When the music began to play, Inspector Zenigata had been planning on having a rotten time of the evening. Oh, sure. Following lupin meant he had to buy the *tickets* for operas and ballet anytime he couldn’t stress to the owners he was there to prevent a crime. And didn’t his superiors sneer at him over his expense reports; ‘enjoying yourself, are you Zenigata?’ with ice on their teeth.
Sure. Some god damned fun, trying to watch a whole crowd of people in the dark, and straining his ears over the sound or an orchestra. He’d never once been able to enjoy more than a minute of whatever event Lupin the Third had decided to make his mark at. And he didn’t have a single reason to think it’d go any differently. As far as he was concerned, the only upside to trying to trail Lupin and his cohort to this concert in Russia was the fact he could get a damn drink.
And even then, he couldn’t even treat himself to a nice Russian vodka if he wanted to keep his head clear. He sighed, swirling the ice in his whiskey a little under the dimmed house lights, trying to dial his attention as intently as possible around him. He might as well have not heard the first few soft, slow notes of the band starting to play. Hell, he practically only glanced at the stage on the wild off chance Fujiko Mine stepped out into the spotlight. That’d have made his job a good deal easier… well. The edges of his hat drooped as he frowned. It’d have made his job a lot easier if she didn’t happen to look like a go damn LOT of women…
The spotlights, when they came on, had a golden shade to them. Like the light from a sunset. His gaze flicked to the stage a he brought his glass to his lips, as much for the cold chill of the glass on his lips as he did for the warm burn of the whiskey.
A figure stepped through the shadows with a smooth, careful step. She stepped into the light like it belonged to her, and as the golden brightness slides up from her heels, over a leg bared all the way up the thigh, the dark cloth cascading down her body lit up like the milky way. At some point he’d forgotten to actually lower his glass.
It wasn’t Fujiko Mine. While she had an exhausting ability to melt into a disguise, the figure that lays her hand on the microphone is the wrong build. Smaller. Stronger. Raven black hair fell softly over her eyes, smooth and softly curly, spiking at the tips. She brushed her hair aside a little just as Zenigata slowly lowered the glass. She looked… angry. Pissed . Like someone out in that crowd was next on her list, and for a moment Zenigata starts to wonder if he should be more worried about an assassination attempt then whatever the hell Lupin and Jigen were up to. She moved like something dangerous. Less even a saunter then a prowl.
He knew she wasn’t looking at him. He was tucked in a corner of the crowd, doing his best to be invisible. If she was looking at him, he’d fucked up. But as her gaze slipped out over the crowd it warmed into something sultry smooth that made his pulse seize up and he wished to god she was . He needed to focus. He was SURE he’d seen Lupin come in here, and with a woman like THIS on the stage Lupin had to be distracted.
“ Sometimes when I… want to run away and hide. When there’s no one on my side… ” her voice filled the auditorium like warm smoke. He didn’t know or care if it was what you’d call a classical singing voice; it purred with a dark, deep, honey sweetness. It made the whiskey burning on his tongue feel mild as water. And suddenly Zenigata wasn’t looking out through the crowd for Lupin. His eyes aren’t anywhere but locked on that stage.
“ Nothing left to do but try to take the leap and follow through… And that’s exactly what I’ll do.” she picked up the microphone and took it with her, walking along the stage and dragging the spotlight and a few hundred hearts right along with her. Zenigata slowly sat forward in his seat, a pang plucking in his chest to the sound of the band bass. Her voice didn’t just purr, it snarled sweetly in a way that sent a shiver up Zenigata’s spine like a single fingernail had traced right up ip. Without thinking, he took his hat off properly, setting it down on the table politely when about one solid minute ago he couldn’t have given a single rats ass about being polite for a room full of whatever the hell this little get together was.
“ But not for long, I’ll be rollin’ place to place, won’t stop ‘till I win the race- although I may have crossed the line~” The pace of the music had picked up, and Zenigata was barely aware that he was softly swaying his hand back and forth to the music. She looked over the crowd as her dress swept softly over the stage, smug and sweet and mean . Like she knew damn well what she was making fools out of the whole damn room. And he felt sure he’d all too gladly make a fool of himself over a woman like that any day.
He had plenty of times before, after all. Might as well have a try at doing it over someone this beautiful.
Zenigata was staring in a terrible slow simmer of a fog as the song unspooled, but even in this bad of a state, an ember of suspicion was burning. She’d hit the end of a line and visibly exhaled all the way, just before glancing out into the audience and staring somewhere specific. Okay, a singer would want to moderate her breathing. But-
“ Moving along no I won’t settle down ‘till I’m locked behind bars or I’m kicked out of town. ”
WAS she an assassin? The thought chilled him, it did about as much good as emptying an ice tray into a sauna.The thought flicked past, and he was still sat in his seat, chin resting on his hand, staring at the stage like a complete idiot.
Like a fool caught up in a dream of starlight, song, and dangerous eyes. And he couldn’t help but let himself. Let himself listen, swept up in the song, and daydream about trying to screw up the courage to bring flowers to the dressing room. Maybe he’d be lucky enough to see her a little closer. Nothing untoward, just enough to see a smile… Or a sneer, honestly he’d be happy either way.
The music rolled and roared like a tidal wave towards the big finale, and his eyes were locked on the stage.
“ I had to TRRYYYYYYY- “
It wouldn’t be until the next day when he would realize he’d seen something, just out of the corner of his eye. The briefest glint of light; something dropping with a glitter, just barely registered. He’d seen it, he knew he had. It was just…
The day afterwards, the hall seemed bigger then it had before, now it was empty. The air seemed stale. Almost dingy with cigarette smoke and stale alcohol spills. The dreams had left it. A sunset had graced the stage the night before; but a sunset couldn’t last, he supposed.
His tread was heavy in the dense, velvety, cigarette-ash stained carpet as he slowly walked in front of the stage. A detective needed a good memory; it was all too easy to mentally trace out the shape of where she’d hit the ground… and if he’d just come to stare sadly, he’d think himself a fool.
But instead he turned himself on his heel and knew himself a suspicious bastard instead. If he’d been sitting THERE, then she was looking… he marched a careful straight line forward, slowly sweeping his gaze back and forth over the empty tables and chairs. A detective needed a good memory, and right now he was cursing himself for just how blurry his was of who’d been sitting where.
Maybe, he thought to himself, it’d been nothing. Maybe he just couldn’t let a single nice evening be. Maybe he was just so used to things going wrong that he was trying to find a way to spoil it.
Something crunched underfoot. He stopped, and moved back, crouching carefully. Metal; thin, delicate specks of silver shrapnel, and… a loop of iron. He’d stopped next to a single table his blurry memory was sure had…. someone. At it? Someone had used the ashtray anyhow. He looked up to the stage- the line of sight was right. So then…?
Slowly, he looked up into a glittering field of stars. The chandelier hung heavy directly over the table he was standing at, catching the house lights in a dazzle. If he looked closely enough, could he see a broken link of chain? …If he dropped his gaze, could he just enjoy the memory, or was suspicion worse then never being sure?
“Извините, пожалуйста?” Zenigata glanced over his shoulder, his hand slipping under his coat to his holster before he even knew it. A gangly blonde young man in an ushers uniform had the bad fortune of landing under his glare- they shied back, holding their hands up apologetically. He growled faintly under his breath, and lowered his hand, pulling his badge out instead. Russian, Russian… well hell, some phrases he knew in about every language.
“ICPO business.” he rumbled as he held his badge out, his accent… about as good as it ever was. In anything. Hell some days he was pretty sure somehow his accent in Japanese was starting to go.
“Oh, my uh… apologies, Inspector I’ll just leave you to it!” the usher said nervously, in the smooth tongue of a fluent speaker. Zenigata shook his head, pocketing his license again.
“That won’t be necessary. I won’t be here much longer.” he said gruffly, reaching out to pick a single cigarette butt from the table’s ashtray. He gave it a careful look, splitting the paper of the cigarette with his thumbnail to get a look at the last strands of tobacco.
“The singer who was here the other night…” he started, staring up towards the stage again.
“Oh! Huhu, you’re not the first man to ask after HER, Inspector~” the ushers grin twinkled a little, drawing a rough snort out of Zenigata.
“No, I’m sure I’m not. Not the first, not the finest, not… well. Someone like that should be treated as a fine jewel. And someone like me…” He turned his hand over to toss the shredded cigarette butt back into the ashtray, and reached into one of his front pockets.
The red camellia blossoms in his hand were such a dark shade they flirted gently with black; the soft wide petals simply absorbed the lights around them. He looked at them a moment, smiled faintly, and held the bouquet out, tied together with a simple black ribbon.
“Well. A man like me …I guess roses are more the thing in the west, huh” he frowns, and rubs the back of his head sheepishly. “If I give these to you, could you… see she gets them? I wouldn’t really feel right using my badge to barge into her dressing room.” he explains, pulling out a bill to add to the bouquet- before being stopped by the usher holding up his hands again as if to stop him.
“I’d be happy to make sure she does, Inspector. I promise you… I think she’ll be nothing but flattered to know she caught the eye of a man like you.” the Usher assured him, plucking up the bouquet and giving him a respectful little bow.
“Heh! Well… kind of you to say. As you were.” Zenigata chuckled, turning away from the usher with a vague half a wave. He made his way back out, pausing only moment by the stage to take a slow, deep breath. How had it gone again…?
“ Sometimes, when I wanna run away and hide… when there’s no one on my side, and all my pride has disappeared…” Zenigatas voice didn’t fill the space; on purpose. But he had a little pride in his ability to carry a note, and the warm, melancholy purr of it slipped out into the air as he made his way out of the little theater. There was no one there to hear, after all. No one but a lingering dream… and he supposed an usher, if for some reason the lad had any reason to listen.
“ I take it off my mind, and leave it all behind… ” It was freezing out, of course. But with his dollars up and the words to a song on his lips, for just a little while it wasn’t so bad.
And behind him, an ‘usher’ leaned in a doorway with a lazy grin, twirling a bouquet between his fingers just for a second. Then there was no one and nothing left in the hall at all.
Save for a blonde wig, an usher’s jacket, and scraps of a mask.