It took a full eight days of work in Saffron for Looker to remember to check his mail. The thought drifted through his head somewhere in the stairwell between the fourth and the fifth floor, between musings on his pending ammunition procurement request, the state of his bathroom medicine cabinet, and the number of unpaired socks he might have left in Alola. It flitted in like a flash from a camera bulb. "You haven't checked the mail in months." He sprinted back down to the lobby, fear washing over him that the thought would be lost back to the void as swiftly as it came.
Looker tended to forget the mailbox these days. In the past, he'd still forgotten with more regularity than remembrance, but in the past a regular assortment of bills, greeting cards, collection notices, and the occasional court summons floated through the mailbox at his apartment. It gave him a reason to remember. These days, his important mail had been rerouted to Alola, and the only thing that floated through were the bills, greeting cards, collection notices, and occasional court summons that he forgot to give a change of address notice to. By this point, he'd almost rerouted everything. The mail check served to clean out the junk mail that accumulated during his months away from the apartment (lest the building manager call him for a wellness check). However, he'd forgotten the mail the last time he was back, over six months ago. The agent could only imagine the pile that built in his absence.
He should have checked as soon as he landed, but between the flight and the long days at the office preparing for the mission, he'd slept… oh, about eighteen hours perhaps. Total. Maybe a bit less. The agent had no intention of letting this mission drag on for more than a month and, to ensure that, required quite a bit of prep work. The late hours weren't so bad, given there was not much else to occupy his time with, but his sleep… well, his sleep had become secondary to getting back to Alola as soon as possible. It was something of a miracle that the thought drifted into his mind at all, as meals had been a fleeting desire and he'd forgotten which floor his desk was on. Twice. Anabel sent him home around three in fear the agent had turned into a hazard.
It was also something of a miracle that he made it down the stairs without falling over his face.
His assigned mailbox was, as expected, packed to the brim with coupons, fliers for local business, solicitations addressed to "current resident", and a stack of unpaid parking tickets from regions far off that Looker would return to under a different codename. Not to avoid the tickets… well, partly to avoid the tickets but mostly in the name of keeping the secrecy required of an International Police agent. In addition to the expected junk mail, a rather unexpected piece of… post sat on top: a coconut.
Actually, Looker had no idea if a tree nut counted as post. He did a double take before yanking it out of the mailbox (no small feat, it had been crammed in with the dormant rage and fury of a public mail carrier). The stack of junk mail fell to the floor. The agent collected the paper and unceremoniously discarded it in the wastebin before examining the coconut.
The address used the moniker "KR", which combined with the just-legible handwriting and the Alolan postal marks, indicated that Nanu had sent it. An entire book worth of stamps made a sloppy ring around the circumference. "Eat me" was scrawled on the back, accompanied by a crude picture of male genitalia.
But… why? This didn’t make even vague sense. If Nanu wanted to gift Looker a coconut, the act would best be done in Alola. He didn't have a hammer at his apartment anymore, his toolbox was in Alola with the rest of his nonessential belongings. If he wanted to communicate a sexual innuendo, he could have sent it over SMS as normal. The combination of the two and the integration of the postal service seemed like lunacy.
He sent Nanu a text, a simple "are you awake". He could never remember the time zone difference. Back on Ula'ula, it was either 2 in the morning or 9 in the evening, though it would be doubtful the Kahuna would be awake in either case. Looker tried his best to let the man sleep. He kept frightening hours as it was.
A quick text would solve the mystery, however. Unless, Looker realized with as he reached the stairwell again, Nanu had some sort of hidden message intended. The note and accompanying picture was some sort of symbolism (of something aside from a crude innuendo for a blow job), and the coconut through the post was intended to trigger some sort of realization. After all, why would someone mail a coconut? Moreover, what secret message would Nanu need to imply via coconut?
Unless Nanu was in some sort of danger, Looker thought in a panic, sprinting up the last few flights of stairs. The coconut could signal that other methods of communication were compromised. Someone or some group had taken the Kahuna hostage and monitored his normal communications. A normal letter or postcard wouldn't trigger any suspicion, but a coconut- a coconut would. Nanu was intelligent, and a top agent of the International Police in his own right. His knowledge of covert tactics outweighed anything Looker could hope to know, even after retirement.
He slammed the apartment door shut with enough force to knock it off its hinges. He needed to act. Nanu could be taken hostage. He could be held at gunpoint at this very moment. He could already be dead (well, within the last hour, Nanu had responded to Looker's texts on the bus ride back to the apartment).
Worse, Nanu could be the victim internal International Police audit. The coconut would make sense in that regard, Nanu would find a signal that the IP wouldn't understand from any textbook methodology. While a distinguished former agent, Nanu was… well, a bit of a persona non-grata. He'd been fired. Looker wasn't supposed to have any interaction with him, much less the carnal ones that could be expected from living with the man while not at work.
The IP rarely conducted audits, let alone on senior field agents who could, in theory retire at any moment and leave them in a personnel bind. Looker couldn't, for reasons related to his bank account (and lack of retirement fund), and the IP brass may or may not have been aware of that. An audit would churn up just the dirt they'd intended to- an otherwise spotless agent living in sin with a former employee. The two could find themselves in prison by the end of the next week on treason charges, never to see the light of day or each other again.
Anabel could halt an internal audit (she had in the past, making up phony missions for Looker to attend in Alola on his supposed off days). She needed to be his first call.
"Mr. Looker, I thought I sent you home to get some sleep," she responded after picking up on the first ring. "Almost two hours ago."
"Yes, yes," Looker complained into the receiver, "I am getting to that."
He tried to determine the best way to phrase his inquiry. 'Am I the victim of an internal audit' would be too forward on a line the higher brass could record. Those sorts of words would trigger an audit if there were not one. Granted, Anabel could be slow on any kind of attempted phrasing. 'Is there something off with the break room vending machine' last time he was home didn't translate to 'is there a camera stored in to top bag of cheese puffs', at least not in the way Looker intended.
"...Did you need something, Mr. Looker?" she sighed after what Looker realized was almost a full minute of silence.
"Ah, erm, yes…" he began, still searching for the words. "Ah, did we have any audits scheduled in our department for this quarter?"
"Audits?" Anabel clarified, the eye roll almost vocal, "No, none on the books. We just had our quarterly wrapped up, "
"What about of the agents?"
"I'm almost sure they deduced from last year's incident with the swimming pool of gelatin that audits into the field agent's personal lives were... unwise," she reminded him, "And if you're concerned about yourself for some reason, I have not been notified of an inquiry into your personal life. As normal."
That had been a bit of a fiasco, Looker remembered, though he’d been quite thankful for the whole affair. The fact that several field agents had founded a for-profit nude jello wrestling league overshadowed the fact that another field agent had moved to a different region and failed to update his entry in the official registrar.
Unfortunately, this also meant that Nanu was in serious trouble. International Police related trouble would be bad and difficult to walk away from, yes. But this was unknown trouble, which the more Looker thought about the more he realized he wanted even less. There was no telling what group had taken Nanu hostage- Team Rocket, Team Galactic… even Team Skull might be able to do the job given enough funding and time until the heat death of the universe.
"Ah that is good to hear."
"Mr. Looker, I suggest you get some sleep. You very much need to rest before you leave," she groaned into the phone, "Lest we have a repeat of last time."
"Ah yes, erm, about that-"
Anabel cut him off, too busy for the idle conversation. "Don't tell me the break room vending machine is out of commission."
Looker balled his fists in frustration at the reminder. "I have not been within fifteen feet of the snack machine since arriving back at the office. I need to discuss about the mission with you."
"...all right, I'm listening."
"I cannot attend," he spit out without a hint of his usual self-control. Looker never rejected missions. It was one of the longest running records of his career- he'd never done it. Even after UB-05, he'd trotted along to Sinnoh (and done a damn good job there, regardless of what his psychiatric reports implied about his mental state at the time).
The Chief was silent. She knew his record, and she knew of his pride at his record. Her other agents called out of missions and made her life difficult with scheduling. Looker did not.
Granted, Looker hadn't prepared any sort of excuse. He hadn't fully deduced the situation yet to inform Anabel of it. She cared for Nanu. She'd only worry and be helpless to sit on her hands until Looker garnished enough for an official response from the International Police. Hell, Looker hadn't even heard from Nanu himself yet. The only indication of distress came in the form of a coconut, sent with stamps through regular post. That wouldn't be near enough to inform the brass of the gravity of the matter.
"Er, yes, I require to return to Alola posthaste. Nanu's mother passed, I am needed urgently," he lied, hoping it came as convincing.
"Oh dear," she gasped into the phone. "...Oh dear, poor Mr. Nanu. I had no idea she was alive… was it sudden?"
"Ah, yes, quite," Looker continued, wincing. She had passed away, suddenly, when he was a child. Hopefully, Anabel would not be privy to this personal tidbit. "But as you can understand, I need to return and-"
"Yes, of course," Anabel agreed, "I'll get someone else on it, it shouldn't be much trouble with all the work you've already put in. Oh dear… I should call him."
"Ah, you know how he gets," he insisted. He couldn't afford for Anabel to call. She hadn't been employed yet in their golden age, executing covert operations against Team Rocket. While UBs were their own challenge, the assaults were straightforward. Collecting data on Nanu's unknown captors required more finesse than the current Chief was accustomed to. Looker would have to handle this alone. "Best perhaps to leave him alone for a bit."
Once the agent had useable information, he would contact her again. They could conjure and execute a plan from there. In the meantime, the reconnaissance was best handled solo.
"True. Dear… give him my best please. And when you find something out about the funeral arrangements, please pass them along," she said, "Don't worry about the mission, I'll get something together."
"Yes, yes, of course!" He'd contact her, with full apology for his tall tale, the second he could scrape together a rescue plan. "Thank you Chief! Do have a good day."
"I'm so sorry for the both of you, take care," Anabel signed off as Looker hung up.
He grimaced as he looked at his phone screen- no response from Nanu yet. The agent's heart raced. A lack of audit was fortunate, yes, but hostiles… hostiles wouldn't leave Nanu alive for questioning. His love could already be dead, cold, and unceremoniously deposited behind the station next to the dumpster. Pacing his kitchen, Looker dialed for him, praying to no Legendary in particular that he wasn't too late.
The phone answered on the fourth ring. "....KR?"
"Ah, yes, hello, just thought I would check in on you and see how everything has been going in my absence."
"Just… dandy," Nanu yawned, "Lovely night, I suppose."
"Anything of interesting happen today?" His words came out a bit fast, and Looker tried to take a breath before hammering the man for details on his condition.
The other man paused before responding, "The usual. Kahuna meeting about the Akala Island Festival next month. Some skull punks spray painted a dick on the side of the Center, had to round them up and make 'em clean it."
Looker's mind traced back to the crude pictorial on the coconut. Perhaps this was related? Some sort of code? Was Nanu held hostage at the local Pokemon Center?
"Ah how is the Center handling the vandalism?" he inquired, a bit lost on where Nanu's hints lead him. The lack of sleep had long ago caught up with him. The agent had to admit his mind wasn't in peak condition to handle this sort of covert conversation.
Nanu's life depended on him. He couldn't afford exhaustion. This called for a cup of coffee (Kalosian, since Looker had forgotten the few bags of Alolan on the counter before he'd left).
"...Same as always, by calling me."
The meaning slipped past Looker and he cursed his misfiring brain as he measured out scoops into the coffee maker. "Right, I suppose that is how things are handled."
"Nothing changes around here," Nanu shrugged, "Took them until damn near midnight to get it fixed up though, so longer day than usual, I guess."
Which meant it was somewhere in the wee hours of the morning in Alola. Looker had forgotten the time zones again. The coffee pot almost hit the counter in the realization- his captors would not be pleased at the midnight phone calls. "Oh dear, did I wake you?"
"No big deal," the Kahuna grumbled on the other end of the line, "Ought to not sleep on the couch all night anyway. How's Hoenn?"
"Ah there was a slight delay, so I will be- how did you come across the knowledge my destination this time is Hoenn? That information falls under classification," he crossed his arms at his empty apartment, spilling some of the water from the coffee pot in his hands.
"International Police intranet, how do you think?" the Kahuna replied, as if Looker had asked how he'd brushed his teeth that morning.
"Ack! You must cease using my login credentials, we have discussed this matter numerous times!" Looker scolded him, "That is against the policies to the highest degree!"
"Well, then you should change your passwords to something other than 'Triple zero Nanu less than three'," he replied without any trace of apology.
"Might I remind you this line is unsecure," Looker repeated, a chill going through him. What if the hostiles had forced him to log in the intranet to collect data on IP activities, and this was the Kahuna's attempt at warning him?
"Yeah if we learned anything from the last audit, it's that nobody in that organization gives a shit," Nanu said lazily, "I could look at their servers all day and nobody would bat an eye."
Looker nearly dropped the phone in panic. Certainly, his partner's life was worth more than his login information and providing it to the captors made logical sense. What would happen when these enemies realized even Looker's internal access to the IP databases came with low permissions? They would kill the man in frustration or determine he'd outlived his usefulness.
The agent needed to be on the next flight to Alola.
"Well I suppose that is true. And in fact, I may-" Looker stopped himself sort of suggestion he might be returning soon. That might frighten Nanu's captures into extreme measures, measures that could render him lifeless before the agent could return.
"May what?" Nanu asked at the sudden pause.
"Ack, sorry, was distracted by an event in the street. A woman with... the most vibrant... lime green... feathered... speckle... hat. I do wish you could have seen it. But yes, I may be gone quite a while this time. Weeks. Months. I do not yet have a reasonable estimate."
That would throw them off. Alola had little actual International Police presence for ne'er-do-wells to otherwise entrap. Whoever had taken him hostage could presume they had weeks to use the Kahuna as their personal data miner. Nanu was sharp, he could take them through a wild goose chase of health and safety statistics.
"...Oh," the other man sounded as if he'd deflated, "...Thanks for the heads up, I guess."
A pang of guilt ran through Looker's body at the dejected reply. He desperately wanted to give the man some indication that he'd interpreted the distress coconut and he'd be coming to the rescue as soon as possible.
"Well, I sent you something in the mail," Nanu continued, sounding more miserable than tired, "Hopefully it'll show up before you leave."
Yes, mon ciel, Looker wanted to say, I received it and I will be coming to your aid as soon as I can. "Ah I will keep my eyes out for it! The mail should be coming soon!"
"You'll still be able to text, right?"
"Of course! Always!" Looker reassured him, his gut tying itself in knots, "I will be right at the other end of my phone if you are in need of anything!"
"...are you okay? You sound jumpy," Nanu mentioned, his voice low. He must have been exhausted from whatever ordeal his captors put him through.
"Ah lots of preparations for this excruciatingly long very open-ended mission that I will be embarking on likely shortly," Looker emphasized, hoping the other man understood his point.
"Well, don't forget to sleep this time," Nanu grumbled into the phone, "I don't want Anabel calling me again about how you beat the shit out of a vending machine or something."
"Right…" That incident had been blamed on sleep deprivation, though Looker was still somewhat convinced a spy camera had been placed in the top most bag of cheese puffs. And the machine refused to dispense that particular bag to him, confirming his suspicions. The glass front had broken yes, but that was unfortunate and perhaps unrelated to the lack of rest. Looker sometimes couldn't ascertain his own strength even in the best of circumstances.
"Anyway, I'm gonna go back to sleep," the man on the other end of the line yawned as he spoke, "You sound like you ought to do the same."
"Yes, yes, it's my apologies for waking you," Looker resumed his pacing. This was no time for sleep. Too much preparation needed to be done, too many mysteries needed to be solved at once. "Sorry, I did not mean for that."
"It's all right, you know I like hearing from you. Thanks for the heads up on the return home." He paused for a long moment before asking, "Give me a call before you head out on this mission?"
Of course Looker would call. He had to ascertain Nanu's status before the unbearably long flight back into Alola. And while Nanu's captors, whoever they might be, clearly gave him permission to receive calls, the agent had his doubts he could place them. "Undoubtedly, mon ciel."
"Good luck with everything," the other man yawned again, hanging up the phone.
Looker tapped his foot while waiting for the coffee maker to finish (lest he let boiling coffee pour all over the counter again), before setting into work.
The redeye into Alola was booked solid, with the exception of a few seats in first class that Looker could never hope to afford. He cursed his dwindling savings. There would be no time to secure a loan or obtain approval from International Police procurement. Even after draining the majority of his checking account, he wound up with a middle seat and lowest boarding priority on the morning flight. It would have to do. The rest of his savings might be required in the event the rescue proved cumbersome.
The packing took the rest of the pot of coffee, since he couldn't decide what supplies this mission would require or ascertain what supplies he'd left in Alola in the first place. His belongings tended to be strung across several continents. On further review, his second suitcase of clothing hadn't made it to Saffron in the first place (as Looker scrolled through his phone conversation to a missed text from Nanu with a picture of the missing suitcase in the middle of the station lobby). That lightened his essential packing down to his other suitcase and a half-filled toiletry bag. He'd also forgotten his toothpaste and shaving cream, and had to procure those Saffron… those could stay, his regular choices would be on the counter at home, provided a member of Team Skull on twenty-four-hour lockup didn't borrow them.
His ammunition bag proved to be another monster, since it came with a stack of customs paperwork that Looker needed to fill in advance. Even when rested, he always made some mistake on the paperwork or failed to provide an accurate inventory. The Alolan customs agents made loose threats to confiscate it, which ended in them calling a Kahuna to collect his ammunition bag and handle the brimming situation instead. Customs almost always called Nanu, though occasionally they called Hala and Hala could be fussy about 'disregard to import laws' (as he put it).
Well, Nanu was always fussy when Customs called him. But, Nanu could be placated with hugs and kisses. Hala wouldn't be getting any of those. Hala would get an impromptu debate about the overreaching import laws in Alola compared to every other region, and eventually Looker would get a ride to Ula'ula called for him and his ammunition bag back.
In the end, Looker paced the entire night, half-counting his ammunition and half-keeping the horrible thoughts of the torture Nanu was no doubt undergoing from his mind. It would be morning in Alola, he realized as the pre-arranged taxi picked him up in front of his apartment building. A fresh day of terror awaited Nanu.
Or perhaps it was late afternoon. It had been sometime in the morning when he'd called Nanu hours ago. In that case, a fresh day of terror had been ongoing, for several hours at least, with the love of Looker's life hanging on by a narrowing thread.
Looker was coming. That's what counted. Nanu just needed to hold on while Looker checked his bags and fumbled his way through security (twice, because he forgot about a pocket knife in his carry-on and some change in his pockets). In a mere… sixteen hours, the IP agent would be on the ground in Alola, prepared to respond to the scene.
Sixteen hours plus a twenty-minute delay due to a late crew, Looker seethed as the notification lit up on the display board. He wanted to argue with the gate agent over how crew tardiness was somehow acceptable business practice, but instead procured himself a second cup of coffee. The agent of the International Police had had that argument with gate agents before. It tended to end in Looker missing his flight for one reason or another.
In the meantime, he did give Nanu one last call, just to confirm the man was alive. Sixteen hours was a long time out of contact. Looker needed to hear from him once, in case he arrived too late. He wouldn't, and he didn't want to think about that reality. But just in case. Moreover, calling preventing Looker from pacing a hole in the bright carpet in front of the gate desk.
"Morning, KR," Nanu responded into the phone when he picked up, "Why the hell are you up so early?"
"Ah, awaiting my flight at the airport. First one of the day," he responded, trying to keep his eyes open. The coffee in his hand threatened to hit the floor before it would cool enough to drink.
"Shit, didn't realize you were leaving so soon. I guess my package didn't show up then."
"Hm, package?" Panic gripped Looker. Was there to be a second delivery? Perhaps a better one, with more intelligible clues?
He couldn't risk asking more of Nanu, but if the man could talk freely about deliveries, perhaps he might not be in a compromised position with his captors.
"Well, sort of."
"I haven't received any mail of interest," he said, fumbling with the coconut in his lap. He'd taken it in the carry-on. Sixteen hours was a long time, it would be best spent pondering any additional messages Nanu might have concealed in his note.
"Ah damnit, hope it doesn't rot while you're gone," Nanu grumbled, "I mailed you a coconut."
Looker's breath caught in his throat. The situation was dire if Nanu felt the need to describe his distress signal. He yearned to tell him to stay quiet, that everything would be okay, and he would be there soon to deliver the Kahuna to safety.
Well, he would be there in sixteen hours, when his flight landed. Alola was a bit far out from the rest of the regions. "Oh, I see," Looker mumbled, feeling powerless.
"Turns out you can put 'em in the mail," he let out a chuckle that sounded forced.
"Ah, I see. Is there anything else you have sent?" Looker worried. If the man sent any additional details, Looker would have missed them.
"Nah, just that," he replied, "Sucks you won't be getting it. Your complex manager is probably just going to chuck it. Just figured you'd enjoy it."
"Is there something in particular about it?" Looker asked, digging for further information. He had limited to go on, and if Nanu was willing to discuss the coconut, he must be out of earshot of his captors. Anything Nanu could tell him now could be of use; Looker would have to jump to action as soon as the flight landed.
"...No, it's a coconut," Nanu answered.
"Is there anything inside of it?" Looker came to the sudden realization. Perhaps the Kahuna had encoded a more detailed message, and the tree nut served as an otherwise inconspicuous container (well, inconspicuous to everyone who was not a seasoned agent of the International Police).
Nanu paused before responding, "...Coconut."
"Nothing else?" Looker questioned, resuming his pacing.
"How the hell could anything else get inside it?" Nanu sounded agitated. Perhaps his captors had returned. Looker needed to cut the call short.
"Ah yes I suppose not," he conceded, noticing the pilot finally arriving at the gate, "Ah, I will have to end this call. We will be boarding."
"All right, call me when you land," the other man requested, "Have a safe flight."
Stay safe, my love, Looker wanted to respond. In the event his captors were listening in, however, he went with the requisite, "Of course. I love you."
"Love you too, fool."
The flight to Alola turned into the most miserable sixteen hours Looker had yet to experience. Despite his best efforts and several hours of staring blankly at the coconut, he couldn't decipher any deeper meaning in Nanu's message. He had half a mind to try to smash it and confirm the internals consisted of fruit, but he had no way of doing so without disturbing the rest of the passengers.
Sleep eluded him as well, since the other passengers of row 44 consisted of a ten or eleven-year-old trainer set to complete the Island Challenge while on holiday, and a woman with an infant. As soon as the infant stopped crying, the child burst into some sort of planning activity that seemed to require several guidebooks, a map, his tray table, Looker's tray table, and a loud conversation with his associate (also ten or eleven) on the other side of the aisle. Between desperate bouts of pondering over his coconut, Looker attempted to offer some sort of helpful guidance on the challenge they would embark on (for instance, Akala Island would be best completed first, and they would want three times as many potions as rationed for Poni Island given the remoteness). These were met with confused looks.
As was the recommendation to bring a box of malasadas to the Ula'ula challenge, as the reigning deity of Ula'ula liked malasadas. In fact, they should bring two boxes, since Bulu tended to eat only one box and that could leave one for Looker. This was also met with confusion, to which Looker went into a lengthy explanation of malasadas, their varieties, and the various places they could be procured in Alola (ranked by objective preference).
They had no questions about the matter, but the discussion earned Looker his tray table back. The addition of the tray table didn't make the crude message on the coconut any clearer. It didn't appear to be a map of any fashion, as Looker couldn't identify one phallic landmark in Alola (unless Team Skull delinquent graffiti counted, though Nanu mentioned making them wash that off the side of the PokeCenter).
Well, the anecdote about Center might serve as a second clue. Perhaps the hostiles kept Nanu at the Pokemon Center, which would mean this fiasco involved a good deal of Alolan residents and not just Looker’s love. As the Kahuna of Ula'ula, he would have to throw himself into the fray and keep the islanders out of harm’s way. His stoicism through all their phone calls, in that regard, left Looker even more impressed than he previously believed he could be with the man.
Which meant, he also needed some sort of reprieve. Looker would head straight there, he decided at the flight bounced on the tarmac. That would be the best course of action toward bringing this hostage situation to a halt.
The bag retrieval took an uncomfortable half hour, all the while Looker bounced between both feet and tried not to hyperventilate. He was back in Alola. He needed to collect his bags, clear customs, load his pistol, find the fastest boat to Ula'ula… well perhaps a ride pokemon. He could solicit Hala for the ride pager, then fly to Ula'ula… well then he shouldn't have a loaded gun on him, as that would be impolite to the service Charizard… he could solicit Hala for the ride, then have the Charizard drop him off at the abandoned Thrifty Megamart… well no, not after the last incident, when Acerola had to chase a gastly off him and Looker made an outright embarrassment of himself… maybe Tapu Village, but the walk could take some time...
Somehow, the thirty-two-minute wait for his bags proved more exhausting than the sixteen-hour flight. The bags eventually appeared, though, and the International Police agent bowled over a few children on their way to compete in the island challenge to retrieve them off the carousel and make his way towards the declarations checkpoint.
The customs authority (Looker wasn't sure of their exact professional designation, but both officer and agent felt wrong; those titles were reserved for protectors of the populace, not men who insisted on confiscating shampoo every time he landed) grimaced when he saw the International Police agent. Looker returned the sentiment. The two had their fair share of disagreements, in regard to things such as the differences between shell casings and actual bullets, the ounces of mouthwash remaining in the bottle, and whether or not sunscreen counted as a liquid.
"Good to see you again so soon, Mr. Looker," he forced himself to say as he took Looker bags and popped them open, "I didn't realize you would be back so soon."
"Ah well, my schedule is unpredictable, you are aware of this," he checked at his watch. This process needed to be done with utmost swiftness. With the good graces of any Legendary (Looker wasn’t particular), he would not be required to convey that point.
"As always," the customs authority sighed, before picking up the coconut sitting at the very top of Looker's briefcase. He let out another long sigh, before continuing. "Sir, we're going to have to collect this."
"No," Looker responded. He needed that. It contained important information to Nanu's precarious position. If his hypothesis in regard to the Pokemon Center proved incorrect, it would be needed for further analysis.
The customs authority pinched the bridge of his nose, "That wasn't a question, Mr. Looker. Alolan law prohibits importing flora from other regions. We're going to have to confiscate it."
Looker's heart jumped into his throat. He needed that. He should have taken pictures with his phone, yes, that would have been the sensible course of action back in Saffron. However, he'd forgotten, due to more important preparation. There was no reversing that oversight now. For once, the Alolan customs authorities would need to remain sensible when it came to his possessions.
"You cannot, I am in great requirement of that coconut," the agent informed him, fumbling for the badge in his coat pocket (not that his badge helped when it came to Alolan customs), "And besides, you can see from the post markings. It originated in Alola and was sent to me in Kanto. It is not importing, it is… un-importing."
"Sir, that doesn't actually matter… we can't let you take it in from another region," the customs authority explained, eyeing the door to the supervisor's office, “We’re going to have to collect it."
"Non! This of Alola!" Looker objected, reaching over the table to try at snatching the coconut back, "It should not be collected and brought to anywhere besides back into Alola!"
The customs authority jumped back, taking the coconut with him, "Mr. Looker, could you please calm down! We can't let you have it!"
"Why not?! It is not 'foreign flora'! If you would read the markings stamped on it by your diligent postal service, you would comprehend that this is an Alolan coconut!" he argued, still attempting to grab it from the other man's clutches (but without lunging over the table, since Looker learned from experience that would cause major delays in leaving the airport), "I do not understand why it cannot be returned into my possession!"
"Let's just go talk to the boss," the customs authority decided quickly, pointing towards the back office, "He can explain it."
"Yes, and I am sure he will see the logic in this situation," Looker huffed, slamming his suitcase and his ammo bag shut.
The customs authority kept hold of the coconut as he directed Looker towards the department head's office. The head of customs, a man around Nanu's age without even a quarter of the worldly experience that would allow him to understand the illogic in confiscating this coconut, didn't appear pleased to see the Kahuna's boyfriend follow the bag-checker through the door. He pulled his feet off unkempt desk, closed out his game of bejeweled, and let out a huff that sounded something like 'fuck', before bothering to acknowledge either of the visitors.
"I see Mr. Looker is back. What is the issue now?" he asked, his tone indicating he'd prefer to return to his computer game.
Looker would be more than happy to leave him be and return with the priority mission of rescuing his lover from indeterminate hostiles, provided the coconut came with him. The Alolan customs department failed to see this point.
"Well, you see," the customs authority started, holding up the coconut, "he's got this coconut…"
"Yeah, can't have it, foreign vegetation," the department head said without any real interest in their squabble, "What's the issue with it?"
"I AM RETURNING IT FROM WHENCE IT CAME, THIS IS DISCUSSION IS UNNECESSARY," Looker boomed, irritated at the fiasco brimming, "THIS COCONUT WAS CLEARLY POSTMARKED TO ME FROM ALOLA."
The customs authority looked terrified, backing against the wall of the office. The department head rolled his eyes. "Let me call Kahuna Nanu," he grumbled, reaching for the phone at his desk, "Too goddamned early for this."
"Ack, wait perhaps no-" Looker started, though the head of the customs department head already dialed.
"Yeah, good morning to you too sir. Listen, I got your boy here at customs… no, I don't know what he's doing here, figured you'd have been expecting him… yeah, he's causing a pretty good scene. I figured I'd delegate this one to you… well, he's got a coconut. For obvious reasons around the restriction of foreign vegetation… okay yeah, I'll just put him on," the department head handed the phone to Looker, "Here."
Looker didn't even have the chance to open his mouth before Nanu spoke.
"Fool, I'll be there in twenty minutes," Nanu told him, in same tone Looker had heard countless times in the days of Chief 000's tenure over the field agents, "Give them the Tapu-damned coconut and stop yelling."
"Ah yes, but… you can come here?" Looker asked in shock. His captors were certainly lenient on allowing him to go about his daily routine.
"It's close enough to police business," he grumbled in response, "Since you're pretty damned close to getting arrested right now. I'm serious, KR, sit quietly."
"...all right." Looker eyed his ammo bag. Thank Arceus he'd had the sense to clean his gun out while he paced the floor the previous night. The situation might come to a head far earlier than expected. He could load it on the fly, however distasteful that option would be.
"I swear to Bulu, KR… this better have a good explanation."
Rescue. That was Looker's explanation, and Nanu could be a great actor when he chose to be. Though based on the glares from the head of the customs department, Nanu might have a point about the arrest. No good could be done from the Melemele Island prison.
"But of course."
The Kahuna showed up promptly late half an hour later when the ride pokemon dropped him off in front of the airport. The head of the customs department, desperate to get Looker out of his hair, had marched the agent out there with his belongings almost as soon as the phone call ended. Looker waited with his hands fidgeting in his pockets, scouting all of the possible cover available in the event of a firefight. A bus for the park and ride seemed to be their best option. If he grabbed Nanu, they could duck and cover with reasonable ease (provided Nanu's back didn't go out). From there they could face… whatever the hostile party was. Team Rocket, Team Galactic. They could even seek refuge in the airport, which would have numerous nooks and crannies to hole up in while the two came up with a better plan. Nanu's specialty had always been the planning. Looker's skill always lay in doing what Chief 000 instructed, typically acting as some kind of distraction or sneaking up on some hostile five times their size or setting off some kind of incendiary device that had failed to trigger with the remote.
With any good fortune, Nanu would recognize that Looker was… well frankly, out of shape compared to his days as 100kr. He could still outrun a bomb, yes, but it might be a close race (not that it mattered; the International Police didn't allocate Looker explosives anymore after that mishap in Fuchsia City that had also been unrelated to sleep deprivation). And really, 000 had always possessed the superior sneaking skills. He gave 100kr more than ample chances to practice, but he never could improve past the Chief’s abilities in that department.
Looker's priorities and mental planning, however, melted away at seeing his love step off the Charizard unharmed. He raced up to the man and embraced him, lifting Nanu out of his sandals as he did. The ammo bag lay forgotten behind them.
Nanu patted him on the back, stiff as a board. "Fool, the hell are you doing here?" he sighed.
"Rescuing you," Looker whispered into his ear, "Do not worry, I have come, and I am prepared for whatever manner of hostile has befallen you."
The Kahuna ended the pat abruptly, "Rescuing me from what now?"
"He's not going to cause another problem, is he?" the department head asked, anxious to break their homecoming up long enough to go back to stealing snacks and toiletries.
"I've got it from here," Nanu informed him, glaring around Looker, before adding under his breath, "You damn mall cop."
"He could have been more sensible," Looker agreed, watching the head of the customs department disappear back into the airport.
Nanu turned his glare at the other man, "Speaking of sensible, what the hell is going on? Why aren't you in Hoenn?"
"As I said, I am here to rescue you," the agent responded, his heart still skipping beats at finding the other man alive and intact, "Though perhaps you have taken care of this without my assistance."
The glare turned into a confused, red-eyed stare, "Rescue me from what, exactly?"
"Well… whatever group had held you hostage."
"Why… KR, I've been fine," Nanu assured him, cocking an eyebrow.
Looker recognized this as the confused eyebrow cock and not the interested one, at least he still had enough wits about him to notice the difference. He clarified through example, in case perhaps his love misunderstood. Or he'd accidentally started speaking in Kalosian, one of the two. "There has been no resurgence of Team Rocket?"
"Or Team Galactic?"
"Or another miscreant group bent on world domination?"
"KR, all I've done since you've left is run the usual beach cleanup with the drunks and made some punk kids clean graffiti," he said, his voice laden with exasperation, “Nothing has happened here, I promise."
"Well, why did you send me that coconut through the post then?" the agent demanded.
"The… because it was funny?"
Looker threw his hands in the air. Two days of anxiety and panic were absolutely not funny. "Why would that be an amusement?!"
"I dunno," Nanu took a hesitant step backwards, “Hala told me you could send a coconut in the mail and I figured you'd be amused… what does that have to do with being held hostage?"
The International Police agent paused for a moment, before the pieces of the mystery started to come together (albeit, slowly… he needed a nap). "...You mean it was not a distress signal?"
"...No," Nanu looked at the man as if he'd sprouted an extra head.
"And you were not mailing me a coconut to inform me of your predicament in a covert manner?" he clarified, choosing his words with care, in case the other man misunderstood his crisis.
The Kahuna crossed his arms and shook his head. "KR, how much sleep have you gotten in the last few days?"
Looker stared down at his loafers, trying to hide how red his face grew by the second, "Some."
Nanu let out a noise that was halfway between a chuckle and a sigh, before wrapping the taller man in a hug, "By the damn Tapu, KR…"
"I thought you were in trouble." The words came out as a pout, and if that didn't convey his point to the other man, the lack of return hug would.
"Yup, you did, fool," he muttered, smirking, "Guess it's nice to know you'd rush in if something did happen to me."
"Why else would you have sent a coconut through the postal system?" The entire idea sounded ridiculous. They had regular envelopes and stationary, Looker had purchased them himself.
"Like I said, thought you'd get a kick out of it. Guess I should've warned you beforehand… so you didn't think I was trying to send you a secret message hidden in a dick joke."
Well, the statement sounded downright preposterous when put in those terms.
"I feel a bit silly now," Looker admitted, his arms still at his sides.
"I'd imagine you do," Nanu chuckled into the other man's shirt, "But I'm not about to complain about having you back early. How long you have off?"
Looker shrugged, hugging Nanu back. "I will have to discuss this with Anabel… I did not arrange much before I left."
"Well, why don't we go back to the station and catch a nap first? You're a bit ridiculous right now, you could use the sleep."
"I am fine," Looker responded.
"I'm convinced when you say that it's some kind of Pavlovian response," Nanu rolled his eyes, gesturing to the ride Charizard that they'd be returning. "C'mon, let's go nap, I sent Guzma out on the afternoon rounds anyway."
Looker didn't consider it Pavlovian. It was a normal reaction, left over from the years of stumbling into Chief 000's office with stab wounds glued shut and sprains braced with plastic spoons, to be told he was fine and he needed to go the hell back to work. In light of that, a few days without sleep hardly hampered his abilities.
Lack of sleep didn't contribute to a near arrest at customs, after all. If Nanu had been in real danger and if this hadn't been an enormous misunderstanding, Looker would have needed that coconut. It would have contained some sort of map or perhaps clues to the incident. Nanu was the former Chief of the International Police's field agents, he knew full well how to disguise mission information in the form of a sexual innuendo written on a tree nut, perhaps above all others before and since his tenure. Customs needed to understand that
Moreover, the lack of sleep didn't contribute to dozing off on the ride Charizard either. He was just very comfortable leaning against Nanu, the weather was quite nice, and as an agent of the International Police, Looker knew better than to stay up when he could catch a quick nap instead.
Nanu nearly tripped over the flower arrangement steering Looker into the station. It sat right behind the door, laid without care when the delivery person no doubt found the station empty. Or wanted to avoid Officer Guzma, as most delivery personnel tended to do. The pizza delivery always demanded confirmation Looker or Nanu would be standing out front to perform the exchange. Either way, the oversized flower arrangement, that came to Looker's waist, had made it inside and blocked all use of the station door. It was a miracle the two didn't knock it over, and more of a miracle the meowth hadn't already.
"The hell?" Nanu muttered, reading the attached card, "Condolences?"
Looker turned very red, remembering his tall tale to Anabel from earlier. In light of the lack of imminent danger, he would have to carefully explain his reasoning for ditching out on a mission. Very carefully. Perhaps with more exaggerations of the truth. "Er… I…"
Nanu took a deep breath and shook his head before nudging the large bouquet out of the doorway. "We're going to sleep, then you're gonna explain, because I can't process this one without a nap," he instructed, leaving no room for argument.
"I'm fine," Looker mumbled anyway, though the lack of sleep had started to creep on him and his eyelids felt heavy. He stepped around the herd of meowth that came out to greet him and sniff him for treats. The last of his adrenaline went into not trampling them.
Nanu sighed as he shooed them away and steered his ridiculous boyfriend towards their room in the back, "Must say, I never thought you'd one-up the vending machine."
"I was fine then as well," Looker yawned as he shimmied out of his trousers and shirt before climbing into bed (well, mattress; Nanu wasn't one for furniture and the mattress crammed in the back-office-turned-home was the closest he'd come), "You could have been in peril."
"KR, Bulu would bail me out before I could even pick up the phone," Nanu chuckled, climbing under the covers with him.
His partner hadn't heard him, though, having drifted straight into a well-deserved nap.