Disclaimer: Not Mine. The End.

A story that isn't meant to really go anywhere, but more to set a mood and capture a moment. Because Lupin and the gang could have anything, yet they seem happiest when they appear to have nothing. There's something valuable in that.

Comments are always welcome.


By, Nicole Silverwolf

"Happiness is not a destination. It is a method of life." -Burton Hills

Laying low had its ups and downs that was for sure. He'd stayed in some of the most expensive resorts and hotels on Earth, places where the good booze was free because you paid so much to get the room itself. Suites that overlooked views that endlessly topped themselves. The Eiffel tower, New York's Central Park, the Dead Sea, private beaches in Thailand. Name it, and if it was famous or exclusive chances were they'd stayed near it at least once. Jigen had to wonder then, why exactly he enjoyed nights like this so much more.

The attic loft—bare and tiny as it was—did it's job marginally well in protecting them from the worst of the storm. Rain's steady beating on the roof would have been quiet had the flat they were renting were anywhere but directly under said tin roof. Every time the wind blew, they would all sway as it shook the entire floor. There was a window and a view of the canals below, though it was obscured by the dark and fog. The roof sloped barely at all and until the weather had started to go bad, they'd spent hours stretched out on the sun warmed metal smoking and watching the clouds crawl by.

There was a tiny camp stove on the floor currently heating a dented kettle for coffee (and later for tea as Goemon was too much of a stubborn goat to take anything else). The flame--such that it was--provided most of their light and a fair share of the heat too. The clanking radiator worked in fits and starts while the electricity cut out even more frequently. It was hard to determine if that was from the rain or the ancient wires that connected the place together.

Still, that hardly seemed to bother any of them. Goemon was folded by the door; legs hidden in his hakama so Jigen could never be sure if he was sitting or crouching. Zantetsuken was casually propped against his shoulder and while relaxed wasn't the exact term he'd associate with the samurai, it came close.

Lupin was crouched at an overturned milk crate sitting on his heels in a manner Jigen could never directly imitate. Casual though his posture appeared, he was exacting in how he cleaned the Walther, much as he himself had been with the Magnum earlier. It was a ridiculously commonplace routine, one that didn't change no matter where they ended up. The machine was in pieces, spread out over the slab of cardboard in neat rows and columns to speed the reassembly process.

He was lounged on the lone bed against the longest wall. Which was really nothing more than a dilapidated mattress, mismatched box spring and a haphazard threadbare quilt likely found at a thrift store. It was comfortable, so long as he stretched out and used his arms as a pillow. The mattress sunk just enough so that his gun didn't dig uncomfortably into his back.

They didn't have much to eat, and the shared two cans of soup hadn't been enough for three grown men. Again though, no one seemed to mind. He'd spent the last of his cash on a bottle of bourbon and was now being careful to conserve it. Once it was gone, it could be a while before another came his way. While nothing was out of reach of such extraordinary thieves as themselves, they were above petty smash and grabs.

It was likely they'd be on the move soon; if Lupin was so studiously studying a map of the local museum he certainly had something in mind. Also knowing Lupin as of late it was quite possible that the thing they were out to steal had very little to no monetary value. Likely to prolong their penniless existence longer as well.

Jigen considered the merits of arguing about that with his friend and boss. But once Lupin got something in his head, there was little stopping him. It wasn't worth the wasted breath.

It wasn't that Lupin didn't have resources (in reality most governments would kill to get their hands on the Lupin fortunes and his influential/eccentric contacts). They laid low on principle mostly. Large sums of money could be traced and Zenigata had found ways to track money back to them in the past. For all the times he'd been ridiculously off the mark, there were an equal amount of times where he'd proven why he was one of Interpol's best.

Sometimes they would trade stories on these quiet nights. Though they spent much of their time together as a team there had been years when their paths had never crossed and times every few months when they drifted apart for various reasons. Not everything they had once lived through before meeting each other was worth remembering, but there were honestly good stories too. And of course rehashing their most recent exploits often dominated drunken conversations.

A sound outside the door broke his train of thought and he had raised himself off the mattress warily, hand straying to his back in preparation for a fight. Lupin had somehow reassembled his gun in record time, crouched against the wall next to the doorway, gun hanging none too casually from his fingers. Goemon hadn't moved, at least to the casual observer, but years of knowing the taciturn swordsman meant the fact that his hand had moved further up the hilt of the legendary sword spoke volumes to how prepared he was.

Tense moments passed and Lupin finally tested the doorknob with a careful twist and expertly placed gun barrel. The hallway was dark and curiously empty save for the building's mouser –an orange tabby with a mangled left ear.

He let out a purr so loud as to sound like a growl, picking up a paw to bathe it.

Lupin seemed surprised at the least, and he tipped his hat up to get a better look at the thing that had made so much noise.

A careful sweep revealed that yes they had really all just been prepared to shoot/dismember a cat.

Laughter was sharp and plentiful as Lupin hung off the door handle to invite their guest in. The tomcat took his time sauntering inside, clearly pleased with himself for having riled three world class thieves up. They didn't have anything to offer the feline except the remnants of a can of chicken soup which the cat did his best to finish off.

At least until he nearly caught his head in the can itself.

Goemon had long been the animal lover of their trio and it was unsurprising when he offered a lap for the cat to curl up on. He took the tea Jigen offered with the almost half smile the swordsman was known for. Eventually and without dislodging the cat asleep on his lap, he brought out a stone and spent the better part of an hour sharpening and cleaning Zantetsuken with the same precision and care they'd used on their guns.

And when it was time to decide who would get the bed to sleep on, Jigen lost the rock paper and scissors game relegating himself to the floor. Tipping his hat lower than usual over his head to try and get comfortable on the blanket Lupin had been generous enough to lend him he thought about cursing his foul luck.

He just smirked instead.


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