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from the top!

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"O-kay, stop, stop!" Zenigata yells for the fifth time, smacking his drumsticks together angrily and leaping to his feet. The music tapers off, and he points one stick accusingly at Lupin, in the front, his saxophone dropping from his lips and hanging from his neck.

"Eh?" Lupin blinks. "Pops, that felt pretty good, why'd we stop?"

Zenigata scowls at him.

"If I can't get you to follow a damn beat, I'll lock you in a room with nothing but a metronome for hours." He growls, shoulders nearly shuddering in rage.

Jigen stifles a snort, abandoning his place and dropping down on their torn-up, sinking couch. His trumpet leans against his thigh as he crosses his legs and props them up on the coffee table. Goemon, sensing they're not going to get anything done anytime soon, sits down cross-legged beside him, setting his long, silver flute against his shoulder and folding his arms.

Fujiko rolls her eyes and stands up. Her fingers linger for a moment over familiarly worn black and white keys.

"For the hundredth time, Koichi." She sighs, crossing her arms. "It's jazz. You love jazz, don't you?"

Zenigata pinches his lips.

"Yes..." He trails off, seeming to lose his conviction for a moment before coming back with a glare. "But even jazz has a drummer for a reason! Lupin, you have to follow my pace-"

Lupin lets out a put-upon breath, dropping his head, then peeks back up at the two through his lashes, a cheeky grin beginning to spread across his face.

"Huhu, Pops is getting serious!" He chuckles, but hefts his saxophone again. "I'm not gonna slow down for you, you know. It's all about expanding out horizons, see?"

Zenigata balls his fists. He looks like he's about to jump Lupin, and the other man doesn't help matters by closing the small space of their basement in a few strides, leaning over the drum set to kiss Zenigata teasingly on his cheek, pink with rage.

"You're so frustrating." Zenigata mutters, but his fists unclench, and his face begins to redden for a different reason. Lupin grins and smacks him on the shoulder, leaping back to the front of the dimly-lit room.

At some point, Jigen had started smoking, filling the room with a vague haze and the smell of cheap tobacco- Fujiko coughs and checks to make sure the ventilation is turned on.

"How many times have I told you to stop smoking down here?" She complains. "I like a good cigarette, but yours are foul, and the basement doesn't have windows, you ass. Smoke outside like a normal person."

Goemon huffs in agreement, trying to breathe as little secondhand smoke as possible. Jigen smokes an irrational amount for a brass player, and for a wind player, the tolerance is even lower- he's considered buying a pollution mask.

Lupin laughs aloud. His mirth fills the air between them, and before they know it, everyone's swept up in laughter. Lupin has that kind of effect- as much as Zenigata moans and whines about rhythms and order, Lupin's rhythm is the one they're all caught up in at the end of the day.


Business is slow.

Goemon sits at the front counter of their record shop- the one the five of them own together. His flute is, as always, nestled against his chest, and his robe is light for summer- the old air conditioning unit in the window cranks away, but he has his doubts as to how much good it does. The tiny fan propped up on the counter is much better for relieving the heat.

"Yo." Jigen comes down the tiny, narrow stairs that lead to their tiny, narrow apartment on the second floor. "Any customers?"

"A few." Goemon replies without opening his eyes. "It's been slow."

"Hmm." He hears.

Then, he feels Jigen's presence behind him.

Then, he feels...

"Jigen." His eyes remain resolutely closed. "We're at work."

Jigen's hand, which has slipped around Goemon's waist, doesn't move.

"I'm not doing anything improper." He snickers, propping his pointy chin on Goemon's shoulder. "Anyways, it's not busy, right?"

If Goemon's eyes were open, he'd roll them.

"One kiss?" Jigen continues, shifting his face until he's cheek-to-cheek with Goemon, a grin still on his face.

"...If you insist." Goemon sighs, but turns to kiss him, lightly. The beard scratches against his face, and Jigen always tastes like smoke, but it's all part of what they are-

"Starting without me?" The bell rings when Fujiko walks in the door, groceries propped on her hip. "How rude. I'll get jealous, you know."

Jigen snorts.

"Lupin's in the office with Pops. I'm sure he'd be more than happy to let you distract him from tax returns." He says. Fujiko joins them behind the counter and, pushing the bag of food into Jigen's protesting hands, leans down to kiss Goemon deeper than Jigen had.

"I'm back." She murmurs. Jigen scoffs but doesn't avert his eyes.

"Hmm... who's jealous now?" Fujiko breaks away from Goemon, who's looking thoroughly flushed, and smirks at Jigen.

He scowls.

"As if." He hefts the bag of groceries more securely in his arms. "And, what, I don't get a kiss?"

"Didn't know you wanted one." Fujiko feigns ignorance, tapping one finger to her bottom lip which, just moments before, been pressed against Goemon's. Jigen huffs- almost embarrassed, but they've been together too long for that- and turns his head, but Fujiko takes mercy and slides her hand up his arm, moving closer to kiss him on the cheek.

"Take the groceries upstairs, please." She says, smirking, drawing away. Jigen glares, a flush high on his face, almost hidden by the shadow of his hat.

"Fine." He mutters, and turns back to the stairs, but not before he leans down to press his lips briefly to the side of Goemon's neck. The skin there is pink from the blush that's worked its way up his neck.


"Lupin, would you sit still for one second?" Zenigata scowls, the crease between his eyebrows growing deeper with every moment. "We have to file these to remain a legitimate business-"

"I don't care." Lupin moans, arms sprawled over the back of his office chair. There are only two desks in the office, because no more than two of them ever do administrative work at one time, and the room is so small that it's cramped enough as it is. They're lucky it's not small enough to trigger Fujiko's claustrophobia- after Zenigata, she's easily the most productive member of the group. The room holds many memories of late nights between Zenigata and Fujiko, glasses propped on the bridges of their noses, burning furiously through paperwork and inventory records.

Zenigata throws a pen at Lupin's chin. It connects. Lupin jumps up with a yelp.

"Pops! What was that for?" He complains, rubbing his face. "You guys always say you can't read my handwriting anyways, so I'm useless for filling out paperwork-"

Zenigata rubs the spot between his eyes. His headache is getting worse. He sighs in defeat and digs around in the desk drawer for a cigarette. The only ones there are a pack of Jigen's, which are too bitter, but he lights one up anyways. It tastes familiar, even though he never smokes them, because that's what Jigen's mouth tastes like when they-

He coughs, choking on smoke.

Lupin glances over.

"You alright?" He asks. "Don't swallow that cigarette. They're not candy, you know."

Zenigata glares up at him, doubled over, eyes watering slightly.

"Shut up." He wheezes.


"Goemon, where's the curry powder?" Zenigata asks, the sleeves of his white dress shirt rolled up to the elbows and a pink apron tied to his front.

Goemon looks up from washing the rice. Whenever Goemon cooks, it's always traditional food.

"Not in the cabinet?" He drains the water and adds more, slotting the container in the rice cooker and pressing the button. "I thought we still had some, but we might be out."

Zenigata sighs and slumps against the counter.

"Why can't I ever find anything in this house?" He moans.

Goemon chuckles. The sleeves of his robe are tied by the straps around his back.

"We have spices in the cabinets too, you know." He wipes his hands and opens the tiny wooden door again, peering at the shelves, pulling out half a dozen jars of powder and setting them on the counter. Zenigata lets out a breath. His fingers ache from filling out paperwork. He flexes them, trying to release the stiffness in the joints.

Goemon notices.

"Are you in pain?" He asks, glancing over. "I can cook tonight, if-"

Zenigata shakes his head.

"I'm fine." He says gruffly, still stretching his fingers by pressing them against his other palm. His right thumb seems in danger of cramping up. Before he knows it, Goemon's long, pale fingers are on his.

"A musician has to take care of their hands." Goemon murmurs, hair falling into his face, pressing the fleshy parts of Zenigata's palm with the pads of his fingers. Goemon's hands are thin and delicate-looking, but possess the strength of someone who spends hours a day training with them- his touch on Zenigata's skin is firm and smooth. Zenigata exhales unknowingly and relaxes his hands.

"Hmm." He makes a noise. Goemon smiles and presses a light kiss to the heel of Zenigata's palm. The blood rushes to Zenigata's face at hyperspeed, staining his cheeks and tightening his shoulders. Something so small shouldn't still embarrass him- he and Goemon have touched in... less innocent ways- but the tiny gesture still makes him flush dramatically and duck his head.