DISCLAIMER: I do not own Lupin III… But I have such a lovely little Christmas tree…. No star, though; I couldn't find the damn thing, and looking for it could be considered a lengthy expedition, with the way I store things…
Sorry if this is a day or two late, but I have had absolutely no sleep whatsoever and I am running purely on cookies and Diet Pepsi. Anyway, thank you to everyone who's reviewed positively; and, yes I have been worn down by readers with coupling requests. I wish a happy holiday to everybody reading this, and I'd like to thank them for a gift which they've given me. Anyone reading this and enjoyed it has given me a truly wonderful gift.
A Few Weeks Later: Happy X-Mas (The War is Over)
'She asked me to stay and told me to sit anywhere,
So I looked around and I noticed there wasn't a chair,
I sat on the rug, biding my time, drinking her wine,
We talked until two, and then she said, it's time for bed,'
—The Beatles, 'Norwegian Wood '
Fun Fact of Boredom: Look for part four of this series in January. I don't have a title name yet, but it will be around soon! I know I said I'd tell you guys when the story is over, and I'm sorry this is such short notice. But think of the next part as a continuation. Look for more surprising twists and turns in the last part of what's become continuing fanfic! Five dollars and a jar full of guava jelly to whoever can calculate how many hours of my life I've spent in front of a computer writing this! (not really… I'm flat dead broke, and no one gets my guava jelly unless they pry it out of my cold dead bloody hands.) And please don't beat me for not saying anything sooner! I'm sorry!
A Mansion in France, Christmas Eve:
"So, how do you feel about going home?" Max asked Leo as both unloaded their luggage, Max aiding the still-ailing Leo as both approached the home where outside already sat a parked van. Several of the Ishikawa children ran out of the household, signaling their arrival. They embraced their Uncle Max, and inquired as to who Max's strange friend was. Leo introduced himself as Max's friend, Inspector LeBlanc.
"A little nervous I'll admit, and—Hey!" Leo laughed as one of the children hid behind in in order to escape her brother, whom she was playing tag with, "Watch out, okay?" Leo chuckled.
The children cleared away, and Max and Leo continued to climb up the flight of stairs to the porch, and then to the doorway. Max leaned inward and rang the bell, and a somewhat preoccupied Fujiko answered, wearing an apron and oven mitts.
"Sorry about the—Mess…" Fujiko stopped dead as she laid eyes upon Leo, and firmly embraced him. Leo cringed, his ribs aching with the intensity of his mother's embrace, but he did not stop her. Nor did Max, who found the sight somewhat touching.
"Mom, are you crying? Mom, don't cry!" said Leo with a smile, "Merry Christmas! I thought I'd give you the ultimate gift this year! Sorry I couldn't find a bow, but they were all in red—And I don't look very good in red!"
"I… I've got to go find your father…" said Fujiko, backing in the doorway, and nearly tripping over Martha the Third. The presence of the Dalmatian let Leo and Max know that the Jigen family, too, had arrived for the party. So the only ones missing were the Lupin gang and the Zenigatas, who would be bound to show up anytime soon. Lupin had 'forgotten' in invite Remy and his family, as he had forgotten to invite Goemon and Amaya's mothers. Ryoko and Maria, Jigen's mother and sister, however, were still on their way to France. They would both arrive a little later.
Fujiko returned to the entryway, this time with Lupin, who, although usually was calm and cool, appeared genuinely shocked by the presence of his son, "Good to have you home," he finally said after a long pause between the two, "And Mister Zenigata, I see you have shown up, as well! I had my doubts about you, honestly! I see you've proven me wrong! Come on, I'll lead you upstairs. You two wouldn't mind sharing a room, would you? The Ishikawas have practically taken up residence in the West Wing, and fortunately all of your guys' bedrooms are in the east. I can't say the same for myself, though—My rooms right next to Jigen and Ming's, and they're both like a couple of bunny rabbits, if you know what I mean."
"I really wish I didn't, Sir!" replied Max with a smile.
Lupin returned this smile, and he led the duo up the right-hand flight of stairs and to Leo's bedroom, where LeBlanc was shocked to find everything virtually untouched. It was almost like a shrine, Leo thought with a slight shiver of horror.
"Well, I'll leave you guys to your own devices. Max, your parents ought to be showing up soon," said Lupin as he stood in the bedroom with the two, "There's a lot of food downstairs, although Jigen's here now, so I'm not sure if I can honestly say that there's any alcohol left to drink."
"You've starting saying honest things now?" Leo inquired.
"Atta boy!" said Lupin, "You may not have gone into the family business, but you can sure as hell come up with some zingers when need be!" He closed the door behind him as he left, leaving the two alone in Leo's old bedroom.
"Well, I guess we're sharing the bed," said Max with a sigh. He seated himself on the bed, and looked upward at Leo's expression, and immediately read it, and frowned, "Don't worry, I won't pull anything. Scout's honor."
"Good. My dad's shocked enough right now that I'm home; I think I'd be known as the guy who killed Lupin the Third if he caught me with a guy," said Leo with a small chuckle, "But then again, I don't think he'd be that surprised."
"Hey, want to go down and talk with the rest of the family?" asked Max.
"Why not? That's something I thought I'd never do again!" Leo admitted, "We'll unpack the luggage a little later; I'm kind of hungry right now."
"Sounds good. I'm in the mood for something to eat, myself!" Max said, rising from the bed and walking out of the room and down the stairs with his partner and friend.
A little while later, the Zenigata family showed up, followed by the Lupin gang , who was the last group of people to arrive, and arrived in their usual fashion of shrieking on their brakes and nearly running into the home. They were led to their assorted rooms, and then they, too, went down to mingle. The room was jovial, but at the same time, extremely tense. There were many things that still had not been put out of the way; although the original gang had managed to put many things behind them and were now as close as family, things were stretched between many of the new gang members and the inspectors. They all decided to put these aside for the sake of family, however.
Yukiko in particular seemed solemn, and quietly excused herself from the party. The only who seemingly noticed this was Goemon, and he zigzagged his way out of the party and to the back of the property, to the pond where Yukiko stood, where she had played so often growing up.
"You never miss a thing, do you, Goemon?" said Yukiko with a wry laugh, "Why aren't you out at the party? It's snowing out here… That can't be good for you, you know."
"Sensing how sad you are hurts even more," replied Goemon, "But I could be misreading this… It almost feels… Like you're afraid…"
"Heh, good call," Yukiko admitted, "I'm friggin' terrified out of my skull! And you probably know why that is, too. So, you have any advice?"
"In the words of your father, 'Go for it already, damn it.'," replied Goemon coolly.
"But… But what if I screw up, and then what?"
"Well, then you rebuild. Sometimes in order to live you must take risks that may make the road of life more difficult," said Goemon. He added with a small smile, "If you do decide to go down that path, I know you'll make several people happy; several who sometimes can find very little happiness anymore. Especially him."
"Well, I… I guess it wouldn't hurt to talk," said Yukiko with a sigh. She turned back around to the house, and looked back at Goemon once more, "Wish me luck."
"That is only for those who have the odds stacked against them. You, however, seem to have only cards stacked in your favor," replied Goemon, a tone of happiness in his monotone voice.
Yukiko walked back towards the house, her hands in her pockets, "Okay, Yuki… You can do this… Just don't freak out… Just talk to him…. It won't hurt… Then you can finally get some things sorted out…" She opened the back door, and shuffled back in through the party. She removed a piece of paper from her pocket, and a pen, and scribbled something, and shoved the slip into Toshiro's hand.
The samurai looked down at it curiously, and saw where it read '10—My Old Room', and then looked up at the clock. It was 9:51. He excused himself from the conversation he had been having with Zenigata and Amaya, and walked up the stairway, leaving them to wonder why he looked so strange all of a sudden.
Their attention was quickly turned to Lupin, however, who took center stage for what he called a miniature magic show. Next to the proud thief stood a large wrapped gift, shiny red with a large green bow upon it.
"Well, for my first and only trick of the night, I am going to bring a little bit of Italy to France!" said Lupin triumphantly, "Jigen, don't look so excited—It ain't booze!" a small round of laughter was heard in the group, and Lupin continued, "Could I get Mister Allen Jigen here?"
"Huh? Why me?" Ally asked himself as he worked his way to the front of the crowd, "What's your game, Lupin?"
"Game? Ha! No game! Now, watch and be amazed!"
"What a ham…" Fujiko muttered.
"Hey, you're the one who married him," Jigen retorted.
"Only so I wouldn't be a single mother. That bastard's hard enough to get money out of; could you imagine him paying child support for two kids?" Fujiko sighed in response, "I wonder what he's up to…"
"And now, by simply opening this package…" Lupin tugged on the green bow, and the sides of the box fell away, revealing a small and familiar blonde in their wake.
"Carmen?" Ally choked in surprise.
"Merry Christmas," said Carmen, running to Ally and embracing him tightly.
"Well, you have outdone yourself, Lupin," Fujiko said, obviously impressed with her husband's trick.
"Hey, if you liked that so much, maybe I can give you a private magic show after the party," said Lupin with a wide smile. Fujiko returned this by stomping upon his foot, and Lupin jumped and let out a howl of pain. Jigen tried to hold back laughter as he watched Lupin jump up and down.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Toshiro slowly approached Yukiko's door, slowly opened it, and walked inside. He heard the door close behind him, and swerved around to see Yukiko standing there, her fedora, tie and jacket removed and sitting on a desk. She approached him, and cleared her throat.
"I wanted to talk with you a little bit," she started. She walked over to her desk, and sat down upon it, and looked downward at her feet, "I know I've been putting off a lot, but it's been because we've all been so busy, I guess… Or maybe I've been putting it off… I don't know, I just know that you've been wanting me to give you an answer, and I guess I've been, well, a real bitch to you about it. I know you're only doing what you feel's right, and I'm cool with that. I just… I… Crap… Um…"
"I love you too," said Toshiro.
"Thank you!" Yukiko sighed with relief, "Who would've thought, as much as I shoot my mouth off, that I'd have trouble saying something!?"
"Beats the hell out of me," replied Toshiro as he sat down upon her floor, his legs crossed. Besides the red hair (which he had been made fun of for relentlessly by his large family) he looked scarily like his father. His mother must've been an extrovert, though, Yukiko thought with amusement, because his father certainly had never been as extroverted as Toshiro. He still knew how to read people like his father, however. He could see right through her.
"I don't want things to get out of hand, but I don't want to lose something I know I may need down the road. I just… I want you to know that maybe I've been a little cold to you, and you don't deserve all of it. I did lead you on a lot when we were kids… And that whole not getting married thing, I guess I still held true to that, because, well, I'm not! And God knows I could've been a couple of times. I just… I don't want to turn out like my dad—After he lost his vision in his one eye, he babysat the kids. Sure, he got used to it, but he was miserable for a while. And he was pretty jealous that he couldn't go… I don't want to be stuck at home with a bunch of kids while you're out there fighting! I like the battles, and the bloodshed! Hell, as scary as it sounds, I kind of love it…"
"I don't need kids to be happy," Toshiro sighed, "I like them, but I don't need them. And if there's ever an, well, accident," he began, his face flushing at this sentence, "then I'll take care of them. I'm the better domestic, anyway—You can't cook worth a damn, and I sure as hell wouldn't marry you for your great cleaning ability."
"That's because I always had one of the guys or Fujiko do it for me," replied Yukiko, sticking out her tongue.
Toshiro lifted himself off of the ground, and walked over to her. He kneeled downward in front of her chair, and placed a hand on the back of her neck, and moved her inward. He kissed her, and for once, it wasn't at the wrong moment, as he had been known to do in the past.
"Merry Christmas," said Yukiko quietly.
"Merry Christmas to you, too, Yuki," Toshiro answered, embracing her and for once in years feeling like he was somewhere he belonged.
"I wonder where Yukiko ran off to…" Jigen wondered aloud as he, Lupin and Goemon stood by the punchbowl.
"Probably to drink in private," replied Lupin, "How's the eye, by the way?"
"Twenty-percent vision restored and getting better!" replied Jigen, "They're going to give me a surgery after the New Year that could fully restore vision in my partial-vision eye. And if I watch my ass, I may get up to eighty-percent restored in my blind eye! Seeing my kids'll be a better Christmas gift than a new hunting rifle!"
"That's terrific, Jigen. My doctor told me that I may now lift things up to thirty-pounds in weight," Goemon added, "So I suppose it's a good Christmas for both of us."
"And what about you, Lupin? How've you been coping?" asked Jigen.
"What are you guys talking about?" asked Lupin with confusion.
"Well, impotency can't be easy on someone who was once as active as yourself," added Goemon.
"Im—Fujiko!" Lupin shrieked, and looked back at Mrs. Lupin, who was working on exchanging an empty silver platter for a full one, stocked with fruits and vegetables.
"What? It just came out!" Fujiko replied.
"Jeeze… I'm gonna go check on the kids while you two idiots keep laughing about a simple problem…" Lupin grumbled, turning away from both and walking through the busy room and out to the porch, where Fuji and Leo sat at a table, playing a card game with one another, as if nothing had ever happened between them. Lupin was a little taken aback by this, but slowly and silently backed out, back into the warm living room. The two had a lot to catch up on.
Lupin almost bumped into Max, who also had grown curious as to the whereabouts of the two, "Sorry… I just have to check and see if Leo has my car keys…."
"Leo. That's a good name for him. Ari's a little childish sounding, and he isn't a kid anymore," said Lupin as he looked back at the two.
"Uno!" Fuji shouted.
"Hey, that's not right! You have two cards, and I can see them! You're cheating!" Leo yelled.
"You are! I can see it!" Leo shouted.
Fuji took the other card, and shoved it down her dress, and into her bra, "Now I have one!"
"You always manage to solve things with your chest…" Leo grumbled.
"Um, you sure about that thing… About them growing up?" asked Max worriedly.
"I like to have delusions," replied Lupin, turning away from the window, and walking back out to the party. Max opened the half-closed door enough so he could slide through, and surveyed the two in the middle of their game.
"Blondie, hey! You want to join? A little Uno ménage trios?" Fuji chuckled.
"Did I ever tell you that you disgust me?" asked Max.
"Not today," replied Fuji with a bright smile, "Hey, deal him in! So, Zenigata, what'd you get me for Christmas?"
"Jewelry. A nice shiny set of handcuffs," answered Max as Leo dealt him in.
"Hey, you can't arrest me on this property!" replied Fuji cheerily, "Hm… Wow, this isn't a bad hand!"
"Well, now she's got me curious… What'd you get me, Max?" asked Leo as he threw down the first card.
"Oh, I know what it is," replied Fuji with a smile.
"You do?" Max frowned.
"Sure! You got him your ever undying love!" Fuji responded, "Please don't tell me that you don't have at least a little crush on him, Zenigata. It'd be hard not to—I had to chase plenty of girls away from him, and even a few guys!"
"I do not look at Inspector LeBlanc like that and you know it!" said Max angrily.
"Please; you think you're the only one who reads your journal? I'm surprised you don't have little hearts and 'Mrs. Max LeBlanc' written all over the thing!" Fuji chortled.
"Huh?" Leo shot his head up in suspicion, and looked at the uneasy Max questioningly.
"I'm gonna go grab a drink," Max announced, rising from the table, taking his emptied glass along with him.
"You really read that?" Leo gasped.
"Nope—B.S.'d all of it. But it looks like it was true," replied Fuji, "It's probably just a cute little schoolgirl type thing. Although now I know a way you could really make his Christmas," she said with a chuckle.
"I am not—"
"I wouldn't. There's enough of that going around right now," replied Fuji with a sigh.
"Do you realize how annoying you are when you speak cryptically? Do you do it for fun?" asked Leo with annoyance.
"All I'm saying is I say a light go out in a window right now, and I saw someone close a blind. Now, you and I both know what that means," replied Fuji, "I wonder who it is… I'm thinking Ming and Jigen…."
Leo paused, and then removed his wallet, and placed several bills upon the table, "This says that it's Ally and his girl."
"Please! That girl's the closest thing to a nun I've ever seen; could be because she was taught by nuns, but hey… Where'd Max go to get his Sangria, Madrid!?" she wondered with annoyance, "I'm waiting to beat you guys at Uno again!"
"This is the room I used to stay in when I would visit Lupin, and run jobs in Europe," Ally announced to Carmen as he led her down the hallway and began to open his bedroom door. He stopped, however, when he heard a noise coming from the room next to him. He quickly drew out his gun, and began to creep toward the door, motioning for Carmen to stand behind him.
He paused before opening the door, and heard two yells in unison, "Ah, oh God!" Ally backed out, and slammed the door to a close. He leaned against the doorway, gulped, and pulled his bangs away from his eyes, revealing a set of shocked eyes.
"Allen… What's wrong?" Carmen inquired worriedly, placing a hand upon his shoulder and shaking him gently.
"Um… Nothing…" Ally replied, shaking his head back and forth, "Just… Make sure that none of the little kids work their way up here, okay? Um… Why don't we go down? I'll treat you to a dance."
Carmen placed a hand upon his cheek, and kissed him, "Of course. And I'd like to talk more with your mother, as well."
"Yeah… I need to talk to them… I need to talk to you, too… I was kind of wishing that I had more time to prepare for this…" said Ally nervously.
"What do you mean?" asked Carmen.
"I'm… Well, I guess I mean to tell you that I'm ready," Ally shrugged, "Um, I want to ask you to… Um… I want you marry me…"
"What?" she gasped.
"Yeah—I've got the ring here. I want to announce it downstairs, though," said Ally, revealing a small black box, "I bought it—I didn't even steal it. I really bought this thing!"
"Allen… I…" she gaped as she looked down at the box, "Of course… I…"
"Let's go down and tell them, then!" Ally said excitedly, taking her by the hand and leading her downstairs, "I'll let them know, okay?" he whispered to her as both stood on the steps of the stairs, "Hey, could I get everyone's attention for a couple of seconds?" asked Ally over the loud crowd. All stopped, and looked forward at him, "I just… I wanted everybody to know that I asked Carmen to marry me… And she agreed…. So, I'm getting married!"
"Oh my God," Jigen muttered to himself, holding his head in his hand.
"Jigen, what's wrong?" asked Ming worriedly.
"I just… Someone's actually getting married in my family before they're thirty or because they're pregnant…" Jigen said to himself in shock. He walked toward Ally, and Lupin and Goemon both exchanged uneasy glances as they watched father embrace son.
"Where's Toshiro?" Amaya asked Heiji quietly, "And where's Odori, for that matter?"
"I haven't the slightest clue where Clifford the big red dog is, but if I know Dori, she's probably drinking again…" replied Heiji, "That or she's off with our brothers and sisters…"
"I hope it's the latter," replied Amaya, "She's an awful drunk; worse than me. And that's saying an awful lot."
"The TV's on in the living room…." said Heiji. He walked out into the living room, and saw Odori with their six other siblings on the large couches. Heiji nearly burst out in laughter as he saw she was being forced to watch Teen Titans while one of their younger sisters did her hair in a braid.
"Ah, I didn't realize half of Puffy AmiYumi was here!" Heiji said in a chuckle.
"I know, I know… You're gonna kill me… Save it, already. It's the holidays!" Heiji said with a smile, "Besides, I got you something…"
"Is it another frog?" Odori asked worriedly, "Don't think that I don't remember what I got from you for last Christmas."
"Nah… I know I've been an absolute bastard to you this year—"
"And we haven't always gotten along, and sometimes I've been the cause of it…."
"Why'd you stop? I like where this is going," said Odori.
"Ha ha… Well, anyway, here. I found this stuff online for you," he revealed an envelope from his coat pocket, and handed it to her. Odori opened it, and gasped in amazement.
"Those are your birth parents… I know you've been trying to find them for a couple of years now… You're an aunt—Two nephews," said Heiji, "Your older sisters look a lot like you. And you have two brothers, too."
"You mean I have two more brothers," replied Odori as she glanced over the family photo, "Do they know I'm a…"
"Yeah. Well, they knew who they were giving you to, so they weren't that surprised," Heiji shrugged, "From what I understand, they tell people that their daughter's an Asian Robin Hood—And that they had nothing to do with it, but they're proud," Heiji explained.
"Thank you, Heiji… I don't know how I can…"
"Eh, don't worry. It's Christmas, remember!? Just don't go getting mushy on me or anything… We bicker, remember?"
"Yes," Odori nodded numbly, and looked downward at the photograph of the farming family. It was scary how much she looked like them; they were almost like clones.
Upstairs, Yukiko's room:
"I hope he didn't go tell Dad…" Yukiko said with worry.
"Why's that?" asked Toshiro.
"Why the hell do you think!?" Yukiko grumbled, "'Jeeze, sorry I had to skip out on the party, Daddy, I was too busy—'"
"You really just can't enjoy the moment, can you?" Toshiro sighed, "We should've locked the door…"
"Well, you're the one who said we shouldn't take things too fast… I didn't think we'd end up going as far as we did!" Yukiko replied, "I can't see a damn thing in this room…"
"Hm… Bad thing about that is…"
"If you even try something funny I'll blow off your damn hand," hissed Yukiko. A few moments later there was the sound of a loud 'whap!' in the room, and Toshiro let out a yell of pain, "What'd I tell you?"
"We've got to get back down there, or people will wonder," Toshiro started.
"I'm too tired," Yukiko moaned, and rolled over in the medium-sized bed.
"The damn bed's too short for me, anyway," Toshiro added.
"Then you go down… I'm catchin' some more sleep!" Yukiko yawned.
"No—If I have to suffer, you do, too," Toshiro sat up, and turned on a small light on her nearby desk, "Where'd my shoes go?"
"I swear I saw him go in here—" both heard someone place a hand upon the doorknob, and scrambled to rid themselves of all evidence, but it was too late when Ming opened the door. Behind her stood Amaya, who was equally shocked.
"Mom, I—" Yukiko started.
"Mom! Ming! It… It's not what it looks like!" Toshiro added.
Ming slammed the door to a close, and turned to Amaya, "Should I go in, or do you want to handle this?"
"And say what? They're both adults," Amaya shrugged, "At least they aren't on the kitchen counter, like other people enjoyed."
"You really think it was just the kitchen counter?" Ming smirked wickedly, "There are others areas of this home that are no longer sacred, you know."
"There's a reason you're always pregnant," said Amaya wryly, "What do you say we go downstairs and forget what we saw?"
"Agreed. I see grape juice in my future… Lots and lots of grape juice that I can pretend is wine…" sighed Ming as she and her fellow ex-gang member strolled back down the stairs.
Yukiko and Toshiro exited five minutes later, both looking about suspiciously as they walked down the stairs and to the party. Ming and Amaya looked at the two and smiled knowingly, and Yukiko broke away from Toshiro, hiding her eyes beneath her fedora as she parted from him, leaving Toshiro looking confused.
At another part of the party, Lupin had gone through mingling with family members he had not seen in a while, and noticed one in particular standing near the punch bowl, "Ryo, you look like your cheery self! What's wrong—Someone come out with a new car, and you're not getting it for Christmas? If you tell me what make and model it is, I'll have it here in the morning! Anything for someone as good as my daughter!"
"I'm not sure about that, Lupin," said Ryo, "I let go of him… I couldn't hold on to his memory any longer… I'd just look at him, and I wouldn't see anything."
"Well, Sweetie, sometimes you have to wait for good things to happen to you," said Lupin, glancing at Fujiko, who was speaking with Natasha, "Sometimes it's a long wait… And it's frustrating—Trust me, when I can't get things I want, I throw a fit! And that's because I'm used to getting everything I want."
"I just wanted things to be like they were so bad…" she said quietly.
"I understand. Sometimes I'd give anything just to go out once more and steal something with Jigen, Goemon, Fujiko, Ming and Amaya, and have Pops right at my heels! But now I'm as old as Zenigata was when he was chasing us, and I have to sit back and watch you guys have all of the fun! I don't always like that, but, it's just how it has to be."
"Would you still think the same thing if I told you I think Max has his eye on him?" asked Ryo.
Lupin sighed, "Not really. I kind of had a feeling about that kid to begin with. His mom actually called here one night, and—Never mind. It's all water under the bridge. Now, what do you say to a dance? Those trophies you and your dad won weren't for long-distance shooting, you know! Best ballroom dancers in Chicago!"
"Hm, I'd say okay to that," Ryo replied, smiling and allowing Lupin to lead her out by the hand to the dance floor, "You must've been taking lessons from my father, if you're this good now."
"I get up early out of habit, and this stuff is the only thing on at four A.M.. Fujiko's less than a little happy when I wake her up to be my partner, so I usually settle on our maid," replied Lupin as he spun her about once and brought her back again. He caught a glimpse of Zenigata and Max in the living room as Ryo took her turn spinning him about once.
"And he offered me the job in Romania," Max sighed as he finished his story. Zenigata remained at the dining room table, staring ahead understandingly.
"Why are you leaving Interpol?" asked Zenigata.
"I… I can't say. I'm not allowed to. Leo doesn't know yet, though," answered Max, looking down at the table, "I take the job with Jacob, and become chief of security in his offices, or I'm out on the streets again."
"Either way you've got to inform your partner. It's only decent, Max," said Zenigata with a sigh, "But tell him after this. He's having too much fun now, being home. And I can't blame him a bit for it, either. The poor kid went through hell, and more than made up for something that wasn't even totally his fault. He's suffered a lot over the guilt. He may be a thief, and you know I'm against that, but he's also reformed. The more cynical side of me would say it's an act, but you can just look at him and tell he's sincere."
"I've still got to go give him his Christmas gift. Thanks for listening, Dad. I've got to catch him when he's not screaming at his sister," Max rose from the dining room table, and approached Leo, and led LeBlanc out to the front porch.
"I wanted to give this to you when there wasn't anyone around to hug you and welcome you back, oh Prodigal Son," said Max with a smile, revealing a small box from his pocket and handing it to Leo.
Leo took it from Max, undid the wrappings, and opened it. Inside he found a smash video, shredded paper, and a few disks that looked as though they had been put in the microwave, "It's the evidence from your murder conviction."
"You could be arrested!" Leo gasped.
"It was part of a deal," replied Max with a smile, "You're a free man now, Leo LeBlanc."
"You know, what I got you really sucks compared to this," Leo said with a laugh as he closed the box again, "Hey, come on with me," Leo nodded Max to the back of the house, and led him to the lake. Leo hurriedly ran about the lake, and finally found what he was looking for; an opening in the ice. He threw the package as far as he could, and it splashed into the water, and Leo laughed heartily as he watched it sink to the bottom, "Good bye, Lupin!" he shouted with laughter, "Good bye—I won't miss you at all!" he whooped with laughter, and leaned into Max. Max grew more concerned as the laughter grew into crying, and he embraced Leo tightly.
"It's okay… It's over now, and you're free now," Max said to him quietly.
"I know… Thanks…" Leo replied. He broke away from Zenigata, and smiled, "Thanks for everything, Max. It couldn't have been easy to have stayed friends with me, even if—"
"Hey, it's easier than you think," Max said with a smirk.
Leo smiled, and then was brought back to a memory he had of Max, when they were in a similar situation. It was during the incident with the diamond, when Max had learned about his true identity for the first time. The situation was different in one way, however. At that time, Max had said something which had truly rattled him. It was when he had first suspected something of Max—'To me, you are beautiful' Max had said to him. And he remembered even how he had said it, even now.
Later that Night:
Fuji checked to see if the coast was clear before she jumped off of the roof and onto a nearby tree. She then scaled down this, finally landing on the snowy ground, "Damn that's not the jump it looks to be!" she said to herself as she dusted herself off and looked upward at the tree, "Well, at least the coast is clear…" she turned about, and came face-to-face with a gun, "Spoke too soon… So, Ally, what are you doing out here at this hour? Shouldn't you be cuddling up with someone about now?"
"I'm just enjoying the sights," replied Ally, "Might I inquire as to where you're off to?"
"Taking one of Daddy's cars for a spin," Fuji answered with a smile.
"Cut the crap—What are you really up to, Fuji?" asked Ally.
"I'm doing a solo job," replied Fuji, adjusting her backpack straps and looking upward at Ally severely, "It doesn't concern you. Don't worry, I'll be fine!"
"I don't believe you," said Ally, moving with Fuji as she took a step to make an exit.
"That's too bad," she sighed, and reached upward. She laid a hand upon his neck, and Ally began to feel woozy, and blacked out moments later. He fell to the ground, and Fuji began to drag him up to the back porch, where she left him, "You'll be okay, Ally, don't worry. It wasn't poisonous or anything… Just something to get you out of my hair for a little bit…"
Fuji continued to walk out of the backyard, and eventually walked off of the property, and made herself untraceable from there.
A Week Later:
"Poor Heiji…" Yukiko sighed to Toshiro as both watched the younger Ishikawa board a flight to Hawaii, leaving only them standing in the airport. The older family members had left. Leo had stayed in France. Leo still had no idea that Max was leaving for Romania. Ryo had gone to Japan. Odori had left a little while ago to Korea. Ally had gone with Carmen to Cagliostro. Only they remained, and their flight left to Spain in half an hour, "You want to grab a drink?"
"Yeah," Toshiro nodded, and left the terminal with Yukiko. Both walked into a bar, and Toshiro ordered two glasses of red wine for the two, "She didn't even leave a note."
"Well, the group was starting to split, anyway," replied Yukiko as she sipped her glass of wine, "At least we'll have plenty of time to travel around Europe, now. I just hope to God that that little tin can you drive will be able to make it!"
"Hey, you don't have to ride it if you don't want to," snapped Toshiro.
"The 8:40 flight to Barcelona is now loading," called a woman over the intercom.
"Holy crap, an early flight! I didn't think those things existed!" laughed Yukiko, setting down her glass.
"Well, I guess it's time for us to go, then," Toshiro left a few bills upon the table, and rose with Yukiko. Both walked toward the terminal, showed their tickets, and then they were off. The last of the Lupin gang was gone.
...See You all in the New Year!...