“It’s a complicated world. People have a hard time finding each other and when they do…
they’re scared to take the risk”
The dark expanse of space stretched above them; milky galaxies and stars shining brightly in the night sky without light pollution to hide them. It was a dark planet, still millions of years away from developing complex organisms. The grass was navy blue, soft and short beneath their feet as they walked. They weaved around deep luminescent pools of water, lit by the glowing fruits that spawned in them.
It was a unique little place, small and safe. No Federation, no face-eating plants, no risks…
Rick kicked a stray pebble into one of the pools, observing as it sputtered and fizzed like a bath bomb. It dissolved in seconds, leaving the bioluminescent fruits unscathed. He shoved his free hand into his lab coat, the other sloshing the liquid in his flask around. Rick appreciated the many evolutionary lines that the universe had to offer. He was a man of science, above all else.
Above a good father, grandparent, husband, or even as a basic guardian. Rick took a few swigs from his flask, checking the watches on his arm.
“Rick?” A tentative voice inquired from behind him.
He grunts back, and a few beats of silence pass.
Morty comes up from his side, glancing at the pool before shakily continuing. “Um… I-I got the fruit things you wanted.” Morty bit his lip, his eyes glowing a bit from behind his goggles. He dropped a soaked backpack to the ground, heavy with goods. “Is this enough? Do you need me to get more or-”
He’s dithering and Rick can’t handle it. He can’t handle anything tonight. Not after all the shit that had happened, and all the stress that had been drowning him. He wasn’t sure if he was angrier at Morty for keeping a bombshell secret from him - along with many more he hadn’t even scratched the surface of - or at himself for not figuring it out sooner, before the kid was an unresponsive mess on the garage floor.
“Shut up, Morty,” Rick snaps. “J-Just leave them there. It’s fine.” He wasn’t really here for the stupid fruits anyways. He wanted answers, and he was going to get them.
Morty opened his mouth like he wanted to say something more, but closed it just as quickly. Rick knew that Morty could feel how irritated he was, and he didn’t want to push the envelope.
Rick headed off in a different direction, motioning for Morty to follow. The boy stuck close to Rick’s side, eyeing the darkness that surrounded them. Morty twitched a bit, a shiver going through his body. It was new. The compulsory tick that surfaced immediately after Rick flushed the Xax’ic from his system. Rick could almost count the seconds between each twitching episode, filing away the information somewhere in his mind.
Morty’s body jerked a bit, and he hung back a little farther, gripping his arm.
A small shudder, followed by the boy beginning to gnaw on the collar of his shirt.
A leaf crunched underfoot and broke the cycle, causing the tick to go off short of the cycle.
Rick idly hoped that it wasn’t an effect caused by the drugs; that the boy’s nervous system hadn’t been ruined over jack-shit. He slowed his walk so he could keep pace with Morty, staring at the boy from the corner of his eyes.
Morty’s sleeves were pushed past his elbows so they wouldn’t get wet while he fished the fruits from the water, the light from the pools highlighting his hands and arms. His fingers were a shocking white, newly bandaged, but sopping wet. strips of cloth hung down as it peeled away from his skin, though Morty didn’t seem to mind. The bruises littering his arms were exposed, deep black blotches that curled up to where his sleeves sat.
The luminescent blue light made them look much darker than before…
Rick shook the thought from his head, taking another long pull from his flask.