Summary: Zane has always been the "responsible" one. But with three kids to raise, a century old million dollar debt to repay, a visiting "relative," and a new job, he might find out that he isn't as responsible as he thought.
Pairings: Alexis/Zane, Jaden/Johan, Atticus/?
The door opened slightly, and then just as quickly slammed shut.
"Xander, I know you're there," Alexis said, almost laughing.
"How did you know it was me?" Xander asked, walking into the room.
"Because your sister isn't smart enough to check if I'm awake before sneaking into the room" Alexis crossed her arms and turned on a lamp, the clock read six in the morning.
"Sorry, but Nick dared me too" Xander apologized.
"And if Nick dared you to cross the ocean, would you do that too?" Alexis said, mock angry.
"She stole my cards" Xander explained, embarrassed.
This made Alexis laugh, she gestured for Xander to come near her.
"She hides everything in the back of her closet, in a pink shoebox" She whispered in his ear.
"Thank you mom" He said, visualizing his little sisters closet.
"Now go get it, and keep an eye on your sister, I'll be up in a few hours" Alexis said, doing some mental math and realizing she had only gotten four hours of sleep the past night.
Alexis patted him on the head softly. Xander jumped slightly at his mothers touch, and then ran out of the room smiling.
She went to shut off the lamp, but another hand turned on the opposite one.
"What time is it?" a scratchy voice asked.
"You have a few more hours until you need to go to work, just try to get some sleep" Alexis whispered, reaching over to turn off the light.
It had only been an hour when the door crashed open, and a tiny brown haired child ran into the room.
"MOMMY! Xander was digging around in my room!" Nicolette screamed, rushing into the room.
"Nick, why did you steal your brothers cards?" Alexis asked tired.
"I didn't steal them! He left them in my room last night! And he's going to destroy my stuff!" Nicolette screamed.
"Xander doesn't understand if he's making a mess, he's just thinking about his cards, just give them back to him" Zane ordered, turning on a lamp.
"Xander, I know where your cards are!" Nicolette screamed, running out of the room.
"Zane, you have a meeting" Alexis reminded.
"Why do they hold meetings the mornings after a duel that runs to two in the morning, I'll never understand" Zane grumbled, rolling out of bed and walking over to the bathroom.
"You could retire if you wanted to, stop complaining, you like it" Alexis laughed and got out of bed to check up on the children.
Zane rolled his eyes, and looked in the mirror.
"I hate my job, I hate my job, I hate my job so much" he lied to himself. Then he laughed, he didn't hate his job, quite the opposite, he was in his second to last year as a pro league duelist. Duelists were forced to retire at thirty five, and although he held the record for the most years on top (five sweet years as number one), he was also going to be forced into early retirement soon.
"Lex, just because you retired early, doesn't mean we all will" Zane said loudly enough for her to hear.
"I retired because of the dumb new rules that its unhealthy to duel on a professional grade duel disk while pregnant," Alexis yelled, barging in on him without any concern.
Yes, you heard it here first, for some reason, being knocked around and exposed to explosions is unhealthy when you're pregnant… whatever moron didn't think of that shouldn't have children.
"Your not pregnant now" He taunted.
"Lets see, a ten year old, a seven year old, and a one year old, when did you expect me to go back into the league. Your going to duel until you hit the maximum age, I'm going to make sure our children don't become like Hitomi Phoenix, okay?" Alexis said, nudging him out of the way so she could start putting on her makeup.
"Hitomi is a mix of the horrible features of both her parents," Zane said, thinking of the blue eyed girl.
At eight years old, Hitomi Phoenix was both obnoxious and spoiled thanks to her genes and doting father. A truly beautiful girl, with white hair and ice blue eyes. Much to her fathers despair and Zane's amusement, she had no apparent dueling talent.
"True, but Xander seems to have taken a liking to her, and we can't interfere if Xander feels close to someone" Alexis said, her voice going low as it always did when this subject came up.
"Alexis, our son has a slight case of aspersers syndrome, he's not retarded" Zane reassured her, his voice also going low.
"Look, I'm not saying that he is, but he doesn't like to be touched, he obsesses over duel monster cards like there worth more than his life, he hates to talk to people" Alexis said, listing his symptoms.
"So he's a bit antisocial, what's so important about that? He'll be fine, his dueling skills are on par with the pros" Zane said implying a topic that was very taboo with his wife.
"He's ten years old, look at Edo, he isn't entering the pro leagues early because spending more than five years in that hell hole makes people crazy" Alexis argued.
It was the same thing every week, Zane insisted that his son was ready, and Alexis would say that he wasn't.
"Nick is going to be ten soon" Zane said changing the subject.
"We're running out of time" Alexis said, the first summer was arriving.
"Three years, we still have time to figure it out" Zane said, placing a hand carefully on Alexis's shoulder.
"And what if we don't?" Alexis asked.
"Then we'll still have eight to eleven years to figure it out" Zane said harshly.
"Jamison isn't going to give us a choice you know, he threatened to spread our financial situation as a scandal, to tell everyone what price we might have to pay, but he would make himself look as a victim. I'm not subjecting Nick to something like that, the name was a bad enough demand" Alexis said uncomfortably, she had been married for nearly ten years, and still she was not comfortable with talking about Jamison. The fact that he had taken legal action against them, and they were the branch of the Rhodes family most financially ready to support demands had worsened their case.
They were in debt, a big decades old debt. One that they weren't able to pay back in money.
"The name was a threat, and you were planning on naming her after a relative of yours anyway" Zane said.
"He's taunting us Zane, and I'm not going to let her go without a fight" Alexis said, looking at the picture on the counter.
Alexis and Zane, with Nicolette and Xander holding baby Luca on their laps.
"How is he supposed to taunt us, he already has everything he wants from us" Zane said quietly.
"Because he's a bastard, and that's how he likes to do things, he plays with you, makes you uncomfortable, asserts his position, and then goes in for the kill.
"he's talking about a marriage, not a cat and mouse situation, and I understand it's a touchy subject, but if you could please just tell me what he says that makes you so uncomfortable, I'd appreciate it" Zane said.
He was talking about the three words Jamison said without fail at the end of each phone call, ones that would make Alexis go catatonic for a moment, and then cry her eyes out. Zane didn't know what they were, and although he had asked more times than he could count, she had refused to answer.
"I don't want to talk about it, Next time he calls, you can listen in if you want, but it's just going to make you uncomfortable." Alexis said, hearing a slight cry from outside the room.
Zane's heart sped up, the call was coming soon. But what had triggered this change of heart?
"I'll get him" Alexis said, walking into Luca's room.
Little Luca was almost a year old, and he was definitely the most unusual looking of their three children. The first of the three to inherit their mothers blond hair, he got his dad's blue green eyes, and didn't look like either of them. He looked, oddly enough, like his eldest uncle.
"Luca, baby you know the best times to cut in, you're so smart" She said, walking over to the crib nestled in the corner of Xander's room.
He cried out again, a sharp baby cry.
"I see you're awake…" Alexis said, picking up the tiny baby and smelling him.
She grabbed a bottle from the desk behind her.
"Did you hear us arguing? Is that it? Good boy, Mommy doesn't want to talk about that French pig anymore, especially with Daddy" She said, bouncing the baby up and down.
He instantly quieted down, and Alexis carried him into the kitchen, where Xander and Nicolette were slurping down leftover noodles.
"I would have made you two something if you had asked" Alexis said, placing Luca in a highchair and placing down some cheerios for the teething baby to eat.
"Noodles are better when frozen over night Mom" Xander said.
"And you and Daddy were talking in low voices, we know by now not to interrupt you when that happens" Nicolette smiled and resumed shoving the cold noodles in her mouth.
Alexis grabbed her cereal and poured herself a bowl. Even after ten years, she still hated cooking.
Zane walked into the room wearing a grey suit, looking frustrated.
"Have you seen my briefcase?" He asked.
Alexis pointed to the microwave. The black leather bag was sitting on top of it.
"Thank you, I'll be back late again, if he calls, tell me" Zane said, giving Nicolette and Luca a kiss on the head and sending a smile to Xander.
They were awaiting the phone call that came once every six months without fail. Usually in the dead of night, and never just to say hello.
A horrible conversation with Jamison. He would speak to whoever answered the phone, then to both of them, then Zane only, then Alexis only.
The conversation never ended with a pleasant goodbye. It ended with three horrible words uttered with a laugh from Jamison.
On your knees.
They brought up painful memories from the past and even worse predictions for the future.
Nicolette was supposed to marry Jamison Jr. A boy who was three years older, and thousands of miles away- and there was no way to stop it.
This story is going to be told in alternating flashbacks, in universe, and flashFOWARDS.
Of course, I tend to tangent- I will deviate from the planned plot (yes, I have a pseudo plan!)