By Ninnik Nishukan

Summary: That evening in one of their many hideouts, he tried not to examine the fact that he was trying to avoid looking straight at the mirror. Lupin/Fujiko, also starring Jigen and Goemon.

It took a lot to break a mind like his, and these people hadn't managed it yet.

But oh, how they'd tried.

And all this over some stupid treasure he could barely even remember the name of by now. They must really, really want it to go to all this trouble.

Really, it was just getting tedious, he thought, idly scratching his neck. If it'd been him, he'd have just figured it out by himself. He didn't need to capture people and try to force information out of them.

If he did, though, he added to himself, grinning, he'd be much better at it than these chumps.

It was thoughts like these that almost made him forget that he hadn't seen the sky for— that he didn't exactly know how long he'd been there.

That he hadn't showered or brushed his teeth for…a very long time.

That his wrists were getting thinner and thinner.

That he couldn't tell the difference between new and old bruises anymore because there were so many.

…okay, time for some more constructive thoughts.

He was going to last longer than them. He just knew it. Years of plotting, planning, meticulous detail work and stake-outs had gifted him with an iron cast patience, and a life of travelling the globe and seeing more in his thirty-three years than most people saw in their entire lifetime had given him a solid sense of humor and an unbreakable will to live to see even more.

Scratching his dirty beard, he nodded to himself, content with these thoughts.

He often had sugar plum fantasies of Fujiko sweeping into the building and down into the dungeons like vengeance on heels, coming to get him— but he knew that if anyone ever came to get him, it'd most likely be Jigen, or maybe even the old man, if only so he could imprison Lupin himself.

Probably not Fujiko, and probably not Goemon.

He'd have to get out of here by himself, and he would.

At some point. Some day.

If only those bastards hadn't taken away every last little secret gadget he had…

Cursing himself for getting too used to relying on those little tricks, he tried, once again, to steer his thoughts over to something more constructive. It was sort of hard to concentrate when it was time for your daily boot-to-the-kidneys session, though.

Half an hour into the daily interrogation, however, it appeared the leader was losing his patience. He'd apparently decided to try something new.

Days passed. How many, he didn't know.

Today, he was keeping himself occupied by pretending it was a Thursday. That, and trying to count the cracks in the ceiling as he tried not to remember.

But no matter. He hadn't cracked like the ceiling. Hadn't fallen apart. Hadn't told them anything, even when they---

They wanted to know why he wouldn't tell them, why the treasure was that important to him. It wasn't, of course, not anymore, but it had become a matter of principle not to surrender, which they didn't get— and how ridiculous it was for them to try to convince him that the treasure wasn't important, anyway, when they were going to such extreme measures to get it themselves.

In some areas, they were amateurs.

Which, of course, was why it felt all the more bitter that he'd landed himself in this mess in the first place. They'd caught him in his sleep, like cowards, but still— it shouldn't have happened. He should've been more careful. He shouldn't have been drinking. He shouldn't have flirted with that woman. He shouldn't have let his guard down.

Running a grimy hand through his greasy hair, he forced himself to stop agonizing over the past. That way held only madness.

Hearing footsteps approach, Lupin took a hurried sip of stale water from the cup they refilled whenever they could be bothered. He didn't want to sound all dry and hoarse when they came to threaten him again. It really drove them up the wall when he just wouldn't stop sounding as chipper as ever; chock full of energy and optimism despite the fact that they barely even fed him.

Sitting up straight and squaring his shoulders, he put on Smile Number Twelve, his warden's least favourite. He'd been in here long enough to try them all out, from Number One through Twenty-seven, and he knew exactly which responses they drew.

But it seemed he wouldn't be needing Smile Number Twelve today, at least not right then.

There came a collection of the kind of sounds he'd become intimately familiar with over the years. Gunfire, a strangled scream, metal tearing through fabric and flesh, the muffled thumps of bodies hitting the floor, soles smacking against concrete into a run—

Refusing to let himself get his hopes up, he steeled himself for a possible attack. This could be anyone. Somebody within the group betraying the rest, a rival gang of criminals— anyone.

His fingers fumbled along the narrow cot and closed around the metal food bowl in which they served him his— for lack of a better word— meals. It wasn't much, but it was all he had. They'd made sure to take away anything he might use as a weapon, and after the couple of escape attempts he'd made, they'd come to grasp exactly how literal anything really was in his case.

He tensed when the lock was broken by bullets and the door was kicked open.

His shoulders descended when he saw who it was.

Jigen, with his sleeve torn and his hat on crooked— and Goemon, keeping guard over his shoulder.

For a few seconds, Jigen only stared at him.

"Jeez, Lupin, you look like shit," Jigen muttered under his breath.

The reserve of manic energy Lupin usually used to pester his wardens with, flooded him and manifested itself as a huge grin, his eyes glinting despite the fact that he hadn't eaten in at least a day or two. For some reason, he was overcome by the urge to prove he was doing perfectly fine, even in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. "Nice to see you, too, buddy." Holding his legs up and rattling the chains on them a little, he turned to Goemon. "Now if you please, Goemon—"

Goemon's hands flashed, and there was the sound of superior metal slicing through inferior. Goemon sheathed the Zantetsuken, and Lupin stood up, surprised and relieved that he was more or less steady on his feet. Stretching a bit, and shaking some life back into his limbs, he looked at Goemon and nodded.

There was a short round of machine gun fire in the hallway, followed by a loud voice. "Come on, boys, let's go!"

Lupin faltered, blanching a bit. "Fujiko?"

He hadn't expected that. He'd fantasized about it, yes, but he wasn't really prepared for it, and at the prospect of seeing her now, after this, he felt acutely self-conscious; a sensation he really wasn't used to.

When he noticed Jigen looking at him, he wiped the astonishment off of his face and nodded again, with more resolve. Jigen returned the nod.

"Let us depart," Goemon said, turning on his heel.

The hallway was crawling with people, and there wasn't exactly time for a reunion, but he caught Fujiko's eyes flashing with something hopeful and bright when she saw him, and then they were running, her brown hair streaming behind her as she dragged him along by his wrist.

The escape was a blur of motion and his own ragged breath pounding in his ears, and when they made it outside to the car and he skidded to a halt, the pain in his protesting limbs finally caught up with him, causing him to collapse in a twitching heap of agony across the hood of the car.

When Goemon and Jigen grabbed one of his arms each and dragged him inside the car, he just let them, hanging limply between them; he didn't really have much of a choice.

When he was shoved into the back of the driver's seat and the car screeched into motion, his stomach knotted with the abrupt movement. He'd been sitting in a small room for such a long time, and now he was suddenly moving at seventy miles per hour. It was jarring to say the least.

As they pulled away from the squat concrete building, he knew he'd back. It was just a question of when.

Once they'd put a bit of road between them and the headquarters, Fujiko crossed her arms over her chest, frowning sternly at the back of the passenger seat in front of her. "I really hope you appreciate this, Lupin— I had business to attend to today, you know, but here I am saving your skinny butt instead— I'll have you know I could be having dinner with a very wealthy man right now while discussing how to get our hands on some wonderful sapphires—"

Lupin didn't say anything, simply letting the irritated chatter wash over him. It felt like a balm to his ears to finally hear a familiar— and female— voice saying something normal.

"Give it a rest, Fujiko," Jigen grumbled, but Fujiko simply ignored him.

When she turned to glare at Lupin, however, she took one good look at him and her face went slack and pale with a whole array of emotions, out of which he could really only identify the shock. He opened his mouth to say something snappy to dispel the awkward feeling of diffidence with, but he didn't get the chance.

"Oh, Lupin!" Fujiko wailed, grabbing his neck and pressing his face to her ample bosom.

A silly expression spread across his face, and for a moment, he forgot about looking like a wreck in front of Fujiko. Ah, yes, this was more like it…no fantasies could beat this. A wonderful, flowery scent wafted from her cleavage, and it was like a jolt of electricity to his libido. He hadn't realized until now how much all this time without any women around, especially Fujiko, had affected him. And at the same time, he felt utterly drained, like he couldn't get it on today even if his life depended on it.

His stomach gave a loud growl.

"Oh, Lupin," Fujiko cooed with sympathy, "you must be so hungry!"

Lupin nodded happily, sending her a puppy dog expression.

In the front seat, he heard Jigen give a snort.

"Don't worry, I've brought you some baguettes and some bananas and some cheese and some apples and—" She babbled, pulling a paper bag from backpack on the floor.

Overcome with hunger as the smell hit him, Lupin pounced on the paper bag and tore it open, digging into the food.

Fujiko whapped him on the back of the head. "Rude! Don't be a pig, here I thought of you and brought you all this food, and you just—" Her manner softened, then, and she clutched his shoulders. "Really, Lupin, you haven't eaten properly in a long while, you'll be sick, Lupin— don't—"

Not heeding her concerned warnings, he continued stuffing his mouth uncontrollably. Shit, this was the best food he'd ever had, this was so—

His stomach lurched.

"I told you so!" Fujiko scolded. "But would you listen? Oh, nooo, you just—"

Jigen groaned. "Just leave him alone, okay, Fujiko?"

Fujiko sighed, looking at Lupin on his knees on the roadside. "What a mess. All that lovely food I bought, and…" She shook her head. "And would you look at that, there's dungeon dirt on my new top, too…!"

Lupin coughed a little and wiped his mouth. When he held his hand out behind his back and waited, Jigen placed a bottle of water in it. Lupin uncorked the bottle, took a sip and got unsteadily to his feet with a lot of effort. To his great relief, no one tried to help him up. That lessened at least a little of the humiliation.

They waited for him to climb back into the car, and then they were off again.

Fujiko was the one who broke the heavy silence, about five minutes later.

"Why didn't you break out months ago?" She demanded with a slightly accusatory undercurrent; there was something else in there, too, something gentler, but he couldn't deal with that right then.

Lupin shook his head, leaning back in the seat and taking a careful swig from the water bottle. "Didn't have anything to break out with, Fujiko. They took all my neat little toys."

"That hasn't stopped you before!"

"Oh, but then I had my razor blade nail, at least," he said almost casually, waving the index finger of his right hand at her. "I gotta say their manicurist skills left something to be desired."

Fujiko gaped at his nail-less finger, and he couldn't blame her— it wasn't a pretty sight— but then she recovered. "Then why didn't you at least try to contact us?" Fujiko snapped at him. "Was this another one of your stupid pride issues?"

Lupin simply opened his mouth up wide, pointing somewhere at the back of it.

Fujiko leaned forward with a frown, and her eyes widened when she saw it, or rather the lack of it. They'd pulled out Lupin's secret emergency tooth, the one with the radio transmitter. Slowly, she sat back, her gaze unfocused. "Your breath stinks," she said at last, in a quiet voice.

Lupin shrugged. "Not much in the way of luxury items in a dungeon, Fujiko-chan."

When her eyes travelled up to meet his and he saw what was in them, he almost lost his cool. It was as if he couldn't even recognize her, for a second, and he almost lost it, having that…that look directed at him at a time like this. He'd been holding things together for a long, long time, how long he didn't know, no matter what they threw at him, and if he didn't keep that up, he felt as if he'd just unravel at the seams—

Whatever it was that Fujiko was seeing in his face, he didn't want to know about it.

"How long was I in there, anyway?" He asked, tapping Jigen's shoulder.

"Ten months, give or take a few days," Jigen muttered, tossing his bent cigarette out the car window.

Lupin gave a low whistle. "Wow."

"Did it seem longer or shorter to you?" Jigen asked, half-turning in his seat.

Lupin grinned. "Oh, I had ways of entertaining myself."

Jigen laughed a little at that, and for a moment, he felt better.

At least he would if he could manage to ignore the worried stare Fujiko was giving him. He didn't turn to look at her, but he could feel it, as if it was burning the side of his face.

That evening in one of their many hideouts, this one a medium-sized, simple house out in the countryside, he tried not to examine the fact that he was trying to avoid looking straight at the mirror in the bathroom.

He took his time in the shower. He had to wash his hair four times before it was properly clean, and once he was done scrubbing his body, he remained under the hot spray of water while he clipped his toenails and fingernails, his eyes only lingering on his damaged index finger for a second or two. A memory uncoiled and twisted in his head, flashing across his brain, and he found himself resisting the sudden need to scrub his body again; he forced the memory into a corner and stepped stiffly out of the shower, towelling off.

Finally, it was time to shave and brush his teeth.

That meant the mirror.

His gaze was a bit unfocused as he applied shaving cream to his face and picked up the razor.

He wasn't looking, but he couldn't avoid catching glimpses of himself; the dark circle under one eye, the hollowness of his left cheek, the bruise on his jaw—

He didn't need a mirror, he decided suddenly; he'd shaved plenty times without one. You had to sometimes, when you were on a limited schedule and were of limited resources and didn't know when you might get shot at next. Even the tiniest hand mirror could reflect the light in such a way that you might get discovered.

It wasn't until he felt the small, wet spot of blood on his fingers that he realized his hand was shaking so badly he'd actually cut himself by accident.

Rinsing his fingers and his face under the faucet, he finished shaving and picked up the buzz cutter. Long hair had never been his style.

He'd have liked to have said that taking it all off again felt cathartic somehow, but mostly he just didn't really know what to feel at all.

When he walked into the living room wearing nothing but his bathrobe, Fujiko was the only one there, and he immediately knew he had to tease her a bit. It had, after all, been a long time since he'd had the chance. Too long.

"See anything you like, Fujiko-chan?" He asked in his best seductive tone, posing jauntily for her.

Fujiko glanced up at his face from whatever she'd been reading, then. "Good," she told him bluntly, "because the beard was gross."

Only briefly disheartened at her lack of playfulness, he sauntered up to her. "Missed me?" He purred, leaning over her chair.

All traces of dismissive annoyance were gone when she looked up at him. In the end, she looked away without even saying anything, and he didn't like it.

"What's the matter, Fujiko-chan?" Lupin asked, tilting his head at her. "Not like this is the first time this has happened. Remember when Pops got the best of me and—"

"That was prison," Fujiko interrupted him, and he hated how small her voice was. "All within the legal system, and anything that might've usually happened in a bad prison wouldn't have happened to you 'cause Zenigata was there, because even if he can be a pain in the neck, he's not a crooked cop. He didn't let anybody push you around, did he?"

Lupin blinked. "Sure, the old man is as clean cut as—"

"Lupin, this wasn't prison," Fujiko murmured, her eyes downcast. "We had no idea where you were and who had you. For months, we just didn't know."

Again, her tone of voice really rubbed him the wrong way, and again, he refused to show it. "Aww, shucks, Fujiko-chan, I knew you cared!" He gushed, grinning.

For a second, she looked like she might go into a huff or yell at him for his silliness, but it turned out he'd gotten his hopes up too high. When she spoke next, her voice was, if possible, even quieter. "Lupin, listen, did they…did they do anything to you?"

He clucked his tongue, shrugged one shoulder. "Eh, they slapped me around a bit, didn't feed me properly, that kinda thing— these people just had no imagination when it came to torture."

She shook her head. "No, Lupin, I mean, did they…you know…" She made a grimace, unable to vocalize it.

Mentally, Lupin ground his teeth. He'd already caught the meaning behind they way she'd said 'do anything', didn't she get that? Why did she keep asking? Because she's noticed something's different this time, he thought, panic swelling up somewhere deep down inside him. "Don't be silly, Fujiko-chan," he told her breezily, "who'd wanna do that? You saw the way I looked— I mean, I wouldn't even have touched me with a ten foot pole, and you know how much I like me," he added, chuckling.

"I guess you're right," she nodded, but he could tell she wasn't convinced, and it really rankled him.

As a final stab at normalcy, he said: "Well, I think I'm gonna hit the hay. You wanna join me?" He added, allowing a naughty smirk to slip across his lips.

"I see you haven't lost the ability for smooth talk," Fujiko rolled her eyes, but her grin was transparent, and he felt the loss all the way to his toes.

"It's like riding a bicycle," he quipped, leaving her with a laugh that nearly sounded normal. "Good night, Fujiko."

Everybody was sleeping.

Everybody was sleeping and he was alone and he was awake and nobody was talking and that meant he had nothing to do but think—

He'd just kept things moving, but now it was over, and here he was, and things were calm again, and there was nobody around to pretend in front of except for himself.

He'd been pretending for months already, so another night shouldn't be a problem, right?

A book, he could read a book, or maybe he could count sheep or—

In the past, if he ever had sleepless nights that weren't caused by his mind working overtime on plotting, but simply some good ol' fashioned just-can't-sleep, he'd usually just jerk off for a while, and he'd be out like a light. Fantasizing about Fujiko while beating off was always fun when he knew she was lying in the next room and might even walk in on him.

Tonight, however, he felt cold, uneasy and had a throbbing headache, and the last thing he wanted to do was play with himself, so he'd just have to try to relax and sleep would come eventually.

Besides, whenever he tried thinking about Fujiko now, all he could see were those disturbingly concerned looks she kept sending him.

Two hours later, he was practically shaking with suppressed anxiety, gritting his teeth in the dark.

Why couldn't anybody make a sound? Snoring, going to the bathroom— heck, even Jigen farting in his sleep would've been something

Not this. Not this silence.

It was making his room feel smaller and smaller by the minute.

Somewhere around four am, when he still wasn't able to sleep, he got dressed, picked up some gadgets and his gun and went out to the car, no longer caring. He had to get rid of the source of these memories. He had to go back.

But he didn't get further than a mile down the road before his vision blurred and he had to pull over. When he got out of the car to get some fresh air, his knees buckled, and he had to hold on to the car door to keep from falling. Breathing heavily, he slid down on the asphalt. His stomach growled, his headache started up again, and he felt like he hadn't eaten or slept in weeks.

He screwed his eyes shut with the overpowering feeling of defeat.

If he cried, he'd have to just— he wouldn't cry.

He'd just get that treasure first, then. Even if it was the last thing he ever did.

He finally managed to get a couple of hours of sleep when he got back, simply because he'd passed out in the end.

Ten am found Jigen and Goemon sitting in the kitchen with a big pot of tea between them, Jigen reading a newspaper and Goemon looking at some kind of old book.

The way Jigen looked at Lupin when he entered the room told Lupin that not only could Jigen see that Lupin had barely slept a wink that night, but that he might've even noticed him sneaking out earlier.

Jigen cleared his throat and put down the newspaper. Lupin waited for the questions, but Jigen only poured him a cup of tea. For some reason, Lupin didn't want to sit down, so he took the cup and started pacing around a bit in the kitchen, sipping at the tea.

"Where's Fujiko?" He asked eventually, coming to a halt.

Goemon looked up from his book. "Miss Fujiko said she had an errand to run."

Jigen made a skeptical little harrumph, and Lupin pursed his lips and continued to pace. "Did she say when she'd be back?"

Goemon shook his head. "She said she didn't know."

Jigen almost jumped in his chair when Lupin broke the silence that followed by clapping his hands together abruptly. "So, are we gonna go and get this treasure I've managed to keep my mouth shut about for the past ten months or are we just gonna sit around?" He coaxed with a bright, brisk enthusiasm.

Jigen looked uncomfortable. "Lupin, um, maybe you should…you know, rest for a while—"

"This kind of treasure doesn't wait around, and it's been too long already," Lupin said firmly. "You still got my plans, Jigen?"

Goemon put down his tea cup. "What Jigen is trying to say is that perhaps this isn't the wisest course of action right now…" He let his sentence trail off meaningfully, which really irked Lupin.

Lupin rolled his eyes. "Oh, come on, I'm fine!"

Jigen sighed, pulling his hat further down into his eyes. "Look, Lupin, I hoped it wouldn't come to this, but if you try to pull a stunt like that in your condition, I have no choice but to stop you."

Lupin barked out a laugh, brittle and loud. "You're gonna stop me? Oh, you gotta be kidding me—"

Jigen's patience wavered a bit, and he scowled. "Lupin, you were starved and tortured for almost ten months, but you're acting like you've just been on vacation or something!"

Lupin barely caught himself before he gave a visible flinch, which only agitated him further. "And you're acting like I'm being unreasonable just because I'm trying to explain to you that those people weren't the only ones after it and that we don't have a lot of time if we want to get to that treasure before—"

His scowl disintegrating into concern, Jigen stood up, reaching out to calm him down.

Sharp, queasy anger rose in Lupin at that, and before he knew it, he was slapping Jigen's hand away. "We're going! After what those bastards did to me, there's no way they're also gonna— we're going!" He shouted, throwing his tea cup to the floor; hearing it shatter. "Don't you try to talk to me like I'm some kind of invalid! We're going, and that's fina—"

His tantrum came to a screeching halt when he got a good look at himself in the small mirror on the wall, below the clock. His eyes were sunken, his face was gaunt, his cheekbones like knives, his lips were chapped, his teeth stained, his skin was a pale, ashen color where it wasn't marred by bruises of a wide variety of interesting shades, and there was the spot where he'd cut himself shaving the night before—

He turned to the other two people in the room and took in Goemon's stolid disapproval and Jigen's worried watchfulness, and experienced a sudden and overwhelming sense of shame.

I should've dealt with this when I was alone last night, he realized, far too late.

It also dawned on him that his suit was a size too big now. He must've noticed it when he was dressing, but it was as if he'd refused to acknowledge it.

His mouth opened and shut a few times, but he couldn't find any words. It was obvious to him that Jigen was also struggling to find something to say to ease his embarrassment, but Lupin couldn't handle it right then, whatever it was he'd say. He was terrified there would be pity.

Turning around, he opened the door to his bedroom and closed it silently behind him.

As he reached the bed, he sank down on the edge of it, his head in his hands, and just sat there, listening to the scraping of the broom and the clink of china outside the door, as they cleaned up the broken tea cup from the kitchen floor.

For a whole fifteen minutes after that, there was no sound except the rustling of pages, but then Lupin heard the front door open.

"Where have you been?" He heard Jigen demand, sounding provoked and working himself towards pissed off.

It was Fujiko who answered. "Meeting with the client I was supposed to meet with yesterday, of course," she said calmly. "What else?"

Lupin felt a touch of indignant anger flare up in him at her carelessness, but was distracted when Jigen spoke.

Jigen scoffed. "Shoulda known. Running off like usual, never thinking twice about—"

"Lupin's going to be fine," Fujiko interjected, surprising Lupin with the conviction in her voice. Not long after, there was the sound of a door slamming somewhere in the house.

Lupin heard Goemon grunting with exasperation and getting up to leave as well.

It didn't take long before somebody knocked on the door to bother him.

He assumed it would be Jigen, but when he saw it was Fujiko, he immediately strode across the floor, pulled her inside, kicked the door shut and threw her on the bed, following after her.

He'd done all this without thinking, but now that he was there on top of her, he was suddenly thinking far too much about far too many things. He grabbed her and kissed her to make it go away, not understanding how much he'd needed the contact until he was doing it, pawing frantically at her, panting and slobbering and probably poking her with all the bony, sharp angles he'd seemed to acquire when he'd been—

Drawing a deep breath, he buried his face in her neck, his hands finding her breasts—

He was flabbergasted when she embraced him hard and gave him a firm, demanding kiss, but even more so when she sat up, pulling him with her, then pushing him away and sitting him upright with the air of somebody unhurriedly handling a disobedient child.

He could only blink at her, wondering if he'd only gotten weaker or if she'd also gotten stronger.

"Lupin," she said, in a tone that told him he should be paying attention.

"What's shakin', Fujiko?" He asked, in a ridiculous attempt at casualness.

It took a while before she spoke, but when she did, she sounded determined. "Back when I was working with Pun, I was captured for three weeks after a particularly big heist. In the end, they tried to rape me."

It was like somebody had thrown a bucket of ice on his brain and it was slowly melting, ice water trickling down his spine. "Fujiko—" He began in a tight voice, but she stopped him.

Fujiko shook her head. "They didn't get that far, but it was a pretty close call." She started to absentmindedly smooth out the material of her dress. "Pun showed up and killed them all. That's when we became lovers."

Lupin nodded, listening even though Fujiko's ex-lovers weren't exactly his favorite subject. Or that…that other one.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there sooner," she mumbled, looking down.

He didn't quite know how to respond to that, how to respond to the fact that she somehow felt responsible for him, so he tried moving the conversation along. "Why are you telling me this?"

She said nothing, her expression carefully blank, and then he knew where she'd actually been that morning.

Normally, he might've preened and gushed and postured over something like this, a sign that she cared, but he just didn't seem to have any preening left in him for the moment. And this wasn't a hug or a kiss or sharing her loot with him. This was just…different.

So different, in fact, that for a moment, he wanted to yell at her for taking this away from him, depriving him of the chance at revenge— he wanted to yell at her that this was a matter of male pride, of honor, that she shouldn't be meddling, that it wasn't her place— he wanted to tell her to get lost—

His stomach twisted with the sense of loss, the sense of something he'd never get to finish, but there was something in her face that prevented him from taking it all out on her. Something that said that she'd needed it almost as much as him.

He cleared his throat softly. "So, they're all…?" Suddenly, he badly needed to joke. "So…I guess that means this is the part where we become lovers, then?" He said, complete with a goofy grin and waggling of eyebrows.

But Fujiko only shook her head. "No, not all of them."

Lupin sent her a prolonged, searching look before he stood up. "Take me there."

It seemed to take too short a time to get there. Shorter than he'd remembered the trip being when he'd first taken it many months ago.

He was grateful that his legs weren't wobbling when he stepped out of the car.

He turned around to ask her where it was, but before he could say anything, she spoke. "Listen, I know how it is, and I'm sorry I interfered, but I just—" Her fists clenched, her voice strained, and he got it.

"It's okay," he said, even though it wasn't— yet it somehow also was. Funny, that.

With a hand on his arm, she led him towards the building. "When you were thrown in jail by the inspector, I tried to get you out so many times, you know, but Jigen always stopped me," she said, her fingers tangling absentmindedly in her necklace. "He said you needed to get out of there yourself."

Lupin stared. Jigen had never said anything about Fujiko doing that; but then again, neither had Fujiko.

"So I get it," Fujiko continued, meeting his eyes straight on, as if to prove her seriousness. "It was just something you needed to do, to…to settle a score, but I figured…well, you've already shown you can do it on your own, right? So maybe this time…maybe this time you would accept some help getting out." She sighed, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "And I know it wasn't my place, but I knew these people wouldn't stick around in this hideout for long after we'd attacked them, so I had to hurry up and do something, all right? I mean, you were in no condition to— you still aren't in any condition to go after them alone, like I knew you'd try to do…"

"You were worried about me," he said matter-of-factly.

There was a faint intake of breath; she looked incredulous. "Lupin, you have no idea what— you know what, I don't care, okay?" Her tone ran into a harsher, more defensive vein. "I don't care if I ruined some macho thing for you! You were gone for close to a year and maybe you would've gotten out eventually, but there's only so long a girl can wait, and— we had to find out if you were actually still alive even, okay?" The last part was added in a voice that seemed close to breaking.

As she'd been speaking, he'd cracked open the main entrance door to the building. Inside, he got a glimpse of a limp arm lying on the floor next to a dropped machine gun. He wondered how many more there were, and what she'd been thinking about at the time. Somehow, he could take a good guess, and it made him wonder how much he really knew about her feelings for him.

"Okay," he said mildly, watching various uncertain expressions flicker across her face before she exhaled. "How did you manage to…?"

"I called in a favour," she said, with a dismissive toss of her hair. He didn't question it; they all had favours owed to them in various parts of the world. "You wanna go in there alone?" She asked, gesturing at the building.

He could feel the grim determination settling on his shoulders. "Yeah. You just wait in the car, I'll be right out."

She didn't ask what he was planning on doing, and he was glad. He wasn't even sure of it himself.

Lupin found him tied to a chair in the cellar, clad in only his underwear. When he looked up and saw Lupin, his eyes went wide and he started to struggle desperately against his ropes. How Fujiko had figured out which one it was, he didn't know, but he assumed she'd picked up quite an array of persuasive interrogation methods in the course of her career.

When their gazes locked, Lupin bit the inside of his cheek so hard he almost broke the skin. He was no sadist, but it was a satisfying and welcome distraction from the memories to be able to watch this man writhe and grunt with pure, undiluted terror.

Lupin knew a thousand and one methods of intimidation, and would have gladly used them all on this creep, but it was as if all the fire had gone out of him.

It was just some sleazy little guy with too much hair gel and a stupid little moustache, drunk on power, who'd had his partners in crime hold Lupin down when—

He looked small, and frightened. Pathetic. A rat.

Lupin could've locked him in the same cell he'd been in and spent months terrorizing him, could've robbed him blind, could've—

But as he looked at him, he knew it wasn't worth it. This wasn't a worthy opponent who needed to be taught a lesson. Torturing him for months would be wasting even more time in the company of this lowlife than he'd already done. And as for his money, he didn't wanna see it, didn't wanna touch it— and he especially didn't want to touch him, even for purposes of revenge. There were depths he'd never sink to, no matter how provoked.

But he could feel the rottenness radiating from the man like waves, coating everything it encountered with an itchy, putrid something, and as he met the man's gaze again, he could see hate turning up in it like somebody had just flipped a switch inside the man's head.

So he had to do something. Because this weasel wouldn't forget, oh no— he'd claw his way after Lupin until he could pay him back, and he'd tell himself it was for his fallen men, but it'd be for his own sake.

Pulling out his gun from its holster, Lupin watched the fear in the weasel's eyes mingle with the hate and the pathetic selfishness and become something entirely different that he never wanted to see again.

This guy didn't even deserve a fair fight.

"Just remember that I never ever looked like you do now," Lupin said, and pulled the trigger.

No more time wasted.

His hands shook when he walked out to the car, but he allowed Fujiko to see it. He wasn't sure if he'd have been able to hide it even if he'd wanted to, anyway.

"Let's go," he said, getting in on the passenger side.

She didn't ask any questions.

When they got back to the house, he was determined to just walk inside and act as if they'd just been to get a pack of cigarettes or something, but Fujiko grabbed his sleeve before he could reach the door.

"Lupin…?" Her voice was soft and undemanding, yet full of a million queries, and he didn't know if he had any real answers. She wanted to know how he was doing, now, before they joined the others again, wanted to know if he was okay, and maybe she'd decided she wanted to know what had happened in there after all—

Answering those kinds of questions would mean he'd have to consider how he was doing, and he wanted to let at least a week go by before prodding at that particular blister.

This time, he curled his fingers into fists to contain the shaking. "Let's go inside, okay, Fujiko? I'm sure there's dinner—"

She frowned, and stepped forward, and before he knew it, she was hugging him.

He bridled. "Look, I'm okay, really, I don't need any pity parties!"

"Not pitying you," she muttered. "You have too big of an ego to be pitied."

He started to retort, but then she was stroking his back and placing tiny kisses on the part of his face and neck she could reach, and he writhed in her grasp, tears prickling his eyes, but she held on, and he sagged, swallowing down the frustrated grief, panting.

Finally, his breathing sounded normal again. Dipping his head down, he kissed her gingerly, and she let him.

When he spoke, he sounded hoarser than he would've liked. "Tsk, tsk, Mine Fujiko…letting me hold you like this, putting yourself in a position I can take advantage of? Don't tell me you've gone soft," he taunted, letting his large hands slide down her waist to come to caress her buttocks.

Finally, he seemed to succeed in getting the reaction he'd been wanting for the last two days, because her ruby-colored lips twitched into a wry little smile, and then she was actually laughing. "I guess this is the part where we become lovers," she purred.

This had him utterly spun for a moment; even enough for him to drop his hands from her luscious backside and take a step back to see her face better. "Now Fujiko-chan, it's not nice to fool your ol' pal Arséne," he warned her flippantly, testing the waters.

She studied his face for a while, until he felt he was ready to break into a cold sweat, or at least make a stupid comment or writhe uncomfortably. "Not now," she said with a soft solemnity, as if she'd come to some sort of profound understanding just by looking at him for a minute. "Later," she went on, blowing him a kiss and a wink over her shoulder as she walked into the house, and looking so much like the regular Fujiko that he forgot to respond.

And he had no idea if she'd been serious about it or not, but he did know that something had changed.

Just as he'd entered the house and had plopped down into the first chair he saw, exhausted, Jigen called for him.

"Hey, Lupin?"

He looked up, seeing Jigen standing there in the kitchen doorway, wearing a plain white apron outside of his usual suit and leaning on the doorframe with a potato peeler in his hand.

"What's up, Jigen?" He replied, trying to sound upbeat.

It took a while for Jigen to answer.

"You're…you know, okay, right?" Jigen asked in a tentative tone, actually tipping his hat back so he could meet Lupin's gaze.

Lupin hesitated at this, but only for a second. "Why wouldn't I be?" He smirked boisterously. "Guess who just said they'd be my lover," he prompted, sticking out a pinky finger in a conspiratorial manner.

Jigen rolled his eyes before he pushed the hat back down. "Right, good luck with that…"

Shrugging, Lupin leaned back in the chair, propping his legs up on the coffee table. "Dinner smells great, by the way," he said, grinning.

Jigen grunted. "Yeah, it's almost done." Just as he was about to go back into the kitchen, he turned in the door. "Lupin?"


One side of Jigen's mouth curled briefly in a half-smile. "Good to have you back."

Lupin nodded in acknowledgement of this, but didn't waste the opportunity, either. "Does that mean we're all going to get that treasure soon?" He asked brightly. "I mean, with Fujiko playing nurse, I'm sure I'll be back to my old self in no time!"

Jigen just gave a long-suffering sigh and stomped out on the patio to have a smoke.

Lupin knew it meant yes.

The End.

Author's note: I had no intention of writing this fic, because I have many other fics I should be attending to and real life stuff to do, but I had some kinda weird dream about Lupin being captured and being all starved and tired and disheveled when the gang finally found him, and when the plot bunny calls, I must answer.

I have no idea how rape snuck itself into this story. It wasn't in my dream, thank goodness.

The treasure and the people who captured Lupin: I kept this deliberately vague. The details of this aren't really that important to the story, and I didn't want to get into them. I would have made something real up if it had been a multi-chaptered story, but not for a one-shot such as this.

Medium-sized, simple house out in the countryside: Hmm…something like the one from episode two of the original green jacket series, Mashutsushi to Yobareta Otoko or The Man They Call a Magician (the episode with Pycal).

"Not like this is the first time this has happened. Remember when Pops got the best of me and—": In episode four of the original green jacket series, Zenigata managed to capture Lupin, and he spent about a year in prison. He could've escaped at any moment because he had a secret razor blade fingernail, but he stayed because he wanted to teach Zenigata a lesson due to the humiliating way in which he felt he'd been captured. The episode was called Datsugoku No Chansu ha Ichido, or One Chance For a Prison Break. And yes, Fujiko did try to break Lupin out of prison a whole bunch of times, and was stopped by Jigen.

Pun: Fujiko's assassin ex-boyfriend from episode nine of the original green jacket series, Koroshiya ha Buruusu wo Utau or An Assassin Sings The Blues.

Sticking out a pinky finger: A Japanese sign for woman/lover/mistress. Probably not that polite to use, and seems kinda chauvinistic at times. It's just Lupin doing some macho posturing, I guess. I've seen him use the pinky thing at least once in the shows/movies.

What country they're in: Wherever you want them to be. Most likely Japan, though, I suppose.