He'd ended up giving D an hour when he only seemed to need a minute. [Expanded/rewritten version of four drabbles, done for Nano 06]
The ex-detective had used more than a few choice words about the goddamn taxi and the goddamn traffic, and from the look on his face, there were some even the taxi driver didn't know mixed in there.
There was still time though. Still time to catch D - maybe only as he was packing, hell, maybe he'd catch him running out of the door. So long as there was a chance - just the slightest chance he could catch D...
His life had been revolving around those chances for longer than he cared to think about.
'Be there you asshole,/' was pounding through his head with a desperate fury. /'I chased you half way across the world, so you'd better -'
Despite himself, he stopped, resting his forehead against the pet shop door, panting slightly.
'Please. Just... Please...'
The door was unlocked, which was probably a good sign. Most of the time, he had to pop the lock himself, with what felt like everyone in goddamn China Town staring at him from behind their curtains. (He'd be surprised no one had called the police on him, except that he knew from previous experience that no one in China Town liked talking to the police about anything to do with the Count.)
He took a deep breath, wondering where the hell all the air had gone, and shoved the door open.
The shop was empty.
The incense burner had been doused, but the room still reeked of it. Half a cup of tea sat cooling on the coffee table in one of those expensively tiny cups. The pot itself was a shattered pile of wet porcelain on the floor by that antique telephone. The receiver was swinging lazily on its cord, the dialling tone a low buzz in his ears.
The curtain to the back of the shop had almost been ripped off the rail. Now it hung drunkenly off three rings, revealing nothing but darkness and grey sunlight flickering off the bare pipes.
Leon slumped against the doorframe, expression tired. He could almost see it. See D having a little tea time, just as he had back in LA whenever Leon came over, and someone calling him to tip him off. Who? The guy from the information office? Someone at the taxi place? Hell, D probably has all of goddamn China Town keeping an eye out for him, making sure that he's got enough time to at least be out of the building before Leon gets there.
He must have been close. Must have been if D had to literally drop everything and run.
Somehow, that's more frustrating than being a couple of days behind.
Leon jerked out of his slump. Kicked the door frame, then scrubbed at his eyes with the heel of his palm.
He'd been close, this time. That was a good thing. Meant that next time, he'd probably catch him.
Somehow, that wasn't much help to him now.
He searched the shop, more out of habit than any real hope of finding anything useful. The drawers of contracts were as empty as the cages, and there was only one small, stained room behind that curtain. There was something shiny and red in on the floor - and Leon's face went carefully blank as he realised that was one of D's ear rings.
The ear ring was in his jacket pocket when he stormed out to question witnesses, his hands clenched into fists so tight that his knuckles had gone white.
"The Count? I'm afraid I haven't seen him today."
"Oh, Count D. His shop's back the way you came. If you take a right at the -"
He should've known. He should have known better. How many times had he tried to do this? How many times had he been round China Towns, asking for information or directions or something? And how many times had he actually got the information he asked for?
Never. Unless he was talking to Madame C. Which didn't really count, considering just how much he ended up spending in her shop.
"Why are you looking for the Count?"
"I'm sorry, sir, I have customers to attend to. Perhaps if you come back tomorrow -"
He'd bet his (nearly used up) pension that D was putting them all up to it if he seriously believed that the bastard had had time.
He gave up eventually, stomping back towards his hotel, grumbling curses at the world in general as he walked.
It started to rain as he did, a thick heavy drizzle that soaked him to the skin in next to no time.
Someway, somehow, that had to be D's fault as well.
The receptionist was giving him the "AA meeting's down the street asshole" look over the top of her magazine as he walked in, despite the fact that she'd been the one who checked him in that morning. She'd been nice enough then; it must have been the fact that he'd given her his best, silent "Really, I'm not interested and wouldn't be if you were the last woman on the earth." It took more self control than he actually thought himself capable of not to go over and drip all over her.
He must have scared the shit out of her when he started swearing at the elevator though. He stabbed at the button again, and wasn't surprised to get absolutely no response. She squeaked behind him, and when he turned to glare at her, she shrank back into her chair, clutching her magazine to her chest like a shield.
"Is everything -"
"Don't even ask." Leon growled, starting up the stairs.
He wanted a shower. He wanted a cigarette. He wanted a fucking beer IV.
He wanted to punch D in the face more than anything though, and he had a feeling that that was about as likely as the beer IV. At least he could manage the shower and cigarette, even if the hotel did have faded and singed "No smoking" signs all over the place.
Leon had the cigarette at his lips before he even got the door unlocked, and tried to shrug his way out of his soaked jacket, unlock the door, and fish his lighter out of his pocket at the same time, a manoeuvre that really didn't work. But the door yielded eventually, opening up on a pokey little room that was really too faded and worn to even be really classed as a proper hotel room. Still, he hadn't expected much for the amount he was paying - yet another reason the receptionist hated him - and he'd had worse. The windows wouldn't open more than three inches and the half the furniture seemed to be on its last legs. It passed for clean, though, and he'd only be here until he found out where he was heading next...
Christ it was dark. The rain was coming down in sheets now; lashing against the window like it was trying to get through and soak him even more. It was only about five o'clock, but outside it was nearly as dark as -
He stopped that thought where it was as soon as he realised that he'd been about to finish with "the inside of the pet shop." He finally got his lighter free and slapped out sideways for the light switch. The ex-detective blinked for a few moments, blinded by the change from "distant streetlamp grey and orange" to the harshness of the room's light.
Then he got his arms free and actually looked at his room.
Leon's sodden jacket hit the floor with a smack, the lighter with a crack, and his cigarette threatened to follow their example and drop from his suddenly slack mouth.
D's face went a shade or three whiter as he rose from his perch at the end of Leon's bed, and his hands were shaking as he clasped them before him. "Good evening Mister Detective." Said with a casualness that the Count's expression - wariness and hunger and something startlingly close to fear being rapidly hidden behind one of D's not-expressions - couldn't hope to match.
But there was definitely something shaky in his voice when he said "I believe the phrase is 'Long time no see.'"