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Part Three
Looker had contacted Kinney about finding out exactly what jurisdiction the Jamison fell under, and left investigating the Centre’s records to Surge.
He wasn’t particularly happy about either of these things.
Fred Kinney was a good man, and he’d promised to put his question as a priority, but Looker knew him well enough to know that he would probably promise the same thing to the next Agent who called him if they pushed him hard enough. This case was being watched closely, which might work in his favour for once, but Looker wasn’t getting his hopes up - that way he had a chance of being pleasantly surprised.
It didn’t bother him half as much as letting Lt. Surge take over even a sliver of the investigation did. Not only was he not a detective, he was a Gym Leader! Surge hadn’t struck Looker as the worst type, considering everything, and in many ways he was even likable... but he’d thought the same thing of other Gym Leaders, before he’d known better. Just because people had the power to do something didn’t mean they would do it.
He didn’t think that Surge would suddenly change his mind and not access the Centre records for him. Not exactly. It was that he kept trying to make himself helpful, and worryingly it was even working to an extent - but there was no guarantee that Surge would always want to be so involved.
After all, in Sinnoh they’d been perfectly happy to leave Team Galactic to a twelve year old girl. Leaving a murder to an Interpol Agent was positively charitable in comparison. Looker would much rather that Surge had done that from the beginning. It wasn’t the expectation that he’d do it alone that he minded; it was that he might not get any warning about it.
Dawn hadn’t been prepared for Team Galactic, but she had managed to face them anyway.
Looker was not nearly so good at improvising. Whilst Lt. Surge insisted on shadowing him, he might as well make use of it. But he was going to have to watch himself very carefully to make sure he didn’t get accustomed to him being there.
It wouldn’t last.
Since he had nothing else to do until the information from the Jamison came in, Looker returned to Vermillion Police Station to wait for the results of the cyanide testing. It was entirely possible that it would come back positive and Lt. Surge’s little side trip would be for nothing. Looker would get a few laughs out of that if it proved to be the case, but he didn’t consider it very likely. His theory was still just that, but he hadn’t gone wrong often in the past, not when he’d latched on to something like this.
So when Mihara found him half an hour after he’d arrived back to announce that there wasn’t a trace of potassium cyanide on or in the painkillers belonging to Veronica Matthews, Looker wasn’t surprised.
“I don’t understand,” Mihara said, shoulders slumping. “I was so certain that this was how he was poisoned.”
“I reconsidered after reviewing some of the staff interviews,” Looker answered. Mihara’s eyes widened, and he was reminded again that she seemed much younger than she was. He sighed and beckoned her over, pointing out the relevant pieces from the interviews.
To her credit, she was much quicker on the uptake than Surge. “Oh, so there were two separate sources - then you think the first one was the poisoned one, sir?”
“That is what I believe, yes.”
“But...” She frowned, rereading the excerpts. “If the victim was the one who carried these paracetamol with him - why haven’t we found their container?”
Looker sat up straight. How on earth had he missed that? It was highly unlikely that Matthews had carried just the pills, so Mihara was right - there should have been some sort of container. Which meant that they were still missing something, somehow.
“Forensics - they took everything away from the crime scene?”
“Yes sir,” Mihara said firmly. “We’ve worked with this team before, and they’re very experienced. They certainly wouldn’t have left anything behind.”
Her faith in her colleagues was touching. She knew them better than Looker, so he decided to trust her on this one. “In that case, then it is possible that something has been overlooked.”
It wouldn’t surprise him, actually. It rarely happened in a normal case, but it wasn’t unheard of - and this time there would have been pressure to get all the basics of the investigation compiled quickly. Honestly, he wouldn’t blame anyone if something had been overlooked. He doubted that the detectives would be quite as happy with themselves, though.
But that wasn’t his problem. His problem was finding the missing pieces of the puzzle.
Mihara must have recognised something in his expression, because her lips quirked and she said, “I’ll take you down to forensics, sir.”
There was something about labs that still unnerved Looker. He knew how crucial it was to crime investigation, especially these days, and he wasn’t proud enough to think that even he could solve all of his cases without the help of science. It might have been because he preferred to rely on his mind to reach a conclusion, but despite everything the crisp, chemical-scented air of forensics labs always made him feel anxious.
Then again, it could easily be the fault of people like this man, who seemed to wear the mask and full-body suits of forensics out of habit. He blinked at Looker and Mihara as they entered. “Can I help you?”
“We need to see the evidence for the Matthews case,” Mihara told him. She, at least, seemed at ease here, if not confident. Looker spared a mental curse for the white glare of the lighting. What was wrong with sunlight? Really.
“Sure,” the forensics guy said, but he didn’t move. It took a moment for Looker to realise he was peering at him suspiciously. “Can I see some ID, please?”
Looker sighed and offered him his badge for what felt like the millionth time today.
The man frowned at it for a few seconds, and then he blinked. “Oh! Oh, er - sorry, Agent Kokinos.”
“It is no problem,” he assured him, trying not to sound too tired.
Mr. Forensics handed the ID back hastily and nodded. “Well, uh. Okay then. Right this way please!” He seemed to get over his embarrassment quickly, but Looker couldn’t actually tell because he could only see a few inches of his face. “What did you particularly want to see?” Forensics added, to Mihara. 
“The victim, he took painkillers from - somewhere,” Looker cut in, seeing her suddenly look a little panicked. “A box or...” He couldn’t find the word for a few seconds. “Con- contrainer? Is that right?”
“Container,” Forensics corrected absently. Then he brightened. “Hey, there was something like that! I don’t know if it’s what you’re looking for, though. Something English on it.”
“I would like to see it,” Looker said.
He was trying to work out what effect English words might have on its use as a murder weapon when the forensics man darted into a room so suddenly that Looker almost walked past it.
A pair of gloves was thrown at him and another at Mihara as they stepped through the door. Both nearly dropped them, and by the time Looker had pulled his on - pulling a face at the uncomfortable constricting feeling - a small brown translucent case had appeared on the table in the middle of the room.
“Well,” Forensics said awkwardly, “There it is.”
Mihara was giving it a vaguely disappointed look, but he was anything but. He recognised this style of plastic as typical of prescribed medicines, including those in Britain and America. It had the same style of label; that would account for the English that the forensics man had dismissed so readily--
He frowned at the label on the bottle. There was a name there, although the typing was faint and he had to hold it up to the light to see it properly. The date on it was years ago, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything other than it had been given then. There was a G... no, C...
“C. Forde,” he muttered. He couldn’t remember coming across the name. “Mihara, are you remembering anyone by that name?”
“I... I don’t know about the ‘C’,” she answered hesitantly, “But I think there was a Forde in the crew? It sounds familiar, anyway.”
“Well, the name is easy to check,” Looker said, hiding his disappointment. It wasn’t as though he would lose anything from the delay. He turned to Forensic. “You checked this for cyanide? It was negative?”
His brows furrowed in what Looker could only assume was a scowl beneath his mask. “Of course it was! Do you think we’re stupid?” He suddenly paused. “Are you sure this is what you’re looking for? I mean, the only odd thing we found about it was it had the victim’s fingerprints on it.”
Looker persisted. “You tested all of it? The outside as well?”
“We--” he started to say, then pulled up short suddenly with another frown. “Huh. You know, I’ll have to check that; it wasn’t me who tested this one. We should have done, though...”
He spent the next few seconds absorbed in the notes of someone with worse handwriting than Lt. Surge. Mihara shifted uncomfortably.
“Oh,” he said. He flicked to another page. “Well... um. Damn.”
Looker tried his best to stop himself putting his face in his hands. He ended up pressing his fingers very firmly against his temples to keep himself from commenting.
“In our defence,” Forensics said tentatively, “We were being kinda rushed.”
“I understand,” Looker said, sighing.
“I’ll, uh, get started on that now, then,” Forensics said weakly. But he didn’t actually move a muscle, except to flick his eyes pointedly towards the door.
“We’ll leave you to it, then,” Mihara said, with some forced cheerfulness. “Send the results to Detective Yamato when you’re done!”
“Will do!” he answered, equally cheerful, but he shut the door behind Looker quite forcefully. He tried not to take offence. He had, after all, just insulted his pride as a professional and been right about it.
“A mistake like that is very unusual for them here,” Mihara reassured him hastily, as they walked back up to the police’s half of the building. “I haven’t seen them do anything like that before.”
“It is quite understandable,” Looker said. “Interpol has been under pressure about this case from the beginning. It is not surprising that it was passed down. Mistakes happen.” Though that didn’t mean it was any less frustrating when they did.
She nodded absently. “Yes, Detective Yamato said that the investigation would go a lot smoother if Interpol would just stay out of things-- not that that’s a reflection of you, sir!” she added hastily.
“I have not taken offence,” Looker assured her. She relaxed a little. “But, it is true that someone must do what Interpol does.”
“But why?” Mihara blurted suddenly. He blinked, startled, and she bit her lip. “Well, I... I don’t really understand why we can’t leave crimes to their local jurisdiction, sir.”
“That... is not an uncommon way of thinking,” he admitted slowly. “In the past, I also have thought that way.”
But Looker was old, or at least he felt old enough to forget that he was really thirty-two. That attitude had seemed perfectly fine when he was living in Greece, but travelling had lead him to realise that everyone was concerned with local issues, local interests, local threats. The world was made up of communities, and at least on the lower levels of these, people were genuinely cooperative with one another, working together to improve their home from within.
Only... being concerned only with what was happening to you, believing that people should sort out their own problems and stay out of yours - that was the sort of attitude that let criminals like Team Galactic thrive. As long as they remained a mere nuisance, no Gym Leader would bother wasting their energy removing them from the city, and the police didn’t have the power to fight against an organised group of trainers like that. But what was a nuisance for each city was an epidemic when taken as a whole, and a nuisance could easily be a front for something much more dangerous and deeply-rooted.
Of course no one noticed this because no one would look beyond their boundaries, and trainers, unless they were something extraordinary, didn’t have the power to fix the situation if they noticed it - most of them, after all, even the experienced ones, were just children.
If Interpol didn’t exist, though, that was all the world would have.
All Looker said was: “Some things occur on a bigger scale than local can handle.”
As soon as Looker opened the door to his temporary office, something hit him straight in the face. He recoiled automatically, smacking his head hard against the doorframe and swearing loudly. It was probably a good job nobody here spoke Greek. He grimaced and reached to rub at his head as he stepped back into the room. That was twice in one day he’d hit his head - it wasn’t close to over yet.
“Sorry,” Surge said, grinning and utterly unapologetic. He had commandeered the chair behind Looker’s desk, but it was the only chair in the room. “I’ve been waiting here for ten minutes. What took you so long?”
“I was in forensics,” Looker said flatly. He was not really in the mood for jokes from anyone, least of all a Gym Leader.
Surge raised his eyebrows. “Oookay. Find anything?”
He seriously considered not telling him, but decided after a moment that that would be counter-productive. “Possibly the container for the contaminated painkiller. It is being tested.”
“What, they didn’t do that before?”
“It was overlooked.” Looker scowled at Surge when this only raised an incredulous look from him. “It sometimes happens.”
He seemed to consider this for a moment, then shrugged. “Well, good job I was productive, anyway.”
Looker rolled his eyes. “And what did you produce?”
Surge chuckled.
“...It was what you threw at me.”
“Not gonna deny it,” he answered cheerfully.
Looker sighed.
“Come on, you would’ve laughed if it had been me.”
This was probably true, but he’d already turned to find the folder Surge had thrown at him, and didn’t answer. Mihara, it turned out, had picked it up, and had apparently taken it upon herself to go through it, explaining why she’d been quiet for a while.
Her eyes were wide in shock and caught his attention immediately. Looker opened his mouth to ask, but before he could speak, Mihara said, “Sir... this Charles Forde...”
So it seemed as though they were on the right track. Looker brightened. “That matches the initials from the prescription bottle.”
“Yes, but...” She shook her head and turned the papers towards him, showing the black and white photo on the first page. “Sir, this is the Captain.
Looker wondered why this was shocking.
He didn’t notice that Surge had rushed from his seat until he was snatching the papers out of Mihara’s hands. “What?
Alright, now Looker just felt left out. “I think I am missing something here?”
“He and Kent were good friends,” Surge said, before Mihara could answer. Judging by her expression, this wasn’t the reason she had in mind. “I can’t believe he’d kill him.”
“He has a poison-type?” Looker asked innocently.
“An arbok,” he admitted. “But--”
“And he is the only one?”
Yes, but--”
“And the probable container of the poison was a prescription bottle with his name on it?”
“Okay, fine,” Surge snapped, glaring at him. “You’ve made your point, he fits. But still, they were good friends - why would he suddenly kill him?”
Looker shrugged. “I do not know, yet. But most murders are by a person known to the victim, so it is not so surprising. Knowing that they were friends, to me, that makes it more likely than if he was merely the Captain.”
Surge muttered something that was probably insulting under his breath, but Looker wasn’t close enough to hear. Mihara, if she could tell what it was, didn’t say anything. She looked confused. “I... sir? Can I ask why it’s important that the Captain has a poison-type?”
“Some poison-types require cyanide to be healthy,” he said. “It was only speculation on how a crew member might have obtained cyanide. Although it seems to have been borne out.”
Surge frowned at him. “You know, I don’t think I asked how you know that?”
Looker shrugged. “I myself have a poison-type.”
Mihara started to ask something else, but the connecting door opened suddenly before she could finish. Detective Yamato was standing there and, in the background, Looker could just about see the others frantically grabbing coats and pokeballs. He scanned the room briefly. “Mihara, we’ve got a lead on some new illegals on route 6. Grab Ken so we can get out of here.”
“Yes sir!” she answered immediately, disappearing through the other door rather than push past him.
Yamato made to close the door, but then paused and turned to Looker. “How is the case progressing?”
“Well,” Looker said shortly.
He nodded. “Right. I’ll get Mihara to fill me in as we travel. Good luck.”
Then he shut the door behind him, and the room next door fell silent several seconds later.
“Illegals,” Looker said carefully. “What did he mean?”
“Illegal immigrants,” Surge said with a wince. “The numbers have been going up since the trade boom... the harbour master’s supposed to keep them out, but he’s not doing a great job. Once they’ve got past the controls at the port, it’s the police’s job to round them up.”
“If the harbour master is so poor, can you not replace him?” Looker asked. As best as he could remember, the Gym Leaders were technically required to get the approval of the Elites or the Champion for appointments in the city, but nowadays that mostly boiled down to just getting the order stamped. They very rarely vetoed anything anymore.
“I could, in theory,” Surge said. “But his old man was in the position before him, and, well... when you’re an outsider there can be repercussions of breaking tradition like that.” He shrugged, although his face was carefully expressionless, and Looker thought that he was more bothered than he was trying to let on. “That’s the way of things sometimes.”
“I... see.”
Looker was... surprised, in all honesty. He hadn’t thought Surge knew that much about the goings on of this city, let alone enough to be influenced by them. Of course, for most people in the city, this sort of thing would mean very little, and he doubted Surge thought about them very much - and he certainly didn’t look very far beyond Vermillion’s borders. Still... maybe he had been a little quick to judge. Maybe not all Gym Leaders were as bad as the ones in Sinnoh.
“Anyway,” Surge said abruptly, in a mildly successful attempt at cheer, “Now you’ve got a new suspect, what do we do?”
“I do not believe there is much we can do, for the moment,” Looker said. “I am still waiting for test results, and also to know whether the Jamison is under British or American law. However, I suspect American. I think the Captain would know better than illegally trying to conceal a pokemon.”
“So... you’re saying there’s nothing to do?” he asked. “Seriously?
“I do not think there is anything particularly pressing,” Looker said, but he was thinking about it. Lt. Surge did not seem the type who was very good at doing nothing for any length of time and, for that matter, neither was he. “Although... it would not be a terrible idea to interview Veronica Matthews once more. If her brother was behaving oddly, it is possible that it could help establish a motive.”
Surge nodded. “Sounds like a good a plan as any.” He paused, then pulled a face. “This means I’ll have to take notes again, doesn’t it?”
“Yes. I am sure it is a sad thing for you.” That was a good point. Did he still have Mihara’s notebook? Wait, he did, it was in his pocket. He hoped that she wouldn’t need it whilst she was out with Detective Yamato, and made a mental note to return it to her as soon as possible. She could get in trouble for that.
“Don’t you have one of those transcript things?” Surge persisted. “It takes down your words automatically. I know they exist, shouldn’t Interpol have a gadget like that?”
“They are not reliably accurate enough. In any case,” Looker added dryly, “If Interpol had them, then police departments, they would complain of not having them, and then you Gym Leaders would be needing to spend a large amount on purchasing them.”
Surge huffed. “We’re not all misers, you know.”
“But it is true that there are better things to spend the city’s money on.”
“Well... yeah.” He gave him a look that was supposed to be sour, but his lips were twitching with a suppressed smile. “Is it in your job description to spoil everyone’s fun?”
“Of course not,” Looker said mildly, pretending to be distracted. “It is only for personal recreation.”
Surge laughed, and Looker allowed himself a grin as well.
“I didn’t expect you to be back again so quickly,” Miss Matthews admitted.
Looker resisted the urge to add something sarcastic. When she was in her pyjamas and dressing gown, it was really just too obvious to be funny. “The case, it has been progressing quicker than we expected.”
“I’m glad to hear that!” she said, apparently sincerely. “Am I still the main suspect?”
He couldn’t help but smile at her tone. He’d never heard that question asked with such polite curiosity before. “I believe that we have acquired a new one.”
“Wonderful.” She gestured to the small sofa in the corner of the room. There was an armchair next to it, which she took. “Please, have a seat.”
Looker was very much aware of the fact that this one piece of furniture probably cost as much as half of that in his apartment. Granted, his apartment was fairly sparsely furnished because he was rarely there - but still, it was uncomfortably expensive. The fact that this room was just as big as his own lounge, even though it was only part of what Veronica Matthews was paying for... it was sort of mind boggling.
Surge, of course, somehow managed to look like he belonged there. Damn Gym Leaders and their salaries.
“How can I help you?” Miss Matthews asked.
Looker cleared his throat. “Ah, yes. Mostly, I am here to ask about your brother’s mood.”
She frowned. “Mood?”
“Yes. What did he seem like? He was distracted, or maybe angry...?”
“Oh, no,” she said quickly. The frown deepened. “Well... I don’t think so.” She laughed nervously. “I didn’t know him very well, really. We only saw each other a few times a year - and that was because he refused to talk to our parents in person.”
Looker nodded. From what she had said before, he hadn’t been too optimistic about what Miss Matthews would be able to share; she probably knew more than she realised, but if the two didn’t care for one another, then it wouldn’t be able to do much more than point them in the right direction, at best. “Still, anything which you are able to tell us, it would be helpful.”
“If you say so,” she said, dubiously. There was a lengthy pause, but Looker didn’t interrupt. “I think... there was something bothering him, actually. He seemed - not distracted, I don’t think, but oddly - depressed?” She frowned to herself, lost in thought. “Depressed, I think. He drank a fair amount. He wasn’t drunk, but he was certainly tipsy. He doesn’t normally do that in front of me.”
That was... interesting. Looker hadn’t expected to hear that he was upset - in his experience, murderers seemed to kill mostly when they felt threatened. A victim angered by something a murderer had done would be likely to speak out. A distracted victim suggested they might be trying to understand the importance of something they’d seen. There were clear motives there. But depressed?
Yes... interesting was the word for it. “He did not say what he had been upset by?”
She let out a bitter laugh that made Surge, next to him, jump suddenly. Looker glanced at him, but he only seemed startled.
“No,” Miss Matthews said, when her laughter had died down. “No, Kent wasn’t the confiding type. Especially with his little sister. Although... he did say something odd.” She frowned again, tapping her fingers against the chair of the arm. “One of our cousins got arrested for drug dealing recently.” Looker blinked, but either she hadn’t quite realised what she was saying or she simply didn’t care - actually, it was probably the latter. “I told Kent about it because - well, family gossip, you know?” She hesitated. “This might not be relevant.”
Looker knew a lot about family gossip, yes. It had been his mother’s favourite past time. Personally, he had never really seen the appeal, although it was a little more polite than gossiping about the neighbours. “Please go on.”
She nodded, but there was a pause before she resumed speaking. “Well, this cousin of ours, he’d always been very - very... straight, growing up. He was the last person I expected to be arrested for such a thing. I told Kent because I thought it was funny but he said - he said something odd.” Another moment of hesitation. “This was towards the end of the evening, so I - maybe it was because he was tipsy. But he said, ‘You think you know someone, but it turns out they were a lot worse than you thought.’ It was weird because... he sounded so bitter, you see, but neither of us had ever particularly liked our cousin.”
That would certainly explain why she’d found the arrest funny. Looker had never met the rest of her family but he was starting to wonder if it was a good idea to have one of them in such a high position in government - any government. It was difficult to imagine a decent person amongst them, even by the standards of politicians.
But that sentiment was probably something he should keep to himself, considering that one of them had been Surge’s friend.
He let the silence go on for a moment longer, then said, “That is all?”
“Yes, sorry,” Miss Matthews said, sitting a little straighter. She had returned to her normal confidence. The change was a little unnerving. “As I said, we weren’t very close, so if there was some other sign of something wrong, I didn’t see it.”
“Well, you have regardless been helpful,” Looker told her, although she had not been so much helpful as bewildering. “I would like to ask another question.”
“Go ahead.”
“It may seem strange, but - the timing exactly of when your brother took both sets of painkillers, it would be very helpful.”
“The exact timing?” she asked, frowning slightly. “Well... I don’t know if I can remember exactly, but... someone must’ve given him some before he left his ship, he took those... then about five minutes later he said they weren’t working fast enough and took mine.”
“Five minutes?” Looker repeated.
Miss Matthews shrugged. “He was always quite impatient. Anyway, like I said, he’d been drinking, he wasn’t thinking straight.”
It still seemed stupid, but he was fairly sure she wasn’t lying - there would be no point. “And, when he collapsed, it was... how many minutes later?”
“Almost ten,” she answered, after a pause. “Maybe more than ten, I’m not sure. It didn’t feel like very long.”
“I see,” Looker said.
The timing might still be a bit of an issue, then. He couldn’t establish exactly which set of painkillers had killed Matthews - testing would only do so much when he didn’t have the other to compare with it. He hoped ten minutes would be enough of a gap to make it, at the very least, unlikely to have been from a commercial capsule such as Miss Matthews’. But with things as they were, he might have to rely on other evidence, or even a confession, for there to be a solid case against Captain Forde - though if the test for cyanide came back positive, it would be hard to dismiss it all as ‘circumstantial’.
Still, as he said his thanks and goodbyes to Miss Matthews, Looker was beginning to feel like the case was coming to a close. Maybe a resolution wasn’t that close, necessarily, but he felt like even if the mysteries surrounding it hadn’t been resolved, it was getting to the point whether they either would be or wouldn’t be.
This probably should have made him feel relieved instead of worried, but, well - Looker had never been entirely typical for an investigator. And it worried him because knowing the truth didn’t necessarily mean you were able to prove it. The thought that he might have to try extracting a confession from Forde weighed heavily on his mind. He hadn’t even met this Forde person, and didn’t remember reading a transcript of his interview, but murderers... very rarely confessed until there were no more outs for them. Even then, they were sometimes still trying to escape what they’d done.
No... No, I didn’t, I didn’t--
He shut his eyes.
“You okay?”
“I am fine,” Looker said quickly, snapping them open again - possibly too quickly; Surge’s face showed open concern and he looked anything but reassured by his answer.
He didn’t comment further, but he was still studying Looker carefully even as he said, “So, what about that was actually helpful? Because it beats me, that’s for sure.”
Looker waved a hand dismissively, and tried to concentrate on seeming as normal as he ought to be. “Ah, it was not too helpful, but it is only polite to say otherwise. Actually, it was to myself... quite confusing.”
“Oh good,” Surge said sarcastically, “So the professional doesn’t know either.”
He didn’t answer. Outside the Lanturn Hotel, the crowds were still almost as large as they had been earlier, even though it was pushing on for evening. Well, Vermillion City was famous for its sunsets - they were probably flocking to one of the many view spots by the harbour. Still, Looker was struck by the sudden idea, probably helped by his exhaustion, that minutes, and not hours, had passed since he’d started on this case. The sun was out. It was crowded with the awestruck tourists and jaded locals that made Vermillion what it was. A wingull landed on top of a nearby building, scouting for its next meal.
He could wait.
The case didn’t have to be solved immediately. There was still plenty of time left. The Jamison was not due to leave harbour yet, and could not, in any case. He could take time out to enjoy the tourist attractions that he liked so much, to find somewhere which served food that was up to his standards, to sleep, to take a break - a real one, not like before, when he had really just been doing some of the slower casework. Maybe things would make more sense if he stopped slamming his head against them, or maybe they wouldn’t, but he had the time to see which of those was true. In all probability, nothing would happen if the investigation stretched on a few more hours.
‘So what if I am a little slow, a few more days does not hurt anyone...’
Only it did.
Those hours would be hours in which one more murderer was loose in Vermillion City than Looker had the power to remove - hours in which that murderer had free reign, because there would be no one even trying to stop them. Maybe they wouldn’t act in that time, but God, if you forgot that they could...
Looker could not pause a case like that anymore. He should have known better three years ago in Sinnoh, and he sure as hell knew better now.
He was only human and he knew he had to sleep at some point, so he would crash eventually. But until then there was no possible way he could stop.
“You sure you’re okay?” Surge asked.
This time his expression had crossed the line from concern to downright worry, but it was alright, because Looker genuinely did feel fine this time.
“I am fine,” he repeated.
At least, he felt as fine as he could feel under the circumstances.
The harsh shriek of a wingull caught his attention. He half-turned to see one flying in the direction of the harbour with the remnants of someone’s sandwich clutched in its beak. Over the tops of the low-set buildings, he could see the sky just starting to go slightly pink at the horizon - and the tall gleaming metal of the many ships in port reflecting the light of the sun.
“Do you remember what I was saying previously?” he asked, mentally turning over the cons of the situation, and deciding he needed to do it anyway. “Of a method which was not illegal, but would not be seen favourably?”
Surge sounded wary. He was probably right to be, at least slightly, but - if Looker could just have some idea of Forde’s motive, even if he only narrowed the field down a little, he would have so much more of an advantage when he came to confront him in person.
“I believe it is time to try it.”
“You sure that’s a good idea?” Surge asked. “Not that I want to question your methods, but if the case against this guy gets thrown out...
“It will not,” Looker assured him.
He persisted. “Has that happened before?”
“No.” Looker turned away from the harbour and scowled at him. “I suspect you are thinking this is much worse than it actually is.”
Surge gave him a very sceptical look. “So you would be okay with talking about this under oath?”
Looker gritted his teeth. “No,” he admitted. Surge raised his eyebrows and he held up a hand to stop whatever triumphant nonsense he was about to say. “But it is still not as terrible as what it is you are thinking. It only, as I have been saying, would not look favourable.” He gave him a pointed look. “I have a kecleon.
“What, and he filches evidence for you?”
“No,” Looker snapped, reigning in his frustration with some difficulty. He tried not to look too bothered. “That would be illegal. I also have a psychic. It allows for images to be broadcasted to me. That is all.
Surge remained unimpressed. “That kinda sounds like it’s legal because no one’s thought to add it to the law books yet.”
“I would not be suggesting it if I did not believe it to be necessary.”
“And I wouldn’t be stopping you if I didn’t think it’d let Kent’s killer walk free.”
He may do so anyway,” Looker retorted.
He regretted it instantly. Surge froze. “What?”
“I - I apologise,” Looker said hurriedly. Now his irritation was directed at himself. Could he possibly have been any more callous? “That was not the best way to--”
“No. Go back to the part where you said he might get away with it.
He looked very frighteningly calm right then, and even if Looker hadn’t been planning on telling him, he was suddenly unsure whether Surge would have given him the choice. “The evidence is not... firm enough to get a conviction for certain.”
“How the hell does that work?” Surge demanded. “You’re the one who started suspecting this guy in the first place. So now he’s suddenly not guilty?”
Looker’s instinctual reaction was to return the anger, even if he knew it wasn’t directed at him. He took a moment to remind himself of that. Reacting with anger would only make Surge worse. “That is not what I said. Some people are simply good at destroying their evidence.”
“Then how will this help?”
“Well, hopefully he is not aware of being suspected yet.” If he was, then they had more problems than just a murder. “So it will be possible to see the evidence before he tries to be rid of it, which will be helpful if we must depend on a confession for conviction.”
Surge didn’t answer immediately. He studied Looker seriously for a moment, before asking: “And you’re sure this is necessary?”
He nodded. “I would not be suggesting it if I was not.”
“It’s definitely not illegal?”
“I have checked many times. It is not.”
There was another silence. Eventually, Surge folded. “Okay, fine. Time to show off this spyware of yours.”
Even though the agreement was grudging, Looker breathed a sigh of relief. This would be a lot easier with Surge’s cooperation.

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October 2011

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