Hide wasn’t a coffee drinker. In the overall picture, he was more likely to grab a random package from the overflowing tea bucket in the office and boil some water than to glare at the coffee machine tucked in a corner like many of his coworkers. Working with Harry he had, however, come to appreciate that sometimes you just wanted something hot to drink at an affordable price that gave you the kick in the arse you needed to get your brain started. Tea would do as well, but some things that the nearby coffee shop called tea were an abomination upon tea. Coffee, he had decided, was the safer option.
Which wasn’t to say that he went there often. The times that he ended up in the quiet corner behind the plastic flower decorated table thing all had the same thing in common: the office was too busy to let him think. And sometimes, a man simply had to be able to think without having to concentrate on it.
Today though... today was a day when he definitely needed that kick in the arse. Half a year later and they were still dealing with that mess-up that ended with him being locked inside Snubbul, pieces still only just coming together about the build-up to it all. The big picture might’ve gotten all straightened out, but there was always those small things - like, how long had the old man gotten away with using a Ditto as his personal secretary? Bless Pokemon (Snubbul startled under his hand as he ran his fingers over his head, then leaned into it. Grumpy he might be, but they were a team and, well, they were rather fond of each other) but they weren’t humans. That Ditto… they still hadn’t found her. Another loose end.
Hide blinked and looked down. “Hmm?” Snubbul pointed. “Oh, indeed.”
Harry’s son - Tim - had just walked through the door, heading towards the counter with the longtime Drowzee tender behind it. He looked bleary-eyed and tired, his hair sticking out in little coils everywhere, as if he had gone a few weeks too long between trimming. Hide had heard through Harry that Tim had intended to start studying for police work, but nothing since then. From the look of it, whatever he was doing was stealing his sleep.
“Snubbul…” Snubbul was glaring at Tim again.
Hide sighed. “Do we have to have a talk about how we treat people nicely even if we don’t like them again?”
Snubbul looked like he was actually considering it. Which… no. Hide rapped him on the head with a knuckle. “Stop it. We’re are an elite partnership. We know how to behave.”
Snubbul shot another glare in Tim’s direction, then grabbed his own coffee and began to devour it. Hide shook his head. Maybe this wouldn’t be as productive as it would usually be.
“Come on. Let’s go see if Tara and Shin have calmed down enough that we can have our tea.”
It turned out to be that sort of week, as he returned to the coffee shop after only a few days. Shin was in a snit, Harry had taken over a conference room with his pins and threads, and Hide was trying to get things Done so that paperwork wouldn’t follow him on his (much deserved) holiday wandering in the hills. With his young nephew in charge, he couldn’t very well call the holiday a hike, so wandering it was. He only hoped they wouldn’t have to call on the rangers this year.
The Drowzee behind the counter was busy with another customer, the tiniest Oddish that Hide had ever seen, so he wandered over to the Drowzee’s partner - did he ever know the name of the woman? He had certainly never been in her queue since Snubbul had struck up a friendship with the Drowzee.
The woman pushed a finished order at the Drowzee and smiled at him. “Good morning! What can I get you today?”
Hide gave her his order, then watched the Oddish idly as his payment was being processed. There was something about it that irked him...and Snubbull agreed from the look of his narrowed eyes. “Behave,” Hide muttered at him, then thanked the woman and took his order, heading for his usual table.
He had only just settled in when the chair at the neighbouring table was pulled out. Resisting the urge to make a face, Hide glanced over -- and raised an eyebrow at Tim.
“Well, hello there, Tim. Long time no see.”
The young man looked, well, very young for a moment. “Hello. Hi. I mean, yes, long time no see.”
The Oddish jumped down from Tim’s shoulder, somehow managing not to spill the drinks it carried. Tim put down a plate of cake meanwhile, fiddling with it for much longer than he really needed to. Hide didn’t sigh, but did take a big sip of his coffee, wishing it was tea. Then he tapped Snubbul on the head. “No,” he reminded him, knowing as he always did when Snubbul was close to being up to mischief.
Snubbul growled, eyes on the Oddish.
“No,” Hide repeated.
Snubbul settled, grumpily, leaning into him. Hide rubbed his head once, soothing.
“What brings you here?” Hide asked, once Tim had stopped fiddling with his cake. “I haven’t seen you here before.” Then, since Tim still looked as if he wanted to run, he added, in an attempt to distract him, “I see you have gotten a Pokemon partner.”
Hide had honestly not expected it, from the way Tim had seemed so...uncomfortable around Pokemon partners, even after taking care of his father’s partner for a while. Not to mention it usually took more time for newcomers to Ryme City to accept that here a Pokemon found you , no matter how much things differed on the outside.
Tim coughed. “Yes. Well. About that. I wanted to speak with you about that. My fath--Harry suggested that I do so.”
“Ah.” That put another spin on things. Harry, bless his heart, was not averse to manipulating a chain of events into a sequence he liked. “And about what did he suggest you speak to me?”
Tim took a deep breath. The Oddish curled into the crook of his arm, half hidden behind the very large coffee cup in front of them. Like father, like son. “My Pokemon Partner.” He looked down at the Oddish. “Go on then. Let’s get this over with.”
The Oddish shivered, then...changed. “Ditto.”
Ah. Hide didn’t smile, with some effort. “Congratulations. A Ditto is a valuable partner.”
Tim looked uncomfortable. “That’s not…” Then, looking at his Ditto, continued: “Maybe you should just show him.”
“I know. But Pikachu said it would be all right.”
Snubbul growled as Ditto changed again, growing and growing until…
Hide took a very deliberate deep breath. “I see.”
Tim caught Ditto as she abruptly changed form from the woman she had been into a very tiny Rattata, that quickly scurried up Tim’s sleeve and came out at his collar, only a shivering nose sticking out.
“Pikachu brought her to me,” Tim said - belligerent rather than defensive, though Hide could tell he aimed for the latter. “I couldn’t say no!”
“Ah.” Tim still didn’t know how a Pokemon partnership worked then. Hide shared a look with Snubbul, who, for once, didn’t snarl even a little in Tim’s direction. “I’m sure that Pikachu chose correctly for you.”
Tim blinked. Ditto peeked out further from beneath Tim’s collar. Snubbul looked at her for a second or two, then, “Snubbul.” When Ditto didn’t move, he repeated, “Snubbul!”
Ditto slid out of her hiding place, turning into a Pichu as she did so, then scampered across the table, where Snubbul caught her and absconded with her beneath the table to have what seemed like an intense talk.
Tim eyed it all as if he expected Snubbul to eat her.
“Don’t worry, Tim. He only wants to get to know her.”
Tim looked between him and the table between him and his partner. “So you’re just OK with all of this? Me having Ditto as a partner despite…”
“Pikachu and Ditto have decided together,” Hide interrupted. “It will be fine.”
Ditto, appearing from beneath the table with Snubbul in tow, jumped across the table, still in Pichu form. “Ditto! Ditto, Ditto!”
Tim caught her, and, with an uncharacteristic display of affection, hugged her tightly.
“I will look forward to your partnership,” Hide offered.
The smile he received in return was startingly genuine. “So do I.”
Snubbul, not unexpectedly spotted them first. “Snubbul!”
Ditto startled, looked around, then turned into a Spoink and bounced over. “Ditto!”
Tim followed after a moment, carrying two coffees precariously in one hand while attempting to put away his phone with the other. It wasn’t going very well.
“Congratulations on your accepted application,” Hide offered once Tim was within hearing distance. “I hear you scored quite well.”
Tim’s now free hand patted the passcard clipped to his belt as if still not sure it was there. He then caught himself and hung it awkwardly on a belt loop instead. “Thank you. Did Harry…?”
“He did,” Hide confirmed, “but I already knew. I’ve kept an eye out for you.”
“Oh.” Tim set his coffee down, not looking in Hide’s direction for as long as possible and, then, not looking him in the face. “I thought perhaps… you’ve kept an eye out for me?”
“I’ve thought you’d make a good detective.” Hide nodded towards Ditto. “And with your partner I knew you’d be a good candidate. I’m looking forward to seeing what will become of you.”
“Ditto!” Ditto bounced, her Spoink tail quivering.
Tim smiled and caught her in his arms. “We’re having a lot of fun.”
“I’m glad to hear it.”
They talked for a few minutes, the Pokemon having their own discussion off to the side, then parted. It was a good ending of the story, Hide thought as he held the door for Snubbul some time later. It was also a good beginning.
He rather looked forward to see how it would continue.