Notes: the very, very first Lupin the Third story I wrote, so things aren't exactly like the series. Jigen OOC.
It's In The Cards.
Lupin the Third, internationally wanted thief, walked outside of his house and whistled as loud as he could. Goemon climbed down from the roof and Jigen walked out of the garage. He smirked at them. "I have found a target I want to check out," he announced. The other men gave him a look. "There is a deck of cards that can really tell the future. By itself."
"Fricken' hell," Jigen mumbled, shaking his head and going back to repairing the car's engine. "Not interested."
"Ah, but there's a catch," Lupin said, freezing him and making him turn around. "The cards were made way back when. They're silver backed. They're precious. They're a one- of-a-kind set. There is a sister set but it's in the Tower of London somewhere. The Queen's people use them at the birth of each heir. This one is still in the hands of the original family, the last member of it. Plus," he said happily, holding up a finger. "If we don't get it, then the new head of the Dark Syndicate will." Jigen shook his head, starting to walk again. "Think of what we could do with it," he called. "How many problems we could avoid?"
"There is always a catch to such things," Goemon told him. "What is this one?"
"I haven't been able to find more than that out," Lupin admitted. "But she invited us there. She saw us in them."
Jigen came out of the garage, looking at him. "She did?" Lupin nodded, still looking very smug. "Why?"
"Coming to see her apparently." He shrugged. "She's in London. She's an Anthropologist. She's young, single, and not that pretty on my scale."
"In other words, she's built like a normal woman with a modest chest," Goemon said dryly. "What else have you learned?"
"She invited us to meet with her tomorrow night. To come and have our fortunes read." Jigen shook his head. "Come on, it'll be a nice short adventure and Fujiko wouldn't *dream* of coming after this."
"No," Jigen told him. "Not happenin'." He gave Goemon a look. "Gut feeling."
"I agree," Goemon agreed. "What could this fortune teller possibly tell us?"
"You mean like whether or not we'll die on the job or of old age?" Lupin suggested dryly. "I can always go on my own."
"Pack condoms, just in case," Jigen told him, going back to his cranky engine.
"Oh, come on," Lupin whined. "I wanna go see! We can even case the Tower again." Jigen came back out of the garage, tossing aside his spent cigarette before lighting another. "I'm bored! Let's go!"
"Fine," Goemon said, shaking his head. "I hope this isn't some sort of trap."
Lupin gave him another smug look. "She's not that pretty."
Jigen snorted. "Then the cards are the target?" Lupin nodded. "And if we can't get it?"
"I've always wanted to have some of the crown jewels," Lupin told him. "Grandfather gave away the tiara he stole."
"That's why you should wear a chastity belt," Goemon told him, heading back inside to pack his meager belongings.
Jigen chuckled. "That's a happy mental image." He went to put the engine back together again. They'd need the car.
"Not funny!" Lupin called after them, heading inside to pack as well.
Lyrica Delmornes opened her back door and nodded the three men inside. "Right on time," she said, giving them a look. "Come sit. Mind the cats please." She went into her dining room, sitting in front of a silver filagree box. They sat across from her in the three chairs she had set up. "This will seem very odd, but I was reading my own future for a specific question recently. It showed me you three, in context, and said that my own future was entwined and changed by meeting you. If you agree, then I can guarantee the cards for your use."
"Can anyone else read them?" Goemon asked.
She shook her head. "The deck must belong to a member of the family or one they have given it to. It goes mute if it is not in the hands of the blood." He nodded, looking very calm. "Now for a demonstration." She stroked the top of the box before taking a deep breath and opening the box, laying the deck of cards in the center of the table. "Pick up the first one."
Lupin took the first one, turning it over. It was a single sword. He looked at her and she laid a hand on it. "What does it mean?"
She smiled. "In this case, nothing horrible. It is a nice sign of things to come. Put the card back on top of the deck." He looked confused but did so. "You," she told Goemon. "Pick it up again." He frowned but did so and it was changed. It was now a gem. Not a card in a standard deck. She gave him a look. "What treasure do you seek?" she asked. "This is a map, the gem is near you now."
Goemon gave her a look, then stood up. "It is not possible."
"It is," she said calmly. "Put it back and let your friend draw."
Jigen drew once Lupin had put the card back onto the deck. His hand hesitated then he drew it off. She sighed and shook her head. The death card. "Literal or figurative?"
"Figurative, the meaning of change. Not a death in your life, but a death of part of the old path." She pulled the next one, putting it in front of him. "As I thought." She looked at him. "I called you here because my own life is in danger. I am the last in the line. People want these cards and know only I can gift them." Jigen tipped his hat up a little to look at her. "The only way it can pass on and continue to work is by a member of the blood," she repeated, staring into his eyes. "It will save my life and I will not bother you." She leaned back, dealing a few more. "A daughter." She shrugged. "It does not matter to me, but it is a nice change."
"You want him to father a child?" Goemon asked.
She looked at him. "Later tonight someone will be coming to kidnap me and take the cards so they can be used in the worst way. I am the only one who can commune with the cards. He knows this." She looked at Lupin. "As you found out earlier." He nodded, giving her a long look. "I would not normally ask. I will take care of her and expect nothing else. It will save myself and my line's life. In the past I have tried and it hasn't worked," she admitted. She gathered up the cards and redealt them for herself, letting them see it. Fear, terror, salvation, then hope and a new path. All non-standard cards. "The cards change for the fate that is most probable." She held the remaining deck, thinking hard about not obeying it's will. Then next six cards were all death cards. She looked at Jigen. "There are things that are too special to be lost. The sister deck is already mute. It will not talk, even for me. They had me try it for the last grandchildren." He gaped at her. "If that happens, it is nothing more than a blessed deck. We are the lynchpin of seers. This is my only gift. You will never have to see me again unless you want to check on her."
"What's your name?" Jigen asked.
"Musically inclined?" Lupin asked.
She smiled at him. "In the womb. I was a twin. My twin died. I lost that gift then." She looked at Jigen again. "They'll be here at or around ten." She looked at Goemon. "Look at the one least expected. She will *lead* you to it." He nodded shortly. She looked at Lupin. "You have bad taste in women," she told him, taking his hand once she had gathered up the deck, laying it on top of it. "Think of her and draw again." He did so, a death card. "A literal one this time. Next year sometime." He dropped it. "An accident, I know that much. I read for you earlier," she admitted. "Do not go back to Morocco. Do not go to Africa at all if you can help it. Each time you do the chances of death increases. There are things there which are very angry with you," she said gently, giving him a sad smile. "You are too important to the world to miss." He blinked at her. She leaned back again. "I don't control the things. I can do no more than read it."
"The child would have the same gift?" Goemon asked. She nodded, looking at him. "It would be raised how?"
"Hold it," Jigen demanded, standing up. "This is just a bit too pat."
She nodded. "Like I have the choice?" she suggested dryly. "Ask him," she said, nodding at Lupin. "He's a distant cousin way back when. The blood barely moves through him."
Lupin pulled the next card, thinking of Jigen, then he put it back and shook his head. "That's bad."
"Morocco or Cairo?" she asked.
"Cairo. Near a pyramid." He looked at Jigen. "We're not going back to Africa until we're all gray." Jigen shrugged, lighting another cigarette. She handed over an ashtray so new it still had the sticker on it. "Thanks." He lit one himself, looking behind him when he felt staring. "Interesting cat."
She smiled sadly. "The last time the cards had me do something outrageous she came to me. Six people died in a gas attack, and I saw the person who did it. She belonged to a little girl who was taking her somewhere. I cannot change the future for the most part. Most of the time it's like watching tv. Occasionally I can change a channel, sometimes I can find a voting-style show where I have some say, but not too much. Otherwise, it's the same crap each week and me with nothing better to do sometimes." Jigen snickered. "I'm an anthropologist because I enjoy learning about people. That's why I first picked up the cards. Too young according to my grandmother." Lupin reached over suddenly, moving the top card again, then he groaned. "Her?" He nodded. "She's not near here but she knows. She follows your every move. She'll be with them." She sat up again, standing up with a small grunt of pain. "Anyone want tea? I've got some lovely orange stuff, the good kind, so I could have a long drink before they came." She headed into the kitchen to put on some water. She turned, jumping a little when she found Jigen behind her. "I don't want to pressure you," she told him. "But the cards go to your boss if I die. Some day they'll do the same thing to him," she said quietly. "Otherwise the world starts to go to hell."
He groaned. "I don't like this idea."
"You think I do? I'm thirty-five-years-old, man. Consider how I feel. I found out while checking to see if I should move universities. It came up as 'wait until the baby's born, then disappear'." She shrugged. "I never planned to have children. I have another cousin, but it was just found out that she's got ovarian cancer and her only child won't last to adulthood. She had me read the damn cards. She committed suicide later that night and left her son a long letter to have children as a teenager."
He snorted. "Wonderful thing to pass on."
She grimaced. "It's a duty, not a pleasure." He gave her a look. "I would certainly hope it would accompany some pleasure of some sort, but this isn't my favorite idea. If the cards go to him, he'll become enthralled to them, the same way I have. There will be no more working, no more fun, no more women." Jigen gaped at her. "Yes, I am a virgin," she sighed. "We tried sperm injection when I was younger. The cards took all my will to fight. Each time I met someone I would read them for them and they would freak out and leave." She gave a small shrug. "It happens to most everyone. No one really wants to know what the future holds."
"And you do?"
"I like seeing the various paths. Last year, the cards suggested I start looking for new positions. Then someone found out and it changed drastically." She turned to remove the whistling pot from the stove, putting it aside while she found a serving pot and the tea. "Turn that off for me please, it always turns hard." He did so, watching her. "I know what you're going to say, being pregnant won't stop them." She turned and he nodded. "It will. Because I'll be a full seer until I'm three months along, then the cards will go mute for me until I deliver." She poured the hot water into the pot, then added teaspoons of leaves. "Should I make more than four cups?"
"You and Goemon mostly," he admitted. She added a fifth one and put on the top, putting the half-empty teakettle back onto the warm burner so the cats couldn't walk across it. "There are things you're not thinkin' about," he noted. "What if something happens to you?"
She gave him a look. "Then the cards will find the child. I have a friend who I trust to raise her. We've made a pact and she understands." She leaned against the sink, looking at him. "In the past, the cards have skipped generations. It's possible it'll bypass her and go to her children. It happened to my mother, kind of." He raised an eyebrow. "My mother went insane. There's a reason why you give them after puberty." She sighed, shaking her head. "My mother picked them up at nine. They were her only focus in life. I don't know how she managed to find my father unless the cards helped. Then the cards went mute and her obsession got worse. My father took them from her, so she killed him. Then herself when she realized what she had done."
"You were how old?" he asked.
She gave him another sad smile. "I wasn't born yet. That is why my twin died. Twins are considered good or bad luck, depending. Since we were mixed twins we were the worst omen that could possibly happen to the family. A set of boys isn't quite as bad, but girls are blessed and honored in the family. If my grandmother had known about us, she would have tried to kill me." He gaped at her. "The cards refused to tell her, or so she said. My mother only had the cards for five years." She stood up straighter. "Way back in history, there was a crafter. A talented man with much knowledge. He had twin daughters. He made the cards for them, one for each. The other line ended and the cards were gifted. The world started to go to hell."
"When?" he asked.
"Right before the witch hunts. The last in that line was a male, he foresaw his own death and he had no heirs. He had a lord over him who he trusted and was friends with so he allowed the cards to be gifted to him and his wife." She swallowed. "Ten months later the witch hunts started, and many in the know say that they were searching for the cards for the use of the Church. Others consider it bad timing," she told him, giving him a wry look. "And things have only gotten worse since then," she said gently. "The other set could be recharged if they rested with their sister for a long period of time. That could only happen if they went to twins though." She shrugged. "I don't think it'll happen."
"But still," he said, moving closer. "That would be better."
She snorted. "I'm not looking forward to giving birth to one, much less two," she said dryly. He laughed, giving her a look. She shrugged. "I'm not. This whole thing scares the fuck out of me," she told him, being brutally honest. "I was quite happy with my cats, thinking that the cards would go to my cousin. I took them up at twelve, after puberty but before I had consummated my place in life. As my mother was, I am a tad bit obsessed. That's why I've never taken a lover or a serious boyfriend. The cards never looked good for them." She smiled wryly. "Then out of the blue the cards pull up this whole 'baby' thing and it scared me witless. I spent the next week and a half thoroughly snookered on mixed drinks. My cats were not pleased with me in the least." He laughed again, backing away some. "But even I am subject to the will of the cards."
"What are you thinking?" he asked.
"That after she's born, I'm disappearing. I have an email address you can write to if you want contact." She turned to grab the steeping tea, giving him a look as she found cups and fixed the tray. "I'm not going to demand anything. I don't want anything. I need nothing. I'll make no demands and expect nothing from you. Though, if something does happen, I'm sending him the cards with the instructions to give them to my daughter when she's found her first lover and done the deed." She lifted the tray. "Shall we? Before my cats decide to like them?"
"Sure." He watched her walk, silently shuddering. This was too odd for him. They had seen odd shit in their travels, but this beat it all. He went back into the dining area, sitting down again. "She said that twins were bad," he said hopefully.
"They are. My grandmother said I was the worst luck the family had been given in nearly fifteen generations." She sat down, pouring herself a cup of tea. "Have it if you want it," she offered. Lupin gave her a look. "As I told him, it's a ten minute thing. After that, I'll be leaving and hiding. You can have my email address if you need or want to find me." She took a calming sip. "If you don't, that's up to you. I'm not the pushy sort. She'll be like another kitten to me. A precious and loved thing who won't make my mistakes with the damn cards." Lupin gaped at her. "One should never take up the cards before they've found their spot in life. The cards can influence too much in your life. I've never taken a lover because of them, I never found someone the cards liked," she admitted. She took another sip. She reached out and flipped over a card, wincing at the thing before putting it back. "She'll live. It won't be a totally happy one but she'll be fine. Torn for a while."
"Will she know him?" Goemon asked.
She shrugged. "I'll write her a letter and seal it for her. When she's of an age to understand she can open it and read it. After that it is between her and her father. I would never dream to impose. We'll be disappearing into the ether and you can have an email address for me if you need or want to find me for any reason, including other readings." She gave him a dry look. "I know my own worth to the cards. I am a holder, not the owner. I interpret their vision and nothing further. It took me years to come to that realization and it has helped me terribly. Because of that I went for my Ph. D. and have done what I could to help the world continue on its ragged course through space." She winced and relaxed. "What time is it? I can't see the clock." Goemon got out of the way. "It's eight? Already?" She sighed. "Fine." She played another card. "They're here but not on the property. Just watching for now."
"We could protect you," Lupin told her.
"And die?" she suggested in return. "They want the cards and don't realize what that means. Mr. Lupin," she said, putting her tea cup down, "if you had access to something that could tell you what each and every action of yours could result in, what would you do to get and keep it?"
"Anything," Jigen agreed. "You'd still be vulnerable."
She shook her head. "The cards will go mute. No one will be able to read them. My cousin's son can't. That leaves this very distant cousin for them to talk to and to hold my place down until another heir is found." She looked at him. "Then it'll do the same thing to you." She picked up her cup and took a sip, wincing as the phone rang. She got up to answer it, saving it from the batting kitten. "What?" she asked quietly. She sighed. "I told you I can't. Yes, I know I'm going to be busy. Because I do. I'm like that, remember?" She smiled. "Thanks, dear. Have fun in Rome. Be safe and remember to watch out for those cab drivers. They have no sense and no brakes, so said all the shows. No, you told me not to. Because you told me not to," she reminded her again. "No, I have company. Perhaps later." She smiled. "You're welcome. Have fun, dear." She hung up and went back to her tea. "Sorry, I've got a student going to study abroad this year in Rome. He's a bit anxious."
"Will he be okay?" Goemon asked.
"I don't know, he asked me not to look." She shrugged. "I have no earthly idea." Lupin reached over, taking card to look at. "It is addictive," she warned dryly. He showed it to her and she nodded. "I heard. Torn. She'll be fine." She took a longer drink.
"We could protect you," Goemon offered again. "They would not dare cross us."
She snorted. "He's dying, Mr. Goemon. He has no heirs that he knows of. He has no sense of who to pick after him. He has no idea who's been poisoning him for that matter." She gave him a sad smile. "He has been searching since this time last year and only found me last month. He's already done the bribing, polite threats, and more overt threats. All that's left for him is kidnaping and torture. He believes it's his only way. You'll find an Anthropologist or a Sociologist is a lot like a shrink in many ways. We understand why humans do things, the external factors that push people into their little cubbyholes. In many cases, we're as good as most profilers. We simply take a look at different things." She finished her tea and poured some more. "I have little chance in this matter. He thinks I can tell him things that I know nothing about. He believes the cards are his to order and has no idea what he's about to unleash in the criminal world. That's the other reason I'll be hiding." She took another long drink, stopping Lupin from drawing again. "Don't. You will get hooked." She gathered them and put them back into the box, letting him touch the box. "If something happens, you will hold them for me. My cousin's son has no chance of reading them. It's often an odd thing."
"What would you name her?" Lupin asked.
She shrugged. "It's a family tradition that we start to react strongly to a stimulus in the sixth month. In my case, music. In my brother's, he was only happy when my mother was spending money. He would have had a money name, but we always change it around some so it's not a pure derivative." He nodded. "Most of us have been flower names. My Great Aunt Rosaline had the cards for a while, but her sister was liked more. Her mother kept waking up with the cards laying next to her stomach, no matter where she locked them. She got the point quickly."
"Your grandmother?" Jigen asked. She nodded, giving him a small smile. "Fuck me," he sighed, looking at Lupin. "Boss?"
"Do it," he said, looking at her. He pushed the cards back. "We will be around."
"As long as you realize it's your choice," she retorted dryly. He nodded, smirking a little. "Remember, watch out for that woman. She is still deadly." He smirked more. "I'm not sure you can get out of that fate, cousin."
"I can," he promised. "We're not going there." She laughed and shook her head, taking a longer drink until her second cup was empty. "Done?" She nodded. "Jigen?"
"Shaking like a fricken' leaf," he admitted. He stood up and pulled her up the stairs. "I'm not the one you should have asked," he told her.
She snorted. "Did you see the choice in the cards?"
"No," he admitted. He closed them into the bedroom.
Lupin looked outside, then at the clock. "They're late."
She snorted, shaking her head. "They're behind the gazebo hissing into their phones for orders," she told him. She drank her last cup of tea for a while and stood up. "Would it go easier if I walked outside?"
"Probably," Jigen said dryly. He watched as she walked outside, leaving the cards on the table. He looked at Lupin, who smirked. "Buying more time?" He nodded. "Why?"
"Because the person behind him will let her leave," he noted. "He's the one who's been poisoning the current Don." He resisted the urge to touch the box. "I wonder how we're related."
"Probably a loose and sleazy man back then," Jigen told him dryly, making Lupin frown at him. "Seems to run in your family."
"It does," Lupin agreed happily. "Remind me not to go near Fujiko the next six or seven times we see her, okay?"
"Fine." He dealt another hand of solitaire on the normal cards he had found in her study. Goemon came in. "They have her?"
"They were very delicate with her," he said, looking at the box. "They wanted those."
"Then they'll have to deal with us," Lupin told him dryly. He pushed the cards over to Jigen. "Hold them. Her diary for her daughter said that sometimes they will talk to spouses and fathers."
Jigen pushed them away. "No thanks."
Goemon took them, putting them inside his kimono. "We should go."
"I still want to stop in the Tower," Lupin said, standing up. "Anyone mind?" His friends shook their heads so they headed out. They met a young woman in the driveway. "Hi," he said, smiling at her. "The teacher is presently gone."
"She said she would be, I'm here to house and cat sit," she admitted, pushing her glasses back up her nose. "Is she all right?" Lupin nodded. "Good." She headed inside. "It's me, guys," she called before shutting the door.
Jigen shook his head. "This is odd."
"It is," Lupin agreed. "But she's right, it was necessary. This is one artifact that we need to make sure stays in the right hands." He walked out, heading to their hidden car. "Think Pops is in town yet?"
"Nah, they made him take a vacation away from other people," Jigen told him, getting in the passenger's seat. Goemon got into the back. Lupin looked at the car. "More sight things?" he asked dryly.
"No, a scratch," he said, pointing at it with a frown. He shook his head, getting in to drive. "Let's deal with that later." He drove off so they could visit the pretty jewels and things in the Tower of London. Once inside, he took off for a wall, touching a hidden switch. He looked at the other box, then at Goemon. "Take it too," he ordered, going to get the real targets. Maybe she'd like it. It could only help.
Goemon gave him a look and took the box, weighing it in his hand. "This one is lighter," he announced. "There are cards missing." He opened it and smiled, going to where the face- up card was pointing. He retrieved the others, putting them into the box and locking it. No one would get these from him. Especially not Lupin. The rightful owner would be the only holder. He took his share of the loot, heading out to the car.
"That new gas works really well, Lupin. Where'd you get it?" Jigen asked as he got in to drive.
"The swampy bottom of an outhouse," he said with a fond grin. He waved at the tower as they drove off. "Thanks for this. I was running out of things to play with." Then he cackled. "Wait until they wake up."
"If they wake up," Goemon corrected. "That gas was noxious. If it truly came from there, it could have killed them with the stench." Lupin laughed, shaking his head and giving him a fond look.
Lyrica looked at the man she had been stood in front of. "I can't do what you want," she said quietly, staying calm.
"You can," he said firmly, staring at her. "Even without your cards, I've heard so."
She shook her head. "Not without my cards." She stroked her stomach. "Plus I will not see again for the remainder of my pregnancy."
"We can fix that for you," one of the guards sneered.
She looked at him. "If you do then the cards go mute permanently. There will be no more with the blood when I die and only the blood can read it."
The guard stepped forward. "I saw Lupin reading 'em," he reported.
"So you said," the boss agreed. "What about him?"
She shrugged. "A fairly distant relation. It warned him about bad women. Apparently he needed to hear it from a more reliable source." The mobsters laughed. "Sorry, but I have to have the cards and he has them." She sat down, looking at him. "I do know some things. Your disease is not natural. You have no heirs. You have no lovers who are even pregnant." His mouth fell open. "I found that much out earlier. I have to have the direct influence of the person being read for the cards to be clear." She crossed her feet. "If you try to kill me or make me miscarry, the path will go dark. The cards will go mute. They will help no one."
"If you had the cards, would you read for me?" he demanded.
"In three months, the cards will not talk to me until I deliver," she informed him. "It considers the advancing child unclean until it's nature is known and exposed to the world. Even when it has a holder it likes a lot, it still won't talk to the mother." She swallowed at his pissed look. "That gives you exactly three months, eleven weeks and a few days, to find Lupin and ask him to hand over the cards that seem to like his holding them. They are like an addiction when they like you." She stood up again. "May I please go shake in peace now?"
"Go," the boss agreed, waving a hand. "You'll be staying here."
She nodded, letting out a big sigh. "I have someone watching my cats for me." She followed the guard. "Can I at least write home for some of my clothes?" she asked him. He snorted. "Fine. I suppose I have enough for now." She walked into the room, letting him lock her in. It was a real bedroom with a real bathroom. "At least I can wash out my unmentionables," she muttered, heading to do that. Now that she knew what happened between men and women, she'd have to find someone else to do that with again and again.
Lupin picked up his cellphone, smirking into it. "Yes?" he asked smugly. "Why, hello, Don Sorten." He looked at Jigen, who glanced at the date on his watch. "Of course I still do. Do you think I'd give away something like that?" He laughed hysterically. "I'm sure. So? What's in it for me?" He listened to the desperate man. He was running out of time. She had another four days until the cards wouldn't talk to her. "No, we're in the Caribbean," he said, lying through his teeth. He looked at the Polynesian woman dancing down the beach from them. "Really?" he asked absently. He listened again at the threat. "See, if you did that, then we'd have to retaliate. I know she pulled a death card for you in the past." He smirked. "Again, what's in it for us?" He laughed. "Fine. We'll be there tomorrow." He hung up. "They finally found us. He's got a plane heading this way to pick us up."
Jigen gave him a look. "Four more days," he pointed out.
Lupin gave him a smug look. "The poisoning has gone too far. Even if they identify it they can't save him." He stood up. "Let's go find Goemon."
"He left last night," Jigen reminded him.
Lupin gave him a look. "Like I said, find him."
Jigen snorted. "I doubt it. He took the cards with him."
"That's what I expected," Lupin admitted. He gathered up his things and followed Jigen back into the hotel, going to pack. He found Goemon's note again and read it carefully. "I think he went to Iga."
"He wouldn't be that obvious," Jigen said dryly.
"It says he's going home," Lupin told him, handing it over. "Besides, it'll kill a day." He shrugged and went to change.
Lyrica walked into the office, nodding at the three thieves. "I see they found you," she said dryly. Jigen nodded, handing over her pack of cards. She touched the box reverently, hoping they went mute. It was a day too early. She opened the box and laid the cards out, turning the first one. It was blank. She gave him a look. "I'm sorry."
"Does that mean I don't have a future or they're mute?" he demanded.
"They're mute," Lupin told him, holding up a card he had taken earlier. "They'll stay mute." He slid it into his breast pocket then nodded at the remaining cards. "Pick them up, Lyrica. We'll help you disappear until you're safe again."
She smiled. "Already managed," she admitted, picking them up. She tucked them into her pocket. "I'm sorry."
"Fine." He glared at her. "You can stay for another six months."
She shook her head. "No, I can't." She moved out of the way, watching as the window shattered. Then she sighed and looked back at the guard. "You'll be going soon too," she informed him. He gaped then backed away from her until he ran into the door, then he turned and opened it, running away. He was shot as soon as he got outside. "I believe that's my ride," she said, bowing to them. "I thank you. The last card?"
"I'll mail it in a few weeks," Lupin said, watching her walk outside. He looked at Jigen, who frowned back at him. "Go after her," he prompted.
"She doesn't want me there." He lit another cigarette. "We'll have to see her again anyway. I have the other set." He walked out, heading to the car. It was safe again. The automatic guns were easily turned off by the remote in his pocket. He got in to drive, letting the others catch up to him. She was already gone.
Lyrica opened her mailbox, frowning at the large box it contained. She pulled it out, waddling back inside. She flopped down and her cats came over to knead her stomach. They loved the baby. She opened it, finding a stiff envelope, a digital camera, and a smaller cardboard box. She opened it, smiling at the gold box. "Already?' she asked, touching her stomach. "Does that mean there's two of you in there?" Like her other female relatives, she had chosen not to do any ultrasounds. She wanted to be surprised. "Katya, are you playing with a twin?" she teased, looking down at the moving lump. Then she shrugged and put it with the other box, opening the envelope to find the missing card. It went into the deck, and the box was closed again before any cat hair could infect them. She laid down, stroking her stomach with her cats. The camera beeped so she grabbed that box, opening it to turn it on. She laughed at the silly picture of Lupin in front of her new university's history building. "Fine. If you so choose," she told the picture, going forward. Someone had caught Goemon scowling at them. Jigen was apparently napping on the couch. "Goofballs," she sighed, putting it aside. She winced at a hard kick. "Quit, guys," she complained. "The kitties will come back soon enough." She went back to stroking her stomach, soothing the little kittens back into their nap. Or her back into her nap, she decided. Either was fine with her. Her new history degree would be great with twins too.