The day that Harry Goodman gets the call that changes his life (again), is, by all accounts, a quiet one. As quiet as one can get in Ryme City anyway. Harry had finished up an incredibly mundane morning of the boring side of detective work. That of filing reports. Dotting his i’s, crossing his t’s and just generally making sure that all paperwork was filled out and turned into the right person or saved to the right databank. The side of detective and police work that they never showed on tv or in the pulp novels because then no one would want to be one.
A quarter after noon, Hide took pity on Harry. Or, more accurately, took pity on Pikachu, who had spent the last five hours trying and failing not to look too bored or get into too much trouble. About the sixth time he’d fetched the pokemon away from teasing snubbull, he decided they all needed a break.
“Lunch?” Hide asked after politely sliding Harry’s door open with his foot, pikachu under one arm and snubbull under the other. Harry peered at him over the top of his glasses, it took him a moment to focus on Hide. He blinked, looking down at the report he’d just finished and the clock, then back up at Hide.
“Right. That. Yes, eating is good.” Harry said, shuffling the forms and files into an acceptable pile on his desk. He brushed a hand absentmindedly down the front of his button up shirt. “Same place as usual?” Hideo nodded, gesturing with his hand from Harry to head out the door first.
The same place as usual was a small cafe about a ten minute walk from the precinct. The Hi-Hat cafe was a favorite of Harry and Pikachu’s since it opened a little over five years before. One reason being that the vast majority of their co workers preferred going to a local diner the same distance from the precinct but in the opposite direction. If Harry wanted peace and quiet to mull over his latest findings, the Hi-Hat cafe was the place to do it.
It was a really nice day out, so if the average ten minute walk stretched out a little to fifteen, Harry figured they’d be forgiven. The sidewalks were busy with people and pokemon rushing to and fro on their lunch breaks. Food trucks lined up outside of office buildings, while taxis and cars drove in stop start traffic on the streets. There was so much movement and sound and Harry loved every second of it. Ryme city was his kinda of city, it was almost perfect. He just wished that...well, it didn’t really matter what he wished, because it wasn’t going to happen. (But he held out that someday, maybe, it would.)
Per their custom, Harry thumbed his phone to silent on entering the cafe. The small tinkling bell over the door alerting the Barista Pablo and his partner Ludicolo that customers were entering the building. Harry fired off a lazy salute in response to their greeting, Hide leading the way to their usual table. The one in the back by the stage, where they could see everyone coming and going.
By the time they settled in, Ludicolo danced her way over with their orders. It was nice, Harry thought, to be so recognized at a place that you didn’t even need to look at the menu. Lunch went off without a hitch, for the most part anyway.
“I’m making headway.” Harry was in the middle of explaining to Hide. Waving the hand holding his coffee cup vaguely through the air. Pikachu stuffed half a sweet bun in his mouth. “Think I’m closer to...well, I’m close anyway.” Tracking down R was the kind of work Harry enjoyed doing. He was good at it, the best, in fact. But the nature of the work meant he couldn’t exactly blab about it in public areas. Even one as quiet and laid back as the Hi-Hat cafe.
Who knew how wide the supplier of R’s reach went? And if it was coming from where he thought it was...
Well, he was gonna be severely disappointed if it turned out the arrows did point in the right direction. (In himself went without saying, but others as well.)
Hide nodded sympathetically.
“I understand.” He said in that severe way of his. “I have faith that you will find who is responsible.” Harry’s grin was lopsided.
“Aw, your faith in me is touching.” Hide merely cocked an eyebrow at Harry and raised a hand for the check.
“Your record speaks for itself.” Harry pulled his phone out to turn the sound back on, and blinked.
“Huh.” He stared at his phone. “Who would leave six voicemails? I only had it off for like ten minutes, maybe twenty.” He said conversationally to Hide. “What could possibly happen?” Honestly, you’d think that being a detective for over twenty years would’ve have taught him to never ask that question.
“You are a popular man.” Hide muttered into his cup, sipping the last of his coffee. Harry rolled his eyes at him, pulling the first voicemail, holding it up to his ear to listen. His stomach dropped when his mother in law, always to the point, opens the voicemail with: ‘Harry, it’s about Timothy.’ Hide noticed the color drain from his face. “What? Harry, what is it?” Pikachu, attentive little guy that he was, also looked up from his sweet bun.
“Pika?” His ears flicked toward Harry, the voicemail now finished.
“My son.” Harry hit the speed dial for Tim’s phone. Foot bouncing as the call went directly to voicemail. As it usually did. He tried again anyway, already knowing that he wasn’t going to get anything but the inbox. “He’s missing. Hasn’t been heard from in a few days.” The call went right to voicemail as predicted. Harry stood up, grabbing his coat. “I have to go.” Hide waved him off.
“Go, go. I will take care of things here.” Harry was already out the door, pausing just long enough for pikachu to scurry through after him and leap up onto his shoulder.
wow, uh, thanks for all the comments and support, guys!
If this is your first time running into me, I update once a week on Sundays and I have a buffer of several chapters so hopefully, I'll be posting until the fic is done.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
There were quite a lot of things that Harry Goodman regretted in his life.
In fact, looking back on the past forty some odd years of his life, he sees more regrets and mistakes then anything else.
But the thing he regretted more then all the rest, was his failed relationship with his son.
Tim deserved more from life then an emotionally and physically distant father. Harry wished he could have supplied that. But by the time he’d managed to pull himself from the fog of depression that settled after his wife’s death, Tim didn’t want or need him.
It hadn’t seemed fair to force the kid to uproot from everything he knew and loved just to satisfy Harry’s desire to be a family again. So he’d left Tim with his mother in law and regretted everyday that he hadn’t fought harder for his place in Tim’s life.
Now Tim was a full grown adult, with his own apartment and his own full time job and his own life that Harry wasn’t a part of. And every year seemed to take him further and further away, so far from the kid that Harry had known, he couldn’t even figure out how to bridge the enormous chasm sized gap that had grown between them.
It seemed hopeless to even try.
Harry had plenty of time to ruminate on his failure as a parent on the train from Ryme city to the small town Tim had refused to leave. Harry was coming back to the place he’d lived in and his son was born in and his wife had died in.
Not because Tim wanted to see him, but because Tim was gone . Tim had up and vanished, with not a single word to the wise about where he had gone or what had happened or when he would be back.
Harry should have been one of the first people to notice Tim was missing. He shouldn’t have gotten several mid afternoon calls from his mother in law, growing increasingly desperate as he failed (once again) to pick up.
Tim could be hurt, or kidnapped or any number of things and Harry, who should have been there for him. Should have been there to protect his son. To help. To raise the alarm.
Not until it was too late.
He was just too good at pushing people away.
It made an already miserable journey even worse. He sank back into the seat with a heavy sigh. Thankful for the way everyone else on the train was too preoccupied with their own lives to bother even looking at him.
My son is missing! He wanted to scream at the lady with the bright green hand bag who kept smiling at him from across the small aisle of the train. He was full of manic energy, his fingers tapped his knee, his heel bounced on the floor. Needing to do something, anything. And knowing that he was already doing everything he could.
Pikachu, at least, seemed to be enjoying the ride, bracing his back paws on Harry’s thigh to stare out the window in awe.
He’d never been out of Ryme City, Harry remembered.
What a terrible first time.
The first stop had been his mother in law’s house.
The actual first stop had been a car rental agency, but right after that. It was to his mother in law’s place.
If Tim was missing she’d have the groundwork information he’d need to start a search for his son.
Which, yes, she did. But it wasn’t much.
“He left a few days ago, Monday, on a new assignment. He stopped by on his way out.” She said pouring him a cup of coffee. Just like old times, back when Tim was a toddler and Harry would swing by to pick him up on his way home from work. He blinked the ghostly image of a young Tim peering down from the second floor banister away.
Pikachu ranged through the house, sniffing at corners and under the couch. Investigating in his own way.
“Bright eyed and bushy tailed about it. Insurance investigation work agrees with him. Likes hunting down the truth our Timothy does. Just like you in some ways.”
“Let’s hope not all the ways.” Harry had said ruefully. She’d given him the side eyed look in the exact same way his wife used to when he’d said something dumb. Easy to see where his wife had learned it from. “Did he say what the assignment was? Who he was investigating?” There were other more important things then all the ways he’d failed.
At least this was something he excelled at.
At least this was something he wouldn’t fail at.
A way he could make up for everything that had gone wrong.
“Nooo.” She tapped her chin. “He never says where he’s going or who he’s investigating until he’s wrapped up.” Harry nodded. That made sense in a professional kind of way. He never said anything about his investigations until after they were done as well. “But he always tells me when he’ll be gone for longer then a day. Which is why I called you after I couldn't get a hold of him. His boss told me he hasn’t checked in either.”
“Can I get some numbers off you then?” Harry turned the mug around in his hands. Monday was the last day she’d seen Tim, it was currently Thursday. Two whole days, maybe three since anyone had seen or heard from Tim last. Anything could happen in that time frame.
It’s a good thing he’s a detective. Finding people was part of his job. And he was very good at his job.
“Of course.” Her voice was warm and trusting. He didn’t know what he’d done to deserve that trust, but he really wanted to live up to her expectations. She patted his hand. “Does my heart good to see you here again. I know you’ll find him. He missed you too, you know.” Harry hadn’t been able to speak but bit his lower lip and nodded.
The drive from his mother in law’s to Tim’s apartment is short. Barely even fifteen minutes. Harry sees that absolutely nothing has changed in this town since he was last here several years ago. It’s a struggle not to get swept away on a wave of nostalgia and grief.
“Cha?” Pikachu looks up at him from the passenger seat as he changes drive.
“Don’t worry, buddy.” Harry reassures him, scratching him behind a pointed ear. “I’m okay.” He repeats that several times in his head. I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay. He needs to keep it together here. It won’t do Tim any good if he can’t investigate properly because he’s lost in his own head. And not in the good investigating detective way either.
I have mucked about with the timeline and changed some things. IE, Tim is an insurance investigator, he's the guy the insurance company sends out to investigate claims they think might be fraud or if it's a complicated or involved claim, to establish the facts/timeline of the event of the claim. Kinda like an in house private investigator. There are other changes that'll come up later.
I already know the answer to this, but I'm curious, what pokemon do you think Tim is going to be?
Comments appreciated and I'll see you back here next week!
So far ya'll have sent in these pokemon as possible Tims:
I am not going to say if any of these are correct or not. But you get to find out next chapter, so that's exciting right? right?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
His son’s apartment building is located in a good neighborhood, clearly residential, surrounded by houses and another apartment building up the street. It’s not quite part of the downtown, though only a quick walk from the library, the local trainer school, several restaurants and the local pokemon center. Cars are parked against the curb, late enough that there aren’t many people out and about. All the younger kids long since called home for dinner and the adults either at home already or still in their restaurant or bar of choice, having a night out. There’s laughably little security on the building itself. Harry uses the spare keys his mother in law passed him to enter. (“I went by to check, but I know how it goes. Didn’t take more then a few steps in.”) The desk attendant doesn’t even look up from her paperback, only cracks her gum and gives him a disinterested ‘haven’t seen him for a few days’ when he asks about Tim.
Pikachu taps the wall of mailboxes and Harry heads there next. Using the smaller spare key to open Tim’s box. There’s a wad of spam mail and not much else in there. A flyer for the local grocery store advertising sales, a take out menu, some pre approved credit card envelopes. And what looks like an invitation for something. He flips the small, square envelope over. Doesn’t recognize the return address or name. But that’s the only item of, heh, note. Harry closes the box and heads up the stairs to Tim’s apartment, pikachu gamely hopping along with him.
The apartment is one of two units on a floor, each on opposite sides of the stairwell. Tim’s door is plain, his neighbors have a spring flower wreath on theirs. The kind hand made with plastic flowers and wire bought from a craft store, a tiny floette charm hangs hidden in the bottom flowers. Homey, he thinks, sliding the key into the lock on Tim’s door. Tomorrow Harry will talk to the neighbors. For right now, he has Tim’s apartment to investigate.
The door swings open on a modest one bedroom, one bath affair. Not exactly a studio. Small though. The main room is an open plan living room, kitchen and dining room. A short hallway off the living room goes to a closet, bedroom and bathroom. Pikachu walks into the apartment, nose sniffing the air and tail twitching. Harry closes the door gently behind them, places the keys on a small stand next to the door. Clearly intended for this purpose is an empty bowl on the stand. There’s a row of coat pegs on the wall in the entryway. A rain jacket and a hoodie hang on a few of the pegs, an umbrella is propped against the wall. On a mat under the jackets sits a pair of boots and a pair of running shoes. Harry notes the empty peg for a coat between the rain jacket and the hoodie and the other empty space on the mat. At the end of the row right before the tile of the entryway turned into the carpet of the main room.
He proceeds further into the apartment. It might as well be a stranger’s place for all that Harry doesn’t recognize a single thing here. A framed poster of a movie that came out several years ago, that Harry hadn’t seen and hadn’t known Tim was interested in, hangs behind the TV. A shelf of books on one wall has a mix of textbooks and reference books from mathematics, business, and, surprisingly, criminal justice with a book or two on forensic science. Harry grins a little, a few volumes of a popular comic book take up a bit of space on the middle shelf. Guess there’s still something of the kid he remembers left.
There’s a photo of Tim, arms slung over the shoulder of two other people who look to be the same age as him, hanging on the wall next to the book shelf. Harry takes a moment to study it. The two people in the photo with Tim are a male and female. The male has the look of a pokemon trainer, layered traveling clothes, a sturdy backpack and, most telling of all, a league issue billed hat. The female might be a coordinator, though that is far less sure. Tim looks...happy. His brown eyes are bright, reminding Harry of his wife, and his mouth is stretched in a wide teeth showing smile.
Harry quickly turns back to the rest of the apartment.
Pikachu nosed around the perimeter, tail in the air like a flag to show where he was going. Harry leaves him be. Pikachu will alert him if he finds something of interest.
The couch acts as a barrier between the main living room area and the tiling of the kitchen dining room portion. At first glance everything seems neat and orderly. Tim had always been a neat kid, Harry remembered. He’d never had to tell the kid to clean his room or make his bed. Not a trait he’d gotten from Harry, that was for sure.
There was food still in the fridge, not quite gone bad yet, but would in a day or two. A mix of take out boxes and ingredients for cooking. Harry let the fridge door thud close on its own. The kitchen was clean...ish. A few dirty dishes in the sink, coffee grounds that had spilled to the floor, probably wiped off the counter and then not swept up. Recycling was half full, trash the same. Harry poked around a few of the cabinets before turning his attention back to the living room.
And the desk that occupied an isolated corner.
His son’s office area.
Tim didn’t have a desktop computer, but the lone charger still plugged into the wall outlet said he had a laptop. Harry carefully searched the desk, but didn’t find it. It could be in the bedroom, it could also be with his son. Wherever he was.
Harry didn’t find anything helpful in the desk drawers either. A few notebooks of past case notes, with doodles of charizard in the margins. Pens. Blank printing paper, blank notebooks. And in the top drawer of the right hand side, the card Harry had sent him for his twenty first birthday. Ticket still tucked inside.
Harry stared at it, blinking slowly.
He thought Tim would have thrown it out. He hadn’t heard anything from the kid, so he thought it hadn’t hit the mark. But here it was, several months later, sitting at the top of a drawer in easy reach of his son. Harry sat down in the desk chair, blinking rapidly. He pushed his glasses up to rub at his eyes.
“Pikara.” Pikachu jumped into his lap. He patted at Harry’s chest with a tiny paw.
“Yeah. Sorry buddy. Just. A little overwhelmed.” He sniffed, refixed his glasses and smiled at the pokemon. “I’m okay. Really.”
“Cha.” Pikachu jumped back down. Harry watched him walk slowly across the living room floor, stopping here and there to nose around. His lightning rod tail disappeared around the corner to the bedroom. Harry put the card back in the drawer. A small feeling of hope uncurling inside him.
Tim had kept the card and ticket close by.
In his frequently used office desk.
A place where he could pull it out and look at it whenever he wanted to.(Whenever he got stressed.)
Maybe there was hope for the two of them. Maybe they could reconcile, fix what had been broken.
He just had to find Tim first.
If you think I wouldn't write a multi chapter fic just because I wanted to write about what someone's living space can say about them, well. You'd be VERY wrong.
I just wanna say, I am so sorry guys. You all had great reasons and thoughts about what Tim should be and meanwhile I'm over here having picked the pokemon based solely on 'Oh, this will be fucking adorable!'
So I apologize in advance.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Harry had just turned his attention to the short filing cabinet behind the desk when a commotion came from the bedroom. He was out of the chair and down the hallway in a shot.
“Pikachu! What-” He stopped in the doorway. Pikachu was having a stare down with an eevee. Or the eevee was having a stare down with Pikachu really. The eevee had taken a straight legged stance on the bed, towering over a floor bound pikachu. Its fangs showing as it snarled, ears flattened against its skull. Pikachu was crouched on the floor, tail and ears slightly lowered in a sign of non aggression.
“Piiikaaa.” He said softly, backing carefully up to where Harry was. The eevee followed his retreat with its eyes. Harry could tell the exact moment it noticed him. Its eyes went wide and its teeth vanished as it tilted its head in surprise. As though he was more surprising then a random pikachu. And then in the next moment it was back to snarling at him.
“Easy buddy.” Harry put up his hands, palms out. Advancing slowly into the room, Pikachu shuffling with him. “Eaaaaaasy.” The eevee bared even more teeth. “It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you...” He trailed off, watching the eevee’s body language.
Harry didn’t like to brag, okay, he totally did, but he was really good at reading pokemon. And this eevee was giving off some strange vibes. It was focused on him. Possibly the least threatening thing in the room with Pikachu here. Typically a pokemon, wild or otherwise, when left without a trainer or partner, would focus on the other pokemon in a situation like this. Danger tended to come more from pokemon then from people. This eevee though, it was ignoring Pikachu over him.
Like he was the biggest danger in the room.
There was also an intelligence in that narrowed eyed glare. Harry’s keen detective mind was telling him that this eevee understood more then it was letting on.
“I’m just...I’m just looking for my son.” He said, advancing further in, letting some of the desperation he was feeling into his voice. Pokemon responded the best to emotions. The eevee blinked at him again. Its growl lessened, lips slipping back over sharp canines. “I don’t mean you any harm. I’m only trying to find Tim.”
“Ve?” The eevee asked, head tilting. Harry could read that while it was curious, it was still suspicious of him. Its legs remained stiff and planted on the bed spread.
“That’s right.” He said, nodding encouragingly. “Tim. My son. He lives here and he went missing. I came to find him.” The eevee eyed him, still hostile. Harry didn’t move until finally the pokemon shook itself, gave him a hard stare, and leaped down from the bed to the floor and back up onto the nightstand.
“Veve.” It said, curling its tail loosely over its paws.
“Okay. Good. Thank you.” Harry put his hands down, he kept Pikachu behind him for the time being, stepping further into the room, watching the eevee carefully. The eevee didn’t do anything except flick the tip of its tail against its paws. But its eyes never left Harry. The stare felt weighty. Heavy on him, but the eevee did nothing then watch. Seeing that eevee wasn’t going to attack him but closely supervise instead, Harry decided to ignore the eevee for now and finish his survey of the apartment.
Harry gave the bedroom a cursory once over. Not quite willing to poke around too much in his son’s private space.
If there was anything to say where Tim went, it would be out in the office area.
However, there was something he could check here. He threw open the closet. Button down shirts, suit jackets and slacks, each on their own careful hanger greeted him. A selection of ties hung on a rack on the back of the closet door. Different dress shoes lined up neatly at the bottom of the closet.
He checked the drawers of the small dresser too. Aware all the while that the eevee’s dark gaze followed him around.
He poked his head into the bathroom across the hall. Taking stock of what was in there and what was not. Noting distantly that the window above the toilet was open just enough for a small pokemon to squeeze through.
When he backed out of the bathroom, eevee was seated primly in the doorway of the bedroom. Staring up at him. Harry gave it a half smile that he hoped was reassuring but had a definite feeling was not. The eevee snorted and walked out to the living room, Harry followed it. It leaped easily onto the desktop, settling itself down, it watched Harry sit on the sofa. Ignoring it, Harry thought over what he had seen. Pikachu climbed up next to him, letting him pet the small pokemon’s back. The repetitive motion helping him focus as he mulled over what he’d seen.
“Eev?” If Harry didn’t know better he’d think the eevee sounded sarcastic. He glanced over and startled, the eevee was staring at him intently from the desk top. Fluffy brown tail flipping gracefully against the wood grain. Now what? It seemed to be asking. Harry wiped his palms over his jeans, Pikachu hopped from his lap to the coffee table.
“Alright,” He said, nodding at the eevee. Taking up the challenge in its demeanor. You’re a detective. It was saying. So what have you detected? “Here’s what I think. No. Here’s what I know.”
“Wherever Tim went, he didn’t mean to be gone for long. There’s perishable food in the fridge, leftovers too. Trash and recycling haven’t been cleared out either.” The eevee flicked an ear. But Harry was only getting warmed up. “His laptop’s gone, but he left the charger behind.” Harry stood up, pacing as he went through the evidence out loud, in front of his two pokemon audience.
“There were some clothes missing from his closet, based on the empty hangers. But they’re in the hamper in his bathroom. Clothes don’t seem to be gone from his dresser. Finally, nothing is missing from his bathroom. Toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving kit. It’s all still there.” Harry paused at the desk, the eevee continued staring steadily back at him. Good enough, so what does that mean? Harry turned and went back to pacing.
“It means, Tim wasn’t planning on taking a trip. Not an overnight one, definitely not for an entire week. Whatever he was investigating, it was close by. He meant to be back, probably in the same day. It rained all day yesterday, poured actually, yet his raincoat and umbrella are completely dry. And judging from the dirt on his boots, he didn’t wear them. Which means he didn’t come back.” Harry paused for a moment at the end of his deductions.
He whirled around.
“And then there’s you.” He pointed at the eevee. The eevee stared back at him, unimpressed. “Tim didn’t have any pokemon, last I heard.” The eevee’s muzzle wrinkled in the beginnings of a snarl. “Granted,” Harry admitted, dropping his hand to hang listlessly at his side. “I’m not the most informed on his life.” His voice wavered a little, he soldiered on. “But Tim is practically famous for not having pokemon.” A sad but true fact. The day Tim was supposed to start his bid to be a pokemon trainer was the day his mother had died. It twisted a knife in Harry’s heart that his son’s dream died on the same day as his mother.
He pushed that thought away.
Focus on what was in front of him.
Put together the evidence, find the clues, interview witnesses, fill in the blanks, build a picture.
He just wasn’t sure if this eevee was connected or not.
The evidence didn’t support one conclusion or the other.
“There’s no pokemon food, dishes, bed, toys or brushes here. Absolutely nothing to say Tim has a pokemon, except you clearly exist. But if Tim had a pokemon, his grandmother would have come and taken care of it until he came back...if she knew about it. So you might be a very recent addition, or, ” The eevee’s muzzle smoothed back out into a neutral expression, giving Harry the weirdest feeling that it approved of his reasoning. “The window in the bathroom was open wide enough for a wild pokemon to get in. You could have snuck in.” Harry said, he cocked his head to the side, thumbing his chin in thought. “But you settled down when I told you what I was here for, when I said Tim’s name and you obviously know this place. And, well, Eevee aren’t native around here.” He shook his head, nothing about the eevee was adding up. “I don’t know what to think about you right now.”
Harry dropped back onto the couch. That rush of energy leaving him drained. He pulled off his glasses to rub at his face. Takes a deep, shuddering breath and then another and another and then he’s crying quietly. Pikachu crawls into his lap, cooing at him. Tiny paws stroking his chin. But that doesn’t really help him.
It’s finally sinking in. Something happened to Tim, something bad has happened. Something terrible.(He could be dead.) And Harry wasn’t there to caution or to help or to protect his son. If Tim needed help, he wouldn’t have come to Harry for it. And it’s all his own fault that things are the way they are. He wasn’t there when his son needed him, so all he can do now is trail along behind and hope he’s not too late.
A warm weight bumps into the hand he left dangling off his knee. It’s not furry, but feels like a...he glances down. The eevee’s dark knowing eyes gaze up at him from the floor, familiar in some distant way. It pushes a heavy brown cloth into his hand again. This time Harry’s fingers close around it, the eevee lets go and trots away.
It’s a blanket. The eevee had brought him a blanket. He runs his hands over it, soft and warm. It’s not the comforter from the bed. It’s a blanket for a guest. Harry would guess it came from the hall closet. Which means the eevee had known the blanket was there. And that it was for guests. The eevee stared at him from the hallway, a pillow clasped gently in its mouth.
“Got it.” Harry says, voice hoarse. “Message received.” He’s tired, it’s been a long never ending day. Any conclusions he draws now will be colored by his own exhaustion. He stands up to get ready for bed, pikachu tumbling over with a happy squeal onto the couch and the eevee disappears into the bedroom after dropping the pillow next to the coffee table. Harry leaves it to the room. He wouldn’t dream of sleeping in his son’s bed.
Not when the kid was missing.
Oh my god! Who could that eevee be?!
Also if you think this story is going to be Tim silently watching and judging his dad as Harry flails around trying to solve an impossible mystery, then you are absolutely correct and have come to the right place.
The next morning dawned clear, with blue skies, a bright smiling sun and a chorus of chatot to greet it.
Harry screwed his eyes closed and groaned, throwing an arm over his face. He’d forgotten how loud the country could be.
Getting up presents him with some problems.
Every detective instinct in him wants him to keep the apartment as close to pristine as possible. If it turns out that the worst has happened to Tim(arceus above he hopes not.) the police will need his apartment kept as untouched as possible.
He really should have just gone back to his mother in law’s place last night. No reason he can’t go there now. He scratches Pikachu behind the ears absentmindedly while thinking over his next course of action.
There was also the eevee to consider.
Harry Goodman didn’t get to be the best damn detective Ryme City had ever seen by ignoring giant red flags. And the Eevee was so red it could practically be classified as a Flareon.
He might not know how the eevee fit into all this, but he was one hundred and ten percent positive it did.
Until he figured out how exactly, the wisest course of action was to keep the pokemon close. He just wasn’t quite sure how to do that without losing some or all of his fingers. Earlier attempts to pet the eevee had resulted in him almost getting a nice set of bite marks of the pokemon’s teeth in the skin of his hand.
“Okay, okay!” He yelped, as the eevee’s teeth clicked together where his hand had been. Lesson learned, don’t pet strange pokemon. Pikachu chittered reprimands at the eevee from Harry’s shoulder. “Feisty lil ‘mon, aren’t you?” The eevee glared balefully at him, ignoring pikachu. It was always ignoring pikachu. Any other wild or unsupervised pokemon would have focused on the threats that Pikachu was giving out, but this eevee didn’t pay him a lick of attention.
Harry sighed, running a hand through his hair in thought. Absentmindedly, he stroked Pikachu’s back, reassuring him that everything was alright.
The way the eevee was glaring at him reminded him of the last time he’d seen…
Harry cut that thought off quickly.
He had work to do.
Like questioning his missing son’s neighbors.
Predictably, his son’s neighbors haven’t seen Tim since Monday morning. No idea where he’d gone. Tim hadn’t acted any differently from any other morning, said his usual polite hello while he locked his apartment on his way out to work.
“Was he carrying any bags or anything that he’d need for an overnight trip?” Harry held his pen over a fresh line in his notepad. The neighbors were a young couple, the wife was the only one home right now. Her husband left for work at the crack of dawn. She shook her head, short black hair flying around her face.
“No, he had his usual bag with him. A laptop bag.” She elaborated, holding her hands out in an approximation of the size of the bag when Harry looked over the rims of his glasses at her. “I was on my way back from picking up the mail. Is he in any trouble?” Harry smiled reassuringly at her.
“He hasn’t been heard from in a few days. But don’t worry, I’m a detective, I’ll find him.” The eevee let out an oddly timed snort, it sounded a little like a laugh. Which. Harry was going to ignore. Though it reminded him about the next question he needed to ask. “Did Tim ask anyone to check in on his eevee?” Harry asked, conversationally. The housewife frowned in confusion.
“I thought that was your Eevee.” That did not inspire confidence. He shook his head to indicate that no, the eevee was not his after all.
“Pikachu’s mine.” He offered.
“Pika pi!” Pikachu trilled from his spot on Harry’s shoulder. The housewife smiled, utterly charmed by Pikachu. Harry’s partner had that effect on pretty much everyone who met him.
“I found the eevee in Tim’s apartment.” He went on. “Didn’t seem like Tim to leave a pokemon behind.” The housewife nodded her head in agreement, her face still creased in mild confusion.
“Tim didn’t have any pokemon though. If he did, he would have asked us or his grandmother to look after it.” The wife said. Interesting. Right in line with what Harry thought. “I could look after it until Tim gets back though. Won’t be any trouble.” Harry thanked her, but assured her it wouldn’t be necessary. He’d look after the eevee himself and give it back to Tim when he found him. He shook her hand, thanking her for her time, and headed down the stairs to the parking lot.
(The morning desk attendant was just as helpful as the night attendant had been.
“Ain’t seen him since Monday.” The gruff man mumbled over the counter at Harry.)
The eevee followed him out to the car, neatly solving Harry’s issue of what to do with it. But paused when Harry opened the driver side door. Pikachu leapt from Harry’s shoulder onto the passenger seat. Harry looked from the car to the eevee and jerked his head to the open door.
“You comin’ or what?” The eevee flicked its tail, and leapt gracefully from the ground into the car. Bouncing over the central counsel to land next to Pikachu in the passenger seat. Pikachu chirped happily at the eevee and Harry allowed himself a brief, quick smile as he got into the driver seat.
He’s not sure if the eevee is male or female. Unlike pikachu or nidoran, telling a male or female eevee apart could not be done at a glance. And Harry knows he’d lose his hand if he tried to find out the old fashion way.
The eevee lays down on the seat, tolerant of Pikachu’s scramble to look out the side window. Harry hopes it is his son’s pokemon.
He also hopes that maybe it might know something.
Somewhere between his wife dying, moving to Ryme City and his son cutting him out of his life, Harry forgot what a good cook his mother in law is. She’s already piled a plate high with pancakes, and had the frying pan going with sausage patties when Harry arrives, with his two pokemon in tow. She refuses to hear a word from him until he’s sat down with a full plate of breakfast and a mug of hot coffee in front of him.
Arceus bless his late wife’s mother.
“Tim didn’t mention anything about getting an eevee.” She said, wrapping her hands around a gently steaming mug of tea. “You say you found it in his apartment?” Harry nodded, chewing on the bite of pancake in his mouth. So far he was two for two on this eevee thing. “There’s something about its eyes.” She mused. “Feels like I should know them but for the life of me, I’ve never seen an eevee around here in years .”
Speaking of...the eevee had initially been excited to enter the house, excited to see his wife’s mother. Dancing up on its hind legs, pawing at her shins but after his mother in law had laughed, scratched it behind an ear and asked Harry when he’d picked up an eevee, its entire demeanor had dropped. Like a geodude in water.
It sat morosely on a chair next to a happily gorging himself pikachu. Harry didn’t think he could take anymore of the drooping ears and sad brown eyes. He nudged a plate of sausage closer to the eevee with his elbow. The eevee didn’t so much as scent the air. He nudged the plate a little more until it practically fell on the eevee. Finally the pokemon huffed, looking up at him with an annoyed expression, but Harry hadn’t broken eye contact with his mother in law, giving the eevee no satisfaction. But also, no reason not to eat the food, since it didn’t have an audience. Harry watched from the corner of his eye as two of the sausage patties slipped off the plate. His mother in law winked at him, her smile turning knowing.
Harry pretends he doesn’t see it and spears another piece of pancake on his fork.
I really like playing around with secret identities, so Imma drag this out as long as possible.
But also I like the idea of Tim getting to see sides of his dad he doesn't know.
I really appreciate everyone's comments. I don't always answer them because I don't want to give away PLOT stuff. But just know that I read and appreciate every single one.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Out in the car Harry checks the list of names and numbers his mother in law had given him the night before.
There’s not a whole lot, but one, Jack, is the same name as the return address on the square envelope in Tim’s mail. That would make him a close friend of Tim’s and someone who might know how to find Tim.
Or where he had gone.
Harry’s first stop though, would be to Tim’s work place. It’s the logical course of action.
Tim went missing after accepting a new assignment. Harry wasn’t born yesterday, the world of insurance claims, adjusters and inspectors was one that could make a guy a lot of enemies. So dollars to donuts, Tim’s vanishing act had something to do with whatever claim he’d been sent to investigate. It was only a question of if his boss would tell Harry where he’d been sent.
Mister Wallace Winthrope Wyclif The Third, is Tim’s boss at the insurance agency. Harry is half tempted to ask for a business card just to see how he types that mouthful out.
He’s a genial, older gentleman with a kindly disposition. And he reminds Harry very strongly of a sealeo, the enormous mustache and bald shiny head only highlight the resemblance. He’s excited to see Harry, but not in a ‘oh god the man’s son is missing' way but more the ‘nice to meet you’ kind.
“Ah! Mister Goodman!” He welcomes Harry into his office, eevee pressed up against Harry’s leg and pikachu balanced on his shoulder. “Come in, come in. So good to meet you! Timothy has mentioned you once or twice. Says you’re a detective over in Ryme City?” Harry nodded, taking the seat indicated in front of the man’s desk. Mister Wyclif is the kind of man who doesn’t believe in nicknames, even just the shortening of a full name. The kind of man who has a strong sense of propriety. Harry can already tell this isn’t going to go the way he wants it to, but he has to try.
“Yeah. I don’t make it out here that often.” Pikachu tumbled from his shoulder into his lap, staring with wide curious eyes around the room.
“Too bad, too bad.” Wyclif shook his head. “Timothy is one of my best investigators. He moved up in the ranks very quickly. A good head on his shoulders, good nose for inspector work. As a detective you must be proud of him.” Harry nodded earnestly.
“I am.” He said, quickly and firmly. “I’m very proud of Tim. What father wouldn’t be?” Was it just his imagination or did the eevee press even closer against his leg at that? “Tim is kind of why I’m here. He hasn’t been answering his phone the last few days and I was wondering if you could tell me what assignment he’s working on? Where he might have gone?” It was a long shot, but still a shot.
“I’m sorry, mister Goodman.” Wyclif says, shaking his head and looking very sorry indeed. “But I can’t tell you what Timothy’s assignment is. Confidential information you understand. We have a duty to our clients.” Harry clenches a fist under the table. The man isn’t trying to be difficult, Harry can see that plain as day. But he also wasn’t taking this seriously enough.
“Tim is missing .” He enunciated carefully. “And wherever he was going-” Wyclif cut him off.
“Timothy is one of our best investigators and it isn’t out of the ordinary for him to go radio silent while he works. It has only been a few days. I rather think you’re overreacting.” It’s only from years of detective work, interrogations and perfecting a poker face that would make most professional gamblers jealous that Harry doesn’t jump over the table at the man.
Years of professional work and Pikachu vibrating in his lap and a small body pushing up against the back of his leg under the chair. Something must have shown on his face though because Wyclif is quick to say:
“When Timothy does check in, you will be the first person I notify, Mister Goodman.” Harry gritted his teeth and stood up, forcing himself to shake the man’s hand and thank him for that tiny pitiful concession.
“Oh.” Harry remembers at the door, one foot out of the office. Wyclif looks up at him from his computer. “One last thing. Do you know if Tim got himself a pokemon before he left?” Wyclif snorted and shook his head.
“Not that I’m aware. Timothy always was hesitant about pokemon. Not around them, you understand. Never had a problem working with one when he needed to. Just in terms of getting one for himself. I tried to suggest that a well trained houndour would be a good partner for him. Even mentioned I could recommend a few excellent breeders, but he wasn’t interested.” Wyclif looked at Harry curiously. “Why do you ask?” Harry shrugged, playing for a nonchalant angle.
The eevee had already vanished down the hallway and Harry hurried after it.
He found it at a junction. On the left was the way back to the front entrance and the parking lot, on the right was a large cubicle farm type room. The sound of voices answering phones and the click clack of keyboards made for soft background noise.
The Eevee was sitting in front of a random cubicle, once it saw Harry, it looked from him to the cubicle to him again. Harry peered around, it didn’t seem like anyone was paying attention to him. He’d gotten lucky on the way out of Wyclif’s office, the man’s phone had rung, so he’d waved Harry out apologetically, instead of escorting him. Seeing that no one was even looking up from their desks, Harry easily made it to the cubicle the Eevee indicated without anyone the wiser.
As soon as he saw the desk, he knew this was Tim’s workstation. His wife’s face smiled up at him from a simple, plain frame, positioned slightly to the left and behind the computer screen. The photo was the only really personal thing at the station. Aside from a small sports pennant tacked to the soft material of the cubicle behind the computer. (Cinnabar Charizards represent!)
Harry studied the cubicle quickly. He wouldn’t have much time before someone noticed he was here.
The workplace looked neat, orderly. Just as Tim’s apartment did. All papers tucked in their folders and stacked away. Pens capped and set in a cup emblazoned with Tim’s college’s name and mascot. Sticky note pads were lined up next to the cup and the day to day calendar displayed Monday’s date. Everything in its place, ready to be used if needed but squared away. Like Tim had finished his desk work early on Monday on his way out the door. Pikachu sniffed at a short filing cabinet squished in the far corner of the cubicle. Harry gently tugged on it and found it locked. So he left it to pikachu and turned back to the desk.
Harry flipped open the top folder and squinted at the contents.
Nothing exciting. Looked like the assignment Tim had wrapped up before being given his latest one. The rest of the pile wouldn’t have anything worthwhile in it if this was the top folder. Harry switched his attention to the computer. He leaned over and hit the power button on the tower. Already knowing what he would see when the screen displayed a generic background with the company logo and a login screen.
Tim’s username was auto filled in.
The cursor blinked steadily in the blank password box.
“Don’t suppose you know the password too?” Harry whispered to the eevee, the eevee side eyed him. If you’re so smart, figure it out. Harry could read that clear as day. He rolled his head back on his neck to think. Most company IT departments had requirements for employee passwords. Usually a capital letter, a number and a special non-letter character had to be used. Harry tipped forward to consider the contents of Tim’s desk, and immediately discarded the thought that Tim would use something as easy to guess as his wife’s birth or death date or anything that could be picked up by looking at his desk. Tim was an insurance investigator. He was better then that. Instead Harry’s mind caught on those comic book trade volumes back at Tim’s apartment. Placed on the middle shelf in perfect hand grabbing range if someone wanted to comfort read their favorite comic.
Taking the bolt of inspiration for what it was, Harry quickly typed in the name of the main character, followed by the year the first issue came out and then added an exclamation point at the end for good measure.
He grinned in triumph when the password was accepted. The Eevee had a somewhat impressed look on its face.
“I am a detective, ya know.” He told it, a tad smugly. “Twenty years on the force.” The eevee shook its head at him and hopped down from the desk, disappearing back out of the cubicle.
“Wait, hey.” Harry whisper hissed after it. “Don’t you want to know what’s on the computer?” But the eevee had already vanished from sight. Pikachu padded out after the eevee, at least Harry wouldn’t have to worry about the eevee up and leaving completely with pikachu on the case.
He really should have taken the eevee’s leaving as a sign. Because there’s nothing helpful on Tim’s computer. Not even in his work email. Though, judging from his electronic calendar, Tim’s missed a couple meetings since Monday. The last thing on Monday was a meeting at ten in the morning with Wyclif. That was probably to get his new assignment. Which he’d received and then left to investigate on the same morning. So it had to be a place relatively close by. Tim probably took the relevant files and paperwork with him when he left to investigate. Harry logged off and shut the computer down with a sigh. Worth a shot.
He wondered as he quickly and very quietly headed out to the parking lot ready to follow up on other leads, how the eevee had known exactly which cubicle had been Tim’s.
in case anyone was wondering: Yes, there is going to be a section from Tim's point of view, it won't be for a bit, but there is one.
I messed with the timeline some more guys, I'm not sorry.
Also let's bring in all the other characters we can!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jack, Tim’s best friend and the guy in the picture at Tim’s apartment, isn’t in town. Turns out, Jack is a trainer. A decent one too, and he’s off training for the upcoming regional tournament. He’s nice enough to take Harry’s call. Though he sounds wary of Harry, a little guarded. But Harry figures he deserves that.
“Nah.” Jack answered when he asked if Tim had told him anything. “Tim shuts up tighter then a clamperl when he’s on a case.” Jack’s voice is tinny from the distance. “But he didn’t say anything about going away either. And he usually does.”
“Any other friends he might have talked to?” Harry asked, tapping his pen against the pad of paper in front of him.
“Look,” Jack sounded a little testy. “If I don’t know, no one else will know either.” Harry rolled his eyes at Pikachu. Every best friend said that. In this case though, none of the other people on his list had known anything. They’d all said the same thing in different ways.
Tim didn’t talk about his cases, they didn’t know where he’d gone but he always said when he was leaving town for long trips. Frankly, everyone was starting to get a little worried. Harry was only talking to Jack last because Jack hadn’t been in town.
His investigation was hitting dead end after dead end. The weight of the eevee’s stare wore on him from where it sat in its customary position on Tim’s desk. Harry had returned to Tim’s empty apartment after checking with the friends that Tim knew in town.
Which was a very shocking few.
The majority of Tim’s friends had left town, going onto other things.
It made Harry wonder, what was keeping Tim here? It can’t be easy watching all his friends move on and leave him behind.
So why hadn’t he left too?
“Are you absolutely positively sure?” Harry asked, maybe a tad forcefully. “Is there anyone new he talked about recently? Anyone at all?” There’s silence from the other end and for a moment Harry fears he might have pushed Jack a little too hard and the trainer hung up on him. Finally a static laced sigh drags out from the speaker, Harry grins. Victory!
“I shouldn’t really tell you this.” Jack begins, each word drops reluctantly from the speaker. “But Tim was talking to me last week about a girl he met on his last assignment.” Harry sits up a little straighter. “Said she was a real help.”
“Oh yeah?” Harry sat up straighter on the couch. A new lead.
“Yeah, he said her name is Lucy. She works as a reporter for the Ryme City Tribune.” Harry almost snapped his pen. Just managing to jot down the name and workplace.
“O-oh.” He mumbles, dejectedly. Jack continues oblivious to Harry’s distress.
“Apparently she helped him with an assignment and he thought she was really good at...what was it...uh...that thing where reporters find out stuff? Like more then they already do?”
“Yeah! That’s the one. He really liked her, said they worked well together. If he told anyone where he was going, he’d tell her.”
“Right.” Harry rubbed his forehead, pushing his glasses back up his nose to sit properly. “Thanks for the tip.”
“Yeah whatever, just find Tim okay? This isn’t like him, if I wasn’t a whole region away…” Jack trailed off. “Make sure he gets back safe. I invited him to see my regional’s qualifier match.” Ah, so that was what the invitation in Tim’s mail had been.
“Wait!” Harry caught Jack’s attention just before he’d been about to disconnect. “Last question. Did Tim mention anything about getting a pokemon recently?”
“This a trick question?” Jack sounds half annoyed and half amused. “I took Tim out to catch a pokemon before I left.” Harry feels a little bit of satisfaction over a minor mystery solved, so that’s where the eevee had come from. “Found a cubone in the lot behind my mom’s house.” Wait, what? A cubone, not an- “Tim tried but the little dude didn’t want to be caught. So the trip was a bust.” Just like that he was back at square one, the eevee glared at him from its spot on Tim’s desk.
“No...uh, no eevee?” He tried weakly, maintaining eye contact with the murder ball of fur. Jack laughed at him over the phone.
“Eevee? No! Where would we even find one? Eevee aren’t native around here.”
“Of course not.” Harry said, eyeing the eevee as it flicked an ear at him, he could feel the smugness coming off the pokemon. “Forget I asked.”
Harry couldn’t quite believe he was heading back to Ryme City so soon. His foot jiggled impatiently on the floor of the train. Pikachu sat in his lap, letting Harry run his hand over his small furry head, careful not to dislodge the hat. Trying to keep himself calm and his anxiety under control.
Lucy was not an unknown person to him. In fact, she was very much known. He’d met her, face to face, probably about three weeks ago now. On the stairs to his apartment, where she’d pretty much cornered him about R without, thankfully, saying as much.
Harry had been impressed with her resolve and how much intel she’d already gathered about R on her own. And also the fact that she worked for...well, she was an inside source.
They checked in with each other once a week to share notes.
Lucy was someone that Harry had pretty regular contact with, had built up a rapport with. They were each other’s sources. He’d assumed they had an understanding.
And the entire time she’d given no indication that she knew his son.
It took every ounce of self control Harry had to not call her immediately. Instead he dropped by his mother in law’s place one more time to say goodbye, thank her for her hospitality and assure her, Tim would be home soon.
After which he headed back to Ryme City. Feeling not even a little bit better then when he’d left a day and a half earlier, but with the addition of the Eevee taking up the seat next to him on the train.
“First time on a train?” Harry raised his eyebrows at the pokemon. The Eevee responded with a lethargic blink. Harry wasn’t sure why, but talking to the Eevee had the effect of helping him feel better about Tim missing. As though as long as the Eevee was around, Tim would be okay. Harry wasn’t really going to examine why that was. This was a stressful time and his mind was probably latching onto whatever it could to keep the rest of him afloat. And who was he to get in the way of that?
“Yeah I never really liked these things after…” Harry trailed off awkwardly, laughed and scratched Pikachu right between the shoulders where he liked it. “That’s not important right now.” Harry looked back down at the Eevee expecting to see the pokemon half asleep or fully asleep, instead it was looking back up at him with clear focus. Like his half finished musings were worth more attention then its obvious desire to nap.
“Go to sleep.” Harry told it, gently. “I’ll wake you when we get there. I won’t leave you behind, promise.” The Eevee watched him a moment longer, its eyes narrowing, searching his face for something. Harry had no idea what it could be looking for, and he wasn’t sure the eevee found it before it huffed out a breath and dropped its head onto its paws.
Within a minute it was asleep.
when I said I was going to drag out the Tim reveal, I meant it. I really meant it guys.
this is the chapter where someone figures it out.
It's not going to be who you think it is.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I’m not calling about the case.” Harry told Lucy pointblank when she picked up with a ‘what have you got for me?’. “I’m calling about a different case. Missing person.” He could feel Lucy’s curiosity through the phone line. She was a bright kid, smart as a tack. “Meet you at the usual place in twenty?” Lucy agreed pretty readily, even if this wasn’t about R, she wanted to know. This was a conversation Harry couldn’t have over the phone. There were some things you had to do in person. Confronting someone you thought played both yourself and your son? That was an in person meeting.
The usual place was not the Hi-Hat cafe this time, but a park located in one of the more scenic areas of Ryme city. It was home to a flock of murkrow, a small gaggle of burmy and recently a mightyena and her pups had moved in. There were kids who practiced soccer and a cafe that served the best coffee outside of Hi-Hat Harry had ever had. In short there was enough pokemon life and regular visitors, that Lucy and Harry meeting up didn’t attract any attention.
The sun was just starting to set as he entered the park, he stopped a wayward soccer ball expertly with his foot. His heart twisted painfully when for a very brief moment, he mistook the boy who lost the ball for Tim. A quick shake of his head cleared that up. And he passed the ball neatly back to the boy and scraggy it had escaped from. He waved at the boy’s call of thanks. Continuing to the section of the park that housed the cafe, checking his stride so that the eevee could keep up. It was still refusing to let him touch it. Though it had gone from snapping at his fingers to growling in warning, so Harry was willing to take that as progress. (He’d even caught it having short conversations with Pikachu.)
Lucy was already waiting for him at one of the outdoor tables. She’d tied her hair up in a kerchief and was wearing the biggest pair of sunglasses Harry had ever seen. Privately he thought she may have watched one too many spy movies, but really? Who was he to judge. Throughout his entire life, even now, he watched a huge amount of detective movies and look where he’d ended up. An iced coffee sat in front of the empty seat for him, while she was nursing a glass of ice tea. Psyduck was curled up in a third empty chair, casting glances all around.
Harry noted in a distant way, how the eevee slowed down the closer they got to the table, the closer they got to Lucy. And how it slid behind him, trying to use him to hide from her view. Pikachu didn’t have any negative reaction, he waved to Lucy happily from his perch on Harry’s shoulder.
“Harry! Hi!” Lucy seemed as excited as ever. She waited until he sat down and Pikachu had trilled a greeting to Psyduck, before launching into her own investigation. “What’s going on with a missing person?” She leaned closer to him across the table, peering at him over the top of her sunglasses, eyes flashing with curiosity. “Do you need my help?” Lucy had thankfully cranked down her volume to normal levels on the second phrase. Call it paranoia, but Harry was extra sensitive to who could be watching or listening in on him these days.
“Have you talked to Tim lately?” He asked instead, deliberately not answering her, getting right to the heart of the matter for him. He wanted to know, had she known who Tim was? Had she made friends with Tim in an attempt to get an ‘in’ with him before the staircase meeting?(That would have been a spectacularly terrible miscalculation on her part.) The eevee lay on its belly under his chair. Outside of slinking into this meeting, it didn’t seem hostile to Lucy. In fact, Harry got the impression it was embarrassed about something.
“Tim?” She looked confused, sitting back in her seat with her brow crinkling. “How do you know-Oooooooh.” Harry rubbed a hand down his face in relief. That was genuine realization. The way her mouth dropped open and her sunglasses slipped down to show wide blinking eyes. She really hadn’t known. “I can’t believe I missed this!” Lucy exclaimed, slapping a hand on their table. “He’s an insurance investigator, you’re a detective!” She pointed at him, Harry leaned back a little, she did look like she was about to jump over the table at him. “Your last names are the same.” She slumped back in her seat, tapping her forehead with the heel of her hand. “I feel like such an idiot now.”
“He does take after his mother.” Harry said, humor returning to color his voice. He fished an ice cube out of his drink and held it up for Pikachu to take. Then did the same for eevee, bending a little awkwardly because it seemed the tiny pokemon was trying to become one with the flagstones under his chair. Psyduck watched him reach down to the Eevee, he blinked, probably having just realized there was another pokemon around. Psyduck studied the eevee intently, bill opening and closing in thought.
“Yeah, but he smiles just like you do. And you two have the same weird methodology for investigating.” Harry’s pleasantly surprised to hear Lucy say that. He hadn’t been lying to Wyclif. He was proud that Tim had become an investigator. To be honest, he’d be proud of Tim no matter what really. But he was full to bursting to know that he’d gone into a career that was just a hop, skip and jump from being a detective.
“Duck.” Psyduck had abandoned his chair in favor of getting closer to the eevee, the eevee leaned away from psyduck warily. Harry didn’t pay much attention to the interaction. Focused as he was on Lucy and the possible information she might have on Tim instead.
“You mean, that thing where I ask people questions and write down their answers?” He teased, tapping his pen against his notepad in an unconscious gesture. He’d pulled them out discreetly while Lucy had been having her moment of realization.
“Well yes, but you ask everyone. Even if they’re only...oh.” It was quieter this time. Lucy slumped in her seat, suddenly sad and serious. She pulled her sunglasses off and set them on the table with a click. Harry felt the grin slip right off his face. It was never easy being the bearer of bad news. “Tim’s the missing person.” It wasn’t a question. She was a smart one afterall.
Psyduck had managed to squeeze the upper half of his body under Harry’s chair. Getting right up close and personal to the eevee. He snuffled it, clacking his bill a few times.
“Psy?” He stepped back, observing the eevee with his head tilted. A normal posture for a psyduck. In this particular case though, he was thinking. Small feathered paws rubbing his head as he stared at the eevee, hidden under Harry’s chair, trying to place the eevee’s scent.
“Yes.” Harry was a little surprised at how steady his voice was. “He left on a new assignment on Monday and no one’s heard from him since.” He wished he could close his eyes against her soft intake of breath. “Do you know anything about where he might have gone? Please. ” He hadn’t meant to beg like that. He hadn’t meant to let the desperation take over. His pen dug into the paper of his notebook. Lucy wordlessly shook her head.
“We were supposed to meet up this weekend.” She offered, Harry heart sank somewhere to the vicinity of his feet. “I haven’t heard from him since Sunday. I thought he was just busy.”
“Psyduck! ” Harry nearly ripped his note page in half, and Lucy had to scramble to keep her drink from spilling.
“What the-” Next to him Psyduck was happily pulling the un-protesting eevee out from under Harry’s chair. The eevee hung limply in his grasp, accepting its fate as Psyduck hugged it close.
“Psy psy psyduck.” The pokemon chattered, excited, swinging around in a small circle the eevee not even attempting to get away. Honestly, from the small glimpse Harry got of its face, it had a very resigned look.
This might as well happen was being projected strongly from its small body.
“Psyduck.” Lucy started to get out of her chair. “Don’t-” She was cut off as a third pokemon joined the group.
“Pika?!” Pikachu had gone from contentedly lapping at his ice cube to jumping down from his perch on Harry’s shoulders. Ears pointed straight in the air and tail twitching. Alert. Excited. Focused. “Pikara?” Pikachu pointed at the eevee in Psyduck’s hold. His partner was trying to clarify something from the psyduck. That at least Harry could tell. The Psyduck nodded at Pikachu.
“Duck!” He confirmed, patting the eevee on the head, he set it back down on its feet. “Psyduck!” The eevee sighed through its nose. Pikachu...bristled. Whatever Psyduck said had upset his partner.
“Pika!” He shouted, ears pinned back. He wasn’t shouting at Psyduck though Harry noticed in surprise. He was shouting at the eevee. “Pika pika, cha! Pikara!” The Eevee...didn’t react. Instead it very visibly rolled its eyes.
“Evee. Ve ve, eevee.” Its tone was short, annoyed. Taunting even. Harry reached out quickly, the telltale sparks dancing over Pikachu’s cheeks were warning enough and the eevee was baring its teeth now too. They didn’t need a mini pokemon fight drawing attention to them.
“Psy, psypsy psy.” Psyduck sounded more then a little strained, Harry wasn’t all that surprised. The atmosphere was stressful for him, it was probably twice as stressful for Psyduck. “Duck, psyduck.” Whatever psyduck had said, had the effect of calming both combatants down. Barely though. Just enough that they weren’t about to launch into a full on battle.
“Pikachu, pika!” Pikachu bounded back up onto his shoulders, resolutely not looking at the eevee. The eevee shook itself and slunk back under the chair.
“Lucy,” She looked at him with wide confused eyes. “Does your psyduck know that eevee?” Again she shook her head.
“I mean, we’ve met eevee before. But not. Not that one. And not one that psyduck ever really clicked with.” Lucy looked just as confused by the interaction as Harry felt. And he’d actually been around the eevee for the last few days. Pikachu and the eevee seemed to get along before this too. So what changed? Well, Psyduck obviously. He’d said or done something to change the dynamic. Was it jealousy perhaps? That psyduck had more of a connection to the eevee then he did? No. That couldn’t be it. His Pikachu had never been the jealous type. “Where did it come from?” Lucy nodded to the eevee, returned to its spot under his chair.
“Tim’s apartment.” Harry answered, watching as Psyduck climbed back onto his chair. Looking only marginally less stressed. On his shoulder pikachu sucked on the ice cube aggressively. The eevee’s was half melted, it hadn’t even touched it.
“For real?” Lucy blinked at him, looking more then a little shocked, she leaned down to look at the eevee.
“Let me guess.” Harry recited the same line he’d been getting every time he asked anyone who knew Tim about the eevee. “He didn’t say anything to you about getting a pokemon.” Lucy sat back up.
“Nope. Not even a little bit. I always thought it was kinda strange that he didn’t have a partner yet. He knows so much about pokemon.” Harry maybe didn’t hide his wince as well as he should. Lucy very quickly changed topics. “It’s a really cute eevee though.” She said.
“All eevee are cute.” Harry sighed, his energy bleeding out into frustration and despair. This case had been nothing but him running into walls or dead ends. It wasn’t anything that hadn’t happened to him before on other cases. It happened all the time in fact, but this case was different. This was about Tim. His son. Who was in trouble and needed help. Harry’s help.
Harry felt like he was failing Tim all over again.
“Have you, have you considered the fact that…” Lucy looked around quickly and then leaned closer to him. Dropping her voice to a harsh whisper, she held a palm up to the side of her mouth blocking the view of her face from anyone nearby. “R might be involved?” No, no Harry hadn’t. He didn’t think Tim knew anything about R either.
“No.” He said, gathering his notebook and pen up. He didn’t want to hear it either, really. This was just the latest in a long string of disappointments. “If Tim was taken because of that, I’d know by now. Or you would.” It was, the one good thing about this mess. If Tim had been kidnapped because of Harry’s investigation into R, he would already have been contacted. You couldn’t blackmail someone if they didn’t know they were being blackmailed. Harry stood up, tucking his notepad into his coat pocket.
“I’m gonna go...compile my notes.” He said. Harry knew he didn’t sound nearly as convincing as he hoped he did. Lucy’s watchful gaze was only turning more concerned. But he also didn’t care. He just wanted to get home. Where he could think in peace.
“I’ll come with you.” Lucy stood up, her chair screeching against the flag stones. It’s a blatant attempt to stay with him. He probably looks and sounds like a complete mess. Lucy is obviously worried about him. Worried about Tim too. But he’s right in front of her and they don’t know where Tim is, so Harry is getting the full force of her concern.
He doesn’t want it.
All he wants is Tim back. Safe and sound. He can be angry at Harry. He can never want to see him again. He can go back to his life and his apartment and tell Harry to fuck off for the rest of his life. Harry didn’t care, so long as it meant that Tim was there. Alive and well and right where he wanted to be.
Barring that, Harry wants to be left alone.
“It’s fine.” He cuts her off, raising a hand. “I’m fine. Really. I need to lay my notes out. Get a sense of what I’m missing.” Lucy does not look very convinced but she stays put.
“Okay.” She says, eyes hard. She picks up the sunglasses on the table. “I’m going to look into some things on my end. I’ll let you know if I find out anything.” Harry nodded, the eevee slinks out from under his chair, following at his feet as he walked back out of the park. Pikachu muttering to himself the entire way on Harry’s shoulder.
It’s not how Harry thought the meeting would go. It’s not how he’d hoped or feared it would either.
I love Lucy, I wish I had her energy. She's great.
hey, I heard you guys like angst. So I put some angst in your angst for you to angst about.
Also Tim's there.
Harry stared blankly at the wall above his tv.
No leads left.
Jack didn’t know, Lucy didn’t know, his mother in law didn’t know, no one knew where Tim was.
Well, one person did. And Harry was going to try his best not to get arrested when he went back to Tim’s work.
As early as possible.
He ran his hands through his hair and narrowly resisted the urge to scream. The mug of old coffee on his desk caught his attention. Cheap white ceramic, slick under his hand. Harry gripped the mug tightly in his fist, he squeezed it hard. Harder. All his anger and helplessness boiling over. He could just throw this useless stupid piece of-
“Pika?” And just like that the tension drained out of him like a bathtub suddenly unplugged. Pikachu nosed at his arm, soft yellow fur brushing against him. Tiny paws bracing himself against Harry’s arm as he sniffed at his partner’s face.
“Sorry, buddy.” Harry breathed out, he ruffled Pikachu’s ears. “Sorry.” After a few moments of petting Pikachu, Harry felt calm enough to face the case again. There had to be some kind of legal action he could take, a warrant or a judge’s order to get Wyclif to tell him where Tim’s assignment was. Probably would actually need to declare Tim a missing person, he was well over the deadline for it anyway.
He could do that right now actually.
Harry straightened up, reached for his phone and stopped. The eevee watched him from the coffee table. Head tilted to the side, considering him.
“Ev ve ve.” It said. Tone calm and...conversational. Like it was trying to tell Harry something, but wasn’t concerned with him actually understanding. “Vve, eevee eve ve.” It felt like the pokemon was measuring him up against some mental ruler. And...wasn’t finding him wanting. “Ve. Eevee.” Its voice held a little wonder in it, a little awe. Like the eevee was really seeing him.
For maybe the first time.
Harry took a deep breath. Already feeling calmer then he had since the voicemails told him Tim was missing. There was something going on here, something else. He could feel it. They were coming to some sort of tipping point.
“You wouldn’t happen to know anything, would you?” He asked, more because he never actually had asked the eevee this. “I just want to find Tim.” He told it. Sincerely. Truthfully. “If he doesn’t want to come back, that’s fine. But if he does and he can’t.” Harry looked down, unseeing, gathering himself together. He’d refused up until this point to think that Tim might be hurt. Or worse. The idea was too terrible to contemplate. “ Please.” He whispered hoarsely to the Eevee. “I want to help him. I don’t want to fail him again.” The Eevee gave him another considering look, then jumped off the coffee table and padded away. Harry didn’t think twice about following it. He was already out of his chair, coffee mug forgotten on the desk.
He caught up to the Eevee as it entered a room that had never seen use but got cleaned once a week. Harry blinked, the air pulled from his lungs. The Eevee looked up at him from the blue rug, the contents of the room illuminated in the glow of the neon street signs outside. The coloring giving everything a surreal dream like quality. The shadows the faint multicolored light threw on the Eevee made it seem like the pokemon was raising an eyebrow at him. Asking him a question in return. Harry fumbled for the light switch, willing himself into the room. But he found that he was rooted to the spot, just outside the door.
The Eevee’s stare was hypnotic in its own way. Compelling him to put into words his failing and faults.
“This waaas supposed to be Tim’s room.” Harry admitted, shakily. Unsure how this was going to help, but knowing that if he didn’t tell the eevee what this room represented, whatever chance he had to gain its trust would vanish. The eevee cocked its head at him, leaping onto the desk chair and then to the dresser. Where it sniffed around, nudging and nosing at the objects on the desk. Curious, so curious. Harry found that with the Eevee snuffling around, examining the desk, the spell that held him at the doorway was broken, and he entered the room, sitting gingerly down on the pikachu bed.
“He was supposed to come live with me, awhile back. And I guess, I just never let go of that.” Harry looked around the room, with its bright colors and league posters. A perfect, faithful replica of the room his son had at the time of his mother’s death. A room so unlike the apartment Tim had left behind. The contrast was startling now that he knew.
Now that he’d seen it.
He couldn’t pretend otherwise anymore.
Tim wasn’t ten or eleven or twelve, not anymore.
The child this room was for, no longer existed.
He’d grown up and Harry had missed it.
Pikachu followed him in, gait subdued, picking up on his partner’s mood. Jumping onto his lap, Harry automatically started to pet the pokemon. He felt something slow building in his chest.
The eevee nosed at the framed picture on the dresser.
“Hey, careful!” Harry gathered himself to stand up, but the eevee had already left the picture alone. It paced to the end of the dresser top and sat down. In easy reach but very far away all the same. It glanced from the photo to him, tail tucked carefully around its paws.
“That’s Tim’s mother.” Harry told it, unsure how much the eevee would understand and very sure it would be more then Harry thought it would. “My wife.”
The Eevee watched him with wide unblinking brown eyes. Harry felt compelled to tell the whole story.
“My wife, Tim’s mother, died when he was ten. A long time illness. It’s...bad, very bad watching the person you love most waste away. Trying to hold everything together. It wears you down to nothing. When she passed, I...couldn’t handle it. Didn’t have the emotional capability to handle it. I shut down. Put up a wall between me and the rest of the word, including my son. Thought it would hurt less if I couldn’t feel anything at all.” Harry smiled bleakly at the wall.
“Depression,” He said to the eevee, who tilted its head to the side. Studying him, always watching him, always measuring his actions, his reactions. “Is a hell of a thing. It took me a long while to bust down the wall I put up and by the time I did, Tim.” He stopped, swallowed roughly, scratched pikachu at the base of his ears. “He didn’t want me anymore.” Harry smiled again through the tears blurring his vision. “And I don’t blame him. I really, and I mean really, let him down. I wasn’t there for him then, and I wasn’t there for him now. But I want to be. I really, really want to be.”
He lapsed into silence, stroking a hand down pikachu’s back and valiantly trying to stop crying.
All the guilt and failure and old grief kept circling around, crashing against his mind in waves. If only he’d done this, instead of that. Or been more attentive here instead of there. The list of what if’s and if only’s went on and on in his head. Unfurling like a tapestry of woe.
He might have been stuck there for hours, forever, except that a cold nose pushed against his wrist. Shocking him out of his mental spiral. Harry looked down, and met the soft brown eyes of the eevee. He hadn’t noticed it move from the dresser to the bed, hadn’t felt it walk across the mattress to his side either. A little surprised he lifted his hand and the eevee took the inch he unintentionally gave it. Climbing easily onto his lap.
Pikachu, usually a little possessive of his space, not only moved aside for the eevee, but slid off Harry’s lap to allow the eevee as much space as it wanted.
“Chaaaa.” And he sounded happy about it too, maybe a touch smug as well.
“What the…” Harry was caught off guard by this enough that he momentarily forgot the emotional downward spiral. The eevee pressed up against his stomach, small paws folded under itself, it tilted back its head so it was meeting Harry’s confused gaze.
“Eevee. Vv, eevee, ev veve.” The cadence of its voice was quiet, confessional almost. Harry really wished he could understand pokemon, now more then ever. “Veee, eevee ve veev. Ev ve.” It didn’t raise its voice over that gentle tone, Harry’s eyes now locked on it brown ones. There was something startlingly familiar about them. Just like his mother in law had said, but Harry couldn’t really place it. All he knew was the eevee, that almost took his fingers off less then a day prior, was trying to comfort him. And what it was saying, it had the tone and the feeling of forgiveness. Of reconciliation.
Harry really wanted to believe that this was Tim’s pokemon. That some measure of forgiveness, of mending their burnt out bridge, could be offered by the eevee.
“Yeah, little guy.” Harry gently brought his hand down, resting it on the eevee’s head. When the eevee didn’t do anything more except bow its head under him. He tentatively started petting it. “I hope so. I really hope so.”
“Veee.” It said, its small body slumping with the force of a sigh. Harry at least took comfort in not being the only one to miss Tim. After a few minutes of sitting there, listening to the sounds of pikachu and eevee breathing and feeling the vibrations of eevee’s purr on the palm of his hand, he felt...better. Much better.
Not as hopeless, not as beaten up as he had before.
“Alright.” He said, both pikachu and the eevee looked up at him. “Think I’m ready to give this another shot.”
“Okay, so here’s the other important part of case work.” Harry told the eevee, hands on his hips, where it sat on his desk this time. Had a thing for desks apparently. Or maybe just feeling tall. Harry wouldn’t judge. He felt...better, unburdened, after talking to the eevee. Like he really had been forgiven by Tim. “Laying it all out. Building a timeline. Compiling the evidence.” Pikachu handed him a file folder of all the notes he taken during his trip back to Tim’s home town. Harry nodded at his partner in thanks. Pikachu scrambled up onto the desk next to Eevee, both watched him with bright, alert eyes. Harry got started, it was extremely helpful to him to explain a case out loud to an audience. That audience was usually pikachu, but he was finding himself excited to see how the Eevee reacted to his verbal thought process.
“We know that on Monday, Tim stopped by to visit his grandmother before leaving on an assignment. As far as we can tell, that’s the last time anyone saw or spoke to him.” Harry set the sheet of notes from his talk with his mother in law down at one end of his desk. Both pikachu and eevee followed the motion with their heads. “He didn’t tell her where he was going, but he seemed excited about it.” Harry set down another sheet of notes next to the first one.
“Wyclif confirms that Tim was on an assignment for work when he left, Tim’s work calendar says he had a meeting with Wyclif that morning, he was probably given the assignment then. So Monday was his first day on it. Wyclif won’t tell us what that assignment was. He also says it’s not unusual for Tim to go radio silent while working. However,” Harry held up a finger as he shuffled more notes into place on his desk. “Both his grandmother and his best friend say that Tim always tells them when he’s going to be away. Additionally, his apartment was left like he intended to come back that night.” He dropped his last set of notes onto the end of the desk.
“Finally, Lucy.” He stood back, arms crossed over his chest in thought as he looked over the timeline of notes. “She didn’t know Tim was missing, but she thinks R might be responsible for Tim.” Harry paused to share a look with eevee and Pikachu. “I have no idea why she would think that. There’s nothing in his notes or files to indicate that he was looking into R, or even knew it existed.” And R was not something Harry wanted his pokemon partnerless son investigating. Not without backup. Harry rubbed his eyes under his glasses. He was on the verge of figuring this all out, he could feel it looming in his mind. He just needed one final piece to put it all together.
“Pika, pipika, pikachu!”
“Ve. Veve. Eve.” Harry dropped his hand and blinked. Pikachu and the eevee were speaking to each other. Arguing really, though not with the same heat or intensity that they'd shown at the park. Pikachu gestured with his paws, the eevee grumbled. Harry focused, Pikachu seemed to be trying to convince the eevee to do something? No, not quite right, to tell or show him something. The eevee, if Harry was reading the pokemon correctly, didn’t seem like it agreed with Pikachu.
“And then there’s you.” Harry said softly, echoing himself from that first night at Tim’s place. Both Pikachu and Eevee trailed off their conversation to look up at him. “I don’t believe in coincidences, not on the job. You’re important. Somehow. I just don’t know how you fit into all this.” Pikachu in a sudden burst, grabbed the small framed picture Harry kept of a ten year old Tim off the desk. He shook the picture at Harry.
“Chu! Pikara!” Pikachu squeaked, almost dancing on his paws. Harry looked from the photo of Tim, to the eevee. The eevee collapsed into itself with a sigh, like it already knew this wasn’t going to go the way pikachu wanted.
“Are you Tim’s pokemon?” Harry asked, the eevee shook its head and Pikachu pointed to the picture of Tim even more vigorously. “You...know what happened to Tim?” He tried again, the eevee rolled its eyes and even Pikachu slumped a little, so Harry knew he hadn’t quite gotten it. “You know where Tim is…?” He ventured one last time. The eevee muttered under its breath, but nodded. Harry wasn’t so sure that was completely correct, but any lead was better then none. “Can you tell me?”
“Ve. Eeveve.” The eevee chattered angrily at him.
“Right. Of course. You speak pokemon and I speak human.” Harry sighed, looking around his apartment for inspiration. He stopped for a moment and then threw himself out of his chair to one of his shelves. “Can’t tell me, but you can show me.” He muttered, pulling out a road atlas from under a pile of old work files. Ignoring how the pile toppled to the floor, he slapped the open atlas on his desk. The eevee peered down at the page and shook its head.
“Not in Ryme city?” Harry flipped to the page of Tim’s home town. “Here?” The eevee looked and shook its head again. “Okay, okay.” He thumbed through the pages until he got to the county spread. The eevee examined the map closely, then tapped its paw on a section. Harry examined it. “There’s...there’s nothing out there.” He pulled up a more recent map on his phone, his stomach dropped as he realized what the eevee had tapped. “ Oh.”
There wasn’t anything out there.
Except for Clifford's Pokemon Labs.
now we're getting somewhere right?
so I overslept and because I make great life choices I totally forgot and played a match of overwatch before leaving for the day instead of updating like I meant to.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Oh, Detective Goodman. I didn’t expect to see you back so soon.” Doctor Ann Laurent sounds surprised to see him, fair enough, Harry also hadn’t expected to see her. He quickly catches himself from startling in too obvious a way. Over their acquaintance, he’s learned that the best way to read the good doctor is from her eyes. And those are narrowed at him. Not good. She’s suspicious. He needs to come up with a plausible cover story quickly.
Before he can respond, something strange happens. Laurent’s eyes trail down to eevee, where its entire body is trying to hide behind his boot, they widen. She blinks, her mouth doing a weird little twist, then her entire face smooths out into a relieved expression.
“I see you’ve found one of our runaways.” Doctor Laurent says, voice light, like they’re still friends. Harry’s mind kicks into overdrive. She recognizes the eevee, more proof as far as Harry’s concerned that Tim is here, or was here. “He escaped a few days ago and we’ve been searching the area for him, thank you for bringing him in.” Doctor Laurent reached out but the eevee backed around behind Harry’s legs. Putting him between them, the significance wasn’t lost on Harry.
“Sorry. Wrong Eevee.” Harry keeps his voice light, apologetic, the ‘we’re all friends here' tone. “This little guy is my son’s partner.” Doctor Laurent blinked rapidly. Didn’t expect that did you? Harry thinks, a touch victorious. A light touch vicious too.
“Your...son…?” She sounded confused, caught wrong footed. Good, confused people gave out more then they intended to. “I did not know you had a son?” For once Harry is glad he never mentioned Tim to these people. If what he thinks is happening here is actually happening here, and something happened to Tim when they didn’t even know the connection...yeah. Harry isn’t liking the lines that are being drawn in his head right now.
“Yup!” Harry nodded, he quickly bent over and picked up the bundle of fur pressed against his legs. The eevee curled in his hold, he ran a hand over its soft head. Willing it to play along, play like it didn’t know the doctor lady. The eevee must have been on track to evolve into an espeon because it played along beautifully. Relaxing in his hold, tail flipping over his arm and small head stretching out to sniff curiously at Doctor Laurent. As though she was a completely new person it’d never met before.
“He lives out in the country, he’s away on business right now. His grandmother asked me to look after eevee here until he got back. And what can I say?” Harry shrugged, smiling wide to play up the amiable goofball he was. There had been a reason he’d never tried to as Hide would say ‘serious up’ his attitude. People dropped their guard around an easy going guy faster then someone like Hide. It’s why they worked so well as partners. “An extra nose on a job can’t be a bad thing.”
“Of course, of course.” Doctor Laurent agreed with him. He could tell from her distracted tone and the way that she hadn’t taken her eyes from the eevee that she wasn’t entirely convinced. “What, what did you say your son’s name is?” And Harry knew.
“I didn’t.” He replied, still smiling amiably. Still acting like they were friends. Work buddies. Still playing the absolute idiot that had believed their lies in the first place. “His name’s Tim.” He offered, and then watched her eyes carefully. He both was and wasn’t disappointed. They went wide again, focused on the eevee and yet unseeing it at the same time.
“Tim Goodman.” Doctor Laurent murmured, like a revelation had struck her. Gotcha, Harry thought viciously watching her eyes light up. Gotcha dead to rights. It was somewhat amazing how Lucy and her had the same reaction in different ways. But more importantly, Tim had been here, was still here maybe, possibly. It wasn’t hard to think of a reason for him to have come to labs at all. Who insured all this lab equipment anyway? It killed Harry, burned him up, but he had to keep playing dumb. If they weren’t going to tell him where his son was, then something must have happened. Something bad. Acting out, grabbing Laurent and shaking her until the answers he wanted tumbled from her lips was not going to help Tim.
Doctor Laurent’s gaze turned on him, sharp, searching. Looking for anything that might hint he was on to them. Good luck, Harry thought. I’ve played poker with psychics and won.
“Anyway,” He said, scratching at the eevee’s ruff, inspiration striking. Keeping his body language open and honest. “I stopped by because Howard asked me to look into your missing pokemon problem.” He lied through his teeth. Why invent a reason to be here when she’d given him one? Finding lost things was what he did after all.
“Oh.” Her expression didn’t quite relax, but her eyes lost a little of their sharpness. Harry could read her thought process as clearly as though he was an Alakazam. If Howard sent him, then he wasn’t a threat and didn’t know that Tim had been here.
“He gave me a little info over the phone,” Harry shuffled the eevee a bit to pull out his pocket notepad, pretending to look over notes that didn’t actually exist. “Said an eevee got out, maybe a few days ago, but,” Harry gave her a ‘what can you do’ smile. “He wasn’t very precise. Think he was about to go into a meeting.”
“Of course. Our eevee escaped...Monday night, I believe.” Doctor Laurent said evenly. Harry kept his expression the same. Professionally interested. She was watching him, but not as closely. Monday night fit the timeline for Tim disappearing. “I could hold it for-” She held out a hand as he tried to write around several pounds of brown and cream colored fluff. The eevee’s muzzle wrinkled in warning. Harry quickly waved her off.
“No, no. Not very social.” Harry explained, the eevee squirmed in his hold, pulled itself out of his arms, climbing up to curl around his shoulders. Like pikachu would sit. Except Pikachu did not have a tail this fluffy, Harry thought as he spat out a mouthful of fur. The eevee obligingly twitched its tail to rest over the other side of his arm.
“Excuse my curiosity.” Doctor Laurent’s tone held a suspicious edge to it. “But where is your pikachu? You don’t go anywhere without him.” Harry laughed a little, finishing writing the note about the escaped eevee down.
“No I don’t,” He agreed, glancing up at her from over the rim of his glasses. “He and eevee don’t get along all that well.” Another lie, they got along fine. (Outside of that one little spat anyway.) “And I thought Tim’s eevee could help find your eevee. So Pikachu’s sitting this one out.” He adjusted his glasses to peer at her earnestly. “Can you take me to your eevee’s containment area?”
“We didn’t really have one for him yet. We’d only just got the eevee in, you see. Research on...changing forms. Evolution.” Her mouth twitched in a faint smile. Harry detected the hitch in her explanation, and if that wasn’t enough to clue him in that she was lying, Eevee had dug his back paws into Harry’s shoulder, blunt claws twisting in his shirt and skin. He didn’t wince. Didn’t give any indication that the eevee had reacted. “We think he’s still in the area. Eevee don’t travel very far.”
Harry nodded dutifully as he jotted down shorthand notes. Eevee normally didn’t travel very far, if at all. But this one had. Not that he was going to tell her that. It had traveled all the way from the Labs to Tim’s apartment. He was convinced that the eevee had to be Tim’s in some way, shape or...form… He trailed off, his pen squiggling a line on the paper. An impossible thought formed. It couldn’t be...and yet... All the little things that hadn’t been jiving about the eevee suddenly crowded into his mind.
Knowing the layout of Tim’s apartment, down to where he kept spare blankets for guests. Yet everyone close to Tim said he had no pokemon of his own. From his neighbors to his best friend to his grandmother.
The way the eevee watched him, like he was being judged in some fashion. (He was. He was being judged against himself, from ten years ago.) The way it listened to him, knew and understood more then the average pokemon. Reacted to him over Pikachu.
He saw the eevee in Tim’s childhood room last night, listening to him with eyes so strangely familiar, the feeling of forgiveness that came from it.
Pikachu and the eevee later on his desk, the picture of Tim between them, trying to tell him something important and settling for the closest Harry would understand in the face of the impossible. The feeling that as long as the eevee was with him, Tim was okay.
Doctor Laurent right now telling him, to his face, that they had an escaped eevee. One they’d brought in to study ‘evolutionary form changing’. Harry carefully did not think about irony right then. Otherwise he’d give the whole thing away when he fell into helpless, hysterical laughter.
The eevee made a questioning noise in its- his throat. It brought Harry back to another moment. When the eevee had snorted, had laughed, when Harry promised Tim’s neighbor he’d find him. Because he already- He cut that thought off viciously.
“Detective Goodman? Detective?” Hearing Doctor Laurent’s voice snapped him back into the present. He blinked rapidly behind his glasses. Remembering where he was, and more importantly who he was talking with.
“Sorry,” He smiled apologetically at her. Pretend, pretend, pretend. He hissed to himself. The eevee suddenly felt heavy on his shoulders. An emotional time bomb just waiting to go off. “I just had a thought.” He couldn’t say anything! He couldn’t give the tiniest indication that he might even, possibly a little, believe the impossible. The ridiculous. The pulp fiction plot twist that was currently sitting on his shoulders. It wouldn’t take much to sort this out, to find out if what he suspected was true. He only needed to ask the eevee, if he was Tim.
“A thought about what, Detective Goodman?” Harry narrowly avoided wincing. That sounded too impersonal to him. He hoped- The blaring of an alarm rocked the labs. Oh thank Arceus. Saved by the bell.
“What’s that?” Harry asked sounding surprised, one hand coming up to steady Eevee, who’s long ears had perked up. Fur bristling in response to the loud alarm.
“One of our test pokemon must be out of containment!” Doctor Laurent said she'd half turned to run down the hall. Ha , you aren’t even going to tell me which one. Harry held onto Eevee, pulling the small pokemon from his shoulders into his arms. Secure. Safe. I’ve got you, I’m not letting go.
“Sounds serious!” He called after her, jogging a little to keep up. Keep up the appearance of being concerned, of not knowing what was happening, of we’re all still co workers here even though you messed with my son. “Anything I can do to help?” She slammed her palm against a reader for the more secure areas of the lab.
“No, Detective Goodman.” The words ground out from between her teeth. Stress, fear. Yeah, Harry would be feeling both in spades if the alarm meant he’d be on the wrong side of the wrong super powered pokemon too. “Come back tomorrow.” Harry nodded, play along, just play along.
“Sure. Call me if you need me!” He backed up as she disappeared into the interior of the labs. Spinning around he walked a little quickly, but not too quickly, back to the lobby. The receptionist on duty was busy with the emergency alarm so no one saw him exit the building for his car.
let's all appreciate how well Harry kept it together here. Seriously. What a champ.
so I know you guys are excited about Harry talking to Tim, but that is not this chapter. This chapter is setting up some things for later. And also finding out your son is an eevee is gonna be a lot to process.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The drive away from the labs was quiet.
Harry stuck to a normal speed. Nothing to draw attention to himself, even though he was the only car on the road out here. There was a tightness in his chest, a prickle along his shoulders. A gut deep feeling that if he went too fast, he’d attract attention he didn’t want. So he drove at the speed limit and kept his eyes firmly on the road.
Harry didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until he was safely over the bridge, the bright lights of Ryme City burning on the dark horizon. If they sent anyone after him, they’d have caught up long ago.
“Okay,” He said, more to hear the sound of his own voice then anything else. Pikachu twitched an ear at him. He’d been hiding under the car when Harry and...eevee had come out. His sabotage mission accomplished. “Okay. I’m gonna call it.” Harry said a little louder. “I think we made it.” Eevee snorted at him. Harry bit his lip, swallowing back the words, the question he dearly wanted to ask. Because if the answer was yes…
He couldn’t be driving a car when he got the answer.
Right now he could pretend it was a nebulous ‘what if?’ A strange, weird little thought, with no actual proof. But he knew . Knew deep down, where his heart pounded, and his stomach turned to knots, exactly what the answer was.
He slowed to a stop right outside the city limits. His hands clenched tightly around the wheel. One thing at a time, Harry thought to himself, one thing at a time. He took a deep breath, let it out slowly and then another deep breath. Follows the action through. Does this again and again in a steady rhythmic pattern until he feels like he won’t scream if he opens his mouth. Because his son is an-nope nope nope. He's not going there yet. Not yet.
His phone chirps at him, without looking Harry fumbles it up. Squinting against the bright screen he makes out that Lucy’s sent him a text message. All it says is: Guess who insures PCL’s lab equipment?
He thunks his head onto the wheel. Of course, of course, of course. Bounces his forehead off the wheel again for good measure.
Harry reaches out and blindly pats at the pokemon sitting shotgun. Feels short static fur under his palm. A cold nose pressing against his wrist. It grounds him, reminds him he's not facing this all alone. Pikachu's always going to be by his side and Tim. Well, yeah, okay. Time to figure this out. He can't avoid thinking about it forever, but the front seat of his car on the side of the road is no place to ask. Harry has no idea what he's going to do, to say, when he gets the answer.
So then, with his forehead resting against the wheel, Harry Goodman makes A Plan.
The plan is this:
He’s going to drive them back to his apartment, they’re going to go inside, sit on the couch, Harry might drink a cup of coffee, wait for his hands to stop shaking. Once that’s done, he’ll ask eevee The Question. Harry doesn’t have the capacity to think of anything beyond that right now.
It’s a good plan. Perfect in its simplicity and execution.
He nods to himself, feeling a little more confident, he sits back up to start phase one of the plan.
That lasts for all of ten seconds, because before Harry can put the car in drive again, there’s a heavy pressure in his head.
Harry knows this pressure, he’s felt it before, so he doesn’t panic, instead he relaxes. The more you fight against a psychic, the more you get hurt.
Tomorrow Mewtwo’s voice whispers, layered, the words sliding in and out through Harry’s mind. We meet tomorrow.
Yeah okay. Harry thinks back at them. Where? A picture of a ravine, a waterfall, green grass, green moss, stone grey cliffs and clear cool water. The sun set at mid morning. Near to the labs that they wouldn’t think to look for their escapee so close, but far enough away to not be noticed. Right on.
The heavy pressure of Mewtwo’s mental presence withdraws and vanishes.
There isn’t a need to change the plan after mewtwo ‘leaves’, for lack of a better word. And the plan, for all of once, works.
He doesn’t remember much of the drive back to his apartment, which should scare him, but there’s so much else going on, or carefully not going on as the case may be, that Harry figures it’s a perfectly normal response.
Harry finds himself, pikachu and Eevee piled on the couch, the sounds of Ryme City nightlife drifting in through the open window. Neon shifting lights painting the dark room in different colors. On the TV across from them a classic noir films plays. Harry can recite the dialogue from memory, but he’s not paying attention to the movie, he’s analyzing the environment, the situation. Pikachu on one side, dozing lightly, back leg kicking idly in the air and Eevee.
Eevee is pressed up tightly against his hip. Watching the movie with a distant cast to his brown eyes, tiny face resting on his front paws, long ears flopped forward.
It feels so familiar. So like when Tim was five and six and seven, when they’d stay up late on a Saturday night together. Watching the old detective flicks that Harry loved, Tim curled into his side. (Harry used to point out the things that he, as an actual real life detective, would do at different moments in the films. Considering Tim’s career choice and the praise given from both his boss and Lucy, Harry’s pretty sure those impromptu lessons stuck.) It’s such a feeling of comfort, of home, sitting there, that Harry can’t stay quiet any longer. The Question had been brewing behind his teeth, caught in his throat since that sudden moment of realization in the labs.
And if not now, then when?
“Hey uh...real talk.” God, he’s so awkward. So goddamn awkward. Though really , who could blame him? Eevee twitched against his side, turning his head slightly so he was looking up at Harry. “Are you…” He stopped, swallowed. Eevee lay stock still next to him, staring at him intently with those painfully familiar eyes. Willing him to ask the question. “Tim, is that you?”
Tim was the eevee.
Tim was an eevee!
Are you guys ready for Tim's pov?!
BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE GONNA GET.
Don't worry guys, Tim has more then one chapter to himself.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tim hadn’t thought a routine check up on a claim could go so sideways, but he was living that crash right now. In full blown one foot tall and long fluff tail glory. (He was still getting used to the ears.)
When the lab technician had held him up by the scruff of his new fur ruff and Tim’s snarled warnings to ‘put me down or I will end you.’ came out as nothing more then angry growls and squeaks, he’d known he was in big trouble. He’d reacted on pure instinct, sinking his fangs into the tech’s hand and bolting as soon as he’d been dropped on the floor. The labs had been designed to contain pokemon, but they hadn’t actually planned on something like him happening. He’d managed to retrace his steps as a human back to the lobby and had darted out the doors as the night shift had come in.
It had taken him almost two full days of non stop travel, either by hitching rides on the back of unsuspecting trucks, or using his own furry feet to get from the labs back to his apartment. He hadn’t really been able to think beyond the overwhelming panic of ‘Oh my god, I’m an eevee!’ to come up with a better plan then: get home. Once he’s home, he’ll be safe. And everything will be fine.
On some level Tim recognizes that he’s being irrational, on another level he’s pretty sure he’s allowed to be.
After all, how many people have been turned into a pokemon? He’s pretty sure he’s allowed to be a panicked irrational mess.
Once he makes it to his town and plods to his building, he’s faced with the challenge of actually getting in to his apartment. It’s on the third floor, too far off the ground for him to easily enter. He circled the building warily, dodging out of view of some of the younger kids walking to the bus stop at the end of the street.
He was a pokemon now, a species that wasn’t even native to the area. Any kid or trainer who saw him would want to catch him. He had to be careful.
Once the kids were safely gone, he completed his circuit of the building. The only real point of entry that had the least amount of risk, would be the fire escape. Tim tried to remember if he’d left the living room window unlatched. He knew that he’d left the bathroom one open. The ventilator didn’t work as well as it should, so he cracked it to keep the steam under control.
Well, there was really only one way to find out.
Honestly, Tim should have expected that even this small thing wouldn’t work out in his favor.
Living-room window locked. Typical.
Taking a fortifying breath, and hoping the weather remained non windy for the next ten minutes. Tim carefully climbed onto the wrap around window ledge. This would never have worked in his human body, the ledge was far too narrow. As an eevee though, it worked out fine, provided he walk very slowly and concentrate very hard about where he put his paws.
In no time at all he was scrambling through the window and into his bathroom, his apartment, his home.
Of course, now that Tim was home, his situation was only magnified.
The whole world looks very different when you’re barely a foot tall. It was easier to ignore when he was traveling. Easier when his surroundings were unfamiliar. So much harder now that he was back in his own apartment. Everything that was his, that was supposed to be familiar, wasn’t. It was like he was living in a funhouse hall of mirrors.
His entire reality was flipped upside down. He couldn’t handle more then crossing the small hallway to his bedroom.
Tim scrambled onto his bed, prowling around in a tight circle.
Maybe running from the labs hadn’t been the best idea. Maybe he should have stayed there. Granted, all the people there were people who had done this to him. But he hadn’t given any thought to the fact they might undo it too.
On the other hand, paw, whatever, he could have been locked up there as a novelty for the rest of his life(how long did eevee live anyway?). Poked and prodded as the science experiment he truly was.
You know what?
He wasn’t going to think about that right now. He was lilpup tired, barely sleeping more then a few minutes at a time since his escape from the labs.
Tim was going to sleep, right here, in his own, suddenly extremely huge bed and he would figure out his next move when he woke up.
Except Tim is rudely woken from his slumber by a pikachu, of all pokemon.
If that wasn’t surprising enough, because what the hell would a pokemon, let alone a pikachu be doing in his apartment? (And why the hell was it wearing a little detective hat?) Tim’s father was here.
The guy who’d left Tim behind to move to Ryme city and forget he even had a family. The guy who loved his work and pokemon more then his own son. The guy who’d abandoned Tim after his mother died.
Was in his doorway.
In his apartment.
Oh sure, his dad was interested the minute Tim up and vanished and turned into a pokemon. Arceus, it must be a field day for his dad. His two favorite things combined. Mystery and pokemon.
It was just a damn crying shame that he couldn’t pick up the phone and call when Tim wasn’t a pokemon. Show just an ounce of that desperation Tim heard in his voice when Tim wasn’t forcibly playing a part in a disappearing act.
But you know what?
This was his dad’s time to shine.
Tim didn’t have any better plan, any better idea of what to do. He couldn’t type, couldn’t write, eevee paws weren’t built for that, he couldn’t even speak. Outside of going back to labs (fat chance.) his only course of action was to follow Harry ‘Ace Ryme City Detective Goodman around while he tried to solve the mystery of Tim’s vanishing act...while Tim was right next to him.
Okay dad, Tim thought, jumping onto his nightstand and sitting down to watch. Let’s see if you can puzzle this case out.
(And alright, he may have been a little bit lonely.)
Tim is such an angry angst-y eevee. He's the best.