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Author's Note: For Missy.
Fox Xanatos—nee Janine Renard—was doing her level best not to laugh. An actress by trade, this should not have been difficult. And as a former cut-throat mercenary who had seen more wars and arms deals than your standard Black Ops operative, she had perfected her stone face long ago.
But there is little a mother can do, when faced with the chocolate-smudged and cookie-dough adorned faces of her soon-to-be eight son and his much-too-old-for-such shenanigans father.
"He started it," they said simultaneously.
"You—bath. Now." She pointed, and Alex cast his eyes downward, tracing circles on the stone floor of the hallway outside the banquet hall with the toe of one tennis shoe. "After you're cleaned up, I want to see books on the table and homework done and checked. No TV, no 'net, no nothing until then."
"He really did start it," he muttered as he shuffled off to his rooms.
"And you." She waggled her finger at David, who merely raised a brow. "Don't give me that look."
"What look?" the head of Xanatos Enterprises asked, the very picture of innocence as he brushed the lapels of his Armani suit jacket, unconcerned that he was merely smearing sugar, butter, eggs and chocolate further into the finely woven wool.
"The 'whatever do you mean, officer? I wasn't aware carrying a concealed laser cannon was a crime if one had the proper permits?' look." She crossed her arms, tapping one foot and trying to remember the look her mother used to wear back when she was the one caught with her hand in the cookie jar—or in this case, caught having a cookie dough fight in a kitchen the size of Atlanta.
"When did my beautiful wife become so very dour?"
"I'm not dour."
"You could give Owen a run for his money, right about now."
"In case you haven't noticed, Owen hasn't been technically 'dour' since 1998 or so," she said, raising her own brow.
It was true. Since settling down and starting a family of his own, Xanatos' major-domo had become decidedly less stiff and starched. He'd even purchased a pair of blue jeans, a sign David had declared was obviously a portent of the coming apocalypse. Fox had merely pointed out that it didn't count quite as much since she was fairly certain he ironed his jeans.
"Time was, you would have been right in the thick of it with him," he pointed out, and the fact that that was the truth did little to mollify her.
"Alex has already been thrown out of three different prep schools—"
"You can't blame Exeter on Alex. It's not his fault Latin class turned out to be so... dangerous. If anything, Owen should really—"
"—and the last thing we need is for his own father to be encouraging his participation in food fights. David, we're running out of options on the East Coast. Viable options. It's not like we can send him to PS 199—"
"There's home schooling," he suggested, and not for the first time.
"He needs to be around kids his own age! Human kids his own age," she appended. The Eerie building had a disconcerting number of flying children. There was also a disturbing tendency for green fireballs—mostly harmless shows of lights, occasionally hot enough to leave smudges on the thousand-year-old plus stone walls.
She'd sat down and had a talk with her mother, who had suggested that the best way to teach Alex control would be to put him in situations where he was forced to use it. And that meant separating him from his "cousins", who only egged him on. Which was why they'd decided to enroll him in the Montessori school on the upper west side.
It had gone well at first. Owen—in both guises—had counselled the boy about the importance of not showing off, or making magical mischief in class, and Alex had been very attentive. He'd made friends, attended social gatherings, birthday parties, dance recitals and the like. Fox and David had just gotten into the swing of being the parents of a school-age child, endowing the school with a handsome grant, participating in fund raising events and Fox had almost even joined the PTA when an unfortunate incident involving the school play and real live dancing penguins necessitated pulling the boy out mid-semester.
They'd given Rogers Magnet in Stamford a try and it had worked, until Alexander decided the hour drive to and from was too boring and had teleported one too many times—once in front of an elderly art teacher who damn near had a heart attack.
Exeter—an exclusive boarding school that catered to the wealthy and elite which also took local day students—had been their last best hope. Until the Stumpy The Clown incident.
At this rate, Fox was starting to admit that perhaps PS-199 wasn't such an outside possibility after all.
"It's just cookie-dough. You're losing your touch, my dear. I can tell you're just playing with me. If you were really angry, you would have taken his X-Box before sentencing him to exile in his wing of the castle."
"Dammit. I knew I forgot something." She scowled in the direction of the children's rooms. "Well... I suppose it could have been worse. At least Broadway put the raw eggs back in the fridge before either of you got any bright ideas. Did you even bake any?"
"I think we got at least two dozen, before the border skirmish. He was eyeing my stack, you see," David said, a twinkle in his dark eyes. "A boy needs to learn that he really shouldn't start embezzling from dear old dad until he's at least old enough to follow through and clean the old bastard out."
"You're not old," she said with a chuckle. "Losing the pony-tail makes you look ten years younger."
"It was going grey. Besides, it was so very late 20th century. This," he ran his fingers through the silvering hair, "Makes me look like my father," David said with a laugh.
He had quite distinguished grey coming in, each and every one of which he attributed to his only son's exploits thus far. But the truth was, she'd never seen anyone so taken with his child as David was with Alex. He spoiled the boy rotten, giving him everything he'd never had as a boy growing up the son of poor Greek immigrant fishermen in Maine. As a result, over the years she'd most often gotten stuck with having to play the bad guy.
She swiped a chunk of dough off his lapel and after inspecting it, licked her finger clean. "Chocolate chip and walnut?"
"Broadway threw in some dried cherries, too." He took her hand, and gently sucked on the finger she had placed in her mouth. She shivered, and he glanced over her shoulder in the direction of Alex's room.
"How long do you think we have?"
"As you said he's still got the X-Box. David!" She suppressed a squeal as he bent down and suddenly threw her over his shoulder. "My skirt!"
"It's only cookie dough," he said as he headed towards their suite, nodding to Owen as they passed him in the hall. He merely raised one pale brow, and continued towards the main elevator bank.
"It's been a very long time since I ravished my ravishingly beautiful wife," he said as he dropped her down on their bed. She kicked off her shoes, and began unbuttoning his jacket.
"Between your board meetings..." she said, pushing the jacket off his broad shoulders so that it landed in a puddle of charcoal grey wool on the floor at the foot of the bed.
"And your board meetings..." he continued, referring to her role as Cyberbiotics Chairman.
"It's a wonder we see each other at all," she finished, pulling him down for a long, wet, hungry kiss. His pushed her poor abused skirt higher, his hand sliding up one silk-clad thigh teasingly. She rolled them over onto their side, reaching behind her with one hand to get at the zipper while he concentrated on the buttons of her blouse.
"No cookie dough in the bed," she said between kisses.
"Not looking forward to waking up with dried dough in my hair. Besides, when was the last time..." she slipped her hand inside his shirt and ran her nails across his chest. Not quite hard enough to leave scratches. But close. "...we took a shower together?"
His grin was wolfish. "I've always admired the way you think."
"I thought you might," she said, over her shoulder as she padded barefoot to the master bath.
David was pretty sure that the designer who'd custom made the $3000 suit he'd just left in a pile on the floor of his bedroom would be screaming obscenities in Italian at the rough treatment of one of his masterpieces.
But when a beautiful woman was waiting for you to join her in a walk-in shower, you didn't think about creasing the fabric. And when the woman in question had toppled governments, run a successful media empire, and given you the adorable if precocious son you couldn't imagine your life without?
You certainly didn't spare the suit a second thought.
He could just make out Fox's silhouette through the thick glass as he tugged off his socks and laid his watch on the marble counter. Steam billowed as he opened the glass door to the shower, and he grinned as he stepped into the almost scalding jets of water.
"Now, isn't this better?" Fox asked as she slid her arms around his waist.
"Much," he replied before bending his head to hers. Without breaking the kiss, he lifted her off the floor, and pressed her up against the heated tile wall of the shower. She threaded her fingers in his wet hair as her mouth opened beneath his. She bit down gently on his bottom lip as he reached between them to run his hand slowly down her still-flat stomach. She gasped into his mouth when his long fingers brushed the crisp red curls and dipped between them.
She closed her eyes, lips parted as he stroked her. He loved watching her face when he did this, cheeks and neck flushed with desire as she gave herself completely over to pleasure. Fox had always been something of a hedonist and nine years of marriage had done nothing to diminish her appetites. He remembered fleetingly and with no small amount of amusement the first time they'd showered together, three days after they'd met, two days after they'd first made love, in the same house where her father still lived. The potential for being caught by Halcyon—who had despised David from the moment they'd met—had only increased her ardour. She'd bitten his shoulder hard enough to draw blood when she'd come. He'd barely noticed at the time, but for a week afterwards had greeted the red half-circle where his neck met his shoulder each morning with a rueful grin.
What had began as a way for two rebellious souls to pass the time in such a way as to make her father—and his enemy—insane with fury, had blossomed into the kind of love David had never imagined. Not even the day he'd asked her to marry him, and given her a precious relic of a lost world that had almost destroyed them both.
Her barely controlled cries echoing off the marble walls as she came brought David back to the present with a rush. He swallowed her moans with a kiss as shudders wracked her lithe frame, and when she opened her eyes, her pupils were so dilated only a halo of green remained. For a man who once swore that only power could bring him satisfaction, he derived a much stronger thrill from knowing that he had brought her to such a state.
She laughed low in her throat as she shook her wet hair out of her eyes and gripped his shoulders for balance.
"My turn," she said, a wicked gleam in her eye. And he shrugged.
"Well, if you insist."
He'd been hard pretty much from the moment he'd slung her over his shoulder and made off with her to their chambers. But if he hadn't been, he would have been at the merest glimpse of the hunger in her eyes as she knelt before him, reaching up to caress him lovingly. He braced himself against the walls of the shower as she ran her fingers lovingly down his length. He almost cracked his head on the wall of the shower when she took his head into her mouth, swirling her tongue around it, just as she wrapped her fingers around the base. Her movements were practised, deliberate, and still never failed to make him thank his lucky stars he'd married such an incredible, sexy, goddess of a woman. But then, he was fairly sure she could do things with her eyes that the most expensive, exotic, skilled concubines in the world couldn't manage using all their wiles. He'd sampled a few of them, in his wild youth. So he actually had a basis for comparison. They really had broken the mould when they made Janine Reynard, and he thanked his lucky stars for that every damned day.
Knowing he was close to losing it completely, he growled her name and pulled her gently to her feet. Lifting her effortlessly, he drove deep inside her. She wrapped her legs around his waist, meeting his powerful thrusts until he came with a low moan, his face buried in her neck.
"Alex will be waiting for us," Fox reminded him as he began kissing her neck.
"Alex can wait."
Alexander Fox Xanatos sat at the dining room table, his history book open before him. In theory, he was supposed to be reading the chapter on the founding of the Roman Empire, and answering the dozen questions at the end of the chapter. In practice, he was reading the latest issue of Daredevil which rested in his lap beneath the table. When he heard footsteps on the stone floor, he muttered "Opusculus recedo," and the comic vanished in a green flash. Guiltily, he looked up to see if he'd been caught.
"How's that homework coming, Alex?" his father asked as he entered, dressed in slacks and a turtleneck, his hair still damp.
"Dad, were Romulus and Remus Children?"
"I'm sure at once point. Sometime between being born, and shaving for the first time."
"I mean—were they, you know. From Avalon. I mean, according to the book, they were the twin sons of the God of War, but Uncle Owen said that all of the old gods, well, most of the old gods—"
"Alex? Whatever the book says, that's what you write in your homework."
"But dad, if the book is wrong—"
"Lots of books are wrong," his mother said from behind him, and he twisted in his chair. "And speaking of books, I seriously doubt that your history teacher is waiting for you to recount the latest adventures of Matt Murdock in Hell's Kitchen."
She raised one strawberry-blonde brow, and he flushed. Busted.
"I didn't hear you coming."
"It's one of my specialities." Her smile was feral, but she reached out and ruffled his hair affectionately. "Don't worry, kid. Someday, I'm sure they'll have to go back to press on a lot of books. But until then..."
"I know, I know. Just write what the teacher wants me to write."
"Smart cookie." His dad grinned at his mom.
"Chip off the old block."
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