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It's Not About You

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Lupin had gotten bored.

No, bored was an understatement. Bored was sitting at home during a rainy day wishing you could go run around in the sun. This? Was a bit harder to describe. Like feeling termites burrowing into your femurs and making you want to jump up and scream and run as hard as possible to try and shake off that nagging, biting sensation. He was definitely drumming a hole in the floor with the way his knee bobbed, foot tap-tap-tapping against the hardwood of the shabby apartment he’d come to call home.

No, Lupin wasn’t just ‘bored’. He was stir-crazy, manic, and deeply, unquestionably lonely. He needed to get out of the house.

For the last two years, Lupin had taken a hiatus, so to speak. The gang had parted their separate ways, off to different corners of the earth to take care of whatever business they needed to. He knew the basics of where they’d gone: Jigen had gone back to the states to check in with his sister and solve more than a few power disputes between families. Goemon had gone to-what else?-train his little heart out and iron out the creases Lupin had shown he had. And Fujiko...sweet, darling, love of his life...still showed up in the papers alongside whatever rich old or hot arm candy she’d snagged that week.

 

And he was happy for them, really. At some point or another he had to remember the world didn’t revolve around Arsene Lupin the third...but man did it sting to remember! He used to be a selfish, greedy little bastard and learning he could actually rely on people, let alone come to even care about them had been somewhat of a wake-up call. He’d grown to love being around people who trusted him...And now it had been torn away. And he’d asked them to! Guess that’s the problem with having too much of something though. You got addicted to it.

He sighs, trying to get out of his head and lighting a cigarette, tapping the ashes out on the sidewalk as he goes. The jacket of the day was red, a color he’d been trying out lately, slung over his shoulder with his shirtsleeves rolled up. It was expected to be a warm one today, with thunderstorms later on in the evening, and he neither wanted to sweat himself to death nor get soaked. But he just had to get out of that apartment and do...something.

But what? He had options. There was a festival going on downtown, the pachinko parlor was open late, he could go find a nice hole in the wall shack to curl up in and drink himself under the table at. He should’ve picked a city with more of a nightlife, like Tokyo of Shibuya. Why he picked Saitama was only cause he’d wanted to lay low and paying out an apartment in full there had been a lot cheaper than going to a bigger city. Course he could always just hop on a train if he really wanted to go there but...Ugh. He rubs his face and breathes out. It was times like these he’d wished Jigen was still around. At least he could decide on something right away instead of pondering and stressing about it till he looked up at the clock and realized three hours had gone by.

 

It’s about that time he realizes he’s entered residential streets, eyes ending up reading nameplates as he walks on by, more to let his eyes wander then really read him over. His head stops before his body does on one in particular though, nearly tripping over his feet before righting himself to read it over.

 

銭形

 

Zenigata

 

He had no idea a single name could get him riled up so fast and send a familiar tingle up his body, looking over the family home with immediate intrigue. A smaller place, looked like it had been fixed up only recently. There were still tools set up outside-hammers, nails, a wooden horse for cutting wood, saw laying nearby. Lupin could just imagine Zenigata now-his work jacket and vest cast aside, the sleeves rolled up, sawing wood. Ooh and he’d have to get a leg up to hold the workbench down, his biceps rippling-

He blinked a few times and tried to hide the blush, even if nobody was there to see it. Man he really needed to get out more.

...He glanced to the left and saw an empty street. He glanced to the right and saw the same. Everybody in this neighborhood was either at work or school and would probably stay out for the festival till at least evening. An innocent whistle creeps out as he walks up the stone steps, up onto the porch, takes another peek around and slips back through one of the open windows.

Pops must be losing his touch if he keeps the place this insecure. A quick inspection shows even the front door is unlocked, as are the other windows. Must be nice though-living in a neighborhood safe enough to not need three different deadbolts. But locked or not, it was time to have some fun snooping around. He snickers to himself, setting the jacket up on the coat rack alongside a tan inspector’s coat and hat, ignoring both as he starts to look around the home. It felt...cozy. It wasn’t top of the line modern but it wasn’t an ancient look either. If he’d felt unsure about the name before, numerous pictures of Zenigata hanging up around the place. There was one at his graduation ceremony when he first became an officer. It was weird to think of Pops ever looking young, and this picture just proved if anything that the man probably came out looking at least thirty-five. It was a nice reminder that there’d been a time before Lupin when he’d grinned that wide.

 

A lot of these photos were related to his dealings as a police officer. A couple of articles concerning his first few arrests, some pictures taken at his precinct, group shots of Zenigata standing tall surrounded by numerous other cops in frame, Pops getting married, an article back from his dealings with the count-

 

...Hold the phone. He stops in his tracks and backpedals to the photograph of a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony. “Well I’ll be damned.” There he was. Dressed up in a black yukata alongside a pretty woman Lupin had never seen before. She was nearly as tall as he was, maybe even a couple inches taller then the good officer, with features sharp enough to cut glass and hair that had to be a good two feet long when it wasn’t put up like it was in the picture.

 

Zenigata had his eyes shut-looked like he might’ve been nervous the day this happened (Lupin couldn’t really blame him)-but the woman herself looked...well. Peaceful? Not overjoyed or flustered, but calm, smiling at the cameraman with a warm look in her eyes that...almost made those sharpened features of her into something really beautiful. Less like a polished knife, more like a piece of obsidian: sharp but with natural flows and curves to it.

 

The date of the picture drew his attention once he could tear his eyes off of her. He’d only gotten married a few months after Lupin had pulled his grand disappearing act. Well, if Pops wanted to make him jealous!!...then...yeah that was a good way to start. Out of all the folks, the fact that Zenigata had moved on so fast was kind of disheartening. Whatever happened to being his destiny and goal in life, eh??

 

Or maybe after all the other faked deaths over the year, he’d finally decided this one stuck...hm…

 

Well. Fine so Zenigata was married. Where was the wife then? Did she work too? That was a little unusual for a Japanese couple but Zenigata did seem like the type to go for a hardworking woman who understood what it was like running all over the place for one job. Someone that wouldn’t tie him down too hard. And it was good he found someone like that! Really!...really…

 

He shakes it off, moving on from the photographs, snatching an apple from the kitchen as he goes to idly munch on while he looks around. The kotatsu was still set up in the living room despite the throes of summer outside. He wouldn’t be surprised if Zenigata spent most nights napping under there though. Working on paperwork till midnight and passing out with a beer still in hand.

 

He wanted to laugh at the thought before remembering he’d probably rather sleep with his wife now, laugh cutting off as he swallows that bitter pill and moves on. Let’s see here...bedroom, office, there was the back porch out to a small flower garden, a bench set at an angle against the fence, with a deer scare gently clicking against the rocks.

 

Something caught his eye though. Just before the backyard-a smaller room he almost mistakes for a bathroom with the lighter colored paint inside, stepping in with some caution. The blinds are drawn, leaving the room relatively dark compared to the rest of the house, and as Lupin looks around, the facts quickly come together.

 

This was...a nursery? He can’t help it: he laughs at the idea. Pops was already thinking about becoming a papa and this gal he got hitched too was on board enough to build a nursery already! Sheesh, the guy really had moved on! He thought. Not that Lupin wanted him to sniff around every breadcrumb he dropped, but man! This was rich!

 

He’s wiping a tear away as he leans on the cradle, “Gyuhuhu...Papa Pops...man that’s a good one. As if he’d manage to-” That's about the time the crib gate drops down suddenly under his hand, and when he turns, he’s face to face with a familiar pair of eyes.

 

He’d recognize those eyelashes a mile away. He’d had to learn how to with how quickly Zenigata could catch up. And a tiny pair of them were wide awake and giving him the most bewildered look they could manage. Lupin blinks. The baby blinks back at him.

 

And let’s loose with the loudest scream Lupin has ever heard in his entire life.

Chapter Text

 

“I can’t believe this!!” His ears were ringing, filled with the noise of a baby crying and screaming at him for all it was worth, and Lupin had no idea what to do. Well, okay not no idea. He’d know enough to carefully pick it up and try soothing the little thing with gentle rocking, settled on the floor so he didn’t risk dropping it. “Pops getting married I get, but a BABY?? He seriously forgot about me that fast?!”

 

The baby wailed, and he hisses through his teeth and tries to rock it a bit more, “Shh shh it’s okay, it’s okay! Please, please stop crying, lil...uh…” he takes another glance around the room and makes a judgement based on all the flowery fabric and paintings on the walls, “...laaady…?”

 

She stops with a hiccup, her face red and puffy from all the crying, seeming to squint at him as she pouts, almost like she’s saying Yeah that’s more like it.

 

Lupin lets out a breath, smiling at her, “Okay, lil lady it is! Good thing too-I hate to make girls cry.” He winks at her, “I didn’t scare you, did I?” He sees her lower lip quiver and backtracks, “Sorry Sorry! Okay, no winking! And uh...I’ll be quieter. Easy, easy…”

 

Once again, she settles down, eyes still glued to him. If she wasn’t below one, Lupin would almost think she was studying him.

 

...Hang on, that was another thing too. He holds her out, looking her over, “Why the hell would Pops leave you alone here, lil lady?” Zenigata was a pretty responsible guy, from what he saw of him. The fact that he’d leave a kid he made all alone in an unlocked house didn’t feel like something he’d do…

 

Which left some scenarios on the table. Option one: his wife did stay at home. Maybe she’d run out for a quick errand and forgot the tyke here, or she’d been sleeping and hadn’t wanted to wake her.

 

Option two: Zenigata wasn’t working today and had done the prior scenario. He was fast when he wanted to be and could probably run back and forth to get something in a snap.

 

Or...the third option. Something bad had happened to one or both of them and now Lupin would have to adopt this child into a life of crime, with the barest knowledge about the legacy of her father. She’d probably turn on him, go rogue, become a vigilante officer, wear a mask…

 

No, no that’s Batman’s backstory. Zenigata was practically immortal-no way he’d get taken down with a kid around to worry about.

 

His musings are interrupted by the feeling of something warm and wet on one of his fingers, looking down to find the baby suckling on it. He blinks a few times, then seems to recognize the action, “Oh! You must be hungry, huh?” He carefully eases himself up, letting her suckle and heading out the hall, down to the kitchen, “If I know Pops, he probably has formula made up for you already…”

 

“Mmum num num…” she agrees contently, entirely occupied with the digit. It takes a little maneuvering to get her in the crook of one arm and grab the formula out the fridge with the other, but Lupin the third is nothing if not flexible, setting to getting a pot of water going on the stove with a flourish and dipping the bottle in, leaning back on the counter to let it warm up.

 

“So...Zenigata became a family man, huh?” He couldn’t help but think aloud about it. His brain was already racing around too much to really focus on any one thought train. “Maybe he’s thinking about retirement...settling down, raising a kid...must be nice…”

 

“Mmnummum...Mm…” The baby added, Lupin giving a huff and waving his free hand, “N-not like I’m jealous or anything!!! I mean, good for him! Lord knows the guy works hard enough for ten police stations, let alone the ICPO! I’m happy for him!” His hand dropped, moving it back down to hold the baby, “Really...happy about it…” he sighed, leaning back his head, “Who am I kidding? This sucks.” He glances down to the baby, “You suck, you hear me???”

 

He didn’t know if it was divine intervention or this baby was smarter then she looked, cause she chose that exact moment to bite down: hard. Lupin went rigid, biting his lip and stomping his foot in an effort to avoid either screaming or dropping her, giving an uneasy smile as the sweat beaded on his forehead, “Did I say you suck?? What I meant to say was uh...luck! You’re probably real lucky, huh sweetheart? Angel? Darli-ing!”

 

Who designed a baby with this much grip strength?! She let go, but not without leaving a row of tiny baby teeth marks that made Lupin briefly worry his finger was gonna swell like a plum later. Shaking out his hand, he leans over to grab the bottle from it, testing the temperature on his wrist and offering it over. She grabs on like a leopard cub, hungrily downing the bottle with vigor, leaving Lupin to let out a chuckle, “You eat as fast as your dad does…”

 

He tilts his head back again, sighing through his nose and letting his mind drift. It was hard to imagine a world without his rival. Nothing would give him any bother or try to stop him, and if they did, he’d trounce them in a heartbeat. But that was dull. There wasn’t any thrill to be had in easy thefts.

 

He needed Pops. He needed a rival who’d put him in his place and sometimes regret going up against. He needed that force, that drive, that person to make him need to be better. If he didn’t have Zenigata, then...who would stop him if he went too far? Maybe the rest of the gang would, be hoped...but those guys might not stop him till he needed to get in a six foot hole in the ground.

 

There’s a soft hiccup from below, and he moves the bottle back, “Done already? Man you are fast…let’s see, now I just have to...ughhhh…” he brought her up over his shoulder, patting his back and squeezing his eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable...and sighing with relief when a small burp comes up from her, bringing her back around, “Thank god, that was-“

 

She then spat up on the front of his shirt. “...a close one…” she must’ve found it funnier then he did, cause she was making the softest, but familiar little giggles at the look on his face, Lupin feeling a vein sticking out on his forehead as he looks her over, breathing in and out through his nose, “You like to cause me trouble too, huh?? Maybe I can train you to be the next Zenigata for me, eh?? How’s that sound??”

 

“...” Lupin gave a softer breath, holding her against his chest again, “Seriously old timer, what’s taking you so long? Do you even care about this kid?” He glances to the girl, “Whatcha think, lil lady? Wanna join the Lupin gang instead?” “Hahpbbbbbtbbbwuh…” “Marking that down as a ‘maybe’ for now.”

 

He was probably on his way now anyway. That guy was a psychic when it came to Lupin. If he didn’t sense his daughter in distress, he was sure to feel him some way or another. So…that settled it. He’d put away this kid and just… go. Pops wouldn’t have to know he’d been here. He can just go back to his hiatus and do...what exactly?

 

More sitting around in a quiet apartment with a bunch of useless gadgets, alone. Having dinner, alone. Going to bed, alone . All with Zenigata right down the street with his new family and his new life still thinking Lupin had disappeared off the earth and never be seen again. He could still remember the usual anger and fire in his eyes on the last heist they’d done-what had that face looked like when he thought Lupin was gone?

 

Had he just...given up that easy?

 

There’s a wet spot on the baby’s cheek, “Aw hey, cmon, don’t cry again-“ But...she doesn’t look upset, or like she’s getting ready to scream again. Another droplet ends up on her face, and he realizes after a beat that it’s not from her. It’s from him. Lupin had mostly trained himself out of crying because crying in the moment could get him caught. His eyes don’t scrunch up, he doesn’t sob or wail.

 

But the tears keep coming anyway. He laughs at it, at how strange he must look with a blank face, crying as hard as he was. He laughs all the way down to the kitchen floor, his arms wrapped around this kid who wouldn’t remember any of this come tomorrow. He tilts his head down and laughs and sobs and chokes on all the things he could have said to him.

 

I’m sorry. I changed my ways. I miss you. I don’t know how I can be a thief without you. I l- no. No he can’t go that far. Don’t make it worse than it already is Lupin. Don’t. Stop. Don’t.

 

He feels a small hand bat at his face, squinting down through the tears at the baby stubbornly eyeing him, and he can’t help but chuckle, sitting up to wipe his eyes on his sleeve, “Alright, Alright. Pretty sad that a grown up's crying more than you, eh kiddo?” He let out a sigh from deep in his chest, resting the base of his palm to his cheek, “ Fuck… ” he swallowed a few times, resting back on the cabinet doors when it felt like most of the tension had drained out of him.

 

Maybe he was more isolated then he’d thought he was. That might be something he’d have to address. Figure out what bar Jigen frequented or a payphone near Goemon’s training grounds or get the number from Fujiko’s recent secretary. Call someone just to hear their voice...or he could do what he always did. Smile and ignore it, hoping it would disappear with any other stress he’s going through.

 

(Usually didn’t work.)

 

He brought himself up, somewhat unsteady with the tyke in his arms, looking her over, “...You really do look like him. Hope you don’t get that buttchin of his when you’re older.” He tried to picture a young, pretty woman with that chin on and it was enough to get a genuine chuckle out of him, winking at her, “Gyuhuhuh...Well, sorry your uncle Lupin can’t stay longer. I’ve got the rest of the world to check out.” He holds his free hand aloft, “My heart can’t just stay in one place, yknow?”

 

Clink!

 

Lupin blinked, glancing at the handcuff suddenly clasped around his open wrist, his eyes gradually widening further and further as they trailed down the rope connecting them to...Oh boy.

 

“Hiii Pops…”

 

Zenigata was there. One hand was coiled in the rope holding Lupin, the other was on his glock with the mouth aimed right at Lupin’s head. And the only answer he got in return with a snarl deep in the man’s throat, “ Lupan…

 

There was literally no way this could get worse. “Phbu...phbuck...fuck!”

 

Lupin glanced at Zenigata, then at the little instigator herself, and slowly felt his eyes narrow, “You know when I said you didn’t suck earlier? That was me, lying to you.”

 

Zenigata moved with a speed Lupin hadn’t seen in him since...well, the last two years he hadn’t seen him to be honest. Time stretched on as in one fell swoop, he took back his kid, set her on the countertop, and swung in with a Judo throw that crushed all the air out of Lupin’s lungs, then hog-tied his arms and legs behind his back in a way that popped his spine, Lupin blinking in a daze by the time he was picking up his kid again. “You’re looking pretty good for a dead man , Lupin.”

 

“And you’re-nhn-looking good for a family man, Pops!...” he stubbornly pulled on the bindings, huffing when they didn’t give. He rests his chin on the cool tile floor, “What is this? Anchor knot?”

 

“Taut Line Hitch.” Zenigata let out a long huff, looking him over, “Now besides faking your death again , can you guess why else I’m pissed off at you?”

 

Lupin looks off, “I kinda thought you just welcomed all hot young guys into your home like thiIIIS!!” He tears up again when Zenigata leans over and twists the knot, pressing his face to the ground with a hiss, “C-cause I came in without you here??”

 

Zenigata started to smile, “And? What else??”

 

“...t-touched your kid without permission?”

 

And then Zenigata grinned in a way that told Lupin he’d just poked the bear one too many times, “ Very good! Hell maybe you’re a genius after all!” He pulled his hand back to hold his kid, looking her over with a keen eye before going to the fridge.

 

Now that Lupin could somewhat breathe and not risk a shoulder popping out, he could get a good look at Zenigata. The man did look different-mainly because instead of his inspector’s outfit, he was dressed up in the garb of a Saitama police officer. An officer's cap, black slacks, a short sleeve shirt that showed off those biceps of his. And a badge out in the open right by his baton holster. The mean look on his face seemed to fade, blinking in relative surprise as he stood up, “...You fed her?”

 

Okay! Got the gender right! Least he had one thing going for him right now. He gives a nod, adjusting his arms to the best of his current ability, “Well she was crying like she was hungry...figured I’d help out?”

 

Zenigata hums, and he fiddled with what Lupin thought was a button on her nightie, quickly realizing it’s actually a listening bug as Zenigata checks it over, “It sounded more like her scared crying when I heard it…”

 

Shit. “Uh...how much did you hear…?”

 

Zenigata breathed in deep, letting it out slow, “Enough to know you were here and that my daughter was upset. That’s all you need to know.” He seemed to think over something for a moment, finally letting out another, shorter huff, “...But...thanks.” He moved her to one arm, looking over Lupin for a moment, leaned down and started to cuff his wrists and ankles together, pulling on a point in the knot that sent the whole thing unfurling.



Lupin made a soft groan of relief when he could relax his arms and legs, feeling stinging numbness starting to creep in already. “Now I need to ask you some questions, Pops!” Lupin sits up with some effort, given his hands are bound, “Why the hell would you leave a baby home alone??? That’s way too much a risk for you!”



Zenigata’s cool and calm persona crumbled in an instant. Ah, there was good old flustered Pops, waving a hand as he started to stammer, “I-it was-well they needed me for something at the precinct!” He rubs his neck, looking away like a whipped dog, “Toshiko was up all night-she’d finally conked out. I was gonna be there and back in a second but some of the guys started talking to me and...mm…” He sighs, his posture sagging, “No, you’re right...there’s no excuse.”



Lupin slowly grinned, “Sorry, can you say that last part again? Just for prosperity’s sake?” Zenigata huffed and reached in, taking the tie clip off, showing Lupin the small mic on it himself before bending it in on itself. “Aw c’mon!! That took ages to set up!”



“Yeah well you can make another one. And be lucky I didn’t do that to a part of you instead.”



Lupin bit his lip. He had him there. He then glances to the baby, currently occupying herself with one of the buttons on his uniform, “So...Toshiko, huh?” He grins, “You’re more full of yourself then I thought!” He tilted his head back, “Agile, Genius, Clever. Assuming a lot about this kid, huh?”



“Well I couldn’t exactly name her after you and be subtle about it.”



“....Oh.” His eyes drifted to her again, then to Zenigata-pointedly not looking at him and instead fiddling with the switches and buttons on a walkie talkie on his belt. He fiddled with the handcuffs on his wrist, more idly then actively trying to escape, swallowing a lump in his throat. “...why would you-”



“I don’t know! Why would I name my kid after the man I practically built my life around!” Zenigata was looking back at him now with that same sort of fury as before, “Why the hell would I let you influence anything around here! Clearly I don’t matter to you as much as you do to me, so how DARE I give you some smug satisfaction over my first born’s name!”

 

Lupin flinched back, eyes wide, struggling with keeping his gaze on Zenigata, “Pops, that’s...that’s not-”



“So, what, you were just fine disappearing off the earth and not telling me a goddamn thing? No postcard, no letter, nothing? ” Lupin started to speak again but Zenigata cut him off, “Dammit Lupin, I looked for you! I looked everywhere to try and find you! I’ve still been searching! And when I wasn’t searching, when I thought maybe I could move on and have something normal, do you know what happened?”



Lupin moved to speak, but he couldn’t get the words out, so he just shut his mouth and shook his head.



Zenigata had his teeth gritted together, Lupin spotting the start of one of Pops’ classic double waterfalls coming a mile away, “It tore me up. I would just think of your body at the bottom of the ocean or in a ditch somewhere, just..rotting away. My wife, my house, my kid ? It just became all about you . And I let you do it.” He grinned, but it didn’t have the bravado of before: it looked fragile with the tears running down his face, “When I saw you in my kitchen, all I could think of was how happy I was to see you again. I didn’t even think about Toshiko.” The grin faded as quickly as it came, looking to his kid, “...” His shoulders slumped, “She doesn’t deserve that.”


“...I’m sorry.”



Zenigata sighed, “...Wanna know the cherry on top, Lupin?” He adjusted his hold on Toshiko again, letting the baby pat over his face while he leaned over to the fridge, setting a cold beer down on the floor by Lupin, before leaning back on the counter with one of his own, “I can’t even take you in. Way out of my jurisdiction these days.” He pops the tab and tilts his head back, downing the can in a few gulps, letting out a breath, “And they won’t believe me if I call it in either. Paranoia they said-thought everybody with a green coat and a cat’s smile was you .” He gave a laugh, “Like the boy who cried wolf, eh Lupin?”



Lupin set the handcuffs carefully aside, for a moment resting his rope-chafed wrists on the cool metal, knees drawn up to his chest, hesitating to crack it open just yet, “...She’s lovely, Zenigata.”



Zenigata glanced over, “Who?”

 

“Toshiko, your wife. This place...you did good for somebody obsessed over me.”



Zenigata let out a deep sigh, looking away again, offering Toshiko a callused finger to play with, “Yeah, well...not everything’s about you, Lupin.”



Lupin cracked open the tab, giving a soft laugh, “Yeah...guess it’s not.”

Zenigata could have been lying to Lupin about the arrest. Maybe he’d already paged back to his station and had a bunch of squad cars headed their way to take Lupin in for good. In a surprising twist, maybe Lupin would even let them. At least prison wouldn’t make him completely want to curl up and die for the first few months. But...Pops was a lot of things. He wasn’t much of a liar though. Not when it came to this.



So he didn’t have much motivation to run, sitting in silence in Zenigata’s kitchen, drinking a beer and looking around at all the memories and pictures of people and places he didn’t know and he wouldn’t get to know. It had darkened outside, and a soft patter had started, sounding like rain beginning to fall on the roof, with the distant roll of thunder on the horizon. Zenigata seemed to let out a soft, shaky breath and Lupin remembered that the man had never really liked storms long as he’d known him.


“...Where is your wife anyway?”



“Visiting family over in Ueno. Probably be back tomorrow.”

 

“Hm…” Lupin finished off the can, twisting his feet out of the ankle cuffs and pulling himself up on the counter, “Then you need someone to cook you dinner, right?”


Zenigata seemed to look him over for a moment, brow cocked, then his eyes widened into that flustered, surprised look again, turning towards a brief flash of anger, “Lupin, what are you-”


“Zenigata, I know you!” He jabbed a finger at his chest, “If you don’t have your wife around, you’re probably gonna eat instant noodles! You gotta set a good example for your kid! Eat something healthy for once in your life!” He hugged around himself, batting his eyes at Zenigata, “And you don’t wanna send poor little old me out into the rain tonight, do you?”


He liked Zenigata’s face better like this, when he didn’t look so angry and sad. Instead he looked furiously down at Lupin, biting his lip and stiffening again at another roll of thunder, closer this time. He held up a finger, “ One night. Then you get the hell out of here.”


“And I want to meet your wife.”


“LIKE HELL YOU ARE!”


“Awww cmon Pops??” He batted his eyes again, “Pretty pretty please? She looks scary! Did she threaten you into the wedding?? I wanna know more! C’monnnn!”



Zenigata snarled, his face gradually growing redder as he tried to reign it in and look off, reaching up to scratch his cheek, “...It’s...a long story.”



Lupin grinned, “I got a lot of time?”



Zenigata looked at Toshiko and back to Lupin, giving a sort of proud smirk at his daughter, “Change your shirt first. You shouldn’t cook when you’ve got spit-up on you.”



Lupin glanced down and gave a sort of pained groan, turning and heading for the bedroom to see what he can dig up, “You just had to remind me…” he whined from the doorway, groaning only growing louder when he was inside, “This is real Italian silk!”

 

“Kinda deserved it!”


“Shut uuup!”

Chapter Text

 

“Iori and I were friends as kids.”

 

Pops hadn’t had a ton of stuff to work off of. But Lupin had managed to put together something halfway decent with what he found: a stir fry of pickled ginger, thinly sliced pork and spring onions that Zenigata had barely paused to get down in a hurry. He’d taken off most of his uniform, dressed in sweatpants and a tank top that made it twice as difficult for Lupin not to focus on his arms and chest.

 

And definitely not think about how he himself might’ve fallen off the wagon a bit, made all the more clear when he’d had to use one of Zenigata’s wife’s shirt: a plain black v-neck that was just a smidge too snug on his usually trim waistline. Note to self: cut down on beer.

 

“Eh??? Seriously Pops?”

 

Zenigata gave a small huff at that, offering some sauce-soaked rice to Toshiko, “Our houses were built close together, so lot of the time we’d end up walking to school. Course we didn’t really become friends till high school.”

 

“Ahhhahah, that’s how it goes!” Lupin nudged him with an elbow, grinning ear to ear, “Hormones start up, sparks start flying-been there, done her, her, and her right??”

 

“Lupin, it is taking every ounce of my being not to clobber you right now.”

 

Lupin drew his hand back, “Right, right. Okay so why did you guys become friends then?”

 

Zenigata grabbed another mouthful of pork, swallowing, “We were in opposite gangs.”

 

“Ahhh, That makes sense…” Lupin paused, before the word hit him like a brick, “A GANG?!” He stood with a start, pointing to Zenigata, “You were in a GANG?!”

 

The blush that rose on Zenigata’s face told Lupin all he needed, but the man went on anyway, “A...biker gang.”

 

“Oh my God! ” Lupin sat back down with a laugh, “That’s amazing!! Our good old lawman Zenigata was a punk!” He then smacked his hands on the table, gaze intent, “Tell me you have pictures.”

 

“That’s confidential information.” He finished his beer and smacked the can on the table, “ANYWAY, we got closer through there. Course it was before she was really out, not like me. So I think we got along through that. Yknow, same experiences and all that.”

 

“Our families always wanted us to get married, suspected we were gonna, so...gave ‘em what they wanted.” He glances to Lupin, “We mostly did the ceremony after you left cause otherwise I would’ve ran out moment I heard you were somewhere else on the planet.”

 

“And the both of us wanted kids eventually so...Toshiko happened.” He leaned over to clean up a stubborn spot on Toshiko’s chubby cheek, glancing over to see how Lupin was taking it.

 

Lupin seemed like his mind was elsewhere, lightly swirling his glass so the beer sloshed inside like a whirlpool, “Were you even listening to me Lupin?”

 

“Ara? Course I was Pops! Just…” he raises a brow, gesturing with one hand, “What do you mean by ‘really out’?”

 

Zenigata got a funny look on his face when Lupin asked. A look of almost dread, maybe even embarrassment on it, clearing his throat, “...Okay, so...keep an open mind, Alright?”

 

Lupin snorted, “Feel like I have so far, but go on.”

 

Zenigata cleared his throat a second time, rubbing his neck, “Well...when...Iori was born, the doctors, well...messed up. They thought she was a boy and it turned out later on she was a girl. But she had to grow up as that mis-...as the wrong gender. And uh...so did...me.”

 

Lupin blinked a couple of times, took a sip of beer, mulled it over, looked Zenigata up and down, then his eyes widened when it all clicked, “Wait, hang on, hold it-“ he tilted his head, “So...you were a woman??”

 

Zenigata growled, “It’s not that I was a woman, Lupin. Part of me always figured myself a man so...that’s who I was. Iori took a bit longer to find that out about herself, but by the time we became closer, she’d figured that out. And when she graduated and moved out, she got to present as a woman. Make sense?”

 

Lupin’s brows were just up further now, staring at Toshiko playing around with her little bowl of rice, slowly pointing to her, “If that’s the case, then...that means…”

 

Now Zenigata had gone bright red, directly avoiding eye contact, a sort of shaky, nervous smile on his face, “Yeah I Uh...had her.”

 

Lupin stared for another few minutes, his eyes gradually wandering down to Zenigata’s chest, “I thought those looked bigger!”

 

“IS THAT SERIOUSLY ALL YOU CAN SAY?!”

 

Lupin recoiled, “Well what do you expect me to say?? You’re still the same old Pops I’ve always known! The fact that you can have a kid doesn’t matter much!” He glances down again, “And that would explain why she looks so much like you…”

 

“For the love of god can you not stare at my pecs when you say that?”

 

Lupin quickly focused on another point of the room, “Duly noted!”

 

Zenigata huffed out his nose, folding his arms together and leaning back, unable to look right at Lupin when he spoke again, “But...thanks.” He let out a longer breath, this one going through his mouth, turning to face Lupin, “You’re...actually the first I’ve told about this. Least concerning folks around my “job” so to speak.” He made quotes in the air when he said this, then moved them back to fold over his neck, “Never had much chance to talk about it before…”



Two feelings rose in Lupin: a sense of pride that Zenigata had felt he deserved to own such a big secret, and smug satisfaction that he was one of the few that knew about it, grinning eagerly at Zenigata and leaning on his elbows, “Gotta say Pops, I knew you cared, but to divulge this to me? Pretty inspired!”



Zenigata turned red, eyes squeezing shut as he growled low, “Yeah, well!! You were just gonna pester me till I said something! So...don’t act like you’re all that special!”



“Toooooo late~” Lupin had stood up, poking and pinching Zenigata’s cheeks, “I know the Inspector’s big secret~ Nobody else does~” He sang in a voice that made Zenigata want to deck him out a window. Which would be a shame since he’d only just put those up. The desire didn’t fade when his daughter excitedly responded with her newfound word.



“Phuck! Phuck!!”



“He is, isn’t he you adorable little gremlin???” Lupin slipped in by her and ruffled the hair on her chubby little head, and god help him, it was actually a pretty cute sight…

 

...His relief from earlier hadn’t faded either. It had felt good to get this off his chest, and to see Lupin clearly didn’t give a crap about it. He was still the same old Pops he’d been when they met or when he’d burst through the door earlier. “Alright, now it’s my turn to ask you something.”



Lupin looked up from making silly faces at the kid, “Eh? Like what?”


“Why’d you vanish?” Zenigata was fixing him with a serious look now, his mouth set in a thin line that made Lupin pout. He hated it when the Inspector got all serious out of the blue.



He leaned his chin on his hand, “It’s a vacation. If you weren’t such a workaholic you might know more about them.”



“Lupin…”



“What??? That’s all it is Pops!!” He huffed, finger now drumming against his cheek as he sneered at the man, “We just needed a break! That’s it!” He looks off, the angry look on his face starting to fade faster then it arrived, “...I needed a break.” He hated the look of concern that was suddenly in Zenigata’s eyes. Shutting his own so he didn’t have to look at them.



“...After Cagliostro...You wanted a break too, didn’t you?” The look on his face was almost wistful as he spoke, digging around for a cigarette on his pants, setting it to his mouth mostly out of oral habit with his arms crossing to rest on the table. “It took us busting that wedding for you to actually run in and do something. Didn’t that boil you up inside? Make you think…’why the hell am I doing this for these clowns?’” He opened his eyes slow, staring out over his reflection in a glass, “And it made me wonder too. In the end, I only left that place with the stuff on my back, a new scar on my chest and the heart of a girl who didn’t know any better about falling in love with thieves.” He sighed, “Where’s the value in that? In nearly getting people killed?”



“...You saved her life, Lupin.” A strong, steady hand found its way to his back, “That’s what you did in the end, even if you did steal her heart in the process. For a good person, that should be reward enough.”



“...Am I a good person, Pops?”



And Lupin was looking at him now. It was a look that Zenigata had only seen a handful of times on him before. One part unsure, the other...afraid. Was he afraid of the answer? That maybe as hard as he tried, he’d never be the hero, not really.

 

Zenigata breathed in, let it out slow, looked Lupin over as he squared up his shoulders, “I know there’s a good person in there, Lupin. I don’t fall in love with villains last I checked.”



With the dumbfounded look suddenly on his face, Zenigata figured he was gonna hate whatever came out of that chatterbox next. So he leaned over and kissed him instead, grabbing hold of his chin to keep him in place, moving back with the cigarette in his mouth, taking Toshiko and hefting himself up to head for the hall, “Time for bed for you, eh little miss?”


He chose to ignore the soft noise coming up from Lupin like a tea kettle whistling on high heat, smirking to himself while he slipped into the nursery. He also ignored footsteps behind him as he was putting Toshiko down until he felt hands slip around his waist. He gave a huff-Lupin’s hands were still cold from the glass he’d been holding. “If you plan on getting frisky, wait till we’re not in front of my kid, huh?”



What he’d been expecting was one of those snippy comments of Lupin or a teasing grope along his hips. What he was unprepared for was the soft, strange sound Lupin made in his throat, how he tightened his grip around his waist, his head buried in Zenigata’s spine. “Lupin…?” He had to wrench Lupin’s hands off so he could turn around and look at him, but he couldn’t see Lupin’s face fast enough before it’d driven into his chest as he clung on again.



Zenigata gave a small huff, rubbing the back of his head. Lupin was still making those weird sounds he hadn’t heard from the man before. Like strangled, choking whimpers in the back of his throat. It was only when he felt a growing damp spot on the front of his shirt he realized the man was crying. “...” He carefully knelt down, arms wrapping around the thief, standing up with him in his arms, “Don’t tell me you’re afraid of storms now too…”



Lupin didn’t respond. Zenigata was suddenly missing that chatterbox quite a bit. He was probably tired, he told himself as he focused on cleaning up the kotatsu and getting dishes in the sink while carrying a thief with his other arm. All that training to keep one arm free and the other hooked to Lupin had paid off pretty well. He’d almost forgotten he was holding the man until he mumbled something into his ear while he was brushing his teeth.



He spat in the sink, looking over, “Eh? What’d you say, Lupin?”



“Can I sleep with you?”



Zenigata blinked. He remembered what he’d said earlier, what he’d confessed so casually. Even still, his face went red.



“N-not in a weird way! Or anything, I just…” Lupin gripped tight onto the inspector’s shoulders, breathing in shakily, “Please...No sex or anything, just...please.”



“...” Zenigata rubbed his neck, looking over Lupin for a minute or so, rolled his eyes, “Well, you don’t look like you plan on letting go anytime soon, so I don’t have a choice here, do I?” He did smile when Lupin laughed at that though, patting his back as he shut off the bathroom light.



Chapter Text

Zenigata was learning a lot about Lupin today. One was that the man had developed some horrible separation anxiety. With how often Jigen had referred to him as ‘just a coworker’ or Goemon as ‘a rival’, Lupin clearly didn’t feel the same way. Not with how he had broken down after just a kiss.

 

And especially not with the second fact: Lupin was a cuddler. Not just a hug and a kiss kind of cuddler either. He tangled himself up against people, limbs like the tendrils of an octopus to wrap and squeeze around whatever he could get his hands on and not let go. Occasionally he’d lean his head in, bump up under Zenigata’s chin and nestle his face in like he was trying to mark his scent on him.

 

Naturally, Zenigata could not sleep. He felt wide awake with Lupin pressed against him so tight. Whenever he tried, Lupin would just nuzzle into him or murmur something and it would set his heart racing again. All the while making him curse that he didn’t try taking him to the station the moment he caught him, where he could be out of the rain and in a nice warm prison cell, instead of sending him through hell here.

 

He swallowed, glancing over Lupin again, before laying his head back with a sigh. Even if nobody would believe him about Lupin now, he had to admit...he didn’t want to hand Lupin over if he wasn’t in charge of every last detail. There were countless corrupt officers out there who’d kill to sink their claws into the thief and make him feel the pain all those bureaucrats and underworld bosses had when Lupin made off with everything and more.

 

He was the only one who wanted Lupin to face justice without death. Give the man a fair chance at redemption. He knew there was a shining light underneath all the shadows and smirks and perverted thoughts: a gemstone that shone from that coal mine. Just had to keep digging at it.

 

Maybe this was a good start though. Lupin hadn’t drugged him or fought or ran off in the night. He was here. In his arms and curling into his touch...and Zenigata has to let out another sigh from deep in his chest and sink back with his free arm coming up to cover his face. Damn it all, he really was in love with him...Iori was gonna flip her lid.

 

His eyes catch sight of his ring, clenching his fist, looking to Lupin again. He brushed his hand back through his short hair, feeling how he pressed his head into it and mumbled something, “Pops...hands off the...cod roe…” Zenigata gave a snort, pecking his forehead and using all his strength to pull himself from his grip and off the bed, covering Lupin up.

 

If he wasn’t gonna sleep, may as well get a head start on his morning run.

 

Toshiko was good at sleeping through the night, but just case he got her bottle going in the warmer, leaving a note on the coffee pot for Lupin. It’d still be a few hours before Iori got home, so he just had to plan around that…

 

What he missed was the phone ringing by the time he’d left, going un-answered by the thief who had gotten too used to sleeping in. What did wake him was Toshiko roughly twenty minutes later with her morning cry for food. Lupin sat up with a jolt, for a moment glancing around the unfamiliar bedroom while the memories from last night rebooted.

 

Zenigata must be up and about already… he gave a soft grumble at waking up early but he had a kid to take care of, so no time for that. It was almost comical how quickly the man could adapt to a role. Dad woken up by his kid early in the morning was one he was settling into in record time, thankful for the bottle already warmed up by the time he’s shuffled to the kitchen with the kid in his arms.

 

“...” he squints once he’s begun to wake up more, glancing to the kid, “You got me trained fast, didn’t you?”

 

Toshiko just ate as hungrily as ever in reply, the little devil. Well, lucky for her he was too sleepy to argue it, yawning and side-stepping to get some coffee going, spotting the note on the way:

 

“Went out for a run. Be back soon. Food ready for Toshiko if she wakes before you.” Lupin huffed after reading aloud, “Pops we really gotta fix your handwriting. I can barely read this…”

 

The baby burbled something against his hand, burping when he drew the bottle back, Lupin giving a grin her way, “Well hey! Maybe I’ve trained you a little too, eh?” He held her up, adjusting his grip in time to get spat up on his hand, grimacing as his grin turned shaky, “Right, right, god hates me. Forgot for a sec.”

 

“Now the real question is does this guy have anything for a grown up to eat…?” He adjusted her to one arm so he could towel off his hand, taking a look through the fridge. Leftovers from last night, couple oranges, beer. He could fix up something from the cupboards but did he really feel like working hard this morning? Then again crepes did sound good...He could probably use a tamagoyaki pan if he absolutely had to-


“Well good morning.”



“Ohayo, good morning Po-” Lupin blinked. That...wasn’t Zenigata who spoke just now. He pulled himself up on the fridge door, Toshiko immediately starting to giggle and reach out towards one of the most intimidating women Lupin had laid eyes on. He’d seen a lot of tough gals before, but not many of them were taller then Zenigata.


She looked like she did in the photos for the most part. The picture of calm and poise, dressed in a more traditional kimono setup. Black, with embroidery patterns of what looked like silk moths etched into the side. If it wasn’t for the more colorful red pins and clips keeping her hair neatly held back, it’d be easy to assume she just got back from a funeral. She smiled down at Lupin, taking Toshiko from him and pushing him aside gently to close the fridge, “Well, I guess Koichi found a nice babysitter for you, did he Toshiko?”



The baby squealed and hugged around her mother’s face, looking like a surprisingly natural scene: this woman so made up and formal hugging a baby with formula drool and cute lil jammies on. She stepped over to the dining room table, getting Toshiko in her little baby chair as Lupin warily got up. So...this was Zenigata’s wife, huh? Iori...The man would be pissed if he left again without saying goodbye, but he could probably charm his way past the woman easily. Before things went south that is.

 

He brushed his fingers back through his hair, fixed up the wrinkles on his shirt, and laid on the smoulder, “And you must be Mrs. Zenigata. Though I gotta say, I’m shocked the inspector landed such a pristine beauty. Maybe even a tad jealous.”


She smiled his way, clicking the safety harness on Toshiko and stepping over to Lupin. “Oh he told me a lot about you, Lupin. You don’t need to flatter me.”


His expression faltered. “Sh-ah. Haha! So you recognize me, eh??” He posed confidently- pick it up Lupin, pick it back up -flashing her a grin, “Tell me-do you think I look better in my wanted posters or in person cause I’ve heard folks just can’t agree sometimes!” He put a hand to his chin, “Though apparently my profile is better from the left then the right, and they always get the right instead.”


“And you’re wearing one of my shirts.”


“Oh! Oh is this your shirt??” He stiffened soon as he looked it over, giving a nervous laugh as the pieces began to click in place, “My uh, my other shirt got kinda dirty, is the thing, still need to wash it and all. I’m sure this shirt looks just great on you, by the way, I mean like-”


While he stammered, Iori had just gotten closer, backing him up into the counter before he knew what was happening, with a strange feeling like a hunter had cornered him. “I don’t like it when thieves take my things, Mr. Lupin. Luckily, my husband is a police officer. So here’s what we’re going to do.” Her hand went to his stomach, beginning to pull up on the shirt, rolling it as she went, “Since you so kindly made some of my coffee too, we’re going to have some while we wait for him to return. And you’re going to sit still and be patient. Sometimes he gets...invested in his morning runs. He’s off today, so it may take him hours to get back.”


She’d pulled the shirt over his head now, mostly bunched up in coils as she tugged it down to his hands, reversed it, and tied the shirt tight around his wrists into a makeshift binding at his back. When she looked into his eyes, Lupin felt like he was staring down a dragon, just for a split second. Iori smiled at him, “Are we clear, Mr. Lupin?”


Gulp. “C-c-crystal.”

 

“Good.” She hooked her fingers in the shirt to tug him along and sit him down by Toshiko, patting his head as she went back for some mugs, “How do you take your coffee?”


Lupin gave a hum, “Lot of sugar, no cream…” Toshiko was giggling his way, and he gave her a slight look, “Yeah yeah, yuck it up, gremlin…”


“I’m sorry, what’s her name, Mr. Lupin?”


“I-I mean Toshiko-chan!! Oh darling little Toshiko-chan! Heh!” He waited till Iori had her back turned again before resting his chin on the table with a sigh, testing at his bonds. Hmmm...now that was interesting...Feeling over the knot, he could’ve almost felt...a flower?


She took a seat, setting a mug with a silly straw sticking out in front of him, Lupin taking his chance as he looked her over, “So, you must work with fabrics pretty often, do you?”



Iori took a sip of her coffee, “What led you to that conclusion, Mr. Lupin?”


“If you like this shirt, you wouldn’t want to stretch out the material and ruin it.” He took a sip of coffee, recoiling at the heat for a moment, “Meaning you knew not only how the fabric would react, but what to do to keep it from getting damaged.” He took a glance back, just to confirm his suspicions, “By rolling it up, you don’t have to worry about stretching it out so bad. And the flower knot you used was just a cute little bonus touch. Probably didn’t even realize you were doing it till it was said and done.”


She looked him over, giving a small smile, “Well, he told me you were a criminal. I didn’t know you were a detective as well, Mr. Lupin.” Iori rested on her hands, fingers knitted together, “I do tend to sew quite a bit. Mostly I specialize in embroidery. It opens a lot of pattern options for pieces that would never see the light of day normally.” Her eyes wandered, and she took another sip of coffee before standing up, walking over to the coat rack, “In fact, this could use some touching up.”


“What could…Hey!!” He hopped up as she came back over, with a small silk bag in one hand and in the other-”You be careful with that jacket! That’s real Italian silk there! I just got it!”



“I know, and it’s so bland.” Iori gave a pitying sigh, shoving down on Lupin’s head to get him to sit, grabbing her own spot again, “Look at this-no little touches, no artist's signature. It's made from finer material, yes, but where’s the love? A machine might as well have stitched it.”



Lupin tried to tug at his binds, but...no good. She had him locked down tight. He gave a small sigh, laying his chin back on the table again, “I...guess I need more then one anyway...Just don’t ruin it?”



“Dear, who do you think embroidered my own outfit?”



He blinked at that, taking another look over her pattern. Those...were really impressive for an embroidery job done mostly by hand. Maybe it wouldn’t turn out so bad…



For a few minutes it was nice and quiet, apart from the quiet babbling Toshiko tried out. She seemed just as inclined as Lupin was to watch the woman work. How she got her needles and thread set up in advance, mentally sketching the design out in her head, before setting to work, only pausing for the occasional sips of coffee. It was easy to see how Zenigata might’ve fallen for her while she worked. The look of concentration and focus in those calm, clear eyes reminded him so much of Zenigata when he was on a case or trying to work through whatever scheme Lupin had up his sleeve next.

 

He’d missed that look. He’d realized that over the last day or so but it was the first time he really said it to himself, finishing his coffee and ignoring the cramps in his arms, just to watch her embroider. He just wished he could tell what it was she was making from here, but she seemed intent on keeping it a surprise from him.

 

“Hababububuhb…”

 

“Yeah, I think she’s going for a flower design too…” he looked up just a bit, “Hey Iori-chan! You doing a flower??”

 

“Shhh.” Iori stood up, grabbing an orange off the counter and pulling a sharp-looking knife from her sewing kit to cut it into tiny slices for Toshiko. “Be patient…”

 

Lupin shivered. It only took one look at how she moved her wrist to know she was entirely too aware how to use that knife. He instead glanced to Toshiko with a pout, remembering he hadn’t even had breakfast yet, “Hey kiddo, sharing is caring.”

 

“Hahbu!!” Lupin shut his eye as an orange slice smacked against it, “...you’re an angel, lil lady.”

 

That’s how Zenigata walked in on them: Iori calmly embroidering at the kitchen table, Toshiko humming at some orange segments and Lupin trying to use his tongue to lick his piece down towards his mouth, hands still tied with his own shirt behind his back.

 

Iori seemed to ignore him on purpose, taking a sip of her coffee, then flicking her gaze to him, “I thought he was hard to catch. And, you know, dead?”

 

Zenigata seemed to droop, giving a laugh and rubbing his neck, “Well uh...the guy kinda dropped in on me last night!!”

 

Iori took pause at that, looking Lupin’s way, then back at Zenigata, “You mean he’s a guest?”

 

Zenigata curled further in on himself, embarrassment clearly starting to show, “Uh...yeah…...sorry! I should’ve called first and-...you’re here way earlier then I thought!!”

 

Iori chuckled, reaching over and pulling a part of the knot loose, Lupin sagging with relief when he could relax his arms again, “Yes, my train arrived earlier then expected. I called earlier about it. But coming home to a thief in our kitchen...well, you can imagine my surprise.”

 

“Geh heh...heh...yeah uh...we got a ceasefire going on about now.” He stood up straight, a prideful grin coming on, “But you did great in capturing him!! Nice job!” He then gained a look of realization, smacking a fist into his open palm, “Ah! That reminds me! Hang tight, Lupin!”

 

“That’s all I’ve been doing!” Lupin offered, picking up the orange slice to munch on and glancing towards Iori. She’d gone back to the embroidery, looking like she was getting the last few touches done, before Zenigata darted back in.

 

Lupin’s shirt had been somewhat neatly folded alongside his tie, still warm from the dryer, taking it from Zenigata when he passed it over, “Forgot to switch it over last night, but should be dry about now!”

 

There was lint on it and a few spots that were wrinkled. He’d press and roll it later...but it also smelled kinda...comforting? It smelled like leftover cologne and dryer sheets. It smelled like Zenigata, minus the cigarette fumes. And that brought a smile to his lips, ruining Zenigata’s hard work folding to immediately put it on, “Thanks…”

 

Zenigata blushed, looking off with a huff and rolling up his sleeves, “Alright, now before you disappear again, least let me repay you for dinner last night. You wanted to talk more with my wife anyway, right?”

 

Lupin flinched like he’d touched an electric fence, “Uh-!”

 

“Oh I’d love that.” Iori interrupted, hand going over one of Lupin’s, “I want to know even more about him. Besides, I still need to finish his jacket.”

 

Zenigata blinked up from the fridge, “Oh? Something tear on it?”

 

Lupin gave that sort of smile similar to a trapped animal grimacing, “Something like that…”

 

He didn’t have much to dread though. Once again, he was surprised by how quickly he’d settled into this. Into babbling back at Toshiko to encourage her to try talking more, at spilling some of the stories he and Zenigata had between each other to Iori, and the comfortable atmosphere all throughout breakfast. Zenigata had picked up a loaf of bread during his run and he’d turned it into slightly burnt French toast with strawberries.

 

It wasn’t exactly a French dish for sure, but it was in Lupin’s opinion one of the best he’d ever had.

 

With a last pull of a thread, Iori smiled over her handiwork and passed back a jacket that, to Lupin, looked the same as it was when she’d snatched it. “There. See if you like that.”

 

Lupin looked over the front and the back, brows raised, “Did you do anything to it?” She must have, unless she was making a show out of all that needlework. Iori just gave a knowing smile.

 

“You’ll see it eventually.”

 

Zenigata finished his tea off, standing up, “Alright, the rain stopped Lupin…” he looked his way, “You know what that means, right?”

 

“Yeah yeah yeah, I’m out!” He fixed on the jacket and straightened his tie, clipping it into place and giving his usual smile at Zenigata, “Don’t worry Pops. I’m sure you won’t have to wait long before I’m back to it.”

 

Zenigata gave a huff, but he was smiling at Lupin, a familiar glint to his eyes that Lupin was happy to see on him, “Soon as you leave, if I see you again you better believe I’m charging after you. Mark my words!”

 

“Sheesh! Don’t yell in front of the baby, Pops!” He snickered, “Who knows-she might start doing it herself!” In response, the baby giggled and gave a few short yells of her own, Lupin leaning over to give her forehead a peck and ruffle her hair, “Grow up strong like your folks, Alright lil lady?”

 

“Lulu!” She papped his cheeks back, still giggling when he stood up to leave. Good. She wasn’t gonna cry when he was gone, not like her old man would. Speaking of, he was already looking a little emotional. Not as much as he would be over a faked death, but he was definitely rubbing his face.

 

He sucked in a deep breath, “Well? You want me to arrest you in here already or what?”

 

“I already said I’m going!” He rolled his eyes, turning to the door and giving a wave as he went, “Sheesh Pops, you gotta make it all about you, eh?”

 

“You little…”

 

Iori put a hand on his shoulder, giving a little half smile up at him, a vein on her knuckle the only indication she was holding him back. When the door shut, she looked her husband over for a few minutes, taking his hand in a little squeeze, “I can see why you’re in love with him, Koichi…”

 

Zenigata sniffed hard, big wobbly tears beginning to spill over as he rubbed his face, “I can’t believe that jerk is alive…!”

 

“Oh I know, I know…” she moved off only to grab Toshiko and bring her over, leaning against him while he let it all out, giving a smirk, “You’re still such a crybaby.”

 

“S-shut up! I’m allergic to strawberries is all!”

 

“Funny for someone who eats them all the time…”

 

“Don’t think I won’t mess up your hair just cause it’s put together!”

 

“Pops! Pops!!”

 

“Oh and now you’re starting too?! My whole family is turning on me, Iori!!...don’t laugh!!”

 

Lupin hummed and lit a cigarette, tucking away the earpiece for now. He’d listen to it if he got bored later. He probably should’ve put one in Toshiko’s room just in case but it was already risky to put one behind the coffee pot. Pops would find it soon as he felt around for it.

 

He’d probably hem and haw and crush it just so Lupin got that feedback jolt on the other end. Lupin would deal with that when the time came though.

 

...for now, it was a nice morning. The sun was out, the nearby plants were still covered in morning dew, and all over that cozy little neighborhood he saw people: still worn out from the night before, picking up the papers, walking dogs, kids running by excitedly on the way to school.

 

In a few minutes, Zenigata would probably be getting dressed and running off to work in a hurry. Iori would probably settle in after her trip and spend time with the baby. And Toshiko...well, hopefully she didn’t show off her new words before he’s out of Saitama for the day. Maybe he’d actually go over to Shibuya today, or tour around Tokyo. Maybe pick up a pretty little thing to have some fun with.

 

He starts to reach for another cigarette as he thinks, taking pause when he noticed something under the pocket, shifting it aside. He gave a soft sigh, smiling past the misty feeling coming to his eyes, “Knew it was a flower.”

 

A rose, designed with the thorny stem curling out, forming a name stitched into his jacket: Lupin III.

 

As he grabbed another cigarette and lit it, looking up to the morning sky above, the last few clouds starting to vanish so the sun shone through, his thoughts turned outwards. He let the smoke curl through his nose, and he thought of Goemon. Of Fujiko. Jigen. If Zenigata had missed him this much after two years, how were the others-the folks who knew he was still alive-how were they doing?

 

...how much did a plane ticket to America cost again?