," she suggested hotly. "You can even have Kenji, because I'm not doing that with any of mine."
"So you won't give them strong immune systems, give them love and care, or make them feel comforted and loved?" Jigen asked. "Does Goemon know this?"
"Unless you're going to tie me down, I don't care," she said, spinning to look at him. "I'm not stretching my body out any farther than it already is. It's bad enough I'll have to have a tummy tuck to get rid of my stomach."
"Simple exercise fixes most of that," Xander said patiently. "You always slimmed down before within weeks." She glared at him. "You did. We have pictures in the warehouse if you wanted to see."
"No, thank you," she said icily. She stomped into the bathroom and slammed the door.
"Auntie, I have to use it," Sierra whined.
"Go use mine, guys," Xander called. "She needs a few minutes alone." They nodded, going to use their bathroom. "I guess I could but I'm not sure if I'm lactating or not."
"You've been lactating now for three years, Xan, we weren't sure you'd ever stop," Jigen offered.
Xander thought about it then nodded. "Just for this. Not for sex." Lupin nodded, going to retrieve his choker for him. When it came out in Goemon's hands, he took it and put it on himself, becoming Sylvia. "Hey, Kenji." She scratched her nipple. "Yeah, I'm still going. Here, latch on, little guy. Goemon, can you get Alex too? I feel so full I could breastfeed them all." She rolled onto her side, letting the baby latch on that way. It was a bit more comfy for both of them. Kenji cooed and kicked a bit but settled in to happily suck his breakfast down. "I know, I taste much better than that formula nastiness we've been giving you."
He pulled off to breathe and dove back in again, making the adults watching laugh. He didn't care, he was having a great meal. When he started to get sleepy, he was pulled away and allowed to suck on his father's finger until he drifted off, then his buddy was put onto the other nipple and allowed to eat too. That was a great mommy.
Fujiko came out, looking disgusted as they watched. "Do you have to do that in plain sight? Won't that warp the kids?"
"No," Xander laughed. "Why would it? People did it this way for centuries. It's only been in the last fifty years that there's been formula. Besides, it's better for them and the kids all know they did the same thing. Ishi sometimes scowls at me for it but he usually relents after a moment when he realizes that it's good for the babies to eat milk instead of formula."
"Whatever," she said, shuddering with disgust. "I'll let you do ...that. You can do mine if you want." She wandered off to be repulsed in private. "Ishi?" He walked into her room. "Do you kids really watch her do that?"
"At first it took a few days to get used to it, then she milked a few drops out for us to taste. The girls got this goofy grin, apparently they remembered it. I decided it was what was right and natural so it was good enough for my baby brother when you...left us." He smiled at his father as he walked in with Kenji. "Is he happier now?"
"Much. Xander is very generous to do that for him. Do you watch?"
"No. The sight of breasts does nothing for me yet, Father. I'm not that far into puberty yet."
"That's fine. When you are, we will talk some more. I know you are smart enough not to stare at your aunt while she feeds the babies."
"Yes, father. It is a natural function, not something worthy of scrutiny. Am I learning anything new today?"
"Yes, son, I was going to start you on some basics of swordplay today. Warm up and do the normal katas you do each morning and then we will work together before lunch." His son hugged him and hurried off to do that. "You gave me the son I had already dreamed of," he said, kissing her gently. "Thank you, Fujiko. He is as much of a delight to me as you are as my wife." He kissed her again and laid there to hold his youngest son.
"Why can't I have kids like me?" she asked.
Goemon looked at her. "If you want to have another daughter after this one, we can," he offered. "Lotus is already very focused on the life and training she must lead. Though, if you looked, I believe that Arsene is quite a lot like you."
"No, she's not. She's like Xander!"
"That is reasonable, he raised her," Goemon said gently. He wanted to diffuse this temper tantrum before it got worse and she upset herself and the baby. "You have a lot of influence in their lives and the girls do look to you for things, like clothing advice."
"Which Lupin does for them," she said bitterly. "He dresses them better than I could."
"Lupin has studied women for many years," Goemon said dryly, smirking at her. "He would know what women look good in."
"Point," she said miserably. "I feel like I'm useless here, Goemon, and you're not helping."
"The cure to that is to help in their upbringing. You haven't changed a diaper yet. You haven't helped feed any of them. The older ones have learned from you but you felt detached from them. The rest of us are like one large family and you have not allowed yourself to be included or to help them. If you would, I'm sure you'd find much more purpose in having a child."
"I'm one of those mothers who's really happy that nannies were invented," she reminded him.
"Then it is your own fault when you feel cut off from your children. If they don't get to know you then they won't come to you for things. How would they know what you could help them with?" he asked reasonably. She groaned and he stroked her stomach. "It's fine, Fujiko. I'm sure this is part of the pregnancy. Some mothers nest, you want to line your nest with pretty things."
"I am not cleaning anything," she said firmly.
"We all do some chores," Lupin said from the doorway. "He awake? Xan said she's got a bit left if he wanted to finish it off for her. If not, we're taking her into the bedroom and helping her clean up."
Goemon handed over his son. "He probably could use it. Thank her for me."
"Not an issue, Goemon. You know we love you enough to trust you with what's ours. Just like we did in Geneva."
Goemon caught the clue Lupin was offering and nodded. "Let me know what my duties today will be. I've got lessons planned with Ishi. He'll be starting swordplay today."
"Congrats, man. We should mark this day with a present," Lupin said happily. "It's a big step forward in his training." He carried Kenji out. "Here's the kitten."
Lotus looked over. "The kitties not eat from the mommy, Uncle," she scolded, scowling at him. "That wouldn't be right."
"Sweetheart, Morris was a cat on the 9-Lives commercials for ages," Xander explained.
"Oh." She grinned. "Sorry, Uncle."
"No, you're right, the real cats shouldn't try to drink off her," he agreed, patting her on the head. "Go easy on your mom today, okay? She's feeling pitiful again."
"Sure, Uncle. Will she mind me calling the Auntie mommy?"
"She might," he admitted. "You might want to explain that to her. I don't know, pregnant women are often funny that way, Lotus. Now, have you checked over the plants today?" She shook her head. "Why don't you do that while your brother hogs your father all morning then you can have him this afternoon." She nodded, getting up to do that, brining her can of soda with her. "Good girl, Lotus, I knew we could count on you." He smiled at Goemon as he came out. "I've freed all morning for you to work with Ishi. You'll have her this afternoon."
"Thank you," Goemon agreed. "Did she just call Xander the Mother?" Lupin nodded. "Fujiko heard," he groaned. "I'll keep her in our room today. You try to shield Lotus." He went back to tuck Fujiko in, then went to work with his son. "Be careful of your mother's feelings, son. She is quite upset because she heard Lotus calling Xander the mother."
"It happens, Father. She was the mother that we went to. We've always thought of her as a second mother. Our mother is great, but she's not the one you go to when you have a skinned knee or a bruise."
"She did not have a mother that was that involved," Goemon offered.
"Neither did Xander and he manages most of the time to make it seem like there's no need for a father at all."
"Yes, but your Aunt Xander had the desire to be a parent, it has been something she wanted her whole life, Ishi. She dreamed of it and longed for children of her own. I knew it was my duty but I wasn't that anxious to have one until you came to be. Then I found all manner of things that I wanted to share with you and to teach you. Xander was the one who bought the baby magazines and I took them from her," he admitted.
"Then Lotus came and Mommy was really overwhelmed and the Auntie stepped in to help even more," Ishi agreed. "There are days when I wish Mother had wanted to be more of a part of our lives, Father, but I'm happy with how I was raised. I never lacked for attention. I never lacked for love. I also never lacked for food, clothes, or housing. You and the other uncles have been wonderful in helping raise us. You've all taught us things, but I don't believe I've learned much from her."
"Then you should do your meditation on that today, son. Sometimes you learn by example, sometimes by lack of example. She has always been the more delicate woman around you. You would not know how to treat Bix if you hadn't been trained that way by your mother."
"While that might be true, my body still yearns for her, father," he sighed.
"I know, son, and we will continue to work on that urge until you can control it as I have until my marriage."
"Yes, Father. Do I really get to learn how to work with your sword today?"
"Today we will learn with practice blades but I will let you hold it and teach you how to clean it, son," he said fondly. "You will not get my sword until I retire." Ishi nodded, that made sense. "Then let us work on the first thing. Finding a practice blade is most important. Especially when your balance will soon be off due to growth spurts."
Fujiko walked out and sat across from Xander at the table. "I hate you."
"Why?" Xander asked tolerantly.
"Because you took my place. Because you did all the things I wanted to do with my kids. You're always *there*, like some leech. Can't you play with your own."
"Fujiko, of course I was there. You weren't there. I'm part of the group and I've been there the whole time. The same as I stepped in when you were too tired because you were carrying Lotus and took care of Ishi because Goemon was working. The same as I took care of Lotus while you were recovering from the birth. Nothing stopped you from asking to do some of the diaper changing and feeding."
"Did you breastfeed them too?" she asked bitterly.
"How could I have, Fujiko? Think about it, I didn't have the twins until after Lotus was ten months old. By then she was weaned off you. You breastfed Lotus all by yourself."
"Because you could never find any formula."
"Sure, blame me because none of the shops around the station had any," Xander said sarcastically. He stood up. "Think about it, Fujiko, even when I was in male form I did more of it because you weren't there. There's no blame on me for stepping in when no one else was around. I'm sorry if it bothers you, but it bugged the shit out of me to be considered your nanny when I gave more of a damn about those kids than you did." He walked away to do something calming.
"Xander," Lupin said, pulling him into the office.
"I know, I shouldn't have yelled at her."
"Well, no, but putting it that way depresses her further, Xander. She's still confused about all this. She doesn't understand."
Xander looked at him and shook his head. "She's acting the same way she was before she died. Exactly the same way, Lupin. Like her life is running out and she's being bothered by being a mother. I've never minded being the stand-in mother, we both know that, but I'm not their nanny and she's still treating me like the hired help. I helped because I wanted to, not because I had to or because I got paid to." He walked out, putting on his choker and an outfit, then heading out to take a long walk. He needed some fresh air. Being female was good enough cover for him.
"How dare she get upset that I wasn't able to change diapers," Fujiko said shrilly. "It's not my job!"
"You're their mother," Jigen pointed out. "Even my mom changed diapers sometimes." Fujiko glared at him. "Seriously. Xander didn't have to help. We could have made you do it. We could have left you alone with those kids and taken Goemon to do jobs. We didn't because we liked the kids and Goemon. Lupin thought for sure that you'd be able to deal with it, that you'd suddenly change and become a good mother. Instead, Xander became an excellent mother to Ishi and Lotus long before we had the twins. They were pieces of cake compared to your two." She stomped off crying. "If the truth hurts, then you're looking at the world funny," he called after her.
"Jigen!" Lupin shouted. "Enough! She doesn't need it."
"And Xander did?"
"No," Lupin said calmly. "Xander didn't. Where is he?"
"He went out in the choker."
"Fuck me," Lupin sighed, looking up. "Why me? Goemon?" Goemon came out of the practice room. "Your wife laid into Xander for being the mother when she wasn't there. Xander and Jigen both pointed out how often they had to step in. Xander ran off for a few minutes privacy and your wife is in tears."
"I'll help Fujiko," he agreed, looking back at his son. "Stay in here and do those moves until they feel natural." He headed into his bedroom, finding his wife curled up in the bed. "Are you all right?"
"Why aren't you off chasing her?"
"Because I'm not married to her. If I had wanted her, I wouldn't have married you." Fujiko frowned at him. "I would have felt that there was someone better. I didn't. I married you because you fit me." He sat beside her. "The fact that you have not been the best and most attentive mother is something you can change if you wish. This is about the choices you have made that now you regret. Of course the children call her mother, she filled in when we weren't there. And now you've made her feel miserable for being a caring and generous soul who has taken in all of us when we needed it. She could have brushed us all off since they weren't her children and then where would our children be? Probably living with foster parents because I wasn't there during some of the times when you needed me most and you weren't able or willing to take care of them yourself." He raised her chin when she looked away from him. "None of that, Fujiko. We are lucky to have her help. She comforted the children and me when you died. Even though she was so ill she should have been in the hospital or at least in bed, she took care of me and our children, plus her men and her children. She didn't have to. She did it because it felt right to her." He wrapped her in his arms. "If you regret your decisions then do not make the same ones the next time you're faced with something. We have one last chance." He stroked her stomach. "I see nothing wrong with taking care of the baby if you're not willing. Xander, Marcus, Bix, and I have worked out arrangements so we can do everything necessary."
"She needs to go, Goemon."
"Both of them. You're not married to them."
"No, we hired Bix. She is our nanny and my distant cousin. Our son is also fascinated with her."
"Even more reason," she said firmly.
"She's fifteen, Fujiko. She is safe for him to think about. He understands this and it is showing him where he needs to work on his control. Or else he'll probably turn into the slut that Xander can be on occasion. Though he is admirable and never does so in front of the children." He shrugged. "Xander is his own person. One that is worthy of admiration. Bix is the same. She is very well trained and is very skilled as the nanny. She served the kitsune and broke our daughter out of her habit of pouting." She shook her head. "You've seen it returning?"
"That was playing, Fujiko. I'm sorry if you never got to do that. Our children do and I adore it that they do. Children should be fun and light hearted. Even our son, who has had to kill to defend his sisters, is still a child in many ways and I'm thankful that we've done so well with him that he can see that it was bad, yet necessary, and not let it scar him the way it does some." He nearly added that he had never seen Xander that enraged before or seen her go off on someone's organization and pick it apart person by person until they were all begging for mercy and clamoring to kill their boss for her. He shuddered at how they had done it, ripping chunks off him until he died. "If you want to bond with the children, show them what you do."
"I shop, Goemon. That's all I do anymore."
"No one said you couldn't work," he pointed out. "At least once you've delivered you can. All of us were going to go on jobs together as soon as this was over with. Lupin wanted to hog Xander for a bit so he could see what he does on his own. Marcus and I were going to take a trip to the assassin's academy to look it over for the son's future education. Lotus will never make a good enough one but the training will prevent her from being harmed."
"The girl doesn't like eating meat."
"She is a tender and generous soul who can feel the pain the meat went through before it died. I do not blame her for that and neither should you. She is what she is, Fujiko, and we cannot change her. We can only give her skills she'll need to survive and teach her what every child needs to know, no matter how special she is."
"Fine," she sighed, backing away from him. "I'll take Lotus shopping and we'll find Ishi some clothes too."
"Our son is growing," Goemon agreed, smiling at her. "He could use some new clothes. Take him this afternoon and then her tomorrow. I was going to work with her this afternoon anyway."
Ishi pushed the door open. "Forgive me for eavesdropping, parents, but I do need more gis as well, Father." Goemon nodded. "Thank you. Am I going with you to the assassin's academy?" Goemon nodded again, smirking at him. "Thank you, Father. Mother, where shall I escort you today?" he asked stiffly.
"The mall probably. Kids your size get more there than the fancier places."
"That's fine. Perhaps you could explain some womanly things I've wondered about?" She nodded. "Thank you. I have no idea why some women go odd each month." He rolled his eyes. "I hope the sister doesn't." He nodded at his father. "Are we done?"
"No, I'll be back there in a moment."
"It's nearly lunch, Dad," he whined.
"That's fine, we'll take up with everything tomorrow. Put up all the equipment after checking it and bring me my sword. We'll clean it tonight." Ishi nodded, handing it over carefully. "Thank you, son. Good job today."
"Thanks, daddy." He grinned and skipped out to eat. "Food, Uncle Jigen?" he asked plaintively.
"Yeah, you're about to the age where you'll be a bottomless pit," he agreed, ruffling the boy's hair. "Have fun?"
"It's not fun, it's training," he corrected, "but I did like learning it. Father is amazing with his sword." He sat down, watching as Jigen made sandwiches. "Can I have three?"
"You can have two and if you want another, you can make it and eat it all," Jigen told him. Ishi grinned at him. "Lotus, lunch, sweetheart." She and the others came running with Fred and Sarah coming out on Arsene and Melissa's backs. He noticed Sierra and Savannah looked pissed and sighed. "Okay, this afternoon. Arsene and Melissa, you two have lessons with whichever of Lupin and I are around. Lotus, you've got your dad. Ishi, you've got your mom and shopping." Arsene let out a whine. "Quit, now," he warned. "Sierra and Savannah, whichever of Lupin or I are here will take you out for a stroll and some shopping. Then we'll switch tomorrow." Fred gave him a look. "You and your sister will be with Bix. Got it?" Everyone nodded, digging into the plate of sandwiches. "Bix?" She came out of her room, looking like she had been crying. "You okay?" he asked quietly. She nodded. "Good. Can you handle the toddlers and younger?"
"Of course, Jigen." She gave him a hug. "Thank you for standing up for me," she whispered.
"We like you, Bix. We've liked you since we met you. A lot more than some others." He pinched her cheek. "Dig in, little person." He swatted her on the back. "Lupin?" Lupin came out of the office. "Do you want shopping with the good girls or lessons with the bad guys?"
"I'll take lessons with the bad guys, you get shopping and see if you can find Xander while you're out." He looked at Bix, then pinched her on the arm. "You're staying," he said firmly. "You're the only person around here who's brave enough to take the babies away from Xander." She gave him gentle smile. "Good."
"Was there some doubt of her staying?" Ishi asked calmly. Lupin looked down at him and he knew what they were talking about. "I'll be right back," he said quietly, walking into his parents room and locking the door once he had it closed. "Mother, leave Bix alone." She gave him a hurt look. "I know she'll never be mine but she is protecting us even as we protect her. She is also here to train Sarah in her future duties as an envoy. Picking on a sheltered young woman such as her is not right or proper. I will not allow it."
"You won't allow it?" she snorted, giving her son an incredulous look. "Last time I knew I was the parent."
"No, mother, you bore me. You handed me off as soon as I was out of your body. You've done it many times. I might love you because you are my mother but I will not allow you to harm Bix for being a caring soul. The same as I will not let you harm Xander for it either. It's amazing, mother, but they know what my weak spots in my education are. You haven't even made sure I did my studies since we appeared. You also don't come to watch us train. You try to talk about things that you think we might enjoy. There for a while, I thought the kitsune matchmakers had sent Bix down to soothe father's grief, but then I realized we were related somehow. It's the nose, we all have the same one." He rubbed his own. "She isn't here to take over your place with us and she could easily refuse to take care of Morris. You made her cry and I find that unforgivable. She is gentle, tender, and was very sheltered. She grew up like father did. Uncle Xander and Uncle Lupin are even now trying to find someone good enough for her to date. Do not bother her before *I* have to get upset, mother. As Father does, I will put people under my protection and I have taken every lesson I could from Arsene and her father, plus Uncle Xander." He stepped closer, ignoring his father in the bathroom. "Where were you when I had to kill, mother? You were alive." She looked stunned. "It was obvious they were hiding something from us. Fortunately I've also learned how to hack into Uncle Lupin's chatroom and ask questions. You abandoned us. You nearly let your last son die because you hated us so much."
"I don't," Fujiko assured him calmly.
"Mother, you never loved me. I was a sign that you were a good wife. I was a sign of pride when I learned to walk so early. If you loved me, you'd care that I've learned things far beyond what Father thinks."
"That too shall be rectified, son." He came out of the bathroom, looking down at his son. "Your feelings are valid, but this was not the time to air them," he said firmly. "No matter that Bix was crying. I like her as well, I find her an interesting person to talk to and an excellent caregiver for you, plus a very good representative of the other side of the family." His son grimaced. "Son, I love her like an odd little sister. I would never allow your mother to send her away."
"Thank you, Father. I think that's how I feel, but like she's a distant cousin. I don't know, I'm messed up."
Goemon gave him a hug. "I understand, son. Many things are odd. Even your Uncle Xander is having trouble dealing with it. For now, we will live in the moment and let things happens as they may. Has he returned?"
"No, not yet. Uncle Jigen is taking the two good girls out shopping and the rest of them tomorrow. He's been charged with finding her before something bad happens."
"Very well," he agreed. "Go eat, son. You will be showing me tomorrow exactly what you can do." Ishi swallowed. "Like your Uncle Xander, hiding things from me wastes your energy and both our times."
"I learned but I didn't learn it the right way, Father."
"We can correct that as we go along. Tomorrow morning, son, and expect to show it all." Ishi nodded and left, going back to his lunch. He looked at Fujiko, who was on her knees, mouth open in shock. "He feels how he feels, it is neither wrong or right," he said gently, helping her to her feet. "Come, we should feed you both."
"No." She pulled away from him. "I'm not a baby factory to be used, Goemon."
"I never considered you such," he assured her, looking down at her, looking quite confused. "I wish to take care of you, Fujiko. Do you not want that?"
"No! Not if your kids are going to snap at me for not being Xander!"
"Fujiko, you can not hope to be Xander. You are not a gunman," Goemon pointed out tiredly. "Perhaps we should move out on our own for a bit." He went out to lunch. "If you do not come out, I will bring you a plate," he promised. She shrieked and he winced. He looked at Lupin. "It was pointed out to her that she was negligent in her treatment of her children, she's feeling upset with herself and taking it out on us?" Lupin nodded. "Why?"
"Because being mad at herself means she has to admit she's wrong," Jigen told him. "Some people can't do that."
"Of course," Goemon agreed. "Still. She did as well as she could." Fujiko screamed again and he winced. "You did try," he called.
"I hate you, I want a divorce!"
"I do not believe in that institution," Goemon called back. "You knew that when you married me." He looked at the more experienced men. "Am I being unreasonable?"
"No," Lupin said, shrugging. "She's being unreasonable. She's having a plastic moment. The world is supposed to be plastic and mold itself to her will." He ate a bite of his sandwich, then handed the spare one to Ishi, who was looking at the other girls. "They're not helpless, they can wield a knife and make sandwiches." The girls who were still hungry got up and made some more, including Lotus, who still had half hers, just in case. "She's always taken these moments, Goemon. Usually right before a job blows up in her face." He ate another bite, then looked at Jigen. "I'm feeling odd without Xander being here."
"She's fine. She's able to protect herself," Jigen pointed out. "Where is Marcus?"
"Helping Dawn or Ethan," Goemon told him. "He told me so last night."
"That's fine," Lupin agreed. "We'll work on it, Goemon. Even if we do have to lock her in a padded room." He watched as Lotus went to check on her mother, shoving Fujiko out her door and locking it behind her. "Very nicely done, Lotus. You've been studying your lockpicking quite well." Lotus beamed at him and Fujiko scowled. "We started the last summer in their timeline. Everyone got range lessons with a gun, a bow, a crossbow, and throwing knives. They all got lockpicking lessons, and they all started on self-defense lessons. Bix has been running those when Goemon's been busy." He finished off his sandwich and stood up. "Here, you can have my seat so you can sit next to your husband."
"You love rubbing that in my face, don't you?" she sneered.
"Your bad mood is not reason enough to do this in front of the children," Jigen warned.
"Like you weren't involved in the conspiracy?"
Jigen stood up and slapped her, looking down at her where she hit the floor. "Little girl, you're not allowed to have fights in front of *my* children. If you want to snap at people, become a lobster." He sat down again, looking at Goemon. "Sorry, man, I couldn't hold it in any more. The kids are being hurt by it."
Goemon nodded. "I know. I wish you hadn't hit her."
"Hey, I wish she'd grow up. That about makes it even," Jigen pointed out. Goemon slumped and looked down at his wife, then back at him. "You can hit me if it makes you feel better," he said quietly. Goemon looked at him then punched him. Jigen held his nose, stopping the bleeding. "Better?"
"Thank you." Goemon looked at Lupin. "Perhaps we should find our own place for a bit."
"No, Father, I'm not leaving the other girls," Lotus told him. She gave him a pleading look. "Please, daddy?"
"Daughter, some time away from them may help you."
"Father, I saved them, they're my sisters. I'm not leaving my sisters." Fujiko burst out in tears and ran back to their room, then into Lupin's room when she couldn't get her door open. "I'm sorry, Father, but I'm not leaving them. We need each other now more than ever. Bad things are going to come soon. If people think Uncle Xander runs things then they'll try him."
Lupin groaned, shaking his head. "We've warned everyone, Lotus. They're not coming."
"If they weren't, the police wouldn't be coming, Uncle Lupin. They're not scared."
"We can fix that," Ishi offered.
"No, son," Goemon said firmly. "Call her, Lupin." He stared his daughter down. "Even if people came for us, we would protect you."
"Of course you would," she agreed calmly, "the same as we would protect ourselves. We don't want to have to though."
"Lupin, we need a hacker, this is ridiculous," Jigen agreed. "As much as I hate to agree that we're running."
Lupin nodded, dialing Xander's cellphone. "Xan, come back, please? We're worried that you're not okay and you're making the kids paranoid." He heard the quiet voice. "No, Lotus thinks someone's going to test us after that article. Thanks, babe. Sure, meet Jigen at the shopping center in an hour or come back and we'll cuddle during the lessons." He grinned as he hung up, then lost it and called the local Don. "It's Lupin. Yes, I saw it. He doesn't run things, he still works for me. No, she's the kids' mother," he said, looking at Jigen. "Why?" He groaned. "Don, she's very well trained. She can and will take them out. Hurting her will bring our wrath down on you." He nodded. "Fair enough. No, I was going to borrow a hacker or three. If not, I can find one of my own." He hung up and called one of his people. "Pietre. I need a hacker in Tokyo. Yeah, the ICPO to fix that mess again. No, Lavelle still works for me. For some reason they think he's scarier than I am so he must be in charge. It's faulty logic that most cops seem to have. How long?" He smirked. "Excellent. Yeah, please." He hung up. "Pietre will be fixing the records as soon as he's done chatting. Someone tried Xander about an hour ago." Everyone looked at him. "They tried to attack her in the middle of the park. She kicked their asses and broke a few of them before the cops came to rescue her. She didn't say anything so I'm assuming she's fine." He sat down until someone pounded on the door. He got up and let Dawn in. "What's wrong?"
"Major shit is coming down, Lupin. You remember how Europe went flat? It's happened sooner. Someone else remembers. Where's Xander?"
"Out taking a walk," he said quietly. "She's fine."
"She might be, but she'll probably be noted as a relative of Lavelle's. They want you guys to run Europe."
"Lupin, you *tamed* Lavelle in their eyes. Lavelle's went from a wild killing machine to a reasoning and excellent gunman who still happens to break out into badass sometimes. Besides, you made my hubby retire. Lavelle made the Commissioner go into hiding because he had pissed off Lavelle for making the mistake of thinking he was in charge instead of being your second, which we all know he's not," she added at Jigen's hurt look. "Europe's turning into one big country called 'kaboom' and we're hating it, guys. You need to step up and settle some stomachs and minds." She waved at the kids. "Hi, guys. Zenny's fine. He's retiring now." She disappeared.
Lupin looked at Jigen. "You're still my second, buddy," he admitted with a grin. "Arsene, let's go chat with the people in Europe. You can bring your sandwich to the office."
"We have Mommy's laptop," she offered.
"Excellent, princess. Let's do that." He patted her on the head and kissed Sierra. "Have fun shopping and protect the Mommy and other Daddy." She nodded, giving him a very serious look. He took his heir into the office with the laptop, logging it onto his chat room under his name. He grinned at the frantic people who stopped chatting as soon as his name came up. There was nothing going on in the chat room for a minute until someone asked if it was really him. "Go ahead, Arsene."
Arsene typed into the computer, telling them it was her and her father, that they were reading and needed 'a quick synopsis of the situation'. "How's that?"
"Very good. Type in that we need to see your sister Demara too." She typed that in for him. "Good job." He patted her on the back. "Read with me, Princess. You've got to know how to do this too."
"Okay. This is much nicer than learning fashion tips." She read, scanning quietly. "Wasn't he the one who had us kidnaped?"
"Sure was." He stroked her back while he read. They had taken out all the higher level people but his. He typed in a simple command. "Take a deep breath" was enough for now. He opened another chat window, logging onto one of the thieves' bulletin boards. That one was humming with speculation. He entered and his first sentence shut them up too. "We only want peace, people, we have children. Lavelle is a very involved daddy. Even Jigen's upset with this one and Goemon's throwing a fit about this." His daughter giggled when she read that, pinching him. "He probably is inside his head," he assured her, grinning down at her. He forwarded the details of the hit squads to his list and told them to capture or take out but to do it as safely as possible. "I hate responsibility."
"But you handle us so beautifully, daddy," Arsene said with a bright smile.
"Yes, but you guys aren't at all like paperwork, dear." He kissed her on the back of the head. Then he did it again. "Why do you smell like dirt?"
"I don't know," she admitted.
"ETHAN!" he shouted. Ethan came running, looking shocked. "Something's not right with her. She smells like earth. She hates playing in the dirt. Lotus said she had to bring a few back to life. Was it her?"
"No," Lotus said from behind Ethan. "It was Savannah and Fred, Uncle." She walked in and looked at Arsene. "We'll figure it out together. We'll take her back to Britain so Uncle Ethan can help me. Okay?"
"Sure, Lotus, thank you. Thank you, Ethan."
"Not a problem. This would destroy Xander," he pointed out. He took the kids with him, all of them. He went jogging up to his room, waking both Rippers. "We've got a problem. Someone's casting on Xander's children. They're slowly being killed." Both Rippers got up and came down to help him and Lotus. Xander had suffered too much already.
Jigen paced until Xander came back, then hugged him. "Someone tried to magic the kids. Ethan's got 'em."
"I'll kill them," she said, getting free. She took off the choker and handed it over. "Hold that for me." He sent himself to Ethan's, leaving the dress back there. He called down some clothes and walked into the study, looking at Ethan and both Giles. "Who?"
"One of the little brats you beat during the maze," the human Giles told him. "We sent her attack back at her."
"Good," Xander purred. "Ethan, love, an addy?"
Ethan wrote it out and held it out. "Happy hunting. I'll shield your children until you're done." Xander nodded, heading to Paris to find something to wear. Ethan moaned, holding his head. "He's going to go evil on them, I know he is."
"He went from being a white knight to a black knight," the vampire Ripper noted. "He's been tamed and tortured, yet he hasn't had to defeat an enemy like this yet. Going evil is the least of your worries. Returning him to normal may be."
"He'll return, all it will take is one of the children," the human Giles told him. "He loves them more than his own life." They all winced when they felt the magic start to pull things around. "He went for physical magic."
"He went for destruction, Ripper," Ethan corrected. "He's not pleased and there's going to be a few less people in the world for daring to touch his children." He looked at the sleeping children. "We need to shield and strengthen them. The trip weakened what I had done there." They got to work, not waking the tired children as they did each one. By the time they were done, the children were linked to this world, were strong enough to withstand anything but a full assault, and seemed like they belonged here instead of seeming like they were visiting.
Lupin looked up as his chat room beeped, frowning when someone asked if they should knock out Lavelle before he destroyed half of Geneva. He typed in 'no, they tried to hurt the children' and left it there. A few more people expressed their fear of Lavelle's anger and he calmed them. Then he called Xander's phone, getting Ethan. "Where is he?" The answer made his skin crawl. "That's fine. Can we stop him?" He smirked. "Thanks." He hung up and waited while Xander's phone was relocated to his pocket by one of the Rippers. Then he called again, getting a calm-sounding Xander. "Xan, you're scaring the normals, babe. Leave some for the rest of us, okay?" He grinned at the calm response. "I know. They deserve to be torn limb from limb." Xander's correction of 'cell-by-cell' chilled him but he understood. "Hey, agreeable," he said easily. "But you've got to leave some for us. Remember, Europe's going bad right now. Do you really want to take over?" That stopped the attack and Xander came back, curling up in his lap for a hug.
Lupin hung up both phones and cuddled him, rocking him gently. "I know. I'm that pissed too. You were very calm, I'm proud of you, Xan. I might have ripped up the entire continent if I had all the powers of Hell at my disposal." Xander shuddered. "I know, babe. Now's the time for rebuilding. We'll work on it together and then we'll be okay." He soothed his lover, calming him down until he burst into tears. "Hey, no one would hurt the kids. Never again. I'm sure they're very sorry," he soothed, leaning back so Xander could be shifted around and hug him for real. "I know, it sucks. The people who did it are very sorry. I know you did that enough and Jigen and I love you for it." Xander shook his head. "You're not a monster, Xan. This was the right response from any good parent. Even Fujiko would go off if someone had tried to hurt her kids." He looked out as Jigen peeked in. "He destroyed a good part of the city to get them."
"Good," Jigen agreed. "The kids are back. They smell like chocolate and kid." He pulled Xander up to hold him. "It's all right, Xan. You got enough for us. Now we'll be following up to get those people into Hell if you didn't send them there already." Xander shook his head. "You did what you had to do, nothing more and nothing less. No one will *ever* touch our kids again. I swear they won't. They'll be talking about this forever."
"I felt my humanity slip, Jigen."
"Sweetheart, I was here and I felt mine slip a while back," Lupin told him. Xander looked at him. "Really. Now, why are your eyes red?" Xander shrugged and concentrated, turning his real eye back to its natural color. "Good job. That was scary. You looked like a bad photo." Xander let out a little laugh. "See, much better. Come sit on me again and let me finish comforting you. Jigen, do we want to take over Europe?"
"We're down to Angelica, Misty, and Xander's friend Tornado. Or one of the small groups."
"Let them rebuild," Jigen suggested. "I'm still pissed enough to shoot them all. Did you spare my condo?" Xander nodded, giving him a pitiful look. "Then I'm happy, Xan, and we're all good." He winked at him and looked at Lupin again. "Let's let 'em figure it out themselves. If we baby them it could happen to our kids."
"Ethan and both Giles fixed them, they're now officially natives of this plane and linked into the power structure here. Even Lotus," Marcus said as he appeared. "Dear God, Xander, you create some pretty hell on earth." He grinned and turned on the tv, listening as the reporter said something about a rare earthquake. "Even the prattish, unholy relic that my father's become was impressed and scared. Love, I'm impressed. You scared the vampire Ripper." Xander let out a tired and weak chuckle. "Now, none of that. You made it so your spell didn't hurt anyone who wasn't involved. The rest deserved what they got from your hand and I'm about to finish some of them off."
"Leave it, Marcus," Lupin ordered quietly. "Let the remaining ones live so they can say how bad it is." The phone on the desk rang and he grabbed it before Jigen could. "What?" He listened to the other end, then snorted. "Thanks for that, but we're not taking over. We are working on that potion however." He hung up. "Interpol said that they can't get us, we have weapons they don't understand or have a counter to. It's officially in recognition for stopping that carnage before it destroyed them as well." He looked at Jigen and grinned. "We have no more warrants in any Interpol country."
"That leaves a few," Jigen pointed out. "Africa. Pakistan. The US."
"The US will probably want to hire us against their enemies," Marcus pointed out. "Lupin, your daughter Demara appeared at Dawn's house this morning complaining about you being an idiot for not realizing she was in your hometown. She'll be bringing her over later."
"I wasn't in Paris."
"And Dawn's quite happy with you about that," Marcus agreed with a grin. "She did some cleanup on her own however. Six hundred child molesters suddenly found a fear of God from what she said. Her husband was quite impressed with her." He reached over and patted Xander on the back, earning a growl from Lupin. "Sorry. I'll go watch the kids, shall I?" He exited quickly, closing the door behind him.
"Calm down, he'll never take Xander from you," Jigen said bitterly.
"It's all up to you, Jigen," Lupin reminded him. "It's your mind." He looked at his chat room as someone suggested that Xander fund the people making anime battle armor and robots, typing in that they all were. Lavelle was renovating some of his new properties and needed to liquidate some things. Then he named the fences and their joint site. Many people went to look from the counter on the bottom of it and one of the fences sent back a 'thank you for the advertising' message. Tornado popped up a message that said the renovations on the London property were done if Xander would give up on the dream of marble everywhere. She also noted it looked like some big, fancy toilet in a fancy hotel. Lupin laughed and waved Jigen over to see it.
Xander looked at it, then snorted. He typed in a message to send pictures. A video file was downloaded and he looked it over, smiling at it. "Fine," he agreed, typing in that word and to add the marble to the 'statue' room and the bottom floor's open area. She typed back that it'd be done in days. Then he asked her to have them make racks for kimonos. That they could take some of the extra money to do that. She sent back a question mark but apparently they understood. A drawing popped up next. He approved it and noted dimensions. Tornado said they'd get right on it and he suggested they make about two hundred. She sent back a sigh and a nod. Then he switched to the other bulletin board, typing in a 'shut up' command under Lupin's name. Everyone went quiet. He noted that he was him instead of Lupin, he was just too lazy to change screen names since the people who had tried to attack his children had given him a headache. Someone let out an 'oh damn' and apologized immediately for not waiting until the end. He excused them and went on to say that anyone who touched his children, Goemon's children, or any of the children they ever took care of, including Zenigata's kids, would get the same treatment, plus an extra hour of it. Then he suggested that they start to police themselves. People like them got others killed, as he had just proved. He left, then put his head back down on Lupin's shoulder.
"Nice job, Xan," Lupin whispered, stroking him again. "Very well done."
"He tell 'em to fix their own shit?" Jigen asked. He came over to read the messages while Lupin got up to sit with Xander on the more comfortable and roomy couch. "We can put her to bed, Lupin."
"Not yet. I want to know that things are settled before I take a nap."
"They're making a peace treaty," Jigen announced a few minutes later. "Two of the smaller groups just agreed to not kill each other. Others are joining in. Ooh, a Russian group joined." He smirked at Lupin. "The impossible, they're agreeing to work with others." He looked down again. "Don Lagonsti just popped up." Lupin lifted his head from talking to Xander, giving him a raised eyebrow. "He said that it was wise of the children to fix this before the elders had to step in from retirement. He offered us the chance to conference on how things should go."
"Fuck him," Xander murmured. "He's ninety and probably won't last the week."
"We're not running things, Jigen, you can quote me on that," Lupin said firmly. "Tell him I'd hate the paperwork, the same as I told Dolune."
Jigen popped up a private chat with that Don and wrote that in, signing his name. The Don wrote back that it was a reasonable worry, but that they could be monitors. "Do we want to be behavior monitors?"
"Hell no," Xander said. "We have enough of that with the kids."
Jigen typed that in, signing Lavelle's name to the quote. The Don sent back a laugh and said it was more than good enough for him. He closed it and the Don pointed out that the younger generation should be able to do this without anyone watching over their shoulders. That he was old, Lupin was feeling his age, even though he wasn't that old, and that Lavelle and Lupin were building for the next generation of Lupins and Lavelles. Jigen laughed. "Dawn just popped up and pointed out that there would be a next generation of ICPO Zenigatas as well. The Don told her to go away and quit bursting the happy mood. She answered she's inserting realism and raising fear for her children. That way they wouldn't have to work as hard." Lupin and Xander both laughed at that. "She also said that she's bringing Demara over in about an hour, boss."
"That's fine," Lupin agreed, happier now. "Are they working it out?"
"They are," Jigen agreed, turning off the computer. He stood up and came over to lift Xander up. "Come on, Xan. You deserve a nap." He walked him back to the master bedroom and tucked him in after stripping him down. Ishi walked in with some juice. "Thanks, little man."
"Welcome," he said quietly. He looked at Xander. "I'm sorry you had to destroy stuff, Uncle Xander, but thank you for protecting us." Xander grabbed him to hug, giving him a long squeeze. "Thanks. You're a very good mother," he whispered. "No matter what my own whines." He cuddled his uncle like he had been cuddled after he had to make his first kill. Xander needed it, he hadn't had to destroy like that before. Lupin and Jigen left them alone, closing the door behind them. "Are we taking over?"
"Hell no, we'd have to do paperwork and that nastiness. We'd have to throw balls and play nice and make treaties and alliance marriages." Ishi shuddered. "My feelings exactly, Ishi. You know, you're better at this cuddling stuff than your father. He's really stiff for a good ten minutes."
"He was raised that way," Ishi pointed out, but he was grinning very brightly. He was better than his father in something! "We love you, Mom. Never forget that, even if we do yell at you as teenagers."
"Sure, Ishi. Now hush, I've got one hell of a headache after that."
The boy nodded and let him sleep, keeping watch over him to drive off any nightmares. It was an important job and he was lucky to be chosen instead of the girls to do it. He perked up when his father stuck his head into the room. "I'm protecting him, father. I'll be out soon," he said quietly.
"You are very good at that, son. Thank you." He smiled then left him alone. "He is very good at the comforting," he noted as he joined the other adults. The other children were still napping and Bix was fussing over them. "He looks quite comfortable being held. He'll make a good husband some day for a fussy woman."
Lupin smirked at him. "You could always go for guys, Goemon. I won't share Xander, but you and Marcus would be cute."
"Hush," Goemon warned. "Before I take your tongue from your head." He looked at Fujiko. "This is an old tease," he said. She nodded, giving him an impatient look. He looked at Lupin again. "How do things stand?"
"At peace. They're meeting to retain peace."
"It was noted if any of the old lines had to impose peace the new world order would be tidy and neat, but also very strict. They didn't like that idea," Jigen offered. "Someone joked and suggested Xander as the new emperor of crime. Then someone else pointed out he still bowed to Lupin so Lupin would have to become the new God of Crime while we were his faithful high priests." Goemon snickered at that, shaking his head. "Marcus got to be Xander's handmaiden of crime."
Fujiko burst out laughing. "That's a bad mental image. Marcus, having sex?"
"Marcus has a lot of sex, thank you," Marcus called from the kitchen, coming out with a bright red blush. "Marcus is nearly as randy as his father if not worse. He's simply learned discretion after watching Xander love half the world into a coma." He handed over the plate of dinner. "You missed it while soothing him." Lupin smirked at him. "Sorry, I worked out my fussing nature that way." He shrugged. "I made bread as well." He looked at Goemon. "Master, are we staying with them?"
"My son won't leave him at the moment," Goemon told him. "He's guarding Xander's rest."
"Good," Marcus agreed. "Ishi is very comforting. He learned that quite well from Xander." He looked at Lupin and Jigen again. "I'm helping Ethan with that potion. He's going in for surgery in two days so I'll be back in a few weeks. Is that all right?"
"Fine," Lupin agreed. "That's important and something we all want, Marcus." Marcus beamed and jogged down to his room to pack. Lupin looked at Fujiko. "That would be one of his many lovers." She looked stunned. "He's taken Xan's example and decided being bi is good." He sat down, eating a bite of the noodle dish. "This is really good. The kid can cook."
"The little, old Watcher witches they fostered him with probably made him learn," Jigen said bitterly. "Along with beating his magic out of him for a while."
Lupin nodded. "I heard about that from Goemon." He looked at the unhappy couple. "Are you two okay again?" Goemon nodded and Fujiko shrugged. "Fine, we'll explain each of you to the other if we need to. Fujiko, you've got to start easing up on Xander. He is what he is and you getting bitchy won't help matters any. You made him cry earlier. I won't allow you to do that to him."
"You act like he's your husband," she said bitterly.
"He was," Jigen reminded her. "Both of ours." He looked at Lupin. "I want to talk to her tonight."
"Go for it," Lupin agreed, eating another bite. "We both know I'd welcome you if only so I got to sleep without being exhausted. It was much easier to wear him out in female form."
"That multiple thing helped a lot," Jigen pointed out. He got comfortable, crossing his legs. "So, now what?"
"Now, we make sure that Xander's empire merges with ours," Lupin reminded him. "We look over her upcoming projects list and get her to let us help. We maybe move back to France."
Dawn appeared with a young woman. "You know, Father, if you had tried, you could have tricked my address out of my mother," she said snottily.
Lupin looked back. "Come sit, Demara. There's a lot we've got to talk about, dear."
"Fine." She sat down, waving at Fujiko when she wouldn't quit staring. "Yes, I exist."
"I realize that now," Fujiko admitted, looking at Lupin. "You've had kids for that long and you still had to have the Fourth?"
"Yup. I didn't get to name her and there had to be a fourth name holder." He licked off his fork and put the plate down on the seat next to him. "Demara, I know you know what I do. I know you hate me for it. Right now, there's things that supercede it, including you continuing to live."
"Is this what those creepy old men were talking about?" she asked dryly. "That's why I had mother send me closer to you."
"Definitely," Dawn agreed.
"Dawn, we'll be training our own kids," Jigen told her. "How are yours?"
"Just the one set of nephews, the younger set, but the other kids are around their ages so they're having fun at the moment." She shrugged. "They like the fact that Zenny got sent home as soon as he was stabilized. This time wasn't a real heart attack, just a near miss." She hugged Lupin around the throat. "Give that to Xan." She backed up and disappeared, but brought back Lotus with a pat and a present for her. Then she left again and the portal fully closed this time.
"What is that, daughter?"
"A blank spell book and journal so I can work on things," she said proudly, holding it up so he could see it over the back of the couch. "Dad, am I big enough for a bra now?"
Goemon looked at his daughter's form, motioning her for to turn sideways. He shook his head. "Not yet. Why?"
"Arsene thinks she needs one," she said, rolling her eyes.
"Her mother was built very well," Lupin pointed out. "We'll get her one as soon as she needs them, and then put her on something to control her hormone swings."
Demara snorted. "That's not usually an acceptable thing for young girls. Pills yes, shot no." She looked at the group. "So, I'm to stay with you so I can train. Then what? I make it into the rank of thieves?"
"No, not unless you want to," Lupin offered. "You can also stay to play with the kids and help them with their training, to find a good husband, and other things." She rolled her eyes. "Some girls are like that and your mother never lets me talk with you, I had to offer," he pointed out, patting her on the shoulder. "I didn't think you were, but your mother was."
"Which is why my mother and I don't really get along," Demara pointed out. "How would you be able to train me?"
"You know about Buffy?" Jigen asked. She nodded. "Have you heard about Xander?"
"A rumor. He was a helper. He left."
"He was gifted against his will," Lupin corrected gently.
"He's Lavelle," Jigen finished.
"Oh. Then I suppose he would know some of this," Demara admitted. "That's fine. What about that nice Wesley person who approached me?"
"He's the one who hurt Xander. We work with his son," Jigen told her.
"Excellent. I knew he was nasty when I met him. He oozed slimy feelings." She looked around. "So does someone around here."
"Xander was gifted against his will," her father repeated. "By Wesley and given as a consort."
"Eww. Have you seen the size of most of the higher demons?"
"I have and he had to heal for a long time," Lupin agreed seriously. "That's why he wanted to train you and why I wanted him to train you. Plus we need some to stay in Europe and I'd miss you if you were sucked into the US for good." He grinned at her. "Willing to try?"
"If you want. I don't want to crimp your style, father."
"Daddy! Melissa won't play with me!" Arsene yelled, sounding outraged. "I want to dominate the world and she won't let me." She stomped out, looking pissed. "She won't let me be the evil overlord this time. She's mean, daddy, make her stop!"
"Arsene, calm down. You don't want to be an evil overlord, that means you'll have to do everything alone. Be an evil team, that way you all get some of the work." She pouted at him. "Honey, she can never be Lupin the Fourth like you are. She'll have to tell people who she is until she gets a reputation, you've already got a great family name to say proudly."
"Hey, Melissa's a Jigen," Jigen protested.
"Yeah, but Melissa will still have to tell people that. All Arsene will have to say is I'm the Fourth." He grinned. "It'll strike fear in people for generations, Jigen, and then she can help Melissa gain her own scary reputation."
"Yeah, sure she will. You're hoping the girls won't compete against each other."
"Well, yeah," Lupin agreed, smirking bigger now. "Aren't you?"
"Yes, but I'm sure she'll win some day. After all, Melissa will have my control and Xander's mind and planning ability. Your daughter is just you as a female." Lupin pouted so he smirked back at him. "Seeing the point? All Melissa will have to say is I'm Lavelle's daughter. It'll only take a few times."
"So they'll be the twin evil overlords," Demara broke in. "Who is this, father?"
Arsene grinned at her. "You're my big sister."
"Obviously, you look just like our father." She held out a hand. "Lady Demara Crossington."
Arsene shook it. "Arsene Lupin the Fourth. Future ruler of the world."
"I see." Demara smiled at her. "I'm sure you'll be a benevolent ruler for the most part. Are there more of you?"
"I have a sister, Sierra, but she'll be a good guy," Arsene assured her. "Then there's Fred and baby Alex. We didn't really care which daddy was hers. Then Uncle Jigen's got Melissa and Savannah, Sarah, and possibly the baby."
"Wow." Demara looked at her father. "I see a teenager won't be a bit of a problem. When did this happen?"
"Long story," he said, kissing her on the cheek. "Thank you," he whispered.
"It's good that you have one child who can and will follow in your footsteps, father." She stood up. "Should I go back to Paris and wait at the main hideout?"
"We'll be heading back there soon but not yet," Jigen told her. "Go find an empty room. Arsene, help her, and make Melissa quit pouting. You either share the job or you'll have to fight her for real some day and she'll win because her daddy's training her."
"Fine," she sighed, going to tell Melissa that and to introduce her big sister around, even though they already knew her. She peeked in on her mother. "Is Mommy up?"
"Not yet," Ishi said in the darkness. "Out, Arsene. Later."
"Fine. Sissy's here."
"Tell her I said hello and explain things to her. Now go before you wake him up."
"Yes, Ishi." She closed the door. "He thinks he's in charge because he's older," she shared. "He's our backup though. He's the Fourteenth."
"Wonderful." Demara found the empty room and settled in. "I'll need to get some of my things shipped I suppose."
"Why? We're going shopping soon," Arsene offered with a small smile. "You can help so Auntie Fujiko doesn't dress us like tramps."
"I heard that!" Fujiko yelled.
Arsene pulled something out of her closet and went to hand it to her Aunt. "I don't believe that is appropriate for a girl my age," she said meekly, then went back to her sister's room. She came out again. "Daddy, Sissy needs clothes. She's only got the undies on her body. Everything else is still back at her school."
"We'll go shopping in a bit," Lupin said with a small smirk. "Nice try, Arsene."
"She needs clothes, Daddy. We all do. Mine are getting too small. I'm giving them all to Sarah." She went back to do that, letting Sarah help her shift stuff over. It'd be a bit big on her but not that much. Sarah was growing a lot.
Jigen looked at Lupin. "You ever think you're being used by your daughter?" he asked dryly.
"Now and then," he admitted. "I thought that's what daughters were for." He stood up, taking his plate into the kitchen. "Okay, shopping?"
"Shopping," Jigen agreed, standing up. "Cards?"
Lupin went into their bedroom, grabbing his wallet by feel. He came out and figured out it was Xander's so he turned on the lights and grabbed his then winked at Ishi. "We'll take you tomorrow, little man." He turned off the lights and left them alone, gathering up all the children. "Shopping!" he called. The kids came running, lining up politely for Goemon to take them out to the cars. "Fujiko, aren't you coming?" he asked as he walked past her.
"What's wrong with this outfit?"
"It's got a very low neckline and they're children," Jigen said simply.
"It's got a micro-mini skirt and they're only seven," Lupin pointed out. "Plus it's the wrong color for most of the kids." He hauled her up and out to the car so she couldn't snark at Xander while they were gone. "We'll find some outfits that fit properly and look good, girls. Someone buckle Fred into his seat. I feel like I'm running a daycare." The girls laughed but the seats were all checked by Demara. "Thanks, dear. We'll have your stuff sent back to the main hideout. Any special needs I need to deal with? Pill, bras, things of that nature?"
"I have this month's pills in my purse, father, and my vitamins."
"That's fine. We'll work on that when we get back to the house. It should be before then." He drove off, letting Jigen sit back there with the kids while Goemon sat beside him. The kids would pick on him. "Where did the cats go today, guys?"
"They're on my bed," Lotus assured him. "One was howling and screaming so the others gave her a bath and nuzzled her to sleep."
"Shit," Jigen, Lupin, and Fujiko sighed.
"Kittens are often instructive," Goemon offered.
"We'll find them homes," Fujiko said firmly. "We have enough cats."
"Maybe Ethan needs a few more," Jigen suggested.
"Doubt it," Lupin sighed. "He had to save the one he had from the vampire Ripper." He changed lanes and turned onto another street, using his signals just in case someone was watching. He couldn't have a high speed chase in the van. "We've got to get something more classy for group outings."
"We liked the limo the Alternate Mommy had," Lotus offered.
"That would fit you all," Lupin agreed. "I'll look into some of them. Thank you, Lotus."
"Welcome," she chirped happily.
"We need fruit for the bird too," Sierra reminded them all. "He's been hungry and the dragon and he had a fight again."
"We need more stuff for headaches too," Jigen reminded Lupin.
"Definitely," he agreed. "Mall. Here mall. I know you're around here somewhere."
"Go west another street," Goemon ordered quietly. Lupin followed his directions and they came upon the parking garage. "You will not leave our sides, children. I do not want to harm anyone today." They all sighed and nodded, following him inside. He stopped to buy a single red rose and presented it to his wife, then took the children into the Gap. He had the patience to do this part of the shopping.
Fujiko sniffed her rose, sniffling a bit. "I still hate you," she called. The baby kicked and she winced. "Fine, not as much as I did. Happier now, heathen beast?" She stroked her stomach to calm him down, going to look in the lingerie shop for something to taunt the man with. She wasn't having sex with him but a good nightie was a good weapon.
Lupin shook his head, coming out of the pharmacy with the value sized Ibuprofen and Tylenol bottles. He handed Jigen's to him and took some of his own. This was going to be an interesting week.
To Part 30:
To Thieves' Index: