DISCLAIMER: I so don't own it…
And hello! Here once again, another chapter, another week, and one important decision… Look soon for a third part (yeah, you heard me right) to this series, which you can feel free to read and suggest to your friends (i.e., force through blackmail, in necessary). This'll mean even more changes, hey, perhaps a change in title is just what this series needs! Yeah, that's what I'm feeling… I'm thinking that personally it'll help with my motivation, plus this was getting 'up-there' in the way of chapters, anyway. Oh, and look for a mini-story coming up soon, as well. It'll be out of my usual cannon… Yeesh, it's like those things are becoming a yearly thing for me… That's all for now, and happy summer to all!
Fun Fact of Boredom: Starting the third installment of this group's adventures falls just short of my third anniversary of being a write on which occurs next month (woo, let's hope that three's my lucky number!)
Chapter Forty-two: Ring of Fire
Mamoru headed toward the stage, manning his keyboard, and then watched as Odori ran out, and the crowd went mad. It was the opening performance, and the two would be singing a duet while he played upon the keyboard and the rest of his band added their instruments into the mix. Odori waited nervously for the tape to begin, once glancing down at Jordan and Namiko, then smiling back at the crowd, shouting greetings in Japanese, Korean, and then finally very shaky English. The crowd loved this, and the song started up.
It was around that time that the rest of the Lupin gang minus Ryo showed up. Ally had taken over driving responsibilities (he had left Carmen to watch after Ryo in Paris; Victor was nowhere to be found), and was stunned as a black Cobra pulled up, Victor hopping out after only moments of being parked.
"Where is that jerk?" Victor hissed, drawing his pistol. "If he's not dead already, he's soon to be dead!"
"Woah, cool it, Baretta," Yukiko held up her own weapon and frowned. "They're inside, but don't go shooting the damn place up."
"Give me three goods reasons!" Victor demanded.
"Odori's on stage," Yukiko answered, and Victor lowered his weapon, blinking and wondering if he had indeed heard her correctly. "She's… Singing… Listen, it's a long story, and Leo's missing, too."
"I could care less about that little fairy, I just want to kill the bastard who's got my wife in ICU!" Victor growled.
"…Listen, you can fight with us, but only if you agree to calm it down some," Heiji sighed. "Now, we've gotta have a game plan… So far, we know he can create fire, walk on air, bend metal and disappear into thin air."
"Oh, is that all?" Victor muttered, and tilted his head to a side.
"First step's getting into that stadium," Heiji added, pointing over his shoulder to the packed crowd.
"I'll take care of that," said Ally. "With, urm… Snively Whiplash's help, over here… If it were anyone besides Ryo, I'd run you over right now, Victor."
"Thanks, Al," Yukiko tilted down her fedora and smirked. "Well, Toshiro and I'll get to work, too. Heiji, you know what to do?"
"You bet," Heiji nodded and proceeded to climb the fence around the stadium, followed by Victor and Ally and then Yukiko and Toshiro.
"So, when we get out of here…" Toshiro began quietly.
"..Then we'll talk," Yukiko responded, and glanced to him, "But not until then… I especially don't wanna be talking about it, here."
"Yuki, I'm in my mid-thirties now… I don't want to be forty with a son," Toshiro said as they walked around to the back of the stadium, and looked to one of the doorways.
"You act like it's a responsibility of yours."
"Well, the name's lasted long enough, I'd kind of hoped to keep it going."
"We've got Saiyuri, all right? Let's just let her grow up a little more… Plus I'm really not in the mood for a conversation like this right now."
"Because you're afraid to?"
"Because I've got to make this shot," she snapped. "Now quit being an idiot and do your part, all right? Jeeze… You're worse than a kid, sometimes!"
Toshiro gave a small grumble, and as the two approached the guarded area where the blue prints had stated the power outlet to be, and Toshiro quickly made short of the guards. He cut through the back door, and then Yukiko entered, tipping her hat to him along the way. The two then waited for their signal.
Heiji sat upon a car in the stadium typing away upon his laptop, and cleared his throat as he set up a microphone and disguised his voice with a thick American accent, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're sorry to interrupt your concert going experience, but due to technical difficulties we will have to cancel the remainder of our show tonight. Please accept our sincerest apologies, and realize that we will be prepared to give you a full refund by contacting our website."
This did not go over well at all in the crowd, and there were murmurs of unrest. There were also two officers to help the other police men lead out the crowds, one olive-skinned with a beard and another with striking blue eyes peering from beneath his lowered police hat.
"I don't see how this is getting me any closer to killing that bastard," Victor grumbled.
"Don't get your panties in a bunch, Vicky, we'll get him," said Ally confidently.
"What'd you call me!" Victor demanded, but Ally was soon gone in the crowd, and Victor looked back to the stage with a glare.
Meanwhile, Mamoru and Odori had retreated to opposite sides on the stage, Odori with Jordan on her side, embracing her and kissing her atop the forehead.
"You did great…. You should do karaoke," Jordan said with a smirk.
"Thank you… Personally, I can't wait to be rid of these damn outfits," Odori admitted and took her daughter into her arms. "I can't help but to wonder why they canceled the concert…"
"Not a clue, but the next step is to find my idiot sister, though," Jordan murmured. "She's going to kill herself, or is going to be killed."
"That man… I sense a bad aura about him…"
"Yeah, and I just think he's freakin' evil," Jordan muttered. "Come on, I think they're across the stage," he added, taking her by the hand and pulling her along.
Mamoru was in his dressing room, the rest of his band gone and only Fuji in the room with him. Fuji looked to him with true worry; he seemed distressed over something. His breath was sharp, and he was bent over on his chair with his hands covering his face.
"What's wrong? Mamoru…" Fuji bent down to face him, and Mamoru looked upward to her and embraced her tightly.
"W-why… I… I don't get it…" Mamoru muttered to himself.
"Mamoru…" Fuji pulled back and placed a hand on his face. "I… I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. I hope… That this doesn't change anything. I really… I really like being around you. Hell, I love you, and I don't say that too often to too many guys… I've got a past, but I've only told two others that I loved them, and one's dead, and the other's… Well, we had a parting of ways. What's wrong? I'll do whatever I can to fix it, just tell me."
"There's nothing that can be fixed," Mamoru answered with a shrug. "I… You'd love me no matter what, right, Fuji?"
"I… Mamoru, you're scaring me," Fuji said quietly.
"I've done some terrible things that hurt you, and you probably didn't even realize it…." Mamoru whispered, choking through his sentence.
"I… Oh, God, what am I going to do?" Fuji muttered, and sat back on her haunches. "You really… Did all of those things that Jordan was telling be about…. Mamoru, where's my brother?"
"I can draw you directions," Mamoru stood and looked about frantically for a sheet of paper and a pencil. "before they get here…"
"Your gang, they're out for my blood," Mamoru answered while hurriedly sketching a map for her.
"I'll call them off, then!"
"They'd never forgive you," Mamoru rose as he completed the map and shoved it in her hand. "You've got a group of wonderful friends, even if you don't realize it. Fuji, you're better off with them. I… Listen, just go, I'll handle them!"
"But… I… They'll kill you!"
"I don't care," Mamoru smiled and took her by the shoulders. "If this was my last week, then I couldn't have asked for a better one. Now go, all right? I'll be fine, no matter where I am."
"Mamoru, I…" a sad smile came across Fuji's features, and she nodded. "You…. You've given me everything I've ever asked for."
Mamoru blinked as he caught the meaning of this, and kissed her deeply once before she looked to the window and climbed up on top of a chest, and then busted through the window with a drum that had been nearby.
"I knew it'd come to this," Mamoru rolled up the sleeves of his light-purple dress shirt and stanced himself as he heard voices and footsteps drawing closer and closer to the door.
Fuji, meanwhile, managed to hijack a blue Shelby Cobra she had stopped out front earlier, and that had belonged to one of the managers of the event. It had just enough speed to get her where she was going, although she wasn't as easily able to weave in and out of traffic as Ryo was.
"Ryoko… Ari… Guys, I'm so sorry," she whispered as she fishtailed to a right, and approached a large gated mansion. She placed the car in reverse, and then went crashing through the thick metal gates, all but destroying the body of the Cobra. She zoomed through the winding driveway and straight to the backyard, to a tool shed. Fuji hopped out of the car, barely even allowing it to stop, and then made a run for the shed. She glanced in and gasped as she saw her brother tied up to a chair in the center of the small room, a gun at his feet.
"Oh my God…" she murmured and stepped away, removing a small walkie-talkie from what looked like a button on her jacket, and spun the dial around, hoping to pick up the correct frequency. "C'mon, Max… Be close by…." She said as she removed the hearing piece from the button and held it up to her ear. She breathed a sigh of relief as she heard Max's familiar gruff American accent, and spoke into the walkie talkie. "Inspector Zenigata, this is Lupin the Fourth, over."
"FUJI!" Max shrieked into the walkie, "Where have you BEEN! Do you have any clue what's been going on!"
"Unfortunately, yes," Fuji choked. "I'm here with Ari, but I need you here, too… I'll give you directions, but you need to trust me on them, all right?"
"If he's hurt, it's your ass," Max said with a snarl that made Fuji know that he indeed meant it this time.
"Just… Hurry up, okay?" Fuji said quietly, and went into leading Max to the mansion. Zenigata pulled up in his police cruiser, busting through the same hole Fuji had made only minutes earlier, and jumped out of the black and white car, not bothering to turn off the flashing lights.
"It's just a shed!" Max looked over to Fuji, and Fuji had never seen him more ready to punch her in his life. She merely took a step back, and folded her arms.
"Knowing him, it's covered in glass," Fuji said quietly, and Max gave a swift kick to the shed, and moaned as this proved positive and he heard his foot crack as he tumbled to the ground.
"L-Listen, Max… Calm down, we'll get him out of there," Fuji bent down and placed a hand upon his shoulder. "We've just got to think of something…"
"You can't even begin to realize how many people worried over you," Max clutched onto his foot and shakily rose, his leg hurting but the desire to free Leo from the prison he was in overriding the pain. "What do we do?"
"We need an Ishikawa," Fuji said, and looked to the police cruiser. "Let me go, you're injured."
"No, I can make it—Ow…" Max cursed as he took a step forward and once fell to the ground again. "Then again, maybe you going's a good idea, after all…"
"I knew you'd see it my way, Zenigata," Fuji said with a smirk as she climbed into the cruiser. "Hey, one more thing!"
"Gimme your trenchcoat," Fuji called. "It's June, anyway, you don't need the damn thing!"
"Fine, fine, take it," Max tossed this to her, and glanced back upward to the shed while Fuji sped off. "Just hurry back… C'mon, Leo, just hold on a little more…"
Back at the stadium, Yukiko and Toshiro were at a standoff in front of Mamoru's dressing room door, Yukiko with her gun drawn, and Toshiro with both of his swords. They had shut out the power long ago, and now they relied on the emergency lights for any source of light.
"Come on out, we've got you surrounded!" Yukiko shouted, cocking back her pistol. "Consider this your warning, 'cause I'm in a good mood!"
"You really think you can beat me?" a small chuckle came from behind the door. "I may not want to fight you, but that doesn't mean I won't go out without a fight… Give me your best."
"You don't have to ask," Yukiko snapped and fired a few shots, Mamoru managing to dodge one bullet as it pierced through the door but getting struck in the shoulder by one of the bullets of the magnum. He grunted as it entered his shoulder, and gripped onto the wounded area while countering with his own specialty; flames. The door was gone in a matter of moments, a victim to the fire which shot from Mamoru's fingers, and Yukiko and Toshiro quickly dodged this, either going down an opposite side of the hall.
"You know how you usually extinguish fire…." Toshiro spied a fire extinguisher beside him, threw this upward, slicing it in half in midair. This exploded as his blade made contact and Toshiro shielded himself from the blast. Mamoru was blown back by the blast as well, and crashed into the mirror of his dressing room.
Yukiko coughed through the smoke and fire, and fired off the rest of her round before collapsing from smoke inhalation.
"Yukiko!" Toshiro shouted in horror, and ran past the blaze, the hem of his gi catching on fire briefly but quickly fading as he stopped to kill the fire with a free hand. He then scooped up his wife and looked over his shoulder. Through the still-growing fire he could see Mamoru glaring through the flames to him. The magician then disappeared, and Toshiro ran down the hall, Yukiko still in his arms all the way into the exit.
Odori was with Jordan, Namiko strapped to her back as she battled what had been the bassist but had since turned into a raving warrior with a bass guitar and a desire to crack Jordan's skull.
A police cruiser screeched into the parking lot, fishtailing and then flying through a set of the doors, "There goes another cruiser!" Fuji muttered as she smashed out the remnants of the window and then drove through the main entrance to the stadium and finally onto the ground. "ODORI!" she called, and the samurai turned her attention, nearly falling victim to another one of the bassist's blows.
"Zenigata!" Odori shouted, blocking the bassist with her sword and its sheath as she looked over to Fuji, who was in full inspector Max Zenigata disguise. Dressing like Max had practically been a ticket for Fuji to drive recklessly; he was renowned for it, by this time.
Fuji glanced in the mirror sighed and tore off her mask, and then stuck her head out of the window, "No, it's me! Listen, I'm sorry! You were right! But now I need you! Leo's in trouble!" she shouted.
"Go on ahead, I've got this guy," Jordan called to Dori. "You need Namiko out of here, anyway!"
Odori gave a nod, and gave one kick to the bassist, sending him flying back as she took off into a run for the cruiser, jumped onto its hood, then climbed carefully through the window with Namiko still on her back. She unstrapped the little girl, and seated her in between Fuji and herself. Namiko was near tears with fear, clutching onto her mother's arm tightly.
"Don't worry, dear, it'll all be all right, soon," Odori whispered, seating her daughter into her lap and clutching onto her tightly. Fuji glanced to the two, and gently placed a hand a top Namiko's head.
"Your mom's right… Aunt Fuji will take care of everything she screwed up…. By the way, Dori-chan, that's a great look for you," Fuji said with a wink. "If you weren't with Jordan, well, I don't know what'd I do!"
"You disgust me on numerous levels," said Odori with a sneer.
Fuji drove to the streets at a continually hurried pace, and when they finally arrived at the mansion once again, there was an ambulance outside, awaiting them. Beside the ambulance was an anxious-looking Max, who paced back and forth worriedly and stopped wide-eyed as Fuji pulled up. He didn't care that the police car was in shambles, all that mattered was that Odori was here now. The samurai leapt out of the car, as if on cue, and unsheathed her sword, slicing through the glass encasing. It was moments after the glass cracked and fell to the ground that the shed caught on fire, much to the horror of all surrounding it.
"Oh, no…" Fuji gasped, and bolted from the car. "ARI!" she shouted, and before Max or Odori could stop her, she ran into the fiery shed, shaking her brother out of his unconscious state. Finding it impossible to revive him, she quickly cut his ropes with a pocket knife from one of her jacket pockets, and drug him out, collapsing to the ground with him atop of her as she managed to fight their way outside.
"Someone get them up!" Odori ran to Fuji as the ambulance pulled off Leo and went to work attempting to revive him, and Fuji, who awoke coughing soon felt a jacket draped over her shoulders. She looked upward to Max, who then scooped her up and set her inside the police cruise, despite the pain of his foot.
"You've got to trust me on this if you want to walk out of here alive…" Max said to Fuji quietly as he went to handcuff her.
Fuji stopped him midway, took the handcuff, and placed it over her own wrist, "This better not be a trick, Zenigata, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
"Eh, I suck at lying. Plus, what would I do if I didn't chase you?"
"I don't know, you and Leo are pretty bright… Maybe become like… Gay Colombos, or something…" Fuji said with a shrug, and Max only gave a chuckle.
"Gay Colombo? I'll have to run it past him…" Max attempted to start up the car, and much to his shock, even though the vehicle had suffered insurmountable damage, it was still able to run.
"Dori-chan, hop in!" Fuji called, and Odori nodded, climbing into the back seat where Namiko had taken cover.
"See, Nami? We won…" Odori embraced her daughter and then placed the little girl on her lap, and allowed Namiko to cling to her. "We always win in the end… You'll find that out more as the years go on."
"I dunno about that…" Fuji muttered, and this only fell within Max's hearing range. Zenigata gave her a look of confusion, and she only leaned her head against the remaining window of the car while Max drove on in what had now turned into a slow New York rain.
Later that night:
A solitary figure watched over Fuji as she quietly slept in her hotel room alone, having cleaned up for the night. He placed his hands in his pockets and sighed as he looked her over with a frown, knowing that this would be his last safe meeting with her.
"I hope I don't meet you again, Fuji…" Mamoru said in a whisper. "If we do, I don't want it to be as enemies… Take good care of everyone, including yourself…" he bent down and placed one hand at her side and kissed her gently upon the cheek, and then vanished, moments before there was a knock on the door and Fuji rose, drawing her bathrobe to a close and groggily answering the door for Yukiko, who was still in her sooty white suit.
"Leo's fine, he just inhaled too much smoke, and Zenigata's looking after him…. Ryo's…. Been better…." Yukiko muttered and looked downward to the ground. "We, urm… Were gonna fly with Victor to see her… We, wanted to know if you'd like to come…"
"Yukiko-san?" Fuji blinked as she watched Yukiko's shoulders begin to bob, and took her in for an embrace. "I'll come… Don't worry. We'll all go."
"She's my sister, is all…" Yukiko said, and wiped her face as she pulled away from Fuji and then glared at Lupin from beneath her fedora. "How… How could you do that? She… If it hadn't been for you screwing around, she wouldn't be in this mess! You just went too friggin' far this time, Fuji!"
"I… I know…." Fuji nodded. "What can I say? I'm sorry? I… I'm sorry for it. I should have listened to Jordan, to Dori, to everyone! What in the heck do you want, my blood? Feel free! Max is pissed at me, my best friend's in ICU and I actually loved a guy and he left me. So if that's what you want, go for it, Jigen."
"Fuji… I… I don't want that. I just want Ryo to be all right. That so much? I mean, that creep got your brother, too…. O-our flight leaves in a little bit, so you might wanna get packed."
"Mm, I'll be right there," Fuji nodded.
"Urm... Fuji? How're you holdin' up?" asked Yukiko worriedly after she was halfway back to her own room.
"Eh, we're hanging in there," Fuji gave a tired smile and shrugged. "I'll be all right. I've bounced back from a lot more. I'll probably just go home and watch some Sailor Moon or Cutey Honey or something fun and flashy like that… That's me, fun and flashy, right?"
"…You really liked this guy, eh?"
"Heh, yeah… I like to think of him as my Jordan, except, well, Jordan's never gone that crazy, yet…"
"We'll wait for it. With Dori, it's only a matter of time," Yukiko tipped her fedora to Fuji, and then Fuji Lupin shut the door, and breathed a heavy sigh, and then prepared for the flight.
The flight to Paris was a lengthy one, with Odori and Jordan dropping off Namiko with Saiyuri and the Zenigata-Lupin children at Lupin's estate, and then the entire group heading to the hospital.
Victor had been the first to arrive at the hospital, and seated himself by Ryo's beside with a sigh. He rubbed his eyes tiredly and looked upward at her, hooked up to numerous machines and IV's. Carmen had left moments before, and walked down to the main hall of the hospital to greet any others that would show up after him.
He said nothing, but rested his elbows upon the edge of her bed and glanced her over, and then finally broke the steady noise of the machine, "I should've been there for you when that creep attacked you, Ryoko… I should have been there… I… I'm so sorry…" he whispered, and took one of her hands in his.
"Urm… I… I brought flowers," Fuji peaked in the doorway, and then held up the vase she carried in her hands.
"And that makes everything so much better," Victor snapped as he looked over his shoulder to her icily. "I… Just leave, Fuji. You're not needed here. I think you've done enough—For everyone."
"I know I have…. What I did was worse than anything you've done," Fuji tilted her head downward and gave a sigh. "I just want to make sure she's all right."
"Well, you saw her, she's alive, but not much else. Now go, Lupin," Victor stood, but just as he went to lead Fuji out, he felt Ryo's hand squeeze his. He spun back around and looked to her, his eyes widened with shock, and then bent down to her. "R-Ryoko?"
"…What… What happened?" Ryo muttered, and looked to Victor, and then past him to Fuji. "Hey, they found you…"
"Yeah, they found me," Fuji muttered and looked toward the ground, not able to meet her injured friend's eyes. "I… Mamoru died… At least that's what Toshiro's said. I'm… Ryoko, I'm sorry."
"Nah, don't be," Ryo waved her off tiredly. "I'm used to you being a moron, anyway. It's what… Everyone loves about you, Fuji."
"Thanks," Fuji gave a small sad smile, and sighed. "I've got some more stops to make, but I just wanted to make sure that you were all right, Ryo-san. And I'm glad that I got to apologize to you, too."
"I'll be fine in no time, you little idiot," Ryo answered, and closed her eyes tiredly. "Right now, I'm just sleepy…."
"That's all right, rest. And Victor…"
"What do you want?" Victor asked with a frown.
"…Take good care of her, all right? Or I'll be on your ass like you were on mine," Fuji answered, and exited the hospital room.
"Lupin! Zenigata!" the chief of the ICPO stormed into Leo's recovery room, and immediately the nurse vacated and Max rose and saluted. "Put your hand down, Zenigata… Your flub's all over the news, but some how you two are still heroes in the eyes of the public…. How in the hell that is, I don't know. But you two made the paper."
"We know," Max held up his edition of the Times tiredly, with the headline that read, 'Lupin Escapes Again, New York's Largest Stadium set Ablaze'.
"Well, apparently they were planning on leveling that damn stadium, anyway, so you saved the city a couple of million in demolition… You're both good at that," the chief said with a glare as Max set down the paper and Leo considered hiding beneath the sheets of his bed. "But at the office, I'm a laughing stock with the hirer-ups, yet again. This interview better go over well, or you'll both be out of a job, and you'll be doing Bar Mitzvahs 'til you're dead, Zenigata, and you'll be stuck doing voiceovers, and be known as a goddamn monkey for the rest of your days, Lupin! If you look me like an idiot… I swear to God…"
"….Shoot me if you love me," Leo muttered to Max quietly as the chief turned away from the two.
"Don't worry, I've got a plan," Max answered in a whisper, and patted his husband upon the hand.
"Your plans scare me," Leo murmured as he watched the crowd enter with their cameras and microphones.
They began with their barrage of questions, and Max lifted up his hands, and gave a confident smile, "Ladies and gentlemen, Inspector Lupin and I will gladly answer your questions one at a time."
"What are your plans now that Lupin the Fourth has escaped your grasp once again!"
"Is it true that you two are thinking about adopting again!"
"Where is Lupin the Fourth?"
"What comments do you have on the inexplicable disappearance of musician Mamoru Pikal?"
"Now, now…" Max smiled and clasped his hands together, "I want to reassure you that both Inspector Lupin and I have thought long and hard about our decision…"
"What decision?" Leo asked with a frown, and Max quickly placed a hand upon his husband's shoulder.
"And that he and I, after much contemplation, are quitting the ICPO."
And at that moment, on different parts of the world, Lupin the Third spilt his cup of scalding cup of hot coffee onto his lap and Koichi Zenigata fell from the ladder he had been climbing to rake the leaves from the roof. And then, for good measure, the ladder fell upon Zenigata, and this was followed by the radio which he had heard the news from. Lupin, meanwhile, gave a scream that convinced Fujiko he was being murdered in their kitchen.
"WE'RE WHAT!" Leo shrieked, and his heart monitor sounded off, causing the nurses to zoom back into his room.
"And we're going to open up our own detective agency," Max continued with a smile, getting into the concept of being in front of several dozen cameras. "And we won't exactly be able to capture Lupin as before, but we'll have the jurisdiction to return what she steals and perhaps even beat her to the punch!"
"WE AREN'T THE GET BACKERS! THAT'S A DIFFERENT SHOW, YOU IDIOT!" Leo cried and gripped onto Max's jacket and shook him violently while one of the nurses prepared a sedative for Lupin. "I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!"
The needle then fell into Leo's arm, and his shaking slowed, and then came to a stop, and he fell back onto his bed, snoring soundly.
There was dead silence, which Max broke after a few moments of staring downward at the now-resting Leo, "…..It's the drugs, they're making him delusional… Any other questions while we're here?"
"Pop almost kicked Dad's ass," Jared said as he, Dako and Avery sat watching the news report in rerun.
Lupin quickly circled about the couch and switched off the television, and the two oldest children gave a moan, "You guys have watched it twice today, already. Enough. Go outside and tie up some frogs to fireworks or… Whatever it is you guys do…"
"I'm gonna do some ninja training!" Jared announced and hopped off the couch.
"You're not a ninja!" Dako called as she also stood from the couch and walked upstairs. "I'm going to go play with that safe, see if I can't pick it…"
Lupin watched the two children go off their separate ways, and then sighed as he looked down to Avery, who held out his arms for his grandfather to pick him up.
'OK,' said Lupin in a quick sign, and then lifted up the small boy into his arms. "It's only a matter of time until you're just as hyper as them…."
"Lupin, Jared's caught in another tree!" Fujiko called from the kitchen.
Lupin gave a sigh, and rubbed his forehead, "All right, I'll be right there…. Just…. Get me the ladder, Fujicakes…"
He was nearly to the kitchen when he heard a knock upon the door, and then turned and walked over to the front, Avery upon his shoulders. He was understandably surprised when he saw Fuji at the door, and she gave him a small smile, embracing him silently.
"Hey… I… Urm, well, see Ari on the news?" Lupin inquired, resting a hand on her back.
"Who hasn't?" Fuji laughed and broke out of her father's hold, and smiled, "Good to see you again, Dad. Nice to see someone who doesn't look like they want my head on a platter, for a change."
"It's all right, if they're anything like their parents, they'll forgive you, too," Lupin sighed and shrugged. "You're a Lupin, you're bound to make screw ups… And more often than not they're gonna deal with relationships."
"Thanks for the pep-talk. I have a favor to ask you," Fuji removed a video tape along with a handful of envelopes and set them in Lupin's free hand. "I'm throwing a party on the 25th, and I need it here."
"Well, couldn't you do it then?"
"No, I need you to," sighed Fuji, looking back to her car. "I'm gonna be late to it. Just… Do it for me, all right, Daddy? And… Let Mom know that I love her."
"You're disappearing once again, aren't you?" Lupin said with a frown.
"….I love you," Fuji kissed him on the cheek and turned away, and climbed into her car once again.
Several days later:
"I hate wearing suits…" Jordan tugged upon his tie and sighed as he glanced to Odori, whose formal kimono watched her blue and purple streaked hair.
"Mm… Well, Fuji said that this was a formal affair," Odori answered as she glanced to the invitation and then back upward to the Lupin mansion, where the cars were already lined. Presently, Leo lifted Avery out of his baby seat while Max hobbled toward the front door, invitation in hand.
"So you guys, too, neh? Guess she thought of everyone," Jordan said as he climbed out of his car followed by Odori with Namiko.
"Yup…" Leo watched as Ryo zoomed up, Victor cowering in fear of her speed in the seat beside her.
Jordan walked into the home with his girlfriend at one side and his brother at the other, and into the large living room, where tables had been set up with food and a large punch bowl.
"This stuff's great… Grandpa must've spiked it," Dako said as she took a sip of the punch. "Want some, Jared?"
"Erm… Yeah," Jared nodded. "You look really great tonight, Dako…"
"….Thanks?" Dako sipped her punch once more and raised an eyebrow. "You look… Well, your hair doesn't look like crap, for once."
"Wow, thanks!" Jared smiled brightly. "Hey, want me to show you this move I picked up, later?"
"Not in the least," Dako answered quickly, disappearing into the crowd to look for her parents.
"Okay, okay…" Lupin walked into the living room as Victor stumbled in beside Ryo, videotape in hand. "Fuji said she was going to be a little late, but she wanted me to play this once everyone was here."
Everyone seated themselves in front of the large television, and Lupin put in the video tape and watched from a distance.
After a pause from the tape, Fuji appeared on the screen in front of a nondescript white wall, a sad smile on her face, "Hey, guys… Guess you're all there, huh?"
"You think?" Yukiko muttered. Ryo rolled her eyes and nudged her sister form her place upon the couch.
"Well, I…." Fuji gave a sigh as she continued, "I'm so glad I've been able to work with all of you guys over the years… Ryo-san, you always kept me grounded and… Well, you were the best friend I could ask for. Leo, Max… You guys, you…. I know we always didn't get along, but you guys were always there for me, and I'll never forget it, and you all have some awesome kids. I… I'm not good with having my own, but they always made me feel like a parent. Complete with the stress! Oi… Yukiko-san, you were one of the best damn bodyguards I could ever have, and you were always there with an honest opinion… Sometimes it was too honest, but, hey, it was a nice change, sometimes. It's good to have someone around you who lets you know you're not God."
"What in the hell's she babbling about?" Odori wondered in a whisper.
"Ally… You were one of my best guy friends over the years, and you've got a great girl. Make sure you stay with Carmen, heh, she can really throw a punch. Dori-chan, I know we were usually… Always… At odds, but you took the hazing, and you never kill me. Eh, thanks for that. Jordan, you better take care of her! Although I'm pretty sure she takes care of you," she added with a wink.
"….I always thought she'd be the one on top," Victor muttered. "Short enough… I'll bet she has to be on a stool when she's kneeling…"
Jordan went to attack Victor, but Odori quickly grabbed onto his arm and shook her head.
"…Toshiro-chan, thanks to you I know more showtunes than I think I even want to know, and, hey, you're about the only non-relative guy I know who I haven't screwed. That's a distinction in itself. Victor… You're a complete and utter jerk, but you've saved our asses when need be. And… Heiji…. I… I love you. I'm just sorry I didn't tell you sooner. Guess I'm good at saying stuff only when I shouldn't, eh? I mean it… I really… I just wish things could've worked out better. I love all of you guys, so much. I just… I'm not good at showing it. Well, until next time! It's been fun, guys!" she waved and the screen blinked off, turning a static gray and the blue.
"…She's gone?" Dako blinked and sniffed. "But… She…"
"Come here, sweetie," Leo kneeled onto the ground and took her in his arms. "She's just… You know how she is, right? She just had a lot going on in her life…"
"When did she drop off that video?" Max rose from his seat and turned about to Lupin.
"…About two weeks ago. She could be anywhere," Lupin sighed and scratched the back of his head. "Being Fuji, she'll be back…"
"But what if she doesn't, Dad?" Leo looked over to his father with a glare. "Think about the last time we left her to go on her own!"
"She isn't a kid, Ari! She can make her own decisions, unfortunately. She just needs some time to cool down, is all. I'm sure she'll be fine!"
"Dad, I thought she would be, and it almost got her killed…"
"It's… It's a risk we have to take," Lupin answered, placing his hands in his pockets.
"You know what, the Lupin the Third I knew would've been there two weeks ago, barring her from leaving," Leo rose and walked out to the back porch, nearly running down Heiji, who had also stood and now stared at the screen with disbelief.
"She… She left again?" Heiji gulped dryly. "Guess there's one thing left for me to do, then…"
"If it's jump off a bridge, I tried that…" Ryo said plainly.
"No… I'm just going to have to go find her," Heiji said with strong determination in his voice.
"What if she doesn't wanna be found?" Yukiko leaned forward and looked upward to Heiji. "Lupins… They're sneaky bastards. If she doesn't want us to find her, we won't. It's as simple as that, man."
"You and Toshiro have a family, so you guys shouldn't worry about it, anyway," Heiji brushed his hair back.
"Nah, I'm your brother, I should go with you," Toshiro said, standing.
"What! And leave me alone with the baby!" Yukiko yelped.
"Listen… Guys…" Ryo held out her hands and sighed. "I'm unofficially second in command here, and I say that we just let this sink in. She's got to have a reason for this. If we wait one night, she won't be any further away from us tonight as she was last week."
"…" Heiji turned away from Ryo and stormed off, headed toward his car.
"And I thought my wedding party was awkward," Max muttered as he now sat on the ground with his children surrounding him.
Leo, meanwhile, stood on the porch, a cigarette hanging from his mouth as he leaned on the railing surrounding the back of the house. He looked around with half-opened, tired eyes, and suddenly became away of a noise, and drew his gun.
Fuji chuckled and stepped out of a shrub, and hopped over the railing and approached Leo, while remaining in the shadow, "Down, Matlock. I'm only here to drop off some things."
"What in the hell are you doing? What's that all about in there, some kind of sick joke!" Leo hissed and stomped over to her.
Fuji smirked and removed the cigarette from his mouth, and smashed it with her heel, "That's a terrible habit, you know that? And it couldn't look any more awkward if you were an iguana with a cigarette in its mouth. Does Zenigata know that you smoke?"
"It doesn't matter! Does anyone know you're here?"
"Touché…" Fuji sighed, and looked to the floor, "I just want to let you know that I don't want anyone going after me. I heard them in there, and…. I just need some time to clear my head, Ari. Please? I just need some time to myself. You understand that, I'd think."
"…Don't play that card, you know that's a low one to play…"
"I know, and that's why I use it," Fuji sighed and shrugged. "I… I'll be all right, Ari. I promise that I'll keep out of trouble… I'm actually…. I'm actually doing this to help stay out of trouble."
"You better not be running off for good."
"Who, me?" Fuji smiled and tilted her head to a side. "Even if I tried, you guys would find me. Just… Gimme a year, that's all I'm asking."
"What if the gang doesn't want to get back together after a year?"
"Risk I'm just gonna have to take, then, huh?"
"Hey, Lupin," Leo gave a small smirk.
Leo removed a handcuff from his jacket pocket and slapped it over Fuji's wrist, "You're under arrest."
"You've got me, Inspector," Fuji said with a light chuckle. "Or do I mean detective?"
"We'll still be on you ass Fuji, as soon as you show up again, I'll be waiting there for you."
"You know what? I can't wait," Fuji smiled and pulled out of the set of handcuffs, and tossed it back to Leo. "Until next time," she embraced him tightly, and Leo returned this, and she hopped off of the porch.
"What now?" Leo asked, walking over to the opposite side of the porch and leaning upon it.
"There's a little special something in your pocket now… I think you'll find the address, too…"
"Address? Fuji, what are you—" but she had already vanished, and Leo dug into his pocket, and pulled out a key, with a Parisian address attached on a slip of paper. "She didn't…."
He was left there upon the porch, the key still in his hand and a warm summer breeze blowing past him as he looked out at the darkness over the lake.
The following week, a Paris office building:
"So… This is our new office, huh?" Max set down his box of books, heavy with Leo's foreign language reference guides. "How many more?"
"Only five more, hon," Leo answered, setting down a box of diplomas.
"FIVE? You're killing me…." Max muttered, and rubbed his lower back and bent down to adjust the Velcro that covered his walking cast.
"Oh, got to go," Leo smiled and glanced to his watch. "I've got to drop off some people at the airport."
"What? Oh, come on, Leo!" Max moaned and slapped his forehead. "You're gonna make me carry up those boxes on my own? Up all five flights of stairs?"
"…I'll make it up to you later, I promise…"
"Oh, really, now?"
"Don't be a perv," Leo said coolly, "I'll be home later." He grabbed his jacket from the doorknob, and looked over his shoulder once more to Max before scaling down the stairs and to his car.
"Ain't this how it ended last time?" Yukiko asked as she watched Leo Lupin exit his new office into his old beaten car.
"Well, we've gained one more since last time," Toshiro glanced to the stroller that held Saiyuri, who was now asleep as they walked down the street. "And… Maybe another one soon enough?"
"We'll see," Yukiko answered quickly. "Just… I don't wanna give up on a good thing yet. I'm not ready to be a full-time mommy… You're the more maternal one out of the two of us, if anything."
"Yeah… I know…" Toshiro muttered and glanced downward to the small child. 'Makes me wonder…'
"Hey, you okay, buddy?" Yukiko slapped him upon the back and smiled, and Toshiro gave a small nod, and the two turned another corner with Saiyuri now joining them for the ride. "Come on, I'll buy you both a drink…"
"How very 'Jigen' of you," Toshiro said with a chuckle.
Well, look for another part soon enough, guys!
See you soon,