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Blue in Green

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Sometimes, Lupin thinks it's revenge: it's the fearlessness, the way those shoulders slack, the way those hands that are more suited towards handling metal and gunpowder slant the brim of that immovable Borsalino in well-practiced defiance. It's in these moments that Jigen seems the most alive, eyes obscured dutifully so that people can see the curve of those thin lips cutting that trademark smile, cynical and grim and practiced. He wears that expression like a particularly beloved pair of shoes, broken in from miles and miles of aimless walking, frayed seams lined with blood from split callouses to keep them stitched together. Jigen smiles as if it's the last time he will, knowing instinctively (erroneously) that he'd be happier that way, buried six feet under with a bottle of bourbon poured on some nondescript mound of dirt.

"Tell us where Lupin the Third is," is what all the villains-of-the-month say; Pavlov's dogs, one-trick ponies. The routine is tired, and Lupin is convinced that some of them just go through the motions to pay homage to a principle that they're under no obligation to entertain. But where Lupin lacks in propriety, Jigen picks up on the deficiency with a staunch adherence to genre that makes Lupin want to tear out his partner's beard, hair by individual hair— those fleeting moments when Jigen stares into a sea of pistols and semiautomatics and laughs with an enthrallment that makes it seem like this is the first time he's ever been truthful about anything.

And really, it's scary, how it all fits together. Pieces in a puzzle. Maybe this is how it's supposed to go, Jigen with the grace of a dandy and a heart bigger than continents combined. Riddled with holes but retaining his dignity. Savoring an end that no one will be impressed by but the dead man himself, and that's far too much for such little payoff: there's a reason why Lupin argues with Jigen all the time about 'Casablanca', how Lupin is under the impression that the ending is total, utter, complete bullshit, because you don't just give yourself away and pretend like the virtues of self-sacrifice weigh heavier than the hurt, "we'll always have Paris" be damned.

 

(It's like Jigen keeps forgetting that rule number one is We Are Not The Good Guys.)

 

In all the silences before Jigen's premature signals to fire, provocations in the form of smartass Alain Delon impressions, Lupin swears he can hear his partner's breathing, from yards and yards and yards away. Steady as a metronome.

And the part that Lupin hates the most is the part when the searchlights scanning the area stop and focus on the lone gunman, the part when the focus bathes him in brightness and saturates the fabric of that pitch-black two-piece so that it looks like funeral attire with how little light he reflects. Spotlight, on. Open curtains. It's with clarity that Jigen wraps bony fingers around the handle of his Magnum, says goodbye to his first love with a tenderness running through his tendons and manifesting in a slide of his thumb against the grip, affectionate. This is the part that Lupin hates the most, because he knows that Jigen means every word when he says them, enunciates every syllable with a finality that Lupin avoids in his daily life with vehemence— doesn't that stupid Neanderthal know that sincerity and honor don't sell anymore?

"I'd rather die than give you his head," Jigen says, predictably, to the sound of scores of guns removing their safeties. A chorus of metallic clicks that culminate into a crescendo more ominous than the smooth sound of a blade running down a guillotine; there's something so impersonal about death by firing squad, and Lupin's never been fond of the idea (not that he expects he'll ever die peacefully on a bed: boring).

But ah, back to that poor, misguided fool. Daisuke Jigen can die right here, a bullet in his head and his own blood to warm him, and all he'll have to show for it is Lupin the Third being here tomorrow, still existing the day after and the day after that, in headlines and books and the Nightly Network News. No mention of the disappearance of the right-hand man in his new Fendi threads, though; will they even remember? Do they even know?

(Do they know how Jigen laughs in the morning, mussed hair flattened on one side and his beard tousled in sleep, reaching blindly for the alarm clock and knocking it over instead? Do they know how he only knew how to cook beans and how to fry bacon before meeting Lupin, how his scrambled eggs are always a little too raw, how he hums songs from the 50s while he cleans his gun and how he says "Lupin" like those two syllables are the most exciting things in the world? Do they know? Will they ever?)

Every time Jigen refuses to give him up, Lupin feels his heart sink a little more. Feels it sing an octave higher and beat a little faster, until the rhythm becomes a rush and the rush becomes white noise, only settling when Jigen is back in the passenger seat of their familiar Fiat and saying, for the millionth time, "did you have to come so damn late?" Sometimes, if they're unlucky, the smell of iron lingers with the smell of gunpowder, and Lupin complains about how he'll have to wash down the interior again, how Jigen is leaving streaks of red on the leather. Without fail, the only reply is a grunt and the rearview mirror getting crowded with smoke; loyal to Gitanes as Lupin is, this is the one time he thinks he could fill every inch of his lungs with Pall Mall and drown in its toxins until the sun is high and the fog is gone, like the last 6 hours never fucking happened.

"Why the hell are you the one in a bad mood?", Jigen will ask, voice muffled behind fingers holding a cigarette in place, and Lupin will only be able to focus on how still those hands are.

 

(On those nights, Lupin watches the rise and fall of Jigen's breaths, marvels at the hypocrisy of his own indignance. He's seen his partner's eyes haunted by deaths that haven't happened, sunken and hollow because of fake graves that he hand-picked if he'd been unlucky, and wonders why it is that Jigen can afford to fold under the weight of empty uncertainties but be perfectly fine with the notion of his own, momentarily certain, demise.

He traces a line up the back of Jigen's neck, rests an index finger on the crown of the gunman's head, and whispers: "bang".

Jigen doesn't even stir.)

 

If there was ever a good time to bring all of this up, it's passed; sometime after the first job where Lupin faked dead, and then the second and third. Who are you to talk is the response that Lupin anticipates, and a little unfairly, he veers away from having to hear it, if only because for every elaborate excuse he provides, for each prosthetic and makeup kit he pulls out from under his sleeve, for every gadget and contraption that he's collected to cheat death with, Lupin knows that all Jigen is equipped with, in turn, is his heart and his gun.

He doesn't mention it, because he knows that they're far beyond patronizing each other for their bad habits.

(But will they ever know how Jigen hides his language books behind his newspapers, how he buys triple-deckers for kids who've dropped their ice creams when no one is there to wipe their face, how he sometimes listens to Miles Davis and wears his hat a little further down on his head like that's not totally obvious, like no one can see that he's gotten a little choked up from "Blue in Green"?

Lupin comes back every time to fanfare and booing and too-tight embraces, but can the same be said about Daisuke Jigen, a cat with one life, too clumsy to come up with his own escape plans?)

 

And on nights when Jigen complains about his old wounds, traces a nick on his arm or a scar on his leg that Lupin recognizes from those moments when Jigen tilts his chin up and risks permanence in a bullet to the heart, he gets up from the couch and ignores his partner's protests to kiss him— feels that exhale breathing into his mouth, tastes those two syllables, "Lupin", the way Jigen says it, as if they're the most exciting two syllables in the world.