It's three o'clock in the afternoon on a Sunday, and the only people left in the bar are those who can't afford to be hungover, so they stay drunk for days at a time. Falkner knows this type of person all too well; too often, they're the type he sees in the morgue.
He walks into this bar and carefully slides into the seat. No alcohol for him; he has to stay on his toes. He does, however, order a hamburger with fries, two waters, and a plate of sushi. When the food arrives a few minutes later, he hurriedly eats the hamburger. The sushi is left untouched.
He frowns, as if only just then noticing the absence across the table, and checks his phone. No texts, no missed calls. This is peculiar, because Anzu is a prompt lady on the best of days and a double-dealing card on the worst.
At this thought, Falkner slides the phone back into his pocket and checks the safety on his police-issued pistol.
Fortunately for them both, she slides into the bar less than two minutes after that. Falkner briefly admires the way she walks, like she owns the place, and that fine body, before shaking himself out of it and standing up. He is all business, like normal, but he shakes her hand and smiles and greets her by her American name.
She sits carefully in the booth, glancing carefully at it as though expecting a trap. Sensing her discomfort, Falkner takes a piece of sushi, and even though he hates the flavor of raw fish, he downs it in one bite. "Go on, eat up. I didn't pay for this for decoration."
She doesn't smile. Instead, she narrows her eyes the slightest bit. "You really didn't have to, Falkner. I have enough money to take care of myself. I can take care of myself."
He frowns, noting the repeated line. Then he disregards it, because it's not his job to look after her mental health. It's his job to cut a deal.
"Anzu…" he hesitates, wondering if he should use Anzu or Janine. After all, she's known on the streets as Anzu, but Janine is the name she told him the first time they'd met. Then again, 'Anzu' is in all the police files –
"Call me Janine." Falkner looks up, startled, then smiles uneasily. She's good at reading people, unlike him, which gives her an upper hand.
He says, "Alright then. Janine." He breathes in deep and lets out a sigh. "You know why we're here. We have to work this out." He attempts to look stern.
His attempt must have failed, though, because she giggles insufferably. She wipes a small tear and says, "With your hair, you really should stick to playing good cop."
At this point, Falkner can't help but smile either. "Alright then. I'm good cop. If we can cut a deal, then I don't have to arrest you." He's pretty sure he can't arrest her either way. After all, she moves like lightning, thanks to her upbringing.
If her lips have anything to say about it, she knows that he can't do it, too. She lets it go, though, and merely replies, "What do you propose?"
"You work for me as a source of information. Nothing more, nothing less. You probably already know what I'm trying to investigate?"
She shrugs. "I can never be too sure. Is it that redheaded boy that I helped through the Saffron City checkpoint a couple weeks ago?"
"No." Falkner meets her eyes. She's taking this as a joke, but he's never looked more serious during any one of their conversations. "You know what I'm looking for."
She folds her arms across her chest. "No."
"Why not?" he pleads.
"I'm not going to betray my father," she says, standing abruptly. The sushi is only half-eaten, but she walks to the door with her pride on her sleeve.
Falkner leaves a couple of bills on the table and follows her out into the night. She's already made it halfway down the street by the time he catches up, but he doesn't dare grab her or yell at her. "Janine," he says softly. "Work with me. I'm trying to help you get out of this shithole."
She looks back at him, eyes hooded, but even a dolt like Falkner can tell that she's sad about something.
"You know, it's because of my father that I became a cop," he reveals suddenly, for no good reason.
Janine glances at him sideways, like a shy Pidgeotto protecting her young. "You know, it's because of my father that I'm a criminal."
Criminal and cop.
Not so different, Falkner decides as he sits in his squad car hours later.
Two weeks later, Falkner checks his cell phone to see three missed calls and one text message from an unidentifiable number.
It reads "I'm in."
He grins and takes the rest of the day off.
She has many names (Anzu, Janine, Koga's girl), but so does he. They meet in a run-down motel. He has the room reserved under the name 'Hyatt'. She's calling herself Jane, just Jane.
Falkner gets there first, as usual, and waits on the bed with the lights out and his fingers crossed. His partner Whitney had told him to bring his revolver and keep it loaded, even though he trusted Janine. After all, Whitney didn't trust Janine, or anyone else.
Janine taps hard on the door three times. Falkner watches her body language through the peep hole before opening the door a crack and letting her slip through.
She wears a thick magenta scarf today. It covers her mouth and her hair. Right now, she looks in her element. Right now, she looks like the ninja she was raised to become.
"Good to see you're well," Falkner says nonchalantly. She turns away and makes sure that all the blinds are closed and that there are no wire taps anywhere. Apparently, the place passes her test and she sinks onto the bed.
"I brought the data," she says, pulling out an old-fashioned notebook.
Falkner gazes ruefully at his laptop (the latest version) and holds out his hand. "May I?" he asks, and Janine nods, handing the notebook over. The handwriting is barely legible, but it's better that way, since that means it's less likely that one of the bad guys has also read this.
Scrawled in large letters at the top are the words 'Team Rocket'.
Just below that are all the entry codes to their bases. Falkner can make out the words 'Slowpoketail' and 'Raticatetail'.
"This is… this is excellent," he says quietly, flipping through the pages. It's all there, everything he needs to finish his investigation and take Team Rocket down. "How did you manage to get all this information?"
"I have my ways."
"When can we meet again?" Falkner persists. "I would like to keep you somewhat aware of the investigation, even if it's just to warn you to stay out of the way."
Falkner knows this is a very stupid move for him to make, and yet he can't help but make it. He trusts Janine too well. She knows this also, and a small smile adorns her lips. "I believe it's best if we don't meet again, Investigator," she teases. "I'll be just fine."
She makes for the door, but then she hesitates and turns back. "What is i-" Falkner starts to say, but before he can finish, she grabs him by the tie and pulls him to her level and kisses him hard on the lips, before leaving without another word.
Later, when Whitney sees the loopy grin on his face, she demands that he be tested for every kind of poison there is. It is Anzu's specialty, after all.
Almost a month later, Janine is only a thought at the back of Falkner's mind. His days are spent analyzing data of all sorts (financial, forensic, statistical) and his nights are spent under heavy guard. Since, you know, Whitney's always been a bit paranoid, and she still thinks that Janine was playing both sides.
Finally, he's done. The plans are set, the stakeout location is secure, the SWAT team is prepared.
On the day of the mission, he suits up in bulletproof clothing and his best shoes. Whitney is in charge of the heavy weaponry (she's got a bazooka for this mission) so all he has to worry about is the little assigned pistol he's had for a while now, and he hasn't had to use it in a few months.
"Are you coming?" Whitney yells into the men's locker room, and Morty chuckles nearby. Falkner shoots him a look and yells back, "Yes. Give me one minute."
"You two are like an old married couple," Morty comments, securing the Pokeballs to his belt.
Falkner stops what he's doing and hisses back, "We are – not – like an old married couple." He takes a breath. "Besides, I'm not even attracted to her."
"Who, then?" Morty asks, smiling like always. "Is it Jasmine? Because, hey, Volkner will kill you if it's Jasmine."
"No it's not Jasmine," Falkner says. He struggles to envision anything besides dark silver eyes and burgundy lips. "It's no one here, actually."
"Whatever, man. We'd better move out." Morty finishes strapping on his gear, then walks toward the door. Falkner isn't far behind, and before long, he's driving recklessly (and wreck-lessly) toward Saffron City.
They're very secretive about their presence in Saffron City, right next to the Rocket-owned Silph Co.
That is, until Whitney gets a bit trigger-happy and shoots the bazooka straight into the side of the twelve-story building.
"Dammit, Whitney! You weren't supposed to do that." Falkner runs around the squad car, watching in horror as glass and smoke spew from the shot. Whitney just glances at him with a smile that says 'sorry but I'm not sorry' and pulls out her other weapon for the day, a railgun.
Even at this distance, Falkner can see the alarms go off inside the building. He can see the running men. He can see a tall suited man standing at the gaping hole in the belly of the building.
That's his target, he realizes. That's Giovanni.
Falkner is no assassin, but he certainly is a good shot. Crouching behind the car, he takes aim and fires one, two, three shots, accounting for gravity. Giovanni sees his move, though, and steps back. One, two, three shots just barely miss their target.
"Dammit." Falkner crawls to the hood of the car, where Whitney sits and shoots her railgun and laughs with each empty shell. "Whitney! I've got to get inside there."
"Are you mad?" she yells, hitting two more Rockets even as she speaks.
"Yes!" he yells back, peeking over the car door and shooting a man in the side of the head. "But I have to get Giovanni, and he's in there!"
She glances once at him, then hands him a Pokeball. "Girafarig will take you."
Falkner stares at the ball in his hands. "I thought you only liked cute normal-types."
"It is a normal-type!" She glares at him. "Don't question me!"
He sends the giraffe Pokemon out and clings to its neck. "Teleport," he tells it, feeling a tingling in his feet and hands.
As he disappears, he hears her speaking a last couple of words. "Make sure to watch out for that bitch Anzu too…"
He reappears on the roof.
"Holy fu-" he starts to say, but stops himself in time. Silently recalling the psychic Pokemon, he sends out a more familiar one, his Pidgeotto. The bird rests silently on his shoulder, claws carefully resting on his collarbone and ribcage. "Right, let's do this," Falkner says, turning toward the stairwell.
Before he can get there, though, the hatch opens. He tenses, both hand on the revolver, when he sees that black ponytail and dark eyes…
"Janine. What are you doing here?" Falkner says flatly. He doesn't like the way his pistol is pointed at her, but he can't help it, since he has no idea whether he can trust her or not.
"Put the gun down, I'm here to help." He lowers it, but he keeps a keen finger on the trigger. "Giovanni's trying to flee, but he has many guards with him. My father included." She huffs, trying to cover up a nervous twitch in her own hands. "If you can separate him from the guards, I can take care of him for you."
"I thought we weren't seeing each other any more?" he says, disregarding the statement.
She sighs, her breath jumping in her throat. "We're not." She thrusts a thumb over her shoulder toward the stairwell. "Let's –"
But it's too late. Because the hatch is already opening and there is Giovanni and there is Koga and Koga looks even more frightening than the Team Rocket boss. Koga looks capable of tearing Falkner limb for limb with his bare hands.
And Falkner lifts one hand in a half-hearted wave. "Hello?"
Koga ignores him, turning to his daughter. "Janine. You have betrayed me. Why have you betrayed me?"
She doesn't answer. She doesn't lash out in bitter retaliation. She just stands there and stares at the ground.
"Answer me!" he yells, and Falkner can already tell that he's going to walk across the distance between himself and his daughter and smack her across the face. And he can't stop himself from raising that loaded gun and pulling that trigger and oh my god there's too much blood for just one man.
Giovanni sees this and impassively turns his head toward the policeman. "Hmm, a formidable foe. Perhaps our next encounter will involve a more direct attempt upon my life…" A black helicopter hovers overhead, the ladder dangling toward the roof. "I take my leave… Come, Janine."
She folds her arms over her chest. "No."
"Are you sure? You could take your father's place as my loyal defender."
Falkner inhales sharply. Janine remains silent, glaring at her former boss. Koga bleeds at her feet.
"As you wish," says the Rocket boss. He pulls out his own pistol, and before Falkner or Janine can move, he shoots her in the stomach. Then he reaches up and grabs the helicopter ladder. All five of Falkner's bullets miss.
Then he drops his gun and runs to Janine, who is feebly trying to stop the bleeding. He kisses her, even though he can taste blood in her mouth, and then he tries to stop the bleeding too.
"I… I…" He can barely hear her voice, and he leans so close that he can actually feel her breath on his ear. "I… hate… you…"
And she doesn't breathe any more after that.
He sits there for a little while, just thinking, before he decides that perhaps he'd better go check in with Whitney and the others. Pidgeotto clutches his shoulder blades tightly, and it takes all his willpower not to recall his Pokemon and tumble to the ground.
"All's well that ends well, right?" Morty asks him later, elbowing him in the side. Falkner can tell that he's just trying to cheer him up, but not even the beer in his hand can do that.
"But all's not well," he rationalizes for his friend. "Giovanni got away. And I lost… a valuable source of information…"
The funerals had been held the day before. Since many of the attendees were members of Team Rocket, Falkner had attended in disguise. He'd even trimmed his hair a good amount, just in case anyone remembered more than just his police outfit.
Morty shrugs off the comment and the reference. Apparently, Whitney has not told him about Janine. "Ah, come on, cheer up. Death's just another name for sleep." He grins widely. "Have I ever told you about my ability to see ghosts?"
Morty had told everyone about his ability to see ghosts. "No, you haven't," Falkner says wearily.
The blond man grins even wider. "Well, you see…"
Falkner tunes out the story and stares out the window. The city lights block out the stars tonight, but he doesn't care. He will recover eventually. But until then, he'd rather not be reminded of dark, twinkling eyes or hair as black as night.