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lost in the game

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The safe opens with a creak of antique rust. “Alright, come to papa...huh?”

Lupin blinks as he stares at the velvet cushion—A velvet cushion notably not containing any trace of the pearl-and-diamond tiara last worn by a Russian duchess before she shut it away for safety before fleeing the country. No attempt was made to open the safe in almost a century; the rust attests to that.

“So. Where are you hiding?”

“Looking for something?”

What the—ow!” Lupin yelps, trying to stand up before he’s clear of the safe.

He would definitely have noticed someone sitting on top of the safe when he came in.

Definitely.

Especially if they were dangling his tiara (his, dammit!) from one finger.

“How did you—” Lupin decides to focus on more pressing issues. “Please don’t drop that. I kind of need it.”

“You need it.” The rival thief scoffs, setting the tiara on his dark brown curls. Lupin can tell he’s a thief: nobody with this much of a sense of theatrics ever went in for law enforcement.

Lupin straightens his red jacket and stands to his full height, glaring up at his stolen prize. “Fine, I want it. Hand it over, I got here first.”

“Well, technically, yes, but temporal inertia’s a funny thing, you know.” Lupin takes a step back as the other thief jumps lightly off the top of the safe. “I’m actually going to get at this ‘first’ in about two hours.”

Some people, Lupin concludes, are just rude. “Hand it over!”

He makes a grab for the tiara, but the other thief ducks out of the way, laughing as he puts a hand up to keep it from falling. “You’re always the same, Lupin!”

For a moment, Lupin wonders how he knows his name, but someone could hardly start a career as a master thief without knowing about the great Lupin III, could they?

As Lupin dives to snatch for the tiara again, the other thief slips past his outstretched arms. Lupin freezes, staring into the amber eyes that are now only a couple inches from his own.

“It looks better on you than me, anyway,” he says, gently setting the tiara down on Lupin’s hair, like a king crowning his consort.

Lupin can’t bring himself to move as the other thief leans in slowly to leave a light, warm kiss on his lips.

“We could take over the world together, you know.”

“Do...do I know you?” Is this a memory he feels, or a premonition?

The other thief steps back and blinks. “Oh shit what’s the date.” He pulls out an ancient, ornate pocket watch covered in different golden dials. “Did it again…I always forget to check the year.”

“Look, are you going to explain what’s going on, or—” Lupin breaks off as the other thief leans in again and kisses him once more.

“Shame you can’t remember this. Paradoxes are a nasty business.”

The next moment, Lupin has been alone in the warehouse for three hours. He looks around the empty space.

Yes, definitely empty. Nothing but him and the safe.

“Where did Jigen run...wait, when did I put this on?”