"Yeah. Yeah, I know!" Yukiko paced the floor while her free hand wildly moved about, the other holding up her cell phone. "What's she up to? I dunno, she's your best friend!" she looked down the hallway of the apartment, and Toshiro sat on the ground, his back against the wall, muttering to his own sister. Ishikawas handled shock with all of the panache Jigens seemingly lacked, and this was evident by Yukiko's pacing a fresh groove in the wooden floor while Toshiro spoke in only just above a whisper. Saiyuri, along with her brother, watched from a cracked doorway.
"Just figure out what the heck's goin' on, Ryo!" Yukiko shouted, and hung up the phone. This was followed by a shake of the head as she looked back to the TV screen. Carmen di Cagliostro, dressed regally in blue and a matching crown, and with hands folded on her lap, attempted to remain her composure in the interview. Beside her was a much-more relaxed Fuji Lupin, hand on Carmen's shoulder, and laughing gleefully as she answered questions posed by the flustered reporter, who had come only expecting an interview over the thirtieth anniversary of Clarisse di Cagliostro's rule.
Fuji sat back and treated this as if she were at a bar with old friends. She was the only on looking this relaxed. Carmen was tense from her clenched jaw to pinched shoulders, and the interviewer was leaned forward, his once perfectly-gelled hair falling out of place, but not daring to pay notice to this. His story of the year had become his country's story of a lifetime.
"W-What are you plans for the celebration?" the reporter, a good-looking man in glasses and an expensive suit asked through a thick Italian accent. The suit was becoming wrinkled and wilted under the heavy light, and he was beginning to sweat, either from stress or from the same lights, but he paid no mind. All eyes were on the thief in the room.
"Get some spaghetti, of course!" Fuji giggled. "As well as a few other surprises, I suppose? Why not, I've been gone for such a while, might as well put on a show!"
"W-What, exactly? Can you elaborate?"
"Well, for my first surprise, I'm going to produce the missing Duke of Cagliostro and Carmen-san's MIA husband, Ally Jigen!" she exclaimed. Carmen's eyes widened in shock, and she had no words. She only began to shake, and she gripped her hands tighter. "That'll be my first surprise. After that, you'll have to guess! I'm probably going to go now and get my team together. No man's an island, you know. And no lady goes out without her entourage! That'd just be tacky!"
The camera shook as Fuji bolted from the set, and there was the sound of yelling, off-camera, as she rushed out of the room in the palace the interview was taking place in. The camera had fallen, giving a view of Carmen's shoes, and little more. The sounds were more interesting, anyhow. Quick chattering in Italian—Yukiko gulped dryly, and stood there with her hands in her pockets, making out what she could in her elementary Italian. It was all about one thing, and one thing only. Lupin the Fourth was back, and had just bolted out through a balcony exit.
Odori sipped her tea, blinked, and glanced to the side, to the door. She gripped her sword, in case of more reporters. Her husband had already scared off several that morning, and she attempted to relish the otherwise quiet morning with her daughter. The three, her, Jordan, and Namiko, all attempted to avoid the topic. Instead the discussion of the day focused on mundane things, from cartoons Namiko had watched to Jordan mentioning the roof needed repairing. Anything but the news of yesterday.
Her brow twitched, and Namiko pushed her coloring, giving a curious glance across to her mother.
The knocking on the wooden pillar of the traditional-style Japanese home was kept consistent, and ended with Odori rolling the door back quickly, nearly snapping it off of its tracking.
She was neither surprised nor pleased by the visitor at the front porch, "YOU!"
"Me!~" Fuji replied. Her bubbly smile fell as Odori's blade pressed against her neck. "D-Dori-chan?"
"You…" she seethed. "I've had reporters trying to talk to me all day! Do you know how hard it's been to keep them away?"
"You want me to do your makeup for an interview, Dori-chan?"
"I want you to drop dead!" Dori snapped.
"Hey, Dori, I—"Jordan stopped as he entered the main room. "….Thought I heard yelling…"
"She was just leaving," Odori answered, placing a firm hand on Fuji's shoulder, ready to push her off of the porch in one instant. Fuji chuckled and ducked out of this grip, as well as the sword's blade, and she sidestepped Odori to walk into the house. "…You're leaving incorrectly."
"Ohhh, come on! Doesn't anyone have a sense of humor, anymore?"
"That was some scheme you pulled there…" Jordan muttered, and Fuji took a seat at the low-set table. Jordan joined her, and after a reluctant pause, so did Odori. Namiko glanced at one adult, and then to another, and then to another, trying the piece together why the adults, except for her father, had gone insane.
"I brought you something!" Fuji gasped, snapping her fingers and pointing to Namiko, pulling the child out of her thoughts. Lupin leaned forward, while Odori rolled her eyes. Fuji reached from behind the little girl's ear, and although she was puzzled as she returned with an empty hand. She reached with her other hand, and came up with the same nothingness. "Ah! I know! Check underneath your seat!"
"Huh? My seat?" the six-year-old stood and picked up the large cushion, and she gasped, and lifted up the pink-haired ragdoll. Even Odori seemed bewildered by how such a large doll had gotten underneath the seat.
"Working all sorts of miracles, aren't you?" Jordan laughed, watching Namiko cling onto the large doll. "I heard something about wanting to get everyone together again?"
"Two weeks is all I need. Then I won't be a bother to anybody. And the pay's good," Fuji answered. "Could I maybe borrow Dori-chan for that long, huh? Please? Favor to a sister?"
"That's not how it works!" Odori barked, and huffed. "What's this all about? Come clean, already!"
"Well, I'm bringing Ally-chan back, for one."
"…There's never just one motive with you."
"Ah, you know me well, Dori-chan!" she giggled, and reached over to Odori. She reached behind one ear, and came up with nothing. She reached behind the other, and nothing. Then she reached down in the bandaging around Odori's chest, and pulled out a map. Namiko was too preoccupied by her doll to notice this exchange, and Fuji whistled as she unfolded the map.
"I stole some gold coins from a museum in San Francisco, a few nights ago."
"What this in it?" Jordan nodded to the map.
"No, it was to get Leo's attention. And, well, I needed to make sure I wasn't rusty! I've been busy being a trophy wife, these past few years! This is something I found a while back in an auction, behind a painting. Are either of you familiar with Henri Rousseau?"
Jordan nodded, "Yeah—French artist. Painted pictures of jungles, but never went to one."
"Except he did," Fuji grinned, and pressed down the ancient map. "A lost jungle. With a lost treasure."
Odori sat in the back seat of the rented Jaguar, refusing to sit in the passenger seat; it wasn't her place to sit there. Fuji whistled to herself as she turned down the street, the GPS on the dash leading the way through the French streets. The tall, straight rows of brick houses squished together were a world away from the thick forests and rural gravel roads of her own home.
Ryo's home was recognizable by the bright red Austin-Martin parked out front, bright and shining and looking floor model new. That, and the fact Ryo stood out there, her arms folded, a few suitcases at her side. As Fuji pulled up, Ryo turned back and waved to Victor from the door. The Lupin cousin stood there, an infant boy in his arms, and waved her off quietly. He then shifted to give a glare to Fuji.
Ryo loaded her things in the trunk and then climbed into the passenger seat. This is where she belonged.
"Where are we headed to?"
"A family reunion!" Fuji replied, shifting the gears and pulling out of the driveway.
In fact, the reunion itself was at a beach house, off the coast of St. Kitts. Fuji wasted no time dressing for the occasion in a blue bikini, white wrap, and large sunglasses, topped with a large white hat. The rest of the group stood around in the spacious, brightly-light living room, each taking the bright pink drink she poured with reservation. Yukiko, still dressed in her suit, began to knock back the drink in large swigs, feeling some release from the pain.
"Now I'm sure you've all got one question, and that's what's on the menu, tonight. Well, in your honor, we're having a barbeque!" Fuji exclaimed.
The faces remained stoic and unimpressed, including Heiji's.
"No one, huh?" she pulled off the glasses and sighed.
"You said two weeks. Either you're confident that this will be sorted out quickly, or you're already going senile," Odori snapped, shifting from foot-to-foot. The tiny samurai woman clenched her jaw at Fuji's laughter, and began to unsheathe her sword—She was quickly stopped by Heiji and Toshiro, though, who each took one of their sister's hands.
"We have a meeting to get to, and a meeting," she answered, and sprawled out on one of the large, cushy couches in the room. "In the meantime, what's wrong in getting a little relaxation in? We're all parents, now, so why not enjoy the quiet!"
"I'll bite, Fuji…What's up your sleeve?" Ryo sighed.
"She's found Ally," Odori huffed. Fuji sat up, her mouth curling into a dissatisfied frown.
"Ally?" Yukiko and Ryo both looked to Fuji, and immediately both sisters rushed to the Lupin, who remained there, attempting to break a word through the barrage of questioning.
"Tomorrow!" Fuji shouted. "We'll have Ally-chan back… By tomorrow! But for now, can everyone enjoy the food?"
Yukiko looked to Ryo, "…You hold her, I'll punch."
"G-Guys!" Heiji yelped.
"Let's just get some food, Yuki!" Toshiro called out.
And they gathered around the tense table, Fuji at its head, on her second drink. She was the only one with the healthy-enough appetite, it seemed, to stomach the pork and several sides that had been laid out.
"So! We're going to swing by and get Ally-chan, and then we're going to find Henri Rousseau's treasure! Everyone will be richer, we'll all be happy, the end!"
"Fuji… No one found him. It's been four years," Ryo whispered.
"I know, but, well… I just haven't been quiet, in that time, you know," she giggled. "He was hard to find, but I think him know that we're on to him, we'll have a good chance of finding him. I think part of Ally-chan wants to be found."
"…What makes you so sure? He hasn't called us. Hasn't written. Nothin'," Yukiko answered skeptically. "Four years of us worrying about him, nothin' else."
"Call it an optimistic hunch," Fuji replied, and took a large bite of her bread.
On the other side of the same island, Ally Jigen sat in a small hotel, accompanied by a woman in the corner of the room. She remained there, leaning forward on the handle of the sword she carried. He remained there, seated, backwards in his chair, replaying the same footage, his eyes barely visible through his thick black hair but the chill in the previously warm room speaking volumes.
"Do you really think she's going to find you?"
Ally remained there, quietly playing the clip once more, all of his thoughts poured into the television.
"…You want to be found."
He watched Carmen's expression once again, at the moment Fuji declared she would find him…. The wash of emotions as his former boss happily proclaimed it.
Li stood and sighed, heading out of the tiny living room and into the kitchenette. "I'll put on a kettle of tea for us, Boss."
"I don't care what it takes, we need a plane there. NOW!" Max slammed down the phone and sat back in the seat of his office. He sat there, alone, staring up at the ceiling. This would've been easier with INTERPOL funding, but… They were their own company. Funds were limited. Tickets to where Fuji was last spotted cost even more than that. He was at a dead-end. Even with juggling all of the numbers he could think of, and all of the accounts he could think of, it was still a no-go.
He swiveled back and forth in his chair, stared at the ceiling, and thought back to the flight attendant he'd had a brief fling with. Was that guy even alive, still?
There was a knock on the door of the tiny office, and he stood and hurried to it, still carrying with him the small limp of being shot in the spine all of those years ago.
At first he thought it was Leo, coming by to visit him and maybe bring him lunch. But instead it was Lupin the Third, who appeared just as surprised by his own presence.
"Oh, G-d… The kids broke Leo…."
"Not this time," Lupin chuckled, and placed his hands in his pockets. "Mind if I come in?"
And Max offered Lupin a seat, as well as some of the liquor he kept in a drawer of his desk, and Lupin took both of these gratefully, and spent time nursing the drink as he studied the dusty, cluttered office.
"Leo spends a lot of time in here, huh?"
"Yeah… His place at home is just as bad…"
"You know… I won't lie, I'm sort of having fun letting you figure out why I'm here!" Lupin chuckled, his same laugh even after all of these years.
"I'm thinking one of the detectives caught someone who works for you?"
"Not at all! I want to hire you to catch Fuji!"
Max choked on the drink he'd poured himself, and pounded on his chest to force the scotch down the correct pipe.
"I'm serious!" Lupin added, leaning forward in his chair, "I want you to catch my daughter! I'm willing to fully fund it with two conditions!"
"I… What? W-Why could you possibly want that?"
"Well, my first condition is I'm going to tell you. And the second condition is you're not going to tell Ari that I'm the one behind this, or why I'm doing it," Lupin replied. The sternness, and…. Near-seriousness with which he said this had Max's attention.
Fuji whistled as she pulled on a pair of brown gloves, in addition to her normal ensemble, and pushed up her sunglasses, and looked herself over in the mirror.
"…Perfection's hard to top. But I try," Fuji reached into her suitcase and pulled out a scarf, while Ryo looked up from her book and shook her head.
"…There's something you're not saying."
"How much I missed you? But I thought waking everyone up with a fruit bouquet would do that for me!... If you're expecting more, I have to regrettably let you know that I'm a married woman, now, Ryo-san!"
"…You can hide it all you want, but I know you, Fuji."
"What time is it?"
"About nine…. Fifteen. Why?"
Fuji's eyes flashed, and she rushed to Ryo, lifting up the thick book and shutting it on her friend, "Because we need to get to the other island! There's a festival on, now! Now get going, I have to prep a few more things!"
Ryo grunted and pried the book out of the grinning Fuji's hands, and gave one more critical glare before walking out.
Fuji wandered into the bathroom, feeling an itching in her throat—This was followed, soon, by a familiar taste, and she began to cough wildly while leaning over the sink. It continued until she could feel her entire chest ache and burn, and the coughing only ceased when she was panting, gasping for air. She looked down at the blood in the sink in horror and began to rinse it out as quickly as possible.
"Fuji?" there was a knock on the door, and Heiji's voice. She checked her makeup, adjusted this, as well as her smile, and hurried out to her group.