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the children green and golden follow him out of grace

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"What did you teach those boys?" Joe asked him once, after Neal got locked away for four years and Arthur stole thousands of dollars of equipment to go rogue.

Frank shrugged, lifted his glass for a toast, and said, "To the two smartest asses I ever raised."

Joe laughed, clinked his glass against Frank's, and they both drained the whiskey down.

0o0

Frank didn't set out to raise master criminals. Let that be stated for the record. Until quite recently, in fact, he believed in the law, despite all the things he'd seen and done.

Arthur was older by eleven minutes. Neal was louder by several decibels. (And, yes, those are the names on their birth certificates. If their original birth certificates still survive somewhere. Frank seriously doubts it.)

Arthur Jonathan and Neal Francis, sons of Francis and Naomi Moses, born in [redacted], in the year [redacted].

Frank didn't see them much, when they were young. He was globetrotting, protecting the free world at the behest of the CIA.

He was digging into a rival spy's chest cavity with a scalpel when Naomi died, at the hands of a drunken boyfriend. He didn't even hear about it until a month later, when he came up for air. By then, the boys were at the second home and Neal hadn't spoken in twenty-seven days. Arthur hadn't smiled in twenty-eight.

0o0

Understandably, Frank took a break. He collected his boys and tried to fix what was broken, though he never was sure if he succeeded or not. (Judging by his sons' permanent records [or rather, what the records wouldsay, without Arthur and Neal's input] he didn't.)

For three years, Frank was a stay-at-home father. He got the boys up early, led them through a few katas, fed them breakfast, sent them to school, checked the perimeter to make sure no enemies had found him, did chores or ran errands, met them a block from the bus stop, led them through more katas, set up the targets for guns or knives, cooked supper while they did homework, checked over the homework, talked with Arthur about whatever had caught his fancy that week while Neal showered, talked with Neal about history or his current favorite artist while Arthur showered, showed them a new finishing blow, and tucked them into bed.

He didn't want his sons to be killers. He wanted them safe. And for three years, he thought he'd managed it.

Then Neal was grabbed from his painting class.

0o0

Arthur killed his first man when he was fifteen years old. Neal didn't speak for a month after they got him back.

(It would be a decade before Arthur learned who ordered Neal's kidnapping. He'd take a week of leave to track the man down and show him what a mistake that op was.)

While his sons slept curled around each other in his bed, Frank rubbed his eyes and tried to control his fear and his fury, and he made a call he'd been putting off for three years.

Arthur and Neal finished out high school at their Aunt Victoria's. Arthur went on to college but Neal decided to backpack around Europe for a few years.

Frank was in the CIA for five more years. He only saw his sons four times: their high school graduation, Arthur's college graduation, Neal's visit to the hospital for five broken ribs (skiing accident), and Arthur's month in the hospital for complications due to flu and then a staph infection.

When he retired, both boys came home for a week. Arthur told them he'd been asked to join the NSA and Neal told them half-truths about what he'd been doing in Europe.

Frank looked at his sons. They'd grown up while he'd been away, and he barely recognized them. They were both dressed sharply, looking far better in fancy clothes than Frank could've pulled off. He asked them each for a spar, just to see if they'd kept up; Arthur had official training now, and Neal had picked up some kind of street fighting, but Frank was satisfied.

So while he puttered around learning how to garden, Arthur fell deeper and deeper into the NSA's research program (something called Somnus, and it sounded shady to Frank) and Neal began making a name for himself in the world of art forgeries and museum heists.

0o0

Frank didn't call his sons when the CIA started sending assassins after him. Arthur had been rogue for a couple years by that point, and Neal had just started trying to go straight. He didn't want to distract them.

He should've known better.

0o0

As they left Chicago, Victoria told Frank, "You know, Francis, we've been shadowed for the past few days. Since the CIA snatched Sarah, I believe."

"What?" Frank said, glancing at Marvin.

"Yeah." Marvin nodded. "I noticed, too."

Victoria chuckled, cutting into her dress to take a look at her wound. "You didn't think we took care of all the Secret Service agents ourselves?" She hissed and Frank leaned forward, checking the wound himself. "Your sons, dear. They are quite efficient."

Frank growled. "Arthur better not've caught anyone else's attention. And Neal! If he got himself thrown back into prison…"

Marvin outright laughed. "If he did, he'd just escape again."

Sarah said, "Wait, what?"

Victoria patted her arm. "Never you mind, sweetheart."

0o0

The next morning, a phone Frank had never seen before vibrated on the counter of a safehouse he'd never before set foot in.

Call us next time, the text read, you bastard.

A few minutes later, he received a second text: Sarah seems cool.

Frank laughed, sent back, Be safe, and started cooking breakfast for his crew.

0o0

(He checked up on them, of course. Arthur, after doing whatever he'd done to make sure Frank survived the CIA, did something so impossible it paid more money than he'd ever be able to spend. Neal nearly got himself thrown back into prison but he smooth talked his way back out.

Frank doesn't know what he did, but apparently it's genetic because he became a criminal, too. But at least they're all the best at what they do.)