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Employee of the Month

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It was Christmas Eve, and red-and-green balloons spelling out “Happy Holidays” floated here and there against the wall. Streamers covered the floor, dirty from where people had spilled their drinks and stepped in the mess. Whoever had the next day’s janitor shift was going to have a hell of a morning.

000 stared at the smorgasbord of nondenominational holiday sweets (there had been a recent policy change promoting a “diverse and inclusive work environment”) HR had provided for this year’s Christmas eve–ahem, winter-themed–party and idly wondered just where the hell 100kr had gotten himself off to now. It definitely wasn’t like he was constantly trying to keep tabs on him because 000 saw his occasional field partner as something more than a friend or anything pathetic like that. Absolutely not. It had nothing to do with the nights his self-control lost out to his loneliness. Nothing at all. No, 000 just knew 100kr had absolutely no sense of his limits when it came to his hilariously low alcohol tolerance–you’d swear that man was ex-Mormon from his lack of experience with liquor, except he chugged down coffee like he was born with a bean grinder in his hands–and even though all work-sanctioned events were supposed to be dry thanks to a new internal policy drafted after the “Incident” two years ago he’d had the misfortune of missing, nobody ever actually followed that rule. He swore he’d just seen 62Wc not-so-subtly emptying the contents of his flask into the eggnog a few minutes ago. Besides, most people were able to moderate themselves just in case this was the year the watchful eye of the brass decided to actually oversee their festivities. But 100kr… was not most people.

Speaking of most people, 000 hadn’t seen 100kr in a while or heard his naturally loud voice cutting through the din of the crowd. Again, he wasn’t specifically looking for him or listening for his voice, it was just that 100kr had a distinctively loud voice, all right? Everyone knew that, even if 000 seemed to be the only one whose attention it always captured. That’s all. Last he’d seen 100kr, he’d been grabbing a ladle and filling his cup with the spiked ’nog for the third time. With any luck, he’d had enough common sense to eat something to mitigate the effect of the alcohol. Common sense and 100kr went together like peanut butter and ketchup, but he was hoping that 100kr’s legendary love of “feasts” (usually said in the context of choosing every option from the takeout menu when he missed the train after work and spent the afternoon at 000’s place, but it applied in general) would win out over his allergy to doing literally anything sensible or normal for once.

At that, 000 dipped a pita chip into a dicey-looking spread and grimaced. On second thought, maybe it would be for the best if 100kr didn’t have enough common sense to stuff himself sober. What was worse, food poisoning or alcohol poisoning? In 000’s opinion (based on his expertise in eating expired shit from his fridge and getting shitfaced at the Celadon Game Corner’s bar every other Saturday), the former was definitely worse. What the hell was even in that dip? Yeah, it looked like hummus, but it definitely smelled like old fish sauce. One thing was for certain, indulging in the snack selection seemed like it would do more harm than good at this point. It was evident, as a concerned co-worker and not some creep with a poorly suppressed crush, that he’d just have to go looking for 100kr. Tapus know how much eggnog 100kr’d actually had while 000 wasn’t watching. Because, of course, it would be weird as hell to watch over him constantly without looking completely suspicious. It was really all for 100kr’s own good, though. 000 just didn’t want someone else to take advantage of his objectively cute (objectively! 100kr’s handsome appearance was a common topic of workplace gossip, much to 000’s dismay) coworker in such a vulnerable state. He knew for a fact that some of the notoriously less scrupulous senior officers were here, and one could be using 100kr’s obliviousness and tipsiness for his own unprincipled ends at this very moment. There was absolutely no way 000 could allow that to happen.

The meeting room they’d cleared out to let everyone “professionally mingle” was unpleasantly packed, and 000’s Alola-sized stature was supremely unhelpful in his search for 100kr as he awkwardly tried to mingle through the crowd. 100kr was tall enough to pick out from the general public, unless they were on duty in Kalos where everyone was freakishly tall like him, but as 000 stood on his tiptoes for the third time in ten minutes, he had to admit to himself that his partner was nowhere to be found. Well, that just meant he had to resort to Plan B instead: actually going up and talking to someone. Horrible.

It took a little while before he actually found someone he didn’t hate interacting with who wasn’t already deep in conversation with someone else, but he finally got a lucky break when he ran into 84-something from the research division holding a glass of punch (probably spiked too) next to the dessert table. It had been picked mostly clean, with only a few pieces of fudge and some grocery store sugar cookies shaped like menorahs remaining on their plates.

“Have you seen KR?” 000 grabbed a piece of fudge from the folding table and shoved it into his mouth to stall for time while he tried to think of a suitable explanation beyond “I’m worried about him because I’m a huge idiot with feelings, and also he’s probably hammered right now.” Man, this fudge was awful. No wonder nobody’d come back for seconds.

“Who?” Oh fuck, since she was in a completely different division she probably had no idea who he was referring to by nickname. Great job, Agent 000, this is definitely why even though 100kr always mixes up his foreign languages, he’s still the one the brass designates as the “people person” on your assignments together.

“You know, uh, the tall–” don’t say handsome, don’t say handsome, don’t say–“handsome guy with the trench coat. Except he’s not wearing that today, I guess. Codename’s 100kr, he, uh, he has my car keys.” Well, that could have gone a hell of a lot better. Car keys? Really? That made absolutely no sense.

Somehow, 84-whatever from Supernormal Research managed to piece together 000’s horrible description and ignore his piss-poor explanation anyway. “Oh, the looker from Organized Crime! Yes, I saw him heading to the copy room a few minutes ago,” she gestured in its direction, “but I’m not sure if he’ll be able to drive you home. Seemed kind of out of sorts.” She gestured lazily with her glass to indicate the direction of the copy room as if 000 had never had to print out a report in his life (if only), spilled punch all over the sugar menorah cookies, and giggled. Definitely spiked punch, then.

Judging by how much 000’d seen 100kr drink, “out of sorts” was probably a polite euphemism for “falling-over drunk”. He’d unpack the whole “looker” thing later.

“Was he… alone?” 000 asked disinterestedly, or at least as disinterestedly as he could while his voice was cracking. Really, anyone would understand why he sounded so strangled if they knew he was just trying his best not to imagine the worst. Somebody else’s hand could be undoing 100kr’s belt buckle right this moment, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Not that 000 was vividly imagining it or anything. He was concerned someone was taking advantage, was all.

Unfortunately, 84-something–wait, yeah, it was 841t, that’s what her code was–did not know why 000’s voice had jumped by half an octave, and gave him a strange look before replying, “Yeah, he–” and then 000 did not hear the rest of her response because he was already moving as fast as his tiny little legs would take him towards the copy room.

A low groan came from the ajar copy room door, giving 000 pause. What if 100kr wasn’t alone? Well he’d just have to put a stop to that. For entirely selfless reasons, of course. No other explanation. He swung the door open, and was immediately relieved to see that 100kr was alone. The reason he was alone, however, was much less relieving. His coworker had propped himself up against the photocopier for balance, his head tucked into the crook of his shoulder. One of his hands was on his clammy-looking forehead, shielding his eyes away from the sudden bright light streaming in, while the other was clenched tight against his stomach. It looked as if it weren’t for the open paper tray he was using for balance, 100kr could pitch forward at any moment, cracking his head open and immediately dying and 000 would never get the chance to tell him that he l–er, and 000 would never have to be annoyed by his taste in movies (all foreign films with subtitles 000 couldn’t read in time with the dialogue) or have to spend another hour awkwardly pressed against the curve of his chest (what business did 100kr have being so built? It wasn’t like he worked out regularly, 000 knew his schedule by heart and going to the gym was not a significant part of it) on the train back home again. But even if he told himself it would be for the best to just leave his exasperating coworker to his own drunken devices in the copy room, resigning him to the grim fate of either workplace molestation or severe head injury, 000 just couldn’t do it. Guess he’d better finish what he started and take 100kr home.

Even though the lights in the copy room were dim, 000 could clearly see that 100kr’s face was incredibly pale, and by the way a thick glob of spit was hanging from his slightly open mouth and the way his fist clenched by his stomach, he figured it would be a good idea to find a trash can sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, the only two bins resembling trash cans in the room were a “White Paper” bin full of misprinted reports and the “Mixed Paper” bin 000 always tossed his sandwich wrappers in after lunch. Neither would work anyway, because 000 couldn’t figure out how to get the lids off the bins, rendering them completely useless as puke receptacles.

“You good to get out of here? You look…” (don’t say bad, don’t say bad, don’t say–) “Bad. Really bad.” Well, that was another misfire. Great job, Agent 000. Really nailing the whole “Don’t say unkind things to the people who can actually stand you” thing. Maybe one of these days his brain would actually catch up to his mouth, but probably not any time soon. He had a bad habit of saying mean things about the things he liked (Persian, 100kr, that one kid’s cartoon about Galarian Ponyta that he would never admit to enjoying, even under threat of torture) and even though 100kr probably wouldn’t remember anything (the man was gone) it still felt bad to be needlessly cruel to him in his sorry state.

A slew of completely incoherent, slurred word vomit fell out of 100kr’s mouth as response. Even in his horribly intoxicated state, 100kr still lived up to the mean-spirited nickname (“Motormouth”) 000 accidentally coined for him back in basic training. 000 tilted his head to try and make sense of what he was saying, as well as keep a close eye on him and make sure that word vomit didn’t turn into vomit vomit while 100kr was still hunched over the open paper tray. Unfortunately, most of it was in Sinnohese for some reason (the working of 100kr’s mind would remain a forever mystery) and that was not one of 000’s language competencies. Most of their joint missions in Sinnoh, 100kr had been a fine enough translator for the bits he couldn’t understand (which were most of them) and “Alolan tourist” was an evergreen cover identity, even if 100kr huffed at him every time. What little of 100kr’s rapidfire string of confused babbling 000 could decipher amounted to “could not find washroom” and “wish to get up and search it” and, confusingly, what sounded like “grapefruit” and then he abruptly retched and doubled over the unfortunate paper tray.

It felt like time was slowing down as 000 darted forward from the doorway to point 100kr away from the copier, but before he could stop 100kr from turning the damn machine into a Class II biohazard, 100kr had already regained his composure, swallowing loudly. Crisis averted? For now? 000 tried to gently rearrange 100kr so that his face was not pointing towards the several-thousand-dollar piece of useless godforsaken machinery and was instead pointed towards continued employment for the International Police. Unfortunately, “try” was the operative word here, as instead 100kr somehow managed to fall forward against 000’s legs and rest his face directly on his shins. “I do not feel very well,” he moaned against 000’s pant leg. Well, no shit.

“Hey, hey, don’t–” With some struggle, 000 leaned over and picked 100kr back up without accidentally letting him slide forward and smash his head into the floor, but his friend was dead weight smashed into his shins and 000’d had a few glasses to drink, too. Probably not as many as 100kr, but who could say? The booze at the party, in 000’s opinion, had been pretty terrible, so he hadn’t really had that much to drink. Just because 100kr was the type to get smashed on two and a half beers didn’t mean he’d outdrank 000… Probably. Still, 100kr was drunk enough to have somehow undone his pants button at some point (to help relieve pressure on his stomach, 000 assumed), leaving an inviting–No, it was not inviting at all and he was not about to ogle the only coworker who actually initiated friendly conversation with him. It wasn’t going to happen.

Maybe if he could keep 100kr talking, he could get him out of this dismal copy room and drive him home. Yeah, it wasn’t the best idea to drive after a few drinks, but he’d done it plenty of times before (which he would never tell 100kr, who fretted over his health and safety every time he went out into the alley to cop a cig), there was no way 100kr was driving them back, and he wasn’t about to pay the cleaning fee 100kr would definitely incur on whatever unfortunate taxi he managed to hail. That, and he really didn’t want to walk to work on Christmas Day in the cold to pick up his car in the morning. Yeah, he could theoretically rideshare with a Fly user, but a sudden vivid image of 100kr spewing chunks all over the cityscape put that thought to rest. “Damn, how much did you have to drink?” he asked, his mind made up, and pulled 100kr to his feet so they could get home before the office party cleared out. Thinking back on it, it might have been more of a “yank” than a “pull”. Either way, from the way 100kr’s hand jumped to his mouth and his unfocused eyes widened with surprise, 000 knew he had just made a huge fucking mistake.

Swaying slightly, 100kr opened his mouth to reply, but only managed to articulate “Can’t remem–” before hiccuping once, stumbling forward again against 000’s shoulder, and abruptly vomiting all over 000’s only nice dress shirt, both their shoes, and the copy room floor. 000 instinctively shoved 100kr away to get him to stop puking all over him, which in retrospect was also a huge mistake since 100kr was 1) incredibly drunk and unable to keep his balance, and 2) still puking an absolutely fucking rancid waterfall of half-digested eggnog all over the room. If 000 had been thinking rationally, he should have tried to contain the spread for whatever unlucky janitor had the morning shift the next day, since 000 was absolutely not staying in the building to clean up a second longer than he needed to; his only priority was getting the fuck out of Dodge before anything else happened.

The floor was slippery with foamy chyme, pulpy chunks of partially-digested pretzels, and what looked like several soggy handfuls of Chex Mix. It looked like 100kr had been trying to stave off the effects of the eggnog (which was now all over everything in the room) by grazing on the various nondenominational holiday snacks the International Police had provided this year. Unfortunately, he’d mostly gone for that expired snack dip, which was also now all over everything in the room. What was worse, food poisoning or alcohol poisoning? Apparently, 100kr had decided not to make a choice at all and had instead gone for “both”. A tiny, disgusting part of 000’s lizard brain noted in shock that it really was different close up in person than it did in those low-resolution Johtoan-subtitled videos he’d browsed through on one or two or twenty lonely occasions when nothing else could get him going. It was probably the smell, sour and fetid like spoiled milk with a hint of alcohol. You couldn’t get that sort of curdled smell from a JAV. And unlike watching a video, 000 couldn’t feel anything other than sheer revulsion from the grisly scene before him. Honestly, he might never jack off again after tonight.

000 looked up from examining the splattered contents of 100kr’s stomach to see him shakily get to his vomit-covered feet, propping himself up against the copier with one hand. His puke-covered hand. Great, the copier just went from “salvageable with a few wet wipes” to “incontrovertible evidence of reckless drinking that the brass’s going to use to be stricter about next year’s not-Christmas party”. Luckily 000 wasn’t planning on cleaning up after 100kr anyway. It would be way easier to pin the blame on that one intern nobody liked instead. And then, with a horrible gurgling noise, 100kr sealed the deal and hurled again, directly into the copier’s paper tray.

Yep, time to go.