Author's note: A few of you may recognize some characters in this story from various one-shots I posted on PokeCommunity. This is in a different continuity from those.
Content Warnings: Occasional coarse language. Alcohol usage. Occasional violence by Pokemon against humans. Should be acceptable for ages 13 and up.
Will Somebody Stop These Kids?
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Dumb Luck
- Fire Safety
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- The New Recruit
- Different Ways to Win
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
Derek Brooks was struggling to open a jar of caffeine pills. The difficulty stemmed from the fact that he had been awake for the last thirty-two hours. At length he grabbed the lid through his somewhat grimy t-shirt—which he had been wearing for the last forty-one hours—and found success. He swallowed a handful of pills, which by his admittedly hazy calculations should have bought him another three hours before his body was forced to shut down.
It was a Saturday afternoon, which meant that Derek was hard at work. As of late his office was a studio apartment in a crumbling building in downtown Goldenrod City. It lacked such amenities as air conditioning, a kitchen, tables, chairs, or a bed, but there was enough room for a mattress and most importantly it afforded a perfect view of the adjacent backstreet alley. This was the same backstreet alley that Derek had been keeping close tabs on for the last twenty-nine hours as part of his current assignment.
Derek’s job was complicated, and its description varied wildly depending on whom you asked. If you asked his family, they’d tell you it was something for the government. If you asked the Goldenrod Police Department Human Resources Division and had proper clearance, they’d tell you that Mr. Brooks was a clerk in Archives. If you asked the notorious criminal organization Team Rocket and had the appropriate street cred, they might tell you that he was a disgruntled police archivist who was selling them valuable law enforcement intelligence. And if you asked his actual boss in the GPD, he certainly wouldn’t tell you that Officer Brooks was operating deep undercover to spy on and sabotage Team Rocket.
This wasn’t quite how Derek had once imagined himself at thirty-three. Most of his now-distant colleagues from the academy had moved up the promotion ladder and didn’t have to tolerate these kinds of conditions. He took some solace in the fact that whenever his mom or sister asked him how his job was going he was required by policy to say ‘fine’ and not a single word of substance. Family was by and large too complicated for Derek to handle, and any amount of potentially frustrating human interaction he could trim from his week was welcome.
The pill was starting to kick in, so Derek returned to his window and took up the watch again. He was waiting for a ‘Grunt’ member of Team Rocket to retrieve a hidden package of (fabricated) police communication records for which Derek was owed 100,000 Pokéyen in unmarked bills (approximately 1,000 USD). There was only an hour left in the thirty-hour window the Grunt had insisted on. Once the Grunt arrived, Derek would rush out and tail him until he found where he was staying, and later he would wire the place with listening devices and maybe a few cameras. In Derek’s mind there was way less that could go wrong with this plan than could go wrong from making even light conversation with his relatives. It was less stressful to boot.
Nothing was happening at the moment, but something was bugging him all the same. His eyes wandered away from the alley’s entrance, and then they wandered past the spot with the package and behind a number of boxes. Then his eyes started twitching on their own when he spotted the two boys and a girl who were crouching down there. They appeared to be spying on the very same package with all the subtlety you’d expect from a bunch of stupid kids. Derek’s stomach got caught in his throat for a second as he tried to parse the situation.
They looked a bit too young to be teenagers and they all had backpacks, so the odds said they were Pokémon trainers. To Derek’s dismay, he had to assume the worst-case scenario that they had heard about the exchange somehow. They were probably thinking they’d have a chance to beat a Rocket with their Pokémon and brag about it to their little trainer friends and rivals. Standard procedure dictated that Derek had to make them leave the area before they got seriously hurt on top of making a wash of his entire week.
Just as he was grumbling over the prospect of digging out his badge from its hiding place and convincing these little idiots that he had the authority to order them to go away, one of the boys gave him pause. There was something about his face.
“Is that…?” he muttered to himself. “No. No, it can’t be…”
He stared for a few more seconds until it hit him. “Oh, sh*t. It is. Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t!”
It was Jason. It was his mom’s sister’s kid. It was that one cousin he saw twice a year. In other words, Jason fit square in the broad category of people described in chapter 98, section 10-C of the Department Policy Guide: “An officer employed at cover-level 3 or above may not disclose their status as an officer to any person with knowledge of the officer’s personal identity. Any disclosure whether accidental or deliberate will be reviewed in an official hearing, with disciplinary action not to exceed termination of employment and a fine of six months’ pay.” All it would take was one post from one relative on any social media platform and Derek was done. On top of that he hadn’t been expecting his annual panic attack about 98:10-C until the family reunion in October.
Derek stood up, slapped his face a few times, and looked again. There was no doubt it was Jason, which meant he was one hundred percent screwed. He covered his mouth as tight as possible and yelled into his hands so hard it made his throat sore. Before he knew what exactly he was going to do he was grabbing his jacket so as to cover his disgusting shirt and make himself semi-presentable to the outside world. He stood in front of the door and held on to the knob while agonizing over what the hell he was supposed to say. Bringing up the subject of Team Rocket was out of the question, much less the fact that he was the one who had arranged the sale in the first place. At length he steeled his nerves and walked outside. He would just have to think of something on the fly.
Jason O’Connor was a bit amazed at his own cunning. He and his friends Travis and Krissy were going to have this Rocket goon right where they wanted him. It was a few days after Jason had snuck around and overheard the Grunt’s plan to acquire the “package” here: “Ya gotta pick ’em up a day late, see? That way it’s real tough for a turncoat to keep an eye on the spot unless they’re doin’ shifts.” Jason’s immediate temptation of course had been to start a battle right then and there, but now his patience was about to be rewarded. He didn’t see how they could lose with a three-on-one surprise attack in close quarters.
Krissy leaned over to him and started to whisper. “Let’s go over the plan again, just to be safe.”
Travis leaned over as well. “Way safer to go over the plan twenty times instead of nineteen. Definitely.”
Jason knew that Krissy wouldn’t take the bait. She ignored the comment and took it from the top. “First Jason throws Rabies’s ball past him to block his escape. Then I send out Lucia and Travis sends out Leviathan. When he sends out his Pokémon, one of us will take the lead depending on the type matchup.”
So Growlithe, Bayleef, and Quagsire respectively. One fire, one grass, one water and ground. “No types that beat all of ours,” added Jason, “We’re looking good.”
“Except dragon, of course,” whispered Krissy, “But he won’t have one of those.”
Travis looked indignant. “Dragons don’t beat water.”
“On defense, yes they do, same against all the others we’re using.”
“Haven’t you ever read the types page on your Pokédex?”
Jason rolled his eyes. He hated it when Travis made boys look like morons. Even though Jason himself hadn’t been quite sure about the dragon vs. water matchup, he knew better than to contradict Krissy on anything you could read in a book. In any case this was no time to lose focus, so he tried to tune them out and listen for footsteps. Then not five seconds later he froze as he heard them coming from the wrong direction. There was someone behind them, meaning they were kneeling in plain sight.
They all spun around at once, and then Jason saw the very last person he expected standing right there in front of him.
“Hey, Jason,” said Derek. “Long time no see.”
Jason was so startled that he only half-noticed that his cousin looked like death. It was almost as if someone had drawn under his eyes with a black marker, and his smile was even more obviously forced than when they took family pictures. Jason glanced over at his friends and saw that they were at a complete loss.
The silence might have lasted minutes if Derek hadn’t broken it. “I met you last year,” he said, pointing at Travis, “Your name’s…uh…”
Travis didn’t help him out, and this made Jason realize that he might not recognize or remember Derek. “Oh, that’s Travis. Um, Krissy, this is my cousin Derek. And uh…Derek, this is Krissy.”
Krissy just managed to stammer out, “…Nice to meet you.”
And then the silence was back. Jason began to worry that Derek had overheard them and tried to remember whether they had actually mentioned Team Rocket. Not that it was any business of Derek’s, but Jason didn’t trust him not to tell his parents or Travis’s what they were doing. And he especially didn’t trust his parents not to overreact.
Much to his relief, Derek seemed to be none the wiser. “So what are you guys up to?”
The relief was fleeting, as Jason hadn’t planned on needing an alibi today. Just as he was about to say something stupid like ‘Ya know, stuff,’ Travis came to the rescue. “Saw a Pokémon back here.”
Derek tilted his head. “That right?”
“Eh…yeah. It was one of those, uh…”
“Magnemite,” said Krissy. It was a flawless save.
“Yeah, Magnemite. Can’t just find those in the woods so Jason wanted to be extra careful that we caught it.”
“Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.” Jason nodded his head with what he thought was enough vigor to be convincing. Then he asked, “So…what are you up to?”
“Nothing really,” said Derek, or rather half-yawned Derek. “I’ve got the day off. Was just bumming around and saw you guys from my window over there.”
Jason thought they might be in the clear now if Derek had bought their story and if he would simply leave for somewhere else. Then they might beat the Grunt before he came back home.
“Hey, who feels like ice cream? I’m buying.”
Jason could have screamed but he managed to hold on. “Well, we were—”
Derek spoke up again at the same time Jason did. “Actually, I know a good place by the Radio Tower, and I’ve seen plenty of Magnemite in the alleys around there, too. Never here before, though. What do you say?”
It was checkmate, and Jason knew it. The remainder of the game was purely academic, and Krissy spared him the embarrassment of being the first to surrender. “…That sounds good to me.”
Travis bit his lower lip as he stood up. “Yeah. I’m down for ice cream. And we’ll probably have better luck over there.”
“Okay then,” said Jason as he did his best to disguise his disappointment. “Thanks, Derek.”
Derek made a noise that perhaps meant ‘you’re welcome,’ and led the way out of the alley in a hurry. It was something of a challenge for Jason and his friends to keep up as they walked through nearly a mile of Goldenrod City. It made him wonder whether Derek was actually as exhausted as he looked. The way Derek would veer towards a wall and correct himself at the last inch every few minutes was evidence for ‘yes.’
Before he knew it, they were all sitting in a booth in a plain but cozy ice cream parlor. It should have been pleasant, but Jason couldn’t shake this feeling that something was about to get him. Perhaps he was still hyped up from being on the hunt for a real, meaningful battle, but the cause was just as likely the fact that his weirdest, scariest relative looked even weirder and scarier than usual. Derek was on one side of the table while Jason and his friends shared the other. It was cramped, but he couldn’t blame Krissy for squeezing onto their side rather than joining Derek.
Derek’s face was one thing, but it was only now that Jason noticed an even more unsettling element to his presence: he smelled like a Pokémon trainer, and that was no compliment. As a Pokémon trainer himself Jason wasn’t one to talk, but what excuse could Derek have for not showering? And then there was the clinching factor in his strangeness which was that he had ordered black coffee in an ice cream parlor. It was an unprecedented act of weirdness. For the record, Jason also took note that while he and Travis had ordered chocolate cones like normal people, Krissy had gotten a cup of butter pecan like a girl.
Derek took a long sip from his coffee and shook his eyes open wider. “Hey, you’re turning eleven soon, right?”
Jason looked around the table for a napkin. “…I did in April.”
“Right, duh.” Derek rubbed his temples. “Yeah, you started in April last year… How’s Rabies doing?”
“He’s good. Real strong now.”
“Hm. That’s great.”
Then it was back to heavy silence. Jason wondered if they could just leave on their own if they finished their ice cream before Derek finished his coffee. He wanted to get back to the ambush spot, even if the odds were slim that they could catch the Grunt before Derek got back. Besides, there was only so much he could handle of this freak’s abysmal small talk.
But when his cousin broke the silence again it didn’t sound like small talk anymore. “So Jason,” he said with new composure, “You guys been keeping safe lately?”
Jason drew a blank. Where did this come from?
Travis shifted in his seat and stared Derek down. “How do you mean?”
“Just saying I remember being a trainer. Y’know, loads of time, no parents, pretty easy to toe the line between having fun and acting stupid.”
“We’re not stupid,” said Jason.
“That’s why I said acting. Everyone does some dumb stuff when they’re a trainer, and sometimes when they grow up they wish someone had kept them just a little more in check once or twice.”
This drew in Krissy. “Do you mean people in general wish that or you in particular?”
“Not me so much. I was pretty boring. You guys seem more fun so I just thought I’d ask. It’s an easy question, and there’s no wrong answer.”
But Jason knew it wasn’t an easy question. On the contrary it was loaded. Did he know they’d been after members of Team Rocket? It wouldn’t quite make sense if he did. Wouldn’t he have just brought it up? Why would he be so cagey about it? This left two explanations in Jason’s mind: either Derek knew and was trying to pressure them into quitting on their own—as if they could be dissuaded from doing the right thing by someone calling it ‘stupid’—or Derek didn’t know and he was just being an awkward weirdo. When he looked at it that way it was a no-brainer. Derek didn’t know.
“We’re plenty safe,” said Jason. “Nothing to worry about.”
Derek still looked serious, but he sat back and drained the last of his coffee. “That’s good to hear.” Then he stood up and checked his pockets. “I’m gonna head home now.”
It hit Jason that this meant the chance of pulling off the ambush was now zero. Derek talked faster as started to leave. “Hey, give your Aunt Nancy a call sometime. She’s always bugging Jen and me to see if we’ve got any stories about you. Good to see you again, Travis; real nice to meet you, Krissy. You kids have fun out there.”
And then he was out the door. They all looked out the window after him and saw that he was making a beeline back the way they had come. Krissy shivered a little and moved to the other side of the table so they could get comfortable. “Is he always like that?”
“No,” said Jason before he thought about it a moment. “I mean, he’s always a little like that, but never that much before.”
“He was definitely better when I saw him,” said Travis. “That was on day one for us last year. He was sorta like a human being from what I remember.”
Then Travis looked around the place. The only employee was buried in her cell phone and there were no other customers. It was just them and the Top 40 on the radio. They all leaned in over the table. “Didn’t it seem like he knew?” whispered Travis. “You don’t think he could actually be…you know…the Grunt?”
Jason couldn’t help but laugh, however strong the gravity of the situation was. “Not a chance. He’s like, the anti-criminal. Jen said he told her off once for downloading music. Oh, that’s my other cousin.”
“I know who she is.”
“I didn’t,” said Krissy. “Anyway, even if he’s not a Rocket, it seems like too much of a coincidence to me. Could he be involved some other way?”
Jason hadn’t thought of that. “I guess. I think he works for the government or something, but you’d think if this had to do with his job he’d just say so and order us around, right?”
“You’d think.” Krissy shrugged and leaned back again. “So what now?”
Since all their other plans today were shot, Jason was surprised she had to ask. “We go catch one of those Magnemite, duh.” They could always start taking down Team Rocket again tomorrow.
The package was already taken when Derek got back. He leaned his head against the wall of the alley and tried not to think about how many hours he had put toward learning where these Grunts were hiding out. He focused instead on the fact that he probably wouldn’t have learned anything important by spying on them anyway. This sort of setback would have agitated him more back in his early twenties, but by now his career had made him numb to most forms of futility.
Jason and his friends were a different story. They’d caught him flat-footed and he had no idea how he was going to salvage the situation. It gave him a stomachache. He was convinced—despite all evidence to the contrary—that the stress of talking to children gave him ulcers. It was fortunate he only had the energy to stumble back into the apartment, otherwise he might have gone to one of the bars in the Goldenrod Tunnel to self-medicate with some hard liquor. He closed the door behind him, flipped a light switch that would have been there in another room he’d lived in once, and collapsed face first on the mattress.
He got his sleep, and by the time he was really awake again it was evening on the next calendar day and he was well north of Goldenrod. Specifically he was walking down a familiar trail through some lush woods to the north of his hometown of Ecruteak City. At some point he couldn’t recall he had showered, changed into decent clothes, and eaten actual food. In that sense at least this day was going better than the day before, but the critical problem was the same.
He could have bet a month’s salary those kids were going to keep on messing with Team Rocket. He’d read Travis and that girl Krissy like a book, and he could always read Jason like a neon ‘OPEN’ sign. It hardly mattered how transparent they were though when he had no way of telling them with authority to knock it off. This meant he had to try the single aspect of police-work that he struggled the most with: leveraging connections. He looked at the setting sun through the leaves and hoped she’d still be in.
Soon the path opened up to a wide field that housed a dirt oval for battling, an obstacle course, deep-green wooden bleachers, cheap stadium lights, and a small clubhouse. In the middle of it all was a youngish woman dressed in practical trainer’s gear who was redrawing the oval’s chalk lines. She noticed as he walked up and waved at him. “Hey, Derek!”
This was the proprietor of the unofficial, unaffiliated, and unrecognized but growing North Ecruteak Gym. Her name was Jen and she was Derek’s younger sister. The age gap between them was six years, but thanks to a disparity in facial line density people usually guessed it was ten years.
“You should have called ahead! What’s up?”
She was in a great mood, which wasn’t unusual. Derek hated to have to ruin her day. “We need to talk.”
“Sure thing. Go on in, I’ll just be a minute here.”
Derek nodded and walked over to the clubhouse. The fresh coat of paint grabbed his attention: white with green trim. It was much more inviting than the dumpy little shack that had stood in the same spot when he was a kid. Even more impressive than the paint was the new door with an actual handle. The inside was far cleaner and brighter than in the old building as well, and Derek was so focused on the walls that he didn’t notice the other person in the room right away.
“Oh, hey Derek.”
Jen’s longtime friend Hanna was sitting at the table and typing away on a laptop. She had a number of papers out with complicated diagrams on them.
“Hey. Didn’t know you were in Johto.”
“Just visiting for the long weekend.”
Not that this stopped her from working, Derek noticed. Hanna was a programmer who worked for the renowned scientist Bill out in northern Kanto. It had never surprised Derek that Bill would attract the sort of fanatic employees who would put in hours on a Sunday. Of course, Derek regularly worked weekends as well, but he at least had the decency to be mad about it.
He dropped his bag near the door and pulled up a chair at the opposite corner of the table from Hanna.
“You look like hell.” Hanna didn’t mess around, and Derek appreciated that.
“It was one of those days yesterday.”
With that Hanna returned her attention to the screen for a few seconds before Jen came in.
“Woo! Finally done,” she said in a tone she only used when she could gladly go at it for a few hours more. She wiped the dust from her glasses as she walked over to a small fridge. “Derek, you want anything? Soda? Beer?”
“I’m good, thanks.”
Jen pulled out two cans of cheap, weak, nasty beer and threw one over to Derek.
Jen took her seat and they both took a swig of the awful stuff. Derek contemplated making an investment in the gym provided that 100% of his contribution went to securing a supply of respectable alcohol for the staff. Today though he was in the right mood to drink even this piss-water.
“So what do we need to talk about?”
This made Hanna look up from her computer. Derek answered, “It’s about family.”
“Older or younger?”
“Younger.” He glanced to the side and noticed that Hanna was showing no intention of leaving so far. That struck him as rude, or at least intrusive. “It’s Jason.”
“Is he okay?” Jen didn’t seem to care that Hanna was in the room.
“Yeah, he’s fine. I think he might be in trouble, though, him and his friends.” He took another glance and Hanna was still the same. “I was thinking of talking in private.”
“Hanna knows Jason, it’s cool.”
“If he’s in trouble,” said Hanna, “I’d like to help too if that’s all right.”
Derek sighed. He didn’t have the energy to argue. He started from the beginning and told them what he had seen and heard the day before. Naturally he left out any details that he could only have known if he were a cop. In addition he reattributed key bits of evidence to fake overheard quotes from the kids that in reality had come from his own intel and inference. The whole picture he gave was entirely true, though.
Jen put her face in her hands. “Oh geeze, they’re so clueless.”
It was a relief that Jen was in agreement with him. He recalled that she and Hanna had been similarly adventurous to the point of idiocy back in their trainer days. He could only imagine what would have happened if Team Rocket had been in Johto fifteen years ago. “I don’t want to tell their parents just yet,” he said, “And I’m sure you don’t want to have to either.”
“Of course not,” said Jen. “The kids would be devastated.”
Informing a parent of their trainer’s inexcusable decision-making was called ‘The Death Sentence’ in the police force. Legally speaking a parent needed no reason to have their child’s Pokémon license revoked, and a child journeying without a license was officially ‘missing’ and could be forcibly returned home. It was rare to see an officer who didn’t give warnings to the trainers before going to the parents. “I was hoping you could talk to them,” said Derek. “I think Jason’s more likely to listen to you.”
“He likes you, too.”
That was a dubious claim, but Derek didn’t have to address it directly. “Well, Travis doesn’t from what I can tell. And their new friend Krissy definitely doesn’t.”
Jen made a pouting face. “Oh no, you didn’t scare her, did you?”
“I wasn’t trying to!”
Hanna shook her head. “Poor little girl.”
Derek just groaned.
“Well, don’t worry,” said Jen, “I’ll take care of it, no problem.”
“You want a hand?” asked Hanna.
“Definitely! Thanks a million.”
Derek took another look at Hanna and considered the prospect. She was a few years older than Jen, a fair deal smarter, and immeasurably harder to read. He believed she was sincere in her desire to help and that she was well-equipped to do so, but something bothered him. Unlike with Jen, there was a possibility that Hanna didn’t buy the entirety of the story as he had told it. Did she suspect he was omitting key information? It was too hard to tell.
In the end he was more desperate than uncertain. “Sounds good. Jen, you have his cell number, right?”
“Yeah. Goldenrod’s not too far so I’ll just invite them here.”
She started pulling her phone out of her pocket, but Derek stopped her. “Maybe wait until tomorrow. His defenses might still be up if you call him so soon after I talked to him. Actually, don’t even tell him I was the one who told you.”
It sounded like a plan. Despite himself Derek allowed his shoulders to relax a tad and he finished his miserable beer. “The outhouse is around back, right?”
“Yeah, you can’t miss it,” said Jen. “Man, it’s so lucky you were there yesterday. I’ll be in the back room doing this week’s paperwork—feel free to stay as long as you want.”
Derek grunted and took his leave of the clubhouse. It was getting dark and he could hear several Hoothoot in the woods having a conversation as they woke up. This was how an evening was supposed to sound and feel, and he often missed it living in Goldenrod. It was a comforting place, but Derek’s brain had natural defenses against comfort. While he was taking care of his business something was making him agitated again. There was an element of great importance that he had overlooked, perhaps because his sister’s gym had a disarming effect on him.
As he was returning to the clubhouse, Hanna came out the door and approached him. It was starting to come together: she suspected something, and he’d let his defenses down somewhere, but where? Where was the attack going to come from?
She met him halfway. “Derek, I’m really sorry, but I looked through your bag.” She held up his badge. His knees nearly melted on the spot and he began to sweat. He felt like the dumbest person alive for going more than ten feet away from that bag.
“Hanna,” he said as calmly as he could, “You are going to get me fired.”
“I won’t tell a single person, really,” she said, “Just hear me out.”
What could he do? She had him by the short hairs.
“I want to help. Bill’s lab is one of the best in the world; it’s the perfect place to reverse-engineer Team Rocket’s tech. We keep reaching out to the police, but they hardly ever return our calls.”
“Hanna. Listen. All of those decisions are way, way above my pay grade, and that’s definitely not going to change when you get me fired.”
She wouldn’t budge. Her eyes were like steel. “You know I’m right. How are you guys going to get an edge on the Rockets when you barely collaborate with other cities’ departments, much less with actual experts like Bill?”
Of course Derek knew she was right. Anyone who’d spent five minutes trying to get anything out of a police scientist knew she was right. But that was beside the point. “Get this into your head: it’s not my call. It’s not even my boss’s call. They’re so paranoid about spies and moles all the way up they’d never sign off on anything like that. Hell, I’m not even allowed to tell other officers what my assignment is, that’s how nuts they are about this. It’s not my call.”
“You don’t have to make any calls. You just need to get me some of Team Rocket’s new technology to study and I’ll refer to you as an ‘anonymous source.’ Otherwise I’ll tell Jen about your job. And your grandma.”
Derek wanted to scream. The odds were sixty percent that Jen would tell a bunch of people, and ninety-eight percent that their grandma would tell everyone. But what Hanna was asking was out of the question. He thought about grabbing the badge away from her. Even if her reflexes were quick it would be no trouble to out-muscle her. But he knew that Jen would believe her even without the badge—to say nothing about how awkward it would be to wrestle with her.
“Derek, I don’t want to have to do this,” she said. “You’ve always been really great to me and Jen, even when we used to give you such a hard time.”
“Are you on board or not?”
He clapped his hand to his forehead. Either way he had exactly one hope, which was that Hanna could keep a secret. It was better her knowing than Jen’s. He didn’t have a choice. “Fine.”
She smiled and tossed him his badge, which he pocketed as fast as he could.
“Just one question,” he added, “What else did you see in the bag?”
He wasn’t going to let her decide what was important. “Tell me everything. Exactly.”
“One shirt, one pair of pants, two socks, one pair of boxers, 185 Pokéyen in change, and a bag with a toothbrush and toothpaste. There was a hidden pocket, and the badge was inside that along with a small notebook. I didn’t open the notebook.”
She wasn’t lying. At least, he didn’t think so. It was dark, and he could never get all the way inside Hanna’s head.
“Don’t worry,” she said, “Your secret’s safe. And thanks a ton, you’re the best!”
She turned on her heel and headed back to the clubhouse. Derek followed behind her closely and swore in his head. It was little consolation that she’d only found one hidden pocket.