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22 October 2011 @ 01:07 am
Refuge at Sea [Part 7]  
Part Seven: Epilogue
Given the role of painkillers in this case, Looker thought it pretty ironic that he ended it with them, too. Drugs had never seemed so wonderful. The hospital set his ribs, and the doctor frowned when he said he would be going to Greece as soon as he was able to travel.
Unfortunately, unlike cuts and bruises, there was no shortcut for healing fractured bones. It would be at least six weeks before Looker was able to return to work, and probably longer after that before the pain went away entirely. Kinney wasn’t pleased when he heard the news, but must have realised that working Looker to death would be counterproductive, so he contented himself to a ‘get well soon’ and ‘hope you weren’t planning a vacation any time in the next three years’.
Looker would have minded, except that wanting to spend most of his time working was why he’d ended up under Kinney in the first place.
The hospital staff kept him in overnight for observation, though he was sure this had more to do with the Gym Leader looking over their shoulders than his state of health. He was just finishing his preparations to leave when Veronica Matthews came to see him.
“Agent Kokinos - oh.” She stopped in the doorway, head tilted in confusion. “I was told you’d been seriously injured.”
“It is not quite that serious,” he assured her. What was she doing here? But he kept his tone polite as he added, “However, I must thank you for your concern.”
“Actually, I came here to thank you.” Miss Matthews smiled. “A Detective Mihara called and told me that they’d arrested the man who did it. Thank you for getting to the truth so quickly. My mother would also like me to extend her thanks.”
Looker frowned briefly. “I was under the impression that you did not care for your brother?”
She laughed slightly. “Oh, I didn’t mean it like that! No, I’m just glad I wasn’t arrested, and I believe I have you to thank for that. My mother’s thanks might be more heartfelt, or she might just be glad to have avoided a scandal - you can never quite tell with our family.”
Honesty, he thought, was commendable in many situations. He wasn’t sure about now. He could appreciate Veronica Matthews’ honesty, but the things she said... “I was only doing my job. Thanks are not necessary.”
She shrugged. “Well, have them anyway. Even if it’s your job, there was nothing forcing you to work so hard on it, so I think you deserve them.”
Looker didn’t like the idea of being thanked for doing the right thing. But he could hardly discuss that with this woman. He inclined his head and didn’t comment. “Was there anything else?”
“No, that was it.” She turned to leave, pulling the door closed behind her, but then she paused and looked over her shoulder. “Agent Kokinos, I hope you don’t take it the wrong way when I say I very much hope we don’t meet again.”
“I understand.”
“Have a good life!” she said cheerily, and apparently sincerely, closing the door behind her.
There were some people Looker was sure he’d never understand.
“Agent Looker!” Mihara frowned at him critically as he entered the room. “Are you alright to be walking around like this?”
He sighed.
“He’s an Interpol Agent, Mihara, I’m sure he knows best,” Yamato said, with a slight edge to his voice. Mihara’s frown deepened, but she bit her tongue and looked down at the papers on her desk.
Looker was almost relieved that Yamato disliked him just as much as before. Apparently, he had yet to move back into his own office, because the room was just as cramped and chaotic as it had been the first time Looker saw it. “What did you require me for?”
“Oh, just some paperwork needs your signature putting on it,” Yamato said airily. “I heard from Lt. Surge that you weren’t able to fly for a few days, thought it would be best to get it out of the way.”
Looker nodded and followed him to the adjoining room. There was a small pile of paperwork - smaller than Looker expected - on the desk that had been his for... what, a day? It seemed strange to think that the case had only lasted that long. It had seemed... longer.
Well, it was done with now. Captain Forde was in custody. He didn’t have to worry about it any longer. In fact, he had no cases at all to worry about for several weeks now.
...Those six weeks hadn’t seemed nearly so bleak until he put it like that. Great.
Sighing, he sat down and skimmed the first document before signing at the bottom.
Yamato raised his eyebrows. “You’re not going to read them?”
“I trust you not to do something which would endanger the case,” he said. He skimmed and signed the next one.
There was no answer, but Looker had the uncomfortable feeling of being watched. He glanced up to see that Yamato was frowning at him. He didn’t know whether he ought to find this disconcerting or not. He gave him a questioning look.
“Ah, it’s nothing,” Yamato said, waving a hand dismissively. Looker had heard that a lot recently, but he didn’t particularly care if Yamato was using it as an excuse or not. “Though, actually, I did have something else to say to you.”
Looker blinked. “Yes?”
“About Mihara.” Yamato looked a little uncomfortable, and... embarrassed? “Thank you for getting her out of there. I don’t know for what stupid reason you stayed, but... well, thanks for not extending it to one of my team.”
Looker’s confusion cleared instantly. He decided not to comment on the slight to himself. “It was nothing. There was no point in risking injury to her, and with only a growlithe, she would not have been of much help.”
“Oh, and I have to ask this,” Yamato said, almost as though he had not heard Looker’s reply, “How was she to work with? I think I’ll have to write a report on it, this whole thing turned into such a confusing mess...”
Looker frowned. “There were no problems. She was fully cooperative and very helpful.”
“Yes, and that’s what I’m putting on the report,” he said scornfully. “What was she like?
Ah. So Yamato was after an analysis and not an official statement. In that case, he should have been more specific. “She has a good mind,” Looker said, after a moment of thought, “And she’s certainly dedicated. But she does not assert herself enough. She is too timid. If she has an idea, she has to first be prompted for it, or she dismisses it without voicing it for others to expand upon.” He signed another sheet, expecting Yamato to show some signs of anger. He didn’t. “It is not a good way to work.”
After several seconds of silence, Looker couldn’t resist the temptation anymore, and glanced up again. Yamato sighed just as he did so. “I thought as much. Still, it’s good to have a second opinion.”
“You probably do not want my advice,” Looker said. “But!” He held up a hand to silence Yamato’s objection. “Do you remember when she had some rather scathing comments for the both of us?”
“Yes. Distinctly.”
Looker pressed on. “That is the sort of thing a full detective must be able to do.” Yamato frowned at him. Confused? Looker didn’t know him well enough to tell. He hesitated a little. He wasn’t sure how Yamato would react, but he owed Mihara at least this. “You should not push her,” he said. “She is getting there. If she does not do it by herself, it will not be a real gain.”
“I’ll take that under advisement,” Yamato said curtly, but at least he was considering it. Looker breathed a very quiet sigh of relief, and went back to signing.
The remainder of the time passed in silence.
It was probably a good thing that Looker had made friends with the city’s Gym Leader - it made finding accommodation a simple matter. That said, he saw little of him. Surge said that he’d been neglecting his challenges and administrative duties since Kent’s death, and things had been piling up. Looker didn’t blame him for trying to distract himself, but he did hope that Surge didn’t go too far with it.
It was probably better that way, anyway, because Looker was able to make use of the time to complete his own (electronic) paperwork for Interpol, and then he got to spend much of the rest of the time being a tourist. It surprised him how long it had actually been since he’d been able to simply enjoy the city he was in. That was just one of the downsides to his work, he supposed. At least he got to see these places, which was something few others could claim.
Eventually, Looker’s ‘recovery time’ was over, and he was finally able to book himself a flight back to Greece. He couldn’t exactly say that he was looking forward to it, but... his native land always held mixed feelings these days.
Surge offered to go with him to the airport, but Looker declined. His mother hen tendencies really did not need to be encouraged.
“If you’re sure... guess this is goodbye, then,” he said, frowning. Looker didn’t really blame him. This sort of goodbye seemed a little anti-climatic. “Thanks for all your help, I guess.”
“What?” Looker asked, so startled that he did a double-take. “Lt. Surge, I am the one who should be thanking you for your help! Both myself and the investigation would be in much worse shape without you.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “Well, maybe you’re right. Still, there probably wouldn’t have been much of an investigation if you hadn’t been here.”
Looker’s mouth quirked into a smile. “Maybe that is also true.”
“And, by the way,” Surge continued, offering his hand, “My name’s Matis. That’s what my friends call me.”
For the very briefest of moments, Looker hesitated. He didn’t have very many friends who called him by his first name these days; he always preferred to be known as Looker. His real name was tied up in memories and people that he half-wished he could just forget.
But he shook his hand anyway. “Andreas.”
Surge--Matis grinned at him, although the cheer slipped a little when he said, “You remember what they said as the hospital, right? Go see a doctor as soon as you’re off the plane--”
Looker couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing, and then tried to disguise the grimace of pain it prompted. “You are worse than my mother.” And every other member of his immediate family. “Yes, yes, I will go.”
“Good,” Matis said, breathing a sigh of relief. “You know how to reach me if you need something.”
He really was worse than his mother. Looker shook his head, still chuckling. “Yes. And the same for you.”
Matis gave him the same casual, joking salute he had given Yamato before, but this one had more of an air of friendliness than mockery. Looker simply shook his head with a smile - and then he got into the idling taxi and shut the door behind him. He resisted the urge to look back.
He wasn’t very good at goodbyes.

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ainbthechainbthech on November 1st, 2011 05:34 pm (UTC)
I loved this. I read it all in one morning (and wow, there was a lot of it). It was a really good mystery --- I followed along and saw how things fit together and was sometimes a half-step behind the characters and sometimes a half-step ahead.

And Looker, oh man. Sooooooooo noir. I love it. I really like how you gave him a characterization and made this decidely part of the Pokémon universe without being explicitly about trainers or gym battles or leagues. AND SOME ACTUALL HANDLING OF ETHNICITY AND IT BEING A THING.

Thank you so much for writing and sharing this! <3
quotemyfootquotemyfoot on November 2nd, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
Omg thank you so much I'm so happy you enjoyed it ♥ Especially the mystery, I was super worried how that would come out.

I will read your entry when I have the time you have no idea how much i have been looking forward to that fic. Expect mucho fangirling.
ainbthechainbthech on November 2nd, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
The mystery was awesome and I really liked how everything fit together in the end. Everything in the story had a place in the puzzle! And: Oh wow, I hope you like it *blushes* <3
(Deleted comment)
quotemyfootquotemyfoot on November 2nd, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW HAPPY THIS HAS MADE ME. I am seriously saving all of your comments forever they were wonderful and made me squee like mad. I am so so happy you enjoyed this, especially as a fan of crime/mystery stuff. <3s for you AND ALL THAT YOU STAND FOR.
solarpillarsolarpillar on November 7th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
My first thought was that this would make an excellent radio show/pod fic. It is 90% dialogue, yet clues are still passed around without the need of overwhelming quantity of information as in some detective novels.

At first I thought the scarcity of information and the presentation that makes us know only what Looker knows would prevent the reader from searching and deducing alongside the detective, as I'm more used to the kind where a bunch of information was thrown to the reader's face and we have to search in that pile with the characters and make our own hypothesis and only know at the reveal if our guesses are right. This story here doesn't have the search part because the reader only knows what Looker knows, yet managed to keep the possibility to let the reader deduce alongside Looker and wait for the reveal. And like a good noir, the story doesn't end at the reveal like an armchair detective story, but treat us a whole page of action. Good job. That was good execution.

Surge is less arrogant and hard than I thought. Here he is almost boyish. Doesn't matter, characters change personality all the time when in different canon. Plus Looker got more serious, so it was a nice balance to make Surge less serious.

I do have to complain about the style a little. Sometimes it feels too cliche and spoonfeeding. Just parts though, not the whole text. And not enough different stimuli. In a noir I expect to smell cigarette and alcohol, blood and dust, feel the rain falling on my body and the chill that slowly licks my skin, taste the blood in the mouth when beaten and etc. etc. This fic did have moments like these, like the battle against the arbok in part 6, but still could do with more.

I find it interesting that instead of having a beautiful dame following the detective like most noir, it's Surge filling in that job and instead act as some kind of buddy cop. Good variation.

I made a mess out of the comment again. Anyway, good job working on a relatively obscure NPC and make it work. I gave the imaginary cakes away already, so have some imaginary donuts.
quotemyfoot: drifloonquotemyfoot on December 29th, 2011 01:36 am (UTC)
First of all: I'm really sorry it has taken so long to reply to this! I only returned from uni recently and it has taken me some time to catch up to everything.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here! I really appreciate it and I'm glad you took the time to give some concrit too. :)
becks: yawnbecky_barrett on April 10th, 2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
I've just re-read this marvelous fic yesterday for... To be perfectly honest, I've lost track of times I've read this fic. And I thought that it's high time to say thank you, bold, capslock thank you.
It's not that often the pokemon fandom produces captivating, well thought out gen. You've managed not only to do just that, but also excelled at it.
The themes you've carefully written into it, like the above mentioned ethnicity, power play of gym leaders, the delicate problems like jurisdiction, they all feel so natural, like they belong, and as I see it, it's hard to achieve when canon is primarily about a mary sue collecting 'em all.
The way you explored Looker's character, the background you gave him, it's amazing and it, along with the plot, makes you think, makes you wonder - and that's the whole point of a whodunit, making this fic quite an experience.
quotemyfootquotemyfoot on April 11th, 2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
And a bold, capslock thank you for leaving such a lovely comment! ♥ I was trying to write a pokemon world that felt really, so it's great to hear that I succeeded. :)
becks: желтая <3becky_barrett on April 11th, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC)
You're very much welcome. c:
And, on the second thought, can I ask for a permission to translate this fic for an event called fandom combat, where I represent the tiny russian pokemon fandom?
quotemyfootquotemyfoot on April 11th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
Of course! That would be wonderful :) I'd be really grateful as well if you could pass on any concrit anyone might have. Otherwise, good luck! :P