The Devil is in the Details

By Lywinis

Floating. He was floating. Water slid through tendrils of his hair (where is my hat?), bathing him in the cool welcome of the river. He struggled, trying to stay alert, but the water stroking through his hair was so comforting (Lupin. I have to find him; he'll get himself into trouble.) that he slipped into sleep, half dozing as the river carried him down, down, to the rest he deserved. He registered gunfire, but it was on the edge of his senses, a low crackling that barely made it through the roar of movement that was this watery womb he was descending into.

(I taste blood…) His tie brushed against his face, loosed from its normal place, and he reached up an arm to try and brush it away. He found he couldn't move his arms. (Was I shot…? Am I …dead?) He cracked open his left eye, looked up at the bottom of a bridge that floated lazily by. His eye rolled downward, his brain trying to assess the damage in its sluggish state. His shirt was darker than usual. He couldn't tell if it was the water from the river or if it was his blood on that shirt, so he tried to think about what happened.

Lupin had been making a deal with a minor Yakuza crime lord; Natsu-something…They had agreed to meet at the warehouse district, in order to exchange goods. He couldn't even remember what it was they were trying to accomplish. He had always been fuzzy on details, though. Lupin was the one who worked out the details.

The devil was in the details. Where had he heard that? He couldn't remember.

The water felt so good. He relaxed and let himself float along, enjoying the ride. He figured he was going to either bleed to death or drown, so why not just sleep it away? Out of habit, he tried to reach for the cigarettes in the breast pocket of his coat, but found again that his arms wouldn't move. He was mildly irritated.

"I'm sorry. It's terribly rude of me to not allow my guests a cigarette." A filter was placed against his lips, and he clamped them around it, sucking in a lungful of smoke. He coughed a little, blood spattering the hand that had offered the cigarette to him.

"Poor dear, you're in a bad way, aren't you? Well, soon enough this'll be all over. You'll be glad to know your friends made it out, even if you didn't." At this, he cracked open his eye again. Standing before him was Lupin, clad in a red suit. His feet were bare, and the man could see why. He was dripping tar into the nice clean water of the river, which supported his weight like a sidewalk. He knelt to place the filter to the other man's lips again, and the knee that touched the water sizzled briefly at the contact. There was not doubt as to who this man was, although he wore Lupin's face like a mask.

"N...not your style, actually," the man wheezed. Lupin laughed, his eyes changing color briefly from black to red.

"No, I suppose it's not, is it? Well, I wanted to take a shape that would comfort you in your last few moments. You know who I am, then?" Flames flared behind the eyes of the fake Lupin as the other man nodded, and a small smile wrinkled the corners of those unfathomable orbs. "Good, then we have an understanding. I'll be taking you with me, once you've shed your mortal coil. Your friends are too busy escaping to worry about what happened to you, and that inspector will be chasing them away from the scene soon enough."

The man coughed, weaker still, and the other man's smile spread a little. "That's it. Just let it go. You know, most men in your line of work see me and start fighting for all they're worth, which isn't much. You seem to have accepted this a long time ago."

"What else could I do? It's not like we were being boy scouts. We knew what we did, and we liked it. I never…claimed to be anything other than what I was."

"True enough. And I commend you for that. Not many acknowledge their sin before they commit it. I think I shall enjoy having you around."

"Don't you ever stop talking? I'm trying to sleep."

"My apologies, we'll have time to talk after this. Please, go ahead."

Silence. Then, "You have any more of those cigarettes? Not like they're going to kill me, now."

"Of course. Here you are." The water sizzled by his ear, and another filter was placed near his lips so that he could take a drag off of it.

"Thanks. I didn't think you would be so charitable."

"If you catch me in a good mood, I can be many things."

"I heard you were a sore loser."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You don't take kindly to being cheated."

"Well, does anyone?"

"Not really, but this time, I think you're gonna be really pissed."

Another coal-fired smile. Fake Lupin seemed amused. "Why is that?"

"Because, the real deal just dove off a bridge after me."

The water was gone, replaced by the misty cold air of the docks. He shivered, and a blanket was thrown over him as two pairs of hands helped him into the car. Something yelled something at someone, but all he could hear was the roar of the engine, and the squealing of tires as they peeled away from the river, sirens screaming behind them.

"You realize this is all futile, right?" the voice came from above him, and he looked up to see his head cradled in Goemon's lap. The eyes were the same, though. That horrible, always burning blackness.

"Possibly. I think I've really lost too much blood to care, really."

"Good point. I suppose I should narrate for you, but I can't be bothered." The man smirked at him.

He shrugged. "It's your show. You run it how you want, at least until the show's over."

"Another good point." His eyes closed, and he slipped into blackness.

Beep. (Where am I now?) Beep. (Well, I suppose I should let my body know I'm conscious again.) Beep.

He opened his eyes. Hospital, huh. Figures that would be the first place Lupin would turn to. He could afford the best medical care around. He glanced around the small, spare room that held his bed, the small TV mounted to the wall in the corner, and someone in the only chair, reading a newspaper. He couldn't see below the footboard, so he couldn't tell if it was him or one of the orderlies sent to watch him.

"You certainly are tenacious." The newspaper lowered and he found he was staring into his own face this time. "I've been waiting on you for three days. It was kind of amusing on day one, but this is getting ridiculous."

He shrugged, his bound ribs making him wince. "I don't think I'll be going today, thanks all the same."

"You could have said something earlier. I'm on a timetable, here." His bearded face smirked at him, and those glowing, inhuman eyes mocked him. "But, I suppose I can come back and collect you another day. You don't plan on changing your ways anytime soon, do you?"

The bandaged man gave a rueful shake of his head. "If the cigarettes don't kill me, my many friends surely will." With a grin, he regarded his doppelganger. "I suppose I'll see you around, then, eh?"

"More than likely." The apparition started to fade out. The eyes remained until the last, until they winked out just a second before the door opened.

"Rise and shine, Jigen, we have a lot of work to do!"

Author's Note: Well, this was certainly interesting, considering a single picture inspired this drabble. A friend of mine on deviantART made a beautiful sketch of a wounded Jigen floating in the water, and I had a plotbunny.

I should really hire an exterminator for those. Ah, well. Enjoy!

Oh, before I forget, the picture can be found on my devaintART gallery, if you look for this fic and check the deviation notes.