Note: in the manga (basically the novel style comic books for those who don't know) anytime you see a very young Lupin he is surrounded by busty women. So either he inherited them, got them on his own merit, or his grandfather hired them.
Enough for Now.
The men accepted their orders from the woman behind the desk, bowing to her before walking off. They didn't know who she was, most people just called her Duality. She was greatly feared in Asia's syndicates and this time she had some very specific orders. They were odd, but about half the ones she gave out were odd. It was like she had some direct link to find out what would cause the most chaos in the other syndicates. Some of the bigger mob bosses shuddered when the word duality was mentioned, much less when someone talked about her. This time, she had set her sights very high, and very high profile. They read their notes and nodded at each other, very doable.
"Another chaos inducer," one of them said gruffly.
"I wonder what they did to deserve her attention," the other complained.
"Who cares. We don't have to kill no one this time, just pick up something, put it on them, and deliver them to another location." He shrugged. "We can deal with it. It's an easy sixty grand."
"True. Much nicer than handling those rats and putting them into the Queen's box at the opera last year. Was kinda funny though."
"I'm sure these will be too. And hey, they're universally famous. People will be laughing for years." He looked at his letter again. "Why do we have to think about women when we put it on them?"
"I don't know," he admitted, shrugging. "Who cares? It's an easy sixty grand." They headed to the car, getting in to find the boxes they'd need to do the first part of the job. Then they could find Lupin the Third and his gunman Jigen.
Lotus got up from her meditation and walked inside the house, slamming the door. "Father, Lupin's in trouble," she said quietly.
"What's the girl done this time?" he asked patiently.
"Wrong Lupin, father." He stilled his hands, letting the food he had been chopping rest for a moment. "Someone's doing something to get Uncle Lupin. They're going to Mom's afterward."
"I'll tell Xander."
"No, father, you must stop them. You must capture, but not kill, the people who are to hurt him. It's important. Otherwise a tragedy will be done. They cannot die. Take Ishi with you, there's two of them."
"I can ...."
"Father!" she snapped. "I saw it. They're crooks. You'll want to kill them once you hear. You and brother go stop them before they can get to Uncles Lupin and Jigen or you capture them afterwards. There's no other choice besides them living with the horrors that will be imposed upon them." She stared at him down and he nodded. "Thank you! Scoot! Now! They've already broken into the hiding spot. I'm calling the other kids to help."
"Fine, daughter." He went to pack a small bag and wake up his son, who was napping after a long meditation.
Lotus picked up the phone, dialing Lupin's cellphone. "Your father's in danger. Janus said so. Capture the people doing it, do not let them be killed, or else it'll be hell for them." She hung up, going to shower. She felt dirty now. Even though it wasn't her plan, she felt filthy and nasty about them doing this, even though it might fix a great many problems within her family. She heard her father and brother leave and sighed in relief. They were taking her seriously.
Arsene hung up the phone and looked at her sister. "That was Lotus. Dad's in danger, Janus ordered it, and we've got to capture the people who plan on hurting them if we can't stop them in advance."
"Why?" Melissa asked as she stood up to stretch.
"I don't know. She didn't say. Just that it'd be hellish if they died. Have I been having nightmares and not realizing it?"
"No," Melissa offered. "Let's call the 'rents to warn them. We can fly out to where they are later this afternoon."
"Sure." They packed a bag quickly then called the parents, getting voicemail. So they called their mother and got a happy, chuckling Xander and told him. He said he'd call Marcus. Since he was on bedrest after having one knee replaced, he couldn't jump in to help, but that didn't mean he couldn't call the others in. They ran for the airport, deciding that a chartered flight would be fastest and cheapest, especially on their nerves since it would take four connections to get to the island they were sunning themselves on. Besides, they could go with a few smugglers and get a discount. They were mostly reputable.
Lupin looked up as Jigen carried a drink over to him, giving him a grin. "This is the life, buddy."
"It is, but I'd still wish we were back there for Xander."
"He told us to come and to enjoy ourselves," Lupin reminded him.
"Yeah, but it still sucks." Jigen laid down again, sipping from his straw. "Any news from the kids?"
"Arsene left a message a few minutes ago but it was a short one so I'm guessing it was her daily check-in. I'll listen to her babble later."
"Sure, Lupin." Jigen watched the waves, thinking some hard thoughts. They had a chance, Xander's friend Alan had to do a show on the road for the next month and a bit so he was free and clear of the competition and it was time to either fix it or break up forever. He didn't want to lose Xander so he'd have to figure himself out pretty damn quick and make sure that he could touch him the way he needed. He needed Xander, Xander made him feel young again. He looked at Lupin, who was staring at a woman down the beach, who was nursing her baby. "Missing that time?"
"Yeah, I do," he admitted, taking a long sip of his mixed, icy drink. "I kinda miss watching Xander do that with the kids. I miss it a lot."
"He's never going back into the choker, Lupin. You've got to either move on and deal with Xander or you've got to let him go. Not that I want to, but it'd make him happy."
"I'm not sure I can do that. There's not much I can honestly say I'm possessive about but Xander is one of those things."
"Then we'll all be miserable, man. I'm tired of being a miserable prick. We need to move on."
"We will," Lupin promised. "We've simply got to convince Xander to come back to us."
"I don't know yet, but I'm working on it. We'll stop in London when we go back in a few days," he admitted. "Maybe we'll be able to bring him home with us."
"Maybe, but he didn't say he wanted to come back to the house."
"He will. The kids'll be there and Xander would never abandon his kids."
"That's why they're at the manor house again," Jigen reminded him. Lupin looked at him, frowning now. "He had Bix move them last week. He told you that."
"I thought that was a temporary thing."
"This is Xander we're talking about, Lupin. It's not temporary if he doesn't want it to be. He's finally getting a new chance at a normal life and it looks like he may take it." He sipped from his drink again. "I'd hate it but he deserves it if that's what he really wants."
"I want him back."
"Then pout at him, it might work," Jigen said dryly. He wasn't holding out much hope for it but it could happen. Xander still had mushy feelings for them. He took another sip and put his drink down again. "Just think, within ten years, we'll be able to watch one of the girls do that same thing."
"Ick, Jigen. None of our kids had better ever have kids while we're alive. It'd be too soon."
"If we live to be eighty, they'd be too old," Jigen reminded him.
"Arsene won't want one."
"Yay," Jigen said dryly. "If there'll be a Fifth other than a ferret, there'll have to be one born from her body, or from Fred's."
"Fred's just a baby."
"Fred's seven, Lupin, and he'll be more than old enough by then to have knocked some girl up because he won't be careful. I'm surprised you haven't had a few more roaming around."
"Good timing I guess," Lupin sighed. He finished off his drink and got up. "Want another one?"
"I'm not ready yet."
"Fine, buddy." He went to the bar, going to get another drink. He had to wipe out those thoughts before they took root. His son was not going to be having kids in the next twenty years. He'd forbid it if he had to. There would be no Lupin the Fifth for at least another twenty years. He shuddered and shook his head, ordering an extra shot to get rid of that thought.
Then again, that was going to be his last thought for a few days.
Arsene got off the plane and called the resort. "This is Lupin the Third's daughter. I need to speak to him urgently. No, like someone's going to try to kill him and they won't care who's in the way." That was the only bad thing she could think of happening. "Excuse me?" She grabbed Melissa and let her hear what the receptionist was saying while she went outside to scream and stomp up and down.
"They were checked out when?" she asked calmly. "No, this is Jigen's daughter. When?" She looked at the time on her watch. "Was it them or was it someone else? Do you have security pictures of them?" She frowned. "Fine. Thank you. Did they leave anything? No, send that to whatever address they put on their forms. There's not another airstrip on the island, correct?" She sighed. "Thank you for your help, ma'am." She hung up and went jogging down the halls of the small airport, heading for the security office, stunning the guards in there. "We came to help our fathers, who are under a new death threat. Someone stunned them and checked them out of their hotel. Has anyone drugged or anything suspicious gone out today?" They slowly shook their heads. "How many flights so far today?" she demanded.
"We can't release that information, miss," one of the guards said. She pulled her gun and already had it cocked by the time it was pointing at his nose. "Okay. You are?"
"Jigen. Melissa Jigen. Daughter to Diasuke Jigen. Niece and goddaughter to Lupin the Third."
"There were two commercial flights and one that's about to go out, but they weren't on them," another guard said. "There's been six private flights as well. We checked them out before they left. They were not on them."
"Not in any form?" Ishi said from behind them. "Janus sent someone after them, 'Lis. On the orders of Duality." She shuddered and looked back at him. "Can you compare incoming and outgoing passports?"
"They're all on computer, but the private flights."
"Compare them or I will," Ishi ordered. The guard got out of the way, he didn't want to mess with these children. Ishi compared the lists. "Two, outgoing, female passports that don't register as incoming." He looked at Melissa. "You don't think."
"No, I don't," Lupin said as she walked in. "No male ones?"
"One. He's a movie star though so he could have taken a private flight home."
"He did. He left this morning." Ishi copied the lists onto a keychain storage device and walked out with the ladies, heading out to where his father was waiting. "There's no good matches and private flights aren't logged that way. There's only two female not accounted for and one male who left on a private flight this morning."
"Females?" Goemon asked.
"Females. No pictures in the files however. Both of them have passports from Singapore."
"Interesting. Headed where?"
"They're not women," Arsene shouted.
"Calm yourself. It would not take much to disguise them, especially if they claimed to be ill," Goemon chastised. "Their destination?"
"Singapore then they're booked on six different flights from there."
"Very interesting. We should go to Singapore then."
"We'll never get there in time to capture them," Melissa complained. "They must have left hours ago. They've already have landed by now."
"Two had US destinations and one had a European destination. One was Japan, one was China, and one was Thailand," Ishi told his father. "The last was Britain."
"Call Xander, have him check his contacts to find these women and to track their passports," Goemon ordered. His son nodded and stepped away from the group to do that. "Lupin, calm yourself."
"They're still not women. It'd be really hard to make them women," she said coldly. "We hid the chokers."
"The women who sent the thieves after them is named Duality," Goemon said quietly. "She is reported to be a fellow priest of Janus. Lotus had a vision of them being gone after. What were your orders?"
"I haven't gotten any from Janus," she admitted, thinking back. She sent a silent prayer, looking up, but nothing came. She called Ethan's house. "Uncle Ethan." He hung up and she looked at the phone. "Okay then." She did it again. "Do it again and I'm raiding the house," she warned. "Someone named Duality sent people after Daddy and Uncle Jigen. We were ordered to find the guys and to stop them before they were killed. Especially stopping the crooks who did it before they were killed. A woman who's supposedly a high priestess of Janus ordered them to do this. Do we have a clue here? Where did you hide the chokers?" She listened to Marcus' quiet rant. "Yay, Uncle Marcus. This is daddy and Uncle Jigen here." He said something else that made her drop the phone. "No."
Melissa snatched it. "Uncle Marcus? What the fuck is going on?" She listened to him. "So we're stopping the crooks so we can get them to undo it?" She sighed. "Fine, thank you. Any idea where they're dropping them off? Because that person is known for her bitchy nature. If she's sending them to someone like Mom was nearly sold to, we'll have to act." She listened to him. "Yes it is. He's vengeful." She snorted. "Yeah, he is. Fine, you ask. If they're not in any danger then we'll go track the crooks to stop them from being killed. If they're in danger, we're going to have to free them." He said something to Ethan, making her relax. "Thank you." She hung up. "They're headed for Thailand. Janus isn't sure if he wants to sell them into slavery or not."
"Then we'll head there," Ishi agreed, closing the phone in his hands. "Mom's aware and put the word out that *he* wants to talk to the guys who attacked Lupin and Jigen, personally. If they're killed then he's going to take it out on the people who killed them. He's also put word out that he wanted to *speak* with Duality very soon. He wants her in working order as well but she can be nearly dead when he sees her. The others aren't to even have a scratch. Unfortunately, Uncle Ray was in there visiting. He heard."
"So that means we're in a race against the ICPO and the people in the underworld who want to take out the family," Arsene said. "Fine. Are the crooks in Singapore?" Ishi nodded. "Fine. Daddy and Uncle Jigen?"
"Thailand. They're due to land in an hour."
"I'll work on getting us there. Lupin, take Uncle Goemon to Singapore," she ordered. "We can save both fathers." She nodded, dragging him off to book their flights. "Ishi, are we up to this?"
"I am," he agreed dryly. "It's not the first rescue we pulled. They're headed for the capital if it helps."
"It does." She booked them on the next flight out by going through the local smugglers, heading outside to meet up with them. With any luck they could go faster.
"What're you two doing going there?"
"We're looking for kidnap victims," Melissa said grimly. They shuddered. "Exactly."
"No adults going?" the copilot asked.
"He's deadly and I'm not far behind him. We've got uncles meeting us there," Melissa assured him bitterly. "How much longer and can we help load?"
"No, kids. Go get a soda. It won't be much longer," the pilot offered. They nodded and went to the bathroom and got a short drink. "Don't think about it. That's Jigen's little girl and Goemon the Fourteenth. They're infamous already. They're the ones who planned that break-out during the floods a few years back. Where they are, Lupin the Fourth and Third can't be far behind."
"She's a pretty thing."
"Who likes girls," the pilot snorted. "Don't think about it."
"She'd bring a pretty price."
"So would your life," Lotus said from behind them, making them jump. "Melissa and my brother?"
"Who're you?" the copilot sneered. He soon learned his mistake when she flipped him onto the ground and stood on his chest, a dagger already out. "Who...."
"I'm Lotus. Goemon's daughter. Got the point?" She looked at the pilot. "I'm going too. Is it going to be extra?" He shook his head. "Fine. If he's too injured, Ishi and Melissa can both help fly. They've taken their licenses already." She got off him and pulled him up. "Don't think about it. My mother tried once. Heard of her recently?" He shook his head and moved to load more crates onto the plane. "Can I help?"
"No, go get a drink. We won't leave without you."
"Why would you?" Ishi asked as he came back with a covered soda. "New news?"
"Yeah, they've been sold the Golden Dragons. They're a nasty little set of bastards." The pilot winced. "Hence me coming along. An extra grand be enough?"
"It's not necessary, miss. That's a fate worse than death."
"Thank you." She took her brother's soda to get a drink, then handed it back. "Melissa is where?"
"Changing clothes. They were in France and it was cooler there."
"Good point." She looked down at her Gi done in linen then shrugged. "I'm dressed for comfort. It's muggy at the house." She looked around, seeing Lupin the Fourth stomping their way. "Hey."
"Hey yourself. Where are they?"
"Thailand. The Golden Dragons."
"Have fun with that," Arsene said dryly. "Did she get the chokers?" Lotus nodded. "Wonderful," she said bitterly. "I've got my phone in case you need to send a desperate 'save us'."
"It won't be a problem," Lotus assured her. "That's why I'm going too." She smirked at her. "Have fun in Singapore."
"Oh, I intend to. Should I bring you back a t-shirt?"
"Sure, why not."
Ishi grunted in annoyance. "You can't get gone sooner?"
"A half hour before boarding. Melissa?"
"Wonderful." She looked over as her sister came out, one eyebrow going up at the unusual Melissa outfit. "Are you trying to get stolen?" she asked cheerfully.
"No, I'm being the distraction." She tied the knots under her breasts tighter, then pulled on her leather jacket again and zipped it halfway up. "Don't I look like an American?"
"You do and they won't like it," the pilot warned.
"Yay," she said with a smirk. "What're they going to do, arrest me?" He shook his head. "Be careful. Singapore's one of those city of rats and mazes."
"I know. We've already got an interview an hour after we land," she said smartly. "Uncle G knows someone."
"Be careful anyway. They're still snakes," Lotus warned. She nodded and jogged back to the terminal. "It's not necessary, Melissa."
"It is. I'm damn hot in full jeans." She untied her shirt and undid her jacket, tucking her shirt back into her newly cutoff shorts. "There, better?"
"Much," Ishi agreed. "Let's help them load." He let Melissa have the rest of his soda and moved over to help them load the boxes into the plane. Lotus paid her fare and got down to work as well.
Melissa decided to flirt with the customs officers when they showed up, giving the others time to put things away that didn't need to be found. They couldn't have this flight hung up.
Lupin woke up in a room, groaning at the heat and the light. "Damn it. Jigen?" He heard a groan. "Jigen!"
"Shut up, bitch!" a male voice yelled. A man stomped in. "The only time your mouth should open is when someone wants to use it." He sneered as she stood up. "What? Going to try to kick my ass? There's fifty other guards outside who'd *love* to break you in for the house."
"I doubt it," Lupin vowed, realizing that his voice was higher now. He glanced at himself in a nearby mirror and growled, tugging at the thing around her throat. "Who the fuck!" The guard hit her and she kicked him in the stomach, dropping him to the ground. She saw another woman in the room, also wearing a familiar choker, and walked over to gently wake her. "Jigen?"
"Huh? What? Who're you?"
"It's Lupin, Jigen." He pointed at the choker. "You too." He looked around. "We're in deep shit. This is a people factory."
Jigen sat up, feeling around her throat. "Friggen hell, man."
"Tell me about it. I'm not near as cute as I thought." He helped Jigen stand, watching her wobble. "It'll be fine. Someone will be coming for us soon. If not the kids, then Marc and Xander will be bringing Goemon."
"I doubt it. No one knew where we were before."
"The girls did," Lupin promised. "Arsene let it slip that she had tracked us." He looked over as the guard groaned, kicked him again. "Where the fuck are we!"
Jigen lifted up his arm, showing the tattoo. "A Golden Dragon man."
"Fine. We can deal with them," Lupin agreed. "Go get your boss, now. This shit will be stopping."
"Pretty bitches like you will get too much to let you go," he sneered from the floor, still wincing.
Jigen took the direct approach, opening the door to stare at the guards. "We're in the employ of Lupin the Third. He's already coming for us. Get your boss and maybe we can make a deal to buy our way out of here." They scoffed and he glared. "Now, boys. You don't want to see it when Lavelle gets here."
"Why would he? He's in the hospital," an older man noted. "And for the record, I was told," he said smugly.
Jigen grabbed him by the throat. "Then you know who else is coming," he said coldly. "And the kids will kill you."
"Not before we can kill you," he wheezed. "You're not leaving."
"That's fine, then we can simply kill you all," Lupin said, pulling the first guard's gun. He shot two of the guards in the hall then pointed it at the older man. "Your choice."
"Face it, Lupin, you're here to stay. Nothing and no one will be coming for you. If those beautiful daughters of yours come, they'll be ours too. The Lupin dynasty is no more."
"Bet me," Jigen growled. "Lupin, give me the gun." It was handed off and he shot the old man, then the rest of the guards. "Grab them, more are coming." He took a few of the pistols and a machine gun, letting Lupin take the rest of them. They started for a door that led outside, and had to eliminate two more guards. They walked outside and noticed the jungle.
"Gentle ladies, you are about a hundred miles from anything remotely favoring civilization," a smug voice said from behind them. "You'll never make it out of the jungle alive."
Jigen spun, gun at the ready. There were more guards behind the young guy. "Who says we want to be here?"
"Nobody. Do you think I care?" he asked smugly. Lupin shot him in the groin, making him scream. "Kill them!"
"Do it, watch my family destroy this whole place. Lavelle!"
"He's still in the hospital."
"And?" Xander asked as he appeared, leaning on a cane. "Yay, I'm sore. I'm also drugged to the gills, ladies. How do you know me?"
"It's us, Xan, Lupin and Jigen." Xander blinked a few times, then sighed and shook his head. "Really."
"Whatever." He looked at the guards and smirked. "You took some of my boss's people. That's dumb. Really, really dumb." He took the machine gun from Jigen and mowed the rest of the guards down. "Now then. If you're who you say you are, Melissa will know when she gets here tonight with Ishi and Lotus. Then we'll see, won't we? For now, go free the rest of the women and hold the place steady. There's six heads of the Golden Dragons. Only two were here and one's a newbie to the field." He poked the dying one, grinning at him. "Let's go talk to your bosses," he said happily. "Have a good afternoon, ladies. I'll be back later." He hauled him up and took him with him, landing in front of a triad board. "Good morning!" he said happily.
"Wrong movie," one of the guards snorted. Xander shot him and he died.
Xander grinned at the remaining upright people, letting the other fall. "As you *should* know, I'm Lavelle. I'm pissed. You're the reason I'm pissed and not in the hospital on *good* drugs."
"We have some of those," one of the men offered blandly. Xander shot him too.
"Now then. You took Lupin the Third and Jigen. I'm pissed at this. The kids are coming. I suggest you cooperate, before I wipe out your clan," he said from between clenched teeth. He really needed his newest dose of medicine. "Otherwise, I'll be coming back after my next dose of painkillers." Someone let out a yell and he shot at them blindly, making them fall to the floor, or at least someone did. "I'm not thrilled at the moment, boys. Pity for you." He pulled out a little plunger device and pushed it, then let it hit the floor. "Thankfully I also happen to be friends with some very...odd people. Hopefully Lupin the Fourth gets here first." He smirked at them. "Where are the crooks in question?"
"They're in the back room, they landed already dead," one of the remaining humans said, staring him down. "Prove you're Lavelle."
Xander took off the illusion choker and the man gasped, covering his eyes as they started to bleed. "Ya think I'm who I said I am?" he asked dryly. "And here I had a new plan that could have netted some very enterprising demon a hell of a lot of cash and possibly souls." He looked at the others, noticing they were starting to look scared now. "I'm in a pissy mood, gentlemen. You're making it worse. Can we stop this pissing contest? Give me what I want and I'll go. Give Lupin the Fourth what she wants and she won't destroy the building with you in it. Your choice, of course," he finished smugly.
"Sir," Brad groaned from the floor.
Xander stepped back to look at him. "Dumb move, kid, but I'll take you back with me when I go for meds. You critical?" He shook his head. "Good." He looked at the others. "He's dating my daughter. I almost liked him too." He shrugged. "Anyone wanna do the brave thing before I blow you up?"
"You wouldn't dare. Those *men* of yours will stay that way," one sneered. "Eventually you'll run out of bullets too."
Xander rolled up his sleeve, uncovering a tattoo and stroked over the pattern, bringing a demon. "Take this one to a decent hospital. I shot him accidentally. Then come back here and leave the people who fucked with my mates alone, and leave someone to give Lupin the Fourth information. Keep the rest here and without communications." It grunted and nodded, taking the boy away, then coming back to hold the others hostage. "See, I'm going to leave this in Lupin's hands. I'm going to go back to my hospital bed now. I'll be back though. You'd better be more cooperative." He disappeared, walking out of the bathroom into his boyfriend's back. "Hey, Alan." He put back on the illusion choker, covering all the demonic tattoos.
"You weren't in there a minute ago."
Xander grinned as he climbed into bed. "I had a desperate summons. It's all good. The kids can handle it now."
"Huh?" he asked, looking confused.
"I can't do it often but I can occasionally hop around to places where I've been," he admitted. "It's a handy thing to get out of jail cells." His boyfriend blinked. "Too strange?"
"Yeah! A bit too strange, Xander!"
"Sorry. It's just another wacky part of my life," he groaned, pushing the button. "I ache. Isn't it time yet?"
"Nearly," she said patiently, checking his vitals. "What did you get into? You smell like brimstone."
"It happens," Xander said dryly. "I had a short meeting outside the hospital." She gave him an odd look so he grinned. "What?"
"You've been in that bed the whole time, young man. You haven't left yet." She bustled out, going to make notes on his chart about the smell. Just in case it was important.
"See, even when I'm honest no one believes me," he said dryly.
Alan shook his head and walked out. "I'll be back tomorrow, Xander, when you're sane."
"Sure, Alan." He snuggled in better and pulled over his laptop to write Marcus and Ethan, and to write his list. Arsene lurked on it. Besides, this was now a war. No one played head games like that with him. He did ask about the women as well, not sure what was going on with them. He'd have to go back there later. After his next dose of pain medicine.
Lupin looked over as the door to the house opened, glaring at the man standing there. "You are?" he asked, raising his gun when he saw who was behind him. "Jigen!"
"Shit, baby girl."
"Daddy?" she asked, looking him over. "At least you're pretty." She stabbed the guy in the back and walked around his body, coming in to hug them. "Lotus is presently warming up the plane we bought. We're taking all these women somewhere safer, namely Hawaii. We've already called Gramps and told him, he's promised to alert the FBI. Gather everyone and let's go. Ishi's got the van." They nodded and went to lead the women out, taking them out to the van. It was a tight fit but they didn't care. Lupin made a last pass through to make sure they'd gotten everybody and found a few more people, taking them with him. So the van was very cramped but they didn't care. Melissa looked back at him. "Mom, and Auntie Mom, we're going to Hawaii. Then we're taking you back to the other Mom's house." Ishi sneezed. "Bless you. Don't crash us."
"I won't. I've already radioed Lotus. She said there's probably more of them."
"There's always more of them," Lupin said bitterly. "Anything from my daughter?"
"No. Not yet. She's with Uncle G though." She shrugged. "You two okay?"
"So far," Jigen said bitterly, running a finger under his choker. "I hate this thing already."
"Just wait, it gets worse," she reminded him smugly. "Remember all those things you had to tell me about? Well, remember, you're now open to them." They pulled onto the private airfield, pulling up next to the plane. There were two cops waiting on them. She got out and walked over to them. "I'm stealing my mother back from the people who stole her from a beach to be sold into slavery. You got a problem with that or do you need a bribe?"
"No, we were called by Interpol to make sure everyone got onto the plane," he said grimly. "This is all you managed to rescue?"
"It was one house's worth," Ishi told him. "There's bodies there. We tried to save as many as we could find. I drew a map on the way up. You can have the van, we rented it." The cops nodded, agreeing to that. If there were any left, they were theirs. "Ladies, into the plane. We're going to the States." They rushed up the ramp, some having to be helped but most of them were mobile. Lupin and Jigen went last with Ishi behind them.
Melissa paid the guards. "Thank you for protecting his sister and our plane, gentlemen. Consider it a donation to continue the good work," she said at the opening mouth. "Use it to hire another cop." She ran up the ramp and pulled it up, closing the doors. "Go, Lotus."
"Going," she agreed, calling the tower and starting the engines. She slowly moved them down the runway, then sped up, taking off right before the end of the runway. "I could use a good copilot," she called.
"I'm on it, Lotus," Jigen called, coming forward after helping bandage a woman's cut. He put on the headphones, listening to the radio commands, putting in the corrections. She nodded her thanks and accepted them, changing headings. When they got far enough out, he had to switch channels, which got him into Hawaii's channels. "What's our call sign?"
"Alpha Bravo Mercy 909."
"Hilo Tower, this is Alpha Bravo Mercy 909." The radio went searching and someone new came on, telling him to land the plane at a certain airstrip. "We're due to rendevous with Federal Agents in Maui." He got the go ahead and nodded at her, helping her change the heading so they could land. "Want me to take over?"
"Please. I've never landed anything bigger than the private jet. I'll copilot." Her new aunt nodded and brought them in for a slightly bumpy landing but it was mostly the old runway's fault not hers. They stopped next to a building and she took off her headphones, shutting down the engines. She noticed a few busses coming their way. "Let me go." She got up and walked back there. "Wait here, ladies. I'm making sure these are the Feds that're supposed to be here." They nodded, letting her go first. She knew her brother was in the doorway. She squinted at the busses, smiling as a familiar figure got off the first one. "Uncle Ray. How's things?"
"Bad all over. What happened?"
"Some bitch named Duality." He shuddered. "She'll be dead soon. Mom's throwing a fit from his bed." She pulled him away. "She found the chokers." Vecchio shuddered. "She pulled a maternal unit and sold them to some Golden Dragons. We pulled a rescue, letting the local cops have the remaining bodies and anyone they can find living. That's the women we saved on the plane, plus two."
"Fine," he agreed. "Let me handle this, Lotus. Good work. Wanna come work with your sisters?"
"Fat chance, Uncle Ray. I'm still an assassin." She jogged back up the ramp. "It's all good. The American in Armani is ICPO Inspector Vecchio. He's from Chicago. You can trust him, I do. So let's get you off the plane and to a hospital to be checked over. Then they'll try to find your families and get you to them." They got out of the way, letting the Feds gather the women and take them down to the busses. "She's pregnant, she's been puking," she said as one was led past where she was sitting. The Fed grimaced but nodded, treating her a bit more carefully. She looked around as the last woman was led off. "Okay, Aunties. Let's get this show on the road."
"Hold it," Vecchio said as he stepped inside. "You don't have your pilot's license." She grimaced. "Find another way home, Lotus. We're going to have to confiscate the plane anyway to look for other evidence."
"Fine," she sighed. "Let us get our bags and we'll head to a hotel. That cool?"
"That's fine. Xander's back in his bed. He apparently," he coughed, "had a talk with some of the people in Singapore. The bulletin boards are lighting up with what Lupin the Fourth found when she and Goemon got there." He looked at the one he thought was Lupin, and turned out to be Jigen. "The news she put across wasn't good. The crooks were dead when they got off the plane. As soon as they handed you over. She's taken their bodies into custody and she's bringing them to the main house in Hati."
"No, not Hati," Lupin said, shaking his head. "'Lis, tell her to bring them to Mexico. Not to Xan's house but to ours."
"Yes, sir. Um, ma'am." She pulled out her phone to make the call. "Lupin said to bring them to Mexico to her house." She looked at them. "Yup, both of them. No, that's fine." She hung up. "She can't get their bodies out of Singapore."
"Fuck," Jigen snarled, turning to hit a wall. "This sucks!"
"Now you know how Mom felt for that year," Ishi said dryly. "C'mon. Let's head to Britain. At the very least, he'll be able to help with something. Melissa, find us a hotel room for the night. We'll leave tomorrow discreetly." She nodded and he led the way out, going to take the last bus. They'd need to be checked over anyway. Vecchio followed. "Do you ever wish for the simpler existence you used to have before you found out about us?" he asked as they walked.
"Yeah, quite a few nights," Vecchio admitted. "But I like you guys. You didn't kill me yet."
"Recently," Melissa amended. "But if Mom retires he said he's going to cap you in the butt or something so you can't chase us kids. He said he'd be nice about it though."
"That's not a shock," Vecchio admitted. "Kowalski said much the same thing." He got them on and nodded for the driver to go. "Ladies, in case you hadn't been told we're taking you to a hospital first. You'll be examined, you may be given antibiotics if necessary. If you're kept, we'll be putting a guard on your rooms, female guards if possible. If there are male guards, they will stay outside your room and the nurses will be aware that you are kidnaping victims but nothing else unless you tell them. For your privacy, we're giving you fake names if you have to stay. Then we're taking you to a local police academy's dorms. They're safe, they're secure, and they've got good facilities for the counselors and others to come in. For those of you who have families, we'll be taking that information at the hospital and calling them for you. We will say that you were kidnaping victims and that you're going to need counseling. If possible, we'll set you up with someone locally. If you don't have families then we'll figure something out in a few weeks, when you're well enough to move on. There's a group that works with rescued victims like you are and we're in discussion with them about any further steps that need to be taken. So please, let us get you checked over without too much fuss and we'll do what we can to help you." They all nodded. "It's better to know in advance than to worry about it later," he said prosaically. "If it were my sister, I'd want to know she was all right first and then worry about bringing her home." They nodded and looked out the windows, some of them curled up in their seats. He looked at the two new women and shrugged. "I heard you two just got there. Do you need that sort of assistance?"
"Just in case," Jigen agreed. "We were drugged."
"I'd think you could tell," Melissa noted.
"Not necessarily," Lotus argued. "So they're going to do the same thing, just in case. That way they can also screen for the drugs they were given and all that good shit."
"Fine," Melissa agreed, letting her have this one. "We've got rooms in town."
"Fine," Vecchio agreed. "You guys probably know a bit about this stuff by now. I trust you to handle this one on your own and to leave before Zenigata gets here in the morning." He looked at Lupin, then at Jigen. "He wanted pictures."
"He can bite me," Lupin said grimly, slinking down in her seat. "This sucks."
"Badly," Jigen agreed.
"Could be worse, you could be our ages and doing this," Melissa said dryly. "You're obviously not teenagers."
"Point," Jigen agreed. If they had been, they probably would have been touched by now. "We saw Xan. He popped in a while back."
"We're brining you to his house. Lupin the Fourth will meet us there with Uncle G. We'll helicopter in from the airport. It'll be safer. At least until we're all together again."
"We need to stop at Ethan's," Lupin announced.
"Fat chance. We called him earlier and he hung up on us," Lotus told him. He glared at her. "Literally. So he's not getting in the middle of this one. Fortunately, Arsene's altar is set up."
"Fine. And the bitch?" Jigen asked.
"Dead when Daddy and Arsene find her," Ishi snorted. "That's their next move."
"We might need her."
"Nope, not even," Ishi said dryly. "Only Janus can remove those if the guys who did it are dead. You know that." He stared them down. "We've got it. Relax and contemplate. It's got to be odd." He shifted in his seat, looking out the window. "This is a nice place. We should find a hideout here."
"We've got one up the coast," Lupin assured him. "It's presently knocked down from the last bout of hurricanes however."
"That's fine, I got us a suite," Melissa promised. "We'll do minor shopping tonight before we leave tomorrow." They nodded. "Good. Sit and relax. The rest of the day won't be that pleasant in the ER." They pulled up behind the other busses in front of the hospital and she skipped down the stairs first, helping the women down. Ishi and Vecchio brought up the rear, pushing Lupin and Jigen inside. They were shown to a closed off area, with only female nurses and doctors. The staff was very efficient and careful when they did exams and took blood, and soon the two crooks were released into their family's care, letting them escape to a taxi and back to their hotel.
Xander looked up as his butler walked in with his cocoa, grinning at him. "Thanks."
"You're welcome, sir. We've just got a call that some of the children are coming in via helicopter from the local airport with some guests. Should I make up their rooms?"
"Please, and leave Arsene's altar alone this time." He nodded and headed off, leaving Xander to sit with his leg propped up. He heard the 'thump-thump' of the rotors and got up, grabbing his crutches to hobble outside. He grinned at the kids. "We've got to talk," he told Melissa, staring at the women. "Who are they?"
"That's Daddy and Uncle Lupin," she said grimly. "Notice the things around their necks. Rooms? It's been a long day."
"The usual," he said with a frown, watching as they walked past. "Melissa, get them some things from my closet in the master bedroom. Then come back down. We've got to talk, daughter."
"Yes, sir." She walked them up to their usual rooms, letting them settle in front of the altar to pray their hearts out for the chokers to be removed. Then she came back down. "Does this have something to do with the email apology I got from Brad?"
"Yup, sure does. He was interning with them. He tried to jump me, I blindly shot him," he admitted bitterly. "He apologized then."
"Then we're probably through," she admitted, giving him a hug. "It'll be odd, but you're going to help us, right?"
"Of course," he sighed. "Alan's presently away anyway."
"Thanks, mom. They're both feeling nasty and odd. They had exams last night to make sure they were fine. I settled them in front of Arsene's statue to pray for the chokers to come off."
"The guys who put it on them?"
"Died at the airport after handing them over."
"Basically," she sighed, shaking her head. "Uncle G and Arsene went after the demonic bitch. I'm sure they're going to leave you a small piece. Other than that, we're not sure what to do except fall back and regroup."
"Training," he said grimly. "We'll have to hit another hideout for that. I won't have that here, I promised." He kissed her on the forehead. "Figure out what they need most and we'll figure out which house to head to."
"Yes, sir." She grinned at them. "Maybe they'll change their minds."
"I don't want them back, honey. Lupin's used too many turns. He got kicked out of the game for cheating," he said simply. "Your dad won't put up with me and he refused to still like me. I gave up. I'll help but I'm not coming back." He went back to his chair and pillows, getting comfortable again while he read. The others could start things without him. Lotus and Melissa could teach them how to be girls just as well as he could. They were actual girls, something he didn't have when he was learning.
A few days later, Jigen walked down to where Xander was lounging with his leg again up on top of a pile of pillows. "Why is it that we helped you so damn much and you haven't even come to help us a bit?" he demanded.
"Because you guys have something I didn't to help you, real women." He gave her a long look, making her shiver. "What do you think I can help you with what the girls can't? They've been through all that girl stuff since the day of their births. They're good at the girl stuff, whereas I made due and improvised most of the time. Besides, Jigen, don't you remember most of it from last time?" He blushed. "Hmm. I see. And where might the other one be?"
"He might be in the baths and probably will still be sulking in there at dinner time."
"He's going to have to get used to it. If there's no one to release you but Janus, you're going to have to beg and plead. He's not happy with this family from what Marcus said." He shrugged. "I have not a clue why."
"Still, you could be helping."
"I could also be killing my back on my crutches." Jigen groaned, rubbing his face. "You just smeared your lipstick." He held out the box of tissues. "Blot more next time, Jigen." He blinked up at the angry face. "What?" he asked patiently. "I speak from experience there."
"You could come help."
"I could, you're right. And if I do, then we're playing into Janus' hands. Have we thought *why* he had another high priest torture you guys?"
"So you'd take Lupin back?" he asked grimly.
"I'm figuring that one for a yes, but that's okay. They want me to be happy and I'm happy enough as is. So therefore I'm giving you the benefits I never had, you've got real girls to teach you how to be girly. They've got all the benefits of years of teaching them how to be girls and how to walk in heels and how to shoot around having breasts. Therefore they'd be better at it. You've got better teachers than I had, but if you want to practice dancing I'll gladly help," he said sweetly. "Otherwise you'd have to ask Ishi. You'll have to wait until I'm allowed to stand for longer than it takes for me to go to the bathroom," he sighed, "but I'm sure you can."
"Yeah, whatever." He stomped out, going to report to Lupin.
"Sorry, but the truth sucks this time," he called after her.
Xander briefly stood up as the women walked in. Then he flopped back down and rubbed his new knee. "Sorry, I need my drugs. We ready to eat?"
"Not yet," Lupin said, taking her usual seat next to Xander. "Are you feeling okay?"
"I ran out of pain pills earlier and the doctor said I can't have more. So no, I'm vaguely homicidal at the moment." Lupin gave him a long look. "I managed to screw up my knee badly enough to have to have it replaced. They had to cut one side of the joint off and replace it with a metal substitute. My leg aches so much that I'm going to kill someone soon if I don't get pain killers, which I can't have because I might get hooked. How are you dealing in your first week as a woman?"
"About as well as you are with your new knee," Lupin said bitterly. "Why are you letting the girls do all the work?"
"Because they're girls. They know what girls should be and what they should do. They've been girls all their lives. They've practiced being girls. That's their jobs. They're good at it, unlike me who was playing at it. They're the experts in being girls. Therefore you're getting the best trainers known to mankind, real women."
"We still helped you."
"You did, and you've got all that stuff down so they're doing the refining stuff that it took me *years* to figure out, Lupin," Xander said patiently. "Thinks like how not to adjust yourself into agony inside a bra. Speaking of which, you need one."
"They're uncomfortable," he said dryly.
"No, really?" Xander asked in his most sarcastic voice. "Who would have thought. A bra, being uncomfortable." The girls snickered along with him. "Welcome to womanhood, Lupin and Jigen. It's nice to have you on our side. Now, when you've finally gotten past the bra thing and do what we do, which is not buy underwire, then we'll work on why you don't want to wear a thong." Jigen got up and stormed out. "Sorry, but it's the truth." He glared at Lupin again when he noticed the dirty look. "I'm giving you everything I can, Lupin. You've got the best trainers in the world and the other one coming. I'm not in any shape to help you. As a matter of fact, I'm leaving for the house in Mexico tomorrow to work on something down there for my new knee and the new life that's going to end up coming sooner or later. The girls have promised to help you guys. All of them, even Arsene when I told her. She's really excited that she's going to help you by giving you the same lessons you used to give her and 'Lis. You're in better hands than mine and you're complaining because I gave you the best. That's not my fault. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to find a dealer and get something like demerol." He grabbed his crutches and hopped out of the dining room, heading for the garage.
"You can't drive like that," Jigen said from the doorway, watching him hop along.
"Yes I can and yes I have."
"No, you can't." She walked out and took the keys. "I'm sorry. It's not our fault but I'm sorry we're bringing back bad memories, Xander. If you want, we'll take the girls home."
"You're probably going to have to since I'm going to Mexico in a few days," he agreed. "I've got stuff I've got to finish and I'm on a deadline with it. So I won't be back for a few weeks and being this close to Ethan will probably get you guys into more trouble." He took his keys back. "I'm going to find someone to get some pain killers before I snap again. I'll be back tonight." He hopped off, heading for his car, which was an automatic and wouldn't give him too many problems. He backed out slowly, having to turn to get away from Jigen. "I'm fine."
"You're not fine. You're in pain."
"I drove out of Maine while I was shot in the arm. This hurts less." He checked the cameras and beeped, making the cat behind him jump and glare but it did move. So he finished backing out and headed off into the dusk, hoping that the contact in town would have *something*. If not, he'd have to pop into one of the hideouts to find some real drugs. Which sucked majorly. Every time he did that, someone was in there and wanted his opinion on something. Most recently it'd been Ray. He noticed the cops were out tonight and sighed, calling the house when he saw one in SWAT gear. "Guys, the locals have on riot gear. Be careful." He hung up and decided to go to the pub, or at least park in the pub. He disappeared from there, heading to the nearest cupboard of a hideout, finding Ray K in there. "Drugs?" he asked. The usual cabinet was pointed at. "Thanks for not moving them."
"There's only legal stuff in there."
"I got those prescriptions fairly," he said patiently.
"Sure you did."
Xander grabbed him by the throat and pulled him up, getting in his face. "Have you ever had a portion of your bone sawed off and then had a metal spike driven into it, along with a fake end that's just not quite right?" Ray swallowed. "I'm in fucking pain and if you touched my painkillers I'm going to paddle your ass then hand you to someone meaner, like the pissy women at my house. Now, where are my drugs so I quit hurting?"
"Bathroom," he squeaked. Xander let him go and hobbled that way. "No crutches?"
"In the car." He slammed the door and found his favorite drugs, taking a few of them to ease the ache in his leg. Maybe on the way to Mexico he'd stop in and see that other guy. It'd be a nice thing to have someone else look at it. It was still rubbing painfully. He came out and Ray gave him a hurt look. "Yay. I'm in pain and you were between me and my drugs." He pocketed the pill bottle. "Needed something?"
"I'm meeting Bix here tonight."
"Fine. Wonderful. I don't care. Quit moving things around and use the condoms if you get that far. I'm going to Mexico soon if you needed a vacation." He disappeared, heading back to the pub, coming in through the back door. He grinned at the bartender. "I disappear for a minute and my car's been touched. Who might have been in it?"
"One of the cops was wondering why your crutches were in there and you weren't."
"I'm stubborn," he admitted, handing over the rent to the storage space he rented. "Ask my kids if you don't believe me." He hopped back out, going back to the house. He pulled back in slowly and parked, noticing the lights were off. "Whatever," he decided. He got out and hopped inside, heading up to his bedroom. He found everyone either gone or gone to bed, which was fine with him. He slid into his bed, sighing in relief as he dropped the crutches off to the side. He stretched out and winced as his knee straightened up, then sighed when someone's fingers went to work on the back of his aching thigh. "Thanks, Lupin. I'm still not breaking you in though." He closed his eyes. "Ray and Bix had a date at the supply closet."
"I heard," he admitted quietly. "When's your checkup?"
"Next week, Thursday." He yawned. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. I don't mind taking care of you, Xander." She slid up next to him. "Want to cuddle? Jigen said you sounded really bitter and down earlier."
"I'm fine, I got painkillers from the supply closet. Ray was even nice enough to clean." He yawned again. "You should go to bed, you've got another long day tomorrow. Especially if you're wanting to dress up again. Then the girls can take you shopping." He snuggled in. "Have a nice night, Lupin. Sweet dreams."
"You too, Xan," he whispered, laying down behind him.
"In your own room, Lupin. We're not together anymore and I'm not cheating on my guy."
"Fine. Even though I heard you broke up."
"Since you freaked him out by teleporting," Lupin said dryly. "Or isn't that why he accepted that gig in Australia?"
"No, he had that planned before then," he said through another yawn. "Nice try though. Go to bed, in your own bed."
"Fine." She slid out and headed back to her room, going to her big, lonely bed. Xander never used to be able to send him away. He laid down, curled up around his pillow, sulking greatly. He heard his daughter come in and padded down the stairs. "You okay?" he asked.
"Dad?" she squeaked, looking him over. "Damn it, you're not a thing like me! How dare they make you something other than a Lupin!"
"Maybe that's the problem, I don't look like myself," he said bitterly, giving her a hug. "I'm sorry, princess. We're working on it."
"I know, daddy. I'll help too. We're all hoping to get this fixed soon. You look odd as a girl. How's Mom's knee?"
"In pain. He's a cranky bitch today." He looked over at Goemon, who shivered. "Don't even think about it," he warned.
"I was not, simply thanking my chosen deity and ancestors that it was not me." He headed up to his room. "Is everyone else in bed?"
"Yeah, when Xander left to find medicine we all broke up early and went to our rooms." He hugged his daughter again. "I miss doing this."
"Just think, dad, you can have another one yourself now," she teased, grinning up at him. Her father whimpered and shook his head, going back up to his room nearly in tears. "Sorry, I was only teasing."
"I hate women!" He slammed his door.
"Uh-huh. Maybe this had a point after all," she said wisely, going up to her room and altar, going to bug Janus some more to fix this before she got a complex. "Please, God Janus, I don't want to end up insane with gender issues," she whispered. "If you could just fix them a bit? Like take off the necklace? Please?" she pleaded. "It's not like we don't honor you and do your bidding all the time. I even stop bad things from happening for you." She didn't feel like she got an answer so she got up and went to bed, climbing in naked, like usual.
Xander got up the next morning in extreme pain. He couldn't even move he was in so much pain. "That's it," he moaned. "I've had enough." He groped his bedside table, finding the phone since the pills were on the other side of the room. So he called downstairs. "Can one of you please bring me some juice and get me my pills? I can't move," he whispered. "Thank you." He hung up and laid there panting as the pain washed over him. "Why didn't I just have him cut it off?"
"Because that would have made it worse," Jigen said as he walked in with a glass of juice. He grabbed the pill bottle and handed it over, helping Xander sit up to take a few. He checked the dosage on the bottle and gave him a long look. "Double dosage?"
"Have to. It's aching like you wouldn't believe. Thanks, Jigen." He ran a hand over his hair to smooth it down, then looked at the woman next to him. "How was your night?"
"Lonely. I thought most of it."
"At least you can catch a nap today." He swung his feet around, looking down at his knee. "This sucks. I'm going back for a checkup."
"Sure. Want helped into the bathroom?"
"No, just hand me the crutches, I'll be okay. These work faster." Jigen handed them over and watched as Xander stood up, steadying himself before hopping into the bathroom. "Thanks, Jigen. I'll see you at breakfast."
"Sure, Xan." He walked out shaking his head. That was not normal. He found Ishi in the hallways. "You're going to be taking him somewhere later. He's not to drive, kid."
"Yes, Auntie. The doctor's or the hospital?"
"Whichever one he wants and don't call me that, kid."
Ishi looked at him. "You made him assume a female name as soon as she started her training. It is only correct that you have one as well."
"I'm not training myself like this. I'll fricken retire first." He headed down to the kitchen, where half of them were awake. "Ishi just called me Auntie."
"Well, we are in female form," Melissa noted dryly. "We did do the same thing to Mom as well." She pushed a plate in front of him then sat down with hers. "Eat, you'll need it. We've got range practice today, daddy."
"Thanks, kid." He listlessly ate. "Xander wanted to do this."
"No, he was desperate to prove himself," Arsene reminded him. "He was proving his worth and finding his place in the group. That's all that was, Jigen." She looked over at him, giving him the same look her father did when he was mid-plan. "Where is Mom?"
"In the shower."
"The other mother, Auntie Jigen."
"Don't call me that!"
"Dad, chill," Melissa warned. "Arsene!"
She put down her book and looked at them. "Listen, the only person who can take those off is Janus. It's not like we can resurrect the people who put them in the things. I'm not even sure if they can change their forms or not. They know this. I'm facing reality. Janus won't answer me. Ethan's majorly pissed at us all for some reason. Mom's not going to be helping with this one because this brings back nasty memories for her too. So either we figure out if those imbeciles had children or they're going to have to get used to it. Those appear to be the only two options. Or do you see anything, Melissa?"
"No," she admitted quietly. "I don't. Lotus doesn't either." She looked over as Goemon came in the back door. "Do you think slicing it off would work?"
"Losing a stone nearly kept the spell in place permanently in the past," Goemon said quietly. He looked at Jigen. "I could try but that would probably react the same way and we would not be able to recreate it."
"No, don't even think about it," Lupin said as she walked in. "We've got enough problems with this as is, Goemon. Don't curse us to an eternity as ugly women."
"You're not ugly, mom. You're not a supermodel, but you're not ugly," Arsene assured her. "They did a better job than when you put Uncle Jigen in the choker for that job."
"Point," he said grimly, sitting down at the bar. "It still sucks though."
"Of course it does," Melissa soothed, giving her a hug. "You didn't want to be a woman so of course it sucks to be you right now. With some gentle instruction you'll be able to pass in no time. Then you can go back to pulling jobs."
"Not a chance. I'd ruin my own rep," Lupin said grimly. "I'd almost rather drop off the face of the earth in mystery. At least no one will laugh at us."
"We're not laughing, mom," Arsene promised. "It's odd and icky being a girl. We can tell you both all about the ickiness of being a girl and getting girl issues and all that stuff. By the way, you might want to adjust the bra before you end up in pain."
"For having taken so many off, I suck at putting them on," Lupin said glumly, adjusting himself. He saw the butler pause at the doorway and give him a funny look. "It's not like I planned on being a girl."
"No, you probably did not. We do have a room set up with exercise equipment if you think it would help, including a balance beam for some reason."
"Not yet," Melissa told him. "That's a later lesson, when they've come to terms with it and started to work on grace and things. Thank you though." He nodded. "Mom's up but in a lot of pain."
"He just left by himself."
"I told Ishi to take him."
"He's presently pouting," the butler told him. "Who cleans the litterboxes?"
"I do today," Arsene told him. "If you'd show me where they are after breakfast?" He nodded, moving to get some more coffee. "I made it so it's a bit strong," she warned.
"I'll add milk. Thank you for the warning, young lady."
"That's right. Mom probably didn't introduce us. I'm Arsene. That's Melissa. The pouting one is Ishi and his sister's Lotus."
"Thank you, ma'am. M'lady," he said, nodding at Melissa, making her giggle. "There is the title."
"I'm not the sort to do the society things," she admitted. "I'm more the mad inventor of the family. There's no hope of a society wedding or anything like that with me. Only if Arsene gets married."
"Very well, I shan't plan for one then," he said with good humor. "If you need anything I'll be straightening up the study since Xander said he might not be back today. Do give us more than a few minute's warning next time, m'lady. We nearly didn't have your rooms ready in time."
"Sorry. Next time I'll call before we get to Heathrow." He nodded that was acceptable then left them alone. "Wow. Usually I only get that from the planning teacher and most of his respect is sarcasm."
"Tell me about it," Arsene snorted. "Putz of the teaching staff at the Academy and he likes you."
"Take that back!"
Arsene grinned. "He does! He watches your ass all the time!" Melissa picked up a clean plate and hit her on the top of the head with it, fortunately not breaking it. "Brat!"
"Girls!" Lupin snapped. They settled down, Melissa putting the plate in the sink so she could clean it later. "Thank you. Get me some more coffee, 'Lis." He held up his cup, smirking as she filled it. "You could always retire to create here."
"I'd be bored. There's not even a theater close by, mom." She sat down and went back to eating. "When do we head back?"
"Next week," Jigen said grimly.
Arsene grabbed her head and groaned. "Fucking A," she moaned. "Someone call Mom. Her doctor's working with the Watchers. They want to capture him to torture him for what Ethan made." No one moved. "Now, people!"
Melissa grabbed the phone and hit the button marked 'carphone', getting her father. "It's us. Your doctor's going to turn you over to the Watchers. No, they want to know what Ethan made to make you younger. They're thinking about using it on some of the girls. Nope, torture, the usual. No, Arsene did. Sure. Which hospital?" She smirked at Arsene. "Sure, mom. We'll come visit." She hung up. "He's going to Cleveland to see that other guy."
"He's working with them too," Arsene complained, calling him back. "Not him either. Go somewhere else. Somewhere brand new to you. Because we don't have time to pull a rescue before we've got to go back to the Academy and Mom and Auntie aren't in any shape to do that yet." He said something quietly. "But..." She sighed at his reasoning. "Fine. Sorry." She hung up. "I'm sorry, he said not to call you by girly names yet, that you're not ready."
"I'm not," Jigen agreed. "Thank him the next time you see him."
"He said he's heading for LA," Arsene offered gently, patting him on the arm. "That way he can work on his new idea too."
"What new idea?" Lupin asked, sounding glum now.
"He's gotten an idea from one of his fantasy novels. Something about plastic wizardry," Melissa said with a shrug. "Replacement parts on demand via a magical exchange."
"Well, physics would work in their favor," Lupin admitted dryly. "Just ask and get a great set of tits?"
"Basically," Lupin the Fourth agreed with a smirk. "Think of all the havoc and chaos that could create if Mom could pull it off, and what sort of social climbing that demon could do."
"He's working with a demon?" Jigen asked.
"A wish demon. I saw it in my vision," Lotus offered as she walked in. "Ishi's taken the motorcycle with Father's permission and gone after Mother."
"Which mother?" Lupin asked calmly.
"Hopefully the one about to be taken by the Watchers. He said he'd meet us back at the school and he'd call the Headmistress since he might be a day late." She slid into a free seat. "What's for breakfast?"
"I made eggs and toast," Melissa told her.
"That's very culinary of you," Lupin the Fourth teased. "You really did learn from the Practical Education classes." Melissa shoved her off her stool, sneering at her. "Hey!"
"Girls," Jigen said quietly, making them stop. "We need to go shopping, I don't have anything clean to wear and nothing in Xan's closet fits," he told Lupin.
"Fortunately I've already called Auntie Money Lady and she's made up a new identity for you guys," Arsene offered, nodding at the envelope on the counter. "Drivers Licenses and all."
Lupin got up to get them, looking through them. "Hey, I've got a Lupin Gold card. I've always wanted one of those," he said happily.
"Why did you start your own credit card company?" Melissa asked.
"Really good profits." He handed Jigen hers and sat down to look at his pictures. "Where did they get it from?"
"Can we shoot him? I look rotten," Lupin sighed, putting them into her pocket. He sighed as he looked at his daughter. "I guess you're the official Lupin in the family, Arsene. Since I'm clearly not me."
"It'll be okay, mom. We can deal with it," Arsene promised. "And the first time someone laughs, I'll kick their asses for you. It's what we butch women do for the more delicate ones," she said with a smirk. Jigen reached over and smacked her again. "Hey! Melissa!"
"Quit, brat," she growled. "I've had enough."
"Fine," she said, pouting at them. "I'll try to behave." She looked at the parents and shrugged. "What did you expect?"
"Nothing less," Jigen the elder admitted. "You were destined for Janus from day one since you've always been a force of chaos."
"That's the nicest compliment I've gotten all summer," she said happily. "Thank you." She beamed at Melissa. "See, I'm only following my nature."
"Fine, then follow it up the stairs to give your ears an enema to clean the shit out from between them," she said in her most sarcastic and mean voice.
"And?" she snorted. "At least I'll be going after people who *know* how to pleasure a woman."
"I'm only going to go for men with skills," she whined.
"Kids!" Lupin snapped.
"Sorry," they muttered.
"Gods, I hope I don't need Midol like you two do." He glared at them. "Settle down."
"Can I sic her on Brad for interning with the Golden Dragons?" Melissa asked. Her father gave her a long look so she nodded. "Mom shot him. Claims it was accidental. I'm having a bout of VBS."
"VBS?" Jigen asked.
"Vindictive Bitch Syndrome," Arsene explained. "Sure, which hospital is he in?"
"Eh, then we'll sic Ishi on him," she said with a fond grin. "I'm sure he can make him miserable enough for you."
"Hopefully," she agreed dryly. She hadn't thought of that. Ishi was very good at making people miserable, he did it to them and Lotus all the time.
"I'll even call him to give him ideas," Lupin the Fourth offered.
"Sure. I'm sure he'd like them. He's not into thinking right now according to him. He said he's tired of being smart." Lotus snickered. "Yeah, I know, but blame it on Mom. She's the one who gave him the massive ego boost."
"He's smart in his areas," Lupin argued for his nephew. "Just because he's not great in math doesn't make him dumb."
"Actually, Ishi's very smart, he's just not people smart," Jigen told her, grinning at her new aunt.
"If you say so," Arsene snorted. "Okay, I'm off to clean kitty boxes. You guys get ready and we'll go shopping." They nodded and headed to do their things if they were done with breakfast.
Xander looked at the wish demon who he was working with. "Any chance I can be first?" he sighed.
"Probably. What's wrong now?"
"My knees, still. The doctor said that they were fine, it wasn't fully healed yet. That's why I was aching so much." He shifted, putting his sore leg back up. "He said it'd stop soon."
"It's been a few weeks," she agreed. "Sometimes it can take up to a month to heal. Unfortunately if I undid the damage, I'd have to go too far back and that means you'd forget the kids and all that stuff," she offered. He shook his head. "You're sure?"
"Yeah, I don't need that sort of stress in my life. Just whenever we get it fixed, I'll have mine switched out for a working set of knees." He popped his right shoulder. "That can wait for a few years," he said at her look. "Is it working?"
"Nearly. We've got the interface working but we're working on training the imp inside. So it'll probably be within a week or so." She gave him a sly look. "Now if only we could get some doses of Ethan's elixir it'd make us tons."
"It would," Xander agreed dryly. "He's still angry at me though."
"I think Janus has been giving him a headache."
"Probably," Xander agreed bitterly, shifting off to the side. "I ache."
"I'm sure you do. Have you taken your medicine?"
"He thought I didn't need any more either." She snorted. "So I've got my stash of demoral at the moment." He patted his pocket. "I'm holding off taking them for as long as I can so I don't run out."
"Take a minor dose, it'll be fine, Xander."
"Fine." He took one of the pills, gulping the rest of his soda. "Do we have a space set up?" She nodded, grinning at him. "Does it look clinical?"
"It does," she admitted. "I'm still working on how we're doing references and the book of before and after."
"Use some succuba. Have them change forms and do a before, then an after."
"Good idea." She grinned at him. He was very good. "How long do you think we're going to stay set up?"
He shrugged. "How long do you want to do this?"
"I guess that depends on the profits." She looked over as an imp appeared. "Is everything ready?" He nodded. "Including the interface?"
"We've got everything set up using copies of the former soul's attributes. They're set up as real flesh. All you have to do is do a replacement."
"Thank you. Take our Lord and Master back there so I can show him." He nodded and took Xander with him, coming back for his crutches, then disappearing again. She stood up and sent a silent prayer to their Dark Lord that this would work. It was a daring plan. She sent herself to her new office, looking around. "It looks rather plain, but fairly clinical and not too down-to-earth." She headed into the back rooms, noticing where Xander was. There was a room decorated in a garden motif and the demon had put him in there. She walked in with the special blanket that would help her with the replacement, laying it across his lap. "Now, let's work on this, Xander."
"I wish I had working knees, ones that didn't ache," he sighed, looking down. The blanket glowed briefly then faded. He stretched and grinned. "Wow."
She looked at his knees, then grimaced. "Those won't stand up to it. Imp!" It appeared, so she pointed at his knees. "Look at that."
He felt Xander's knees, making him shudder. "Sorry," he said quietly. He nodded his head. "I see the problem and we can fix them. Transfer them back and I'll have them fixed." She replaced the blanket and undid the transfer, letting him go fix it.
"He'll be right back, Xander."
"That's fine, as long as they're done soon. I hate being in pain."
"I would too," she agreed. "That's one of the reasons I took the job when they offered it. Why don't you nap and we'll see what we can do to fix them for you." He nodded and laid back, getting comfortable on the table. She covered him with a normal blanket and headed to work with the imp. They had to get this working. Disappointing Xander would be a bad thing.
A glowing body floated down, coming over to stroke Xander's cheek. "Why do you not ask?" he whispered. "I would do the same."
Xander looked at him. "Because you're being an asshole to my family."
"I did it so you would be happier."
"Janus, we're through. There's no more Lupin and Xander."
"There is if you would consider it," he offered, stroking his cheek again. "You consider it. They will understand more this time. I will let them change form back, it is all I can do." He stroked over Xander's knees, making them tingle. "That is all I can undo."
"Which gives me how long?"
"Another year perhaps. We will help this demon you have chosen. It is extremely powerful for all of us. Be well, Xander, and don't forget your project for Bastian." He faded out.
Xander stood up, only wincing a bit when his knees ground and popped. "Ow. But not as bad." He grabbed his crutches and headed back out to his car, leaving a note on the front desk that he'd be in Mexico. He never counted on the people who were waiting to snatch him from his car.
Melissa looked up as her lunch dates showed up, grinning at them. "Hey, guys. How's things, Bastian and Homer?"
"Not great," Bastian admitted. "We haven't heard from Xander in a few weeks and he's due to give us something tomorrow. Where is he?"
Melissa took another drink of her soda while she shrugged. "He said he was going to Mexico after seeing someone about his knees."
"We've checked with his security company. No one has been in the house in Mexico," Homer said quietly.
"Well, shit," she sighed, putting down her drink. "Are there plans?" They nodded. "Then I could probably finish it for him. Are they there or has he got them on the computer or what?"
"No, they're down there. He swore it only needed a few more hours of work and some testing," Bastian offered.
"Hey, then get me down there and I'll work on it before I've got to go back to school. Fortunately we had Ishi tailing Mom." She grimaced and pulled out her phone, calling Arsene. "Hey, it's me. Mom never showed up in Mexico. Call Ishi to see why. I'm heading down there to finish the stuff for Bastian and Homer. Yeah, tell her I'll be late." She hung up. "Okay, do we have travel arrangements?" They nodded. "Then let's go. I've got a bag in the car." She grinned at them. "Another important Mom lesson."
"Thank you, Melissa. You are being of great help," Homer told her.
"It's not a problem. I like you guys. Any idea where Mom actually is?"
"The last we heard was LA," Bastian said grimly.
"So was Ishi so we'll figure it out," Melissa promised. "Let's go. I'll even drive." They shook their heads. "I'm a good driver."
"No thanks. Young drivers worry us," Bastian said with a grin. "C'mon." They led her outside, letting her pay her bill and get her bag from the car, then taking her to theirs and taking off. It wasn't that long of a trip to Mexico. The mini-laser might even get done on time.
A few days later, Ishi walked into the school's courtyard, looking around with a nod. Nothing had really changed much, for all that he felt different. He bowed to his sword teacher when he saw him coming toward him. "My mother is now free from burdens."
"What happened?" he asked grimly.
"She accused Mom of being dark and doing evil to the guardians in LA. Some of them are gone as well. The main ones, including the former thief he trained with, are still there but the vampires are no more. Nor is the one they call Wesley." He smirked. "Mom's fine too."
"Good. Go up to your room. You've got the same one. Same bed too."
"Thank you. I'll see you later." He headed that way. "Did the girls get my clothes?"
"No and Melissa's not back yet either," the teacher called. "You can go do that this weekend."
"Fine, thank you." Ishi went up to check in with the dorm monitor and the Headmistress to get his schedule, then went to unpack the backpack he had on him. He sent most of it into the wash since it had blood and ashes on it. Then he laid down to take a nap, sure no one would *dare* touch the motorcycle. Someone tapped on his door. "I'm resting!"
Wyatt stuck his head in. "Lupin the Fourth said to call her when you got in, Ishi. She's not a happy woman today over her crew being split."
"Fuck her. I had to rescue mom from vampires." He waved a hand. "I'll see her at dinner."
"Fine, I'll pass that back. Melissa just showed up too and Lupin jumped up and started to scream, fair warning." He closed the door gently and locked it from the other side for him, making Ishi smirk.
"Good job," he muttered, flipping onto his side so he could take a nap. It had been a long flight from LA.
Lupin the Fourth looked at her siblings, scowling at them. "Where the fuck were you!"
"Saving Mom," Ishi said dryly.
"Doing the project that Bastian needed for a summit," Melissa said with a shrug. "What happened?"
"Fujiko turned him in to Wesley for making dark deals," Ishi said dryly, smirking at her. "That got Angel to kidnap him so they could try to reprogram him and turn him back into a good guy. They had him drugged really well, he didn't feel his knees at all."
"Wonderful. Anyone we need to worry about coming back?"
"No, not Wesley or Angel," he said smugly.
"The maternal giver?" Lotus asked quietly from the corner.
"Also not an issue. She's in an uncomfortable position," he said, smirking at her. "Did you know that there are glass coffins under the harbor in LA?" She shook her head but she was smirking. He nodded. "There are. They even have air pumps and things."
"Good." She looked at Melissa. "The project?"
"Flawless. They used their backup time. We finally figured out that Mom had been kidnaped again so they're not too upset with him."
"They shouldn't be at all. I found Bastian and gave him Mom," Ishi offered. "Any news on the chokers?"
"They're able to get back to their usual forms but the thing reverts back to female form at least once a week," Arsene said bitterly. "It's the most Janus was willing to do for them."
"Then I guess he's mad at their breakup too," Melissa said with a shrug. "Are they enjoying it?"
"Not really. Daddy is still really depressed about this. Even though he knows it's his own fault. He's kicking his ass over this majorly." She sighed. "The only worse thing he could do would be to turn them all back into teenagers and have us watch them."
"Don't say that, he might," Lotus warned dryly.
"No, because that won't help Mom's knees at all," Ishi reminded her. "How's the plastic wizardry going?"
"They've finally got it worked out for fleshy parts, like noses and breasts. They can't do something solid like joints yet. Ethan was talked into giving the demon some of the youth potion and he's getting a ten percent profit. Since they're in Hollywood...." she broke off with a grin. "Let's just say he's retired and comfortably off." Lotus smirked at him. "You know, that anti-aging stuff isn't such a bad idea. That would help Uncles Lupin and Jigen a lot."
"Then we'd have to watch over them," Arsene reminded her. "Plus, Uncle Goemon would hate being their parent." She shrieked and grabbed her head. "Quit doing that!" she growled. "At least give me some warning so I can sit down!" She looked at Lotus. "Wish granted," she said dryly. "But they're girls more often."
She shrugged. "It'll teach them. They'll be happy again or else."
"It's the or else that's the problem," Melissa said thoughtfully. "We should warn them."
"Too late," Ishi snorted. "I'm doubting that it hasn't already happened. Hopefully Mom's in the same form he was when he was twenty-two or so."
"Hopefully," Lotus agreed. "Just after he was healed."
Melissa and Arsene shuddered, clutching each other. "We need chocolate."
"That's okay, I didn't get to do any shopping," Ishi offered. They smirked and headed out with him, taking the Fiat that Melissa was still working on. It was a nice night for a road trip and they didn't have class the next day.
Jigen woke up, swatting at the alarm. He realized something was off when the alarm went onto the floor, groaning and sitting up. He touched his hair, making sure he hadn't changed during the night. Nope, he still had his male hair. He got up and headed into the bathroom, starting off his morning ritual. He looked in the mirror and paused.
Then he screamed.
Lupin the Third woke up at the screaming, jumping out of bed and grabbing his gun to hurry to Jigen's room. This was very bad! Jigen didn't scream. He had to pass by a mirror in the hallway and stopped, staring at himself. He finally touched his face, expecting to feel a wrinkle, but it was smooth, stretchy, hard skin. "Damn," he breathed, deciding to head for Xander's room. He wasn't in right now but there was the statue of Janus in there. Instead he found Xander sitting up on the bed, and his eyes very vacant. "Thank you," he whispered, kneeling in front of him. "How did you do it?"
"I did this because your children suggested it. This is your last chance, Lupin the Third. If you do not work things out and keep him happy, I will allow Alan to have him. If you work this out, you will stay this way and start over again from here this last time. If you do not, you will revert and Xander will stay this way. My priest is more important to me and I have one to replace you now." Lupin nodded. "Tell the others when they become aware of this. You have one month." Then Xander passed out.
Lupin tucked him in and went to talk to Jigen first, calming him down. This would take some good planning and they didn't have time to wait.
Xander woke up looking at Goemon, who looked a bit different. "Did you do a chemical peel?"
"No, your God interfered at the insistence of the children," he said dryly. "How do your knees feel?"
Xander slowly moved them, then grinned at him. "They feel great," he said happily, starting to laugh. He jumped up and hugged Goemon, then danced around his room. "I feel wonderful!"
"Good. There was a clause." Xander stopped to look at him. "If you do not take Lupin and Jigen back as true mates, then we will revert."
"That's not fair. It's not your fault they're such screwups."
"No, it is not," Goemon agreed, "but I do not care about such things. I can age gracefully. They will not." He looked at the boy. "Therefore they wish to see you for breakfast. I will be here for you when you need to talk, Xander." He walked away, leaving him to his morning rituals.
Xander sat on the end of his bed and thought about it. He finally looked at the statue. "That was really mean to Goemon," he complained.
"It must be," one head told him.
"Decide based on what you know and who they are," the other reminded him. "They may or may not change."
"Yeah, I know." Xander got up and lit an incense stick, making both heads sneeze. "I offered to switch but you said you liked this one."
"Move it back some, it's in our eyes," one of the heads complained. Xander shifted it. "Thank you."
"Go bathe and eat," the second head told him. "You may not leave here for the next month." Xander nodded and went to do that.
When he got downstairs, Lupin pulled his chair out for him, giving him a long look. "Did Goemon talk to you?" Xander nodded. "Good. We thought it only fair." He poured him some coffee and handed over the sugar and cream. "Here. Let's talk."
"Why?" Xander asked.
"Because we need to, Xander," Jigen reminded him.
"I want to work this out with you, Xan," Lupin offered. "I want to spend this month talking and working things out."
"Why?" Xander asked again.
"Because seeing you happy with someone else is making me insane," Lupin said bitterly. "I realize I feel about you like I did about Fujiko. I feel a compulsion to have you."
"Then maybe you should have done things to keep me," Xander pointed out. "It's not like it would have taken much. A grunt in the mornings, a kiss now and then, a shag once a week."
"And I want you to know that we're going to change," Lupin promised. "I'm sorry. I'm a dumbass. I've been a dumbass for a while, but watching you and Alan be happy is driving me fricken' insane." He smirked. "Not that it's so far to go."
"True and I'm sorry you were so far gone when I joined you," Xander said dryly. "So, what are we doing this month?"
"First I thought I'd make sure you ate breakfast and that you're okay."
"I'm fine. I've got my old body back so maybe I've got another ten years on my knees before they go bad again." He drank his coffee. "Muffins?" Jigen handed them over. "So, no more insinuations to have sex?"
"Not until we worked things out."
"Fine." Xander broke open his muffin, buttering it slowly. "So, who's the therapist of the moment?"
"No one. We can do it without one," Jigen assured him. "You and I are adults and Lupin tries very hard to act older than his daughter." Lupin glared at him so he smirked. Then he gave the same look to Xander. "So, how is Alan in the sack?"
"I don't know, we haven't had sex yet. He's not a whore and I don't sleep with people I intend to be with on the first few dates. He does cuddle very well," he said smugly. "And he's a wonderful kisser."
"Good, that's always a wonderful thing," Lupin agreed bitterly. "I want to see you happy but with us, Xander."
"Then you should have paid attention to me," Xander reminded him. "I'm not some ornament and I'll be damned if I'm going to pull a Fujiko to get your attention."
"That's a good thing," Jigen agreed dryly, handing over another muffin. "Here, you need it. You're always hungry."
"I'm not like that most of the time anymore. I haven't had the constant nibbles in a few years." He did eat it though. "Did Ishi get to school okay? I saw him while I was drugged up."
"I checked earlier. He made it and the girls took off with him to get him clothes. He didn't get a chance to shop."
"Who had you?" Lupin asked calmly.
"Angel and Wes. They're no longer among the living if I remember right." Xander considered back. "I think Ishi sliced them pretty well. Then again I thought I was hallucinating during that time." He shrugged. "We can call David later. Or Marcus."
"Marcus!" Lupin snapped. Marcus appeared, dressed in a dark suit and tie. "Was it taken care of by Ishi?"
"He did kill Angel, my father, and severely injured Connor and Gunn."
"Poor Gunn. How is he?"
"He'll heal. Ishi only got him on the arm when he started to protest. Apparently he heard about him and decided not to kill him." Marcus smoothed down his lapels. "Did we need more about this? I'm heading for the funeral to laugh my arse off."
"No, go, as long as it was taken care of," Lupin assured him.
Marcus checked the collar. "It's set to change you again every three days," he told him.
"You be careful and come back after the funeral."
"Sorry, but Ethan needs me at the moment," Marcus told him. "Since we're not doing anything at the moment," he said with a smirk.
"Fine," Jigen agreed.
"I'll be doing something late next month if you want to help," Xander offered. "I could use a lookout/distraction/second guy to heft things."
"Fine, Xander. I'll see you in a month." He concentrated and disappeared.
"What are you pulling?" Jigen asked.
"Just a switch and grab," Xander said with a grin. "A pretty painting."
"Nope, but pretty. I'm thinking a present for the newlyweds and it's not something that Gramps will be called about."
"Good one, Xan," Lupin agreed, smiling at him. "So, can we talk this afternoon?"
"Fine. What was on the agenda?"
"Us," Lupin said patiently. "I know I've got a lot of asskissing to do but we'll talk."
"Fine. After I finish breakfast."
"Fine." Lupin poured him some more coffee and then watched him.
"Go do something else," Xander ordered. "Staring at me makes me nervous." They took their coffee and headed off to the study. Xander shook his head and finished his breakfast. "You're insane, Janus. Was it dealing with us that did it?" he muttered as he cleaned up after himself. He felt a sense of peace steal over him while he did his dishes, making him calm and happy. At least until he tried to walk past the study and a thin arm came out to drag him into it. "Hi. I can't go outside to get some fresh air first?"
"All the cars are presently broken," Lupin told him with a shrug. "Ishi has your bike at school."
"Why?" Xander asked dryly.
"Because he brought it with him to LA and then back to Italy," Jigen explained. "Melissa finished your project. Bastian and Homer came to talk to her."
"I trust them with her."
"Not the point, they're rather upset with you," Jigen told him. "I told him what had happened and he only rolled his eyes. Apparently they're used to you."
"They should be. I get stolen *how* many times a year?"
"Good point," Lupin agreed dryly. "By the way, we'd like to stop that problem."
"So would I," Xander said, stretching out. He grinned. "I don't ache. I don't need my demerol today."
"It's a wonderful thing," Lupin agreed happily. "I hated seeing you in pain." He reached over to pat Xander's knee, noticing he didn't flinch. "It's always a good thing to see you feeling happy and well."
"Thanks." Xander shifted and crossed his feet on the coffee table. "Now what?"
"Now, we talk. After I apologize. I'm sorry I ignored you. I suck, I have to admit I suck. I'm sorry."
"Accepted, but not making me happier and not working yet."
"I know," Lupin agreed quickly. "I don't expect it happen overnight. I want us to work things out though. Not because I don't want to be old again, but I want us to work things out. I'm miserable. Jigen's miserable." Jigen nodded. "So let's talk."
"Fine, let's talk. About what?"
"How about what we can do to fix this rift?" Jigen suggested.
"I'm still thinking it's too late for that," Xander told him. "I'm moving on, guys. I don't want to quit working with you, but I'm not going to do this again. I do have some self esteem again and it's a wonderful thing. Alan actually likes to listen to me babble."
"So our mistake was making you better when we first met?" Lupin asked bitterly. Xander glared at him. "I didn't mean it like that," he sighed. "You know what I meant." He looked at him. "You usually know what I mean when I can't get it out right. You know my mind better than anyone but my clones."
"Fred is exactly like you," Jigen said dryly.
"That's what I was hoping for, but not with the whole feeding thing," Lupin admitted. "Not even *I* get away with that," he said with a small smirk.
"Not that you didn't try to do it all the time."
"Sorry. Did it bother you?"
"Only when you tried in public."
"Sorry. Any other faults I should work on?"
"If you change too much, you won't be Lupin," Xander said patiently. "I don't want someone else, when I wanted you I wanted you to pay attention to me. That wasn't a hard thing to do. I'm not exactly a hard man to please. Like I said, even a grunt in the mornings would have been fine. A quick snuggle and sex once a week would have been fine. From either of you."
"I'm sorry, Xan. I tried. I'm still working on it. I will fix it," Jigen promised.
"That would be nice." Xander shifted again. He looked at his former lovers. "Maybe we should have a drink or something. This is getting awkward."
"Sure, Xander." Jigen got up to get them something drink, giving him a soda. It was too early in the day to really drink and alcohol wasn't going to help any. "Here." He handed them over. "No liquor."
"Thanks," Xander said, sipping his. "We need to refill the cartridges. It's flat. It's wonderfully soothing though." He drank more of it. "That is pretty soothing."
"You don't have to babble, we're all nervous," Lupin reminded him gently. He looked at Jigen, who shrugged. "Maybe we should do this individually. We've got things we need to say to each other, all of us if we're staying a trio."
"We are?" Xander asked.
"We are," Jigen agreed firmly. "Even if I do end up stuck in this fricken collar the rest of my damn life. I'll expect you to treat my female side well."
"Of course," Xander agreed quickly. "I remember how tough that transformation was." He took another drink then put his glass down. "Bottom line here, guys," he announced. "I'm not sure this is a great idea. Janus may be all seeing but I don't think he's seeing anything other than some rosy glasses. I'm happy. Alan may not understand me all the time but he understands me most of the time. He tries, which is really a great thing, and he's there for more than sex. After I was healed that's all you guys were there for, or at least I felt that way most of the time. I need to be special to someone. I can't be just the fuck toy of my boyfriend. Especially not when you guys only seemed to like me when I had tits." He looked around. "Where're the kids?"
"Bix has them in Germany," Jigen told him. "Goemon's going tonight to join them and protect them." He sipped his soda and shifted some to get more comfortable. "I wanted more than the sex, Xan. I always did. We used to talk all the time. Or don't you remember waking me up to babble at me?"
Xander snorted. "Oh, I do. The same as I remember the look of death you gave me for it."
"You woke me up every day for three weeks at three in the morning. Of course I was tired and cranky," Jigen said smartly, smirking at him. "Can we start back at that level?" Xander shrugged and nodded. "Cool. Then let's start with the usual, man. How's things with your empire?"
"They're probably still pissed with me for getting kidnaped again. A lot of them think that it happens too often."
"It does," Lupin agreed dryly. "It's a good thing we don't pay kidnapers, your ransom fund would have run out a long time ago."
"Most of them don't kidnap me for money and I managed to get out of most of them by myself. You guys only saw the worst ones. For that matter, Bastian only saw one horrible one who wanted me to work for him."
"Excuse me?" Jigen demanded, sitting up. "You've been taken *how* many times this year?" Xander simply shrugged. "That's not an answer, Xander."
"Maybe ten? Most of them only lasted an afternoon. One wanted sex. One wanted me to die, he forgot to tie the ropes tight enough. Most of them wanted to kidnap me to make me work for them, one way or another." He smirked at him. "They were really shocked when I used my skills on them instead."
"We've only saved you once this year," Lupin said thoughtfully.
"Twice, Egypt," Jigen corrected. "Not that he didn't do it on his own," he added at Xander's look in his direction. "Why do they want you so much? Is it the demonic stuff or the magic stuff? Or is it just that you're a great gunman and thief?"
"Depends on the person. This year so far it's been six demonic and three gunman, and one woman thing. Um, two women thing but that was the 'being the bait' thing so I'm not counting it." He shifted. "I've had worse years and survived."
"Yeah, but we woulda wanted ta help, Xan," Jigen protested.
"Jigen, rescuing gets boring after a while," Xander said bitterly. "You don't want to be the knight in shining armor. Otherwise you'd have been in a different field. I got myself out of those for the most part, except for some really horrible ones. I'm not some damsel in distress for you to save!"
"No, you're not," Lupin agreed. "You're very talented in your own right and you deserve the right to prove it. You can't do that when you're being taken hostage however."
"Keeps the bad things from going too far," Xander said with a shrug. "I don't care."
"We do, Xander," Lupin assured him. "We never wanted that stuff to happen to you."
"Yeah, I didn't bring you with me so I'd have someone I could rescue," Jigen reminded him bitterly. "Or to be my girl." Xander glared at him. "Sorry, I know you felt that way sometimes."
"I still do, Jigen. If we're together in *that* way you should be able to touch me. You should want to touch me and do it regularly. Not only do it when I'm in that choker you've got on. By the way, how were you finding it?"
"I understand why you're frustrated, Xander," Lupin said calmly.
"No, he's right," Jigen agreed. "I was crappy to him and I'm sorry about that. I didn't need to be put into the choker to discover that. I was in it before."
"Yeah, and you couldn't wait to get out of it."
"If you didn't want to put it back on, why did you the last time?" Lupin asked quietly.
"So you'd pay some fucking attention to me, Lupin! It's the only way I ever got any!" He stood up. "You may not remember this, but I do. I remember all the times you were able to come to me for stress relief and nothing else. That's all I was to you, was a convenient hole, and then I agreed to put back on the damned choker and you suddenly were drooling and panting after me because I had tits. Well, gee, now you do. How do they feel? Getting enough of them now?" he asked snidely, stomping off.
"Xander," Jigen called, but the boy didn't come back.
"No, I deserved that," Lupin said tiredly. He looked at his friend. "I so royally screwed us up, Jigen."
"It wasn't just you, man."
"No, this one was mine," Lupin told him. "Xander knew you couldn't touch a man, he knew I could and I didn't. That's my problem and my fault."
"And very true," Goemon said from the doorway. He walked inside. "There were many times when you didn't pay attention to Xander unless he was in female form. Even though you knew it was bothering him you still panted when he did it, mostly for you both. It was a clear cry for attention. The boy nearly lost his identity for you, Lupin. Are you pleased with that?"
"I already want to kill my stupid self, Goemon, I don't need you to help drive me to suicide," Lupin said bitterly.
"I was not, I was giving you another point of reference, that of Xander. He remade himself to please you two and then it wasn't enough. At least until David did what he did and stuck Xander in that choker, and then suddenly he was not only the model student but he was the sole focus of your world. Then things calmed down and he found an existence that was only partially yours, so you punished him by withholding affection. It's become a vicious cycle, Lupin. You could change it. I would suggest you do so now. Otherwise you will be older. I have no doubt that you'd be your proper age in a heartbeat if Janus thought you were hurting him."
Lupin stood up and headed up to talk to his boyfriend. "Xander?" he called, tapping on the door. No answer so he peeked inside, watching him watch tv. "Which one is that?"
"I want to work this out, Xander. I'm sorry. Even Goemon just jumped me over this." He walked inside, closing the door behind him, and laid down behind Xander on the bed. "I'm sorry I was such an ass to you, Xander. I never consciously did it. It was stupid and dumb."
"That's nice, Lupin, but it doesn't take back the pain you caused. Nothing will."
"Is that why you left us?"
"No, that was a purely physical need. Unfortunately I've had to keep someone on the side now for years. Even if it was only my whorehouse membership. Otherwise I would have hurt myself taking care of those aches and pains you put me through."
"Why were you banned from the one in London?"
"I got too energetic and she died during it," he admitted quietly, staring at the screen of his small tv. "She wasn't the only one in the bed with us but I blamed myself. The Madam and I talked about it and I made reparations and paid for her funeral but I didn't think it was enough. It was my suggestion."
"Is that why you and Alan don't have sex?"
"No!" he snorted. "That's called respect, Lupin. I respect him. I want more than a quick shag and a long kiss from him. I'm willing to retire to be with him. He likes *me*." He flipped onto his back to look at him. "Like Jigen used to like *me*, the odd, Xanderish person who he took on as a student. He liked me originally. We were buddies and I could count on him for anything. That fucking choker messed up everything, man. You have no idea what could have been."
"Then you don't respect me?"
Xander gave him a shove to the forehead. "I used to, until you started to fuck around on me while telling me that you were too tired to help take care of my needs." Lupin winced. "Yeah, people told me, Lupin. They told me *all* about it. I never expected monogamy from you, but honesty would have been pleasant. The last time I heard you had a different person each month. Mostly women but not all of them. Sorry, I can't be both for you and I'm never being the woman again. Maybe Janus should work out a way to rotate you two, that way you'd both get what you wanted."
"You're what we wanted, Xander," Lupin sighed, shifting a bit closer, stroking his stomach. "I wanted you but you were always so distant. It was like you were always lost in your thoughts and your plans. About half the time I used to sit and watch you because you were like this alien to me. I've never gotten lost in anything in my life. Even when I was playing a role. You can. It's scary how lost you can get. I used to wonder if you had a stable personality."
"It was always there underneath. That's why I hated being female for you, because you refused to see me. You saw the tits, you saw the persona, not the person. All of those were still Xander. And you ignored all of them. That was self-defense to try to keep you. At least until I finally gave up again."
"When? When did I give up? Well, gee, Lupin. Let's see.... Um, about the same time Fred and Sarah were born?" He looked stunned. "When I realized I was a womb to you. A way to carry on the name and traits of the family. Goemon treated me with respect, you treated me like a new toy. I'm not a toy. I'm never going to be a toy, I gave that up before I was legal to drink." He flipped back onto his side, going back to his DVD watching. "If someone treated you like that, you'd have killed them."
"Did you want to?" Lupin asked, moving closer to cuddle him.
"Many times, you should thank Goemon that I walked away. He stopped a few of them."
"I saw where you dented the counter that one day," Lupin admitted. "I know I was being an idiot then."
"That's putting it mildly," Xander said bitterly. "Get off."
"No. I want us to work this out. I want to hold you and make sure that you're all right. Too many things and people keep coming between us. You're one of the most important people in my life, Xander."
"Really?" he asked bitterly. "Rank them. Out loud." He glanced back at the continued silence. "Go ahead. It should start with Arsene."
"It does," he admitted. "I put all the kids together but she's always heading the lists. Then, um, Jigen and Goemon kinda go together in my mind. I feel like I've known them forever." He sighed when he realized where that put Xander - dead last. "I'm sorry, Xander. I wish I could change that but those have to be my priorities. My lovers should come behind my kids."
"They should, but they're my kids too, Lupin. I'm not asking you to switch me and the other two, but at least making me equal to them would have been nice. Now, get off me and go away."
"Fine. I'm sorry. I do rank you there with them, it's just that I've known them forever." He slumped when he didn't get an answer. "You never wanted to be the light in someone's world, Xander."
"No, but being more important than a minor acquaintance would have been nice. I can make a political marriage and get more regard than that."
"You are," Lupin promised. "I'm sorry, Xander. I do rank you up there with the kids and the others. I don't usually rank them, it's more of a flat line with all of you listed at once and then everyone else below that line. You're my *family*, man."
"Fine. If you say so, Lupin. Can I please sulk in peace now?"
"Xander, we've got to work this out. We can't work together if we can't talk and joke around. I tried that once with Jigen and we couldn't work together. Please?"
"Fine." He slid out of the bed. "You can come see me whenever you're ready, Xander. I'm not going to be pushy. I know I'm in the wrong here and I'm sorry." He walked out, closing the door gently.
Xander glared at the statues. "You see what you started?" he asked them. They shrugged. "I don't want them anymore. They never paid any attention to me."
"They did at times."
"Yeah, and I ended up pregnant a lot; I'm not going that way ever again. There are no more babies coming."
"We agreed, there should be no more children from your body," the statue agreed.
"If you do not work it out, it will kill you some day," the smiling face noted.
"They will not be there when you need them the most. You will die from it."
"Then I die. Yay me. No more fucking tortured body."
"It would be too soon and the children would be hurt."
Xander groaned as he sat up. "Parents are supposed to die before their children. They realize this, guys. They always have. They know we do dangerous things that can get us killed. They've been in the field and have seen us in a kill-or-be-killed situation. They realize what could and will someday happen."
"Yes, but you are meant to go long after the next generation is born, not before they're thought of," the frowning face told him. "Otherwise they could die as well."
"Gee, just guilt trip me," he said bitterly.
"They do make you happy, Xander. You know that. You would miss playing with Jigen."
"Or picking on Lupin."
"I said I wasn't leaving the group, just their bedrooms."
"Yes, but even that far is too far. You no longer trust them like you used to. You must trust them in order to survive. You must know that they will come for you at a moment's notice when you're captured or ill."
"Then I've been in danger of being killed since Sarah was born?" he asked dryly. The heads both frowned at him. "Truth, guys. Really."
"You know that they would come for you."
"Yeah, but I'm not the priority. The kids would be there first."
"They are but children. What do you base this on?"
"Their actions." He curled up some. "Ishi handled it in LA. The kids have handled a bunch of stuff that their fathers should have."
"They did not call for help?"
"They handled it. That was the reason to train them, to make sure that they could handle things by themselves. In this case, they can. They'll handle it."
"What if they're in the middle of a job?"
"Well, gee, that would have to come first, but I'd expect the same from their fathers too."
"Lupin has dropped other jobs to help you."
"Since when?" The heads looked stunned. "Yeah. I keep much better track of what he's doing than he does what I'm doing. I know all the jobs they were going on and why they didn't in the few cases. They'd be pulling the job first and then coming after me. The same as the kids would. I accept that, it's the way it should be. If I'm meant to die because of something like that, I'd probably rather die."
"Do not say such things," they yelled.
"I accepted the fact that I could die any day from that point on when I was sixteen and nearly did. It's no different now. Just because the bad guys are human instead of demonic most of the time doesn't matter. I can still die any day now. That's reality. I like reality. It makes me pay the bills and things. Therefore I live in reality. I don't promise anyone forever. I don't promise people that I'm going to be anywhere more than a few weeks in advance, with the exception of conventions, which I know someone will go in my stead if I die. That's the way I want it to be. I like being realistic. I'm not some groupie of theirs who'll take whatever they dish out and I'm not someone like Fujiko. You guys knew this when you set us up. You guys knew what I needed back then and that they weren't going to be able to give it for the rest of our time together. One of you probably saw us breaking up." The frowning head nodded. "Then see, realistic me here. I had the best years with them, but we're not together anymore. We're friends. I like being friends with them, but I'm not sleeping with them. I can't do that, it'll skew my perceptions of reality."
"Yet you would still die for them."
"That's my job and what I do for my friends. I'd still probably die for Dawnie too, but she's the one who'd probably kill me." They nodded. "So yeah, that's my job, guys. We're friends, nothing more. I don't want anything more with them. I like Alan, he cares for me, not for my gun or my skills or what I can tithe him with. As a matter of fact, he's told me I'm not to buy him presents. He doesn't want to seem needy and groping."
They looked at him. "Fine, just work things out," the smiling head decided. "For now that should be enough."
"If other things redevelop, then they shall," the other head declared.
"Fine," Xander agreed. "As long as you're not going to get pushy and punish them because I'm not going to be some simpering girl about things."
"We will not, as long as you are able to work together again like you used to," they decided.
"Thanks, guys." He laid back down. "I'm going to take a nap. It's siesta time." He closed his eyes and curled up around his pillow. At least he wouldn't have to listen to them whine when they got old because he couldn't sleep with them again. He fell asleep happier than when he had woken up, and missed the nice levitation act the God did to put him into bed with Jigen. A very female Jigen.
Lupin didn't however so he came in and climbed in on Xander's other side, snuggling against his chest. He was back in girl form and it sucked at the moment. He looked at Jigen. "This okay?"
"Fine," he agreed quietly. "Your bed's still bigger."
"Yeah but he'd have a chance to move away from us in there. In here he can't." She pulled Jigen closer, putting one of his arms around Xander's waist. "There, that's more like it."
"The talking heads just said that he didn't have to take us back, Lupin, just as long as we were like we were before."
"Fat chance, I want him back. He's mine."
Jigen looked over at him. "Then what about me?"
"You're mine too," he said petulantly. "Get over it and sleep."
Xander mumbled something and Lupin scowled. "No, he's still in Australia, Xander. It's just us. You were floated in here." Xander opened his eyes to look at him. "You got floated in here."
"Whatever." He flipped over and then sighed, laying on his back. "I need to go back to my own room."
"No, you can stay," Jigen offered. "I won't jump you and Lupin only wants to cuddle up to you." Xander frowned at him. "I swear, I won't jump you. You never did it to me and I won't do it to you."
"Good, now get comfortable. It's only fair since I spent so much time napping on your chest." Xander gave him an odd look. "You can. I'm comfy. Melissa slept on me a few days ago."
Xander sighed but curled up on him. "Feel better?"
"Not yet. Relax."
"Fine." He relaxed, slowly going back to sleep. He didn't even realize when Lupin took the opportunity to curl up behind him.
"If you get pushy, he'll leave and we'll age again," Jigen warned.
"I'm not getting pushy. I just wanted to cuddle. I never understood that until I got stuck in this device of hell."
"Just make the most of it."
"I am." He nuzzled Xander's back, getting comfortable on him. He was his favorite pillow.
Xander woke up and heard Lupin whining in the other room, grimacing at her pleading noises. "Not again," he complained, getting up and going to his favorite toy box. He found the one he wanted and brought it back, testing it on the way. He walked in without knocking and slid the little band around her finger, putting it onto the correct spot. She screamed in pleasure and finally got off, making him walk off shaking his head. At least one of them was happy. He ran into Jigen in the hallway. "Just like you would on someone else's body," he explained. "That vibrating egg with finger strap should keep her occupied for a few more hours."
Jigen smirked at his back, shaking his head. Only Xander would do that to Lupin. He opened her door, looking at her. "You okay?"
"Fine," she panted. "Need more. Please, more? Please, Jigen?"
"I don't have the equipment to do that," he said bitterly.
"I don't care! Please, Jigen, buddy, pal, just a tongue, anything?"
"Fine." He came in and lent a finger, which made her much happier, for a few more minutes, then she decided to see what Jigen was like because it'd make everyone happier. "Hey!" Jigen complained as she was pushed onto her back. "None of that, Lupin."
"Bet me. I need it. You need it. It's good to need." He licked over a tense nipple, making her squeak in surprise. "See, I knew you needed it!" She went to town on her buddy, making her squeal and squirm just as much, and that toy came in just as handy on her as it did on her own body. By dinner time they were both weak and limp. Too tired to move. Too tired to drink.
Thankfully Xander brought up a tray and put it between them. "There, eat. You sounded like you need it."
Lupin caught him and pulled him down to kiss. "Thanks for the loaner and helping me find that spot, Xan. I needed that," he said with a goofy grin. "I haven't had anybody in four months."
"Four whole months?" Xander asked dryly.
"Yeah, since you left us. I haven't touched Jigen and I haven't had anyone else either." She gave him a silly grin. "Can I have a cuddle now? Jigen won't cuddle."
"Eat then we'll see about cuddles. And you do know that you can probably change back by now?"
"Nope, didn't know that." He fumbled with the unfamiliar catches and smiled as his male parts came back. "Thanks, Xan."
"Welcome. Eat and sleep. You need it." He walked off, going back to his room and his tv, which got turned on loudly enough that he didn't have to hear them go at it again.
Jigen came in a few minutes later. "I can't change back," he complained, sitting beside him. "Can you try?"
Xander reached up and undid the bottom clasp, changing him back. "There you go."
"Thanks. I don't want Lupin to be my first guy that way. He's damn greedy and too horny to make it good." Xander gave him an odd look. "Hey, I've got to think about that now. After all, I made yours good."
"You did," Xander agreed quietly. "And I still won't."
"I know. Maybe you'll give me a recommendation or something," he said tiredly. "Can I hide in here?"
"Sure. Hide away." Xander settled back in to watch his movie while Jigen curled up behind him and fell asleep after a few moments. "Oh, man. Pushy heads."
"Turnabout is fair play," the heads said together.
"He doesn't need that."
"Quit talking to them and watch your cartoons," Jigen complained. "They're egging you on, man."
"Fine." He glared at the heads and stuck his tongue out but did go back to his movie. He was already tired of this and it was only the first day.
Lupin grinned at everyone the next morning. "Good morning! How did you sleep?"
"Fine," Xander agreed. "You?"
"I haven't had such pleasant dreams in years," he sighed happily. "I also haven't been that worn out in years."
"Always happy to help," Jigen said as he walked in. "Any new ideas?"
"A few," he agreed smugly. "How was your night?"
"Comfy. Xander's still a great pillow." Jigen sat down with his coffee cup, sipping gently. "I slept all night to the sound of his cartoons."
"Sorry, I fell asleep watching Adult Swim." Xander opened a soda and sipped it gently. "At least it wasn't Tom and Jerry."
"True, I'd hate to chase a smartass mouse." Jigen took the soda and handed over his coffee cup. "We don't need you on a caffeine high. We can't leave so we can't have you jumping around."
"Isn't that going to be inconvenient when we run out of food?"
"We shouldn't. We've got enough supplies to last us for a good few months. The kids even left us some junk food."
"Oh, that's encouraging." Xander stole back his soda. "I've still got to do my katas anyway." He gulped it then got up. "I'll be out back."
"Fine," Lupin agreed. He stopped him. "If I asked, would you break me in?"
"Um, no, because that would make things *way* too complicated. Have Jigen do it." He headed outside, nodding at Goemon. "I can get back to this finally. I'm out of practice." He stretched then did a flip, landing with a goofy grin. "Yeah, that felt nice." He bounced around some more then jumped Goemon, attacking him with a mad giggle. Goemon tried to knock him off but it wasn't working that well. "I'm having a happy day."
"I can tell." Goemon tripped him and stood on the middle of his chest. "Calm down. You may not bounce around me that way. I do not let the children, I will not allow you." He got off him and helped him back up. "Now that you've calmed yourself, let us go again." Xander smirked and attacked again, making him groan. "Xander, pushups. Now! He pointed at a corner. "Now."
"Fine. Meany." He trudged that way to do some pushups. "Jigen, Goemon's being a meany."
"I told you to lay off the caffeine," he said from the back door. He looked at Goemon. "You gotta give him some credit, Goemon. He's finally got a working body again after about three years of pain. The first thing he did was to jump you to practice instead of going to hit on someone else."
"It is still not what I want to do today. Since I cannot leave, I'd rather take this time to rest and recenter myself, get used to my younger self again."
"Yeah, me too. It's nice, I don't have wrist pain."
"And guilt tripping me into taking the asshole back isn't going to work either," Xander called in his sweetest and most innocent voice. "I'll ask for you two to stay that way though." He flipped back to his feet and stood up, dusting off his hands. "There, I feel better now. Goemon?"
"Not a chance. I'd rather not be grabbed and pouted at." He walked into the woods, then came back a few minutes later. "There's a boundary."
"Wonderful," Xander said grimly, heading back into the house. Lupin pounced him and kissed him, making him toss him to the floor. "Get off."
"Sorry," he said with a grin. "Had to try you know."
"Okay, whatever hell this is, you can let me out now!" he yelled. Nothing happened. "If I find out this is another one of those simulated experiences, I will be killing everyone." He stomped into the range and locked the door.
"I'm wondering how often they've done that to him," Lupin said dryly, smirking at Jigen.
"If we're going to get him back, you've got to quit acting like your son, Lupin. It won't work with him. He'll keep tossing you aside and then we'll all be our real ages again."
"Ehh, it's better than being turned into a toddler and being raised by my daughter, which was also threatened. Speaking of which, the kids called. Brad's back at school and asked Melissa to let him explain."
"Fuck 'im," he announced. "He can't date my daughter if he was mixed up in that horror." He headed for the range, tapping on the door. "Yell when it's my turn."
"Fine." Xander opened the door and looked at him. "We've still got to bring those guns to Arsene."
"I'll get mine out of safe for you later." Xander held them both up. "They any good?"
"Yours is slightly tilted to the left, like how you said you used to aim. Mine is dead on though."
"Then she might like mine, that used to be her problem as well." He took the gun to look at it. "They are pretty."
"They are. Yours also has a burr in the barrel. I brought in the sanding equipment." Jigen nodded, taking it to clean the gun so it was spotless for the new owner. She would take one of theirs and he didn't mind if it was Xander's but such a fine weapon deserved a careful master. On the way he grabbed the phone, dialing her cell. "Arsene, it's Jigen. We've cleaned up both of those pistols for you so you can try them out. Once we're unstuck we'll bring them down to let you try them both out. Mine's got a slight shift to the left but Xander said his is spot on, so whichever you want." He hung up, sitting down to wear down that burr in the barrel. Something like that could cause it to stick and explode.
Xander went back to his practice, making sure that everything worked the way it should. This younger body wasn't as strong either. Otherwise he would have gotten Goemon onto the ground to tickle him.
"If you had, I would have hurt you," Goemon said as he walked past the door.
"Did you know that Lotus got your telepathy, big guy?" Xander quipped. "She's just as creepy as you are with it."
"Good. She is my daughter."
"Even if she's built like her mother?" Xander asked, smirking when the other man came back. "She is built like her."
"She is still my daughter."
"That's good since she looks just like you, only with a major rack."
"Do not speak that way about my children," he complained. "My daughter will never do things like her mother. She respects her body more than that. Unless it is a matter of survival."
"And what are you going to do to the boy she starts to date? She is old enough now."
"Kill him," Goemon said simply. "No one touches my daughter." He walked off again to pout. His poor baby girl was never going to take up with a nasty, dirty, filthy minded, asshole like the men he knew. Nor would she take up with one like him. He would make sure no boy ever touched his precious baby girl. She was still innocent and just a child.
Melissa looked up as Brad joined her in the range. "What do *you* want?" she asked coldly, stunning the teacher in there with them.
"Just to talk," he said patiently. "I was not working with them, Melissa, I swear. Assassin's honor. I was not working with them and I would not do such a thing. My internship director had business with them so he brought me along. He was giving me funny looks because I didn't look interested in any of the girls they were forcing to serve them, but I wasn't there because I was working there. Your dad got me by accident when my master jumped and he ran away before he could be killed. I *swear*, I'm not one of them."
"Strip," she ordered calmly. He stripped down, making the teacher gasp.
"Shut up," he snapped, lifting his arms so she could check him over for a clan marking. When she checked under his boxers he blushed but let her. "See?"
"I do," she admitted. "Are you gay?"
"I like both, the same way you do," he admitted honestly. "I figured that out this summer. Can I get dressed again? I'm chilly."
"Go ahead," she said, frowning at him. "That's the only reason you were there?" He nodded as he pulled on his pants. "Then why didn't you say so?"
"Because you'd only believe me if I was right in front of you," he pointed out. "So that you could tell I didn't have a clan marking or anything. The guy tried to hire me but I refused and killed him. I *swear*, I had *nothing* to do with that plan with yours or Lupin's fathers."
She nodded. "That's fine. Take off the skin patch on your arm." He gulped and she stared him down so he did so. "That's a pretty tattoo. It's also not their clan marking."
"I wasn't sure that you'd know the difference," he admitted. "I'm sorry, princess. I'm so sorry." He moved closer and hugged her. "I'm so sorry, Melissa. I'm not one of them."
"You'd better not be, or I will let my mother kill you. He won't be nice and he does know all manner of torture paths." He nodded, squeezing her. "Then can you help Arsene when she's given her official weapon? They're bringing down two of them to let her try them out."
"Sure," he agreed with a grin. "Forgive me?"
She nodded and kissed him. "I forgive you." She grinned at him. "Lotus' sixteenth is tonight."
"Are we throwing her a party or just sneaking out again?"
"No, we're doing a party. We're stealing the practical education classroom." He beamed at her. "I'll tell Arsene to lift the death threat our next class together. That way Ishi won't kill you."
"He nearly did in the hospital but then he got a call and had to leave. Why did those people steal your mother this time?"
"His mother this time. Fortunately she's under LA Harbor in a glass coffin with an air pump."
"Then I hope it runs out of gas or someone pulls the plug," he said with a small grin for her. "Wanna go for a walk since neither of us need practice in here?"
"Oh yes you do," the teacher insisted. "I've seen enough. You two will not have classes together again!"
Melissa sneered at him. "Where's the other teacher, you moron? Do you have *any* idea who you're speaking to?"
Brad snickered. "Let me introduce us. I'm Brad Lagostini and this is Melissa Jigen, second to Lupin the Fourth." The man went pale. "I see you've met Miss Lupin. Was it a good meeting?"
"Considering she's on the rag? I doubt it," Melissa said dryly, smirking at him. He kissed her again so she grinned at him. "I missed that."
"Me too. How long before you're sixteen?"
"Six more months."
"Hmm." He kissed her again, making her go limp against him. "I may be able to wait six months and a week. Wanna go away for that weekend?"
"Wouldn't that violate your death penalty offence for siding against our fathers?" Lotus asked from the doorway.
"No, he was pulled in there by his internship guy. He wasn't working with them." Lotus scowled just like her father. "I checked, there's no clan marking. The only thing he has is a dragon tattoo but it's a pretty green dragon the color of his eyes."
"Fine. I'll tell Ishi, he's on his way here." She stomped off, going to complain to her brother. She hated them getting together with someone. On the way, one of the herbology and assassin students stopped her to kiss her on the cheek. "What was that for?"
"You look like you were having a bad day," he said with a gentle smile. "How was Japan? Were you presented?" She shook her head, one hand drifting up to touch her cheek. He grinned again and walked off. "I'll talk to you over supper, Lotus. We're working together on that new herbal poison."
"Good point," she agreed, sounding mystified. She headed for where her brother was staring. "Brad and Melissa are back together again. He wasn't part of that, it was the guy he was interning with who drug him there. She even checked for clan markings."
"We'll see about that. She is too young," Ishi declared. He glared at his sister. "As are you."
"Shut up or I'm telling dad that you slept with the stewardess on the flight up," she said with a smirk. He gasped. "See, I can be mean, Ishi. Now, I've got to find something to wear to Manners and Flirtation. What am I wearing? I'm supposed to play the bait today."
"Wear that blue dress in Melissa's closet," he offered, watching her walk away. "And put on a bra!" he yelled after her.
"They hurt! I want less tits!"
"Lotus!" he said, sounding shocked.
Arsene chuckled from the door. "Wear the red number on my bed. They made up?" She nodded. "Good. Go change and do your hair. You've only got ten minutes. Bell's about to ring." She jogged that way, heading up to put on the outfit she had chosen for her. She smirked at Ishi. "You did what?"
"I'm sixteen," he reminded her archly.
"True, and the day after mine I'm going to have someone at the house." She strolled off, going to the range. "Your dad called, they're bringing the guns as soon as they're free of the house." She looked at Brad. "That was your only strike, boy. I'd be very careful if I were you. After all, I can take her from you and make you a pitiful, begging little boy." She tapped him on the chest. "Remember that." She picked up Melissa's gun and sighted down it. "How do you handle something so heavy?"
"Mom gave it to me. It's one of his back ups. I like it, it feels solid in my hand and doesn't have that bad of a recoil."
"If you say so. Bell's about to ring. No snogging in front of me," she ordered at the renewed kissing. "Oh, the real range teacher's coming this way." They shrugged and went back to it.
So when the dark haired man who ran the marksmanship lectures and practices came in, he saw the couple in the corner and Lupin the Fourth watching and grinning. "I take it they're back together?" She nodded, holding up Melissa's gun. "I like those. So does her...mother. It's a good choice for her."
"It is, she's wonderful with it." The bell rang. "'Lis, we've got Manners and Flirtation and Lotus is being the bait today." Melissa groaned and let her boyfriend go, walking out with him and Arsene. He had the same class apparently. She grinned at them, blinking a few times when Lotus came in. Her hair was down and had been brushed so it was shiny and soft looking. The outfit clung to her body, the older-style shirt with laces up the front did great things for her chest and tiny waist. Her skirt flowed over the gentle muscles of her hips and legs, stopping just shot of her knees. The heels were lower than you'd expect but still made gentle clicking noises as she walked. She had topped it off with a pair of glasses and a simple silver chain to highlight the cleavage showing. "Wow. You look *way* better than your mother ever did," she said in awe. "We need to send your father a picture of you like that. Even Mom would drool." Lotus blushed as her brother came in.
"Whoa," he said, stopping to stare at her. "Lotus?" She nodded, smirking at him as she pushed some of her hair behind her ear. "Wow," he breathed, staring at her. "Gods." He shook himself when someone pinched him. "Please, don't wear that outside the school? Go back to the gi's and workout clothes?"
She chuckled, making a few people shiver. "I think we should show Daddy sometime. He's still having 'changing her diaper' feelings about me."
"Yeah, I can see why," Ishi agreed, staring at her chest. "Gods, even Uncle Jigen wold drool on you." The teacher coughed so he got out of her way, making her mouth fall open. "That's my sister," he said proudly. "Now I know why your...chest gets in the way of your sword." Melissa helped him into his seat, and forced his chin up so his mouth would close. He shifted and then got up, heading for a freezer. It was easier this way.
Lupin smirked at her. "Look this way, Lotus. Let's capture that one." She took a few pictures with her phone and sent one to her father, smirking at the text message she got back. "Uncle Jigen's in the freezer, Mom's grinning at them, Daddy is drooling on his shoes and your father said to please put on more clothes. Daddy sent back a howl as well." Lotus blushed again so she took a picture of her like that.
"Don't worry, all of you get to do the distraction lectures," the teacher offered. "As a matter of fact, Lupin and Jigen, go change."
"Yes, ma'am," they agreed, going up to do that. This was a double class so they had time to pick out something to wear.
Arsene came back down in a tight leotard and a short skirt, and thigh highs that you could barely see the lace of. Her heels had a strap on them but they were a bit higher. She also carried another shirt. "I wasn't sure if you wanted more bad girl or not." She held up the other outfit. "I can change if you want."
"Let's try for something a bit more tasteful," the teacher agreed, blinking at her. Arsene nodded and put on a shirt over top of her leotard and partially pulled back her hair, then unrolled her skirt by a single turn, lowering it maybe an inch. She held her out arms. "Well. That is very good. Definitely a good try."
"Hey, I'm not the most busty woman," she said with a shrug. "I'm liked for other reasons," she said smugly, sitting down and crossing her legs correctly.
When Melissa came in, it was with the Range teacher following her. "Sorry, he got insistent when he saw my outfit."
"I didn't think her father wanted her that shown off," he explained. "Now I see why." He took his jacket back and left, shaking his head the whole way out there.
Brad fell out of his chair, going to his knees to drool on the floor. "'Lis?" he whispered hoarsely. Lotus had been beautiful but she was stunning in a whole other way. She was dressed in all black, with a green scarf used as a belt. Her top was a scoop neck that showed off her impressive cleavage and was long sleeved. Her skirt was straight and stretchy, just barely shining in the light. She had on black stockings and heels, but she was stunning to him. He would gladly take her here and now if she would let him and he wouldn't end up married to her. She smiled at him and he swallowed, crawling forward. "Melissa, can I take you for a walk later? I don't think I can wait those six months," he whispered. She even smelled good, like the sweetest smell of womanliness. "Please!"
Ishi walked in and hauled him up. "Excuse us, we've got to have a talk."
"Leave him be," she said, stomping her foot. "My man!" He let him go, staring down at her so she sidled up to him, smirking up at him. "Or don't you feel the same way?" she teased, playing with his shirt button. He groaned but controlled it otherwise. At least until she kneed him in his very hard groin. Then she stared down at him. "Do not touch *my* man, Ishi, I will make your life a living hell." She gave Lotus a smug look, then turned it on her boyfriend. "Still think I'm too guy-like at times?"
He slowly shook his head. "Not when you've untamed those things. Can I do what Fred did?" She chuckled and patted him on the head.
The teacher regained her composure. "That is why we hold these lectures, so that those who are more vulnerable can gain some immunity."
"So your class was the one that my dad flunked?" Arsene asked. "He said he flunked one."
She looked at her. "Probably." She looked at her examples. "Now, let's sit up front, ladies. Let the boys get a good look at you and let you get used to being stared at. You as well, Arsene. Go ahead and take down your hair again if you wouldn't mind. Or take off the wig if that's a wig." Arsene took off the wig and walked up there, taking off the shirt, much to the drooling of the other guys. Even Ishi whimpered at the sight of all three of them. "This is why it's a good thing to have women in the field."
Arsene snorted. "Speak for yourself, professor. I'm every bit the thief my father is and Melissa's every bit the gunman her father is. Lotus is every bit the assassin her father is, the same as Ishi is. We were raised to be ourselves and then be girls. Being only little girly girls means that you've only got one role in the field, sex toy, and that's not us." She walked back to her seat and pulled the jeweled hairstick out of the wig, handing it over as she walked back. "Or else I wouldn't have gotten that on a recent trip to London."
"Th...th...that's from the Tower," she said in awe.
She nodded, giving her a smug look. "Very good. Yes, it is." She smirked at Melissa. "Didn't you get a coronet?" She nodded. "Lotus?"
"I got that necklace. Ishi got a broach."
"You did *the* Tower?" the teacher asked. The kids nodded. "Who was the bait?"
"What bait? We used the secret entrances and did it between rotations." She shrugged. "It's from the secondary collection but not too shabby for a spur of the moment plan."
"You didn't use a distraction?" Arsene shook her head. "Why not?"
"Why? It wasn't necessary." The woman gaped at them. "Unless we need someone to distract our target for a few hours, we don't use bait. Bait is for fishing, we only deal with whales." A few of the students laughed at that play on words - whales were high rollers.
"Distraction isn't always necessary. You can't open a safe with a distraction. You can't fly a 'copter with a distraction. You can't even get most guards out of the way with a distraction. When you've got more than one person, a distraction isn't always useful. Welcome to the real world of crime, professor."
"However, if you are an assassin and are the sort who can use it, you can use bait to get close enough to your target," Lotus offered. "I'm told a number of female assassins and my mother worked that way."
"Too bad you look better than she ever could," Brad blurted out. She blushed and ducked her head. "You do. Your mother may have looked like a model, but you're *much* prettier, like a siren. Damn, girl, if I didn't have Melissa, I'd be bowing at your feet."
"You'd better not," Ishi growled.
"I said if," he complained. "Ease off! She's allowed to date! She's not a nun!" He grinned at the ladies. "I need a camera."
"My phone's on my desk," Arsene offered. "Or maybe Ishi has one of the button cameras on." He nodded and handed it over, letting Brad take their picture. She refixed her shirt and let him take another one. "There, that's better. Dad will *love* that one." She looked at the professor. "Are we done yet? We've got a wine tasting tonight after we're done for the day."
"Go," she ground out. She wrote out a note. "Hand that to the headmistress so she can change your schedules for you." They nodded and gathered their things, taking Brad with them on the way out. "The rest of you still must learn this important art! That is why it is taught!"
The headmistress smiled as they came into the room, her smile falling when she saw how they were dressed. "Wow. Distraction lessons?"
"Which are pretty worthless to us," Arsene agreed dryly, handing over the note. She sat on the corner of the desk. "So, what can we fill in the new gap with?"
"Speaking of which, you've got us all in senior lock picking and we've all done that already," Melissa agreed, sitting down and putting her boyfriend into her lap. "Wanna go to the wine tasting with us tonight?"
"Sure," he agreed with a smile for her. "As long as you don't change."
"Never dream of it," she assured him. "Lotus, did you want to change into something less showy?"
"No, I'm fine," she admitted. "I can kick anyone's ass in this outfit."
The Headmistress looked them over, then shook her head. "There's not many senior electives."
"She wanted to know which one of us did distraction when we hit the second collection at the Tower," Lotus snorted.
"Good point." She looked at the list. "Well, there's an elective PE? Or there's an extra herbology studyhall and practical. There's elective training time?" she suggested, looking up at them. "That would let you go into whichever area you needed. It's like thesis hours at a college, only more practical." They all shrugged and nodded. "Okay, I'll put you in there." She opened their schedules on the computer and changed it, then sent emails to the teacher. "The gadgets and gizmo's teacher is over that class so check in with him tomorrow. This leaves you each three classes and four of that class." They nodded. "That's fine?"
"I could always use a nap," Lotus agreed with a grin.
"Fine. Melissa, please do not have him strip in the range again. I know it was necessary that time but not again, dear."
"Of course not. Now, we should have real pictures taken once Brad changes, and then we're off to that wine tasting."
"You've all got history today," the Headmistress reminded them.
"We already passed the test," Arsene complained.
"Okay, then two classes and five of practical application time," she sighed, changing it again. "Go, have fun. Ishi, your dagger was in the wash, I had them put it back onto your bed but it may not be there."
"I saw. It's cool with me," he said smugly, winking at her. "Come along, ladies. Let us men change while you do whatever." He and Brad went back to their rooms to change. You didn't keep those three waiting.
Lupin looked up as Goemon gave him the paper the next morning, looking at the picture and gaping. "Damn, her camera phone didn't do them justice," he breathed. "Jigen!" Jigen came trotting in. "The kids went to a royal wine tasting." He handed over the picture. "We need to get more copies of that and cut that one out."
"My daughter is hot," he said in awe. "And damn, look at Lotus. She's got a set that's bigger than any real ones I've seen." Goemon growled and snatched the paper back to look at his daughter. "She's turned to the side."
Goemon stomped outside, going to calm himself. His daughter was not old enough to be admired in such a way.
Xander looked at the picture, then at the fathers. "Wow. They clean up nicely. Were they teasing?"
"They were in the distraction and manners class but they talked their way out of it after they showed up like that," Lupin told him with a smirk. "We make some pretty babies."
"We do," Xander agreed. "But Lotus is going to need bridge supports for hers if we don't let her reduce them."
"Yeah, but she's got a world-class rack," Jigen said in awe. "Not even her mother had a set like that."
"True. She's about two cups bigger than Fujiko ever was," Lupin agreed lightly. "Damn, I'm so glad she's my niece."
"Didn't keep Ishi from falling to his knees and panting at Melissa," Jigen said proudly. "She said so. She said to look at the pictures they took of the group, now I know why. Even Brad was ready to crawl after her."
"Yeah, he's got that possessive arm around both of them," Lupin agreed. Ishi was scowling at someone who was staring at his sister in the picture. "Do we think Ishi's already gone ahead with his first woman?" Goemon turned and walked back outside.
"Yeah, on the flight up," Xander said smugly. "She was a pretty stew but it was a quick thing on the private flight. Speaking of, he took your card to rent it, Lupin." He sighed and nodded. "He made good use of what he's heard you talking about too. From what I hear, she wobbled off the plane."
"Good for him," Lupin said happily.
"Six more months until your daughters turn sixteen," Xander said smugly. They both shuddered. They knew what the girls were going to do. Then they'd have to start listening to them talk about sex. They might even have to walk in on them having sex. They went to the study to get drunk on that thought.
Goemon finally came back in. "Where are they?"
"In the study getting drunk. I reminded them that 'Lis and Arsene are going to be sixteen in another six months. They wanted to congratulate Ishi though, his first time wobbled off the plane after he was done with her." Goemon shuddered. "Oh, come on, it's a good sign. His first woman was wobbling."
"It's horrible; hush, boy." He went to join them getting drunk.
Xander beamed and went to play in the gym by himself. There were still some things he wanted to try out.
Vecchio looked up and glared as Stanley walked in and kicked the door a few times. "What's wrong?" he asked patiently. A copy of the paper was tossed in front of him, letting him see the picture. He stared, then looked up at him. "They're not that old!"
"They are that old. Ishi had sex on the plane on the way up. The stewardess walked away dizzy and weak."
"I remember doing that a few times," Dawn said from her desk. "I'm guessing he took sex ed lessons from Xander." The guys stared at her. "It was a long time ago, guys. Really. He was my first." She got up and came over to look at the picture. "Holy shit, Lotus is stacked! Melissa's not bad but Lotus looks hot! Goemon's going to have to buy a chastity belt for her."
Vecchio glared at her. "I doubt she's that sort of girl." He looked at the picture again. "I see Melissa and Brad are back together again." Stanley grunted in annoyance. "They're cute."
"Six months until they're sixteen," Stanley said smugly. "Then we get to start catching them in the closet." Zenigata stomped in, looking like he was in a foul mood already. "Have you seen the kids in the paper yet?" he asked. He scowled so he looked at Dawn for interpretation.
"No, I think the cat decided to use his shoes as a litter box again," she guessed. He scowled more at her. "Yup. Here, hand him the picture, Vecchio." It was handed over and Zenigata's mouth fell open and he started to babble. Dawn glared and slapped him. "Do not get off on them!"
"No, they're pretty but not as pretty as you," he said quickly, kissing her gently. "They're nowhere near as hot as you are, babe. I promise. They're pretty but they're kids. Why would I want kids? I'd prefer a woman who knew what I like." She relaxed and he grinned at her. "Wanna go somewhere for lunch since Lupin's locked in his house still?" She smirked up at him. "I'm serious. Either that or someone's going to have to dive down into the harbor in Los Angeles to show it to her mother."
"She's where?" Stan asked.
"Ishi had her put into one of those torture coffins under the harbor. There's an air pump but she's down there until someone unlocks her." He smirked at them. "Apparently he'd had enough of her. He paid a few grand to have her stuck down there too." He grinned at his wife. "You *sure* we can't go have *lunch*?" he asked in a teasing tone.
"As long as you don't call their names," she said sweetly.
"So what if they have big tits, you're prettier and hotter and smarter," he assured her. She nodded, letting him kiss her. He was in luck, he had talked her out of her the snit fit she was going to throw over this. But damn, those girls had nice sets.
David dove into the water with the covered picture and the waterproof duct tape, diving down to tape it onto a certain coffin. He smirked at Fujiko as she started to scream and taped it over her face, letting her stare at the kids. He waved and swam back up there, picking up the bag someone had dropped on the way. He walked up onto the beach and took off his SCUBA gear, checking the bag to see what it was. "Hey, bearer bonds," he said happily, taking them back to the hotel to do a search on them. If they were good, they were his unless they were noted as stolen.
Fujiko screamed and ranted at the picture of her children. Her daughter could not be that pretty yet! She was a little tomboy and wold pay for this! When she got out of that prison she'd be making them all pay!
Jigen looked at Xander as he walked into his room, handing over the book he had borrowed earlier. "Sorry about that. I didn't realize you were reading it."
"Only in the bathroom. You can borrow that." He pulled Jigen up and adjusted her chest for her. "You were wincing because of that. Next time, adjust yourself before hand. You looked like you had a double-titted tit." He grinned and walked away but Jigen followed him. "What?"
"Can you help me with something else?" he asked quietly, closing the door.
"Sure. What's up?"
"I can't get why some things are *constantly* wet. Especially since we're not changing together."
"Ah, the wet panties syndrome. I always enjoyed the hell out of the dampness myself. There were days I left sweat marks on chairs from it." Jigen looked stunned. "Can you think why you've got wet panties?" He shivered and nodded. "So go fix that."
"I don't like to do that. It's like it's unreal."
"Jigen, if you're stuck in that thing until Janus gives up, you oughta know that he's more stubborn than I am. You're gonna be like that for a *long* time. You should get used to it. I spent plenty of time in the baths when I first got it."
"Yeah, but I'm not the horny creature you and Lupin are."
"Then why do you have wet panties?" Xander asked practically. Jigen shrugged and sat on the edge of the bed, so he hugged her gently. "It's all right. You just have to figure out what's turning you on and get over it. It could be something as simple as the type of panties you're wearing. Sometimes they're the cause."
"I wasn't wearing any earlier and then I put some on and it got worse."
"Then try going without again."
"I couldn't, I had to change," he said bitterly. He gave him a squeeze and looked up at him. "Xander, I don't know what to do about this stuff. It's like my body's some alien that I'm hosting and it's taking over. I caught myself cooing at something yesterday and I'm not some girly girl. I don't want to be some girly girl."
"All women, even the most tough ones, have moments of thinking 'that's cute' and then moving on," Xander reminded him. "You can coo at the cuteness that was the new kitten. Speaking of cats, Janus, you left ours back in England."
"Ethan has them at the moment," the smiling head said quietly. "His is being bred."
"That's fine, as long as they're not hurt." He looked at Jigen. "See? It's *fine* to have those moments or even to look at Goemon and think he's cute. He is, in a boyish and stony sort of way."
"Did you ever get off over him?"
"Nope, not my sort. He'd never pay enough attention to me." He let her go and sat beside her. "Now, go take a long, hot bath and fix that for yourself. Remember Lupin's lesson, it's all about hitting the right spot." He nodded and stood up, so Xander adjusted the skirt for him. "There, now it's not crooked." He grinned. "Also, try to go without the pantyhose and you can still wear pants, you've just got to wear girls' pants instead."
"If you say so." He headed back to his room, going to see if following that order would help any. He heard Lupin going at it with himself and grimaced. He nearly went in there to snap at him but he knew it wouldn't get him anyplace. He knew Lupin needed that sort of attention and it would only make him more frustrated at the situation. Since he couldn't leave at the moment, it wouldn't accomplish anything to go in there and piss him off. He calmed himself down and turned on some music to cover up Lupin's groans and moans of delight, going into his bathroom to deal with his own issues. How did women stand this crap? It was irritating to have wet panties. Nearly as bad as not drying your underwear enough before putting them on as a guy, but much closer to your body.
When the water was high enough, he climbed in and relaxed. It was nice. He even did this sometimes as a guy to relax, though the last few times had been with Xander. That brought images to his mind and he groaned, trying to banish the naked Xander images from his mind. He couldn't do it though, the naked Xander images stayed. Naked Xander smirking at him. Naked Xander playing with Lupin. Naked Xander playing with himself. Naked Xander lounging in the bath with him, against his chest. Not even naked Sylvia or Melody pictures, just naked Xander pictures. "Why me?" he complained. He heard someone tap on his door and groaned louder. "Go away!"
Lupin came in and turned down the stereo. "Sorry, Goemon complained about the noise." He grinned at him. "You okay? You look kinda flushed." He came in and handed her the sponge from the other end of the tub, wetting it first for her. "I can help you if need me to, Jigen."
"Go away, Lupin. It's bad enough I'm having naked Xander pictures I can't get rid of, but having some of you joining in won't help."
Lupin chuckled. "From what I understand that's normal. Even Dawn still has naked Xander mental pictures running around her head." He used the sponge to gently stroke along Jigen's near shoulder. "I can do whatever you need to help you, Jigen. All you have to do is ask me."
"Lupin, I don't want you to break me in."
"I know. You did that for Xander and you want him to do it for you. I totally get that. I can just play if you wanted." Jigen grimaced and shook his head. "You sure? He's going to be a stubborn guy about that. He's still resisting the urge to get together with us again, even for a few days."
"That's because he knows it wouldn't last that long," Xander said from behind him. "Jigen, I've found that book you gave me if you wanted to borrow it." She shook her head. "Okay, it's in my sock drawer if you need it. Lupin, you're not going to be that persuasive this time. She needs to get used to herself before you can help her with that stuff."
"How would you know, Xander?"
"Gee, let's see, how long did it take me to get used to having tits and internal sexual organs?" she asked bitterly. "Was I really there when Jigen and I went at it that first time? No, not really. But it helped a different problem I was having. It took me nearly a year to get fully used to and appreciative of having internal female stuff. Even you're not used to it yet."
"I'm fully comfortable in it."
"Then wear it all day," he said dryly. "Heels and all. Tomorrow."
Lupin shuddered. "That's nasty."
"Agreed. Which is why he's still having problems. He's been a guy for a very long time, Lupin. He's also one of those guys who's not comfy with other guy's equipment being near him. It's gonna be a while before he wants a guy to touch him that way."
"Don't you mean it'll be a while before you touch him that way?"
"No, I'm not touching either of you. I thought I made that clear. I'm not going to give myself four months of attention to be ignored the rest of the time. I deserve better than that, the same as Jigen does. At least he talked to me, even if he couldn't touch me." He walked away, heading back to his room. Then he decided to go down to the gym to do something else. He was tired of this and it'd only been about a week. He glared at the statue on the way past. "Thanks so very much for fucking up what little was going right in my life," he hissed. He made it down there and locked the door, then found Goemon in there already. "Hey, if you're using it, I'll go outside."
"You're not allowed to practice without someone being there to watch you," he reminded him. "You get hurt." He looked him over. "If I must, I will spar with you."
"Do you really want to be hurt, Goemon? I'm in the mood to hurt something. Unless you want to take the place of the punching bag, butt out." Goemon looked startled. "Yes, I do have a temper. We've officially reached the end of it. Xander's going to go ballistic and there's going to be little pieces of *something*. That something can be inanimate or I can turn something inanimate. Your choice."
"Calm yourself. Such anger is not healthy."
"Go away!" Goemon frowned at him this time. "I don't need this shit! I was happy before! I was getting away from being fucking miserable every day of my fucking life because my lover couldn't spend enough time each day to even acknowledge that I was living! I *finally* find someone I don't have to put on an act for and now this happens! Do you think I'm a *happy* fucking Xander?" Goemon shook his head. "Then go away!"
"Beating up on a punching bag will not help you any."
"It'll keep me from hitting you."
"Good point," he agreed, "but it still not going to be useful enough." Xander growled and turned, but Goemon caught him. "I can help you calm yourself."
"Unless you want to hand your sword to your son right this instant, let go," he growled. Goemon let go and stepped back. "Thank you." He walked out and slammed the door, heading outside. The pool was inside the boundaries and he could wear out his anger and aggression in it. He got there and found the barrier had moved and glared back at the house. "I'd move it back," he warned. "Or else you're going to be punted into outer space." The boundary moved for him, allowing him full access to the pool. He stripped off and dove in, starting on some laps. He hated people. He wanted to become a recluse. Fortunately he did have enough money to do that now. He could easily disappear and become a recluse. Alan could go out and do things, he wouldn't mind him doing those sort of things at all, just as long as he never had to see another person again. Especially not certain people. He turned and found Lupin setting something up. "What are you doing?"
"Xander?" Alan's voice asked from the speaker. "Are you all right?"
"Fine, honey. Just pissed at the world. I'm trying to wear it out." He looked at Lupin, but he had retreated back to the house. "So, which one called you to tell you I was going to kill them all?"
"Lupin did. He sounded really worried about you."
Xander sighed. "You remember hearing about the choker?" Alan grunted. "You're not on speaker, right?"
"No, I'm on my cell, Xander. What's going on? I remember that they were put into them. I got an email from someone saying they were Ethan saying that you were going to be quarantined at the house in France until you had worked things out."
"No, Janus put us here until I took him back and now he's fucking with Jigen's mind until he gives in and begs me to take him. I won't. This is pissing me off. I'm ready to kill something. And then Goemon tries to stop me from killing something inanimate." He let out a bitter sounding snort. "So now I'm in the pool trying to wear some of it."
"Xander, can't you bleed it out of you or something?"
"No. It's too much of me right now. I don't have the control necessary to do something like that." He put his chin down on his arms on the side of the pool. "How's things going down there? Is it pretty?"
"It is, but it's also rather boring. They've only taken us shopping once and the mall was pretty but very boring. It's like they're trying to show us the best of their city and I'm bored. I want to find somewhere gritty and dirty. I need to find somewhere to have fun."
"Then go to that place I told you about on Rue street. You'll like it there and I should still have some credit there. I'm sure no one would dare touch you and it's got some minor betting stuff going on, plus an arcade."
"I'll be in that town tomorrow," he admitted. "I guess I can do that. Should I tell them that we're dating when I show up?"
"If anyone asks, tell them you're Lavelle's latest bitch and they'll just nod and walk away," he said dryly. "I've only had one other one I took in there and it was Lupin. They didn't recognize him but they remembered me." He grinned at the snickering going on. "How many more weeks?"
"Three. I could come back for a weekend if you wanted me to."
"Nah, I don't want to mess up your schedule. Besides, you'd have to come here and then things would only get more tense." He grimaced toward the house again. "Listen, if you hear the house exploded, I'm still fine. Got it?"
"Sure, Xander, but can't you wear that out some other way?"
"It'd be totally accidental. I'd never do it on purpose. This house is huge and then Lupin would move into my place in England." He dunked himself then came back up. "You're sure you're okay? Is the bodyguard doing okay?"
"He's just fine, lovie. He's wonderful and very quiet, but he laughs at my jokes." Xander grinned at that. "I think I heard a smile."
"You did. You always make me smile. It's good that you're a happier person that I am. I want to become a recluse and let you go out and do people things for me."
"As long as I wasn't forced to stay there all the time we could do that," Alan offered. "Do you have enough funds stashed around the world for that?"
"Plus some legitimate businesses that make decent profits," Xander admitted. "Didn't I tell you that I own my own comic company?"
"You did and I'm sure that it makes you giggle all the time, Xander, but what about big people businesses?"
Xander snorted. "You mean like the security company, the restaurant, or even the other stuff? The tour income from the house in Spain? The ski lodge? The plastic surgery office?"
"How did you get involved in that?"
"Oh. Okay. I'm not even going to go there. I will not tell anyone to go there though."
"That's fine. I'd expect any clients to do research before coming in anyway," he said lightly. "My knees don't ache."
"Good. I'm glad you don't ache. Are you still fully living?"
"Yup, sure am. Aren't you supposed to be going on soon?"
"About an hour. Are you going to be okay?"
"I'll be fine. I'm going to do a few more laps then go back to bed."
"Sure, Xander. Have a better night."
"You too, knock 'em dead and make 'em all hard, honey. I know you can do it." Alan chuckled at that. "If you do I'll send you dirty pictures of me."
"I'd like that," he agreed happily. "You behave."
"Yes, you, Xander. I know you can now and then." He blew a kiss. "Have a better night, love. Happy sleeps."
"You too, Alan. Happy dreams." He listened to the dialtone for a moment, then got up to shut off the speaker. He sat on the side of the pool again, then slowly slid back into the water and went back to swimming, thinking this time. If he wanted to retire, he'd have to do some things first. Things like liquidating a few apartments worth of crap he'd stolen. He'd probably have to tithe Lupin and Jigen some of that stuff but he didn't care. If they didn't know then they weren't paying attention to him yet again. He turned and swam back the other way, getting calmer and calmer as he swam. Maybe he'd liquidate a few of the condos he had and buy a place on the beach. He'd like a place on the beach. But which set of beaches? American beaches? European beaches? Australian beaches? Asian beaches? "Somewhere warm," he muttered as he flipped around. "Somewhere nice and quiet, retirement sorta place."
"Hawaii is always nice," Jigen said from the gateway. "You better now?"
"Okay. You wanna talk?"
"Fine. I'll be taking the phone back inside. It's supposed to rain so be careful. Come in before dawn and don't sleep in the water, Xander. You can still drown." He grabbed the speaker and headed back inside, mentally sighing at this new, moodier Xander. He stopped in Xander's room, staring down at the statue. "You can't change the guy. He's in pain. You're making it worse by pushing."
"We only want him to be happy."
"So do I, but I don't think we do it for him anymore. I think he's thinking about retiring."
"He is," one side admitted sadly. "He would have a longer life but be very bored. The children would quit visiting after a few years. You'd never see him. He'd retire and do nothing but read and watch tv."
"Which future are you looking at?" Jigen complained. "Our kids would never leave him alone that long. You know that."
The frowning head shook itself and looked up at him. "It is in two of the possible paths if he retires."
"Out of how many?"
"Not good enough odds. In either of those were they dead?" They both nodded. "Both of them?"
"One of them. The other they were trying to make it easier on him by not forcing him to deal with his former life."
"Our kids?" Lupin asked from the doorway.
"Lotus thought it might be hurting him to see them and remember," the heads offered quietly. "Otherwise, he must have you to be happy and content. Of all the futures, that leads to the most happiness."
"Are we taking Alan into account?"
"We are, Lupin, and he will be happy with him until the first time he panics because someone takes him to get back at him." The heads looked at him. "You offer the best chance for happiness, but you must not ever ignore him again or he will leave. You must be his and he must be yours."
"Like what Goemon used to do to Fujiko?" Jigen asked.
"No, like how you two were together, Jigen. That easy friendship and ease of being together. You can be with him if you want. You simply have to want it badly enough."
"Just don't hurt him more," Lupin told them. "He was ready to kill whoever got in his way earlier."
"We know. We are sorry Goemon had to see that. His daughter would have known what to do."
"Hugging him would have gotten someone hurt, even the kids," Jigen pointed out. "For having his best interests at heart, you don't know the boy very well."
"He has ever been ours, Jigen. We have always know him and we know the heart that is underneath this new persona of Lavelle. He is still Xander."
"Yeah but the Xander you see isn't the real Xander either. He's real good at hiding himself," Jigen reminded them.
"We can read his dreams and his desires."
"Humans are more than their dreams and desires," Lupin reminded them. "Otherwise Mamo would have been the idea human." He walked closer. "Just read him again, Janus. That's all we're asking. Read deeply into who Xander is. Then maybe you'll know how to fix this for him."
"We will do this boon for you," they decided. "Go rest. Tomorrow will be another long day."
"Thanks," Jigen told them. They trooped back to their rooms, Jigen locking his door before Lupin could get inside, and going back to his bath.
Xander looked around the dreamscape he was in, frowning. "Uh-huh. A temple, how quaint." He headed for the light he could see, walking into the main room by the throne and the altar set up. He nodded at it, not feeling the need to bow presently. He looked at the being on the throne, raising an eyebrow. "You yelped for me?"
"It was suggested that we did not know you as you are presently," one of the faces of the God spoke quietly. "Therefore we will read you deeper, see if this is actually necessary."
"Come closer, Xander."
"Why do I feel like this is going to be like my attempt at therapy?"
"No, we know the cause of your personality, it is not your parents," they assured him, moving him closer by force. They reached down, laying a hand on his head, one overtop of the other. "Now, relax." The world went black for Xander, and they browsed through his mind. There was much they had missed but the basic truths were still in place. When they were done, they let him go and laid him on the altar to let him sleep. At least until he started to waver and disappear. They looked in the mirror so they could see each other, shaking their heads. Xander still needed them.
Goemon drug Xander out of the pool, hitting the emergency switch that led up to the study and Lupin's bedroom, then bent down to check him over. He wasn't breathing so he started CPR. Jigen came jogging out and got down to help him, taking over the breathing since he had bigger lungs.
Lupin came running with the first aid kit and noticed what was going on, going pale and sitting down. "Will he be okay?"
"We don't know yet, Lupin. Get me the breather."
Lupin opened the tackle box and handed over one of those squeazy ball masks that they used in ambulances, then got the defibrilator ready. When he had everything set he moved Goemon out of the way and attached the pads to the wet chest and pushed the button. "Move," he ordered, hitting the second button. It shocked Xander, making him choke. Jigen moved him onto his side, helping him spit up the water. "What was he doing?"
"Janus had him," Goemon said bitterly.
"The whole point of looking into him again wasn't to kill him!" Lupin yelled at the sky. He grabbed one of the spare towels from a lounger and put it across Xander's chest, checking his pulse on the machine. "He should be fine. He's breathing, his heart rate's a little fast but he should be fine."
"Thank God," Jigen sighed, moving back some. He lit a cigarette and took a long drag, then looked at the others. "Are you two okay?" Goemon nodded and Lupin shook his head, looking at the machine again. "He's just passed out, Lupin, he'll be fine."
"We don't know how long he was in there," he complained. "It's been two hours since the statue said it'd look at him again." He stood up. "We need to take him to the hospital. Just in case he's got brain damage or something."
"He's fine, Lupin. He's snoring," Goemon noted, pointing at the boy and his quiet snoring. "I heard him flail once and that's when I came. He was probably fine before then."
"I'm not willing to take that chance," Lupin decided, taking Xander and picking him up, carrying him to the garage. "Something had better be working," he muttered as he walked. He found one of the cars started and got Xander into it, getting in to drive. He sped off down the driveway, heading for the local hospital. Once he got there, the nurses rushed out to grab Xander. "He nearly drowned. He's a good swimmer so we're not sure why. He used to swim competitively. We had to shock him to get him back." They nodded and pushed him out of the room, letting him pace and worry. He decided to call the people in Xander's life in order, starting with the house. "They took him back and are checking him over now," he reported. "We'll be home in a few hours hopefully." He hung up and called the harder one next, getting Alan nearly immediately, though he sounded very happy. "Alan, are you done for the night? No, Xander nearly drowned a few minutes ago. No, he's being checked over. Right after we restarted him. Yeah, that's why I asked, man." He rubbed over his face. "He should be fine. It sounded like he was snoring when I drug him in here. No, they were all for watching him at home but I'm a fussy guy so I carried him here. Yeah, he should be fine. No, call tomorrow around two. By then we'll definitely know something and if he's only asleep he should be up by then. Thanks, man. No, I don't think it's anything but you deserve the right to know since he's yours now." He grimaced. "Sorry, I didn't mean to sound bitter about that. I want him back though. Fair warning."
He hung up and called his niece. It was her mother, not Arsene's, so she deserved to hear it first. "Melissa, answer," he muttered, putting in the emergency code. It rang through, forcing her to get up. "I've got Xander at the hospital. No, not shot, princess, nearly drowned. We had to restart him and everything. I don't know why. I know that Janus was asked to look him over again but I doubt that was why he nearly died." He choked down a sob and sat down, holding his head. "No, I already told him. Burst his happy mood totally. No, he'll be fine. I'm sure he'll be fine. Your dad was too but I wasn't too sure so I drug him here. Yeah." He looked at the cleared throat. "Hold on, it's a nurse." He moved the phone. "Is he all right? I'm on the phone with our daughter."
"He should be fine. We should keep him for observation but his brain scan looks fairly normal, if a bit higher in a few areas. Nothing out of the ordinary but I will be sending you home with antibiotics for any potential infection from the pool water. He coughed up more of it." Lupin relaxed and nodded. "Want me to tell her?" He nodded and handed the phone over. "Miss?" She heard the crying. "He'll be fine, Miss. He's still got some minor congestion from the water, his brain waves look fine, if a bit high in a few areas, and his heart rate is steady. No, we could keep him for observation if his lover wanted." She looked at Lupin, who shook his head. "You're sure?"
"We've got most of the machines at home," he admitted. "We're only a few miles from here if something else happens."
"That's fine, sir. Yes, miss. That's fine. Do you concur?" She smirked. "Because an actual family member does overrule a mere boyfriend unless he's got paperwork to treat. Of course. Thank you, ma'am." She handed the phone back. "She said that she trusted you to take better care of him. Let me do another check then you can take him home."
Lupin listened to Melissa going off at her walls. "Sorry to have woken you, 'Lis." She berated him. "I know, but we do have most of the equipment at home if necessary. Yeah, that stuff. Sure. Yeah, I told Alan to call tomorrow around two, do the same, okay?" He grinned lightly. "Thanks, 'Lis. Calm down and relax. No, we asked Janus to look him over again. I'm guessing it's because of that but I can't be sure. Yeah, thanks, call Jigen to have him set up the monitors somewhere. His bed, my bed, somewhere. Thanks, 'Lis. You're a great daughter." He hung up and went to check on him, holding his hand while the nurse checked him over. "Is there a problem?"
"No, just giving you time to calm down. Are you all right?" He nodded. "You're sure?"
"Very sure. I'll be fine," he assured her. "I'm shaky but the liquor's at home." She nodded, smirking at him for that. "Thank you."
"It's not a problem. That was the correct course of action." She handed over the slip for the antibiotics. "Here, for his lungs. Just in case. Also, what is he taking the pain killers for?"
"He's had intermittent problems with his knees and back," he told her. "He's just coming off a session of medicine for it."
"That's fine, there was a question of that helping in this situation."
"No, he was fine earlier, just pissed at us. He went out to wear it out. Thank you." He patted Xander's face gently. "Come on, Xander, lets go back to the car, babe."
"Lupin?" He looked around. "What happened?"
"You nearly drowned. You're fine though so I'm taking you home now. Can you sit up and walk out to the car?" Xander nodded, letting himself be led out to the car and buckled in. "There you are." He walked around and got in to drive them home, stopping to stick the prescription into the drop box at the local pharmacy. Jigen could get it later for him. He came back to the car and found Xander coughing. "We can go back," he offered. Xander shook his head and continued to cough so Lupin got him out and standing, letting him cough while bending down. It helped and he spit up some more water. "There, it's all right," he soothed, helping him back into the seat. "Alan's going to be calling tomorrow around two, Xander." He noticed a cop staring at him. "He nearly drowned at the house."
"Oh. Why is he naked?"
"They cut his boxers off at the hospital. I didn't think about bringing more clothes."
"That's fine, go home please."
"I was just dropping off his 'scrip." He got in to drive, taking Xander back to the house. He helped him up the stairs and into his room since Jigen was in there. "We in here?" Jigen nodded, helping Xander into a pair of pajamas then under the sheets. "There, you rest," he said, turning on the monitors. He pulled a chair over and sat down to watch him. "I've got it."
"I can sleep in my own room," Xander offered.
"No, I want you somewhere you can be watched," Jigen told him. "You could start to cough more and it needs to be watched. Does he have more drugs?"
"I dropped off an antibiotic at the local drug store."
"That's fine," Jigen agreed. "I'll go down tomorrow to get it." He patted Xander on the back. "Don't worry us like that again, Xander. I nearly joined you in the ER for my heart." He gave him a gentle stroke down the arm. "You rest and I'll make sure you get breakfast."
"I really can sleep in my own bed so Lupin doesn't have to sleep in the chair."
"If I'm that uncomfortable I'll climb in behind you but on top of the covers," Lupin promised. "Don't worry about it, just rest, Xander." He nodded and closed his eyes again, letting out a little cough. Lupin looked up at Jigen. "Drink?" he asked quietly.
"Goemon's pouring you one with his third." Lupin nodded. "I'll go get it. You watch him and I'll be back up." That got another nod so he went down to save the bottle from Goemon. "You okay?"
"He nearly died," he said quietly.
"I know, so does he. He just offered to sleep in his own room."
"I doubt he's going to be out of one of our attention for the rest of this month."
The phone rang, making them both jump. "Yeah?" Jigen answered. "Hey, Alan. No, he's back here and fine. No, they released him. They gave him an antibiotic and said he should be fine. He was up and complaining about sleeping in Lupin's room. No, he's got the monitors and we wanted to make sure he'd be fine. No, no funny stuff." He snorted at Alan complaining about Lupin being so blunt. "You knew that was a risk, man. We both feel that way. Xander's been the best thing in our lives for a while. No, I know, I'm working on my problems and Lupin's working on his. Sure, if you think you can stand Interpol bugging you for months on end. Fine. When you're done, call us and we'll bring you up. Sure. Thanks, Alan." He hung up and shook his head with a moan. "He wants to come up to visit for a weekend. I figure we can last that long," he said at Goemon's odd look. "At the very least, we'll see how to treat Xander properly." He grabbed the bottle and two glasses, carrying them up the stairs. He handed one glass to Lupin. "Alan said he wanted to come up for a few days. I said I'd pick him up."
"That's fine," Lupin agreed. "If Xander won't let us baby him, he will let Alan and he needs it." He let Jigen fill his glass and gulped it, holding it up for another. "You can sleep first if you want. Wake me in a few hours."
"Sure." Jigen downed his own drink and climbed in behind Xander, on top of the blankets, and hugged him. "You rest, Xan, I'm here to watch over you tonight." Xander mumbled something. "No, he's coming up in a few days. You rest." Xander nodded and snuggled back into his arms, making him look so sad. "He's done what so many dames tried to do, he tamed us, Lupin."
"Yeah, I'm not the party guy I used to be in my youth the first time around," Lupin agreed, pouring himself another drink. "I'll be right back," he announced, going into the bathroom.
Jigen nearly got up but he heard the glass break and he knew Lupin wanted to be alone at the moment. So he left him there and held Xander harder. It was the only comforting thing he could think of.
Melissa stomped into Arsene's room, not caring that she woke up her roommate or that she had a gun pointed at her chest. "Mom just nearly died," she shrieked. "Get your God's head out of his ass and straighten him the fuck out!"
Arsene sat up, staring at her in shock. "Huh?"
"Mom nearly drowned to death," she reported. "The two headed, immoral, asshole was taking another look at his life. Dad just called from the fucking ER!"
"Calm down," Arsene said gently, getting out of the bed. "We'll talk to him. I'm sure he didn't mean to nearly kill mom. Mom can swim you know. I'm sure he's fine."
"Sure, they released him but they said his brain waves are off!"
"Okay, then let's unpack the altar and set it up in your room so we can have a discussion about this with him."
"I don't want him in my room."
"Fine, then we'll go wake up Lotus. Grab the case while I put on something." She gathered up her boxers and an old wife beater t-shirt, sliding them onto her naked body.
"Can't you wear clothes?" her roommate complained.
"No. Clothes are for those who are self-conscious or cold." She took the case from Melissa, walking her down to Lotus' room. She tapped then walked in. "Lotus, we've got to set the altar up in your room."
"Fat chance," her roommate complained. "Some of us are Catholic."
"You can move," Lotus said quietly. "What's up?"
"Mom nearly drowned because that...that...asshole was talking to him again!" Melissa said, her anger leaving her less than verbal for the most part. "I want to go to wherever he is and kill his two-headed ass!"
Lotus sat up and pushed her hair back. "What happened? I know Mom can swim, he taught us all how to swim. He used to swim on his high school team and do minor surfing. How did he nearly drown?"
"Apparently Janus was having a discussion with dad while he was swimming and he knocked him out," Arsene said with a shrug. "Or at least that's what I got from the screaming so far."
"Out!" Lotus' roommate yelled. "I don't need to hear about pagan or heathen faith issues!"
Arsene took the direct approach and opened a window, then picked her up and tossed her struggling body out it. "There, it's much nicer now," she sneered down at her. "Do not make fun of my faith." She closed the window, leaving the girl trapped in the tree. Then she looked at Lotus. "You know Janus hates my roommate, he makes all sorts of bad things happen to her. Melissa doesn't want him this year. So I guess you're it unless we want to sneak over to Ishi's room since he's got a single."
Lotus shrugged. "I don't care. Put him in a corner and I'll try to keep from throwing my panties on him."
Arsene smirked. "Like he'd care?" She sat down in the small space between her bed and closet, working on setting up the altar on the top of her footlocker. "Need anything in here at the moment?"
"I haven't unpacked yet," Lotus admitted. "Let me do that first." Melissa helped her unpack her trunk, and then the altar was rebuilt on top of it. They were just getting to the lighting the incense when the hall monitor came in with the bruised roommate. "Sorry, she had a problem with the family's faith of choice. We're setting up Arsene's altar."
"I don't want it in my room!" the girl yelled.
"Then move," Melissa told her. "I'm sure my roommate wouldn't care to live with you, she's borderline nun material anyway." The girl glared at him so she backhanded her. "Do not start," she growled. "My mother nearly died tonight."
"That's what you get for having *fags* for parents."
Melissa grabbed the girl and pushed her against the wall by the hand on her throat. "I'd take that back, sweetie, Lavelle is my second father. Sylvia is my mother and they're almost the same person, that's how I have two fathers and a mother." The girl gurgled. "Was that an apology?"
"Melissa!" the monitor snapped, trying to pull her off the poor girl. "Let her go this instant before I have to call your father!"
"They're coming up in a few weeks anyway," Arsene said with a shrug. She tapped the heads. "This good enough or do you really need candles this year?" They shrugged. "Good. Then let's talk about how mom nearly drowned."
Melissa let the other girl go and came over to pick up the statue. "This is not the way to fix it and I will make sure every last devotee to you is dead if you do not lay off my parents," she warned in a deadly cold voice. "If you think I'm kidding, I can always work with Fred after I retrain him." The heads blinked at her. "Got me here? I want mom to be *living*, not dead."
"It was an accident," one face told her.
"It did the trick though, it brought them closer together."
"Yay. It's also bringing Alan up this weekend." The statue groaned. "Now then, what the hell were you doing!" She shook it. "How dare you nearly hurt my mom!"
"Melissa, he can't answer if he's dizzy," Lotus soothed, taking the statue and putting it back down, glaring at it as only a Goemon could. "You do have some explanations to give. That was not what was needed and her father didn't need to spend time in Hades' realm."
"No, he did not, nor did he. He was on the dream plane and we miscalculated his ability to float when things hit him, like leaves. We are sorry we worried you."
"You did more than worry us," Arsene assured him. "Are you fixing it?"
"They're fussing over him."
"His temper is no longer an issue at this moment."
"He is no longer ready to rip into someone and kill them with his bare hands and teeth."
"He is no longer fighting them laying on the same bed as he is."
"He's also no longer fighting being cuddled. That was the best part of what they are you know," the other side finished.
"Okay, enough," the hall monitor said, staring down at the statue. "The rest of us don't need to know this much about their marital spats or things like that. Lotus, did you want to have her moved?"
"Please. She doesn't like me anyway."
"Those are fake."
"Really? Because my mother was naturally a D-cup, twat. They're very real. Need to grope to figure that out? I've already been promised a reduction surgery when I'm old enough." The girl put her nose in the air and stomped out. "I think she and 'Lis's roommate would do well together," she noted. "She's very Catholic as well."
"That's fine, I'll find them a room together. Melissa, would you consider rooming with Lotus?"
"They'd kill each other. Melissa isn't one of those messy people and Lotus still throws her undies around," Arsene said as she finished her simple prayer to fix her family and to keep them sane, then bowed before standing up. She looked at the hall monitor. "I'd put it in my room but my roommate ends up plagued by bad luck. Last time she broke her leg."
"That's fine. Some people are distracted by thoughts they have when confronted with others of deeper faith." She glanced at the statue again. "That is very good. How do you do that?"
"Magic," Lotus said with a smirk. "Just like me."
"Okay then. Could you room with that nice darling who's Druidic? No one seems to understand her."
"Sure," Lotus agreed. "We can try."
"Thank you. I'm worried about her sanity and I'm sure you two could come to some sort of understanding about the religion things." She hurried off to get that girl out of her room, going to put the other two together in her room in the morning. Then she made a report to the Headmistress, leaving out the talking statue. That was just too weird, even for a Lupin.
Lotus smiled at her new roommate. "Hi, I'm Lotus."
"You have powers," the girl stated firmly.
Lotus nodded. "Nature magic. Arsene is a priestess of Janus so we've got her altar up here. He likes to pick on her roommate, thinks she's pretty and should be his. That a problem for you?"
"No, I keep a small shrine to Loki to make him leave me alone," she admitted. "Will my works bother yours?"
"Only if they're blood magic. I mostly work out in the herb gardens."
"That's fine. Are you a messy person?"
"Sometimes. Mostly it's laundry issues."
"That is also fine. As long as they don't mingle too much we should be fine." She held out a hand. "Miriam. I'm an Assassin candidate."
"I do both tracks, though I'm working with Lupin the Fourth. I'm the only Goemon daughter this generation."
"Ah. Then can you introduce me to your brother? He's quite hot."
Lotus chuckled. "Sure. He'll be up sometime soon. By the way, he doesn't knock, neither does Arsene. Melissa usually does."
"That's fine, I don't have many friends yet."
"Eh, we like strange people. You'll fit right in," Arsene said from the doorway. "You okay with the talking heads?"
"I keep a small shrine to Loki to make him leave me be."
"Hey, that's cool. Set them up across from each other so they can chat," she suggested. "We're heading down to eat. Food, Lotus?"
"Coming. Give us a minute. Don't warn Ishi."
"Again, not an issue. He could use a new girlfriend. He thinks he's so hot and we're all prettier than he is." She smirked as she walked off. She ran into Ishi and Melissa on a balcony. "Hey, Miriam is Lotus' new roommate. She's a Druid."
"Cool," Melissa agreed. "Like Wyatt, we've got room at the table. This is how empires start."
Ishi nodded. "Very true. Is Mom all right? We can't wake anybody up."
"It's barely nine, I doubt you're going to get anyone up for another few hours," she pointed out dryly. "When is Alan calling?"
"Then try around lunch," she offered, walking Ishi into the dining area with Melissa following them. "Now, let's eat and attend our morning of non-classes. Then we'll do lunch and our afternoon of non-classes. Why is it that we've only got two classes and they're both Wednesday afternoon?"
"To give us more time to work on our projects, like the Fiat," Melissa said happily. She walked up to the Gadgets and Gizmos teacher, still smiling. "I was told to tell you that you're mostly ours now."
He snorted and nodded. "So I've heard. We'll work on the Fiat today while the others find out which place they want to hang out in." He looked over as Arsene crumpled to the ground. "Oh, dear. Is she pregnant?"
"She's been threatened to not touch a boy until she's sixteen," she said, heading back to check on her. "Ishi?"
"Out cold. Help me get her up to her room again." They walked past Lotus and Miriam, and Wyatt was right behind them. "She passed out."
"Hmm. Sounds like a painful vision." Miriam helped by opening doors and Wyatt got Arsene's door when her roommate wouldn't open it. Miriam tested her forehead. "I've got some wonderful tea for headaches, I'll let Lotus borrow the recipe if you want."
"Please. Arsene reacts funny to some drugs." They tucked her in and left her there, knowing that she'd tell them what was going on when she woke back up. And since she was snoring, it was going to be a while.
"So, Miriam, do you follow a traditional faith too?" Wyatt asked as he escorted her down to breakfast.
She nodded. "I'm a Druid. My mother was a witch."
"Do you guys have your own schools? Like Hogwarts? Not to be offensive but I have no idea. My own family is Methodist and stodgy about these sort of things getting to me."
She snorted. "No, no schools like that. It's a mentoring system usually."
"If I can ask, why don't you practice the same way?" Lotus asked.
"I don't have the power to do so. So I took up the other family job, assassin. Or at least I'm trying."
"Hey, try away, just don't try for us," Melissa said with a smirk. "I'm dating Brad so not a big issue among us."
"Thank you. My last roommate kept giving me fearful looks thinking that I was going to take her in her sleep."
"Ah, first years," Ishi said dryly. "I get some of that in the boy's dorms."
"I get some of that in the girls' dorms, especially when I'm having a moody day," Lotus admitted. "They think I'm the nice one."
The others laughed but Wyatt looked confused. "But you are the nice one, Lotus. At least of the kids here. You're willing to help anyone who needs it and you help tutor in a few subjects, plus you mentor a few of the younger girls. You go even beyond the other ones by being nicer to us younger kids." He noticed she was blushing so he grinned. "Sorry if I embarrassed you. Remember, I'll be spending my time behind a set of books, not dealing with people."
Ishi gave him a nudge. "It's a family joke. We've got two other sisters, Sarah and Alex. Alex is a miniature whirlwind of activity and beats up on Fred and Kenji, but Sarah is the nicest, sweetest person you'd ever get attacked and hugged by. She's Fred's twin and got all the propriety and all that from both of them."
"She's my baby sister," Melissa told him. "She's also got a small heart condition so she's not worked as hard as the other kids."
"She sounds charming, is she going to be joining my field?"
"Actually, the current plan is that she's going to work with the kitsune, but with them and Mom fighting I'm not so sure about that," Lotus admitted. "I'll have to see if I can check on that later." She noticed the odd looks. "They like Lavelle."
"Oh. Okay," Miriam agreed happily enough. "It's good to know that they exist."
"Yeah, if you really want to get into the strange and odd, you've got to talk to Lavelle when he's on downtime," Ishi offered. "He knows all about those things. He's from America."
"I bet he's very good at fighting them."
"He used to fight with a Slayer," Melissa told her.
"Then I shall try to make his acquaintance. My sister was a potential and was dismissed from the queue because she was ill."
"Ethan's an honorary uncle," Melissa said as she opened the doors to the dining hall, noticing everyone was staring at them. "She's napping off the headache." They went back to what they were supposed to be doing, gossiping. They took their usual table and sat down with the new member, letting her know which seat would be hers. Maybe she and Wyatt would start to date. They'd be cute together if he grew a few more inches or a foot. Melissa grinned at Brad. "Hey."
"Morning. Is your mother all right?" She nodded. "You're sure?"
"I'm very sure. They didn't keep him and they sent him home to sleep and to take some antibiotics."
"Then I'm glad he's all right. Some day I'm going to have to hit him for shooting me." He grinned at her. "Think he'll stand still?"
"Maybe. You'd have to ask him." She kissed him on the cheek. "At least you didn't have the drama we did last night. Fussy roommates and all."
"Sometimes you get those. I've had one in the past." He grinned at Miriam. "Hi. I'm Brad. We're in the same program. If you need help, I can tell you which upperclassman to bug." She nodded, smiling at him. "Hey, Wyatt, how's finances?"
"Yours are looking quite well, sir. I've overlooked your portfolio and whoever set them up was nearly a genius. I do have a few suggestions and I included them on a separate piece of paper so you could have the original person look them over."
"That's great, man. Thanks." He patted the kid on the back. "What happened to Lupin?"
"We don't know, she passed out. She's in bed snoring right now," Ishi offered. "We'll check on her later since our classes are only on Wednesday."
One of the teachers came down. "Melissa, dear, can I have you mentor a few of the children doing the practical child care lessons?" the teacher pleaded. "They're so hopeless they're scared of infants."
"Sure," she agreed happily. "It's not like I don't have free time." The teacher beamed and patted her on the arm before going back to her seat. "Can we do the running again this year?" she called.
"We'll see," the Headmistress called back. "That depends on how many problems you give me, Miss Jigen." She cleared her throat. "That reminds me," she said, signaling for silence. "Any student who has not qualified on the range must do so today. Otherwise you will be put back in Elementary Marksmanship. Even if you came in as a marksman you must do it every year. Also, this weekend is the weekend you do your beginning test in any martial arts you practice. Depending on discipline you'll either do it Saturday or Sunday. For those of you with hacker qualifications I want them on my desk by tonight, just in case we get another virus this year. Also, those of you in herbology who are taking healing and medic lessons will have to meet with that teacher tonight after dinner to arrange for lesson times. Lupin the Fourth can make up her range qualifications once she's awake and checked over. Make sure she knows, Miss Jigen."
"Yes, ma'am," Melissa called. She looked at Brad. "What do you have after breakfast?"
"Nothing, the same as you. Range?"
She nodded. "Yeah, I've got to qualify with both weapons. She's waiting for her weapons though. Hopefully I can get them shipped down soon enough so she can make her choice."
"Maybe they'll send Fred down with them," Lotus said with a smirk. "I'm sure he'd like to get away from Bix for a while."
"How are your other sisters doing?" Wyatt asked.
"Married," Ishi said with a smirk. "Lavelle said that if any of us broke and had sex before sixteen we'd end up married to that person or in a political marriage. They both married into the Zenigata clan this summer."
"It was insane," Brad told him. "There were cops everywhere. The whole damn task force was in attendance and armed, and Lavelle teased and joked with most of them. I was worried for his life with a few of them. Vecchio looked really serious. Not at all playful like he was when we met the first time."
"You've met him?" Miriam asked.
"He was undercover posing as my father for a while," he admitted bitterly. "Looked just like him. Fortunately he didn't have custody of me." He shuddered. "Then he shows up at the wedding and sits with us."
"Yeah, they should have put Ray K with us," Lotus agreed. "He and Mom are convention buddies. Vecchio and mom are just in some strange teasing contest ever since that kiss during that job to take down the maternal unit."
"I kind of liked Ray when he was here," Wyatt admitted. "He gave very realistic lectures on why most of us are stupid coming out of training, and then the practicals proved it for most people, especially three of your group."
"They got arrested, it was their own fault," Melissa reminded him. "You managed yours, we managed ours, and the other two managed theirs. Hopefully this year he won't be going against Arsene. Has anyone seen him?"
"He's got to come out of rehab for steroids," Ishi said grimly. "He'll be back in a few days."
"Wonderful," she said bitterly. "Then it starts again."
"No it won't. We'll smash his head in this time," Wyatt said firmly. "I'm not his flunky and I've instructed the newer children to feel the same way. As far as we're concerned, he can jump off the top of the school." He smiled at Miriam. "We'll point him out to you when he comes in," he promised. She nodded, eating more of her food. "What's your first class?"
"Oh, good, I'm in there as well. I can walk you down there," he promised, patting her on the hand. "I'm the Assistant to the teacher so don't worry too much about it."
"He's a financial genius," Melissa said proudly. "We got him through his practical exercise last year."
Brad coughed. "Speaking of, the assassins get theirs this week. Be on your toes." He stared at his girlfriend. "I know one of the teachers hates you."
She nodded. "We had to thwart a few last year. We can do it again."
"It was rather fun putting that one boy into the barrel," Lotus agreed dryly. "This year we'll have to get creative." The others shuddered but Ishi smirked at her too.
"I think we can do that," he agreed smugly. "Too bad the teacher herself is off limits."
A younger woman came up to Lotus, gently tapping her on the shoulder before leaning down next to her ear. "Lotus, who did your surgery? They're so good and I wanted to gt sent to him."
"They're natural," Melissa said calmly.
"Do I have to have someone feel them to make everyone figure out that they're real? My family isn't really one for plastic surgery. My dad would have shit elephants if someone suggested that to him," she said bitterly. "Pick someone, I can prove they're real." The girl nodded, jogging back to her table, and one girl nodded over, giving her an evil look. Lotus shrugged. "After breakfast." She dug in, knowing that she'd need the food later on, if only to keep her calm. "Who else is witnessing this?"
"I will," Wyatt offered. "We've got a few minutes."
"Fine." She looked at Melissa. "Why don't you have this problem?"
"Mine aren't as big as yours," she pointed out. "You about need architectural support in a bra. I only need good support."
"Point, but it still sucks." She finished off and headed out, waiting outside the room.
That girl followed and came back a few minutes later, looking stunned. She sat down at her table and shook her head. "They are real. There's no implants." That got more people talking.
"And she's not dating without our father meeting the person," Ishi called. "Get it out of your head now."
The buzz quieted some but more people looked speculative. What a challenge!
Jigen answered the phone, grunting into it to show it was him. He sat up. "What?" He groaned and shook his head. "Thanks, man. Any other news?" He smiled. "Even better. No, I'm sure we can do that. Sure, thanks." He hung up and looked at Lupin, who was curled up against Xander's chest. "Lotus had to be groped because a jealous girl decided hers were fake." Lupin snorted, shaking his head a bit. He didn't want to wake Xander. "And they're down to two classes. The rest is practical time." That got a small grin. "Also, Wyatt suggested that Fred or Sarah deliver the guns to Arsene, who passed out at breakfast and was carried back to bed, where she fell asleep."
"I wonder what she got the vision of," Xander said quietly. "You comfy?" Lupin nodded. "Okay." He closed his eyes again. "I still feel nasty and I need a shower."
"You can do that in a while," Lupin assured him quietly. "Rest for now." Xander shifted but he nodded and didn't make Lupin leave him alone, it was a good sign. "Any other good news?"
"There was a roommate switch. Lotus' and Melissa's roommates are now living together and Lotus has a Druid for a roommate. Incoming second year assassin candidate."
"Good. They should get along well enough," Lupin agreed. "Any other good news?"
"Nope, just that. Did you want Fred or Sarah to go?"
"Fred would find a way to get trumpeters to follow him in and a cape," Xander said bitterly. "He thinks that since I'm a Prince of Hell, he's a prince of somewhere."
"We've already talked to him about that," Lupin promised. "He'd simply bring it and hug and cuddle everyone."
"But Sarah would be nicer and not hit on the women," Jigen offered. His daughter was so nice and sweet.
"But she hates guns," Xander reminded him. "We could send Alex."
"No, let's stick with the older kids," Lupin decided. "Fred, Sarah, or Kenji?"
They considered it, then nodded. "Fred," they said in unison. He'd need to learn the school anyway.
Lupin picked up the phone to dial the other safehouse. "Hey, Sarah. Is Fred awake yet?" He grinned. "Thanks." He looked at Jigen. "She's going to pounce him for us." He grinned as his son's grumpy voice came across the line. "Son, would you like to deliver something very special to Arsene? Yes, you'd get to go to the school. I'd hire someone to drive you up there and you could deliver it and then come back a few hours later." He smirked. "I thought you might like to spend some time with your sisters. Sure, you can even gift wrap them in a pretty box, how about that? No, we're sending Arsene her special guns. Thanks, Fred. We'll send them to you tonight and you can go on Friday." He smiled as Bix snatched the phone. "I'm having him deliver something to Arsene on Friday. No, I'll have him escorted and driven. Don't worry about it, Bix, you'll be unpinched for a whole day." He smirked. "That's fine, we're nearly out of here anyway. Sure thing. Nope, guns. Expect a delivery person. Thanks, Bix." He hung up. "She thinks he's too young."
"Arsene was pulling jobs at eight."
"I'm pretty sure he'll start by the time he's ten," Lupin soothed. He snuggled back in. "Let me cuddle?" he asked. Xander nodded, yawning over his head. "Thanks, Xan." He closed his eyes, content enough for the moment.
Jigen laid down behind him, getting comfortable too. There wasn't any way he'd be missing Xander cuddles.
Inspector Zenigata walked up to the Academy's registration desk. "Another two to preregister," he said happily enough.
"Ooh, daughters too?" the receptionist asked.
"Daughters-in-law," he said grimly. "It's the two who wanted to be cops." She looked stunned so he nodded. "The crook set the rule that if they got broken in before they were sixteen, they'd be marrying them. So they did. They still want to go to the Academy. You may have paperwork on one of them."
"I believe we do," she admitted, finding it and putting the two applications together, stamping them both. "Here, take them into the office and explain it to him. He's the one who'll have to make the decision." He nodded, taking the three of them in there. "That poor man," she sighed, smiling at his back.
Zenigata knocked briefly then walked in, saluting the higher officer. "Sir, my daughters- in-law request entry to the program as preregistrants."
"Close the door." He kicked the door shut. "I've heard about your new family members. At ease, Inspector." Zenigata relaxed. "They're sure they want to be cops?"
"Well, one wants to work in the lab and the other wants to be Ray Kowalski," he admitted dryly, "but they've always wanted to be cops, sir." He handed over the applications. "Their fathers sent them to as many youth police camps as they could find. This last one was the one they snuck away from to get married. Interestingly enough, they married the wrong nephew. The one who wants to work in the lab is married to the one who wants to be a field inspector."
"That is very interesting. They know that they may have to chase their families?"
"No one would let them chase any of the Lupin gang, sir, of any generation. The same as other officers can't chase their own family. It's against regulations."
"Good point." He looked them over, then nodded at the experience section. "Very well, I will provisionally admit them for this summer session. We're running the candidates for next year who wanted early admission then. Have them ready and outfitted for the camp."
"How are they finding married life?"
"So far they don't seem to mind it. Both their fathers set up trust funds in reputable banks who swore to me that it was legitimate money when they got it. They're secure and mostly happy. Sierra isn't as happy as she could be, she hates her new school's uniforms. Said they're scratchy."
"I'm sure she'll learn to live with it. Thank you, Inspector."
"You're welcome sir, and thank you. I'll tell the girls tonight." He saluted again and walked off, whistling happily once he got outside. This was very good news for his kids. Not that he agreed with them marrying but it was helping settle those two down and into the life easier. It'd be an easier transition to the Academy and the life afterward. Now if only Dawn would ease up on him about this 'no more kids' rule of hers, he'd be the happiest guy in the world. His mother had so liked her when they had met and she loved her grandchildren. Besides, it'd keep Dawn out of those leather catsuits of hers.
Fred walked into the school and smiled at the big person standing there. "I'm delivering an important present to Lupin the Fourth," he said loudly. He had been instructed to only call her Lupin the Fourth in the school unless they were totally alone with just the family. "Where is she?"
"She's at dinner, young man," the teacher said, smiling down at him. "This way."
She led the way back to the dining hall, letting him get the door. Then he flipped a switch in his pocket and the blaring sounds of trumpets went off. He smirked at the shocked looks. "I have an important present for Lupin the Fourth and I'm amazing. I'm a messenger of doom." He spotted Ishi so walked that way, coughing loudly in the quiet hall. "Lupin the Fourth?" She smiled down at him. "You're supposed to nod," he hissed. She nodded. "I've got a message from Lupin the Third. Use them, they're your destiny now." He handed over the pretty box Sarah had covered in wrapping paper for this. Then he climbed up in Melissa's lap to see what he had been delivering. "Oooh," he moaned. "Pretty."
Arsene pulled out the first gun and tested the weight. "Very nice," she agreed. She checked the clip and the barrel, then the tag on the handle. "From your dad, 'Lis. The one he was gifted with." She put it back and pulled out the other one and this one felt perfect in her hand. "From Mom and it's just perfect." She saw a third one and pulled it up, looking at Fred. "I thought we only had two."
He grinned. "The lady gave me that one for you. She said you had earned it already."
She uncovered the plastic around it and felt the grip conform to her hand. She smiled at it. "Thank you, Fred." She kissed him on the cheek. "Did daddy think to send holsters?"
"They're in the car. They're in a big tangle. They're leather."
"I'll go get them," Ishi offered, taking Fred with him.
"Is that what I think it is?" Melissa asked. Arsene nodded, letting her look at it. "You were gifted with a .48 of your own," she said in awe. Lupin smirked at her. "Wow. I'm impressed. I can't wait until I get mine." She handed it back carefully. "Which one's your primary?"
"All of them. We seem to need massive firepower whenever we get shot at." She took the mass of harnesses and worked on straightening them out, putting on a dual shoulder holster and a back holster. They were light enough for that. Plus there was a thigh holster for some of her outfits. She armed herself then grinned. "Very nice. All lightweight too."
Her family clapped, happy that she had passed that step. Fred got up to hand the card to the pretty lady at the head table like his father had ordered him to. "For you."
"Thank you, Fred." She opened it and read, smiling at it. "You are very helpful."
He smiled and looked around, heading for a young woman who was pretty and blonde. "I'll have girls like you some day," he said. "Wanna join now so there's no waiting in line?"
She gave him an odd look then looked at Lupin. "Your brother just propositioned me," she called.
"Be thankful, he used to attack and suckle," Lotus called back.
The girl shook her head down at Fred. "I don't think you're old enough for me to jump in line yet, Fred, but when you are I may take you up on that. You're very cute."
He scowled. "I'm not cute! I'm a messenger of doom! My daddy said so."
"I'm sure he did," she agreed, smirking at him. "When you're sixteen, look me up and we'll see what sort of trouble we can get into."
"Do I *have* to wait that long? I was going to steal stuff on the way home."
"No, you can do that on the way home," she promised, patting him on the head. "You just have to wait to have girls."
"Na-uh. Daddy had girls when he was *eight*. I'm seven. I can have girls."
"Fred, quit hitting on her, she only likes older guys," Ishi called.
"Fine," he complained all the way back to their table. "Daddy had girls when he was eight."
"They were his nannies, Fred," Melissa said patiently. Arsene shook her head. "No?"
"Nope. He had sluts at eight. Grandfather hired them to start his non-practical education. Apparently it's always been an early thing among the males in the family. Great- grandfather had his first one at twelve, he rescued a girl from a slaver. He kept her for nearly a year then sent her away. Grandfather was a late bloomer, he didn't have his until fifteen, again hired by the old guy for his amusement and education. Daddy had two of them when he was eight and was broken in at fourteen, to *every* facet they could think of. Daddy said he would have hired me someone but since I was a girl he wasn't sure it was appropriate. So maybe Fred will get a few of them when he's ten or so."
"I don't wanna wait," he complained.
"You're too little for anyone but the sickos," Ishi told him.
"Fine, but then I get tits all to myself, no sharing with Yu or Kenji."
"I'm sure our father would appreciate it if you didn't share," Lotus agreed, smirking at him. "So, you like blondes?" He nodded, grinning at her. "Well, she is pretty so you've got good enough taste. How are you getting home?"
"Airplane. We're still in Germany." He looked up at his sister. "Will you tell me if my plan is bad?" She nodded, leaning down so he could whisper in her ear. "I wanna do that," he said proudly.
"Well, it's ingenious but remember security guards, Fred. They'll be mean and hurt you or give you to someone like a cop."
He nodded. "I know. I've got gas." He beamed at her. "Will daddy be proud?"
"He'll be very proud, even if you do get caught," she promised, giving him a hug. "Were you staying tonight?" He nodded. "That's fine. Where's your driver?"
"Outside in the trunk." He smiled sweetly. "He was saying mean things." He settled in to help her eat and untangle the remaining harnesses, helping Melissa into hers. She was doing a back waist holster like her father. Later that night, Fred snuck out of his sister's room and went trolling, finding his pretty one all alone...and asleep. He curled up with her, getting comfy on her chest. They were very nice to lay on.
Lupin looked up as someone pounded on the front door, getting up to answer it. "Yes?" he asked the man standing there. His son was handed over. "What did he do?"
"He rented three pros, all blonde with big hooters, and stole two things on the way back without me realizing it," Kowalski said in disgust. "Keep the filthy little beast away from me, Lupin. He farted on the guards and made them pass out!" He stomped off, going back to his car.
"That's my boy!" Lupin said proudly, hugging him. "Let's go tell Mommy, he'll be so proud of you!" Fred grinned up at him. "Did you do anything else?"
"I snuggled up to a girl at the school but she found me the next morning and screamed, then went to cry in the shower for some reason. I don't understand girls. They're soft and comfy in the right spots, but she didn't want to cuddle at all. I thought all girls liked to cuddle." He grinned at his uncles. "I'm a good boy."
"He stole two things and hired three blondes, all without letting Ray know," he said proudly. "And he found a cute girl at the academy too."
"Um, Lupin, he's just a little boy," Xander said carefully.
"Grandfather hired me my first working girls when I was eight, they attended to me and taught me about women."
"No wonder you've got such a skewed view of them," Goemon noted, shaking his head. "I'm proud of you, Fred. Very good work on the thefts."
"Thank you, Uncle G. Mommy?"
"I'm very proud of you, honey." He kissed and stole him to cuddle. "You're a wonderful son and I'm very proud of you." Fred beamed.
"Good job, kid," Jigen agreed. He handed him Xander's soda. "Here, a treat." Fred gulped it, not noticing Xander's look over his head. "You don't need soda, Xander."
"Yes, let's not have a repeat of yesterday," Goemon agreed quickly. "No more bouncing, please."
"But bouncing is fun," Fred complained, grinning at him. Then he grinned at his father. "Daddy, when can I start to pick up girls on my own?"
Lupin sniffled. "That's my boy," he said proudly. "A real Lupin male." He stole him to hug. "I'm so proud of you. And he farted on the guards to knock them out," he said proudly.
"Well, we knew Mexican food was deadly," Jigen noted dryly. "You can't pick up women until you can drive, kid."
"I drove Unclie Ray's car," Fred offered, grinning at him. "He was being grumpy so I had him locked in the trunk for a while. That's why I had to call and ask for directions to the school."
"Wait until your body starts to react to them, Fred, it'll make it better for both of you," Xander instructed. Fred pouted but he nodded. "Thanks, son. What should we reward you with?"
"No!" the other adults yelled in unison. Interestingly enough they all looked scared of that suggestion.
Xander snickered. "After we're unstuck from here, Fred. What do you want before then?"
"Can I have a pretty?"
"A pretty what?" Goemon asked cautiously. One never knew about a Lupin.
"A pretty pretty," Fred said with a grin. "Like sissy's new hairpins?"
"Sure, if you can find something you like, we'll give it to you," Lupin promised, grinning at his son.
"Good, then I want Uncle Jigen's pretty," he said, pointing at the choker.
"Well, anything but those," Xander admitted. "They're stuck on them, Fred. They can't take them off. They wish they could and so do I, but they can't. Janus won't let them."
"Besides, then you'd have to be a girl," Goemon told him.
"Then I want the pretty statue in the case in the library," Fred decided.
"Sure, we'll move it and the case up to your room," Jigen promised. "That way it's up there when you guys get back." Their son smiled at them all.
"So, son, tell me about this girl. Was she pretty?" Lupin asked, taking his son to the study to show him how to run the empire. He was more than worthy of it.
"I'm glad my family has less stringent standards for proving your masculinity," Goemon said dryly.
Jigen snorted. "We knew Fred was a Lupin from birth. He nearly didn't give up the tit when he had one."
"Don't remind me," Xander agreed dryly. "If I was still breastfeeding, I'd never get him off."
"Fortunately you won't have to worry about that," Jigen said bitterly.
Xander gave him a long look. "You know, Janus only said that there'd be no more kids coming from *my* body, he never said anything about you two." Jigen shuddered and whimpered, then walked away shaking his head. "Just giving you a thought," he called after him.
"That was mean," Goemon pointed out gently.
"Just offering an option since he and Lupin have empty nest feelings," Xander told him. "I'm not doing it again but Jigen's always wanted a son." He heard the phone ring and went running for it, grinning at the voice on the other end. "Hey, Alan. How did you get an earlier flight? Yeah, if I can. If not, I'll hire a car to come get you." He gave Jigen a goofy grin as he walked past him with the keys. "You don't have to, I can do that."
"I said I would, you go clean your room. It's like the dvd collection exploded." He walked out and felt the boundary shift around him to let him go free. "Why does Janus like Alan?" he complained as he drove. It was nice to be out of the house but he knew he was a short chain so he only stopped for cigarettes and liquor. Everything else could be delivered.
Alan looked into Xander's room and grinned at the furiously cleaning person. "Did you make a mess?" he asked with a smug grin for his boyfriend.
"I sure did. I was going through Ishi's Gundam collection," he admitted sheepishly. "I'm almost done if you want to come in." Alan strolled in and plopped down on the bed to watch his man clean. Xander stole a kiss and smirked at him. "I've mostly been a good boy."
"So I've heard," he agreed, tracing the soft lips. "Hurry up so I can get a real hug and a kiss." Xander pounced him, making him chuckle and take whatever he was offering this time. He finally stopped the boy by pushing him back so he could look at him. "We can wait for another weekend if you feel odd," he offered.
"Hell no," Xander said, shaking his head. "I'm tired of waiting. You're mine now," he leered, leaning back in for another kiss.
"Mommy, can you teach me how to play with boys?" Fred asked. "That way I understand them just as well as I do girls?"
"Later, son. When you're older. Close the door, Fred." Fred closed the door and went to pout to his father. "Sorry, he's being a true Lupin male," he said with a small shrug and a grin. "He propositioned a blonde and tried to hire three hookers too."
Alan chuckled before kissing him again. "I can tell that he's your son. Are you sure? I don't want to be the rebound or stress relief habit that you pick up."
Xander sighed and laid beside him. "I don't want you to be that either, but I know what'll happen if I take them back. It's like magic, wonderful and painful all at once, but it's not all of me and eventually I'll have to go back to being just plain, old Xander. And real Xander's don't do magic for their living. No matter how much easier it would make things." He flipped onto his side to look at his man. "You remember how I told you about conventions and things, right?" Alan nodded. "Well, Lupin started off saying I was addicted until I took him but now he enjoys it for different reasons than I do. But he doesn't understand what I get out of it, not really. You get what I get out of dressing up and all that, right?"
"Kind of." He brushed some of the silver hair back. "I'm not stepping out of the way, Xander, but you've got to figure this out. It'll drive you nuts and we'll end up being torn apart if you don't settle thing with him, even if you do take them back for a few months until they mess up again. Otherwise you'd always wonder." He gave him another quick kiss. "Just remember that I'm going to be stalking you from the shadows. If they so much as step wrong, I'm going to be back."
"I've said what I've had to say, Alan. I told them I'd work with them but I'm not sleeping with them. I don't want to be their toy and that's what I was to them, that and a stress relief habit. Sorta like how I used pros for *way* too long. I'm a convenient hole, a source of temporary amusement, and something to kill time. Like how we go out on dates. Real dates where we do things like go to the movies. We never did that. We went dancing a few times but usually I had to whine my way into doing those things."
"Which is why you could never be a real recluse, dear," Alan pointed out, grinning at him. "I like taking you out on dates."
"Hey, I like dating, I haven't dated in *years*. Not since high school. Not since Cordy have a I really dated. Anya wanted to stay in most of the time. I never dated in LA, I went clubbing and had sex. When I got with them, it was like finding what I was great at and then having it slowly tarnished until I was ready to leave. There were plenty of days when I knew that all I was to Lupin was a convenient hole and a planning helper. The same as I knew Jigen only put up with me because I was good. So I started to pull more stuff on my own, and they never realized it. It was like I was invisible unless I was right in front of them and then I was partially ghostly to them. Then the choker hit my life and things got odd. I did it so they'd like me after I got out of it the first time because I got attention, I got cuddled and loved and even some mild dating. It was like they suddenly saw a version of me that they could stand, and then...then I got pregnant." Alan shuddered. "Yeah, that was my feeling about it too," he said bitterly. "I was trapped in that cycle and I couldn't get out of it because the kids needed me. Now that I'm free of that, I'm not going back. I almost backslid there for a while but I managed to not get stuck fully. I just can't go back to that."
"Did you ever think that you should leave them?"
"All the time," Xander sighed, "but that would have brought more problems."
"You can do it now."
"If I do, then they'll age. I'll be responsible for bringing down this generation of the empire."
"They're guilt-tripping you into staying, Xander."
"No, they don't deserve to be punished that badly," he assured him. "It's just so unfair that I find someone who makes me happy and the others come begging and pleading. It's like I feel that the old girlfriends should come back too. Like the cycle wants to suck me back into it."
"So leave. Janus can't keep you here. He's the reason you got sucked in that cycle in the first place."
"No, he's the reason I survived it," Xander explained.
"He's the one who made sure you got pregnant!"
"No, he's the reason that I was female when I delivered. The Powers nearly let me do it all as a guy. Imagine that labor." Alan shuddered. "Exactly. That choker let me survive and get the group out of a lot of things, but I can't do that now. I can't be that Xander. For that matter, I don't want to be that Xander. I'm tired of being mutating personality boy. I'd like to just be plain, old Xander again, like you let me be."
"Then be yourself. You can be goofy and odd. I like you like this, but you may still have to take them back to get out of this one. In which time, I'll be there waiting for them to bugger up again. The first hint of abandonment, you're coming back."
"I can't, Alan. It's like a cult. I'm willing to retire for you and to get rid of a lot of older stuff to do that."
"You'd be miserable and most of your friends are in the life, Xander," Alan gently reminded him. "You'd be so miserable and then I couldn't be funny because you'd be too miserable to be around." He stole another quick kiss. "Now, enough of this, we can talk about that later. Finish cleaning up and show me around this large and imposing house."
"Sure, Alan." Xander slid to the floor, wincing at the sound of something breaking. "Um, remind me to order Ishi a new copy tonight and to forge the signature on it, okay?"
"Sure. I can even help with that part," he promised. "I rubber stamped people's pictures for a few weeks." Xander grinned and finished cleaning the floor up, then helped him up and out into the hallway. "Do all of you live here?"
"Marcus and Lotus live upstairs, near the magic stuff."
"That's right, the last time I saw Marcus he was being weird and otherworldly." Xander gave him an odd look. "He popped around to talk."
"A few weeks ago. How do you do that popping around thing?"
"Magic." He stopped to frown at him then grabbed the nose and twisted, taking the mask and making his ex howl. "Bastard."
"But it was the truth, Xander," he pleaded as his lover walked away. "He'll tell you the same thing when he gets here." Xander slammed his door, making Lupin wince. "Ow. I'm so in for it." He turned and found Goemon standing behind him. "What?"
"You're never going to get him back that way," he noted calmly. "Using him is not what he needs."
"You are, that is the way he'll see that stunt of yours." He walked past him. "I'm off to make some ice tea. Xander, I'm making iced tea, would you like some?"
"No thanks," he called from inside his room. "Boil Lupin for me."
"That would make very bitter tea," Goemon pointed out as he headed down the stairs. He saw Jigen pull up alone and opened the door. "Where is he?"
"His agent grabbed him for lunch, he said he'd call once he had a moment to yawn. He'll be driven up tonight."
"That's fine. Lupin just pretended to be him."
"Is he still living or should we plot a burial?"
"No, Xander walked away and slammed his door."
Jigen nodded. "Then he's in a good mood." He walked the note up the stairs, tapping on Xander's door. "You lost him to his agent for a few more hours," he said, holding out the note. "I'll meet him at the train station and bring him up when he calls later." Xander sighed as he read the note. "That's how acting is, kid. You've got to take the moments you can get. You okay? Goemon told me."
"I haven't killed him yet."
"Did what he said make sense?"
"No. Especially not that stuff about stalking me if you two fucked up again. Mostly because he knew I'm not going to allow a next time." He looked up at his mentor. "I love you, Jigen, and I'm in love with you both, but you suck at being boyfriends and I want more."
"That's natural. I'd have left too." He walked Xander inside and sat him down, staring down at him. "How many jobs did you pull without us?"
"If you had been watching me, you'd have known," Xander said bitterly. "I pulled something while you were sulking in Barbados. Minor shoplifting to make sure I could do the job."
"We'd only been together for three months."
"Yeah but I had to prove to myself that I wasn't wasting your time and making another failed Xander life move." Jigen nodded, pulling over a chair to sit down across from him. "I've done a number of them. Half the time when you told me to go away for a night I went and either picked a target and practiced what I would do or I'd go do a job."
"Why didn't we hear?"
"Why would you? I wasn't known to be your student until Stockholm."
"People knew you were with me in New York."
"And if you had watched, I was mentioned a few times on the bulletin boards. Mostly for sleeping with someone to get her printing plates." Jigen raised an eyebrow. "For passports." He pulled over a pillow to hold. "For that matter, I started to do a few things and ran into you guys so watched you guys operate from the shadows to learn more things. I'm even blamed for a few things you two or three pulled as a group."
"Huh?" Jigen asked.
Xander groaned and pointed at his desk. "Burgundy book, year one. It starts about six weeks after you took me in. It's not only a diary of all the clubbing and who I slept with but other things that I did. I thought I might turn it over to Alan to see if he wanted to play me in the movie."
Jigen found the book by the gold '1' on the spine and opened it, starting to read. After a few pages, his mouth fell open and he looked at Xander, who simply nodded and waved for him to go on. He kept going. "I knew that we were being watched."
"I was blamed for that job in Jamaica," Xander said bitterly. "I was also nearly arrested for doing that job."
Jigen looked in the drawer, noticing how many journals there were. "You stopped after five years?"
"I had to. I couldn't describe what it was like. Plus when I tried, they got lost in the general shuffle after the dimension closing." He laid down, using his pillow to rest his head on. "You can borrow that one."
"Can Lupin read these?" Xander shook his head. "It might help if he knew."
"If he had given enough of a damn about me, he'd have heard me doing them. It's not like I was hiding most of it."
"Fine, I'll respect that. Can I go back to my room?" Xander nodded so he took it back to read on his own bed, marveling that he actually got a whole hour without interruption.
Lupin strolled in. "What are you reading?"
"Xander's work journal." He took it back when Lupin snatched it. "He said you can't read it."
"Because he doesn't think you cared enough to figure out what he was doing at that time," Jigen told him. "If we had been paying attention, we would have stopped him a while back." He took it back again. "He said you couldn't. Go get permission. This is from the year we were training together."
"Anything really juicy?"
"Yeah, he used to follow us around to watch us." He looked at his best friend. "Remember that job in Miami?" Lupin nodded. "Yeah, he was there."
"He went after your second target and put it back when he realized you'd be going after it. He was hanging from his ropes from the ceiling."
"Noooo, I would have seen him," Lupin said slowly.
"Goemon?" Jigen called. His door opened. "That job back in Miami, did you see someone else in there?"
"There was a suspicious shadow from the skylight," he offered. "I was not sure what it was."
"It was apparently Xander." Goemon looked impressed. "He was putting it back."
"What about Jamaica? I heard that word mentioned when I was eavesdropping."
"Oh, he was nearly blamed for that job because he was watching us for pointers," Jigen said dryly.
"I remember seeing someone there," Goemon agreed slowly. "I was not sure who it was however. I hadn't seen your apprentice at that time." He came in and took the book to look at the cover. "Xander's?" Jigen nodded. "May I?"
"Only if you get his permission."
"Agreeable," Goemon said. "Xander?" he yelled. "May I read the book as well?"
"Go ahead," was yelled back.
Goemon flipped open the book and sat down to read it, humming every few pages. He started to skim, then looked at Jigen. "He was more talented than you figured?"
"I didn't think that he was ready to do more than shoplift but he said he did that to make sure he could do the job earlier than I thought he was ready for. Apparently he was a lot better than we gave him credit for. Pity because I didn't have a tithing thing set up with him until after Stockholm." He stretched out on his bed. "He's got a few others in there too. This was just our first year together."
"He was very...." Goemon blushed and turned the page. "Now I know why he's got his reputation among the working girls." He flipped another few pages. "Hmm, he's the one who gave Madam Mui a loan. I had always wondered who did that so she could expand."
"He was?" Lupin asked, looking bothered by that. "Why?"
"Because she was giving him a lot of workouts for a discount," Jigen said wisely. Goemon nodded. "How many pages?"
"Six. Then a small stalking and back for more for another.... eight pages," Goemon said when he found the end of that section. "Very impressive."
"Very, but he put it to good use," Jigen said dryly, smirking at Lupin.
"Yeah, and I want it back!" he said, getting up to talk to Xander. His door was locked but that's why he was a thief. He picked the lock and walked inside, closing the door gently. "Xander, can I read them? That was before we were together and Jigen said that you were pretty impressive."
"Fine," Xander sighed. "I guess that's fine."
"You know, each and every time you do this to us, I get more and more impressed." He scooted closer. "You could have just *told* us though. Jigen wouldn't have been upset."
"I was watching you guys for training tips."
"Obviously you learned a lot." He stoked Xander's face, smirking at him. "The more impressive you are, the more we want you." He gave him a grin. "Please? Just a kiss?"
"No. Not after earlier."
Lupin sighed and shifted a bit closer. "I'm sorry but I wanted to know. I thought I did pretty good."
"You also ate olives for lunch."
"Good point." He grinned again. "How else am I going to get to know you? You never let me. You don't talk to me."
"I would if you asked."
"Okay, would you tell me?"
"What do you want to know?"
"I want to know the real Xander. You know, that complicated guy who used to love me and would do anything for me, that guy? I want to know him and all the inner parts of him. Because he's a really complicated guy, even worse than most women, and I can't quite seem to scratch the surface coating this time."
"That's because you never really try."
"I do try, you don't let me try. You keep shooting me down."
"You didn't try when you were supposed to and now you've lost the chance."
"So give me one more shot? Please? I promise, Alan is in Paris, but he's talking about a new movie deal. It's going to be a while."
"I'm not cheating on him!"
"I'd never ask," Lupin promised. "Just talk to me. Maybe cuddle me, but I could handle just talking to me."
"Sure, I can talk to you. What did you want to talk about?"
"How about what's in that book?"
"Sure. What did you want to know?"
"Tell me about Miami? I never even saw your shadow but Goemon and Jigen said they did."
"Sometimes you're not the most observant guy during jobs. You never noticed me a lot of times, Lupin."
"Not that way." Lupin kissed him then smiled. "I do see you. I see you a lot, just not when you're hiding in the shadows."
"Really? What did I have for lunch today?"
"You weren't with us."
"I was down at the end of the bar."
"Oh." Lupin grimaced. "Um, I saw PB&J." Xander shook his head. "No?"
"With peanut butter?"
Xander shuddered. "No. Never mind." He flipped onto his back. "What did you want to know about the journals?"
"Did you pull anything while you were in training?"
"I did and I tried to tithe you but you refused."
"I didn't think it was more than a small necklace."
"No, it was a few more pieces than that."
"How many did you take?"
"I did the spring collection." Lupin looked impressed. "I know you told David that we couldn't but I had already hit it. As the news later that night showed."
"So you robbed at least ten grand worth of jewelry and I didn't get to see any of it?" Xander pointed at his closet. "You *kept* it?"
"No, I kept a few pieces as an emergency and retirement fund. The remaining ones are in there in the small cask."
Lupin got up and went to look, staring at the small wooden box he had never seen in here before. "When did you get this?"
"Out of your closet, it was empty."
"It was," he agreed, pulling it out. "I never said you couldn't borrow it, but I want to see what you're stashing in there." He opened it and whimpered, looking at his lover. "I love you. You never try to screw me out of it the way Fujiko used to. You only hide it from me and tempt me." He poured it out and then whimpered again. "Holy Mother of God," he hissed. He held up a long strand of set carat diamonds, looking at the few foot strand. "Wow."
"Very wow. And it was made as an ancient sex toy too. I got it out of the Ottoman museum. It belonged to a favorite concubine."
"See, I didn't think there'd be anything in that place so I never gave it a second look," he said with a mild pout. "Are there other good things?"
"Mostly artwork and maps, and there's one map I want a closer look at but I'm not allowed back in there. They recognized me the last time I tried to go in." Lupin frowned at that. "Even in disguise. They've got some way of telling it's me. I'm guessing it's one of the guys who used to work in Athens."
"Probably, but I'd go in for you if you asked," he offered.
"No, they warned me to keep all you guys away from there. They might not know Melissa or Ishi, but I'm sure the rest of you would be spotted fairly quickly."
"Hmm, that's an idea," Lupin agreed, thinking quickly. "We could work that into the kids' coming out party. Have us do somewhere and them do there? Are there other targets nearby?"
Xander rolled his eyes. "Two or three. There's a Byzantine museum near there too. It's not heavily guarded and it's got murals and some limited art. Nothing really worth it."
"So what's with the map?"
"It's the routes they took on their routing of Europe. I figure if they hid anything it'd have to be along those lines."
"Good thinking," Lupin agreed with a grin. "We'll find a way to get a copy of it." He leaned in and kissed Xander gently. "I didn't forget why we're here. Now, tell me about some of these things? Why did you keep these and not the other stuff you stole?"
"Well, I kept some of that too. Mostly because I wasn't sure I could get rid of it," he admitted dryly. "There's a warehouse you don't know about, even here."
"Where?" Jigen asked from the doorway.
"Chicago." Jigen shuddered. "Hey, I figured that since at least one of them was leaving, it'd be safer there with no super cops around."
"Good point," Jigen agreed. "We should go storm that place and dump it before we're overheard." He held up the blinking scanner, looking at Lupin. Who looked at the stuff in his lap and hands. "It's not there. I'm not sure where it is."
"It can't be from the stuff from the other timeline. Most of it's not here," Xander reminded him. He looked around his room but nothing was recent. Except one thing. He picked up the statue and sighed, tossing over the bug. "How did Ray do that?" he asked it.
"I'm not sure, but thank you, it itched."
"You know, this could complicate matters very badly," Lupin sighed, looking at the small bug. "That's very nice though. We should repgrogram it."
"Later, Lupin. We've got to get there to make sure it doesn't disappear back into the hands of bad taste," Xander said grimly, glaring at the statue. It shook its heads. "Fine, I'll call the kids then."
"They have to stay in school," Jigen reminded him.
"They've only got classes on Wednesday. It shouldn't take them that long." He picked up his phone and dialed his daughter's cell. "Hey, it's me. We just found a bug up Janus' ass after talking about the Chicago warehouse. Yeah, that's what I was thinking too." He smirked. "Fine, thirty percent?" He snorted. "For selling? Fat chance. Fine, one thing *each*. And tell Ishi to not sell my costumes since one showed up over there. Send them to the deluxe warehouse. Thanks, precious. No, I know you're not a ring. Sure, have fun. Laters." He hung up. "They'll go liquidate it for me." He laid back on the bed. "Your daughter is more mercenary than most fences, Lupin."
Lupin smirked. "That's my girl, never being shortchanged."
"But you're not supposed to play like that with family," Xander pointed out.
"Deluxe warehouse?" Jigen asked quietly. Xander looked down at his legs, blushing a bit. "Uh-huh. Give, Xander."
"You were there, you just never ended up down there," Xander told him, giving him a sideways look.
Lupin leaned forward and pulled him closer, kissing him on the tip of the nose. "You can't hide that stuff from us, I'll pout. Got it?" Xander nodded, giving him a goofy grin. "And you can't hide behind that persona either, Xander. We want to know all of it. It's the only way we can work together."
"Are you sure you still want to work while you're being cursed by that choker?" Xander retorted.
"Yeah, sometimes," he agreed bitterly. He gave him another quick kiss, watching Xander's frown come out. "Now then, what's this about a deluxe warehouse?"
"It's for the stuff I know I can't or don't want to sell. Like the paintings in the gallery downstairs that your grandfather did but I'm not that fond of art." He shifted, laying on his side. "It's in the house down south."
Jigen picked up the scanner and ran it around the room, nodding when he was done. "We're clear as far as this thing can tell."
"Go check Fred and Fred's room," Xander suggested. Jigen nodded, going to do that. He came back with a few more bugs, all of which went out the window. "Anyway it's in the level between the fishies and the garage."
"You'll have to show us once we're out of here," Lupin assured him, smirking at him. "What sort of stuff?"
"Well, one thing I'm going to get killed over. I didn't realize that desk statue was Heinrich's. I sent it back, telling him it had been offered to me, once I did find out but I didn't know that before then."
"He knew," Lupin offered. "He called to tell me you had a lot of class by sending it back and if you ever *found* the other portion to send it back too. He's not mad, he said you couldn't have know it was his since almost no one did."
"True," Xander agreed dryly. "The other half's in Chicago though." He dialed Melissa, but Lupin beat him to it.
"Hey, 'Lis, there's a statue in Chicago that belongs to a fence. Yeah, that one. Really?" He smirked at Xander. "Who was listening?" He nodded. "Good job, have fun with that, make sure he gets it back. You can call him directly if you want. Sure, thanks. Love you too. Feed Arsene chocolate." He hung up. "Heinrich was tapping into the wiretap. He's going over to collect it himself and she said he told her he's still not mad."
"He will be. It dropped last year during a nearby explosion. It's got a dent. But it knocked the map into place."
"Ehh, he'll live," Jigen offered. "What about Mexico? You really shouldn't keep some of that stuff, Xander."
"I don't keep much," he defended. "Maybe one percent."
"All that stuff that came back when we changed timelines was one percent?"
"No, I have having some statue longings," Xander admitted bitterly. "Usually I only keep about one percent unless there's something special. Mexico has a few of those. The rest is really just a retirement or an emergency fund."
"That's fine, we'll be going down there to look it over," Lupin assured him. He tweaked him gently on the nose. "We love you anyway, Xan. You can't change that by hiding stuff from us." He gave him another short kiss, looking over as someone cleared their throat from the doorway. "Hey, Alan. He was just explaining how he'd hidden stuff from us for years."
"I said I'd pick you up," Jigen reminded him.
"I was picked up by that nice inspector," he said with a shrug. "He saw me at the train station digging for change." He grinned at Xander. "Are you all right?"
"I've got a headache, will you come cuddle it away?" Alan smirked and came in to give him a hug. "We'll talk later, guys." They wandered out, Jigen closing his door for him. "It wasn't what it looked like."
"I know what it was, Xander. They truly want you back."
"They've run out of chances," Xander said firmly.
Alan gave him a gentle kiss. "Hush. Let's work on your headache first and then we'll work on that other stuff. Jigen told me all about it while he was driving so I understand a lot more than you think, dear." Xander tweaked his nose. "What was that for?"
"Making sure it wasn't another mask. Lupin tried that earlier."
"He just wanted to be as pretty as I am," he said smugly, making Xander grin at him. "Now, let's rest and chat. Cuddle up." Xander curled up on his chest, stroking him gently. "After this, I'll expect to be a victim of your impressive skills in the bedroom," he warned.
"Hmm, I can see that," Xander agreed. "I'd like to see you panting and begging." He grinned up at him. "That good with you?"
"Of course. Once we're out of this house. That way no one can spy on us."
"If they try I'm going to kick their asses," Xander promised firmly. "There's no spying allowed. Not even by Fred. Did he let you in?"
"Actually, the housekeeper did. Fred told her to." He stroked through Xander's hair, making him one happy boy. "I feel like such a pervert because you look so young."
"Nah, I'm the pervert." He stroked the nearest thigh. "You're just someone who lets me wear out my naughtiness."
"I haven't yet."
"But you will be," Xander promised with a grin. "How was Rue St.?"
"Interesting. You're right, it was very fun and naughty, and everyone stayed mostly away from me once someone asked who I was. Apparently telling them my name was more than enough, someone knew we were together."
"I'm guessing one of the information brokers was in then," he said smugly. "Did the cute little boys try to dance with you?"
"They tried," he agreed dryly, "but they wanted to do more horizontal dancing for the most part. Since I wasn't going to cheat.... they decided the dance floor and buying me drinks was enough."
"Good. I've held off Lupin, you held off the little gay bottom boys. I'm a happy guy," he said happily, grinning at him.
"Has it been hard?"
"Very," he said. "Lupin is nothing if not insistent and the talking heads over there are just as pushy." They nodded, making Alan squeak. "See what I mean?"
"You must be able to work with them comfortably, Xander," one of the heads told him.
"It would make you happy if you could unbend and take them back as well," the other offered.
"Um, robotics?" Alan asked hopefully.
"Nope," Xander said dryly. "Just Janus."
"Okay then." He looked down at Xander. "You do live in an odd world."
"He talks to Arsene too."
"And sometimes to Lotus and the bigger Arsene," one of the heads muttered.
"Thanks for sending her that vision. It would have been horrible if they had been kept by those slavers." He looked up at Alan. "And you thought my life was funny." He tweaked him on the nipple. "You know, this is where I kept those journals."
"I still say your life wouldn't be the best movie, love. A good comic book...." he said, letting it trail off while he grinned. "You'd need a whole series before the movie so people would have an idea."
"I didn't want to submit the idea to my company, I thought it'd look like I was being pushy."
"You are pushy but they'd understand that. After all, you've never been pushy before."
"Yes I have, about the Buffy comic. They slowed it down, which raises its value, but they're still putting it out. I did let the artist read some of my back Chronicle so he'd have a better idea what was going on. Now Buffy's a more realistic comic book."
"So, give the guy yours as well. I'm sure it'd be a wonderful one," he promised with a smirk. "You're a wonderful subject. Then I can play the older you in the movie version when it's time." He gave him a short kiss. "You should rest so you can molest me later."
"I should. Wanna watch the Lupin Gang anime with me?"
"Sure, ducks, we can do that." He let Xander up so he could put in the DVD then accepted him back to be held. Xander liked to cuddle him and hold him. "They really made an anime of you guys," he said in awe at the opening credits.
"In the other timeline," he agreed quietly. "They knew it'd thrill me so they came up to me at a convention. Of course, it was one of those where I had a horde of groupies so I get picked on for that."
"A horde?" Alan asked dryly.
"Sixty-three school girls who wanted my attention. I had to pass some off to Ray and Myron, and then I had to pass some off to the other guys when they came in to talk about the anime."
"You're an odd man, Xander."
"Yeah, but I'm fun," he agreed, kissing him on the neck. "Ooh, here comes the good part." Alan went back to watching, knowing it made his lover happy and this way he could get another view of the group's dynamics. No one was stealing his man. He shot a glare at the statue before watching some more. "Why don't you take your Chronicle and your journals to this guy. He seems pretty decent."
"I've thought about that but then again he's seen a copy of an episode when I was watching it in my office in Japan and he wanted to know what was going on." He nuzzled gently. "They did a good job on Zenigata and Dawnie, don't you think?"
"I think they did. Dawn does look just like her." He could feel the grin. "How did you know she came up to me?"
"I keep tabs on the little troublemaker. Especially since she's hooked up with the cops so firmly." He nuzzled him again.
"I'm not having our first time be in your ex's house," he said firmly.
"Of course not. I just wanted to cuddle and nuzzle. As soon as I'm free and you've got a free weekend, I'm taking you somewhere pretty and locking us in the hotel room for the weekend."
"That's fine, I can accept that," Alan agreed, handing back the ringing phone. "Yours."
Xander flipped open the cell, sighing into it. "What's up Bastian?" He listened to the quiet report. "Any idea who?" He grimaced. "Thanks. Yeah, I needed to know that. No, just stand down about it. We're all here right now and I can definitely protect Alan from them. Thanks for the head's up, man. Sure. Be at peace and be well." He listened to the quiet request. "Sure, go ahead. Do you need me to write to the security company?" He smirked. "Hey, I'm all for impressing lovers. Go ahead and use the building in London if you want. There shouldn't be anything *too* bad in there. Sure, not an issue. No, no payment needed, man. That's fine. Have a nice vacation with the honey." He smirked. "Of course. Remember, if you make a baby on the bed, I get to name it." He laughed. "Good idea, man. There's some in the cabinets as well. Yup, sure. Bye." He hung up. "We've got a legion of vampires coming this way to hunt my ass down," he said in a fond tone of voice. "Bastian wanted to take his girl to the house in London for a vacation."
"I remember it was very pretty the night we stayed there," Alan agreed, smiling at him. "Go warn the others, I'm not moving." Xander hopped up and went to tell the others, who were down in the kitchen by the way he was heading. He glared at the statue again. "Mine. I don't care if you talk, pick your nose, or scratch your ass. He's still mine."
"Fine," they agreed in unison.
"As long as they can work together," one side noted.
"Then Xander will continue to live and be yours," the second side agreed.
"At least until his life places you in danger," the first side finished.
Lupin walked in and took the head, looking down at it. "Don't upset him that way, Xander doesn't need that and we like Alan. He makes Xander happy." He put it back down and covered the altar, then looked at Alan. "That doesn't mean I won't steal him back. He was mine first and you know how addictive he is." Alan nodded, freezing the video. "Then you know you've got a fight to keep him. I'll do anything to have Xander back, Alan. Even if I have to cheat."
"I figured as much when he said you pretended to be me. How long did it take him to realize?"
"About ten minutes," Xander said from the doorway. "Problems?"
"Janus was telling him that they liked you two together, but that someday someone was going to come for Alan," Lupin told him. "I told him to quit and covered the altar. I didn't think you wanted Alan to hear about things like that."
"That's cool. Thank you, Lupin."
"Sure, Xander." He and Alan shared a look, then he kissed Xander before walking out.
Xander shook his head as he laid down. "He's pushy but he was nice while we were actually together," he said quietly. "Unfortunately he cheated on me and he ignored me for way too long."
"I understand, Xander. You need attention, it makes you happy." He gave him a gentle kiss and Xander moaned, thrilling him to no end. Lupin hadn't gotten a moan. "Let's watch more and cuddle, love. We can think about more than that later."
"Sure, Alan." He snuggled up behind him and rested his head on his boyfriend's shoulder, watching it with him. He chuckled. "Those demons aren't very realistic but they were gentle with me. It was a nice change."
"I'm glad someone was," Alan offered, stroking the arm over his stomach. "Aren't you uncomfortable?"
"Yeah, but I'm fine."
"Here, let's switch around. I'll hold you for a change." They shifted, letting Xander get in front and Alan laying behind him to hold him. "There, how's that?"
"Much nicer than the last time I was grabbed, which was by a cop."
Alan kissed him on the cheek. "Never change, Xander. You're very special."
Xander chuckled and snuggled in harder. He liked his Alan snuggly.
Xander woke up from a horrible nightmare, screaming 'no' at the top of his lungs. Gentle hands soothingly stroked his back and his arm, trying to calm him down but nothing was going to stop that. He looked at the person beside him. "Jigen?" He nodded. "Where's Alan?"
"In the kitchen. Lupin's making dinner." He stood up and pulled Xander up, hugging him. "You okay?"
"Fine. Bad dream," he said in a shaky voice. "Don't let him leave."
"Shh, it's all right. It was just a dream. It wasn't like the one that had you sent back in time, right?" Xander shook his head. "Then it's just a dream and it'll be fine."
Alan coughed from the doorway. "Another one?" he asked, coming in to steal Xander and take him into the bathroom to help him clean up. "What happened?"
"The vampires ate you," Xander said, looking at him. "You and Lupin got into it. He offered to play Russian Roulette with you to prove he loved me more and you left, stomped off after telling him off. The vampires got you and I had to st...stake you," he said, stumbling over that word.
"It'll never happen," Alan promised, giving him a strong hug. "No nasty undead thing would ever *dare* try to bite me. You'd get them first," he soothed, stroking Xander's back. "Now, let's get you cleaned up for dinner. Would you like a real shower or just to scrub your face?"
"I'll wash up, you can wait if you want," he offered.
"I'll be here until tomorrow morning." He sat on the seat of the toilet, watching his man clean himself up. "Did I tell you I got offered the best part in the world? I got offered a new movie as a staring player." Xander grinned underneath his washcloth, he could see it. "It sounds like something you'd even watch, it's a funny movie."
"You're a funny guy, it's good that they realize that," Xander assured him, giving him a quick kiss. "I love you."
Alan looked at him. "You're serious?" Xander nodded. "Absolutely serious?"
"I love you enough to retire for you, Alan, to get rid of *everything* and retire to be with you. I thought about selling some of the old stuff and buying a pretty house on the beach for our downtimes if you wanted."
Alan looked at him, mouth hanging open like he was shocked. "Xander," he said quietly, pulling him over to kiss him. "Just as soon as we're out of here, I'm holding you to that weekend away. Even if I have a show, we'll still do it, I'll make you come watch me." He kissed him again, ignoring the cleared throat from the doorway. "Yes, Melissa? When did you guys get back?"
"Just now. We can't leave for Chicago until the morning so we came home for dinner," she offered, smirking at her mother. "Hi."
"Hi. How's school stuff?"
"Good. Daddy and Brad are talking downstairs. Ready for dinner?" Xander nodded, drying off his face. "Another nightmare?"
"Yeah, and we're due for a vampire attack anytime now, so it may not be safe tonight," Xander told her, giving her a brief hug. "Come on, let's go eat. Your uncle can cook very well."
"Too bad he's such a miserable prat to you," Alan muttered, looking at Melissa, who smirked at him. "No fantasizing us together, young lady. We're pretty but you are his daughter."
She giggled and hugged him. "You fit mom so well," she assured him. "We're happy as long as he's happy. Remember that. Or else," she said with a smug smirk. Alan shivered but nodded. "Good, let's go save Arsene and Lotus from Fred and his lips of doom again."
"He hired three hookers on the way home," Xander told her, putting an arm around her shoulders. "Do you mind us?" he whispered. She grinned and shook her head. "Thanks, baby girl. Alan had a really good idea," he announced as he walked down the stairs. "He wants me to give my Chronicle and journals to the guy who did our anime."
"That way I could play the older version of him," Alan agreed as he joined them. "There'd have to be a following first."
Jigen nodded, looking at the food being put onto the table. "It'd make a good comic book. Very dark but a good one. Xander's like some comic hero anyway some days."
"Especially with the vampires coming," Melissa agreed. Arsene groaned and held her head. "Maybe tonight, maybe not."
"If they do, you're not allowed to help," Xander told them. "Neither of you are proficient with a crossbow."
"Good point," Arsene said, happier now. She hated the strange and odd things like that. "So, are we leaving early tonight?"
"Let me check to see if they're going to get here tonight," Xander offered. "That way you can help your father gush over Fred being such a little Lupin."
"What did you do?" she teased, grinning at her baby brother. "Did your plans work?"
He nodded, smugly smirking at her. "It did. I stoled two whole things and hired three pretty blondes," he said proudly.
"Oooh, you are *such* a good boy, Fred," she cooed, getting up to hug him, making sure her chest was nowhere near his mouth. "You are so a good little Lupin. Yes, you are, and you're gonna join me in the field when you're old enough."
"How did you get the guards at the second place, Fred?" Lotus asked.
"I farted on 'em!" he said proudly, smiling at her. "I'm a good boy!"
"Yes, you are," his sister cooed, hugging him again. "You're a very good boy, Fred." She squeaked and got away from his mouth. "At least until you tried that." She sat back down, rubbing the sore spot. "Next time, don't bite."
"Sorry, sissy, but they were very soft and comfy."
"She's still your sister, you may not attack her like that," Goemon said firmly. Fred pouted at him so he stared him down, getting a rebellious little boy, but one who would comply for now. "Thank you. How goes your lessons, Lotus?"
"Very well, father. My teacher wishes a word with you about how far he should be taking my training. He wanted to know if he should send to get me a formal apprenticeship after I'm done at the academy. He was thinking a Cat style teacher."
"Fat chance," Ishi said dryly. "If you're going to be an assassin, you're going to have to take on the family roles."
"Fine," she agreed, frowning at him. "Pushy bastard."
"Enough," Goemon warned. The children settled down. "Thank you. It is nice to know that being away at school has not made you two like each other more," he said dryly, "but we do not need to show that at the dinner table."
"Yes, father," Ishi said dutifully.
"Father, would you please instruct my brother that I am more than capable enough to find a boy I like and date him, and that I am old enough to do so now?"
"You are," he admitted, "though I will be meeting anyone you are serious about long before you get to the point where you're introducing him to the rest of the family." He saw her roll her eyes. "Daughter, as you're the only one, you will be over protected. You should have realized this by now."
"Feel lucky your brother lets you look at or talk to boys," Jigen pointed out with a smirk. "Is he a nice kid?"
"No." She ate a bite of dinner. "He's another assassin candidate."
"He's a surly guy but Lotus seems to make him hum and smirk more often," Brad offered. "A bit dark and gloomy for my tastes."
"It's good to know you won't be stealing him from me," Lotus offered, smirking at him.
"The last sparring session they had together, he noticed Lotus walking in wearing normal clothes and a bra, so he fell to his knees," Arsene told everyone. "Then he arranged to be her partner and kept getting thrown over her hip so he could get close to them."
"Apparently he's a lot like Fred then," Alan offered. "Do you like this boy, Lotus?"
"No, he's shallow, but he is supposed to be a good kisser and he would be someone I could do my homework on. Or with, depending on the assignment. He believes that all women should only use their wiles to get attacks if they're in the field. I've proven him wrong quite a few times. Fortunately he never met the maternal donor."
"I will meet this boy if you become serious about him," Goemon ordered.
"Yes, father, but he's only there until we graduate. I'd never search him out after that. He's too much a braggart and boring."
"Daughter, perhaps we should have a talk about you stringing men along?" Goemon suggested in a tight voice.
"Father, calm yourself. I'm still a virgin. I merely needed someone there to escort me to things like dances and to practice on. You'd rather I took up with a woman?"
"No," he admitted slowly. "I would rather you not pick up bad habits from your natal mother's repertoire. That is very close to what she used to do to your Uncle."
"Eww. It's not like I want to *touch* him, father. He's merely there so I'm not all alone all day while the others work on their areas."
"That is fine, daughter, as long as you do not use him and he agrees that he is no more than a friend. Has your brother threatened him yet?"
"Once or twice," Arsene said dryly. "As did we. Ishi made sure he got him for the last spar of that class and sent him to the local clinic because the school's nurse couldn't deal with his injuries."
"I merely dislocated his shoulder and broke his arm in two places," he said quietly. "He had no business pulling a Fred and trying to suckle on her. The teacher agreed with me." He stared his sister down. "As I'll gladly do to any other male who touches you without first meeting father and the rest of us, and who does not respect your womanly nature."
She threw her fork, getting him in the shoulder. "Shut up, Ishi. I'm just as skilled at kicking butt as you are. Or shouldn't we talk about *your* friend?"
"I'm not dating her," he said with a grunt as he pulled out the fork and handed it back. "Witch."
"Often," she agreed, her eyes narrowing. "Should I prove it? Perhaps a shrinking potion?"
"Enough," Jigen called. "Kids, quit PMSing on each other."
"Son, you should not string along a lover either. It is not honorable. Either date the girl and let us meet her if it is serious, or let her find someone she can be serious with. Stringing her along is dishonoring her family."
"Fine," he said, glaring at his plate. "I'll introduce you the next time you're down."
"Which would be for your mastery tests," Jigen offered gently, staring him down. The boy blushed. "She good?"
"No, she's quite wicked and evil at times, but she's rather fun and happy to be with me. She says I give her naughty ideas every time she looks at me. Fortunately the other girls do know her."
"She's the goth chick with the blue hair," Melissa offered. Goemon shuddered, remembering her apparently.
"You know, I always wanted to take some goth kids and introduce them to real vampires," Xander said fondly, smirking at his nephew. "Is she good to you?" He nodded. "Good, then get serious about her for a bit. Unless she's under sixteen or ends up pregnant, we're not going to force you to marry her yet."
"Thank you, Uncle, for being the reasonable one yet again."
"Hey, Mom, can I hog you or dad after dinner?" Melissa asked casually.
"Sure," Jigen said with a grin for his princess. "We'll take over the study."
"Thanks, daddy." She glanced at Brad then went back to eating.
Xander grinned at Alan. "You're going to be lurking upstairs if we get attacked tonight, right?" Alan nodded quickly so Xander kissed him. "Thanks, love. You'd make a great vampire but a very scary one and I'd have to let myself be turned."
"I'm sure I'd enjoy you just as you are," he offered, smirking back at him. "You are so transparent," he mouthed. Xander winked and dug back into his food. It was like he knew he was going to need the calories later.
"Not to be impolite or anything, but please don't keep us up tonight, Mom," Lotus requested gently. "Some of us can't sleep on planes and haven't been able to since we were taught to shoplift on a plane."
"We'll be quiet," Xander promised, smirking at her. "Otherwise it might be counted as a lesson."
"Um, no, most of us are starting out with the opposite sex," Melissa told him. "I can't get much about boys from watching you two go at it, mom. Really, I can't."
"How else would learn to pleasure the male body?" Alan teased.
"Trial and error. A lot of trial and error, which I hear is kinda fun," she retorted with a grin. Her father choked. "It's okay, daddy, I know I'm not sixteen yet." She rolled her eyes. "Pity, but I'm not."
"With the way you look in some of your off-duty clothes, it's a pity for many people," Brad assured her quietly. He looked at Jigen. "Sir, your daughter is so very pretty that I've found myself nearly worshiping at her feet. Would that bother you?"
"Yes," he said, staring him down. "Not until she's sixteen, kid."
"Daddy, it was never clarified. Are we talking no sex period, like intercourse, or are we talking oral sex, or groping sex, or any cuddling sort of stuff and touching stuff? Where is the sex line for the sixteen cutoff?"
Lupin got up to get Jigen a drink, handing him the bottle and the glass, and watching as he drank straight out of the bottle. It was Xander who answered. "We would prefer nothing at all," he instructed. "There will definitely be no oral, anal, or vaginal sex, but we will be discussing the groping issue between us adults later," he assured her.
"Thank you, sir. She's too damn pretty sometimes and I have to keep myself from grabbing her and kissing her stupid. Even in classes sometimes," Brad admitted. "Then Ishi hits me on the head with his scabbard."
"I still like the time he dragged you into the freezer with him," Arsene teased, smirking at him. "That was very pretty."
"It was," Brad agreed, shifting slightly. "I never knew tops could look like that on a girl."
"I was wearing that white top," Melissa explained when her father glared at her. "You know, the one that barely shows my bellybutton and has the strings? That one."
"With her white skirt and she looked like some angel sent down here to be debauched as an offering, sir," Brad explained. He shifted again.
"Freezer's in the kitchen on this side," Lupin told him. Brad gave him an odd look. "You wouldn't be the first. I've seen her in a bikini and forgotten how old she was."
"Eww," Arsene noted bitterly. "She had better not become my new step-mom, daddy, or else I will be sick and hand you to Gramps."
"It'd never happen," Jigen said firmly.
"Thankfully," Goemon agreed, shaking his head to clear that mental image.
"You have a bikini?" Brad asked, looking very interested.
"Yes, but it's too small so I had to get a new one," she admitted with a smirk. Brad kissed her gently.
"My sissy! Get off her!" Fred yelled, struggling to get free of his booster seat. "Only I get to kiss sissy!"
"You'd better not," she snorted, staring him down. "I'm not liking you as a boyfriend, Fred, only as a little brother. He's a boyfriend, that's different."
"I'll explain it to him later," Xander sighed, shaking his head. He grinned at Alan. "Welcome to my insanity. Did you sign the visitor's log so we know who you are after you take on a persona and start to do odd things?"
Alan snickered. "This isn't so bad, Xander. He's not attached himself to her yet." Fred finally got free and came over to hit Brad, but Ishi captured him and held him while he pouted at the bigger boy. "Fred, she's always going to be your sister, but girls like her need to have boyfriends who can cuddle them in different ways. The same as you wouldn't want to do to them what you wanted to do to those hookers earlier." Fred pouted at him, looking very pitiful.
"Fred, just because I like Brad doesn't mean I'm going to ignore you. You're still my baby brother," Melissa said patiently. "He's just different. You'll understand it when you start to see girls all the time. Boyfriends are different than brothers, they're allowed to kiss and grope when brothers aren't."
"Don't worry, son, soon you'll have a lot of women to grope so you won't miss being yelled at for trying her and Lotus," Xander said dryly. "Now get back in your seat and eat your dinner."
"Lotus still mine?" Fred pouted.
"No, Lotus is her own," Lotus said dryly. "No one gropes me but me, little man. Not even you." He pouted at her. "Don't worry, you'll get a lot of women to grope soon. Just give it a few years and we won't even yell at you for it."
"Okay," he said miserably, letting his big brother put him back into his seat. "I still like you best. You have pretty breastes."
"Yes, but they're not for brothers, they're for boyfriends," Lotus reminded him. "Speaking of, I need to go bra shopping again. They're too tight yet again."
"Jeez," Jigen sighed, shaking his head. "It's like you're inflating them or something."
"No, if I had my way, they'd shrink, Uncle Jigen. I hate the things. I'd rather be flat chested any day of the week."
"Do they make them bigger?" Xander asked. Lotus nodded, giving him an impatient look. "Just checking. Remember, last time we had to order most of yours."
"They go up to cup size K, mom. Trust me, I've already looked and ordered two new ones. And hey, maybe if I'm *really* lucky, I can avoid those girls who think they're fake, yet again."
"Someone thought you had implants?" Jigen asked. Lotus nodded. "Did you solve it?"
"I let the twit grope them and she spread it around that they were real. She's envious now. I offered to share if she could find a doctor to give her some of mine. I'm tired of the back and neck aches."
"We'll work on finding someone good to cut yours down to a D cup, Lotus," Xander promised.
"B?" she asked hopefully.
"C," Lupin told her. "You'd look odd so small."
"Bet me! I look like a fucking porn star now!"
"DAUGHTER!" Goemon snapped.
"Sorry, father, but I do. And I'm looked and watched like I'm one too. Or a stripper."
"That's one way to create a diversion," Arsene said dryly. "I'm very happy I'm only a B cup."
"I wish I was," Melissa said bitterly. "Let me tell you, a B would be much nicer than a D."
Jigen took another drink before looking at his daughter. "If it's giving you fits while firing, we'll talk about you getting reduction surgery too."
"Thank you, Daddy! I love you," she said, leaning across the table to hug him. Then she hugged her boyfriend. "Isn't that so sweet!"
"Is it," he agreed. "I wouldn't mind you being a B."
She grinned at him. "You're so sweet too," she said, kissing him.
"I'll ask around," Alan offered. "I know many people who've had plastic surgery done and they've got to have some references."
"Sure, it sounds good to me," Xander agreed happily.
"You don't want them going to the clinic you run?" Lupin asked.
"No, because I know the imp inside the machine and I don't want him watching the girls."
"Oh, okay then," Jigen agreed, taking another long drink. "Groping is not allowed, daughter."
"No. Groping often leads further and most boys can't stop."
"Sir, if I could just pleasure her, I wouldn't need more," Brad offered. Jigen moaned and took a longer drink. "Sorry, sir."
"No, it's good that you want to worship her," Arsene offered, patting him on the hand. "The problem is that he doesn't think you'll be able to stop with just tasting her. Which would definitely break the rules and would get her married off really quickly."
"Why don't you have a boyfriend?" Brad asked her.
"Because I'm presently stringing four along and I haven't decided yet who gets the honor of breaking me in the day after my birthday."
"Oh, okay," he said, shrugging it off. She was a Lupin, they were known for their sex drives.
Lupin the Third stole the scotch and gulped some of it down to take that image out of his mind.
"So, is a handjob all right?" Arsene asked. "That wouldn't lead to much but it would soothe some feelings."
"No!" the three fathers said firmly, glaring at their respective children.
"You know, you created those rules for the ho's who just got married," Lotus said dryly. "We're the good ones as it turned out. We should be allowed to renegotiate."
"Daughter, I will find you a chastity belt and put you in it," Goemon warned, squeezing his utensils so he wouldn't hurt anyone.
"Yes, father," she said meekly, going back to eating very quickly. "I am over sixteen though."
Goemon got up and went outside to calm himself down before he had a stroke. He loathed his children and his former wife some days.
"Lotus, remember, he follows *traditional* values," Jigen said quietly. "He may find you an arranged marriage if you come home with someone he doesn't like."
"Then I'd kill the intended and walk away," she said smartly. "Only I get to say who breaches my body."
Lupin moaned again and took another drink. "You're all still on birth control, right? Ishi, you're using it too, yes?" he pleaded. They all nodded. "Thank you!" He went to sit with Goemon, hoping he could erase those images for him too. Or else he'd have horrible nightmares all night.
"Lotus, let's leave off this discussion until you've found a man to bring home to your father. Remember the rules we set up, girls, and Ishi," Xander reminded them. "No casual sex."
Arsene's eyes lit up as she stared at him. "Good point. What about picking a good one for our first time?"
"That's different," Jigen admitted. "We'd rather it meant something to you however."
"Sure, Uncle J. If the situation arises," she agreed happily enough, digging back into her food. "Daddy did a really good job this time."
He did," Melissa agreed, digging back in as well. She nudged Brad, who started to eat as well, even though he was blushing.
"Maybe we'll get some tanning time in while we're in Chicago," Lotus offered. "I'm pale as paper right now."
"Maybe," Melissa agreed. "I do have my new suit with me." Lotus grinned at her. "Maybe on the way back? We will need to hand in the check."
"As long as you don't torment me or the fathers with your lewd bathing costumes," Ishi complained.
"I won't," Melissa sighed. "Geez, Ishi, move forward a few centuries. It's not like I'm skinny-dipping. This time."
Brad gave her a sideways look. "You do?"
"It depends on where I'm swimming," she offered with a smirk. "I like to skinny-dip in ponds more than pools." He licked his lips but shot Jigen a look and went back to eating. "Five more months and one week," she reminded him gently, stroking his arm.
"Melissa, he's already at the limits of his self control," Xander told her. "Don't taunt him on top of it."
"Yes, daddy." She quickly stuffed her mouth before she could say anything else.
Jigen looked at Brad. "You ever feel like spanking her for that?"
"Yes, sir, but I'm sure you wouldn't approve of that sort of sex until after she's eighteen."
Jigen nodded. "That's very true. Good answer, kid. We'll discuss this later, Melissa, alone, in private." She nodded, grinning at him. "Eat faster."
Goemon yelled from outside, making everyone jump and rush to the back door.
Xander got there first, and had his gun out. "Shit! Melissa, get me the special bullets. Now!" he ordered as she paused. "Arsene, break out the crossbow!" He ran outside, jumping the first vampire to get it away from Goemon. He growled and grabbed one of the sticks lying around and broke it over another's head, then staked the one he was on top of before jumping at another one. "Guys, could use the help!" he yelled. "Lupin! Get up!" He didn't move. He staked another one and heard a gunshot, ducking out of the way so the Jigens could get the others. He ducked over to check Goemon, who was groaning but moving and aware, and then Lupin, who wasn't moving but was moaning lightly. He felt someone grab him and threw them into the bushes, hoping for an easy staking, but it turned out to be Arsene. "Sorry. Guys, move him inside, bandage his wounds, and let's see if we can get some blood into him once we check him over." He stood up and looked around at the piles of dust and the single remaining vampire cowering beyond Lotus. "Ask him who sent them and who gave them directions." He helped Jigen lift Lupin up and carry him up to his bed, settling him in so he could check his vitals. "He's living," he announced. "As long as he survives tonight, he should be fine."
"Should we send him to an ER?" Goemon asked from the doorway.
"Put your ass in a bed and stay there," Xander ordered coldly, not looking at him. "Now!"
"Come along, father, unless you want to nap next to Lupin?" Ishi led his father away, tucking him back into bed. He came back with the first aid kit, handing it over. "Should he have blood?"
"He's got a strong pulse and blood pressure," Xander offered.
"Won't it matter? Like make him a minion or something?" Alan asked from the doorway.
"No, he'd have to turn for that," Xander said, shooting him a grin. "It's not that simple actually. He's got to be bitten and fed. He's got to die, since he's not ready to he'll be fine. There's no residue in his mouth, I already checked." He checked his pulse again, getting out of Jigen's way when he hooked up the machinery yet again. "Gee, this looks kinda familiar," he joked.
"That's because you were using it just a week or so ago," Goemon said from the doorway. Then he passed out when the thing Xander threw hit him on the forehead.
"Put him into the bed, we can watch them together." Xander got out of the way, scowling at them. "Jigen, want first or second shift?"
"Second. Wake me when you're tired; you're more used to this sort of stuff." He nodded at Alan. "Just don't make out in front of Goemon, he'll blush and that won't be good for him." He left them alone, going to check on the kids, finding his daughter cleaning her gun with Brad watching her. "You okay?"
"Have I mentioned yet that I hate the strange shit that seems to happen around Uncle Lupin and Mom?" Melissa asked dryly. "I hate the supernatural. I don't want to be a ghostbuster."
"Good, me either. Lotus done with the vamp yet?"
"No," Brad told him. "She's taking great pleasure from using toothpicks on it." He shivered so his girlfriend patted him on the thigh. "Thanks, 'Lis, I didn't know Lotus could be that scary."
"Me either," she promised with a small grin. "Daddy, should I clean yours too?"
"Sure, princess." He handed his over, then went to talk to the Goemon children, finding Ishi looking exactly like his father, only wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He was even sitting in the same position against the wall with his sword in the same spot on his shoulder. "We going okay here?"
"He's refusing to tell me, I figure I've got about a thousand more toothpicks around here," Lotus said, glaring at the vampire. "Either that or we can bring Mom down."
"Your mother is nothing," the vampire sneered.
"My mother is a Prince of Hell, get it right," she sneered back, carefully placing a new toothpick, which made the creature howl in pain as it pierced the inner corner of his eyelid. "Mom!" she yelled. "He's being stubborn! Can I really hurt him!"
"No," Xander called down. "I'm coming." He came in, and stripped off his shirt, which made the vampire drool. He sneered and undid the necklace, holding his shirt over top of the one that would kill him painfully. "Now then," he said dryly when the vampire was done howling in pain from the other ones. "I've got the one that'll kill you by making your brain and eyeballs explode covered. I can let my shirt lower a bit and it'll only hurt you a lot. Your choice. Who hired you? Who gave you directions? Who do I get to go kill?"
The vampire started to cry. "It was a brunette. She was growling and mean. She knew all about us, sire. Please don't kill me!"
"Name?" Lotus growled. The vampire shrugged and stared at her. "I don't think he knows."
"He would have given it up if he did," Ishi agreed from his spot, opening his eyes. "Should we behead him or stake him, mother?"
"Oh, let's test something," Xander said smoothly, moving closer. "See, I found a new mark recently," he said, turning around so the demon could see his back. The demon screamed as his eyeballs melted. "Hmm, interesting. I wonder if that's only against vampires. Oh, well." He turned around and dropped his shirt, and the vampire still screamed and held his head as his brain exploded. "Okay, that's a neat trick," he decided. "I didn't realize that the demon could see without using his eyes." He put back on his shirt and walked off. "Stick him in the garden, he'll dust up at dawn."
"Do you think it was her?" Jigen asked as he followed.
"Not a clue. Could have been Buffy or one of the other slayers. She is a natural brunette." He headed into Lupin's room, kissing the back of Alan's neck. "I'm done."
"Xander?" Alan asked, running a finger over a scar he'd never seen before. "What are those?"
"Those are where I was tortured, baby. That's why I hide them." He put back on the necklace and gave him a sad little smile. "They're all mystical markings that cause pain, obedience, or death with demons. Before you ask, they hurt like hell as they were carved into me, but I'm better now. It only took a few years," he said bitterly, kissing him again. "I'm fine now. They're all healed."
"I'm glad. We went through hell while you were still injured," Jigen said from the doorway. "I can take first watch if you want. The kids are still up too."
"No, I'm good," Xander said through a yawn. "You go sleep. I'll get you up in a few hours." Jigen nodded, heading for his bedroom. "Sorry about this, Alan. This is not what I wanted to happen tonight."
"Not a problem. These things happen sometimes. No one ever expects an attack."
"I thought it was the Spanish Inquisition," Xander joked, smirking at him. "Go ahead and nap on my bed if you want. It's going to be a long night." Alan nodded, getting up to give him the chair and a hug. "Thanks, babe."
"You're welcome," he whispered, going to rest on Xander's bed. He let himself shudder once he was in there. He'd never seen Xander as a dangerous person but tonight he'd seen him attack and kill and not blink about it. It was like it was second nature to him now. His boyfriend was a dangerous man who did dangerous things. He was not the gentle man he was when they were alone. Xander was dangerous. Xander did bad things. Xander killed people. Xander could hurt people. Xander could hurt him.
"I'd never do that," Xander's voice drifted down the hall.
"And apparently he's telepathic now," Alan said dryly, curling on his side around Xander's pillow. "Night, Xander," he whispered.
Alan grinned and closed his eyes. Xander was weird, but he was his weirdo.
Lupin woke up in the morning, which was shocking to him. He looked over at the chair beside the bed. Xander was sleeping there beside him. He heard a soft snort and looked to his other side, where Goemon was curled up. "Was it good for you?"
Goemon hit him, knocking him back out. "Imbecile."
"Sudden personality changes are indicative of needing to be tested by imbibing holy water," Xander said tiredly. "Unless you want me to go make some, I'd quit being so grumpy."
"Fine. I'm sorry I'm so surly but I'm very tired."
"Shit happens," Xander reminded him dryly. "You'd be proud of Lotus, she tortured the last vampire with toothpicks." He stood up and stretched. "Let me check your vitals and then you can shower and go back to bed." He came over to check him out, then nodded. "You sound fine. You've still got a pulse and things. Go shower and either eat or go back to bed. The kids are already up."
Goemon nodded. "Thank you for watching over us, Xander."
"Welcome. It's what I do after all." He watched while Goemon headed for his room, listening as Ishi jumped him to check on him. He leaned down to check on Lupin, smirking as he woke up again. "Morning, Princess. Goemon was grumpy and he apologizes."
"That's okay. You stayed," Lupin said tiredly. "Can I have a cuddle?"
"We'll see. But only if you get up, take a shower, and then come back out here to eat. I had the housekeeper make you guys a very healthy breakfast, high in iron."
Lupin nodded before letting Xander help him up and into the bathroom. By the time he got back out, his breakfast was ready and his daughter was sitting with his tray on his bed. "No Xander?"
"Xander went to shower and wake up Alan," she said, holding up the edge of the blankets. "Put on some boxers and climb back in. Now, before I have to get mean and nasty or I let Lotus come torture you."
He smirked and kissed her on the head, but he did do as ordered. He doubted his daughter wanted to see him naked anyway. He climbed under the blankets so she could tuck him in, then accepted his fork with a grin. "Good food?"
"Fairly so. Ham, eggs, hash browns, milk. I'm guessing it's to replace the blood you lost." She scowled at him. "Could you possibly *try* not to die this year, Daddy? It'd make us all really happy if you could *try* to stay alive and well for at least another year. Give us one last year at the Academy and all that good stuff?"
"Sure, empress. I don't want to die yet anyway. Aren't you supposed to be leaving this morning?"
"We've got to be there in about an hour," she admitted. "We've changed our flights and we're taking a private jet." Lupin winced, he knew how expensive those were. "We'll be fine, Daddy. You're going to rest until we come back, then we'll check you over before going back to school." She smirked at him. "Now get your ass ready and eat, daddy. You need to regain your strength or you'll never convince Alan that mom isn't a killer beast."
Lupin suddenly smiled. "He saw Xander killing them and is scared?"
"No, he's worried and thinking," she admitted, only slightly busting his happy mood. "That's one of the reasons why Mom went to talk to him, to calm him back down. Now eat!" He dug in, eating quickly. "Thank you. You'd be one scary ass vampire, daddy. Don't die anytime soon." She kissed him on the cheek. "I'd best go. We'll be back in a few days. Should we plan to monitor the auction?"
"No, that's cool," Xander said from the doorway. "I called Heinrich personally and he said he'd take charge of it for me. I gave him specific instructions about what was not to go. Have fun in Chicago and be safe, he wasn't sure but he thought he had seen one of the Rays." Arsene gave him a hug before trotting off. "Eat, Lupin. You need to replace that blood."
"The Red Cross only gives cookies and orange juice."
"They only take a pint, you lost something closer to three last night," Xander said dryly. "Eat before I have to get Goemon to spank you." He started to turn but Lupin coughed while chewing. "Yes?" he asked tiredly.
"Wanna sit and talk, Xander?"
"No, I'm still calming down Alan," he admitted with a small shrug. "It bothered him that I could do that." He went back to his room, tapping gently first since Alan was a little jumpy. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," he admitted. "It was just shocking, seeing you act like that. You're not like that at home with me, Xander."
"I know, and I'm sorry you had to see that, Alan." He gave him a gentle kiss. "I'm only like that when I have to be. Last night I had to be."
"I understand, but I think I need time to think." He stood up and hugged him. "I'm not tossing you over, love, but I need time to process this new information. Otherwise I'll drive myself insane with it." Xander nodded, giving him a squeeze. "Think I can get a ride to the airport with the kiddies?"
"Sure. Guys!" he yelled. Brad stuck his head in. "Wait for Alan, you're taking him to the airport."
"Sure, Xander. We're about ready to go if you are, sir."
"Thanks, kid. I didn't get a chance to really unpack," he said with a small grin. He kissed Xander, making him moan. "We'll talk in two days, Xander. I'm not dumping you."
"I understand," he agreed, smiling at him. "I can be a scary guy and you have to get used to that."
Alan nodded, picking up his bag and going for the few things he had unpacked that morning, stuffing them back into his bag before following Brad down the stairs. He smiled sadly at the kids. "I've got to head back to think. Can I bum a ride?"
"Sure, but we'll have to switch cars," Ishi told him. "Guys, switch the bags, unless someone wants to sit in Arsene's lap?"
"We can fit," Melissa snorted. "Trust me, we've done it before." She put Alan's bag into the trunk and rearranged them so he was in the middle of the back seat. "There. They do it with six in the roadster and that's got bucket seats in the back," she said proudly. She nudged Ishi. "You or me?"
"Me. Get in." She slid into the passenger's seat, buckling up. "We all here?" He got some groans. "Good." He took off down the driveway, heading for the airport. "Which direction are you heading, Alan?"
"Australia unfortunately or I'd hitch a ride the whole way," he said, smirking at him. "It'll be fine. I just need to process. I've never seen your father as someone who was scary and dangerous before."
"Oh, we understand," Arsene assured him. "I didn't have that revelation until a few years back about my daddy either. Then Daddy basically blew someone away in the mall in front of me and I suddenly had to stare in awe at my father." She smirked at him. "So, how are you liking being the boyfriend of an assassin? I'm asking so I can tell if I want to date one or not."
He kissed her on the side of the head. "It's odd and I still won't let Xander spoil me with things. That way he doesn't have to worry about where things came from." He stroked the bracelet he was wearing. "This is the only thing he's ever given me. And I protested for a few minutes about this one but he bought it in the store with me in there and put it on me, then had them solder it shut on me." He smiled at her. "He's very thoughtful but I don't need to be spoiled with things, I'd rather have his time and his attention."
"Good. We like people who like Mom," Arsene agreed dryly. "It's much better than someone like Goemon's exwife who only wanted to spoiled with things and then have the men walk off."
"Anything's better than her," Lotus said dryly. "Remember, if you treat Mom wrong, you'll be seeing us in your worst nightmares."
"Oh, I'm sure I will," he agreed quickly, smiling at her. "I have no doubt you four could make me rue the day I was conceived."
"Yes, we can," Ishi agreed. He glanced in the mirror again. "It's Gramps."
"Fuck 'im," Melissa sighed, pulling her gun so she could lean out the window and shoot out his tires, but he dodged and slowed down, turning around and heading the other direction. "There, that's one down," she said as she settled back into her seat with her gun back in the back holster. "It's not a job without Gramps getting involved."
"True, what're we going to do when he retires?" Arsene sighed. "I know Mom said that he's going to take out all of them and put them on mild disability for life, but then who'll chase us?"
"I'm sure there'll be a few good cops to take over," Brad said, obviously humoring her. "There are lots of other ones in the world."
"Yeah, but not *good* ones, ones who'll follow you into the ninth circle of hell if necessary," Melissa told him. "Gramps did that for Daddy Lupin a few times. They've even had to work together a few times to get out of tight spots. You don't get many cops like that."
"No, you don't," Brad agreed, smirking at her. "Then again, that makes them easier to get past."
"Not really," Arsene said dryly. "He's damn easy to get around sometimes. Just because he's so focused we can tweak him into changing his mind and going in another direction, which leaves us an open avenue to our hauls."
"Yeah, you can distract him by having another member show up and let him chase them, or you can easily get past him with most costumes."
"Speaking of, we're being asked to give a speech on what Daddy Lupin does with them," Ishi said dryly. "So someone write that. Or call and have Daddy write it and come give it. It'd make him happy to get out of the house once he's able."
"They can't get out of the house? Are they contagious or something?" Brad asked.
"No, Janus keeps them in the house. He's trying to make them get back together again," Melissa told him.
"Okay, when you say Janus...." Brad started.
"She means the two-headed statue that seems to be the family deity and who I saw move and talk last night, kid," Alan said dryly. "Freaked the hell out of me when it did, but it did."
"Did it tell you that you two could continue to date?" Arsene asked.
"Yes, dear, and then they said that some day someone in his life would be coming for me to make him come back into it. That's when your father came in and nearly threw it out the window, but instead decided to cover it."
"Well, as long as he agrees," Lupin the Fourth said happily. "After all, if they don't fix this within the month, then Daddy and Uncle Jigen, and Uncle Goemon will age to their correct ages."
"Not meant to guilt you or anything, but yeah," Ishi sighed. "You noticed that Mom and everyone looked kinda younger again? It was their last chance. Janus likes them together. They're his favorite pairing and they give him a lot of power."
"So, by staying with me, will that reage them?"
"We're not sure, but if he said it was okay it shouldn't," Arsene offered. "I haven't heard anything and I'm a high priestess of his." She snapped her fingers. "Speaking of, 'Lis, we've got to get a plate and do the offering again. He's been looking pouty at the school."
"Sure," she agreed lightly. "We'll find some nice wine and things for it."
"Thanks. He said no more ham, he was tired of ham after last year."
"That's fine, we'll do some steak or something," she said, waving a hand around some. "Music, Ishi?"
"Sure, go ahead. Just not too loud." He flipped it on, letting her pick the station. Everyone usually liked whatever she picked.
"Eighties and nineties or classical?"
"Modern," Arsene grunted.
"Please, not classical," Brad agreed. He looked at Lotus, but she was asleep on his arm. "I think she's still tired."
"She probably is," she agreed happily. "She said to move her if she drools."
"Sure, thanks for the warning," he said with a smirk.
"We *all* drool in our sleep," Alan reminded him. "Especially when you have happy thoughts that give you good dreams."
The kids snickered at that, they knew what those were.
Zenigata stomped up to the gateway and grabbed Alan, hauling him up. "I want to talk to you," he said coldly.
"You're going to let go of me, you big oaf, unless you have a warrant and a very good reason to be grabbing me."
"You're the lover of Lavelle. Of course I do," he said with a cruel smirk.
Alan got his arm free. "Be that as it may, Inspector, it's not like we do much. I don't watch him while he works. I don't allow him to give me presents. I don't even allow him to talk about work in my presence. I'm actually the one he said he might retire for. So I would back off." Zenigata sneered so Alan pulled out every bit of queenliness he had in him. "And if you don't, I will tell him. I can easily go crying to him about how mean you are."
"What's he gonna do? Swat me?" Zenigata sneered.
"No, Lavelle seems to like long range weapons actually," Arsene said from behind him, her arms crossed over her chest. "Gramps, leave him alone. You know better. Lavelle doesn't give him anything. He doesn't see the hauls, he doesn't benefit from them."
"Oh, really? We know he's bought him gifts."
"Yeah, and he had some money in the bank when he joined the life. He only uses that for Alan and his pleasure," Arsene sneered.
"He was flat broke when he joined the life, kid."
"Really? Because you know, he didn't have insurance on anything in Sunnydale when it was eaten or anything." She stepped closer. "This is your only warning, Zenigata. You leave Alan the fuck alone or you deal with me. Not mom, not dad, not any of the Uncles. Me. And if you manage to get past me, there's always the others. We like Alan. He's sweet to Lavelle. Something that he hasn't had in a while. We appreciate the hell out of him for making Lavelle smile and laugh and joke again. So either you butt the hell out or have to rest your butt on a permanent basis in a retirement home." He growled and she pulled something, putting it against his stomach as she moved closer. That's when he realized he was looking in her eyes. "Do you think I won't?" she hissed. "Daddy likes you, we respect you, but you're in my way. We're still realistic, we're not the idealists that the older group is yet. I'll only injure you but it'll be very messy and you'll be in the hospital for a *very* long time," she said in a cold whisper. "Now, back down and run away, little boy. Before one of the less calm people show up. After all, I took drugs already to combat my tension. Ishi hasn't. Neither has Melissa. Neither has Brad. By the way, he asked that you tell Vecchio he said hi and that he's doing good in school." Zenigata swallowed, she could see him do it. "Now, back your stinky ass down and run away. Before I have to fight against the drugs and do something very mean." He backed up and she smirked, undoing her lipstick to put some more on. "Thank you." He sneered so she pointed it at him, hitting him with the tranquilizer dart. "Idiot," she said dryly. "You know how my family likes gadgets. Like it, Melissa made it," she sneered as he faded out. She looked at Alan. "You okay?"
"Just fine, Ar...Lupin. Thank you for protecting me."
"Like I said, you make Lavelle happy and smiling. We like that about you. Remember to keep doing that and don't have any fights near us, okay?" She turned and stomped off, going to report to the other kids.
Alan sat down with a moan, then looked at the stewardess nearby. "He's fine, it's a tranquilizer dart. Lupin the Fourth was in a happy mood," he told her. She nodded, calling security to pick up the inspector. None of them came near him, even when he was blatantly watching. "He came after me because of who my boyfriend is," he said at one pointed glance in his direction. They nodded and took the inspector off to hand him back to his unit. Alan got onto the plane without any other problems and headed back, thinking the whole way. How often would that happen? He touched the bracelet he was wearing. It was very pretty but the man had put doubts in his head about a lot of things. He sat down to write out a later email to his boyfriend to talk about this with him. It wouldn't be fair otherwise.
Lupin walked down the hall, leaning in the doorway of Xander's room. "Pops just jumped Alan at the airport," he said quietly. Xander grimaced. "Arsene got him with her lipstick dart."
"Melissa got that to work?" he asked, looking a bit happier. "Can I go visit him when he wakes up?"
"No, Xander. We can't do that. It'd be mean and cruel. Even though I want to help you." Xander gave him an odd look. "Jigen and I both like Alan. We think he's a nice guy and he makes you happy. We just want you back more than we want to see you happy with anybody else."
"Being miserable with you two is better than being happy with him?" Xander sat up. "If you really loved me like you said you do, then you'd want me to be happy."
"I do, but it's driving us insane, Xander. Seeing you give him those special smiles and looks we used to get. Watching you laugh at some joke he just told you. Watching you cuddle and kiss him. It's making me violent and I like the guy. I love Alan. If we could make it a quad, I'd do it readily. I..." He sighed. "I can't stand to see you with someone who's not us, Xander. It makes me ache in places I didn't know I had," he admitted tiredly.
"I get it, Lupin," Xander agreed, "that's why I don't stay here that often."
"Can't you give us just one little chance?"
"No! You cheated on me! You ignored me, Lupin, and you knew what I was like before. How everyone in my life ignored the hell out of me for years! I can't put up with that. I'm sorry, but I can't. I won't. I need more than you were willing to give me."
"We can change," Lupin reminded him, sounding a bit cooler now.
"You said that before, Lupin. Twice." He stood up and pulled Lupin in to hug him. "I love you, Lupin, but you treated me worse than you treat the cats. I *need* someone to talk to me now and then. You weren't doing that and then you went out and *cheated* on me. Me! The person who would have done *anything* in the bedroom! Unfortunately, you wanted tits and I'm never doing that again. Alan actually likes the real Xander person, dick and all."
"You said you haven't slept together."
"We haven't, but he's very gay, Lupin. He's not a virgin and neither am I," Xander said bitterly, going back to his bed. "Sit, before you fall over. I know how bad and tired you feel right now. Been there, done that a few times."
"Is that why you had her make ham instead of steak?"
"Ham dissolves faster and easier, it's closer to human than cow." He got comfortable, staring at his former lover. "Can you actually swear that if I took you back you'd only be with us? That you'd pay attention to only us? That you'd give up chasing tits?"
"Why would I need to? I've got my own set," he said bitterly, glaring at the altar.
"I'm guessing he wanted you two to understand how wrecking that thing can be," he said bitterly, glaring at the statues. "Haven't they been bothered enough?" The heads shook under their covering. "Fine." He looked at Lupin. "That was not my idea. I was drugged up in a hospital when it happened if you remember right."
"You were, I don't blame you for this," Jigen said from the doorway. "You okay? I heard complaining."
"You did, but it came from me," Lupin told him, grimacing at him. "Why don't you yell that at him, Xander?"
"Because Jigen has problems with men, Lupin. He could barely bring himself to touch me after ten years together. You, on the other hand, like to touch both sexes. You can and did touch me a lot as a guy. He couldn't and we all knew that." He shifted some, staring at them both. "That would have to change too, we all know that."
"I'm working on it," Jigen offered. "I still can't get past the image of me kissing you as a guy. I'm not one of those who's comfy with other guys."
"I understand, which is why I never pushed you," Xander reminded him. He looked at Lupin. "You don't have that out, Arsene. You like boys too."
"Good point," he said miserably. "I tried, Xander. I'm sorry, but I like girls more."
"And I'm not one, and I'll never be one again unless it's absolutely necessary to ensure mine and the kids' survival. Which means that we shouldn't lie to each other about this, Lupin. You don't want me as a guy. Jigen doesn't want me as a guy. Why in the *hell* should I come back knowing that?"
"Because you love us and you want us to work it out?" Jigen suggested mildly.
"I'd love for you two to work it out, and if you do and I'm not with Alan, then I'll gladly take you back. I'm not doing it any other way. You guys should be happy that I actually found some other person who tries to understand me! I barely found you two!"
"We know, but it still hurts to see your ex happy with someone else," Lupin said miserably. "I'd rather see you happy with us."
"Which is why I'll gladly work with you guys or the kids, but I won't bring him along, and I won't be living here. If I have to, I'll find a house locally so I'm closer for planning and things, but I don't want to push him back in your faces."
"We know, Xan, but it's still bothering us." Jigen nodded at the altar. "Will he leave us alone if you don't take us back?"
"He said it was fine as long as we could work together," Xander offered. "If that means yes, you'd have to get it from him." He shrugged. "He could just as easily put me back to where I was, in pain every fucking day." He stood up. "I'm going to take a shower, I haven't had one yet."
"Sure, Xander," Lupin said quietly, frowning at the altar once the bathroom door was closed. "Well? Your brilliant plan failed, Janus." He reached over and snatched the cover off the altar. "Are you going to leave us alone? We're trying."
"I realize that, but he will not live as long if he does not come back. He will do something stupid," the frowning head told him.
"He may, but Zenigata deserves it after this morning," Lupin said with a small moan as he shrugged. "I'm surprised he hasn't called in a death warning to them for it."
"What happened?" Jigen asked, coming in to sit on the foot of Xander's bed.
"Pops jumped Alan at the airport, trying to make him doubt how Xander did things for him. Where the money came from and all that. After him seeing Xander actually kill things last night, he's having doubts. That adds to it."
"Which could mean that Xander would leave him if he expressed too many doubts?" Jigen asked.
"It could mean that Alan leaves him," Lupin said quietly. "And it would be Pop's fault." Jigen shuddered. "Yeah, I can see their house going up in flames while the kids were off somewhere. I can see him and most of his team going up very quickly and prettily, and then Xander going on a binge."
"He's not like that, Lupin."
"Jigen, did you just listen to him? We're the only three people in the world who he thinks cares about him. He will. It'll come back on us somehow and then we lose him too."
"I'm not like that," Xander said from the bathroom doorway. "Though, Zenigata and Dawn may well be gone if he does dump me over this. I'm not guaranteeing their continued existences." He glared at the altar. "Are you happy now that I'm more miserable?"
"No, Xander, we only want you to be happy."
"Alan made me happy. You saw that."
"So do they."
"Not when they can't and won't touch me. Not when they ignore me. Not when they treat me worse than a piece of carpet lint."
"I never did that."
"Jigen, when was the last time we actually had a discussion about something other than the kids?" Jigen shrugged. "Exactly." He looked at the statue again. "I'd fix this if it was your fuckup, Janus. Otherwise we'll have to have a talk. You, me, and all of your priests. I may spare Arsene because she's my daughter, but the rest of them can die."
"Marcus?" Lupin asked.
"No, he's not," Janus agreed. "You would not, Xander. You know you would not. The same as you could not harm my upcoming daughter."
"Yeah, I can. I'm about the only one who knows where she is, Janus. You fuck up my life and I fuck up your power base." He slammed the bathroom door again and went to take his shower. Or at least the water was running while he stared at his uncovered and unhidden chest in the mirror. "This was all one big plan by the Powers," he muttered. "I knew it was." He got in, going to scrub himself for a bit. He felt dirty now.
Lupin looked at the statue. "You know how he is, Janus. Why continue to make him miserable and make things worse for the world?"
"He won't be able to kill Ethan," Jigen said bitterly.
"Yes he will," Janus told him. "Xander does have a spot within him with enough rage to do that to him. Even to attack him magically if he so desires. The rage runs deep in that man's body."
"And who's fault is that?" Jigen asked bitterly.
"We are not to blame for most of it," the smiling head told him.
"Bet me. You're the cause of the latest version of miserable in his life," Lupin reminded him. "We may be miserable pricks because we lost him, but without Alan, he doesn't feel he's got anybody. Then you lose him too."
"We will not."
"You will. He'll probably end up doing something stupid and dying," Jigen said tiredly as he stood up. "Don't worry, you'll see it soon enough. Quit looking at the chosen paths and see all of them."
"That's a Goemonish statement, Jigen, are you sure you're not him?" Lupin joked weakly.
"Yeah, it's something he said last night. I'm only quoting." He glared at the statue. "I'm not losing him to you." He walked out, heading to talk to Goemon. If Xander was that pissed, he would do something stupid and die from it.
Lupin looked at the statue again. "You're in deep if he finds out the vampires were you."
"That was not me, it was Dawn."
"Then she's in deep shit anyway," Lupin agreed. "Look at all the paths, Janus. Do you see him staying here happily?"
"No," he admitted. "We only want him to be happy."
"Then why force things so he's miserable?"
"Because he'll live longer."
"Xander's one of those who believe in quality, not quantity," Lupin said quietly as he stood up. "I'm going back to bed. I'd check the other paths this time. It won't go the way you want to send it." He left the statue there to think and consider while he had to plan how to stop Xander from doing stupid things out of anger and rage.
Dawn looked up as Ray Vecchio carried in her husband, glaring at him. "What did you do to him now!"
"He went and tried to break up Xander and Alan by jumping Alan at the airport," Ray Kowalski said from behind him. "He lost. Arsene tranq'd him." He glared at his other boss. "Did you have something to do with that, Dawn?"
Vecchio whistled. "Enough! I don't care why it happened! It was wrong on both parts and it'll get in the way of real police work. This isn't a high school!"
"No, but you forget who we're dealing with," Ray reminded him quietly. "Xander, who didn't have anyone who liked him enough to pay attention to him. By his own admission why he dumped Lupin and Jigen and took up with Alan." Vecchio leaned against his desk. "If this breaks them up, there's a very good chance that they'll be dead very painfully and it'll probably take a while."
"Xander's not like that," Dawn protested.
"Yeah, he is, Dawn," Ray Vecchio assured her. "I've seen it in him too." He looked at Kowalski. "So what do we do?"
"First, you'd better pray that Alan only has doubts and doesn't dump him before Lupin and Jigen can get their shit together again. The kids are hoping but they already like Alan. I chatted with Melissa and Brad last night and she told me about the vampire attack at the manor house too," he said, glaring at Dawn, who went pale. "Alan saw him killing the creatures."
"Oh, shit," Dawn said, sitting down. "He watched him?" Ray nodded. "Then Zenny went to jump him?" Both Rays nodded this time. "Oh, hell. Okay. We're going to go reward the house. Xander can't get through them." She squealed as an imp appeared, pulling her gun, but it hopped up and handed her a letter before disappearing. "What the fuck!" she said angrily.
Kowalski snatched it, reading it carefully. "Janus apologizes if we all die from this," he said, handing it to Vecchio. "Xander's more than pissed if he used the demonic to show up here."
"But..but...but Xander doesn't touch demon magic!" she protested, standing up again. "He won't. They hurt him!"
"He's using a demon to do plastic wizardry, Dawn. Get real for a moment," Vecchio told her. "Now, we've got to talk to Alan. We've got to remind him how good Xander can be."
"If we do, he'll think that Xander's threatening us," Kowalski noted dryly. "He's not dumb, Ray."
"Point, but he's got to know how Xander thinks."
"No, he know how *Xander* thinks, not how *Lavelle* thinks," Ray reminded him tiredly. "There's three people on this planet who understand *Lavelle*. Jigen, Melissa Jigen, and Lupin the Third."
"Where's the kid?" Vecchio asked.
"Heading for Chicago. They were taking a private plane."
"There's a warehouse, they're going over to get rid of some stuff for Xander," Vecchio told her. "Fine, I'll follow. Not an issue. Ma'd like a visit anyway."
"Good. We'll both go. I'll write Alan tonight to talk to him. If we're really lucky, you two will survive that long," Kowalski told Dawn. "Don't try anything else. No matter what the reason. You're only making it worse. Just take care of your husband and the kids. We can get back to real police work after this crisis is over with and we're all living." He walked out, slamming the door behind himself, going to make travel arrangements.
"Aren't you two supposed to be like family?" Vecchio asked her. She glared at him so he left. "Fine, whatever. Don't get dead until we come back." He slammed the door a bit gently but it still slammed.
Dawn sat down, putting her face in her hands. How had she messed up this badly? She was turning into her sister.
Sierra Lupin-Summers walked up to the doorway of the club and tapped gently. "Hi, I'm here to talk to my father's boyfriend. Is he back yet?" she asked calmly.
"Are you old enough to be in here?" the bouncer asked, looking her over.
"I'm Sierra Lupin-Summers. I'm Alan's boyfriend's daughter. Please. Before daddy kills people." He grimaced but let her inside, taking her back to where Alan was sitting at a table writing. "Alan?" He looked up, then blinked a few times. "I'm Sierra. We need to talk. Auntie Dawn doesn't know I'm here." She slid into the booth across from him. "She's not sure why she sent the vampires, or her husband, after you but she's very sorry."
"Is that because she's afraid of your mother?"
"Yeah," she said honestly, grimacing a bit. Then she cleared it away. "You're the best thing that happened to Mom since he got taken in by Jigen and had us. Even Daddy and Uncle Jigen see that. It makes them miserable pricks, but they know that you're making him happy in ways that they couldn't. All we ask is that you don't break mom's heart if you break up and that you at least try to work through this present bit of hot tar that my father-in-law caused. Please?"
"I'm not breaking up with him, Sierra. I simply needed to think for a bit. I saw a side to your mother that I hadn't in the past. I saw him stake some creatures and then I saw him as a very scary man."
"He's dangerous?" the bouncer asked, looking confused. "I thought you were dating some Lord."
"I am, that Lord's other title is Lavelle," he said dryly, smirking at him. "As in the Assassin Lavelle. Her stepmother and Lupin the Third's gunman." The bouncer shivered. "I saw him at work the last night because their house was attacked. They're worried that their father will be killing a great many people for that attack and for Inspector Zenigata coming up to harass me in the airport today." He looked at Sierra again. "It's cool between us, Sierra. I like Xander. He's a big goofball underneath. As far as I'm concerned, Lavelle is a multiple personality that he takes on sometimes. I can deal with that because he's only Xander with me. I know he didn't want me to see any part of his life." He sipped his drink. "I just needed time to think it through for myself. You can tell whichever adult sent you that."
She snorted. "No adult sent me. I escaped the house with the kids in case Mom burns it down. He's *PISSED* at Auntie Dawn and Zenigata over what they did. Like sent a demonic messenger to her with a death threat pissed. As in he's running around without that nice concealment on those scars of his pissed." Alan shivered. "I see you've seen a few?"
"Last night, I saw his arms and his neck. How did that happen?"
"Did he ever tell you about when he was tortured?" Alan nodded quickly. "Then. The person who had him did it. They took a great deal of pleasure in doing it to him. Auntie Dawn rescued him just three days before he and Uncle Jigen hooked up. He was still insensate and not all there when he ran into Jigen and helped him. Then Jigen took him in since he saw what Daddy could be like. There's a strong bond there and Auntie Dawn is going to die for this one. If her husband doesn't, then we're not sure. I do know that my twin has been contemplating a serious death for them both. She wanted to kill him at the airport but she didn't want you to witness that either." Alan nodded, taking another, longer drink of his drink. "Thankfully, mom's not like that with you. That's why we like you so much. You make mom happy and be just plain Xander again." She stood up. "We'd like to encourage that to continue, Alan. We don't want something this stupid to get between you. Even if Janus wills it."
"It's not a problem, Sierra. Thank you for explaining some things to me."
"Hey, someone had to. You came into the game late and didn't know the full score. By the way, you missed the wedding on purpose?"
He smiled. "I hate weddings."
"Ah. Yeah, I'm not too fond of them either. I was happier just having sex." She shrugged. "At least they'll make sure I get where I want to go. Thank you for listening to me. I hope I didn't break your concentration."
"No, not in the least. I was going over some old stuff to revamp it." She kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks, Sierra."
"You're welcome. You make mom happy and giggly like me. You deserve it." She walked off, leaving him there.
Alan looked up at the bouncer. "If I suddenly get a big bouquet of flowers, check it first? I'm not sure if his friends in Interpol will try the same thing or not."
"Is he dangerous?"
"Not to us," Alan said calmly. "To the people who tried to break us up? There's every possibility." He finished his drink. "Sorry, got to write something. The muses are frantic again," he said fondly, going to find his laptop and start on something new. His dressing room was quiet and the box of chocolates on the table were a very nice touch. He'd have to thank Ray later for them. It wasn't often straight guys sent him candy.
Vecchio got the tip from his old precinct and followed it to the warehouse, opening the door and stepping inside. He noticed the guns pointed at him. "I'm not here for you guys. I moved to Interpol. I'm here for Lupin the Fourth and her crew. Where are they?"
"What makes you think we're gonna tell you anything?" one of the gang members said dryly.
Vecchio sighed and pulled up his microphone. "Cooperate or SWAT's coming, boys and girls. I don't have the patience for this. I'm chasing fifteen-year-old crooks who like priceless artwork and jewels. She was already better than you guys by the age of eight."
"What makes you think we're gonna believe you?" one of them sneered.
"Because with Lupin the Fourth is her sidekick Melissa Jigen." They all glared at him. "As in Diasuke Jigen's little girl with Sylvia. Unless you want her to settle the old scores about her father today...." He trailed off and smiled at them. "So, where is she?"
"Warehouse 51," one of them said quietly. "Get her out of our city. We don't need the conflict this time."
"Thanks, boys. Have a nice day." He walked out and waved, and SWAT moved in to arrest them. They had drugs on the table and guns in plain sight. He got back into the car. "Warehouse 51?"
Kowalski chuckled. "I know where that is. It's a goth club." He headed that way, going to the strangest club in the city. Lavelle would fit in there very well. He pulled up outside and got out, going to the side door and tapping gently. "We're here to escort Lupin the Fourth and her crew out of the city before Jigen gets angry and hears about what happened to her Pops." The vampire at the door looked him over. "Lavelle sent me, man. I'm Ray from the cons." He was let in and Vecchio was nearly stopped but Ray shook his head. "Him too. They downstairs?"
"Yes," he hissed. "In the storage area."
"Thanks, man. We'll be gone soon." He strolled that way, smirking at Brad on his way down. "Hey, kid." He watched as Vecchio stopped to talk to him, then got into the elevator in the closet, going down to the storage area. He walked out and found the room mostly empty. "Already done?"
"It's nice, Heinrich had some fences waiting for everything but a few costumes and things," Arsene said with a shrug. "We had to negotiate for our fees of something each." She crossed her arms. "Why are you here?"
"To escort you out of the city and to talk," he said honestly. "Chicago is not a city for any Jigen to be in and your mother's pissed as hell. He sent a messenger imp to Dawn."
"Too bad it wasn't poisoned," Melissa said with a shrug. "Anything else?"
"Nah, not yet. What costumes?"
"Someone tithed Mom a Padawan outfit," Ishi said as he walked in off the back docks. "We good here?"
"Nearly," Arsene admitted, looking at Melissa. "You said you wanted to talk to your grandfather for a moment. You still wanna do that?"
"Yeah, I do," she said grimly. "It shouldn't take long. Dad said he'd hate me because I'm a girl and a gunman." She looked at the elevator, nodding politely at the man getting off. "Hi, Inspector. We're nearly done. Everything else here is going to Mexico."
"Melissa!" Arsene complained.
"We already knew about it," Kowalski assured her. "Your mom babbles when he's drunk." They all groaned. "I asked, he said nothing's hot down there," he admitted. "So we're cool with that. I don't know where the house is anyway, he couldn't remember he was so drunk. So let's go. Pitter patter and all that."
"Not so fast," Lotus said from behind them, making both Rays shiver in dread. "What else is going on?"
"Um, I kinda didn't tell you, Lotus. Gramps came up to Alan in the airport and started to pick at his relationship with mom."
"Is he dead?" she asked calmly.
"Not yet, I only tranq'd him," Arsene admitted. "By the way, the lipstick thing worked very well, 'Lis."
"Thanks, Lupin." She pushed some of her hair back. "I can refill that for you in Mexico." She looked at the Inspectors. "I'm going to pop around on my grandfather while the others arrange for transport to Mexico for the rest of this stuff. Then we'll leave, heading home with the proceeds of the auction. If you had another plan, I'm sorry. By the way, Sierra headed down there."
"No, to talk to Alan," she said with a smirk for Arsene. "I think she plans on begging nicely."
"Hopefully it won't be necessary. I'd hate to see the world explode this time," Arsene said with a shrug. "I wonder if daddy would consider making it a quad."
"Probably not. That would mean Alan would have to join the team," Vecchio said dryly. "I don't think he's thief material." He looked at Melissa. "You sure about this? There's still a bounty on your dad's head."
"I'm clearly not my father and I can handle it," she said calmly. "I'll let Brad go with them." He nodded, liking that idea better. "Anything else, Inspector?"
"Yeah, I'll drive ya, just ta make sure you make it out of there," he said dryly. "That's not a good part of town for anyone in your family to be in."
"Thankfully I didn't bring Savannah or Sarah," she said with a shrug, following him up. "I'll get with you on the plane, Lupin."
"Sure, 'Lis." She frowned until they were gone. "What the fuck is going on?" she demanded.
"Her grandfather was the one who put the hit out on her dad's head," Kowalski told her. "Her grandfather's a money guy, Lupin. He considered gunmen and assassins to be beneath him. So when his only son took up the gun...." He shrugged. "He got pissed. He disowned him. He put a large bounty on his head. I was incoming when your uncle was leaving the city. Your uncle had to fight his way out of the ambush twice." She shuddered. "His dad's more than powerful enough to know that you're here."
"So she's in danger?"
"Not yet. If he wanted her dead, he'd have gotten her at the airport or on the drive in. He can do that. He's powerful enough to do that."
"Fine. We'll be listening for her. If the sick bastard touches her, I'll kill him myself," she announced, turning to look at the remaining workers. "Box up everything else in a truck by itself. It's going to Mexico." They nodded dully and did as she ordered. "Ishi, manage that?" He nodded, going to watch them to make sure nothing got mixed in. She looked at Lotus. "Did you want to shadow her?"
"She'll be fine," Lotus said calmly. "People are still afraid of Vecchio."
Arsene nodded. "Fine. As long as she'll be fine." She looked around the empty warehouse. "Is he doing this so he can retire?"
"He's offered in the past," Kowalski told her. "He's willing to retire for Alan, to spend his life with him. It's sweet."
"Yeah, a bit," he admitted with a smirk. "It could be worse. He could be giving it all to charity."
"Good point," she sighed, going to watch over the workers. You couldn't trust zombies to do everything perfectly.
Melissa tapped on the front door, nodding politely at the butler. "I wish to speak to my grandfather." His mouth opened. "Just show me in there, man. I'm in a rush. I'm flying through and I've got a plane to catch."
"Who are you?" he asked in a strangled voice.
"Melissa Jigen, Second to Lupin the Fourth, daughter to Diasuke Jigen, twin of a future Interpol cop." She gave him a steady look. "Is the old fart not living?"
"No, he's on the back verandah, miss. Come, I will escort you." He looked her over. "If you have weapons, I should confiscate them."
"Not a chance. Daddy told me all about him." He nodded, looking sad about that. "I promise I won't blow him away unless he tries me." He nodded and led her through the house, hurrying along to whisper in his employer's ear before she appeared.
The old man looked at the young girl walking out the back door. "You look like your grandmother."
"I look more like my mother, Sylvia," she said calmly. "Father said I shouldn't be here, but I wanted to know if there was any chance of reconciliation. You're an old man now. Daddy was hoping you may have reconsidered your ban on him visiting his mother's grave."
"You are very strong, young lady," the old man said quietly.
"I am. I'm also Second to Lupin the Fourth." The man shuddered. "I'm also a marksman with multiple weapons, as are both my parents." She sat down across from him. "I don't care if you don't like daddy or me. I could care less if you hate both of us actually. But I will not allow you to hurt daddy ever again. If I have to, I'll take on the blood debt and settle it here and now." Her grandfather chuckled. "You'd be surprised at what I know, grandfather. I'm trained by daddy and Lavelle. I'm very good at what I do. I can take it on and resolve it tonight if I must. I can even keep the Goemons out of it."
"You run around with someone like them?" he sneered.
"Yes, I do. Ishi and Lotus are two of my best friends. I trained right beside them and Lupin the Fourth."
"Your father had you become weak, like him," he sneered.
"No, I'm a genius in electronics besides being a gunman." She smirked at him, watching as he turned pale. "Now, it's up to you. Has it been long enough and will you take the bounty off Daddy's head, or do I solve it for him? After all, a dead man can't pay bounties."
"You're ballsy for a girl, young lady."
She snorted. "You have no idea. Nor do you probably care to get to know me. Pity, but your loss. After all, why would you want to get to know the granddaughter who is top student at the Assassin's Academy? Or top marksman? Or even top in the planning, gadgets, and electronics areas?" She stood up. "This is up to you, grandfather. Father did not sanction this tete-a-tete. He didn't want me to ever come within breathing room of you so I wasn't polluted by your ways and methods. Now, do we solve this now or not?"
"Not," he said, pulling a gun. Unfortunately she was faster. She was also faster than three of the guards on the roof. Two of them grazed her but she got them before they did more than that. She took up a position by the doorway, getting the others as they came to help, then looked at the butler once no one else appeared. "Game, set, match. Melissa Jigen wins," she said coldly. "You can pass that around." She walked out, getting the girl who came out of a room with a long dagger or a really thick knitting needle. "I'm not here for you," she told her wounded body. She had aimed to wound this one for some reason. "Who are you?"
"Cool. I'm Melissa, one of Diasuke's twins." She nodded politely. "Let it be known, the blood debt is canceled. The person who set it is gone and daddy doesn't want his things. He can shit blood for the rest of his short life for all I care." She nodded quickly. "Good. Are we related?" The girl nodded again, pressing her lips together. "Fine." She grabbed a pen out of her pocket and wrote the house's secondary number on the girl's forearm. "Have someone take that down. It goes to Lupin the Third's house. Daddy's there. You don't have to tell him I did this, he'll throw a bloody fit, but..." She shot the person coming up behind her, then looked at the young woman again, "but you can tell him it's canceled and that he can come visit his mother's grave again, or even pick up a copy of a picture of her." She stood up. "Have a nice life, ma'am."
"I'm your aunt."
"Yay. And?" She shrugged. "Do I care?"
"This is yours by birthright."
"So's a manor house in England because of my mother. Neither one is something I want. Just see that daddy gets what he's due and wants." She walked out, getting into the car and slamming the door. "Whichever airport we're leaving from is a very good idea, before someone calls anyone who's not here," she ordered calmly. Vecchio continued to stare at her. "If I have to drive with two grazes, Mom's going to kill you sooner." He started the car with a cough and hurried on, taking her where she needed to go. "For the record, the blood debt is canceled. Dead men can't pay out debts. He drew on me first," she said quietly. "It was his own choice. He tried and he failed. But I do have a very nice aunt." She slumped down some, looking at her arm. "That's gonna be a pain to fix."
"What? Is it a deep wound?"
"No, it got my leather jacket," she said bitterly. "I hope Arsene knows someone to fix it."
"Are you okay, kid?"
"Uncle Ray, if I feel the need to cry about taking my first human life on purpose, I'll do it on Ishi. No offense, but you're still a cop. I know this." She got out when he stopped, walking over to an ATM to withdraw some cash, then disappeared. She realized she had left one of her guns in his car but she could get it back later if necessary. Mom had more of them. She got a cab and headed for the airport, weathering his odd looks back at her. "I'm a Jigen, buddy, just drive," she said finally. He nodded and sped up. Apparently he knew what was going on. She got onto the plane and took off her jacket, letting Lotus look at the grazes. "It's finished," she said quietly.
"I'm sorry it had to go that way," Ishi told her. "If you need to cry, I'm here." She nodded, sniffling a bit. "It's all right. It had to happen sometime." He held her while she cried, letting her calm herself. He glared at the stewardess. "Her grandfather just tried to kill her." The stewardess put up the stairs and hurried to get the pilot to start the plane. Apparently they didn't want to be involved.
"Want me to warn daddy?" Arsene asked seriously. "He wasn't looking too steady this morning."
"No, it'll be fine," Melissa said, pulling back to wipe off her cheeks. "I told my aunt to call him." She sat down, buckling up as they started to taxi. "Where's Brad?"
"His mother wanted to see him so he'll be rejoining us on the way back," Lotus told her. "Once we're in the air, I'll bandage those for you."
"You're welcome. Was it bad?"
"I left one of my guns in Uncle Ray's car," she admitted. "It's the one Mom gave me. We may have to steal it back."
"Again, something we can do on the way back or have Brad do for us," Ishi noted, smirking at her. "We'll call once we're on the ground."
"Sure, Ishi, thanks," Melissa sighed. "I think I'm gonna nap for a few."
"Of course." They watched as she fell asleep, then got together to plan how best to help her recover from this. Your first one was always harder.
Lupin wandered out of his bedroom and down to Jigen's room, tapping gently. "I seem to be the bearer of bad news today," he said dryly, making Jigen tense up where he was lying on his bed. "Melissa went to see her grandfather." Jigen let out a quiet swear. "He pulled a gun on her according to your sister. She walked out with a few small injuries." Jigen sat up, taking the message he had written down. "She said to call her."
"I'll be calling Melissa once she's on the ground," he vowed.
"That's okay, the next call I had was Vecchio. She left her auto in his car. She demanded that she was going so he went with her to make sure it didn't turn into a blood bath. He stayed in the car." Jigen shuddered. "He pulled on her first, Jigen. She wounded your sister on purpose and she left the butler alone. Unfortunately he had a heart attack soon afterwards so he died."
Jigen nodded, rereading the message. "Thank you, Lupin."
"Not an issue. If you want to go back, we'll go with you."
"No, it's something I have to do on my own." He looked up at him. "How was she that stupid?"
"She's fifteen, Jigen. She's idealistic and she wanted to help you out some. Even knowing what was going on wasn't enough to make her want to stop it. Vecchio and Kowalski both warned her to leave Chicago as soon as she could. She went there on purpose."
Jigen shook his head. "It was dumb."
"Yeah, but that's what kids do for each other," Xander said from behind Jigen. "Vecchio said he's sending me her gun. He said he would make them come get it but they might hurt someone. Melissa looked horrible. He said she said that they pulled on her first." Jigen nodded, staring at him. "We all had to go through it, Jigen, and it's not like she knew him."
"That's cold, Xander," Lupin complained.
"It's what he told me when I had my first on-purpose shooting." He looked at Jigen again. "She was trying to help you. Bitching her out will only make her start to cry again. Vecchio said she was holding it in as much as she could but she was leaking when she left the car to catch a cab. Plus, Brad's still in Chicago to talk to his mother."
Jigen nodded. "Thanks, Xander. It won't be much comfort to her."
"It wasn't to me either," Xander pointed out gently. "The same as you said it wasn't for you. If she changes her mind, I'll let her have the house in Mexico for her own."
"Thanks." He looked at him. "She okay?"
"She's fine. Ishi said she's napping. She cried on him and Lotus bandaged her two grazes. She said she gave your sister the number here."
Jigen nodded. "I understand. I'll call later. Can I be alone?" They nodded, leaving him alone to curse at his daughter. "She's not a fricken knight," he complained when he was done. "That was dangerous." He laid back down, staring at the note. His daughter was in for it when she got home. He heard movement in the hall and reached over to slam his door so he could be alone. He didn't want to deal with Goemon today. Xander had been right, she had to go through it sometime. Even if this was for a very bad reason.
Brad looked up as Vecchio walked into the restaurant, waving him to the table. "Thank you for agreeing to see me, Inspector."
"You can call me Ray, Brad," he said quietly, glancing around. "What's wrong."
Brad took a deep breath. "You know I'm an assassin candidate, right?" he asked, looking in Ray's eyes. He saw the swallow and shook his head. "My final project is Melissa and Arsene. My teacher hates them. I can't do it," he admitted honestly. "That means my teacher will either try to kill me or I'll be expelled."
"And you wanted what? Protection? We can do that," Ray agreed quickly. This was a bad spot for anybody to be in, but a kid? "If I can get Stan to go back there to get the teacher, if you'll give evidence, will you?"
Brad shuddered. "It won't work, he'll be shot on sight." He sipped his beer. "Before you ask, I need it."
"I understand, Brad. I'd want a few good shots myself," Ray promised. "What do you want? Advice?"
"No. I want options," he admitted. "I know I can't, Ray. I'd rather die than hurt her. But I don't want to die."
Ray nodded slowly. "Okay. Then we can still take you in. If you can talk to the Headmistress and get her to graduate you anyway, I can get you into the ICPO academy with the girls." Brad nodded slowly, staring at him again. "Have you told her?"
"No. I was going to head back tonight and talk to Jigen. He seems like he knows the score. He is a gunman. I'm sure someone's tried this shit on him before." Ray nodded, that was probably true. "Did she really cancel the blood debt?"
"She killed her grandfather and most of his staff. She left her aunt and the butler, but he died later on. She did it in self-defense."
"See, I always thought she was the target sort. That she'd never be able to be so cold and efficient about it." He took another drink. "She's sweet, Ray. She's very sweet and nice. I love her. I'd love to have her forever."
"Hey, if you can convince her to come over to our side, we'd do the dance of joy," Ray promised lightly, smirking at him. "But I doubt it, kid."
"Yeah, me too. She'd never leave the group. She and Arsene are so tight they're nearly telepathic sometimes. Ishi too." He gulped the rest of it and stood up. "Let me talk to Jigen. Are you headed home?" He nodded. "Then you may be seeing me in a few days. My mother knows and she said I couldn't. She likes Melissa too," he sighed, walking off. He found a cab easily enough, heading out to the airport and back to France. He knew the way back to the house, he had memorized it on the way to the airport. So it was easy enough to rent a car and headed back. He pulled up outside the house, noticing how quiet it was. He got out and walked inside, heading right to the kitchen. Someone was usually in there. It probably wasn't mannerly but it was too important. He found the housekeeper and Fred. "Fred, can you please tell Jigen I need to talk to him very badly?" he asked gently, managing a small smile for the young boy. He nodded and slid down, taking his sandwich with him. "Where would be a good place for a private conversation?" he asked the nice older lady who liked to make Melissa eat cookies.
"The back porch. There's a green table with an umbrella. He likes to smoke out there."
"Thank you, ma'am." He walked that way, sitting down to wait. Jigen came out a few minutes later alone and Brad pushed out a chair. "You'll want to sit down."
"You got one of the kids as a target?" he asked, not moving further.
Brad nodded. "Arsene and Melissa both. And I'm not doing it. I can't, sir." Jigen sat down, looking at him. "I absolutely know I can't. Putting myself against your kids, I know I can't do this. I had a bout of conscience last year when I had to pull a target. I did it but I had nightmares for a few weeks. I know damn well I can't do this one and especially not to them." He cleared his throat. "I've talked to Ray since he pretended to be my father for a while and he offered to send me to the ICPO academy if I can get a certificate of graduation."
Jigen nodded slowly. "At least you're honest. How long have you had this one?"
"Two weeks. I've been thinking the whole time. Earlier today, your daughter did something I know I can't. I'd never be able to walk into that sort of situation and come out alive and unmessed from wetting myself," he said with a wry grin down at his lap. "I feel like I should be doing that right now."
"Don't do that on the porch, kid," Xander said as he came out to join them. "Before you ask, I heard from another candidate who I'm on the board for." Jigen looked at him. "I also knew he couldn't and I've warned the girls to be careful since I know he's not the only one who got it. I leveled with Melissa. They're planning on taking out the teacher when they get back." He looked at the boy. "What do you want, Brad?"
"I want to not be an assassin," he said honestly, looking up at him. "I can't do what you do. I'd be dead within a few years by my own hand."
"Can you stand to do the same thing for the cops?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "I know I can trust Ray. I did even when I realized he wasn't my father. If that makes sense."
"It does. I've always gotten that feeling from Ray." Xander patted him on the back. "Let me call the Headmistress on your behalf to get your certificate. You will be telling Melissa the truth about why you're breaking up." He nodded. "Good boy, Brad. I expect you to be a great cop, the sort that we protect. Got it?" He nodded, giving him a weak smile. "Let me go call." He left them alone.
Jigen looked at the boy. "Is that really your choice, kid? There's going to be some who'll try for you because you turned."
"Yeah, but they're thieves and gunman as well. I'd be better protected there. I'd be stopping assholes like my real father. I can be a cop, sir. I may not be able to be a SWAT member, but I can be a cop," he said with a touch of humor. "I swear to you, I won't tell them anything about this house or this family. I'd never do that to Melissa, sir. And if she still wants me knowing this, I'll gladly keep her. I love her more than anything. That's why I can't."
Jigen patted him on the arm. "I believe you, kid. She will to. I agree, you're going to be the one to tell her. Not me, I don't need to be cried on."
"Yes, sir. Should I fly to Mexico?"
"No, wait here for her. It'll be fine," Lupin called from the kitchen. "They're coming back tomorrow morning."
"Thanks, Lupin," Jigen called. He looked at Brad. "Try to break it to her easy, kid."
"Sir, if I may ask, if she allows me, can I kiss her?"
"If she allows it. It'd better be all you do though," he said, staring him down. The boy blushed. "I understand. I leave that up to her good sense in this case. This is extraordinary circumstances." He got up, heading back inside. "You can have the room you had before."
"Thank you, sir." He let out a breath, then got up to head to the nearest bathroom. He had thought for sure Lavelle was going to cap him when he appeared. He was fierce in the protection of his children, everyone knew that.
Four days later, Melissa came home. She and Brad had went away from the house to talk, she had requested it because her family was nosy, her words, and she knew that her innocence was over with but she didn't care. She looked up at the cleared throat, finding her crew on the stairs waiting for her. "We cap that teacher when?" she asked calmly.
"Two days after we get back. The plan's already in motion," Arsene assured her. "Your plan is flawless as always, 'Lis."
Ishi coughed. "Your father wanted to talk to you about what happened in Chicago and Mom has your pistol," he admitted. "Vecchio sent it to him."
"Thanks. I handed Brad into his care about an hour ago and he said he did." She headed for the study, that's where all serious discussions happened. She found her uncle in there waiting on her. "Uncle Lupin, where's daddy?"
"He's letting me handle this one," he admitted. "Come in and close the door, Melissa." She did so, standing in front of his desk. "He was very disappointed that you broke orders to go see the old man. He didn't want you involved in that mess."
"Unfortunately I was born, I was involved already," she reasoned. "The next generation had already been told about it and ordered to carry it on. I checked with some locals out there before I went there."
He sat up, staring at her. "Even with that, it was dangerous, foolish, and stupid." She flinched. "He wants to bitch you out, that's why he's letting me. I know you felt you had to, but there's every chance you could have died. Those two grazes you got could have easily been fatal. Both of them." She nodded quickly, staring over his shoulder. "He doesn't hate you, Melissa, he just wishes you hadn't had to do that and that you showed some of those brains of yours in common sense. That's something for the whole family to take care of, not just a lone Jigen gunman. You're great, but you're still mortal and you don't want your father to bury you. I know you were suppressing that," he said when she started to sniffle, "but that's all he could think about it when I told him." She nodded, starting to cry for real. "C'mere," he said gently, opening his arms. She came around and cuddled on his lap. "Next time, warn us and we'll go with you, sweetheart. This isn't a job for a single Jigen. This is a job for all the Jigens and all the Lupins and all the Goemons. He still didn't want you to have to see that part of the life though."
"I'm sorry, Uncle Lupin, but I felt I had to. It wouldn't be finished until a real Jigen stopped it. It was going to keep going and if I had kids, it'd be over their heads too." She wiped off her face. "I'm sorry I worried him."
"That's fine." He pointed at where Jigen was sitting in the corner, letting her head over to hug him. He opened his arms without saying a word, letting her curl up on him. "I do believe we should celebrate this, but it might be seen to be in bad taste," he offered.
"Celebrate the fact that I finally got the Fiat done, Uncle Lupin," she said quietly. "Not this." She looked up at her father. "You knew?"
"I got told by your aunt," he admitted. "Then I talked to Brad." She blushed. "I leave that up to your good sense, daughter. This isn't a normal circumstance." She nodded. "Are you okay?"
"Just fine, daddy. Brad and I had a long discussion and worked everything out between us. I agree, he's doing the wise and right thing by going to Uncle Ray." She hugged him again. "I'm sorry, daddy, I couldn't."
"Shh, princess. I understand. That's one of those things I'll forgive. But not again until you're old enough, okay?" She nodded, sniffling again. "Now, clean up and we'll order dinner tonight." She nodded, grabbing some tissues to blow her nose and wipe her eyes.
"Are you okay?" Lupin asked gently. She nodded. "Good girl, 'Lis. I knew you'd be a great asset to the field when you were old enough. I just wish you had been older." He got up and got his own hug. "Okay, enough of this. Let's go order dinner. Fred wanted Cantonese if you wanted to vote with him. He's threatening to pout otherwise." He grinned at her. "Your choice of course."
She nodded. "I like Cantonese and you can't get good food from other countries in Italy. I haven't had stir fry since we got there. All we ever eat is Italian," she complained, making her father chuckle and give her a squeeze. "I'm not in trouble?"
"Not yet," he admitted. "C'mon, let's go humor the tit monster."
"He was cuddled up to Lotus and Arsene but he didn't even try to hug me," she admitted, walking out with them. "Hi, Fred. Did you want to share some Beef with me tonight?"
He nodded, sucking on his thumb. "You not cuddly now," he said sadly.
"Huh?" Ishi asked.
"I'll be damned," Arsene said in awe. "Really?"
"Huh?" Melissa echoed.
Lupin the Third coughed. "Some of us can tell Virgins. They seem sweeter to us, like a really good piece of chocolate from Geneva against something from Hershey." He shrugged. "Sorry."
"That's okay. It was extreme circumstances." She looked at Arsene. "Brad was one of those given the job to kill us. He's going to join Vecchio."
Arsene whistled. "Well," she said fondly, smirking at her. "Okay then. Another very good reason the teacher shall suffer my mighty wrath. By the way, Mom looked at the plans and tweaked one thing slightly. Which will cause embarrassment."
"That's fine. I bow down to mom's expertise," she agreed calmly. "We're having Cantonese tonight." Everyone shrugged, that was fine with them too apparently.
"And then we're going to be answering embarrassing questions like 'where's your patch'?" Xander said from the top of the stairs. Melissa immediately pulled up her shirt to show it off. "Good girl. That's fine. I will agree to that sideswipe of the rules since this was so serious. That doesn't not mean the rest of you can, Arsene."
"Thank you. Someone order dinner, I'm starved. Alan sent me nerds and asked me to look over his idea."
Lupin nodded, going to do that from the office. "The usual, Xander?"
Lupin paused and winced, then grabbed his back suddenly. "Ow." He looked at his hands and the wrinkles, then at Jigen and Xander, who were their correct ages as well. All the kids were staring in shock. "Can we kill the statue?"
"Very easily," Xander agreed, wincing as he went back up the stairs to talk to him. "You mother fucking asshole!" floated down the stairs, and that was the mildest rendition of the speech before dinner.
Lupin looked at his body that night, noticing it was slightly younger again. He looked forty instead of his actual sixty. "Gee, thanks," he said bitterly.
Xander walked in, still looking his actual age. "I feel like hell."
"Yeah, I'm guessing he's still punishing you," Lupin soothed, helping him into his tub. His tub had water warmers that kept the water a set temperature. He also had the whirlpool attachment that would help some of the aches. "Want me to talk to him?"
"No, leave the asshole alone," Xander said tiredly. "I don't care. I was ready to retire before, I'm still ready to retire. This last sale was just another push in the correct direction." Lupin nodded but didn't say anything so Xander leaned back and closed his eyes. He didn't want to look at his body. His illusion choker wasn't working anymore either.
"I'll get you something to drink, Xander. You rest," Lupin said quietly. He left, closing the bathroom door and the bedroom door so he could go into Xander's bedroom. He found his daughter in there arguing with the statue. "Leave him alone, Arsene." She nodded, leaving them alone. "Why are you punishing him for choosing to be happy?"
"Because we will lose him sooner."
"We're all going to be losing him immediately now," Lupin told them. They both glared at him. "He aches, guys. This was what was driving the retirement feelings before. He was going to go then, he will go now. That sale this morning was just enough push to let him live comfortably without having to sell anything else." They shook their heads. "Yeah, it was. Read him if you don't believe me. By the way, making him look at his tattoos and making everyone able to see them was very unkind. You know how much he hates to see those things."
"Fine, we will read him and grant him the boon to have his necklace working again," the frowning face said.
"Thank you. That's all I ask. Remember, the future changes with each decision." He got up and went down to get Xander a drink. On the way his female form sprouted so he groaned but he wasn't going to argue with the God about this. If Janus wanted to torture them for sticking up for Xander, he had that right. They could pray to the others to get some help hopefully, but it may not work. He found his daughter in the kitchen. "Arsene, can you have Melissa look up how to pray properly to Hermes and what we'd need? I want a second opinion now."
"Sure, dad. I'll also look up the one to pray to Loki."
"Thanks, sweetheart." He grabbed some juice and headed back up the stairs, going to give it to Xander. He found him unconscious in the tub but that was normal for Janus apparently. He sat there to watch him, resisting the urge to play with the nice tits he had. He liked breasts as much as his son did.
Xander looked around the temple and sneered at the person on the throne. "Yes? You wanted to fuck up my life worse?" he asked the single headed deity up there.
"No, Xander, I want to help you," he said calmly.
Xander frowned, noticing that the guy reminded him a lot of Alan. "Are you looking like my boyfriend to make me feel better?"
"Something like that," he agreed smugly. He looked over as the doors burst open and Janus walked in with a man behind him. "You fucked up, he's mine now," he said smugly. "I can grant you your youth again," he said calmly. "Put your body back where it was when it was eighteen. I can keep you out of those stupid chokers. All you have to do is include me with him, Xander."
"He is mine!" Janus shouted. "You have no right!"
"I have every right," the other god sneered. "You passed him on. The rules set down about him state that he is now open to finding another personal deity. Therefore I'm offering my services." He smiled at Xander. "Personally, I like you with Alan and I liked you with the thieves, so whatever you want to do is good with me, Xander. I just like watching you work them to death in bed."
"Are you a love god?"
"No, honey, I'm a God of Chaos," he said with a smarmy grin.
"Okay, so that's why the grin reminds me of a car salesman. Got it." He looked at Janus. "You did that to me a lot when we first hooked up too. He's right. I'm not gonna be yours if you do this to me. I ache enough to want to kill my ass right now. What makes you think I want that?" Janus grabbed his head and screamed, making Xander chuckle. "Payback's a bitch. I'll tell Arsene that you have those too. It'll make both of ours more pleasurable in the future."
The other god coughed. "That's one thing I can't grant you."
"No, the visions, boy. I can't do that."
"That's fine. I hate them," Xander agreed happily. "The splitting headaches aren't going to come, that makes me one happy prince of hell."
Janus moved closer and grabbed him, staring into his eyes. "Fine, the paths have changed without us noticing. You may be happy for the next ten or twelve years. The other problem will come to pass however. People will still go for Alan. Lupin and Jigen will still be yours, all you have to do is ask. I doubt Alan will be staying once he hears about the latest problems." He let Xander go and fixed him, making him his twenty-year-old self again. "There. Better?"
"Did you fix Lupin and Jigen?"
"There is a prophecy about that," he said coolly.
"Fine. Which book?"
"Ethan has it."
"Fine. Are we stuck in the house still?" Janus shook his head. "And you're going to quit plaguing me?" Janus nodded so he looked at the other God. "You can jump in. I'm still pissed.
The other God pouted at him. "Just add me now and then, we'll make some beneficial dreams when you need me. I look over your children, especially Alex, Xander. Be at ease, she will not come to your end. She'll happily be a grandmother before she dies." Xander smiled at that. "Also, she'll bear a slayer some year, long before she is ready. That is what will draw her into the fights." Xander raised an eyebrow. "Yes, very young but it will not be something you can do anything about. If you have her marry the person who is the father it will drive her to death faster. Remember that." Xander nodded. "Now then, call on me and I'll gladly come help you woo Alan down from his latest pout since you haven't answered him yet. Oh, and his idea, take it to that guy. He'll love it," he said with a wink. "Now, out!" He flicked a hand and sent Xander back to his body and sent Janus back to his resting spot. "Ahhh, a nice bit of work while I'm retired. Maybe I should go blow some pot smoke at that stupid dragon again." He got up to do that, popping off with an insane smirk on his face.
Xander woke up thrashing, feeling a hand on him. He looked at Lupin, who was looking younger, and hugged him. "We're free," he said happily.
"We are?" Xander nodded so Lupin stood up, looking at himself in the mirror. "Hot damn, I'm pretty," he said happily. He looked Xander over. "And look at you, studly," he said with a smirk.
"I'm still not breaking you in," Xander said happily, heading out to talk to Jigen, who had drunk himself to sleep again. He tapped gently, then pounced him, grinning down at him. "Hi. Look in the mirror," he said when Jigen opened his eyes enough to scowl.
Jigen got free and looked at himself, then nodded. "Good. Finally." He looked at Xander. "I take it you're feeling better?"
"Much. Without the torture my knees underwent in hell, they'll last at least another thirty years."
"Good. You're getting water all over my bed, Xander."
"Go sleep in my room, I'll sleep on a couch," he offered with a bright grin. "We're also free of the house."
"Hell yeah," Jigen agreed happily. He picked up a cigarette and lit it, inhaling deeply. "Ahhhh. Go get dressed. We'll go do something to celebrate." Lupin let out a moan so they both chuckled. "Hey, Lupin, we're going out for a drink. Wanna come?"
"Sure. Let me change," she called, coming out of her bedroom. She had on her favorite dress and heels. "How do I look?"
"Pretty enough," Jigen agreed, putting on a suit and tie, while Xander went to put on some jeans and a t-shirt, all of which showed off his muscles impressively. Jigen came in to get him and noticed a new candle set up on the altar. "Who's that for?"
"The nice guy who just bargained with me and broke Janus into seeing the real paths ahead," he said happily. "He kinda looked like Alan and said he wants to see me shag him into the mattress." He grabbed his keys. "Where are we heading and are we taking Goemon?"
"Goemon, we're going to a club to get a drink," Lupin called. "Wanna come?"
"Fine. We'll be back by dawn," Jigen called, heading out with Xander. Xander grabbed his bike and took off while he got Lupin into the roadster and got in to drive. He winked at her. "Feel better?"
"Hell no. I hate having internal organs. I'd rather have the tits and my dick, but I'm not going to be picky."
"Sure, Lupin," Jigen said patiently, taking off down the driveway. Sometimes you just had to humor a Lupin. They finally caught up with Xander and passed him so Xander laughed and passed them and sped up, heading for the nearest small club that they liked to unwind at. No one there cared who they were. By the time they got there, Xander was in the middle of the dance floor surrounded by girls and the music was nearly blaring tonight. Jigen helped Lupin out and inside, going to join the dancing. They were young. So when Lupin got cut off from him by another guy he just shrugged it off and went to get a drink. Lupin would be coming back soon enough.
Between songs, Xander called Alan. "I'm at a club teasing the women. I'm free, Janus has seen reason and I'm free. When's your next weekend free?" he asked smoothly, laughing at the answer. "No, I didn't have the chance. I ended up feeling old earlier tonight and unable to move. Sure, of course I will. When's your next weekend free?" He smirked. "Fine with me, love. I'll see you down there. Huh?" he asked, he had been about to hang up. "Sure, I don't care if you don't. Why?" He snickered. "I promise, it won't save you if I sleep with a girl tonight. I'm saving my true skills for you, babe." He smirked. "Later, love. Be ready for me." He hung up and went back to tease the women. Since he had permission and all.....
Lupin came to the bar from the floor, grimacing. "Men are pigs to a pretty girl."
"Tell me about it," Jigen complained, handing over his drink. "Here, have one. You look unhappy."
"I'm not, but I wanted someone who had some finesse to grab my boobs." He gulped it. "Think we can beg and plead Alan to borrow Xander?"
"Sure, why not?" Jigen said dryly. "He'll probably not kill us for that."
"Eh, I'll call him later," Lupin said with a happy smirk. "Come on, Jigen. If I get to be sweaty, so do you." He looked around. "Where's Xander?"
"The back room I think," the bartender said, handing over a card. "Someone left this if you ever came back in here with him, Jigen." Jigen took it with a nod. "Have a happy night, guys."
"Thanks, man," Jigen agreed, leading Lupin out onto the floor. He looked at the card and winced. "A succubus."
"Charming." Lupin snatched it then followed the crowd back to the back room, going to beat the demonic whore off their Xander. "Ours, dear." The demon hissed at them. "Xander, that's a succubus, you know that right?" Lupin asked.
"Yeah, kinda nice. She's sucking down some of the excess energy so I don't kill someone tonight." He smirked at her. "Nearly done?" She pouted so he patted her on the side of the face and moved his collar, making her stomp off. "Okay. I'm having fun now." He smirked at them. "We should go somewhere to have real fun."
"No, I don't need more guys groping me," Lupin said dryly.
"So try the second catch, does it work?" Xander asked patiently. Lupin tried it and shook his head. "Damn, it should. Ethan said it should when I called him on the way up. He's forwarding the prophecy by the way." He got up with Jigen's help. "C'mon, let's go have fun and dance some more. Alan suggested I wear myself out tonight so I don't kill him this weekend."
"Can we borrow you then?" Lupin asked hopefully. Xander gave him an odd look. "Please? Who else knows my body like you, Xander?"
"Call him and ask. I refuse to touch you unless he's either watching or has approved of it."
Lupin nodded. "I agree totally and if he wants to come watch, we can do that," she promised, calling Alan's cellphone. It was right after his daughters in his phonebook. "Hey, Alan, it's Lupin. Yeah, the choker got me again. I was wondering....can we beg and borrow Xander? No, but who else knows us and Jigen did the same thing for him when he was first in the choker. Please?" he pleaded. "Pretty please. Xander said he wouldn't unless you had at least agreed and possibly only if you were watching." He smirked. "Thanks, man, you're a peach. No, I don't think you'd want to watch him have het sex, Alan. No, we'll tape it but you won't have to watch it unless you want. Thieve's honor, man. Bless you, Alan." He hung up. "We're on. He agreed."
"Fine," Jigen agreed, following him out to the dance floor to steal their Xander back. "Alan agreed. We've got to tape it just in case."
"Sure," Xander agreed, shrugging. "I'm good for that. Here and now?"
"No, how about at home after the kids leave?" Lupin suggested, moving against his chest. "Please? Make it sweet and special?"
"Sure, babe." He kissed her, making her moan, then kissed Jigen, making him go weak kneed. "Be good. We'll talk about this when we get home." They nodded and started to dance, Jigen given up after a few minutes to go back to the bar. But Lupin was having fun and it was going to last until they kicked them out.
Xander looked around the room, smiling at the candles set up. This was much better than his in the hotel. He looked at Lupin, who was coming out of the bathroom. "You're sure? You sure you want me to do this for you?"
"Yeah, only you can find those spots on me," she agreed, dropping her towel. "Thankfully the daughter left earlier today. Otherwise I'd never hear the end of it." She laid down on the bed and gave him a grin. "Come on, Xander. You're procrastinating. I know you've popped plenty of cherries."
"Yeah, but they were usually male ones," he said as he laid down next to her, kissing her gently. She moaned and stroked across his chest. "Naughty you, you did some preparation work, didn't you?" he taunted.
"Hell yes. That shower was just right to play with my nipples." She stroked them so he kissed them for her, making her arch up into his mouth when he sucked one hard. "Xander!"
Jigen opened the door. "Stop, now!" he yelled. He walked in and drug Xander off the bed. "No!"
"Jigen, you had better have a damn good explanation," Lupin growled.
"How about you having a warrior for chaos? Is that good enough?" Jigen asked dryly, holding up the book. "The prophecy. Marc just brought it."
"Yeah, you, Lupin." He handed over the book, settling Xander into his lap so he could read it too. "Whichever of us has him will get knocked up."
"No, uh-huh, the family is big enough," Lupin decided, struggling to get the choker off.
Xander's voice came out in a different timber of chuckle. "How very cute, mortals disagreeing with the hand of fate."
"Hmm, and not Janus this time either," Lupin said dryly, getting to her knees. "Get it off me. Now."
"Why should I? I could use a strong warrior."
"You've got plenty. Besides, our kids will only be thieves, with two exceptions. Thanks for playing, now go away and let us go."
"If I do, he will never touch you again. If you ever put it on, I will know and ...." She shrieked and grabbed the head she was in. "Nooooooo!"
Xander cleared his throat, sounding like Janus again. "She's sorry she did that. We do not need more children from your line, although Goemon will have one more in his old age somehow." He reached up and undid Jigen's collar. "I will give this family the same boon so that I do not lose Xander. She and the others are presently wanting him very badly. They will mess up my plans for him and the children. I would hate that more." He undid Lupin's collar, handing it to him. "One of them must go to Alex when she is old enough. One of them will stay in the rest of the family. It is now without the fertility charm she laid on it. Do not use it again tonight, he'll have a headache." Xander went limp in Jigen's arms.
"Well, there goes my plans for the night," Lupin sighed, getting up to blow out the candles. "Why us?"
"Because they really like Xander."
"A lot of people really like Xander," Lupin said dryly. "Including us."
"Yeah, but we've only got one person to steal him from, Lupin. We can do that. We're the world's best thieves."
"Yeah, we are, aren't we?" he agreed happily. "Thanks, buddy." They tucked Xander into the bed between them, getting in to keep him warm and comfy. After all, Xander's were very cuddly beasts in the middle of the night and it was enough for now.
To Part 52