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Psycho Killers

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The last thing Morty wanted to deal with was Halloween.

He’d done just about everything he could think of to try to talk Summer out of it – whined, begged, threatened to tell mom and dad, legitimately shed a few tears – but his sister could be a real unmovable bitch when it came to her social cred and the opportunity to throw a party blasted his weak concerns out of the water.

And sure, it was Halloween night, something definitely worth celebrating and yeah, mom and dad were out for the weekend and okay, a week ago he’d have been one-hundred percent onboard - but as things were, Morty wasn’t surprised at all to find himself attracting exactly the attention he’d been doing his best to avoid.

Because Rick Sanchez was staring at him through the propped open doorway to the garage where Summer and a few other kids were passing around a joint – his glare wild and focused and just bordering on pissed. Even through the thin mesh of fabric covering Morty’s eyes (stupid mask, stupid Summer) he could feel the weight of his intent.

As always, Rick’s gaze was a hot wire wrapped around Morty’s throat – he could walk away, but there would always be that line connecting them. And even though most of Morty wished he could snap it loose, some feral animal that lived inside of him wanted to tug up all the slack and use it to bind them together.

Morty shook his head and purposely turned away, wandering away from Rick’s unrelenting gaze, tapping his fake plastic knife against his thigh in agitation. A room away, Morty could still feel Rick’s presence like a sixth sense and it was an unnerving sensation. They’d only known each other less than a month – a strange, life-altering, upsetting month – but somehow Morty had wound up twisted in Ricks snare.

Dodging the small knots of gathered students and narrowly avoiding getting sloshed with beer when an older guy excitedly gestured with his cup, Morty skirted the edges of the living room trying to make out any familiar silhouettes through the fog.

Summer had elected herself to be in charge of decorating. Morty made the argument she could damn well do everything on her own since it wasn’t like he wanted to throw a party - but she still strong-armed him into a shopping trip. She left it up to him to discreetly bribe the homeless man who hung out in front of the gas station into buying him beer (something Morty resented the whole time because it reminded him endlessly of Rick who would have made it all so much easier with his too-real fake ID).

Walking home with four six-packs sucked too – it wasn’t so bad to start off with but they got heavier with every step – and Morty kept his eyes on the sky the whole way like a terrified rabbit waiting for a hawk to swoop down and snatch him up.

While he was gone, Summer decorated the house and Morty was mildly surprised to see the level of effort she’d put into it. Gauzy black fabric draped across the doorways and one of her friends brought over a fog machine. She had also lined the bookshelves with string lights and screwed colored lightbulbs into all the lamps and admittedly the effect was impressive. Their boring suburban home was transformed into the kind of smoky, dim, and colorful party house you’d see in a movie. People in costumes moved through the murky air, their silhouettes casting long shadows of purple and orange and red.

It kind of made the place look like a club which apparently added a its-totally-okay-to-fuck-on-the-couch kind of vibe - or at least that seemed to be what some upperclassman in a low quality Batman costume and a girl dressed as a sexy Pennywise seemed to think considering the amount of grinding Morty could just barely make out through his vision-obscuring mask and the thick haze coating the room.

It would have been cool (the vibe, not the humping – he really didn’t want to have to clean some jock’s semen off the couch tomorrow) but Morty was way too on edge to appreciate it.

He stuck to the corners of the room, lingering on the outskirts of conversations so he wouldn’t stand out while he kept one eye on the foyer and one on the door to the kitchen. All that was much easier to do in his costume – no one but Summer and Rick knew it was him under the Ghost Face mask so he attracted zero attention from his surrounding classmates.

After a few minutes listening to a guy dressed as Link expound upon the virtues of a girlfriend he only knew online, Morty squeezed past a very gory zombie (trying hard not to look too long at the red stains that seemed almost black in the purple light, acid burning the back of his throat) and sidled over to the Bluetooth speaker blasting music in the corner of the room. For a few minutes, he quietly listened in while two guys Morty recognized from a few of his classes argued over the party playlist. Morty was starting to think they were queuing up enough songs to last them through the end of time when he realized the prickle on the back of his neck meant that Rick had followed him.

He was leaning against the doorframe between the kitchen and the living room, and despite the fog and the writhing couple on the couch and the milling groups of people chatting around the furniture, Rick was still boring a hole right through Morty’s mask with his too-bright glare.

The colored lighting added to Rick’s penetrating stare - his cool eyes kept glinting red with reflected light over a brown leather muzzle that only accentuated his intense glare. Rick was dressed like Hannibal Lector; orange prison jumpsuit and upsetting face mask a little too natural looking when Rick was fixatedly boring a hole through Morty across the room like an actual lunatic.

And considering the dangerous aura that hovered around Rick like a cloud, Morty wondered whether he might feel safer if Rick actually was wrapped in a straitjacket and buckled to a dolly since Morty’s low burning anxiety was completely his fault. Rick was the reason Morty fought Summer so hard on the party, Rick was why he’d ditched the last three days of school, and it was Rick’s unblinking stare that caused the fake plastic knife to nearly slip out of Morty’s hand when his palms began to sweat.

Most disturbingly, Rick was also responsible for the insistent twitch of Morty’s dick under his long black robes but he was trying not to think about that.

As it was, Rick was too free – and apparently very much willing – to trail Morty from room to room, something that became obvious when Morty sidestepped into the dining room and Rick kept pace, leaning against the bookshelf with his hands in his pockets to continue his predatory glaring.

But Morty feigned ignorance, his burning cheeks hidden by his mask, his half-chub well disguised under yards of black fabric. Morty prodded an abandoned chip on the dining room table with the tip of his knife, cracking it into smaller and smaller pieces while surreptitiously staring right back at Rick, confident no one could know he was looking with the dark fabric obscuring his eyes.

When Summer had made it obvious she was throwing a Halloween party whether Morty wanted her to or not, Morty had refused point blank to come out of his bedroom to join the festivities.

“What is your problem, Morty,” she bitched and Morty considered – for the hundredth time – confiding in her. But Summer had an obvious crush on Rick and the whole thing was pretty fucking absurd and after three days where Morty lived in fear that Rick would spring up unannounced only to be surprised (not disappointed – why the fuck would he be disappointed?) when Rick didn’t even both texting him back… he was starting to think… was it possible that his anxiety was all baseless fear?

Summer silently watched the thoughts play out on his face with her hand on her hip and interrupted with an eye-roll and a goading, “Jessica said she’d come.”

Maybe the party could be a good thing – a chance to talk to Rick in public, someplace semi-safe (if anywhere was safe with him). A way to test out their new non-friendship.

Morty licked his lips and said, “Fine.”

And he thought that would be the end of Summer’s bossy-bullshit for the day but of course it wasn’t – she had an endless supply.

What are you supposed to be?” she demanded when Morty passed her door and he paused on his way down the hall to glare at his sister.

Morty smoothed his fingers over the felt mustache taped to his upper lip. “I – I’m Hipster-Morty,” he shrugged, thinking he’d done a pretty good job of cobbling something together on such short notice with a novelty gift dad had given him for his birthday.

Summer scowled at him and ripped the taped-on facial hair right off his face, Morty whining at the sting of tape peeling off flesh.

“You’re so fucking lame, Morty,” she complained, pacing to her bed to dig through a plastic shopping bag.

With a quick scan, Morty realized Summer had put a lot of effort into her costume, enough to make him worry everyone else would be trying that hard. Suddenly his fake mustache didn’t seem so clever.

Because Summer was decked in formfitting black, holsters at both her thighs, and a belt cinched around her waist with Black Widow’s signature hourglass symbol. Her hair was curled and she was in the middle of applying fake eyelashes – one set already in place, the other eye oddly uneven without – and Morty tried not to notice how much of her cleavage he could see above the low zipper but jeez, Summer, cover up.

He was jerked out of his absent staring when she threw a plastic package at his chest, his arms raising to catch it on instinct, dreading what he’d find when he turned it over.

“Ghost Face? Really, Summer? Like – like the killer in Scream? That’s so… nineties...”

“Oh and ‘Hipster-Morty’ isn’t so two-thousands?” she berated, pacing back to her mirror and glaring at him through the glass. “I picked it up for Sam but he blew me off for Courtney. Courtney!” she scoffed and Morty grimaced. That explained why she was being so high strung and controlling – not that the revelation made her any easier to deal with. “So Sam can go right ahead and fuck himself.” She peeled the second eyelash of its plastic backing and schooled her scowl. “Besides, the classics never go out of style. Now get changed.

Her voice was threatening enough that Morty shuffled off to the bathroom, costume in hand.

When he popped open the packaging and pulled out what felt like just a fuck ton of shitty black fabric, he determined the costume came in three parts: a black long-sleeved dress-type-thing with long dangling sleeves, a black cloak with a hood, and the iconic mask - white face pulled down in an exaggerated gasp.

The white rubber of the mask was affixed to a black stretchy fabric that, when pulled on, would completely cover his head. Morty glared at the blacked out eye-holes of the white screaming face and frowned thinking it would be hard to see through the layer of cloth, tugging it over his head to discover, yes, in fact, the mask did impede his vision.

He stared through the slight distortion over his eyes at his reflection in the mirror. It wasn’t as bad as he expected – he wasn’t anywhere close to blind. The material was thin anyways and even though his face was starting to get a little warm from his reflected breath, it wasn’t terrible.

The big advantage to the mask, he decided as he pulled the dress-type-thing over his head and let it settle around his ankles, was that it gave him an edge of anonymity. Except for his hands and his shoes, he was covered head to toe. With his yellow shirt and jeans covered up, and his face hidden behind the ghostly scowl, it might be easier to beat back the crippling social anxiety that usually ate him up when he was surrounded by his classmates.

Plus, it might just give him the edge over Rick.

With minimal fussing, he slung the cape over his shoulder and flipped up the hood, overturning the packaging and startling when a plastic knife tumbled out into the sink, the edge tipped with red paint.

Morty stared at the knife for a long time reminding himself ‘it’s just a toy, it’s just a toy’ but when he finally stretched out a shaking hand to snatch it up, an image flashed across his open eyes – another knife, black blood, an upturned face with blank eyes – and he swallowed heavily.

That… was in the past. He took a deep breath and clutched the plastic knife tighter. If he just kept his space from Rick, everything would be fine. He’d be fine. He was fine.

He padded back to Summer’s doorway and stood in the dark of the hallway until she caught sight of him in the mirror and scoffed. “Are you happy now, Summer?” he demanded in his best imitation of Ghost Face’s voice (which was terrible).

“I’m not unhappy,” she allowed, and Morty rolled his eyes behind the mask, realizing a moment later she wouldn’t see his expression.

So with the Ghost Face mask conveniently covering his features, Morty let himself stare right back at Rick through the purple lights and fog, trying to make sense of the friend who had turned so suddenly into a stranger.

Leaned against the bookshelf, Rick cut an intimidating figure. His arms were crossed and Morty still hadn’t adjusted to the unnerving muzzle that covered the lower half of his face except for a grated slit over his mouth. It sharpened his glare, drew Morty’s eyes to the bright fire burning in his gaze.

But that’s just what Rick was: intense. That was obvious the second he swept into Morty sixth period film history class and held out a note to the teacher between two long fingers.

The first thing that popped into Morty’s head was ‘rock star’. He felt vaguely stupid for the thought the second after it sprang up but there was something about the rolling gait and easy slouch of his long limbs that reminded Morty of old interviews with Mick Jagger. A distinct, unearthly confidence hovered around Rick like a shroud.

He was taller than the teacher and wearing a leather jacket over a plaid, teal flannel even though the weather was too nice for that many layers. Everything about the bored way his eyes slid over the gaping class broadcasted ‘I don’t give a fuck’ in capital letters and Morty tried not to let himself be so immediately captivated but Rick was different.

The ridiculous unibrow and the silver-blue hair helped sell that image – but impractically the distinct (and strange) style choices didn’t detract from the magnetic appeal he leaked from his pores like poison. Even his face objectively shouldn’t have been attractive – it was hard cut and made to scowl, his eyes jaded and cruel - but he wore it so well that ‘handsome’ was the only word that came to Morty’s mind.

Psycho was still playing – the teacher hadn’t thought to pause it with Rick’s abrupt appearance – and Marion Crane’s infamous shower scene was projected across his chest when he rasped, “I’m new,” to the gaping students, the glint of a knife passing over Rick’s bored eyes as he scanned the room until his gaze landed on Morty. “Name’s Rick.”

Even then, Morty had felt a zing down his spine like he’d been touched by a live wire. He flinched instinctively and a slow, predatory smile touched the corners of Rick’s mouth but didn't reach his eyes.

“Oh,” Ms. Wetherstrop said, just as taken aback by the flippant introduction as the rest of the class. “Um, welcome to Herpson. Here’s a worksheet. Go ahead and take a seat.”

It was a mixed class filled with students from all years – the only art elective that Morty thought he might be able to pass without submitting himself to ridicule – and there were a fair amount of unfilled seats. Still, with the way Rick’s cold eyes were locked on Morty like he was the only one in the room, it didn’t surprise him in the least when Rick strode down the row of desks to sit in the empty seat behind him.

For ten minutes Morty felt the weight of Rick’s stare on the back of his neck like a physical touch despite the constant, useless arguments filtering through his head reminding him that it was impossible. What would a guy like Rick – someone effortlessly cool and sinisterly good-looking - want with him, anyways?

Unless it was to beat him up or steal his money or maybe try to cheat off his worksheet – a few jocks had made that mistake early on thinking Morty’s small, pathetic stature meant he was smart. They took their disappointment out on him once it became obvious he was not.

Still, he angled his worksheet as best he could to discourage Rick from looking over his shoulder.

Morty had just managed to phase back into the movie when a hot breath at his ear whispered, “Hey,” so close to his cheek he jerked his head away on instinct. A soft rumbling laugh drifted in from behind and Morty grimaced, pressing a hand against the ear that still felt the warmth of Rick’s word.

W – what?” he snapped back quietly, already feeling defensive. Rick’s voice was low and raspy and Morty didn’t know his ear was so sensitive but his dick had pulsed at the unexpected intimacy.

Woah - hey there,” Rick soothed, a hand landing on Morty’s shoulder. A big hand with long fingers. “Didn’t mean to scare you, Morty.

Morty’s stomach clenched at the sound of his name in that deep, rough whisper. “How’d you –”

It’s on your worksheet,” Rick answered and Morty turned in his seat, stealing a glance at the new kid from his periphery. Rick was leaned very close, his face near enough it was hard to focus on anything besides his too-bright eyes. Morty could smell clove cigarettes on Rick’s breath, the scent spicy and exotic and overwhelming.

O – oh, right.”

How old are you?” Rick rumbled almost directly into Morty’s ear and he had to snap a silent (useless) command to his dick to stay the fuck out of this.

Seventeen.” He could feel Rick’s exhale on the back of his neck – a burst of heat rushing to his skin – and the weight of Rick’s silence was a tangible thing. Morty had been held back when he was young so he was old for a sophomore – something that still embarrassed him to admit. It was strange, the compulsive urge to want to impress a complete stranger, and even though Rick couldn’t be that much older than him, he still felt unbearable small and young and stupid in comparison.

After a long pause that nearly convinced Morty they were done talking all together, Rick’s thin cool fingers just barely brushed over the knobby ridge of Morty’s spine at the nape of his neck. “You’re pretty scrawny for a seventeen-year-old.”

The touch – and the insult – startled him in equal measures and the words, “F – Fuck you,” burbled out of him louder than he’d intended. In the silent lull after his expletive bounced off the wall, Morty immediately ducked in his seat while the surrounding students turned to stare.

Morty!” Ms. Wetherstrop cried. “Detention! See me after class.”

Morty sank lower into his seat, the quiet hum of Rick’s chuckles somehow deafening. When the teacher finally turned her offended glare back to her computer and Morty breathed an aggravated sigh out through his nose, a faint touch at his hair – like someone was playing with the loose curl right behind his ear – sent a line of shivers down his spine.

After a torturous minute of that, Rick leaned back in and whispered, “I didn’t say scrawny was a bad thing, Morty,” his nail gently scraping along Morty’s scalp. Morty’s dick gave another traitorous pulse and Morty’s cheeks burned despite his anger.

It wasn’t until later - until the bell rang and the rest of the class had filed out and Rick brushed past him with a look (one Morty couldn’t make sense of but still brought the flush back to his cheeks) and Ms. Wetherstrop had reamed him out for swearing and then called him back with frustration etched in her voice - that Morty realized he had forgotten to write his name on the worksheet.

Even through the fog and the thickening mass of costumed students and the long purple shadows, Rick’s stare was unrelenting. Thankfully Rick was popular and a never-ending stream of friendly classmates impeded his attempts to corner Morty by greeting him, chatting with him, and clinking their cups against his empty beer bottle.

So far Morty had been stalked through the hall, followed through the crowded kitchen, and they’d completed their full circuit of the lower floor by winding up back in the living room where Morty tried to disappear behind a bunch of football players all dressed like The Dude.

He just realized Rick had spotted him in the reflection of the sliding glass door when Brad stumbled into the room and announced his presence by proclaiming, “Let’s get this party started!” loud enough to draw everyone’s attention. He was dressed like Finn from the Force Awakens but Morty’s eyes slid automatically to Jessica - looking moderately embarrassed at Brad’s antics but similarly red-cheeked and bleary-eyed - who had her hair in three buns down the back of her head like Rey.

With a firm mental shake, Morty tried to put Rick and his obsessive hunt out of his mind. Jessica was here – she was the reason Morty hadn’t retreated to his bedroom and barricaded the door when it became obvious Rick was content to spend the night chasing him down – and he wasn’t about to miss this rare opportunity to talk to her outside of school. After all, she was a much more healthy crush to cling to.

Already a few of her girlfriends were moving in, hugging and smiling while showing off their costumes. If he made a move now while her hands were empty (except for an unlit blue lightsaber dangling at her side), he could offer her a drink. Since he was one of the hosts, it wouldn’t be too weird for him to pour her a beer or something, right?

With an internal cringe, Morty realized that might be tricky since he wasn’t sure how a keg worked. He had passed on the opportunity to learn earlier because… well…

When Rick showed up – unexpectedly right at eight, when the only people around were Morty, Summer and a few of Summer’s stoner friends who had agreed to help set up – he did so lugging a keg over one shoulder like the thing didn’t weigh a crap-ton.

Morty answered the knock at the door robotically – he was in the middle of collecting the more fragile and/or embarrassing knick-knacks and photos from the shelves, his mask off and tucked into his back pocket while he finished up – and even with his obsessive fear of running into Rick, he had pegged Rick as the ‘fashionably-late’ sort instead of a ‘right-on-the-dot’ kind of guy.

“Thought you could get rid of me, huh Morty,” Rick growled in his low rasp, his eyes boring into Morty who deeply regretted taking off his mask. Seemed like it wasn’t an accident Rick had come early after all. His leather muzzle was propped up on top of his head like a pair of sunglasses, ruffling up his perfectly disheveled sweep of blue-grey hair.

Morty shivered and dropped his eyes to the floor. So much for his plan to hide in plain sight.

“I – I meant what I said,” Morty stammered, forcing himself to raise his eyes but they got stuck at Rick’s chin. Rick clenched his jaw, a muscle jumping in his cheek.

“I gave you time to adjust to the idea, Morty,” he said low and deep, taking a step into Morty’s space. Instinctively Morty backed up onto the stairs.

“Well I’m not adjusted to it, Rick,” Morty insisted, his heart pounding hard in his chest. He didn’t want to say it – he didn’t want to think it – but he knew that it was the smart thing to do. “Take – take someone else on adventures, Rick. Pick someone else. I – I want out.”

“You don’t get out,” Rick growled and he looked like he was about to drop the keg and chase Morty up the stairs when Summer bustled around the corner to see who had knocked on the door.

“Holy shit, Rick, where did you get a keg?” Summer asked, her face lighting up at the sight of Rick. People always did that around him. That or exactly the opposite.

“Uh, the liquor store, Summer,” Rick answered with an eye-roll that didn’t faze her in the slightest. “Where do you want it?”

“Follow me.” She strode off and before Rick followed he scanned Morty with an appraising sweep that raised all the hair on Morty’s arms.

“You’ll come around,” he promised and then turned away, catching up to Summer who had held back to wait for him, frowning between Rick and Morty with a calculative furrow in her brow.

“Your mom’s not around, right?” Rick addressed to Summer and Morty tried not to feel weird about the hand she trailed down Rick’s boney back to rest above his tailbone but a strange emptiness bled into Morty’s stomach at the sight anyways. “She’s not one of those trying-too-hard-to-be-cool parents, is she?”

Ew, no,” Summer said, their voices fading as they entered the kitchen and Morty scurried up the stairs with the last of the framed photos off the walls, hiding in his parent’s locked bedroom until that awful wire that always wanted to pull him in Rick’s direction became too compelling to ignore.

From across the smoky room, Morty watched Brad greet Rick like an old friend. The music was too loud to hear what they were saying but Brad leaned in for one of those shoulder-grab bro-hugs and Rick finally turned his lamplight eyes away from Morty to smile something slow and sedate at the quarterback.

It figured Rick had made it in with the popular kids in less than a month. Morty had never seen Rick and Brad interact before, though admittedly when Rick showed up it was almost always to sweep him away on some adventure where Morty got all Rick's undivided attention to himself.

Morty stomped that thought down hard.

Brad was still leaning on Rick’s shoulder, his hand moving like he was telling an elaborate story but Rick looked entirely unimpressed, his ridiculous unibrow a flat line. His eyes had resumed the habit of cutting over to Morty with a regularity that sent a chill down Morty’s spine but ignited a warmth in his belly – the strange mix of sensations too much to make sense of.

Pointedly, Morty turned his attention to Jessica who had pivoted away from Brad to speak to a girl dressed like a bee. As the two talked, they kept shooting annoyed glances at Brad and when she thrust her blue plastic lightsaber at Brad and headed towards the dining room, Morty thought he might get a chance to talk to her and sneak away from Rick’s all-seeing glare in one fell swoop.

But Brad, upon taking hold of the lightsaber with two fists and dramatically lighting it, threated, “I’m gonna fuck you up, Rick,” loud enough Morty heard it over the music. “Choose your weapon.”

Morty wasn’t the only one who heard the challenge and all eyes turned to the fiasco unveiling itself in the limited open floor space behind the couch.

Morty just barely resisted the almost immediate instinctual urge to toss Rick his useless plastic knife. He frowned at his hand, the appendage doing a stupid little jerk in Rick’s direction all on its own.

Besides, various party goers were already offering up their more appropriate props: a guy dressed like Willy Wonka waved his cane, a Deadpool held up two katanas, and the sexy Pennywise brandished a plastic severed arm.

Still, when Rick held out his hand and demanded, “Morty,” the one word traveling straight to Morty’s guts like a fucking A-bomb, Morty tossed the plastic knife to Rick in a perfect arc before he’d made the conscious decision to do so.

Rick caught it with a wicked smile barely visible under his muzzle, the conspiratorial glance they shared lighting Morty up like a house on fire. What a dangerous thing, that glance – the precursor to too many memories Morty would rather forget.

Morty deflated when Rick turned his attention back to Brad, watching with rapt horror as Rick's posture changed – his stance widening and his shoulders rolling in a stretch. His aura darkened ominously – Morty didn’t understand how no one else could sense that – and the hard glare Rick pinned on Brad was as far from friendly as it could get.

The music cut out – the two makeshift DJs grinning and furiously scrolling through their phones before the theme to Mortal Kombat started blasting over the speakers.

Brad scoffed. “You just brought a knife to a lightsaber fight, bro.”

Rick tossed Morty’s plastic knife in a casual flip, his wrist lazy and practiced when he caught it by the handle and shrugged. “Hey man, you’re the one who started this dick swinging contest,” he answered, his eyes swiveling pointedly down to Brad’s pants. “Overcompensating much?” Morty had to choke back a snort.

The gathered mass of teenagers pulled back to give them room and a resounding chant of “Fight! Fight! Fight!” started building in time with the pounding of Morty’s heart.

He had half a second to regret everything ever and think ‘oh shit they’re gonna break something’ before Brad was winding up for a hard swing at Rick’s stomach like he was holding a baseball bat instead of a plastic lightsaber.

But Rick was so much faster.

He dodged the blow by leaping back and caught the lightsaber against the red plastic edge of Morty’s knife. With a solid step into Brad’s space, their weapons crossed as they leaned their torsos together, both wrestling for dominance.

But Rick was stronger too.

With one practiced swipe of plastic against plastic, he shoved Brad back.

When Brad opened himself up in an overhand swing, Rick grabbed his wrist and spun him around, twisting his arm up behind his back until the lightsaber clattered to the ground. The move was so fast Morty would have missed it if he blinked. Brad’s surprised squawk was cut short as Rick pressed Morty’s plastic knife to the hollow of Brad’s throat.

And jeez, with his chin digging into Brad’s shoulder and a bright, manic look in his eyes that was too fucking familiar, Rick lifted his eyes to capture Morty in his feral, nearly unblinking gaze.

But Morty was on another plane of existence, the shaded forms of classmates in costumes through the fog shifting and blurring, Rick’s bright eyes across the room transporting him to another place and time.

You’ve gotta loosen up, Morty,” Rick breathed against the shell of Morty’s ear, and he tried not to shiver but Rick must have felt it – he was plastered against his back, his arms around him helping line up a pool cue with a digital white ball.

The smell of spice and tobacco wrapped around Morty like a cloud and if he was braver he might have spun around and pressed his lips to Rick’s to taste that flavor with his tongue. As it was he didn’t know if that was allowed, the thought of Rick shoving him off too terrible a risk to take – so he let himself soak up the warmth of Rick’s body along his back and ignore the way his dick felt hot and heavy in his pants.

It didn't help that Rick had shown up to school wearing a leather choker around his neck, one big silver loop front and center that begged to be tugged. It was distracting - more than any piece of jewelry had a right to be. Morty had been fantasizing about it all day, wondering what it would be like to curl a finger through that ring and pull Rick down for a kiss. He was unreasonably hard just thinking about it.

Morty stole a glance around the smoky dive bar Rick had picked to teach him how to play something he kept calling ‘space pool’ (which mostly seemed like normal pool except the balls were holographic and the layout was multi-tiered). Whatever it was, the cue sticks and table were the same as billiards and Rick was plastered along Morty's back while they both bent at the waist, guiding his shot like a fucking cliché.

Except Morty didn’t care if it was a cliché because it was perfect. So fucking perfect. For weeks – maybe since the first time he saw Rick – all he’d wanted to do was close up every inch of space between them and mold himself to Rick’s thin, bony chest. And the sample he’d gotten just a few days before seemed bent on sparking a new addiction.

So Morty happily let Rick bend him over and relished the long fingers on his hips that had inched under his shirt to press hot against his bare skin. If his space pool skills suffered because he was leaning a few too many brain cells towards discerning whether he actually felt a hard bulge against his ass or if that was only his hopeful imagination, it wasn’t like they had any money on the game.

He let Rick do most of the work with the cue stick and was rewarded when the pool table and hovering digital display ding-ding-dinged like a slot machine, colorful holographic balls pinging around the air above the table and sinking themselves into holes like Rick had programmed them to impress him.

Morty laughed – they were both laughing - it was terrifyingly easy to be happy with Rick, his big, warm palm wrapped around his waist and rooting their bodies together. When an alien stepped towards them through the haze of cigarette smoke, something in Morty’s brain jerked to attention, his laugh cutting short. The tentacled face was familiar – hadn’t they just run some kind of trade with a pack of squid people the other day? A heist involving a big green rock?

Beady eyes locked on them in anger and Morty’s stomach sank in delayed realization.

Rick -” Morty barely dragged out his mouth before Rick was shoving up against him from behind again, the sexy languidness completely missing when Rick grit out;

“You fucking coward! You stabbed me in the back!” right against Morty’s ear.

“Rick!” Morty shouted, terrified. He’d been stabbed?! Who the fuck… how… what was going on?

More figures appeared out of the smoke, the pool table had been surrounded, beady-eyed aliens with tentacle beards and leather armor and glinting curved knives clutched tightly in their tentacle hands.

Morty’s adrenaline spiked in a way it never had before, his heart pounding so hard it hurt. But he knew – like the thought had been blasted into his brain with a strike of lightning – that these aliens weren’t there to make another trade. They were there to kill them.

It was nothing like the movies – or at least it wasn’t for Morty who wanted desperately to cower under Rick with his eyes closed until he woke up from what he hoped was a terrible nightmare. But Rick pushed him down again, plastering himself over Morty’s back as someone made a mad swipe over them and Morty heard metal skim over the leather of Rick’s jacket. Then Rick was shoving off the table and kicking at the attacker at their back with a wild scream and Morty was left to contend with the knife wielding alien to his left on his own.

He rolled to the side just barely in time to dodge a blow that was probably meant to take off his head, dropping to the floor like dead weight and scrambling under the pool table for cover.

Through the haze of bar smoke and thug legs visible from his shelter, Morty reoriented himself towards the door. There were at least eight attackers and they had knives so the logical idea would be to run to the ship and fly the fuck out of there, right? 

Morty scrambled out from under the side of the table closest to the exit and took a kick to the guts for his trouble but that wasn’t nearly enough to stop him – he was on a fucking mission of survival and assumed Rick was smart enough to be hot on his heels.

The sound of Rick’s voice shouldn’t have been enough to freeze him in place – he was blind with adrenaline - but that searing wire between them pulled tight, impossible to ignore.

Morty!” Rick called, his voice commanding and firm.

The sound of it reverberated down to Morty’s soul and his legs unsteadily cantered to a halt without his permission.

Behind him, Rick was fighting four aliens off at once. He moved like an animal – all rolling grace and brutal swipes and barely contained glee lighting up his face like he’d been hoping this would happen. As Morty watched, he stabbed half of his broken pool cue into the beady-eye of one of his attackers, his wrist twisting it back and forth to embed it deeper as the wet, garbled scream of the alien died mid-shout.

The alien dropped, taking the thinner half of Rick’s pool cue with him.

From across the room – from across the universe – Rick made eye-contact with Morty, holding his open hand out in silent request, and Morty grabbed the nearest thing to him – a half drank bottle of beer abandoned at the bar – and tossed it to Rick in an underhanded arc.

Rick caught it, sloughed down the remaining beer, and broke it over the edge of the nearest table, his eyes fever bright and excited as he jammed the broken glass edge into the nearest alien’s stomach, a gurgling shout echoing through the smoky bar.

With a gasping shudder, Morty phased back into reality, trying his best not to feel too sick but the smell of blood and carnage and spilled beer flashed through his brain in a spike of sense memory. Rick’s bright eyes were on him still, scorching through him like a laser beam, and Morty turned away on a shiver.

“What were you saying, Br-aaaugh-ad?” Rick bit out, his voice level and even while Brad panted like a marathon runner, his arm twisted up behind his back, his throat pulsing against the plastic tip of the knife. Brad jerked slightly in Rick’s hold, eyes comically wide in drunken shock, but Rick’s grip was unrelenting. The room erupted into cheers for Rick – impressed cries of ‘oh my god that was so cool’ and ‘where’d you learn to do that, Rick’ filtering over the music.

Morty swallowed heavily behind his mask.

“Alright, alright, uncle, shit,” Brad breathed, trying to play it cool but Morty could tell from the tightness in his jaw that he was embarrassed and maybe even a little pissed. He thought he was going to get to show off. He was used to winning, to being the best, to everyone going easy on him because he was the most popular kid at school and the fucking quarterback and he had enough scumbag friends and social sway to make life harder than it needed to be for anyone who didn’t let him get his way.

But Rick wasn’t susceptible to any of that crap. He didn’t care what people thought of him. And Morty had seen him do some really fucked up stuff and laugh about it… so yeah – Brad hadn’t stood a chance.

Morty tried not to take it personally – to feel so validated that Rick had brushed off Brad’s machismo bullshit with Morty’s tiny plastic knife – but that wire connecting them, the one Morty had felt since he’d burned under Rick's electric gaze in a dark classroom, was suddenly a lot harder to ignore.

But just because Rick made a fool of one of Morty’s most insistent bullies and was staring across the room like he’d done it to gain Morty’s approval didn’t mean he’d forgotten what Rick was really like – not when the whole thing felt too much like a dead bird dropped on a pillow by the family cat; well-meaning but ultimately horrifying.

When Rick finally released Brad, Morty watched his smile transform from the I-could-snap-his-neck-if-I-wanted-to snarl he’d been directing towards Morty to an I’m-just-fucking-around grin under the slash of Hannibal Lector’s muzzle.

People cheered and clapped, conversation started back up again as everyone turned away from the brief spectacle, and the music switched back to the pounding bass of party songs. Morty, overwhelmed and sweaty-palmed, turned away from where Rick was calmly accepting the string of impressed compliments and tried to stop his racing heart.

It was so much harder to breathe through his panic when the air he was sucking down in big pants was recycled against his face thanks to the mask - but he didn’t dare take it off - not when he knew he’d look a wreck, wide-eyed and nearly paralyzed with dread. So he clung to the only thing in the room left to him from before Rick – Jessica - and snuck into the dining room following a shock of red hair.

And like the universe finally wanted to reward him for the megaton of bullshit he’d been putting up with for the last month, Jessica slowed to a stop in front of him, turned to glance around the room, and loudly asked, “So where can a girl get a drink?”

“Oh – I – I can get you one,” Morty heard his mouth say before the words filtered through his brain. Thank fucking Christ they’d come out in the right order.

“Morty?” Jessica asked, turning in surprise, her beautiful face obscured through the fabric eyeholes of the mask. “Is that you?”

“H – hey, Jessica.” His voice cracked over her name but he was too distracted by her smile and the recently shaken-off memory to dwell on his pathetic-ness. “Great costume.”

“Oh, thanks!” She laughed and played with the draping gauzy fabric cinched at her waist with a belt. “I thought a couples-costume would be cute but – ugh – now I’m not so sure.” She cast a scathing look through the door to the living room where Brad was being comforted by a gaggle of drunk girls.

“Right,” Morty said, scrambling for something to say. “You – uh – you guys look great.”

“You too,” she said back, but Morty could tell from the confused tilt to her head that it was mostly to be polite. “What are you supposed to be – a ghost or a grim reaper?”

Morty, feeling suddenly twenty times more self-conscious, reluctantly tugged off his mask and tried to flatten his static-y hair. “Wait, you haven’t seen Scream?” At least the red lightbulb screwed into the overhead fixture would disguise the way his cheeks still felt drained of blood.

“No, why? Should I?”

“Yeah, I mean – if you’re into slashers and stuff.” Jessica’s eyes slid to something over his shoulder and he felt his opportunity to say something meaningful to her slip away. “It’s – yeah, it’s really good…” he trailed off lamely.

“Oh, maybe I’ll check it out,” she said, turning her attention to Trisha who had just stepped up beside Morty. Trisha’s costume was indiscernible past the fact that it was pretty much a bra and a tiny, pleated skirt. Sexy school girl? Brittany Spears? Whatever it was, Morty concentrated hard on keeping his eyes on her face when they wanted quite dearly to slide down to the ample cleavage visible in his periphery. Jessica startled him out of his pointed not-staring by reminding him, “You said something about a drink?”

“Oh y – yeah,” he stammered, feeling an indescribable sense of loss at the brush off. But at least he could be helpful – that was better than creepy or completely nonexistent. “I’ll – I’ll be right back.”

Morty, his cheeks beginning to regain their color, pushed through the throng of people gathered in the hallway waiting in line for the downstairs bathroom and took the back entrance into the kitchen, hoping to avoid Rick. The coast was clear and there were enough people hanging around the keg that he probably could figure out how to pour a drink if he watched how they did it but Morty was uncomfortably aware that Jessica probably thought he was a weirdo and handing her an open drink might make her uncomfortable.

The kitchen wasn’t as wrecked as he'd worried it would be – yeah there were solo cups littered on every surface and the three bowls of chips he’d put out at the start of the night had been completely ransacked except for the very saddest crumbs gathered at the bottom - but so far nothing was broken or on fire.

The three six-packs he’d left in the fridge were gone – and so was the leftover fried chicken he’d been planning on eating later for dinner – but Morty had stashed the last pack of beer in the garage because he had enough experience with hiding wine from his mother to know the merits of enforced moderation.

The garage door swung open as he approached it and Summer appeared – eyes red and half-lidded and hazy. She smiled as a string of stoners filed into the house behind her, bee-lining for the bowls of chips and loudly lamenting their emptiness.

“I heard chanting, did I miss something fun?” she asked dreamily and Morty couldn’t force words out past the knot in his throat so he shrugged and tried to dodge around her into the garage. The dopey bliss slid off her face.

“Where are you going, Loser?” She side-stepped, barring the doorway with a long arm. Her too-present boobs were right about at eye-level and Morty had to squeeze his eyes shut to put them out of mind. Halloween was a great day to be a fan of breasts… just… he wished he didn’t have to see so much of his own sister’s.

“The garage,” he answered flatly, glaring very pointedly at her face.

“Why? The party’s out here.”

“It’s – this is my house too, Summer.” He shoved past her but she lingered at the door with her hand on her hip. The garage light was bright and disturbingly white after all the colors in the house and the air was thick with skunky smoke. Morty scrunched up his nose at the smell and dropped his mask on the laundry machine, hurrying to the shelf of odds and ends that dad had collected through the years and never bothered to sort through.

“If you’re going to be anti-social, why don’t you make yourself useful and run out to get some more snacks.”

“I’m not – I’m not your fucking errand boy, Summer,” he snapped back, annoyed. He wasn’t loving the party – not with Rick lurking around every corner - but somehow the idea of leaving it was worse. He’d rather be skirting around Rick’s orbit, dangerously magnetic though it was, than nowhere near it.

“Would you do it for ten bucks?” Summer asked, her head turned away and into the party when a few voices raised in a victorious shout.

“Even if I left now I wouldn’t make it to the store before it closed,” he reminded her, crouching down and pulling the last six pack from where he’d stashed it on a low shelf behind a few ancient cans of paint. “Just – order some pizza or something.” Morty smiled at his find, prying two cans from the plastic mesh.

He had about two seconds to process Summer’s teasing, “You missed the smoke sesh, Rick –” before thin, long fingers looped into the empty rings of the six-pack, pulling the remaining cans out of Morty’s hands.

On his knees at Rick’s feet, Morty’s eyes had to drag up over yards of orange jumpsuit-clad legs and past miles of thin chest. The hard glint of Rick’s eyes over the muzzle shined down on him from the fucking stratosphere and Morty had never felt so small.

“I can give you a ride,” Rick said, yanking off a can and tossing it to Summer without looking away from Morty.

R - Rick –” Morty breathed in shock – too aware of the almost empty garage. A quick glance over his shoulder told him Summer was zeroed in on the two of them, her eyes darting between him and Rick like she thought they were keeping a secret from her – and jeez were they ever. Still, never before was Morty more grateful for his sister and her horribly misplaced crush if it meant she wouldn’t leave them alone.

Rick’s hand fisted in the fabric at the back of Morty’s neck and yanked him unexpectedly to his feet. The thin stretch of space between their bodies felt electric but Morty did his best to ignore the charge.

“Come on, Morty,” Rick growled, his hand sliding along Morty’s shoulder to wrap around his forearm in a vice-grip. “I’ll take you to the store.”

The leather muzzle and the mad gleam to his eyes reminded Morty to dig his heels into the cement floor and brace himself against Rick’s tugging. “No,” Morty whined, hating the pitch of his voice but keeping a firm frown directed towards Rick with all the stubbornness he could hodge-podge together.

There was no way he was getting in that ship - not unless he was dragged kicking and screaming.

“Just go with him, Morty,” Summer demanded, cracking open the beer and taking a long sip, something shrewd about the furrow of her brow. “What’s the big deal?”

With careful precision, Morty stepped back far enough away from Rick that he had to choose between tugging Morty over by the arm or dropping his hold. In close-up, horrified fascination, Morty watched the calm façade on Rick’s face slip away for half a second – Rick’s unibrow furrowing and his eyes flashing dangerously, his fingers tightening enough to make Morty cringe – before they reluctantly uncurled and Morty tucked his arm against his body in a recoil.

And just like that, adrenaline flooded Morty’s system, his body flashing hot and cold as the world narrowed down to the dangerous intent written on the back of Rick’s pin-prick pupils and the painfully hard beating of his own heart drowning out the pulse of music from the party.

Another backwards step proved a bad idea when his foot snagged in his long cloak and he stumbled, but Morty was in flight mode, already turning to flee. Onehandedly he juggled the loose beer cans while he snatched the Ghost Face mask off the washer, desperate for the thin film of privacy it offered.

“I said I don’t want to,” he insisted, struggling to tug it over his head with one hand as he rushed back to the house – back to the blessed sanctuary of witnesses - brushing shoulders with his sister on the way out.

“Why are you literally the worst?” Summer called after him as he sidestepped a drunk girl opening the fridge, determined to put as much space between himself and Rick as possible. He just barely heard Summer say, “Come on, Rick, I’ll go with you,” before the pounding music swallowed up Rick’s response.

And it sucked. It sucked that his initial, traitorous response was jealousy. Sure, Summer could take a ride in Rick’s spaceship and not worry her fucking head – Rick didn’t want anything from her. But Morty couldn’t trust Rick – not anymore – and getting in his ship would be a one-way ticket to Trouble Town which was just cosmically unfair but hey, since when had his life been fair?

Because of all the bullshit Rick came with – all the violence and the crime and the emotional instability – his spaceship alone almost made up for all of that.

At the end of Rick’s first day of school, Morty jumped out of his skin when a long arm landed over his shoulder. Morty was fairly used to being manhandled – he was small and the target of a lot of bullying – but the smell of clove cigarettes washed over him like a wave and his cheeks started to burn.

“So, Moooorty,” Rick drolled, and Morty resisted the urge to shake off his arm because when he did that with Brad, it only encouraged the much bigger guy to put his arm around Morty’s neck in a headlock. He was trying not to stiffen up in case Rick decided to sucker punch him in the gut (another one of Brad’s favorite moves) when Rick rasped, “Wanna hang out?”

Morty dropped the math book he’d been struggling to shove past the snarled mass of papers filling his locker and it hit the floor with a dull thud.

“W – what?” Morty demanded, positive he’d misheard. Why would Rick want to hang out with him?

“Forget I – Morty, forget I asked.” Rick rolled his eyes while Morty crouched to collect his book. Rick’s long fingers stayed fisted in Morty’s t-shirt as he bent and when Morty had the textbook in his hands, Rick yanked him back to his feet by the grip of fabric and snatched the book from his hands. “You’re hanging out with me today, baby.”

With a hard shove, Rick crammed the book into Morty’s locker, slammed the door forcefully with a long leg, and steered Morty towards the door.

“But I’ve – Rick, I’ve got detention,” Morty stammered, tripping over himself to keep up with Rick’s hauling. Morty couldn’t decide if Rick’s strange interest in him was a good thing or not. It wasn’t like he had friends. It wasn’t like he knew what it meant to hang out. This was a lot to deal with and Rick’s jacket smelled weirdly nice and Morty wasn’t sure whether he wanted to duck away or hope Rick would pull him closer.

He settled for compliantly following Rick’s guiding arm.

Whatever he’d been expecting to find in the school parking lot – a vintage car with racing stripes or a beater filled to the brim with cigarette stubs or maybe a gaggle of jocks rubbing their fists in anticipation – Morty never, in a million years, in a million lifetimes, would have expected to be dragged out into the senior lot to find an honest-to-god spaceship parked halfway in a corner spot and halfway in the bushes.

Rick was grinning too wide at Morty’s open-mouthed look of shock but it was impossible to stop gaping.

“Hop in,” Rick insisted and Morty didn’t need to be asked twice. He threw himself into the passenger seat and buckled himself in, absolutely bug-eyed when Rick tilted the steering wheel back and they shot straight up into the sky.

It was unbelievable.

At first, Morty was sure he must have fallen asleep during detention because he had to be dreaming. But when they broke atmosphere and slowed down enough for a quick, scenic fly-over of the moon (and when Morty’s fingernails left divots in the skin of his arm where he’d been pinching himself) he finally decided to accept what he was seeing and started laughing his head off. Rick’s rumbling chuckles joined in after Morty cut him what had to be the most awed, speechless, amazed look of disbelief in human history.

Once Morty reigned in his breathless giggles and earth was nothing but a blue, green, and white blip shrinking behind them, he finally managed to gasp the one word that had been circling his thoughts the second he’d seen the ship. “How?”

“I built it, Morty.”

How?!

“Spare parts. Most of a 2001 Dodge Taurus. Some shit I stole off an old man. The engine was a little tricky – had to reshape everything I knew about physics and invent a new battery that – tha-aaaugh-t powers itself, essentially, and design a new type of fuel but…” he shrugged, tilting his head and smirking at Morty’s open-mouthed gape. “No big deal.”

“You’re a – you’re some kind of genius, huh Rick?” Morty asked faintly, nearly a whisper.

“Yeah, no shit, Morty,” Rick snapped back, but his eyes were unmistakably pleased when they met Morty’s.

Morty had known Rick was different the moment he walked into class but this – this was on another level. And of all the people he could have picked to drag along, he’d picked Morty – unspectacular, unintelligent, uninteresting Morty.

Why?

Rick took him on a tour of the solar system; they careened past Mars, dodged under Saturn’s ring of icy rocks, and slingshot-ed around Pluto for the return trip home. But despite all the incredible sights outside the glass dome of the ship, nothing drew Morty’s eye like Rick did – the light grip of his long fingers on the steering wheel, the fine sweep of his blue-grey hair, the grin that lit up his eyes with a wicked fire.

Rick talked a lot – some of it Morty could keep up with but most of it he couldn’t. Rick didn’t seem to mind when he got lost and it was still nice to listen to him ramble, to let the soothing rasp of Rick’s voice and the foreign warmth of companionship wrap him up in happiness.

They stopped off at a small populated (populated?!) asteroid to pick up fries from a goddamn drive-thru and Morty violently felt all the contents of his head shift to accommodate his new world view.

Floating just outside Earth’s orbit, they watched clouds shift and swirl over the Pacific Ocean and chowed down on fries (that maybe weren’t the best fries Morty had ever had but were certainly the only ones he’d eaten that had been made by aliens - cause yeah, apparently those existed).

“Why would you - you could be friends with anyone, Rick,” Morty had to ask, watching from the corner of his eye as Rick tilted a metal flask to his lips and took a few long pulls. Morty wasn’t sure how he felt about underage drinking and driving – or rather he knew it was a Very Bad Idea™ – but they were in a spaceship that Rick had built and somehow the old rules didn’t seem to apply. “Why me?”

“Cause you’re spe-uuggh-cial Morty,” Rick burped, snagging a fry from where they’d piled them all on top of the empty paper bag on the dashboard and cutting him a fierce smirk.

No one had ever called Morty special before – or at least not in a good way – but he could tell from Rick’s penetrating, half-lidded contemplation that he meant it.

For a while, the ship was Morty’s favorite place in the world – in the galaxyin all of existence.

It was easy for Rick to convince Morty it was good idea to ditch classes to explore the Milky Way – what was more enriching? School or a stop on Nebulonicron Minor where amoeba shaped aliens chased them around with sticks for stealing their weird bulbous fruit? And once Rick set up a dummy phone line for when the school reported his absences and they crafted a decent lie about why he was suddenly staying out so late, the two of them were inseparable.

And Morty – who hadn’t had a best friend since grade school – felt a place in his heart carve itself out to fit Rick better.

Morty’s emotions were realer in Rick’s presence – crisper almost. He laughed harder, and smiled wider and slept better – like a fucking baby – mostly because he’d stumble home and into bed completely wiped from a day of incredible adventures.

They spent their time wandering through vine-y, tropical forests looking for weird mushrooms that made Rick wild-eyed and spacey. Rick snuck them into concerts to hear music made by creatures who listened with their tongues. They spent an entire day at an intergalactic arcade where Rick steadfastly beat Morty’s score at a life-simulation game only to lose his mind with competitiveness when Morty annihilated him on a dusty Street Fighter he found tucked away in the back.

Yeah, for a while, things had been good. Really good. And then suddenly they weren’t.

Pushing past a trio of football players holding their friend’s ankles in a keg stand, Morty scoffed at that remembered version of himself – the one that had really believed Rick was just a prodigy kid with a wild streak who’d moved into town in the middle of the semester and oh so conveniently picked the stupidest kid in the school to hang around with.

Jeez, he really was an idiot.

When Morty finally managed to shoulder his way back into the dining room, it was to find Trisha mid conversation with a girl dressed as a banana and Jessica nowhere in sight.

“Here,” Morty said, thrusting one of the beer cans at Trisha, too flustered from fleeing Rick to be subtle. “Where’s Jessica?”

Trisha popped open the beer and took a long sip, her expression twisting up in an exaggerated thinking face. Maybe he shouldn’t have given her the beer – she seemed drunk enough already – but it wasn’t like Morty was going to drink it.

“I think I saw her – hic – go upstairs. Maybe she needed the bathroom,” Trisha finally answered, stumbling forward a little. Morty let her steady herself on his shoulder stealing a peek at her very visible chest since there was no way for them to know he was ogling her through the mask.

“O – okay, thanks,” Morty mumbled, handing Trisha off to the banana-girl and beating a steady re-treat before Rick reappeared.

He had to climb over a collection of kids sitting and standing on the stairs only to find the upper hallway empty except for three girls locked in tight conversation and waiting for the bathroom. None of them were Jessica, however, and Morty was debating asking if she was the one behind the closed door but the toilet flushed and a geeky guy dressed like Eleven stepped out, drying his hands on his pink dress.

Mom and Dad’s bedroom door was still closed and locked when Morty checked the knob. He’d taped up a sign that said ‘DO NOT ENTER’ in his awful scrawl and he was surprised (but relieved) to find that the request had been respected.

Summer’s door was halfway closed and Morty paced towards it only to realize belatedly that one of Summer’s friends was sitting on his sister’s bed and loudly sobbing. The sight was so startling (and concerning) that he paused mid-step to better digest the sight of tears smearing the girl’s Harley Quinn make-up.

“Don’t cry over Sam, he’s a piece of shit,” another female voice murmured and a scantily clad Poison Ivy appeared in the crack between the door and the frame, holding out a trailing piece of her skirt so her friend could wipe her eyes.

Morty, guilty over being an accidental voyeur in his own home, took half a step back but tripped again on his long black cloak. He caught himself against the wall with a thump loud enough to be heard over the pounding music. In a flash, the two girls jerked their heads around to stare back at him – and Morty was glad again for the mask hiding his identity – but their angry glare was hot enough to burn his cheeks up with a blush anyways.

With three long strides, Poison Ivy stomped to the door and slammed it hard enough to make Morty flinch.

The only door left uninvestigated was his own bedroom door – and Morty approached it with a sinking feeling of dread pooling low in his stomach. His door didn’t lock (a fact that had made masturbating in privacy nearly impossible when he’d started but by now everyone in the house knew better than to enter his room without knocking) so when he closed his door earlier, it was with a silent prayer that people would respect his boundaries and stay out of his space. 

But the light was on – a bright yellow line streaming into the purple lit hall through the crack under the door – even though Morty could have sworn he’d turned it off.

His hand was on the doorknob before his head put together the clues so when he swung the door open and Jessica spun around to face him where she was kneeled on top of Morty’s bed – flushed and pretty and disheveled – it took his brain a moment to add Brad to the picture.

Jessica was in Morty’s bed.

Jessica was straddling Brad in Morty’s bed.

Judging from the swollen pout of her lips and the way she – Morty gulped – pulled her pants back up over the perfect rounded curve of her ass, mostly hidden by her costume but so so teasing – made Morty think Jessica had hit third base with Brad in Morty’s bed.

He might have stood there forever, gaping at Jessica’s back as she readjusted her shirt and cast embarrassed, red-cheeked looks over her shoulder at him except he was jerked out of his shock when Brad shouted, “Man, don’t you know how to knock?”

“Uh – I –” Morty stammered, his hand glued to the doorknob and his heart somewhere around his ankles. “I’ll just – uh –”

Get the fuck out of here,” Brad raged, rearing up so suddenly he nearly bucked Jessica off his lap. It seemed all her clothes were back in the right place because she swiveled to face Morty and nibbled on her bottom lip in a way that would have been spectacular if Brad weren’t laying shirtless underneath her in Morty’s bed.

Brad,” Jessica chastised, smoothing over her hair with a nervous hand. “I think this is his room.”

“You think I fucking care?” Brad bit out, looking for all the world like he intended to lay there forever. “First come, first serve.”

And Morty wanted to boot them out – wanted to boot Brad out at least – wanted to put all those new swears Rick had taught him to good use and really tear Brad a new one – but words wouldn’t shape themselves in his mouth.

“Uh – sorry,” he muttered lamely, backing up a step, the hand still locked around the doorknob nearly slamming the door closed on his own nose.

The hallway was thankfully empty – Morty could barely stand himself for his embarrassment but at least his gaping was made a little less pathetic by the fact that his face was obscured by a mask.

He stood silently by the door, the sounds of Jessica and Brad’s conversation muffled to an indistinguishable murmur by the wood and the pounding music echoing up the stairs but when the conversation was interrupted by a hushed moan – the exact moan Morty had spent hours trying to imagine before someone else’s voice took her place in his fantasies - Morty resigned himself to the reality that she and Brad were about to have sex in his bed.

Somehow that was the breaking point that dragged Morty from tolerably unhappy in a normal way to completely and totally freaking-out. He had to go, he had to hide, he had to find some private place to hyperventilate for a few minutes and maybe cry a little because he could feel the weight of a wailing sob crawling up his throat like something dead clawing itself out of a grave.

With a lurch that sent him stumbling, he staggered on heavy legs down the hall, his hand sliding over the locked knob of the bathroom. “Occupied!” a chorus of girl voices sing-songed and then burst out into drunken sounding laughter. And Morty objectively knew the laughter wasn’t directed at him but it stung like a slap across the face.

Zombie-like, Morty staggered to his parent’s room, lifting up his stupid long black tunic and fishing around in his pocket for the little metal hook that would unlock the door. It took three tries for his shaking hands to fit it into the lock but once the door was open, he nearly sobbed in relief, slamming it closed behind him and twisting the bolt back into place.

It was official: Halloween sucked.

But it wasn’t just Halloween – parties were bullshit, high school was the worst, and life was just one fucking disaster after another.

It wasn’t like Morty had actually thought he had a chance with Jessica - he wasn’t insane – but there was a radical imbalance in a world where Brad got to hook up with her in Morty’s fucking bedroom while the only time Morty had ever… the only person Morty got close to was a complete psycho-weirdo he was desperate to shake off.

They were sitting on a roof when it happened. Rick had dropped the ship into an expansive backyard – the dark house nestled up the lawn was in the really nice part of town, the part where homes were separated by acres instead of feet, the part of town where Jessica lived – and Morty cast a sideway glance at Rick.

At the time Morty put it together in his head that Rick must be rich. It made sense to add to the list: smart, good-looking, charismatic and full of confidence – he had to be the child of two well respected scientists or a long line of entrepreneurs. He didn’t dress or groom himself like the other wealthy kids in school but Rick wasn’t like anyone on the planet so that sort of made sense.

Even after all the trips up to space, it seemed neither of them had grown sick of looking up at the stars so when they sprinted up the dark lawn and Rick boosted him up onto a rose trellis, it was to climb up over the gutter and lean back side-by-side on rough shingles and gape at the sky.

They had spent the afternoon on Pluto. As far as their adventures together, it had been a weird one - and that was saying a lot. It wasn’t the alien that made the encounter odd (he was bipedal and had eyes and spoke English - the ones that didn’t check off any of those boxes were the ones that Morty was still adjusting to) and at least Morty had a theoretical idea of where Pluto was (though who the fuck knew it was populated and had a fucking monarchy on top of that?).

It was Rick who had made things weird.

He was always flying them all over the place buying and selling (or trading or stealing) a seemingly endless list of supplies for some complicated project. So when he nabbed Morty midway through lunch with a, “We got places to be, Morty,” and shoved him into the ship, Morty wasn’t surprised to find them walking into the space version of a RadioShack.

What started as a normal errand – Rick talking to the alien behind the counter while Morty wandered the aisles – took a dive out of the ordinary when Rick growled out, “Morty, lock the door.”

Morty, who had been busying himself by studying a tray of thimble sized metal cubes running around on tiny legs and trying to guess their purpose, jerked at the dark tone of Rick’s voice.

Rick’s back was to him, the line of his shoulders hard, and Morty was about to open his mouth and ask ‘why?’ when he caught sight of the absolutely terrified face of the little orange alien standing behind the register. His wide, cross-pupiled eyes landed on Morty with a silent plea for help.

But some new hardwired instinct to obey Rick compelled Morty to sidestep to the door and flip the lock – spinning the ‘open’ sign to ‘closed’ and shutting the blinds for good measure.

When Rick pulled a gun out of his pocket, Morty was hit by the vertigo sensation of warring thoughts – both ‘holy fuck is that a gun?’ and ‘yeah, of course Rick has a gun’.

Rick…” Morty’s voice cracked on the name, his voice trailing up in a question.

Rick glanced over his shoulder, shooting Morty with hard, cold eyes. “I’ve got this.”

Got this’ apparently involved grabbing the little alien by his collar and dragging him off his feet until he and Rick were nose to nose, the alien visibly trembling. “See, I was going to pay you and everything, but if you aren’t going to sell it to me…”

I can’t,” begged the little alien, his short legs scrabbling for purchase on the counter. “It’s not mine – I don’t even know how you found out –”

Rick dropped him and the alien bounced off the counter and landed in a heap on the floor. With a sureness that screamed practice, Rick pointed the gun at the alien’s head and Morty was wildly torn between throwing himself at Rick’s arm and bolting out the door behind him. The deafening click of the weapon as Rick flipped a switch with his thumb kept Morty rooted in place.

“Armed robbery bores me so stop fucking around and pull the quantum transponder out of your fucking safe or I’ll carry the whole damn thing away and leave your corpse behind.”

Whatever the fuck a ‘quantum transponder’ was, it was tucked into Rick’s jacket pocket, the same leather jacket he had shucked off to bunch up under his head as a pillow while they stared up at the sky, an easy smile curving up the corners of his mouth as he hummed.

It was almost impossible to imagine those cold-blooded eyes when Rick was spread out loose-limbed and practically glowing under the light of the moon. Morty’s brain kept struggling to rationalize the fact that somewhere on Rick’s body he still had a hidden gun and somewhere in his head was the ability to take a life.

Because shit – despite the fact that the alien had wised up and cracked the safe and handed over a little metal remote with shaking hands – Morty was sure Rick would have followed through on his threat if he hadn’t.

The thought hit Morty weird – weirder than it should at least. If he were smart (which he wasn’t) Rick’s penchant for violence would be an obvious and avoidable red flag. But Morty liked Rick, liked having a friend, liked being trusted with important errands and treated like an equal and dragged around all over the universe.

So he told himself adamantly that his concern was unwarranted and made a mental note to make sure Rick never got that angry again.

“How many –” Morty found himself breaking the companionable silence, his head too filled with bad thoughts and in need of a distraction. “Rick, how many galaxies do you think are out there?”

“Infinite, Morty,” Rick answered. He scootched over and leaned up on his elbow to smile down at Morty. His relaxed face was so close Morty could see the moonlight reflecting off his pale eyelashes. One long finger found the curl in front of Morty’s ear and started twirling it, Morty’s heart pounding a sudden, furious beat. “As many – as many as you can imagine and more, Morty. A lot more.”

“Wow,” Morty breathed, just as shocked by that information as he was by the warmth of Rick’s body brushing up against his side.

“And it’s not just galaxies, Morty. There’s – there’s all sorts of shit out there. Alternate dimensions, Morty. Other earths just like yours but someone else’s.” Morty kept his eyes pinned to the stars but from his periphery, he could sense Rick’s gaze had landed on Morty’s slightly parted lips. The half-erection Morty almost always sported in Rick’s company made itself loudly known with a mighty throb.

“There’s dimensions where I’m an old man, Morty, and ones where we have – like – fucking mermaid tails.” Morty’s surprise and delight forced him to give up on avoiding Rick’s stare. The look in his eyes was fond – fond and intense – and Morty smiled at Rick’s rumbling laugh. “There’s dimensions where I’m your grandpa, Morty,” he said, eyes burning brightly in his skull and Morty just wanted to dive right down and swim through those ice-blue waters all the way down to his soul. “Where I’m a – I’m an old dude rambling around with his fucking grandson, Morty. That’s how crazy this shit is, can you fucking believe?”

Oh wow,” Morty breathed, barely reigning in the urge to demand ‘let’s go there, let’s go everywhere, let’s never fucking stop’ but the slow grin that flashed Rick’s crooked teeth told him Rick had siphoned those thoughts right out of his head. Morty swallowed heavily and licked his lips, Rick tracking the motion with laser scrutiny. “So – so are there dimensions where I’m your grandpa, Rick? Ones where I’m the old man?”

Morty had thought it was a fair question – if he was legitimately a mermaid in some dimensions, why couldn’t he be an old grandpa – but Rick scoffed and then dissolved into laughter like the thought was totally novel. His cool finger traced from the curl in front of his ear to Morty’s cheek, the touch light and electric and life-altering. “I mean, there’s infinite universes so sure, Morty.” Morty frowned when Rick pinched his cheek. “Maybe there’s a few where I’m the grandkid.”

Morty couldn’t help but feel like he was missing something there – like there was some part of the picture he couldn’t see – but Rick was happy and touching him and it took most of his attention to stop his heart from bursting with want.

Then Rick’s calloused thumb slid from his cheek to his bottom lip and Morty stuttered out a surprised huff. Rick’s touch was gentle but sure as he traced the wet plush of Morty’s mouth, his lips parting instinctively, and when the tip of Rick’s thumb slid softly between his teeth – Morty’s jaw widening to accommodate the intrusion - the awful, embarrassing moan he’d been so desperately trying to keep in slipped out around Rick’s finger.

Lightning blue eyes met his and Morty saw Rick’s pupils expand into dilated holes until he was staring into nothing but black. The hand Rick was leaning on buried itself in the curls at the base of Morty’s neck, fisting his hair in a grip tight enough to inspire another inadvertent hum of approval from Morty, one that Rick echoed back in his delicious, rasping voice.

Morty,” Rick breathed and Morty swallowed whatever plea he’d been about to shape because Rick pressed his thumb even deeper into his mouth, running the pad of his finger over Morty’s tongue, until the instinct took over and Morty sucked.

The wrecked groan Rick purred into his ear made Morty squirm, the sound of it sliding straight to his crotch where his aching erection strained against the fabric of his jeans. Rick leaned over, plastering his body up against Morty’s side, and he realized he wasn’t the only one turned on, the thought sending a spike of lust through every fiber of his being. Any bashfulness he felt evaporated when Rick’s thigh slotted over his hips and ground down on Morty’s dick in an obviously calculated move.

That’s it, baby.” Rick’s voice was a growl against Morty’s cheek, his lean frame pressed over Morty, crowding him against the shingles, overwhelming him in the best way possible. He traded the thumb in Morty’s mouth for two long fingers, the transition seamless, Morty’s tongue rolling against the calloused pads.

Rick’s eyes darkened when the new intrusion sank deeper, pressing along the wet muscle until Morty’s eyes watered and one of his hands jerked up to wrap around Rick’s wrist and squeeze.

The hand buried in his hair tightened, the burning intensity of Rick’s smoldering gaze brighter than the moon. “Hands down, Morty,” Rick commanded, and when Morty whined from the back of his throat – half pleasure and half something else entirely – Rick’s two fingers sank deeper to tease the back of his throat.

Morty fought the urge to gag, something a little easier to do when Rick looked wild-eyed with lust. When Morty didn’t immediately comply, when his grip on Rick’s wrist tightened instead, trying to stop Rick’s forward progression, the grip in his hair wrenched hard and he cried out a warbling, muffled sound.

“You have to listen to me, Morty. Now,” he ordered and Morty rolled his hips against Rick’s thigh, the pleasure a shocking relief. “Hands. Down.

Teary-eyed, Morty obeyed, his grip loosening until his hands fell away. When it became obvious he was going to keep them there, fingers clenched and twitching in his own t-shirt, Rick smiled in a slow flash of teeth and eased his fingers out of Morty’s mouth, the fist in his hair loosening but not letting go.

“If you want to squeeze something, Morty…” Rick whispered, his breath tinged with clove and tobacco where it ghosted over Morty’s face. Then Rick’s wet fingers were dragging one of Morty’s hands down, pressing his palm against the sizable bulge under Rick’s black jeans. “…squeeze this.”

Morty might have pulled his hand away if Rick’s fingers weren’t still around his wrist, but the way Rick’s eyes rolled back at the contact set Morty on fire and any thought of stopping was immediately and violently stomped out. When Morty pressed, feeling out the impressive shape of him through a layer of denim, Rick tilted his head back and let loose another groan that inspired Morty’s hips to jerk against Rick’s thigh.

The night was cool, Morty had been ignoring a chill for the last hour, but with Rick in his space and panting on his neck and half draped over him, the air grew steamy hot.

Rick –” Morty gasped, a million things to ask. What did this mean? What were they doing? Was this what he wanted?

The hand in Morty’s hair tightened and Rick’s fingers were back in his mouth, sliding along the ridges of his molars and feeling out the shape of Morty’s tongue.

“Shhh shhhh, I got you, Morty,” Rick whispered and Morty curved his fingers to cup the hot length of Rick through his pants. Rick groaned again, pressing the sound to Morty’s shoulder, and Morty writhed in silent anguish. “Unzip me, Morty, come on,” Rick urged, his voice low and desperate and raspy. And maybe it was the tone of his voice that convinced Morty to follow his command - the way it sounded so wrecked, so pleading when Rick always played it cool - because his hand was already fumbling with the button of Rick’s fly and dragging down the zipper before he'd made up his mind about the idea.

When Rick’s hot, throbbing skin slotted into his palm - practically jumping into his grip with a needy pulse - Morty breathed out a long shaky sigh around Rick’s two fingers still pressed between his teeth.

Jerk me off, Morty,” Rick begged, and Morty had to close his mouth around the fingers and suck so he could swallow. Tentatively, he closed his hand around the foreign cock and stroked, the motion practiced and familiar but utterly different when performed on someone else. “Yessss,” Rick dragged out on a hiss, bending his knee up and turning to give Morty better access.

Desperate for contact, Morty’s free hand reached for Rick’s wrist again, not trying to pull the finger from his mouth but gentle and seeking. Still, Rick’s eyes slashed open with cold reflected moonlight and he growled.

“Your mouth is making me crazy, Morty,” he bit out, the fist in Morty’s hair tightening enough to make Morty keen. Still, Morty’s hand kept moving, kept stroking Rick off, kept swirling over the swollen head on every upstroke because that was the way he liked it. “Jeezus, I want to stuff it full,” Rick promised, fucking three fingers past the lax seal of Morty’s lips and mirroring the pace of Morty’s hand.

And it was suddenly too easy to picture, Morty between Rick’s long, bent legs and leaning down. He’d never thought of it before, never imagined giving head, but somehow all his fantasies about Jessica didn’t hold a candle to the idea of making Rick feel good. If he asked, he’d do it right now – desperate to prove himself, desperate to make Rick want more, desperate for more himself.

With an aggravated huff that shook Morty to his bones, Rick pulled his fingers from Morty’s mouth and grabbed his pumping hand by the wrist. Morty let out one keening note like a question before Rick was shoving his own open palm at his mouth and commanding, “Lick,” with a voice like steel wool.

Morty did, pooling all the excess spit Rick’s probing fingers had inspired and licking it onto his palm. When Rick dragged his hand back, the passage of skin against skin was much smoother, the slick swipe making Rick choke back a moan.

And then it wasn’t fingers in Morty’s mouth but Rick’s tongue, wrestling with his, pushing against his surprised resistance, Rick’s open mouth swallowing Morty’s startled cry.

He’d never imagined his first kiss would be with a guy – and that it was with Rick was impossible, was terrifying, was perfect. Rick kissed like he fought – dirty and rough and merciless. Morty was winded when he pulled away, his hips canting into pressure he realized too late was his own hand pressed against his bulging jeans.

Rick noticed the motion too and the fist in his hair tightened. “Not yet.” And there wasn’t a threat there but it sure sounded like one. Morty let himself go and fisted his hand in the fabric at his thighs and humped at empty air.

Fuck, I like you squirming,” Rick breathed, his gaze a searing brand when he scraped him head to toe with it. Rick’s hips encouraged Morty to pick up speed, bucking frantically as he fucked into Morty’s fist with abandon. “You’re so – fuuuuuuck –” he bit out, and it seemed Morty would never know how that sentence was going to end because Rick was cumming, his whole body jerking fitfully as a hot stream of jizz shot onto the t-shirt over Morty’s stomach.

And Morty was gearing up to complain, pissed Rick hadn’t given him a warning or something - he would have lifted up his fucking shirt at least – but then Rick’s hand was over his crotch, rubbing Morty through his jeans roughly, fisting him through the fabric like he was trying to strangle a snake.

It shouldn’t have felt good, it was harsh and violent and he was a little chaffed from the coarse cotton of his underwear, but then Rick whispered, “Cum for me, Morty,” against his lips, plundering his mouth again with his tongue and Morty euphorically obeyed.

There were maybe three minutes after he came down from his orgasm when all Morty felt was happiness.

He was sated and Rick had tucked his arm under his neck and they were both panting and staring up at the stars like this could be something they did all the time. Then he realized he was covered in semen and his pants were wet and Rick’s head was tilted towards him – an eerie possessive gleam to his eyes that screamed something foreboding – and Morty wondered if any of this was what he wanted after all.

Flopped across his parent’s bed and trying to see through the ceiling to the stars, Morty cursed himself for not doing something about Rick then. He should have said something. He should have told him no or shoved him away or pushed him off the goddamn roof. He should have sat Rick down and started a conversation about consent.

But there was something about Rick that made it very hard to speak up and even harder to say no.

There were too many feelings swirling around in Morty’s head to pick out just one. Rick. Jessica and Brad. He was in a house full of people but he felt completely alone.

Knowing it was probably a bad idea – but very much feeling like he had earned a night of bad ideas – Morty sat up and glanced around, surprised to realize he was no longer holding the beer he'd meant to deliver to Jessica. He must have dropped it somewhere in his panic, some lucky party-goer bound to find it out in the hall. After he triple-checked the sheets and still came up beer-less, he turned and considered the open bottle of wine sitting on his mom’s nightstand. The sight of her going up to bed with a bottle of wine was not at all uncommon and a gentle swirl told him she’d only drank a fourth of it before falling asleep.

If everyone else in his family self-medicated with alcohol, why shouldn’t he?

He yanked off his mask and dropped it on his lap, easing the loose cork out of the bottle with his fingers to take a tentative sniff. The bite of ethanol made him wince but the smell also had a fruity, floral kind of edge to it that gave a better impression than beer so he tipped the bottle to his lips and took a sip.

It was gross and he didn’t like it but he had swallowed worse things and at least the wine left a trail of warmth down his esophagus in a clean path down to his stomach. He took another big gulp, wiping the corner of his mouth when a little bit leaked out the side.

For a few minutes he forced himself to down as much wine as he could, sitting on the edge of the bed and poking and prodding at the pictures he’d tossed onto the bed for safe keeping. Hopefully Summer remembered where most of them went because Morty had already forgotten and the idea of getting found out by his parent was getting more and more distant of a worry.

Who cared if they flipped a shit? What would they do? Yell at him? Ground him? He would love an excuse to stay home, especially with Rick trailing after him like a fucking shadow. Though the idea of spending most of his day trapped in his room – a room that bore the memory of Jessica and Brad together – one that was currently filling up with her quiet moans and breathless laughter…

Morty sighed, trying to force his brain on another track.

With a careless flick, he pulled open the top drawer of mom’s nightstand, realizing a moment later that he should have been more worried about stumbling across some gross collection of sex toys or something. But thankfully there wasn’t a massive dildo or an abused vibrator – or if there were, it wasn’t at the top of the pile of clutter, thank god – and Morty continued snooping, taking another long sip of wine and wincing at the taste.

A bottle of Aspirin. Over the counter sleeping pills. A few cases of birth control. Good – at least it looked like she was trying to keep from making the same mistake thrice.

Mom kept a few books in the nightstand – novels mostly – and a few horse and veterinarian related magazines, but he pushed those aside to see an old, worn book shoved into the very back. Something about it drew Morty’s attention and he pulled it out.

It was even older than he thought – the cover was bound with leather instead of glossy paper. Atlas of Human Anatomy, the title read and Morty could tell from the stains on the edges and the worn corners of the spine that it had been flipped through a lot.

The very top of a bookmark stuck out in the middle of the pages and Morty thumbed the book open, hoping for some old-timey diagrams of genitals but there was nothing but small black text. Morty nearly flipped the book closed in disappointment when his eyes snagged on the piece of paper marking the page.

It was a photo.

Mom was immediately recognizable, her shock of bright blonde – almost platinum – hair drawing his eye front and center. She was nine or ten, her beaming smile revealing a missing tooth one over from center.

She was sandwiched between two adults. Morty recognized his grandma from other pictures around the house and from hazy memories of his early childhood. She had mom’s blonde hair and Summer’s oval face but it wasn’t lined with unhappiness the way it was in every other picture Morty had seen – she didn’t look through the camera with that voiceless question that always made her eyes look somber and tired.

Maybe that had to do with the man sitting on mom’s other side, the man who had one long arm stretched over grandma’s shoulder while his other hand ruffled mom’s hair. A man Morty had never seen before except – with heart-pounding brutality – he realized he absolutely had seen that man before. He’d seen him howling with delight while he steered them through an asteroid field and grinning maniacally while he stabbed an alien through the eye with a pool cue and glaring across a smoky room dressed like Hannibal Lector.

The man in the photo was Rick.

He was much older looking in the picture – his hair thinning, face more heavily lined, maturely dressed in a lab coat and khakis instead of Rick’s leather jacket and flannel – but it was unmistakably Rick. Blue-grey hair. Gleaming eyes. And who else had such a ridiculous single eyebrow?

Morty choked on a gasp.

Morty wasn’t quite sure what happened then – one second he was staring down into the open book with a blank mind, his vision tunneling in on Rick’s older face as the music from downstairs pulsed to the beat of his heart – and the next he was hyperventilating in front of the mirror in his parent’s bathroom, the Ghost Face mask glaring up at him from the sink in a cruel imitation of his own stretched and sunken features.

Before Rick, Morty had never dissociated so hard he’d lose time – the sensation was strange and jarring and maybe even more upsetting than the fact that Rick might somehow be his grandpa – and that was really saying something.

Panicked and getting dizzy from the lack of air as he hyperventilated, Morty backed up until his shoulders hit the wall, sliding down to curl himself into a ball.

The position was comforting and familiar – it was how he’d come back to himself after those alien’s attacked him and Rick at that smoky dive bar where he’d gone from flirting with Rick to fighting for his life in less time than it took to drop the eight-ball in the corner pocket.

He’d just watched Rick spill the first alien’s guts all over the floor with a broken bottle when suddenly the world was tilting away from him, the breath knocked out of him as he was tackled to the ground, his head slamming painfully against the edge of the pool table.

Morty had one last memory of a curved, glinting blade being raised over his head before his vision fuzzed out.

When he came back to reality, he was hugging his own legs and drenched in black ichor.

Except… something must have happened between the two points – he was panting heavily and there were bodies around him horrifically stabbed and slashed to unrecognizability and he was holding the knife he had last seen poised over his head. Someone was whining - a high breathy animal noise that broke up the sounds of grunts from across the room - and it took Morty an embarrassing amount of time to realize it was him.

His face hurt and his arms were tired and his head pounded in time with his heart. It was a miracle he was alive, but it didn’t feel like something worth celebrating when all he could smell was the fishy reek of tentacle-man blood.

A sharp snarl pulled his attention across the bar and he was just in time to catch the tail end of Rick demolishing his last few remaining attackers.

Rick fought like a man possessed, vicious and swift, slashing with the broken end of his beer bottle and bludgeoning and stabbing with the pool cue. He was dripping black gore – just like Morty – and smiling like a lunatic. It was the look on his face that really made Morty cower and tremble, light glinting off the white slash of Rick’s bared teeth. The blue eyes Morty thought he’d memorized were manic and glowing with an inner light as he mercilessly bit through a tentacle that had wrapped itself around his wrist in an attempt to stop the rain of blows.

When all the violence was done - when the last gurgling groan trailed off into silence and Rick smeared the black splatters of blood across his face with the back of his wrist - one insane, irrational thought circled Morty’s mind like an echo. Rick was a stranger.

He was smiling still, looking around at the bodies heaped in a circle around him with thrilled self-satisfaction. He kicked at one of the corpses and scoffed, bending over to rifle through their pockets.

And Morty - curled up fifteen feet away and surrounded by evidence of his own previously unknown murderous streak – wondered if he wasn’t still very much in danger.

As if he’d said the thought aloud, Rick’s head jerked up and those terrifying eyes landed on Morty with excitement. “Holy shit, Morty,” he growled, vaulting over the heap of bodies with his stupidly long legs and cringing as he crouched down to be on eye-level. If Morty could convince himself to move, he might have flinched away from Rick’s hand as it raised to wipe (tears? or blood?) off his cheeks but his hands were more gory than Morty’s so they could only be making things worse.

“Not so bad in a fight, huh Morty?” Rick asked rhetorically, his single eyebrow quirking around at the massacred aliens at Morty’s feet. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” he murmured cryptically and the completely inappropriate edge of pride in his tone shook Morty out of his stupor.

“I – I – I killed them, Rick,” he stammered, the reality of that statement grounding him all anew in the room still thick with smoke and heavy with the smell of fishy-blood.

“Damn right you did,” Rick answered, grimacing as he gripped his side. And that was when Morty remembered what had started everything – the moment that derailed what used to be so good – Rick had been stabbed.

“H – hospital!” Morty cried, his body lurching forward without his permission, his shoulder slotting under Rick’s arm to help him stand and carry some of his weight while they limped towards the ship. “Oh jeez, Rick. Are there – are there space hospitals or something? What do we do?”

“Fuck that, Morty, I can fix myself up,” Rick answered, grunting when Morty lowered him into the driver’s seat. “Just do me a favor and a - apply pressure while I drive.”

Morty – who had long since stopped underestimating what Rick was capable of – did exactly that, letting Rick steer them up into space and wrestling him out of his leather jacket and flannel until he could find the place that leaked a steady stream of red.

They were both filthy and covered in alien gore but Rick’s undershirt was mostly unstained by black blood so Morty tugged it over Rick’s head and bunched it up, pressing it to the wound gingerly. “You – you gotta push harder, Morty,” Rick urged and Morty automatically obeyed, pressing until Rick groaned.

Morty wanted to be sick - he wanted to pass out, he wanted to die, he wanted to be anywhere but there and for the first time since he’d met Rick – he was literally desperate to be driven back to earth so Morty could crawl under his covers and never face what had just happened in the light of day.

Instead he kneeled in the thin space between front seats and pressed one hand to Rick’s flat abdomen and the other to the bunched up white t-shirt slowly soaking through with blood.

As it turned out, earth wasn’t Rick’s intended destination. Instead, a planet that shimmered in every shade of purple grew larger in front of the ship, a bright moon abutting its flank, and it was towards that little white rock Rick steered them, diving between its craggy, canyoned surface. Rick set the ship down impatiently inside a small metal garage built into a pale cliffside, the hangar door closing up right behind them.

Morty had less than a second to take in the confined space - metal, utilitarian, filled with dismantled scrapped parts and tools - before Rick was swinging open his door and Morty rushed around to slot his shoulder back under Rick’s arm.

“Home, sweet – uuungh- home,” Rick groaned, leaving a trail of blood as he half stumbled and half let himself be dragged out of the ship, an alarming pool of red left where he’d been sitting. He gestured a hand toward a round bay door and Morty did most of the work maneuvering them through it.

Home?” Morty reiterated stupidly, his voice dazed, but Rick didn’t supply an explanation.

Morty had no idea what to expect on the other side of the bay door – his adventures with Rick had totally removed his ability to assume he might know what he’d find around any given corner. He managed to take a quick sweeping glance over the room and formed an impression of strewn papers and smaller scrap and a massive window, before Rick steered them towards a corner where a sleek silver capsule roughly casket sized stood at waist height.

Rick left a black and red smear on the buffed metal when he pawed at it and a seamless line opened up, horizontally splitting the pod in half to reveal a white glowing interior and a padded slab like a stretcher. Rick eased himself into the capsule on his stomach and turned to Morty with a grimace.

“I’m gonna be okay, Morty,” Rick rumbled, curling his arms underneath his head. “You don’t have to look so fucking traumatized.” But Morty didn’t know how to stop looking traumatized and his lip wobbled dangerously. Rick’s grimace softened and something glinted in his eyes. “Hey baby, give this thing a couple hours and I’ll be good as new.”

Then the lid was closing over Rick, a pneumatic hiss drowning out Morty’s indignant, “A couple hours?!” as Rick was sealed unreachably inside.

For a few breathless seconds, Morty panted in shock at the tightly clamped metal and the low hum of a computer booting up.

When a serene female voice intoned, “Puncture wound detected,” from the machine, Morty jumped. “Administering anesthesia.” The casket hissed and Morty bit down hard on his lip, realizing too late that he must have split it earlier when it throbbed in swollen complaint.

“Rick?” Morty asked, feeling stupid, but Rick’s name had become a kind of open-ended catch-all to express his confusion.

“Repairing organs,” the female voice said as Morty backed up, tripping over the leg of a stool and landing hard on his ass.

So the capsule was some kind of heal-y, Elysium-style surgery pod and admittedly the ‘repairing organs’ bit sounded very promising. But now Morty was alone and still amped up on adrenaline and covered in blood and he had no idea where the fuck he was.

After he wiped his nose with the back of his arm and blinked away the last of his stress-tears, he forced himself to stand up and take a look around.

Except for the window looking out onto the purple planet outside, the metal walls, and the collection of sci-fi gadgets, it looked like – Morty spun in a circle, his eyes landing on the bare mattress on the floor and the mini-fridge and hot pan in the corner and the round bay door open to a tiny little bathroom – it looked like an apartment.

Wires and metal scraps and inventions were strewn across a series of worktables. Blueprints were stuck up on the wall. Page and pages and pages of notes in a slanted scrawl that just had to be Rick’s handwriting covered just about every surface of the room.

This was Rick’s apartment.

Feeling unnerved and out-of-place, Morty slipped into the bathroom and caught sight of himself in the mirror. His hair was sticking up all over the place, every part of him not covered by clothing smeared with the fishy black blood of the aliens he’d killed.

It was that thought that finally pushed him over the edge.

He collapsed in front of the toilet as the meager contents of his stomach decided to make a sudden, violent reappearance. The taste of his own stomach acid mingling with the smell of blood set him off again and he wretched and heaved until his guts spasmed with nothing left to expel.

Morty couldn’t believe it. He’d killed people – aliens his brain corrected automatically – but they were still living thinking creatures with families and phone numbers and lives before Morty had stabbed them to death.

And Rick – Rick had killed people too – but he didn’t seem nearly so upset about it.

Morty tried to rationalize it; those aliens were there to start a fight – no, not start a fight, they had stabbed Rick, clearly with the intent to kill – and Morty and Rick had no choice but fight back.

But even if it was in self-defense, it was still murder. Morty was a murderer now.

His stomach cramped one more time but there was nothing left to come up.

On shaking legs, Morty heaved himself to his feet and rinsed his mouth out in the sink, terrified to look at his own reflection. The water he cupped to his mouth tasted like sea water and blood, so he scrub off his face and hair as best he could in the sink with shaking hands. The black ichor up to his elbows washed down the drain, but viscera still clung under his finger nails.

He felt a lot better when he straightened and saw nothing but his own pale skin in the mirror. His split lip felt worse than it looked and he had a large tender lump on the back of his head that was probably responsible for the headache throbbing behind his eyes. He had one thin cut running up the length of his forearm but it had long since stopped bleeding and all in all, he was shocked he got off so easy.

For half a moment, Morty wished he remembered how he’d done it – how he’d fended off three attackers with knives. Then he remembered the horrible slashes on their faces, the loose tentacles scattered around him, the dead blank eyes staring up at him from the floor, and he decided he’d rather those memories be lost forever.

When he padded out into the main room, he shot one concerned glance at the metal pod healing Rick but it was as blank and unmarked as it was when he’d backed away from it. And even though Rick was technically in the same room, he may as well be in another galaxy for how alone Morty felt.

Uncertain how to pass the time and shaky with nerves, Morty paced the small studio apartment space.

The window looking out onto the giant purple planet covered the entirety of one wall and if he weren’t so worked up, Morty would have more willingly acknowledged that the view was breath-taking. He pressed his fingers to the glass and it was cool to the touch but not nearly as cold as Morty felt like it should be with so much empty space on the other side. And even if it was beautiful, the planet taking up the view was eerie too – half of it shadowed in night. Something about it felt too much like one massive eye watching him, judging him and Morty backed up from the glass and busied himself finding something else of note.

The walls were covered in blueprints and pages of notes. The thin paper fluttered in the breeze his body made as he walked past, the sketches rustling against each other like leaves in a tree. Most of the drawings were too technical for Morty to make sense of – though they were intricately and elegantly rendered. He thought he recognized components of the ship in a few but taken apart in technical detail, it was hard to be sure.

Rick’s work desk caught his attention next. Two contraptions sat side by side in the center of the table; one a broken, burnt up something that looked like a cross between a remote and a gun but the metal was ripped open and leaking wires. Beside it sat something that looked very much like the first thing but shiny and undamaged, a clear, empty vial sticking out the top of it. Morty ran his fingers over the handle – half afraid to break it – but when a closer inspection didn’t unveil its secrets, he set it back down.

The rest of the worktable was covered in tools and wires and little pieces of metal. The big green rock that had wound up almost costing them their lives was front and center besides the little metal device Rick had taken off that Plutonian at gunpoint. A series of glass cylinders bubbled in various shades of green and notebooks were stacked on top of each other – piles and piles of notebooks.

Morty flipped through one to see the pages were filled with math equations so complicated it hurt his head to look at them. Sometimes huge swaths of pages were scribbled over in angry loops, little notes underneath in Rick’s slanted scrawl. ‘Not even close’ one read. ‘Too much radiation exposure – cut the time in half.’ Towards the blank end of the topmost notebook, ‘THAT FUCKING OLD MAN,’ glared from a page, the letters big enough to cover an equation filled with symbols – most of which Morty had never seen before.

Besides the bare mattress, the room didn’t have much else of interest. A small trunk in the corner contained a few pairs of recognizable black jeans and teal flannels and below that, much less recognizable khakis and a white lab coat. Morty held the clothes up with a frown. It was impossible to imagine Rick wearing khakis. Then again, the lab coat made him think Rick had a professional side to him Morty hadn’t seen – hell, for all Morty knew, the guy worked in a lab or something – because as it turned out, there was very little he actually knew about Rick.

How else could he explain the fact that Rick’s home wasn’t that sprawling mansion where they had fooled around on the roof? How had it never come up that his home was a hidden apartment on a lonely moon? This had to put him way outside Herpson’s zoning.

And if Rick could do math and build gadgets and zip around the galaxy in a spaceship – why the fuck was he going to high school anyways?

Morty clutched his head, the thought confusing and overwhelming. Where were Rick’s parents? Why hadn’t Morty ever asked him about them?

And there was something about the comfortable clutter and the quantity of notes and blueprints that made Morty wonder if Rick really was a senior in high school or if maybe he had lied about that too.

Morty really wished that stupid metal pod would open up so he could ask some goddamn questions but when he paced back to hover over it and murmured to himself, “Jeez, how long is this gonna take?” he didn’t expect that pleasant female voice to answer, “Healing will be complete in five hours and thirty-seven minutes.”

Morty’s legs were starting to feel wobbly, and even though the snooping had brought him back from the brink of a panic attack, the extreme over-exertion of the day caught up to him as the adrenaline wore off. Rick’s bare mattress and crumpled comforter were looking more and more appealing and after lapping the room another few times and asking again for the countdown (“Healing will be complete in five hours and twenty-nine minutes”) Morty gave in.

His clothes were still covered in gore and stank of fish and sweat and bar smoke but there was already a suspicious reddish-brown stain at one corner of the mattress so he doubted Rick would mind too much if he got in bed clothed. Still, he didn’t like the idea of laying in someone else’s blood so he shucked off his shirt and peeled off his pants, collapsing on the far end of the mattress from the stain and hitting Rick’s pillow face first.

It smelled like Rick’s clove cigarettes and the musk of his skin. The uncomfortable burst of relief (followed immediately by a spike of anxiety) were enough to drain the dregs of his emotional reserves and the last thought he had before darkness overtook him was ‘I doubt I’ll sleep five hours strait’.

When he woke, he slowly became aware of two things. One: he was uncovered – he’d passed out before he had a chance to tuck himself under Rick’s blanket and he was chilly in the open air with nothing on but his white boxers.

Two: his boxers were rucked down and a firm, warm hand was rubbing at his exposed skin.

Morty jerked in shock and if it weren’t for another warm hand that landed in between his shoulder blades and pressed him down into the mattress, he would have jumped straight to his feet. As it was he panicked, whipping his head to the side to see Rick looming over him, shirtless and still smeared with flaking blood but much less pale and on-the-verge-of-death-looking than he was the last time Morty saw him.

“Shh, shh Morty, it’s just me,” Rick said in a hushed, private voice, and Morty swallowed heavily. ‘Just Rick’ didn’t mean quite the same thing it might have half a day ago – not now that Morty had seen him gleefully murder, not now that he realized there was so little he knew about the man he traipsed around the galaxy with.

“You’re – are you all healed?” Rick drew the hand on Morty’s shoulder away but the hand on his butt continued rubbing, switching from one cheek to the other. The feeling might have been nice - a weirdly specific massage, muscles previously untouched enjoying the attention – but Morty’s heart was lodged somewhere in his throat.

“All healed up, Morty. Thanks for – thanks for looking out for me.” There was an intensity to the way Rick was staring down at him and every exposed inch of Morty’s flesh felt the weight of his gaze. He was practically naked and face-down on Rick’s bed. When he’d fallen asleep, that had seemed like a normal thing to do but now Morty wondered if Rick hadn’t seen it as some kind of invitation.

Rick’s thumb swiped along the cleft of Morty’s ass and Morty frowned, trying to roll away from the touch. “Hey!” he complained, voice too high, but Rick’s other hand smoothed over his back with an even pressure that wrung out tension Morty hadn’t even realized he’d been holding onto. His whine turned into a pleased groan and Rick chuckled above him, repeating the motion.

“We make a pretty good team, huh Morty,” Rick asked, his voice low and dark and velvety. Morty let his eyes slip closed, the hands on his skin good enough to sooth him into complacency. No one had ever touched Morty like that – his family wasn’t even really big on hugs – and the feeling of Rick’s rough fingers rubbing him down just a little too firmly was painfully delicious.

His dick whole-heartedly agreed but Morty decided the ache of laying on top of it was worth it since he’d probably die of embarrassment if Rick saw it tenting his boxers.

“You’re – you’re a good kid, Morty,” Rick whispered and Morty’s eyes unintentionally slipped closed, the feeling of being complimented so foreign even his cock throbbed with the praise. “Not too bad with a knife, either.”

Morty frowned into the pillow. That wasn’t what he wanted to hear – he never wanted to be reminded of that terrifying moment when he’d needed to manually unclench his hand from around the knife handle, finger by bloody finger.

Morty shifted, turning to get a better look at Rick, and the intensity with which the older boy was staring down at Morty’s body erased the brief moment of unease like it was nothing more substantial than dust.

Because Rick looked wild-eyed, that same burning ferocity from the bar making his eyes bright with desire. He was staring at Morty’s ass, his thumb dipping along his crack again – seemingly to get a better grip to squeeze - but Morty could feel intention in the way the finger kept dipping closer and closer to his hole.

And Morty - who only very rarely imagined putting anything in there - really wasn’t sure how he felt about Rick being the first to prod that ring of muscle. Traitorously, the hot pulse of his cock against the mattress seemed quite comfortable with the idea, especially when Rick’s rubbing kept pushing his hips down in a slow grind.

“I didn’t think you’d be so useful, Morty,” Rick murmured, almost to himself. “And I didn’t think you’d be so – fuck,” he grunted, the hand on Morty’s back disappearing and Morty squinted his eyes open to watch Rick palm himself through his jeans.

Rick?” Morty half-begged, that one-word plea the closest he could get to articulating his thoughts which were scattered in every possible direction.

Fuck,” Rick exhaled, spinning to kneel at the head of the mattress giving Morty an up-close-and-personal view of his long fingers ripping down his jeans and cradling his own cock, cupping it towards Morty like an offer.

Rick was big – Morty knew he was, he’d had his hand on him that night on the roof and his palm had noticed the difference between Rick’s girth and his own. But that night had been dark and he hadn’t the nerves to try to get a good look and even if he had it wouldn’t be the same as bumping nose-to-head with Rick’s cock in the flat, utilitarian lighting of the moon-apartment.

His skin was red and flushed and angry looking and Morty had enough time to catch a glimpse of blue-grey pubes and think to himself ‘I guess he doesn’t dye his hair’ before Rick dug his fingers into Morty's curls and unceremoniously pulled him forward, Morty's mouth opening in surprise to accept the sudden intrusion.

A muffled, garbled sound of distress was lost to Rick’s crotch and Rick groaned at the noise - a strangled, unapologetic moan that made goosebumps erupt along Morty’s back, his hips grinding down against the mattress instinctively.

“I’ve been dreaming of your mouth, baby,” Rick murmured and somehow that broke Morty out of his shock, his lips closing around Rick’s head as his tongue laved across hot flesh. If Rick’s fingers in his mouth had turned him on, this was overloading his system. His skin tasted like musk and sweat and that should have been unappealing but somehow it only added to the experience, made him moan against Rick’s glans, his eyes slotting shut as he adjusted his jaw to accept more.

And Rick didn’t waste time, his hand tightening in Morty’s hair and dragging him closer, pressing more of himself into Morty’s mouth until Morty’s throat started to convulse. Rick held him there a moment – Morty groaning again, a debased, wonton sound that should have embarrassed him – but the torture only made Morty grind against the mattress harder.

“Fuck, you’re loving this, aren’t you Morty?” Rick demanded, and Morty slotted his eyes open enough to peer up at Rick through a film of tears. Rick’s pupils were blown wide and something mingling dangerously between adoration and wonder rendered his face unusually lax. Rick’s other hand landed on the side of Morty’s head and started manually bobbing Morty’s head, his hips rocking in time with the movement. “You like when I fuck your mouth?”

Morty groaned in approval, the sound a surprise to Morty since a decent part of him wasn’t sure at all how he felt about what was happening. His dick, however, wasn’t nearly so confused and bizarrely he felt himself climbing a peak he knew too well from hours of masturbation.

“Fuck, you’re gorgeous like this,” Rick praised and electricity raced up Morty’s spine even as his split lip throbbed with all the thrusting. “Fucking gorgeous, tonsils deep on my cock.”

And it was so crass and so sweet and so fucking surreal, Morty’s head was spinning. He was sucking someone off. He hadn’t ever thought about it – or rather he hadn’t imagined being the one doing the sucking – and it was at that moment he realized maybe he should be doing some of that since he had been concentrating on keeping his mouth lax and open.

When Rick pulled away on a backward thrust, Morty hollowed his cheeks and sucked. The sound Rick made was like a punch to the gut in the best way imaginable. Morty felt his balls draw up tight, hating himself and knowing he’d fuck it all up by again cumming too soon. He tried to stave it off, tried to shove Rick’s hips away from his face, tried to close himself off from the sensation, but Rick’s cock nudged at the back of his throat and it was too late.

His fingers squeezed Rick’s bony hips as he jerked with his orgasm, the pleasure ripping through him more intense than anything he’d ever felt before. He could hear himself making some sort of noise - awful and slutty and half muffled by Rick's cock - and he knew he'd be embarrassed by it later but he didn't have any leftover synapses to process that as his eyes rolled up into the back of his head and Rick’s forced bobbing grew frantic and unhinged.

“Did you just cum, Morty? Un-fucking-touched?” A stab of shame flittered through the film of pleasure still ripping Morty to shreds but Rick’s reverent, “Fucking perfect, Morty, you’re fucking unbelievable. You like sucking me off that much, baby?” made Morty’s spent dick spurt one last stream of cum into the wet mattress below his hips.

“I’m gonna fuck your throat every day –” Morty heard as if from a great distance, his mind still foggy from his orgasm. “I’m gonna fucking ruin you, Morty…”

Rick didn’t give him any warning. Morty’s was lax with pleasure but the rush of liquid in his mouth surprised him and he coughed and sputtered on the burst of semen that hit the back of his throat. He reflexively swallowed, struggling to muster up the energy to be mad but the way Rick was making noises like a wounded animal above him – desperate and unfiltered and brutally erotic – sent the heat of his anger straight to his stomach.

When Morty – half dead to the world – swallowed the last of Rick’s spunk and felt the weight of Rick’s cock on his tongue soften, he sighed a long stream of air out his nose and moaned loud enough that Rick grimaced and pulled him off.

Before he understood what was happening, he was being manhandled to his knees by Rick’s grip on his head and hair, Rick’s probing tongue replacing his dick. Morty moaned again, the sound long and drawn out and utterly wrecked. Rick pulled away too soon to press a laugh to Morty’s lips and then they were falling, Rick’s arms wrapped around his waist so they were side-by-side when they flopped down onto the mattress.

Fuck, that was good,” Rick sighed, his voice blissful and almost dreamy. The compliment went straight to Morty’s cheeks, the skin heating unexpectedly, and he pressed his forehead to Rick’s shoulder to try and hide.

“That was –” Morty had to clear his throat, his voice raspy from the abuse. “I’ve never done that before, Rick.” He wasn’t sure why he said that – and as the words left his mouth he wondered if it was more for his benefit than Rick’s – because now that he was coming down from the high of his orgasm, regret was slinking into all the places that used to feel so warm and content.

“I know, baby, but don’t worry. I’ll – I’ll teach you everything I know. Soon you’ll be blowing me like a champ, Morty.”

Morty blanched. There was a lot to unpack in that statement and Morty didn’t have the emotional wherewithal to handle that at the moment. He still wasn’t sure he had wanted to suck Rick off at all – he hadn’t asked for consent or waited for Morty to make a move – he’d manually maneuvered Morty and then fucked his mouth.

And after the murdering and the stab wound and the secret moon-apartment, an emptiness was starting to cave in Morty’s stomach, a whisper of ‘he’s using you’ echoing in the dark.

“I - I want to go home, Rick,” Morty admitted quietly, going stiff in Rick’s arms and trying to keep his voice from quavering.

Rick shifted, leaning up on an elbow to glare down at Morty. And Morty hated that the look on Rick’s face – that stricken, completely floored expression. It broke something open in Morty that wanted desperately to say ‘never mind, forget it’ but Morty beat that urge back with his battered resolve.

“What’s the big deal, Morty?” Rick asked, his unibrow dipping down in a scowl. “You came, didn’t you? You had a good time. I’ll get you back next time, Morty, if that’s what this is about.”

Morty tried not to imagine what Rick would look like with his lips wrapped around his cock – that sort of thing was too tempting, would make it too easy to brush everything under the rug – but it flashed beautiful and horrifying across the black of his closed eyelids anyways and Morty forced down a thick swallow.

“I – I don’t know who you are, Rick,” he admitted quietly to Rick’s sternum. “Where did you come from, anyways?” How had he never asked that before? “Why do you go to Herpson fucking High School when – Rick you could go anywhere - you live in a cliff on a moon in the middle of fucking space!”

“Morty, you’re freaking out over nothing,” Rick said calmly, but something icy slid over his eyes like the second eyelid of a snake. “Don’t you like spending time with me? Don’t you like going on adventures?”

“Rick I – I did -” the gory slashes marring those three bodies flashed vividly in his mind and Morty knew it would be a while before he would trust himself, even to hold a steak knife.

“And look, Morty –” Rick spoke over him, a big hand reaching up for Morty’s cheek. He flinched on instinct and Rick scowled but his palm was gentle when it cupped Morty’s face. “Remember what I told you about other dimensions? About other earths and other us-es and all the infinite possibilities?” Rick rolled away, scrambling off the bed and crossing to his work table in two long strides. Morty sat up, yanking his boxers up over his hips and reaching for his blood-encrusted shirt. When Rick brandished the remote-gun with the clear vial - the one that wasn’t burnt up and torn – his eyes were bright with frenzy. “I’ve been working on a way to get to them, Morty, and I’m so close.” Morty yanked his shirt on faster than he ever had in his life, trying not to look at the hard, sensual jut of Rick’s hips above his unfastened jeans or the long stretch of his pale chest. “Just think – we could explore all of them Morty, just me and you.”

Morty sighed out a wavering breath. That was – it shouldn’t be tempting – he still wasn’t sure how he felt about the blow job Rick had practically forced him into – but the way Rick said ‘just me and you’ made a candle flare in Morty’s heart.

“I don’t know, Rick…”

“We’ll go on so many adventures, baby,” Rick reassured him, pacing back and dropping to his knees to cradle Morty’s face between his hands and bore into him with fever-bright eyes. “We’ll do whatever the fuck we want. No one will hold us back - I'll destroy anyone who fucking tries.”

Holy shit. Morty needed space. He need a minute to himself. He need a fucking excuse. “I have school…”

Fuck school, Morty –” Rick growled vehemently. “In fact, fuck earth. Why stay on that garbage planet anyways, Morty?”

“My family is there, Rick.”

Rick’s fingers tightened against Morty’s scalp. “Fuck your family, too,” Rick bit out on a snarl.

And oh – that was a scary thing for Rick to say, especially with that hard gleam to his stare reminded Morty he had no idea how to pilot the ship let alone find his way home on his own. The walls of the moon-apartment pressed in tighter and tighter.

“What does – what has your fucking family done for you lately, Morty?” Rick continued, his voice liquid nitrogen and broken glass, his hands sliding down to press against the sides of Morty’s neck and hold him in place. “You – you really think you need a dad and a mom and an older sister when the entire fucking multiverse awaits?”

Rick was psychotic. The thought flashed fully formed in Morty’s brain with the weight of a wrecking ball. Rick was actually crazy. And Morty was afraid of him.

“Can you just –” jeez, his voice was shaking, “- can we please just go home, Rick.”

This can be your home, Morty,” Rick breathed, so full of excitement it might have hurt Morty’s heart if it weren’t for the fact that it was pounding so hard it already ached. “Or fucking – we could live literally anywhere you want, Morty. I could set us up in a nice place on Ceres, Morty - I know you liked it there. We could wake up every day and dive into waters so clear you can see straight to the planet’s core.”

That potential future flashed vividly before Morty’s eyes and there was a certain kind of appeal to the idea – his life had been so boring before Rick stormed into it and it wasn’t like he wanted to go back to that – but Rick was warped and dangerous and Morty wondered if he was just as likely to be drowned in those crystal-clear waters as anything else.

“I – uh –”

“Or someplace further,” Rick pushed, insistent. “The Andromeda Galaxy, the Horsehead Nebula, Cosmos Redshift 7! We can see shit you can’t even imagine, Morty.” And Morty watch those galaxies spin in Rick’s blown out eyes.

“I – Rick, this is –” Morty gathered up every ounce of self-containment he could scrape together and forced a slightly shaky smile. The tightness around Rick’s eyes softened at the sight of it and Morty did his best to feign a happy laugh, hoping the overwhelmed tilt to it was acceptably star-struck instead of horrified. “This is kind of a lot… And – and you almost just died...”

Against every instinct in his body, Morty dragged his trembling hands up to rest them on Rick’s hips, his fingertips softly skimming the pale skin even though Morty couldn’t feel anything below his elbows. But thankfully Rick sighed at the contact, the insane intensity draining from his face in small degrees.

“Okay – okay, baby, it’s okay,” he hummed, pulling Morty into his chest, a hand on the back of his head guiding Morty’s face to nestle into Rick’s neck. “Those tentacle bastards really freaked you out, huh?”

Morty swallowed heavily. Those tentacle bastards had nothing on Rick.

“Can we just – can we just go home so I have a chance to think.” Rick’s arms tightened around him and Morty could already hear the ‘what’s there to think about, Morty?’ building in the back of Rick’s throat so he stammered out, “I – there’s some stuff I want. You know – clothes that aren’t covered in blood or whatever. And – I mean it’d be nice to see my – my parents. Give myself some closure or something.”

“Sure, Morty,” Rick finally sighed like he was being indulgent. “I’ve got some shit to wrap up there too.”

The flight home was mostly silent but Ricks arm was slung across the space between seats so he could wrap his hand around the back of Morty’s neck and it felt like a threat.

Morty did his best to wave Rick off with a smile but it didn’t feel very convincing. When he stumbled into the house, mom jerked awake from the couch, turning to him with the start of a lecture forming on her lips – it was well past curfew, nearly four in the morning – but her anger died when she got a look at him.

He felt aged – liked he’d lived a hundred lifetimes in one day – and he must have looked the part too because when he’d practically begged mom to let him stay home from school, she’d heartily agreed, feeling his forehead and bemoaning the black stains on his clothes.

He’d ditched the next three days, mom mistaking Morty’s ongoing terror for sickness which worked to Morty’s advantage. Because Rick had texted him by lunch the next day, a quick, ‘Where you at, homefry?’ and Morty replied, ‘I don’t think we should hang out anymore’ before turning off his phone and sitting stiffly with his dad on the couch because he was terrified Rick would try to break in through his bedroom window.

When he turned his phone back on the morning of the party, he expected to find a barrage of angry texts and felt weirdly deflated that Rick hadn’t messaged him anything after Morty’s half-assed attempt at a break-up. And the desperately hopeful part of him started thinking maybe Rick had been high off adrenaline too when he’d tried to convince Morty to move in with him and had come to regret his offer (which shouldn’t have vaguely hurt Morty’s feelings but whatever) and that crippling fear of Rick plowing his ship through the living room wall and taking off with him shrank to nothing more than a stupid fantasy.

And Morty had been wondering – he’d spent all of Halloween wondering if he was the one who overreacted. Maybe Rick was talking about the future… Maybe that was Rick’s version of pillow talk… Maybe Morty was making a big deal over nothing…

But this

His hand had tightened around the picture during his blackout and again he had to manual uncurl every finger – an irrationally timed spike of regret for ruining his mother’s obviously prized photo unraveling in his guts.

He did his best to flatten the image against the floor – the older Rick’s eyes a bright pin-prick of icy fire glaring out at him from nearly forty years ago.

Morty was so confused – his head hurt for all the jumbled thoughts vying for his attention.

Was that Rick…? But how would that be possible – the Rick in the photo was so much older, even his eyes carried the weight of a longer life lived, blue fire not electric sharp but cruel in some indefinable way Morty felt all the way down to his toes. Then again, Morty had seen that very same lab coat and pair of khakis at the bottom of a trunk in the moon-apartment.

And Rick – the young Rick – had said so many things – things that seemed normal at the time but now screamed at him like a siren.

Your MOM’s not around, right?

‘…other earths just like YOURS but someone else’s…’

There’s dimensions where I’m your GRANDPA, Morty…’

Whatever the case was, it was obvious Rick had lied to Morty – kept something unbearably important from him at the very least – and Morty had… the two of them had…

They’d done stuff together. Sexual stuff. And he might be some iteration of his grandpa?

Morty scrambled towards the toilet, the wine sloshing uncomfortably in his guts but refusing to come up.

Mom never talked about grandpa – never even spoke his name. Morty knew peripherally that he had left when she was a kid – probably not too much longer after the photo on the floor was taken. Nobody talked about it. When he had asked for a school assignment, mom’s eyes had teared up and she’d left the room while dad quietly explained the situation. ‘He’s probably dead,’ dad said. And Morty – who couldn’t miss someone he’d never known – accepted the fact easily and never brought it up again.

But… was he dead? Was that-Rick his-Rick?

For a long time Morty rested his forehead against the cool porcelain of the toilet seat taking deep, steadying breaths. At least he knew now he’d been right to cut Rick out. How was he supposed to travel the galaxy with someone who hadn’t even told him something so huge and important as… as… as whatever the fuck he was hiding.

Then again, maybe it would be better for Morty’s sanity if he never found out.

The pumping music from downstairs wasn’t doing any favors for his in-creeping headache and Morty wished desperately that everyone would just go home. To think a little bit ago he’d been upset Jessica was banging her boyfriend in his bed was absurd. Now he had a grandpa/boyfriend/stalker to contend with and he’d much rather have sat it out and watched Brad screw the girl of his dreams if it meant he’d never found the photograph.

Morty was very nearly debating dragging himself back out to try drinking more wine – either enough to make him puke or enough to knock him out, he’d be happy with either option – when the doorknob gave a little rattle. He had a half-second of relief that he'd remembered to twist the lock before the bolt snicked open and the the knob turned, Rick’s bright eye appearing in the crack.

Morty scrambled back, pressing himself against the tub, his feet getting snagged in his long costume cloak when he tried to stand as Rick quickly let himself into the bathroom and closed the door behind him. Even over the pounding music filtering from downstairs, Morty heard the lock snap back into place like one of his own ribs had cracked in half.

The orange jumpsuit and leather muzzle were even more horrifying in the bright, normal light of the bathroom – the idea of him being a psychotic killer no longer any sort of stretch for Morty’s imagination. And with the bottom half of his face hidden by his mask, Morty tracked with animal intensity the way Rick’s piercing blue eyes swept heatedly over him head to toe before darting quickly to the crumpled photo on the floor, a rabid glint sparkling against the ice in his gaze.

“I know what you’re thinking, Morty,” Rick started softly, holding his empty hands up like he was trying not to spook a frightened horse. “You’re thinking that’s me in the picture – that I’m your missing grandpa or whatever – de-aged and come back from the dead all to - to fuck his twink grandson, or something.”

Morty cringed because that thought had crossed his mind (minus the twink part, jeez). Rick smiled under his mask - the warm, secret kind of smile that softened his eyes, the one Morty used to love - and it tugged at the place Rick had carved out in his heart. “You’ve got a terrible poker face, Morty." Why did he have to sound so painfully endeared? "But that’s not who I am, okay? We aren’t even related.” Morty breathed out a long shuddering sigh of relief but Rick had to go and ruin it by shrugging his shoulders and tacking on the worst word Morty had ever heard in his entire human existence.

Technically.”

That was all Morty needed to hear – he did want answers but not like this, not locked up in a bathroom with Rick - so far from everyone else that he felt cornered. He kicked his legs out determined to stand up.

“I – don’t care Rick just – just leave me alone, okay?”

“‘Just’ – Morty,” Rick admonished, the name spoken darkly with intent, his hands falling and his brow furrowing. “‘just leave you alone’?” Morty struggled to pull his legs up underneath him and something on his face must have given away his resolve and his disgust because the friendly openness Rick had been exuding in waves cut out like a light flickering off. His brow lowered into a threatening V and Morty’s heartrate spiked. “No fucking way, baby.”

Things happened very fast after that. One moment Rick was leaning against the door with his innate casual looseness and the next he had pounced. Morty felt arms around his torso heaving him over, throwing him belly-down on the floor. A big hand wrapped around his mouth before he gathered the breath to scream and Rick’s weight plastered him to the floor.

Morty thrashed, his muffled yell still loud enough to make him hope someone might hear him and he screamed again – the sound cut off abruptly when Rick pinched his nose closed with his thumb.

As if he wasn’t terrified already, the sudden lack of breath sent him over the edge, his body twisting frantically, his kicking legs getting tangled in his stupid costume, his arms pinned at his side by Rick’s thighs. Rick was grunting and mumbling to himself, fishing around in the cabinet under the sink, but Morty was too busy trying to squirm free to pay attention to anything else but the throbbing in his lungs and the stars starting to spark in front of his eyes.

He could barely suck in air under the tight seal of Rick’s palm and it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough!

When Rick unclamped his hand, Morty gasped in a frantic breath, his mouth falling lax and open as he gulped in the air he so desperately needed. But before he could stop gasping enough to shout for help, Rick had hooked his fingers into Morty’s mouth and started shoving something inside – rough fabric, terrycloth, a washcloth, Morty realized belatedly – cramming it between his teeth so that Morty’s attempt to bite down on his fingers was met with nothing but firm packing.

“I knew you’d be a screamer, Morty –” Rick grunted, and Morty remembered too late to renew his struggling now he'd caught his breath. “It’s one of the things I like about you - you’re vocal. Unfortunately now isn’t the best time for that.”

Rick settled his full weight on Morty’s upper back and his thrashing slowed as it became significantly harder to breath under the heft of him. Still, Rick kept pushing the fabric between Morty’s lips, Morty’s indignant noises growing more muffled as the entirety of the washcloth was pressed between his pried open teeth.

“There we go,” Rick said in some sick imitation of a soothing platitude. Then his voice rumbled with laughter and Morty groaned behind the gag. “I told you I was gonna stuff your mouth full, didn’t I Morty?”

A low hum of laughter assaulted Morty from behind and Rick’s Hannibal Lector muzzle clattered into view and bounced against the door.

Rick’s palm cupped over Morty’s mouth again, holding the stuffing in while he shifted his weight and Morty tried his best to tongue the gag out of his mouth but Rick’s hand held it in place. When Morty heard the clingy ccckkkkrrr scream of duct tape, his eyes popped practically out of his head.

He barely had a chance to claw uselessly at the ground with his pinned arms, rearing his head and shoulders back and forth to try to buck Rick off, but Rick was unmovable and a roll of duct tape with one long silver strand already pulled away and dangling came into view. Morty tried to ready himself for the moment Rick’s hand would have to remove itself and be traded for tape but the Rick was fast – so fucking fast – and he made the swap seamlessly, the plastic-y smell of adhesive tickling Morty’s nose as Rick wrapped the tape entirely around his head, the washcloth hopelessly sealed into place.

“Remember how I told you about dimensional travel?” Rick grunted over the cccckkkrrr of tape, and Morty felt a bit of validation that he wasn’t completely unfazed by Morty’s struggling. “Well, I’m a Rick from another dimension, Morty – not your fucking grandpa. I’m from a dimension where the Big Bang was delayed about fifty years past the galactic standard average so the timeline –” another loop of tape crossed over Morty’s mouth “- the timeline of everything shifted. Last time I was in my dimension it was 1969.”

Morty huffed a shocked, wheezy sound out of his nose, but his complaints did nothing to hinder Rick who continued wrapping the tape around his head, pulling the strip unforgivingly tight. Morty had a brief flash of fear for the future when he’d be unsticking the clingy glue from his hair – but the thought was so irrational it almost made him laugh behind the gag.

Rick didn’t stop winding the silver tape around Morty’s mouth until his face was sealed from nostril to chin. With a harsh riiiippp too close to Morty’s ear, he tore off the tape from the roll and smoothed the end down, his hands spreading over Morty’s covered mouth, feeling over his work and pressing down tight to form it to Morty’s face.

Rick breathed out a sound that was almost a moan as he trailed his fingers along the barrier keeping in Morty’s screams, seemingly savoring the feel of it. “But my life completely changed when some old Rick popped out of a portal with an offer to take me out of my shithole life –” Rick’s fingers trailed to Morty’s neck and he tensed, half expecting to be throttled, but the hand only squeezed briefly, Rick’s sigh tickling the hair by Morty’s ear. “- and since I’m not an idiot, Moooorty,” he crooned pointedly, “I took him up on the offer.”

The grunt Morty breathed through his noise was soft and wounded, not nearly loud enough to be heard over the pounding music echoing from downstairs.

When Rick eased up onto his knees, Morty took the chance to try to scrabble out from under his hips but Rick was so much quicker than he was. With an ease that made Morty worry Rick had done this before, Rick shucked Morty’s cloak off and tossed it aside, yanking the long black dress up over Morty’s flailing arms.

For a moment Morty’s vision was lost to black fabric and he felt suffocated, too closed in, too trapped with his mouth so full and sealed shut. Then he was out the bottom hem and sucking in great noisy streams of air through his flaring nostrils and trying to drag himself away now that his arms were out of the grasp of Rick’s thighs.

“For a while shit was pretty good,” Rick continued, letting Morty try to pull away – seemingly just to toy with him – because all it took was two hands on Morty’s shoulders to drag him back under Rick’s hips, Morty’s torso sliding along smooth tiles. “I learned a lot – not just science, Morty, but how to rise to the top – how to be a better Rick –”

A spike of panicked anticipation filtered through the swamp of terror when Rick slowly started rucking up the bottom hem of Morty’s shirt, nails scraping gently along the exposed skin. It shouldn’t have felt good – it didn’t he told himself furiously – but some part of Morty responded to the softness of the touch paired with the brutality of being pinned down.

“I paid attention, Morty, so I could dodge all their shitty, collective mistakes. No Diane.” Rick grabbed Morty’s right wrist in a vice grip. “No Beth.” He stretched over Morty’s head, fingers dragging down Morty’s arm until he had a hold of his left wrist. “No Jerry.” With an ease that made Morty furious, he pulled Morty’s scrabbling hands back, bending his arms at the elbow and curving them up behind his back so his forearms crossed.

Morty jerked his torso side to side, trying to shake Rick off – but he was already so tired and so hot and so crushed by the weight Rick kept purposely dispersed along his lower back, an anchor keeping him from rolling over.

Rick hummed low in his throat, arranging Morty’s arms carefully until they were in a position that reminded Morty of crossing his arms except the appendages were behind his back. With one claw-like hand wrapped around his forearms, his long fingers stretching around the entire breadth of Morty’s two arms, Rick leveraged his weight to keep them pinned in place.

“But there was one thing I’d never get if I didn’t reproduce –” oh god “- the one good thing that came out of all that family bullshit –” please no “- and that was you Morty.”

Morty wanted to cry – except he couldn’t cry – he’d suffocate if he cried when his nose filled up with snot.

“Did you know – Morty, you’ve got this thing. We’ve got this thing. Your brainwaves cancel mine out –” Morty stilled his dwindling struggles, hypnotized by Rick’s voice. “You – your brain hides my genius from a bunch of people who’d put me in prison for being smarter than them. That’s why we’re so good together Morty.

A new wave of anguish rocked through Morty so hard he nearly choked.

Right from the start, Rick had been looking for him. That was why he knew his name, why he cornered him after school and dragged him out on adventure after adventure, why he was interested in him at all.

He had been using Morty.

Using him for his stupid brain. Using him for his ‘twink’ body. Morty shouldn’t have been surprised, why else would someone like Rick spend time with someone like Morty?

And that shouldn’t have hurt – he shouldn’t still be seeking Rick’s validation when he was being pinned down on the floor of his parent’s bathroom like a bug under a thumb – but it did hurt, more than his fragile sense of self could handle.

“Old Man Rick said he didn’t want anything to do with you,” another barb stabbed at Morty’s heart, “so I figured it wouldn’t be an issue. But Ricks are so touchy about the weirdest shit, Morty, you wouldn’t fucking believe."

Morty mustered all the very last reserves of his endurance when he again heard the hair-raising ccccckkrrrr of duct tape tearing off a roll. Rick’s firm grip around Morty’s forearm lifted his arms away from his back, the angle wrenching a grunt from Morty’s gagged mouth, and started winding the tape around his arms, binding them together, forearm to forearm.

“He tried to kill me, Morty –” Rick said, voice breathy with shock, and hearing that made Morty still his wiggling against his better judgement. “After – after all the shit he did to me…” Rick trailed off with a huff and Morty had a horrible feeling – the kind of sinking-into-an-unmarked-grave feeling that made Morty wonder why Rick was so bad at boundaries – why he never asked permission, why he thought he could just take whatever he wanted and never ask for consent. “But I’m younger and stronger and faster, Morty, so he didn’t stand a fucking chance.”

Now Morty knew – he knew without a shadow of a doubt – that his mom’s dad was dead. That horrible weight he’d seen on her face, the way she’d aged in half an instant at his foolishly thrown out, ‘where’s my other grandpa?’ now lived in validation because the younger version of that man had wiped him out of existence.

The squeal of unwinding tape was constant as Rick wound loop after loop around Morty’s arms. Not just his wrists like Morty would have suspected but the entirety of his arms from elbow to elbow, fusing his forearms into one conjoined band.

With great effort, Morty turned his head for the first time, wanting to see Rick, wanting to look in his eyes and face the monster. It wasn’t easy and at first Rick fought against him, busy with his handiwork binding Morty’s arms behind him inescapably, but when his gaze landed on Rick’s face – the long drag of his features and the dark shadows in his eyes made Morty want to cry all over again.

Rick might have been able to make it sound like he was a cold-blooded murderer but his face said it all. He wasn’t happy he’d killed Morty’s grandpa. He looked young and vulnerable for the first time ever – wounded - and Morty wondered how much it had hurt him when the old man had tried to kill him first.

“Don’t give me that look,” Rick said reproachfully, his cold eyes cutting up to Morty sharply. He clenched his jaw and shoved Morty until he was flat on his stomach again, his tape covered chin propped up on the ground. “He left your mom, Morty. Do you know what kind piece of shit leaves their family? Just fucking disappears?” Even in his current state Morty thought there was something about the way Rick said it that sounded profoundly personal – and he hated the empathy that tried so hard to spark to life in his guts. “He was miserable up in space until I came along – but he didn’t have the balls to do anything more interesting than hide. If it was up to him, we woulda stayed in that apartment forever Morty.”

Rick broke aside to breathe quietly, almost to himself, “I fucking hate that apartment,” with such heartfelt sincerity Morty’s eyes watered. Rick was… not okay… but Morty was starting to suspect the things done to him weren’t okay either.

“So it wasn’t murder, okay," Rick insisted, and Morty started to think the one-sided argument was less for his benefit than it was for Rick's. "It was goddamn euthanasia.”

By the time Rick was satisfied with Morty’s arms, he’d even bound his hands and fingers down to the opposite forearm, the loops of tape tight and unforgiving. Morty’s shoulders already ached from the positon and Rick ripped off the long string of tape from the roll and let Morty test his new binds.

The tape tugged at his skin and the fine hairs on his arms when he tried as hard as he could to pull himself out of the bind, the tape creaking as he struggled. It was useless at the moment but Morty held out hope – he could already feel himself sweating below the thick layer of tape. Maybe that would loosen it up enough for him to pull his arms out later – though who the fuck knew what the situation would be later.

Seemingly satisfied with his work, Rick rolled Morty over in the space between his legs and the two came face to face for the first time since he’d tackled Morty to the ground. For a fleeting moment, there was something raw and hurt still lingering on Rick’s face – something that might have made Morty forgive him for the insane story he’d just heard if he weren’t bound and gagged beneath him – before Rick’s expression shifted drastically, his pupils blowing out and his pale cheeks darkening with something besides exertion.

Morty,” Rick breathed like a prayer, long fingers splayed as they trailed lightly up Morty’s stomach, pulling Morty’s shirt high and higher. “Fuck, you look so good like this.” Rick leaned over him and for one wild moment Morty thought he was going to kiss him until he remembered there was a barrier of tape over his mouth. That didn’t seem to stop Rick, who ran his nose along Morty’s and pressed his lips to Morty’s gagged mouth.

“I’ve got a weakness for your particular brand of cluelessness, Morty,” Rick breathed against Morty’s tape-covered cheek, the smell of beer and clove cigarettes heavy on his breath. His fingers skimmed up to Morty’s nipples and Morty jerked under the touch, shocked at the sensitivity of his own skin. But with Rick hovering over him and his own helpless fear pounding him over the head, his whole body was an exposed wire.

And because nothing in his life could ever go the way it was supposed to, his dick gave an interested pulse under his jeans.

Thank fucking christ Rick didn’t seem to notice – too distracted by running the tips of his fingers over Morty’s chest in teasing patterns. Morty squirmed under him, pushing with the new leverage his legs had, trying to slide out from under Rick, his head rolling up to glance at the door. Could he open it without his hands? His fingers gave the most determined wiggle they could under the layers of tape but they were uselessly secured to his forearms. Could he kick the door down? Unlikely. But it might make enough noise to attract someone’s attention. Summer – maybe – if he was lucky, but at this point he’d settle for anyone.

“I wouldn’t bother, Morty,” Rick answered Morty’s spiraling thoughts. With a grip around the back of Morty’s neck, he hauled him up into a sitting position, transferring his weight to Morty’s thighs and pinning his legs. Rick picked up the tape he’d discarded next to them and Morty eyed the roll warily.

Rick, noticing Morty’s concerned glance, smirked and started unwinding a long strip, his eyes gleaming like knives in the dark. Rick cackled at the long, drawn out groan he inspired from Morty when he looped the tape behind him and started wrapping it around his biceps and chest, erasing the possibility of him slipping out of the loop on his forearms as his upper arms were plastered to his side. The tape stretched across his ribs below his undefined pecs, somehow making his flat chest look accentuated and lewd with his t-shirt trapped and scrunched up under his armpits. Sectioned off like that he looked oddly on display.

Rick didn’t seem satisfied with his work until he’d made at least five or six passes around Morty’s upper arms and when he finished, he leaned in to tear the tape off the roll with his teeth in a move that made Morty’s building erection pulse.

“Me and you, Morty,” he whispered lowly, his hands tracing the path of the tape and securing it more tightly in place against Morty’s skin, “We’re gonna have a lot of fun, Morty. You’ll see – you’ll – you’ll come around.”

Then Rick was hugging him, his arms wrapped around Morty gently and his face buried in Morty’s neck and it was ridiculous that Morty felt comforted by the gesture. Rick was his fucking attacker, but the smell of cigarettes and skin pulled at the searing wire connecting them – called to mind hours in Rick’s ship laughing and skimming the stars – and that remembered happiness flopped uncomfortably in Morty’s stomach. Big hands stroked down his arms and his back and despite everything, they were soothing.

And when Rick’s hand dropped to Morty’s hips and used his grip to grind their groins together, it was unfair how many sparks blew up behind Morty’s closed eyes.

He could feel Rick rubbing against him through two layers of denim, the hot, stiff length of him burning even through their clothes, and Morty’s confused dick pulsed in response – too easily excited and overjoyed to be invited to the party.  

Rick smiled at him, unbearably smug, and if Morty’s mouth weren’t stuffed full, he would have bit him. “See, Morty? I knew you couldn’t hold a grudge.”

That snapped Morty out of his aroused fugue and he writhed, lurching in Rick’s hold. But the motion only ground their hips together and Rick hummed in approval, his hands huge and caging on Morty’s shoulders. When he pushed Morty back down, one palm pressed flat against his sternum to hold him down on the floor, Morty felt a new wave of fear tear into him with the force of a steamroller.

The bathroom looked so huge from the floor. He’d lived in this house his whole life but he’d never seen the room from that angle. With Rick hovering over him, his eyes huge and wild, he felt like he was somewhere else – another planet, another dimension - because this couldn’t be happening to him in his home.

With a confident glimmer in the back of Rick’s blown out eyes, he started palming Morty through his jeans with his free hand and against every rational brain cell in Morty’s head, his hips rolled up to meet the rough touches, reluctantly at first but gaining in confidence as his aching need outweighed his fear. He groaned raggedly from behind his gag and Rick smirked up at him with cat-like ferocity - like he had just read every thought in his head and was thrilled with what he’d seen.

Despite his lurching hips, Morty kicked his legs, scrabbling for leverage against the smooth tile – at least one part him still on track to break free of Rick’s capture - but Rick’s weight settled on his knees and his useless flailing was hopelessly stilled.

“I know you like me, Morty,” Rick hummed, his fingers dipping under the waistband of Morty’s jeans and sliding along the sensitive skin of his stomach. When they caught on the button, Rick paused to unfasten it and Morty was torn between staring wide eyed at Rick’s dexterous digits or facing the scaldingly bright intensity of Rick’s fascinated gaze. “I like you, too.”

Behind his gag, Morty did the closest thing to swallowing he could manage. Why did the first person to like Morty have to be a total lunatic?

“You’re stupid but you’re malleable, Morty. That’s important.” The sound of Morty’s zipper lowering was deafening – even over the pounding music from downstairs and the burst of raucous laughter and the hum of too many voices in one place. “I don’t take rejection well, Morty,” Rick hummed low and dangerous from the back of his throat, “And I think – I think you jumped the gun a bit, don’t you? I know those tentacle guys freaked you out – and I can’t promise they’ll be the last assholes out to murder us – but I’ve got your back, dawg. I – I’ll take care of you, Morty.”

And there was no reason for that to send a pulse of heat to Morty’s already swollen cock but it did – and Rick smirked when he felt the press of it against his palm.

With hands that were suddenly too gentle, Rick dragged Morty’s pants down his hips until Morty’s erection bounced free of confinement – an embarrassed groan getting caught in the gag while Morty dropped his head to let it bang against the tile floor. This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t happening.

Except the hot breath suddenly ghosting over his swollen head jerked him back to reality so hard it made him dizzy and it was too scary to look away – to terrifying to let Rick move over him without observation – so he tilted his head back down in time to see Rick lean down and lick a fat stripe up the underside of Morty’s cock.

Morty spasmed, his whole body jerking with the soft, wet, warm touch, his back arching off the ground in shock. Rick rumbled a sound of approval - something half between a laugh and a sigh – before he bracketed Morty’s hips in his hands and ducked down, swallowing Morty whole.

Morty’s vision whited out – honest to god the world exploded into stardust – and the wild, muffled grunt torn out of him was animalistic. His dick was encased in heat, Rick’s tongue rolling against the thick sensitive vein lining the bottom of it while his head prodded at the tight clench of Rick’s throat. When Rick hummed, Morty nearly screamed behind the gag, suddenly sure - horrifically sure – that if Rick didn’t stop he’d cut his first ever blow job (received blow job, his brain reminded him) embarrassingly short.

Rick seemed to know though - always so insightful, always so observant – and he pulled off with a harsh sucking pop and gripped the shaft of Morty’s painfully hard cock in an unforgiving grip, right below the head, and Morty was held on the edge – so close to cumming but physically incapable. He groaned again and thrashed, but Rick’s hands held him steady.

“You’re so sensitive Morty, it’s incredible,” Rick breathed, almost reverent. “You respond to everything.”

Morty hardly considered that a desirable trait but Rick was beaming up at him with glowing eyes. Morty watched in shock as Rick dipped his head down again, swirling his tongue gently – almost teasingly – over his swollen head. And it was so much, too much - he was a frayed bundle of nerve endings already, bound and gagged and helpless, and he wanted more – he wanted everything – and he hated himself desperately for it.

It felt like ages past, lifetimes, whole star systems imploded and were reborn in the time Rick slowly explored Morty’s erection with his warm tongue and mouth. Licking, sucking, slowly sinking his lips over him until Morty prodded once again at the tightness of Rick’s throat. He fondled and rolled his balls and Morty had no idea that could feel so good – especially in combination with Rick’s mouth.

And every time he thought he was about to topple over the edge, Rick would squeeze Morty’s shaft in just the right places to wind him down again, prolonging the torture, pushing Morty higher and higher until he was nearly delirious.

The ache of his arms and jaw fell away, the cold touch of tile against his bare ass warmed with his body heat, even the stuffing in his mouth started to drive him wild – the way he was desperate to beg and plead and cry but he couldn’t, he had no choice but to accept Rick’s slow, cruel pace.

After the third time Rick staved off an orgasm with a fierce squeeze, Morty dimly registered Rick’s fingers dragging lower to circle his clenching hole. Morty’s legs had fallen open on instinct – a subconscious acceptance of the pleasure Rick was driving through him with his mouth alone – but at the sudden, invasive touch, his thighs jerked closed.

Rick pulled off of him with a smile that was entirely too pleased. “Shh, Morty, it’s okay,” he soothed, and Morty wanted to scream – he tried to scream – his shout muffled to nothing behind the gag.

It absolutely was not okay. Morty wasn’t going to let Rick fuck him, not like this. Not ever.

He vehemently shook his head to express that point and Rick smirked. “I’ll make you love it, Morty,” he promised, his voice pitch black and inky. He crawled up over Morty, hovering above his face. Up close Morty could see the manic glint sparkling in the cool blue streaks of his eyes. Rick’s hand fisted in his hair to hold him in place while he ducked to lave his tongue over one of Morty’s nipples, the wet stripe unbearably chill in comparison to his heated skin.

Rick trailed from one nipple to the other, biting, sucking, and licking at Morty’s skin above the band of tape, worrying the hard peaks between his teeth. Somehow Rick’s knees had wound up between Morty’s thighs, spreading Morty’s legs open and he was alarmingly aware of how vulnerable that made him, all the more so when Rick looped his arm around one of Morty’s knees and lifted it until his thigh pressed against his chest.

Rick sank his weight down onto Morty’s bent leg and too late Morty realized it was trapped, Rick’s chest on his shin and Rick’s arm braced against the ground beside his waist. Even though his legs were stronger than his arms, it still wasn’t enough to dislodge Rick who somehow weighed a ton even though he was nothing but wiry muscle and bone. With renewed access, and their faces nearly level, Rick released his grip on Morty’s hair to shove his hand between them, his wrist nudging Morty’s slightly deflated erection on its way further south.

And just like that Morty panicked.

He thrashed with renewed vigor, his terror real and all encompassing. His eyes rolled in his head as he kicked and shoved and writhed against his bonds, a high pitched squeal muffled by his gag. He dimly registered Rick’s shocked face above him, eyes comically wide, but that was secondary to the animal part of his brain that screamed ‘get away get away get away’.

The bathroom reeled as Morty’s vision swam, his breathing stuttering, and it took him too long to realize Rick had braced a forearm across his neck and was pressing down – not enough to choke him out but enough to make it hard to drag in enough air through his flared nostrils. “Calm down, Morty, shhh,” he was murmuring mindlessly, but it wasn’t concern lighting up Rick’s features – it was excitement. “You gotta relax for me, Morty. You gotta trust me.”

The arm across his throat eased off slightly and Morty dragged in a more substantial breath, his head swirling with the sudden rush of oxygen. He did his best to remind Rick, ‘I don’t trust you’ through the gag but it was reduced to indistinct mumbles and only encouraged Rick to press a kiss to the tape over Morty’s lips.

“That’s right, baby, take it easy…”

Morty huffed out quick, frantic breaths against Rick’s forehead as he once again slid his hand between them and brushed his fingers gently over the ring of muscles Morty hadn’t yet explored. He was too worn out to struggle anymore, his desperate fit had depleted the very last of his reserves and he was exhausted all the way down to his soul.

Still, Morty understood the logic of relaxing into Rick’s touch. If this was happening (oh god this was happening) he couldn’t clench up because it would only make it hurt worse. So he squeezed his eyes shut and focused on releasing every bunched muscle below his waist.

For a long time Rick’s finger only circled the ring of muscles, massaging it almost, and the attention wasn’t painful even if it felt weird. But when he started prodding into it with just the tip of his finger, Morty’s eyes glossed over very much against his will.

When Rick caught sight of the few tears that managed to escape his eyelashes and slide down Morty’s temples, he paused – his pupils dilating at the sight. Rick’s breathing turned ragged, his jumpsuit clad chest heaving, and Morty was sure he was about to lose it – about to cram his fingers roughly inside him and make him scream.

Instead, after exhaling a long wavering breath against Morty’s face, Rick grit his teeth and pulled back, grabbing Morty by the hips and rolling him over.

Jeez you’re easy to traumatize,” Rick grumbled.

Before Morty was one hundred percent sure what was happening, his cheek was mashed against the tile again, his knees bent up underneath him with his ass in the air. He had half a second to think ‘oh fuck this is it’ before Rick’s face unexpectedly buried itself between his ass cheeks and the same hot, wet tongue that had coaxed his dick to new heights was rimming Morty’s hole.

Morty huffed in shock, overwhelmed by an impractical burst of embarrassment. Rick shouldn’t put his mouth there! What was he thinking?

But Rick seemed unfazed, nuzzling his face deeper into Morty’s cleft to spear into him with his tongue.

At the penetration, Morty felt a spike heat surge back to his half-hard dick and it throbbed, jumping in time with the long stroke of Rick’s tongue.

He moaned, his thighs shaking with the tide of sensation ripping through him like a storm. Why did Rick’s tongue in his ass feel so good? Why did his long nose prodding along his crack set him on fire? Why did the two hands groping and spreading his cheeks make him want to press himself against Rick’s face?

Something firmer than a tongue pushed in deeper – the sensation less painful than a strange, unfamiliar stretch – and it wasn’t until Rick leaned up that Morty realized it must be a his fingers. “That better, Morty?” he asked in his deep rasp and Morty couldn’t help the groan of pleasure when Rick quirked his fingers in a new way and his hole clenched around them.

When his body loosened, Rick pushed in again, deeper this time, and then it did hurt – the invasion blazing a stinging trail – but then Rick found something, something inside of Morty, and when he pressed against it, Morty nearly buckled with the unexpected weight of pleasure.

It felt like he was cumming – his vision blanked out for a second as orgasmic tingling swept along every nerve ending in his body – but when that feeling didn’t stop, when he had long past any reasonable amount of time to spurt his load, a quick glance down his body told him no, he wasn’t cumming but it sure as fuck felt like he was.

It was only then that he realized he’d been making noises the whole time - high pitched whining moans from behind his prohibitive gag. He tried to smother them only to realize Rick was humming his approval, groaning along with Morty and rolling his hips into his upward-facing ass.

So fucking sensitive Morty, jeezus fuck. Your squirming is making me wild, shit. I’ve – I’ve gotta be in you, baby, I’ve gotta feel you from the inside.”

When Rick pulled out his fingers, Morty nearly sobbed at the loss of pleasure, a desperate keening moan cracking the air. Rick leaned over him, the slight brush of his clothing against Morty’s skin lighting him up like a torch, and Morty struggled to turn his head to the other side to see Rick digging through the cabinet again, pulling out a little jar of Vaseline and tossing it and the roll of tape up onto the sink.

Then Rick’s weight was gone and Morty was being lifted up, his legs almost too weak to support his weight. Rick propped him against the sink, his balls resting unpleasantly on the cold porcelain, but the strength of his arousal and the orgasm that had been delayed entirely too long kept his dick rock hard and throbbing.

Against Morty’s better judgement he stole a glance at himself in the mirror. His face above the tape was blotchy pink, his eyes liquid with tears and lust. The tape wrapped around the his mouth was tight enough that his cheeks bulged over the edges, the shape of his jaw and his open, stuffed mouth faintly visible through the solid layer of silver.

The flush of his cheeks traveled down his neck and chest, his pecs littered with hickeys and the red indented shape of Rick’s teeth. And there, worst of all, was the un-flagged erection that argued vehemently that whatever the fuck was happening, at least some part of him was happily involved.

Rick loomed behind him - huge and vibrating with eagerness. He had watched Morty’s self-perusal with searing hot eyes and now that he had regained Morty’s attention, he dragged the zipper of his orange prison jumpsuit down with calculated languidness. The long stripe of Rick’s pale skin grew, Morty’s eye tracking the movement in the mirror, until the angry red head of his cock slipped into view.

Morty moaned – half in fear and half in anticipation. This wasn’t how he pictured his first time - this wasn’t how he pictured any time - but the heat pooled in his groin was screaming for something – anything – and Rick’s huge throbbing cock promised to deliver.

With one step Rick closed the space between their bodies, curving himself along Morty’s back and pressing his torso forward until Morty leaned over the sink. Morty’s pants had fallen to his knees but Rick nudged his feet apart as wide as they could go, constrained as they were by the bunched fabric.

Rick’s erection nestled along Morty’s crack, so hot it burned a stripe up Morty’s back that sent him shivering. “You want me, Morty?” Rick asked, his arm curving around Morty to wrap a hand around his neck, his thumb and his pointer finger holding Morty’s jaw still so he had to meet Rick’s eyes in the mirror. “You want me to fuck you, Morty?”

Tears sprang to Morty’s eyes and he tried to shake his head but Rick held his jaw still in a vice grip. Rick rocked against him, the thick shaft of him nestling into his cleft and hinting at a closeness Morty’s dick was desperate for.

“You can’t lie to me, Morty,” Rick breathed into the shell of his ear and the words sank straight to Morty’s stomach. “Admit it.”

Very much against his will, his head nodded, a few tears leaking from his eyes to crawl over his tape covered cheeks.

“That’s a good boy,” Rick purred behind him.

Morty sagged when Rick released him, bending at the waist to press his sweaty forehead against the mirror. He watched with reluctant fascination as Rick twisted open the cap of the Vaseline tub and dipped his fingers inside, rubbing the thick goo between his fingers.

With a shocked grunt, Morty jerked when Rick’s hand disappeared to prod the Vaseline into his slightly stretched hole, Rick’s fingers still an uncomfortable pressure. Rick went back for another scoop of improvised lube and Morty was hyper aware of the places the back of Rick’s hands stroked along his ass as he oiled himself up.

Rick was poised at Morty’s entrance before he’d completely come to terms with what was happening and he longed to yank himself away but he was trapped between the counter and Rick’s sturdy body. Still, he leaned up onto his toes, trying to spare himself those last few inches, but Rick’s hot cock only followed, easing past the ring of muscles in a slow, unstoppable advance.

They groaned in tandem and Morty hated the way Rick’s wrecked voice made his dick bounce against the counter and his body slightly unclench. He was breathing too fast, his quick exhales through his nose fogging the mirror, and he wondered dimly if he might pass out before things got too bad.

But Rick kept inching closer, deeper, unrelentingly stealing all the space inside Morty and branding it as his own. Morty was on fire, he was burning up, the pressing stretch of Rick was shifting from a lot to too much, the first stinging spikes of pain making Morty whimper pathetically behind his gag.

“You’re so fucking tight, Morty,” Rick grit harshly between his teeth. Then a fist was in Morty’s hair, the tugging pull a blessed distraction from the sting of his ass. With the grip in his hair, Rick yanked Morty’s head back, curving Morty at the waist, and Morty yet again had to meet his own conflicted eyes in the mirror.

“I want you to watch me fuck you, Morty,” Rick demanded, his dick still impossibly sliding deeper – deeper – too deep into Morty’s body. “I want you to remember this.”

As if he would ever forget.

“We’re a pair, Morty. Me and you against the universe.”

When Rick bottomed out, they both choked out a gasp but Morty’s was muffled under a thick layer of tape. It hurt – he felt too hot and too stretched, the parts wrapped around Rick burning with a foreign heat. Morty instinctively tried to wiggle away, stretching up as high as he could on his toes, but he was speared, the searing intrusion throbbing as Rick rumbled a deep chuckle into Morty’s ear.

“I like watching you squirm, Morty,” he said and Morty groaned. “Helpless is a good look on you.”

Then Rick rocked back, his cock sliding out of Morty almost all the way in a moment of blessed relief before slamming back home.

Morty yelped – or he might have if his mouth wasn’t stuffed so full – and hated himself all over again for the leap towards pleasure his body made when Rick breathed a ragged groan out like he’d been punched in the guts.

Fuck,” he whispered, and Morty watched Rick’s eyes slide shut in the mirror, his face twisting up like it was in pain but somehow so much sweeter. He did the move again - sliding out almost entirely and leaving an aching emptiness before thrusting all the way back in – and sparks exploded behind Morty’s eyelids.

They both snapped their eyes open at exactly the same moment – brown meeting blue in the mirror – and it was like a switch had flipped and Rick self-restraint (if it could even be called that) was torn to shreds. He shoved Morty down, bending him over the counter and pounded into him, the new angle touching that place inside Morty that lit his entire body up with pleasure. Suddenly he couldn’t contain his moans and grunts and gratified whines, and he was irrationally grateful for the gag because without it the whole house would know what they were doing, even over the loud pumping music.

His pitch hit a frantic tone when he started careening towards the edge he was so desperate to fall over but Rick, hearing the shift in his cries, slowed his pace and pulled Morty back against his chest.

“Come here, Morty, I’ve – I’ve gotta show you something.”

Rick kept his thrusting short but deep as he scooped up the roll of duct tape and peeled off a strip.

Morty was limp and delirious, too fucked and raw to do anything besides watch Rick’s hands work with half lidded eyes. He didn’t even try to dodge him when Rick stretched the tape in front of Morty’s face and laid it over Morty’s nose, pressing it down to conform to the sides of his nose and his cheeks. About an inch of tape hung off the tip of his nose creating a smaller channel for Morty to breathe through, a thin fold that radically reduced his ability to suck in huffs of air and suddenly his chest started to heave in revived panic.

“See Morty, here’s the thing,” Rick smirked, wrapping his hand loosely around Morty’s neck and lengthening the strokes of his dick, prodding Morty’s insides, running over that hidden pleasure place with every inward thrust. “I figured out portal technology Morty – that old bastard,” Rick’s face twisted up into a grimace, “he kept it from me but I figured it out.” Rick’s other hand smoothed over the edges of the tape and Morty’s watched fearfully as his fingers slid closer and closer to the small fold that was Morty’s only source of oxygen. “And now me and you are getting the fuck out of here together.”

Morty shook his head, knowing it was dangerous, knowing it might set Rick off, but he wouldn’t go with Rick – if he left this dimension, there would be no hope he’d ever make it back.

“Yes we are, Morty, and you’re going to walk down stairs and get in my ship all on your own.”

Morty shook his head again and Rick’s palm slotted over the fold of tape, the air streaming through Morty’s nose thick with the heat of his hand.

“You wanna know why you’ll do it, Morty?” Rick asked, voice low and dangerous and Morty’s vision blurred with tears, his chest heaving with his frantic breaths. Then Rick pressed down firmly on the tape covering Morty’s nose, sealing it over his nostrils and cutting off Morty’s air supply. “Because you’re mine.”

Rick’s eyes were bright while they watched Morty struggle to breathe through solid tape but he could barely suck in the slightest hiss of air. He thrashed his head – some animal instinct trying to shake off the blockage - but it was no use.

He was only dimly aware that Rick had picked up his pace, was bracing Morty’s hips with bruising force as he slammed into him, his hip bones jarring against the edge of the sink, but the sensation was muted and far away as Morty’s lungs screamed for air. He was suffocating, he was going to die, he should have never tried to fight Rick.

His vision tunneled in on Rick’s laser-bright gaze, glued to him through the mirror, and just when he was sure he was done for, just as his legs went limp and his eyes rolled up into his head, the loud rrrrriiippp of duct tape broke through his senses and his nose took a huge massive breath of air.

Pleasure burst through every synapse in his brain so fiercely he nearly whited out and he was sure he should have cum – he needed to cum – his balls were pulsing with the need – but Rick’s long fingers were gripped again around his shaft and Morty sobbed at the sight of it in the mirror, pleading incoherently around his gag, his body moving on its own to rock back onto Rick’s cock.

It took him longer than it should have to realize Rick had cum, the hot wetness deep inside a strange, compelling feeling that would have been enough to set him off if Rick wasn’t still gripping his dick too tight.

Fuck, I could get used to that, Morty,” Rick panted richly against Morty’s neck, while Morty reveled in the ability to draw breath into his lungs unhindered. “You’re fucking gorgeous hovering over the edge.”

Morty wasn’t sure if the edge Rick was referring to was in reference to his hand still squeezing the shit out of his slightly softened erection or if it had more to do with the fact that Morty had never been so close to passing out before in his life.

When Rick eased himself out of Morty’s abused channel with a shuddering sigh and finally unclenched his hand from around Morty’s screaming erection, Morty collapsed over the sink like dead weight.

He wanted to cum. He wanted to be untaped. He wanted irrationally for Rick to kiss him – or maybe he wanted to be devoured whole – he was starting to think there was little difference.

But Rick reached for the tape again instead of doing any of that and Morty reared, feebly trying to shove Rick off him but to no avail. Rick watched him with rabid attention while he tore off another strip, his hips pressing Morty against the counter as he yet again held the tape in front of Morty’s face. This time Morty thrashed, knowing now what Rick had in mind and not at all interested in a repeat performance.

Still, Rick’s hands and the strip of tape drew nearer and nearer until the back of his head was plastered against Rick’s chest and he had nowhere else to go.

Rick was deceptively gentle as he smoothed it back over his nose, again leaving the small fold for Morty to breathe through, Morty’s chest rising and falling erratically, too aware of the difference in airflow when it had so recently been completely removed.

“Here’s the plan Morty,” Rick said, holding Morty’s eyes in the mirror as he pressed a kiss to Morty’s temple. When Morty caught sight of Rick’s spidery fingers snatching up the Ghost Face mask so long ago abandoned in the sink, Morty struggled again in earnest, tensing his arms as tight as he could, trying to twist them in the still sticky confines of the tape, but all he got for his efforts were a shortness of breath that left him panting.

With a carefulness that belied Rick’s personality, he pulled the mask over Morty’s head, holding the plastic grimace away from Morty’s face until it was in position and slowly letting it settle. “You good in there?” Rick asked softly, spinning Morty in his hold and crouching to peer searching through the film of black fabric to Morty’s eyes.

The confines of the mask were stifling, his already limited oxygen bouncing back against plastic and fabric. He took three steadying breaths under Rick’s penetrating gaze and Rick hummed in approval.

“That’s right Morty, deep breaths…” Ricks hands soothed along his upper arms and his reassurance shouldn’t have been comforting but Morty was desperate for some kindness. When Rick wrapped a loose fist around Morty’s still throbbing erection in a lazy stroke, Morty groaned desperately in approval.

Morty almost sobbed when Rick removed his hand, reaching down to tug up Morty’s underwear tucking Morty’s dick to the side and then pulling his jeans up to settle them back in place over his hips. He made quick work of the zipper and the button and Morty moaned again in a silent plea when Rick palmed him through the denim.

“You’re gonna walk out the front door with me, Morty,” Rick reminded him, and an overwhelming sense of dread was starting to pound against the wall of deliriousness clouding his mind.

Rick swiped Morty’s long black tunic off the floor and pulled it over Morty’s masked head, knotting the empty arms behind him while Morty heaved for breath behind a film of fabric and tape. With a flourish, Rick looped the cloak around his neck and lifted the hood.

When Rick spun him back to face the mirror, Morty trembled to see that he looked no different than he had when he’d first tugged the costume on, despite the yards of tape binding him underneath. The long cloak hung over his shoulders and disguised the fact that his hands weren’t dangling at his sides and all the draping black fabric convincingly hid the slight bulge of his bound arms behind him.

No one would know’ he thought with terrified surety. No one would know how desperately he needed help.

“You’re gonna be good, Morty,” Rick commanded, standing next to him and zipping up his prison jumpsuit, fitting the muzzle back in place over his mouth. “No kicking, no trying to run, no making a scene.”

Morty vehemently thought, ‘you can’t fucking make me,’ but Rick must have guessed at those thoughts because he wrapped a hand around the mask over Morty’s mouth, the pressure teasing at the small fold of tape through which Morty was rasping for breath.

“It would only take one hand, Morty,” he threatened, whispered the words against the side of Morty’s head. “One little press of my palm and you’d be done for, Morty. How much time do you think it would take someone to figure out what was going on if you started suffocating, Morty? Can you hold your breath long enough for one of those drunken idiots to think of pulling off your mask while you thrash around?”

Morty’s chest heaved and his cock pulsed and he hated that he pressed himself harder into Rick’s chest, seeking the awful comfort of his warmth. Rick’s hand lowered and his arms wrapped around Morty in a facsimile of a soothing embrace.

“So are you going to be good, Morty?” Morty’s head felt heavy when he nodded, the view through the mesh eyeholes blurring with tears. “Good.”

Rick pocketed the tape and the Vaseline and fitted Morty under his arm, facing them towards the mirror and seemingly appreciating the image they cut side by side.

“Look at us, Morty,” Rick smirked, his arm relaxed where it curved over Morty’s shoulder. “We match. Two psycho killers for the price of one.”

And jeezus that hit on too many truths that Morty couldn’t bare.

Reluctantly Morty skimmed his eyes over their reflection in the mirror. Two normal party-goers was all Morty could see. Two kids in costumes. Nothing spectacular. Nothing worth looking at more than once.

He was utterly fucked.

Rick steered him towards the door and begrudgingly Morty appreciated the arm over his shoulder. His balance was all fucked up. His legs were weak and his head was spinning from lack of air and there was a persistent ache shooting from his ass with every step. Something slick and wet dripped out of his stretched out hole and he shivered. His dick was still hard and insistent tucked up against his jeans and with his arms taped up behind him, he might have fallen over if Rick wasn’t holding him up.

“Ready or not…” Rick warned, his words heating the side of Morty’s head through his hood and mask, and then he flicked off the bedroom light and they were plunged into darkness.

Morty’s eyes struggled to adjust as Rick’s hand stretched out and pushed open the door out into the hall. Everything was still hazy with fog and between the screen of smoke and the uneven tones of the colored lighting, Morty lost hope entirely.

He could barely make out the shape of the handful of people lining up for the bathroom, couldn’t tell whether their heads were turned in his direction or not, couldn’t clearly make out their faces through the dark. Everything seemed garish now – the long purple shadows stretching masked features into something terrifying.

Someone stumbled into Morty, their head and shirt covered in fake blood, and even though Morty felt a groping hand pass over his bound and bent elbow looking for stability, the guy only slurred, “Whoops, sorry,” before he backed off and passed them to join the bathroom line.

Morty froze up, the urge to thrash, or scream or cry clawing up his spine like a spider. It was the start of an anxiety attack – he could feel it coming huge and unstoppable – and the recycled air he struggled to suck up through the mask simply wasn’t enough.

Rick’s gave the bottom of Morty’s mask a little tug in a silent reminder and Morty whimpered. Rick’s arm squeezed him to his side, his hand brushing up and down Morty’s arm comfortingly, and Morty tried his absolute hardest to stave of the attack. If he panicked now, he’d die. Thankfully some part of his brain must have been aware of that and that crippling weight eased off enough for him to take one uneven step forwards.

He couldn’t worry about what kind of future he’d have with Rick – not right now. He had to take this literally one step at a time or he’d be spread out on the ground suffocating while a bunch of his classmates watched.

Morty put another foot forward and Rick hummed a, “You’re doing so good, baby,” against his covered ear and it bolstered Morty up more than it should have.

When he got to the stairs he paused in trepidation. A lot of people had gathered there, sitting or standing and immersed in conversation, and Morty wasn’t sure he was stable enough to navigate around them without tumbling down headfirst.

But Rick’s arm tightened and his hand wrapped around Morty’s bicep and he called, “Coming through!” with such confidence that people barely glanced at him as they sidestepped out of the way.

Every step down jostled Morty’s tender ass and his still hard dick but it was also one step closer to being out of this specific brand of hell and that was all Morty could focus on, getting to the next problem – getting to Rick’s ship – so he clenched his teeth around his gag and staggered on.

Slowly the front door came into view through the thick fog and very much against his plan, his feet slowed. He had to keep going, he couldn’t have a panic attack here like this, he had to move forward, but his body seemed to know that the door was his last stopgap. On the other side of that, he’d be gone. Rick was kidnapping him. And once he’d passed over the threshold, there would be no coming back.

Sensing his pause, Rick’s big hand cupped the back of Morty’s head and he heard a growled order of, “Morty,” at his side before it was repeated back much more vibrantly from somewhere to his right.

“Morty!”

He and Rick both spun and Morty’s heart nearly burst when Summer stumbled forwards, her smile wider and goofier than usual. She was drunk, Morty realized, that fleeting hint of hope that had appeared so suddenly immediately whipped away on a violent wind. She was drunk and distracted and considering the slightly glazed sheen to her eyes, she wasn’t about to notice that underneath all his black clothing he was bound and gagged.

“Where have you been hiding, loser?” she demanded, her words slurring together. And Morty – who couldn’t do anything but groan behind his mask, twitched his head towards Rick in a panic.

“Morty had a bit too much of your mom’s wine,” Rick supplied easily, tucking Morty tighter against his side. Summer’s vacant eyes slid over the arm Rick had around Morty’s shoulder and her frown was exaggerated by her drunkness. “I’m taking him out to get some food.”

“Oh fuck, can I come with?” Summer cantered forward on unsteady legs, her hand stretched out to brace herself against Rick’s chest. The completely unreasonable burst of irritation forced Morty to jerk his head away, his eyes pointedly landing on the floor.

“You really think you should leave your own house party?” Rick asked, and Morty didn’t have to see it to know his unibrow was doing that thing where half of it quirked up in a silent, condescending question.

“Ugh, right,” Summer grumbled and Morty wished he could pick one fucking feeling and stick with it. “Bring something back for me?”

“Su-uuurgh-re,” Rick answered, the lie transparent in his voice but Summer was oblivious and not a moment later, someone in the living room called, “Summer!” loud enough to pull her attention away.

She spun away without another word to Morty and he sniffled behind the tape covering his nose.

“Don’t worry, Morty, I won’t let you get lonely,” Rick promised, and Morty could tell from the shape of his words they were spoken through a sinister smile. “Now come on, baby, it’s the home stretch.”

Three uneven steps forward and they were at the door.

The lack of fog outside the house was a blessed relief but the sliver of moonlight on the lawn was dim, long shadows cast by the streetlight three houses down. A burst of fresh air filtered through the mask and Morty wobbled, suddenly struck by an out-of-body sort of vertigo.

It wasn’t his legs cantering through the doorway unevenly, they weren’t his feet navigating around the kid laying stretched out in the grass unconscious, it wasn’t his aching arms curled up behind his back. That was all someone else. This wasn’t happening. This was a dream.

Despite Rick’s navigation, Morty’s shoe caught on the passed-out kid’s ankle – god, through the mask and the dark he couldn’t even make out their face but they might be the last human he’d see on earth. His knees hit the ground before Rick could catch his fall and Morty wanted so much to sink into the grass, to disappear, to fade into non-existence because this was all too much.

Rick huffed over him and a nearby group of guys nursing solo cups cheered.

“Someone’s wasted,” one of them laughed and Rick’s legs shifted in front of Morty’s limited field of vision.

“You know it, so-ooough-n,” Rick called jovially back, his hand latching around Morty’s bicep and pulling him up.

But try as he might, Morty's legs wouldn’t support his weight. He was a million miles away, and even though he knew Rick might cut off the thin stream of hot air he kept re-breathing, he couldn’t keep his knees from buckling.

“Need some help?” one of the faceless guys asked and Morty’s heart throbbed with hope. But this was exactly what he wasn’t supposed to be doing – making a scene. He heard footsteps to his left and an approaching chuckle and he screamed at his legs to obey, to stop being so useless.

Rick’s hand eclipsed Morty's vision and he squeezed his eyes closed, terrified. This was it – he was going to die on his front fucking lawn. His horrible school picture was going to be on the news while some perfectly coifed reporter used his death to threaten teenagers away from kinky sex and parties. He’d be the talk of school – a freak with a duct tape fetish who took things too far. Rick would take off into space and scrounge up some other Morty – maybe one with a mermaid tail – and he’d laugh when he looked back on Morty’s last, pathetic, breathless, writhing moments.

Morty would have jolted in surprise when he felt something hard and bony press into his stomach if he had the energy left to startle. One second he was propped up and then next the world tilted and his head was upside-down, nothing but orange visible through the screen of black fabric covering his eyes.

“Nah, I got it,” Rick answered, his voice close to Morty’s hip and he realized he’d been hoisted over Rick’s shoulder, the same way Rick had carried that keg.

“You should go out for the wrestling team,” the faceless guy said and he was so near Morty could have stretched out his leg and kicked him.

“Ha!” Rick burst out laughing, bright and brilliant. “I only do that recreationally. Isn’t that right, Morty.” He accentuated his point by patting Morty on the ass and if it weren’t for how dire the situation was, Morty might have flushed red.

With a little hop that readjusted Morty’s weight, Rick started moving down the lawn with long strides that jostled Morty’s ribs against Rick's bony shoulder.

It wasn’t a long walk but Morty forced himself to lift his head and catch one last glimpse of his house.

The windows glowed purple and red and orange around the blinds and the fake cobwebs stretched over the bushes glistened in the moonlight. The guy who had come over to help Rick had long ago turned back to his friends and as Morty watched, the front door swung open and two girls with their arms around each other stumbled down the steps.

Before he was done drinking his fill, trying to burn the imagine into his memory, he heard the ship thunk open and Morty was dropped into the passenger seat, the door slamming closed behind him.

In the time it took Rick to pace around the front of the ship, red and blue flashing lights turned the corner up the street and the weird bubble of hope that made Morty think ‘maybe someone did notice’ burst into icy shards when Rick slid into the driver’s seat.

“Oh shi-eeeugh-t, looks like the cops are coming to bust the place up,” Rick said around a laugh. “Good thing I got you outta there, huh Morty?” Then he jerked the steering wheel back and they took off straight up into the sky.

“I’ll give you a seven out of ten, Morty,” Rick continued, reaching over and pulling the mask off Morty’s face in one solid yank. The quality of air immediately changed and Morty’s head fell back against the seat as he took his first few pulls of slightly less-hindered oxygen. “You kind of fell apart at the end but I’ll let it slide this time.”

Morty’s head flopped in Rick’s direction, his energy completely drained. Did that mean there would be a next time? Jeezus fuck Morty really hoped not.

Rick cackled at Morty’s disbelieving glare and entered some coordinates into the dashboard, making use of the autopilot he rarely ever resorted to. Then he was leaning over again and pulling Morty’s cloak and tunic off in a violent undressing that somehow ended with Morty sprawled across the back seat.

With his legs unhindered by the draping fabric and a new fatalistic boldness instilled in him now that the blackness in front of his eyes was the emptiness of space, Morty lashed out at Rick, landing one wild kick in Rick’s stomach. Rick made a sturdy ‘ommph’ noise and Morty felt vindictively pleased with himself for exactly two seconds before Rick looked up at him with fire in his eyes.

“Wanna play rough, Morty?” he taunted, and Morty deeply regretted his temporary insanity when Rick pounced on him like a feral cat. He squirmed, writhing away from Rick’s reaching hands but it was no use – one moment he was pulling in limited but tolerable huffs of air and the next nothing.

Morty convulsed, his legs thrashing as he rubbed his face against the seat, trying to dislodge the tape, but it felt like he was only pressing it on tighter. Through the panic of asphyxiation, he felt Rick tugging his jeans off over his hips but the wave of emotions that inspired was washed away by the more pressing lack of air.

Morty jerked when his suddenly achingly hard dick rubbed against the rough leather of the seat, the barest whimper left to him getting swallowed up by the washcloth still stuffing his mouth. He shook his head, his vision blurring, he need air, he needed air, he needed air!

The first unexpected pull of oxygen was so sweet he hardly noticed the sharp sting of tape peeling off his skin. The head rush left him dizzy and for a moment he simply lay heaving, deliriously grateful for air and wondering if he’d ever take it for granted again.

When the ship stopped spinning around him, he realized his pulsing erection was pressed comfortably against something warm and soft – Rick’s thigh – because somehow he’d wound up draped over Rick’s lap like he was about to get a spanking.

Morty tensed, expecting a blow, but that wasn’t what Rick was doing. In slow-to-form thoughts, Morty registered the high squeal of tape ripping off the roll and he shuddered. How much more until Rick was satisfied?

“If you’re gonna be like that, Morty, I’ll tape you up nice and tight,” Rick murmured, almost in answer to his silent question, and Morty tried to rock his hips away but Rick was already wrapping his thighs with tape, squeezing them together with a band of silver right above his knees.

Morty grimaced and groaned, his balls uncomfortably pinched between his thighs, but he’d rather they stay there than come to terms with the oddly doting way Rick hummed and paused in his endless binding, rearranged Morty’s junk to relieve the pressure.

Feebly, Morty kicked as best he could but it felt more pathetic than anything else, especially when Rick tore off the tape and got right to work repeating the motion below Morty’s knees, a few passes sealing his calves helplessly together.

“I like a little fight as much as the next guy, Morty,” Rick told him, turning to cut Morty a smile with too many teeth. “But I think I like watching you struggle, more.”

After he finished off the band of tape around his calves, he moved down Morty’s legs, tugging off his shoes and socks, pants and underwear following to get lost amongst the mess littering the ship floor. Morty wasn’t surprised when he felt his ankles smushed together by tape, the endless squeal of the roll echoing in Morty’s head.

Morty grunted in shock when Rick dipped two fingers into his still wet and stretched hole, the feeling jarring between pleasure and pain. His dick pulsed against Rick’s thigh and he was rewarded with a hearty chuckle, and Morty was suddenly furious his erection would do something so stupid as encourage another round when he was sure his sore hole couldn’t take it. “We’re gonna have a lot of fun, me and you. You’ll see Morty – I – I know you can’t imagine it right now but you’ll come around.”

Morty didn’t know what was worse, Rick’s insane surety or his own exhausted apathy. Rick tended to be right – even now as miserable and bound and trapped as he was most of his attention was upsettingly focused on his pulsing cock and the feeling of Rick’s fingers skimming the edges of his hole.

Rick finished off by wrapping a few passes of tape around the arches of Morty’s feet, and then he scooted to the far side of the seat to admire with glowing eyes the way he’d bound Morty practically head to toe.

Morty didn’t want to give him the satisfaction – not when Rick had just admitted he liked watching Morty squirm – but the compulsion to test his bonds was overwhelming.

He was so weak though - so worn out, so sore, so emotionally drained, so aroused - he barely writhed, turning himself by bending his knees and bracing his shoulder against the seat until he could flop pathetically over, escaping the uncomfortable pressure of laying on top of his erection.

Rick’s eyes caught on Morty’s throbbing flesh with a singularity that brought heat to Morty’s cheeks. With grasping hands, Rick maneuvered him until he was sitting up in the center of the seat, his bound feet on the floor. With a sort of frantic earnestness, Rick tore at his own clothes, ripping off the stupid Hannibal lector muzzle and shimmying out of his jumpsuit until he was bare.

Morty had never seen so much of Rick’s skin before and even though he hated himself for thinking it, it was impossible to ignore that Rick was good looking. Tall and lean and wiry. He could have fucked anyone – people would have thrown themselves at him given the chance – but somehow Morty was the focal point of his unhealthy obsession.

That shouldn’t have been flattering but it was in the worst way possible.

Because he couldn’t stand looking at him – because he couldn’t handle the mix of conflicting thoughts circling his head and the way his dick kept pulsing against his stomach and the fever-bright intensity of Rick’s unblinking gaze - Morty jerked his head around, startled to see the earth shrinking behind them, still near enough to take up most the back window.

“There’s no use in turning back, Morty,” Rick commanded, wrapping his hand over the tape on Morty’s mouth and dragging his head back to center. Rick’s warmth curled over him as he straddled Morty’s lap and it was too easy to follow that order when Rick leaned over and snatched the little container of Vaseline from off the floor and scooped out another globule.

When he smoothed it over Morty’s erection with a loose fist, Morty shuddered at the sight of Rick’s longs fingers stroking him, curving over his head to distribute the improvised lube in a thin, even layer.

With a hard mental shake Morty snapped his gaze away. He didn’t have to obey Rick. The guy might be able to tie him up and walk him out of his own house and kidnap him to fucking outer space but that didn’t mean Morty had to do every fucking thing he said.

And Morty wanted to look back, he wanted to watch the earth disappear behind him so he wouldn’t recall this moment warped by the pleasure of Rick’s loose hand. His life was being torn away – he could feel it fading into the blackness behind him – and maybe it wasn’t the best life but it was his and even if every day forward was only the best kind of adventure, he’d still miss the world he’d been forced to leave behind.

So he obstinately jerked his neck around again to see they’d already put enough space between them that the familiar blue planet was the size of an exercise ball.

“I said, don’t,” Rick warned caustically, the hand around Morty’s cock clenching while the other grabbed him by the jaw and tried to turn him. “Look at me, Morty.”

But Morty fought his hold, loosening Rick’s lubed up hand with a hard head shake and watching the earth shrink over his shoulder.

Fine,” Rick breathed and the hand released his cock, the loss of touch as much an awful ache as it was a relief.

But the loud scream of tape peeling off the roll startled Morty out of his brief victory and he turned in time to watch Rick approach his face with a strip stretched between his two fingers.

Morty murmured an indistinguishable ‘no!’ behind his gag but it was too late. Rick smoothed the tape over his eyes, pressing it into the contours of his eye sockets with clever fingers that worked too fast. Then the tape was screaming again, looping around his head in three passes, and Morty was utterly lost to the darkness.

His head jerked when Rick ripped the tape off from the roll and then there was nothing but two sets of heavy breathing filling a space that felt too small and too big all at once.

“There,” Rick breathed into the shell of his ear and Morty moaned at the warm surprise of it. “Now it’s just me and you. Rick and Morty. No distractions.”

And jeez wasn’t that the truth. All he could smell was Rick’s musk and the spicy smell of clove cigarettes. All he could feel was the heat of Rick settled over his knees. All he could hear was the low hum Rick breathed against his cheek when he pressed their noses together – the faint pressure of a kiss over his wrapped lips.

Rick’s warm hand wrapped back around Morty’s cock and he was embarrassed to realize the forced blindness amped up his sensitivity to a whole new level. He could feel Rick’s callouses against his shaft - the slight chafe of them - even through the film of Vaseline. He was painfully desperate to cum, held so long right on the edge, and with his world reduced to the weight of Rick on top of him and the hand around his cock, all he could think was ‘please’.

But the loose circle of Rick’s hand wasn’t enough – not nearly enough, and he groaned in a wordless appeal for more.

Rick complied with a quiet rumble that Morty felt all the way down to his bones. “I’ve got you, Morty,” he promised darkly, his weight shifting, hands pulling Morty down the seat until his butt rested at the edge of the cushion and he curved into the seat in a weird slouch. “We’re – we’re gonna do everything together, Morty.”

The statement was ominously threatening until Morty felt Rick’s hand wrapped tight around his cock guiding him towards something firm but warm and slippery.

Morty nearly choked on the washcloth when his entire dick slid into a hot, indescribably tight channel. He’d never felt anything like it – not even Rick’s mouth, and Morty was fairly sure he could have died happy with Rick’s lips at the base of his dick.

With a slight shift of his weight, Rick's bony knees clamped onto Morty’s hips and Morty realized with a shock he felt all the way down to his toes he was inside Rick.

Miniscule muscles tensed around his cock, Rick’s body adjusting to Morty's presence, squeezing and fluttering around him in a cavalcade of sensory input. Rick moaned when Morty’s dick pulsed inside him, the sound lewd and perfect, and with his eyes forced closed he had nothing to do but concentrate on every inch inside of Rick that stretched to fit him.

Rick’s warm fingers trailed up Morty’s stomach and curled up his neck, stopping to cup the back of Morty’s head. And it was so sweet and gentle a hold, Morty was viciously stuck with the juxtaposition of the touch. It made the feelings he’d nurtured for a month rear their hideous, unwanted heads – the ones that told him Rick was kind to him, that Rick treated him special, that Rick looked at him like he was important. He didn’t want those feelings anymore. But they were still there – clinging with sticky fingers to heartstrings he’d rather cut.

The weight eased up off Morty’s lap and all his higher thinking abruptly cut out when Morty’s dick slid out of Rick’s burning insides in a long, delicious stroke.

A raw, muffled moan ripped out of Morty like an exorcism, shifting to a higher tone when Rick stopped before Morty could slip out and lowered himself again, the insane clench of Rick’s body nearly painfully overwhelming but so so good.

After a few slower rolls, Rick picked up speed and Morty was pretty sure he was going to die – and he was insanely, upsettingly glad for all the tape wrapped around him, keeping him together, because if it weren’t there he might explode.

“Feel – feel good, Morty?” Rick breathed, ducking to mouth at Morty’s neck and nip at his skin. And Morty was utterly bewitched – too far gone to be mad or scared or sad – all he could do was nod frantically and mewl behind the tape, hyperaware that if he wasn’t gagged he’d be begging or screaming or rambling and oddly grateful to be spared the indignity. “That’s right, baby. See, I’ll always get you back.”

Rick’s arms wrapped around him in a tight hug and Morty buried his face in Rick’s neck, desperate to be closer as Rick’s bouncing reached a level erratic enough to drive Morty finally, mercifully over the edge.

His entire body clenched - his bound legs curling up, his back arching, his head trashing side to side – and in the blackness behind the tape, his brain whited out. Pleasure ripped through him like a tsunami, every cell in his body exploding only to be reshaped, starting with the place where his body met Ricks. Long after the waves of bliss should have stopped, he still floated on their rolling crests.

When he came back to himself, Rick was murmuring, “That’s right, that’s it, Morty,” in an endless, soothing chant, his big hand brushing through the hair that wasn’t wrapped under layers of tape.

Morty’s stomach was wet and chilly in the artificial air of the ship and somehow the idea that Rick had cum too (riding Morty’s lap – holy shit) inspired a muted pride even though he surely had nothing do with it. Chapped lips pressed to his cheeks in a series of kisses and despite the fact that he was still bound and pinned under Rick, he felt fearfully doted upon.

Which was sick – utterly sick – and he tried to shake the feeling off, but Rick slid from his lap and pulled Morty onto his, tucking Morty’s head under his chin. It had been a long time since anyone had held Morty like that – so… lovingly... – and the emotional whiplash left him aching.

You’re in the middle of being disappeared forever off the face of the earth!’ his brain tried to scream at him but somehow that voice had lost its power. He stretched out a hand for it in the darkness behind the tape, trying to coax it forward, trying to breathe life into something he knew he shouldn’t forget. But he was already slipping into sleep – the exhaustion of the day finally catching up to him – and it was so much easier to ignore the tight bands of tape and the ache in his shoulders and that spark of fear and anger that was already sputtering out when he could lean into the comfort of Rick’s chest and his long arms holding him close.

“Don’t worry, Morty,” Rick breathed against Morty’s head and it was freeing to let the last of his muscles unclench at the sound of his voice. “I’ll take care of you.”