Harry was never good at small talk because, really, how much small talk would a detective have to do when his main informant is a Mr. Mime and all the humans he deals with act high and mighty? It was always right to business, and when it wasn’t, he would make it business. Or he’d just wait, and awkward silence always seemed to make the best informants out of people.
He also had Lauretta to help him, too.
But then she was gone now, wasn’t she? And here he was, sitting with his twenty-one year old son in a rundown Chinese restaurant after supposedly being turned back into a human by a genetically altered clone of a mew. Oh, and then the rest of the city was also turned into pokemon, but not for as long as him. Oh Oh, and his son was now going to live with him?
That last one was the most shocking part for him and needed the most energy to process.
At least pikachu was happily snoozing away in the booth next to him avoiding all the awkwardness that came with eating dinner with your child for the first (but not really first) time in a decade.
“So,” he says, trying to keep his eyes at least in the general vicinity of his son. “You said something about a girl?”
He thinks immediately that this wasn’t the right direction to take the conversation when Tim’s shoulders rise and his gaze darts from his fork to the window to finally Harry all in the span of a second. Of course he would screw this up already. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
“Yea. Her name’s Lucy.”
Harry looks and Tim’s smiling a bit, his shoulders relaxed again. He looks happy, or maybe just not pissed off that his dad was being nosy.
“Lucy, huh?” Harry says, and he relaxes a bit too because now he has an opening. He knows what route to take with this. “What kind of work does she do that leads her to an abandoned research facility?”
Tim laughs a bit, noodles forgotten, and seems to genuinely want to talk to his dad for the first time in a while. “She’s a reporter. A good one, too. She told the entire story about the experiments and the R on the twelve o’clock news today. We just missed it ‘cause we were at the station.”
“Right,” Harry says, nodding. Where Tim decided to uproot his life and Harry’s along with it. In a good way, though.
Tim seems to want to ask a question too, so Harry waits and picks at some of his dumplings. Patience comes with his line of work.
“What about you,” Tim finally asks. “Anyone in your life?”
Harry chokes on his fork. Even for all these years of sleuthing, he was not prepared for that question. Anyone else? Did Tim really think he was going to forget about his mother just like that?
But then, he realizes. Tim had no clue what he would and wouldn't forget about. Hell, in his eyes, Harry forgot about him. Why wouldn’t he move on from his mother when he moved on from Tim.
“Kid,” Harry says, and pauses. He wants to stop his thoughts from spilling out all over their dinner. “I loved your mom so, so much. I don’t think I’ll ever find someone like here, nor do I want to. It’s just been me. Oh, and pikachu.”
At his mention, the electric mouse stirs from his nap and places his nose over the edge of the table, looking for something to eat. Tim and Harry both laugh at how cute he’s being and Harry gives him one of his dumplings to munch on. Pikachu takes it in his paws and maks a happy chirp before ducking back onto the seat to eat his bounty.
The mood is a little somber now, but Tim seems happy with Harry’s answer. Both continue eating, not in an awkward silence, but not a comfortable one either. More like a slightly amicable one that carries with it ten years of emotional baggage, but the parties involved are too tired and hungry to delve into the depths at the moment. Harry decides to try his luck a second time.
“So you told me about a girl, but what about a partner? Got any pokemon you’re close to?”
Now, Harry can tell that one was too much and mentally kicks himself as Tim’s shoulders fall. His gaze is on pikachu, and it takes it a few gut-wrenching moments for Tim to finally answer Harry’s question.
“I mean, I did have one,” Tim says. “Now… not so much.”
It doesn’t take a world class detective to figure out what Tim means by that, but it does take a father for it to hurt so damn much. But again, Harry understands why Tim feels that way. A decade is a long time.
Harry wants to tell Tim he’ll always be there for him. That he’ll always be in his corner, but the evidence just doesn't support that. It doesn’t support a lot of what Harry wants to say to him.
But maybe that can play in his favor?
“I know I haven’t been there for you in awhile,” Harry starts, making sure to actually look at his son no matter how much he feels like jumping from the booth and sprinting about seven blocks away. “But I’m here now. And even if you didn’t want to be a detective, or Arceus forbid it doesn’t work out, I’ll be in your corner from here on out no matter what. You can quote me on that. An-and no matter what, I will always love you and have always loved you. You’re the most important thing to me and I know I’ve been shitty with showing it to you but now I feel like I have a second chance. I don’t want to lose that chan-.”
Harry has more to ramble on about, and can already feel the waterworks coming on, but stops when he feels a hand on his. He looks down and see’s Tim’s hand, and when he looks up again, Tim’s eyes are watery. And now his eyes are watery. And they’re both crying-not crying in the middle of a Chinese restaurant while Pikachu looks both confused at what they’re doing and annoyed that he can’t reach another dumpling from where he’s sitting.
And in that moment, Harry feels just a bit better about Tim moving in with him. Yea, he still needs to make up the spare room (the pikachu ears are too childish for Tim now), and yea, they will both still need to work out some stuff. But if the two of them can at least get through this dinner together, then they’ll move on to the next thing. And the next. Until they get to a place where they’re both maybe comfortable with the whole father-son thing.
Harry laughs to himself a bit. Maybe Lauretta is still helping him with this whole small talk thing.
He wouldn’t doubt it in the slightest.