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Creative Writing Share your fan fiction, stories, poems, essays, editorials, song lyrics, or any other related written work. All written must be your creation. Start a new thread, and keep replying to that thread as you add on more chapters. Anyone can join in at anytime.


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  #16  
Old 08-14-2007, 01:21 AM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Wow, reviews. o.o

Draconic_Espeon: Heh, to be fair, it's not the same people who fought for them not to be aborted that now want them dead. Both are motivated by religion, but their interpretations of their religions are very different. Thanks for reading.

Daughter of Suicuine: Funnily enough, I generally dislike Pokémorphs. Then the idea for doing it like this (specifically, the first idea I had was to begin the story with that debate you see in the first chapter) just popped into my head about a year ago and I wrote a brief draft of how I'd begin it, but then pretty much scrapped it and didn't think I'd ever write the rest.

Then there was a thread about Pokémorphs at another forum, and it randomly made me want to pick up this fic again, so I completely rewrote the first chapter and thought of a plot that could drive the story (the main problem with the original idea being that I didn't have a plot).

Heh, I wouldn't mind co-writing sometime. Especially if you're good at plots, we could make a great team. :D

PhantomKat7: Indeed, I was going for as much realism as possible, and the Pokémorphs do have a lot of problems. :3 Mweeheehee. Thanks for reading.

Anyway, the reason I posted chapter four was actually that I had finished chapter five and came to the thread to discover I had forgotten the fourth one. So without further ado, here's the fifth.




Chapter 5

Mia Kerrigan sat on a bench at the edge of the school grounds. For most kids, free periods were their favourite time of the school day. And so had they been for her the first couple of years.

Then her scythes had started to grow, and the other kids had grown deathly afraid of her, something she could not really relate to personally but could, in a limited sense, understand.

On its own that was perhaps not too bad, since she had never been a particularly social person and initially it had been very satisfying to see all the gawking eyes averted as soon as she glanced in their general direction. The bad part was that it wasn’t until they became afraid of her that the Nutjobs had begun to feel some sense of martyrdom (an idea which they, for some reason she could not quite grasp either, seemed to feel oddly attracted to) in trying to explain to her why she was a vile creature of Hell.

And that was why she felt her glossy yellow insect wings begin to twitch that day when she realized that the Nutjobs were approaching her.

The boy she had attacked the last time was absent from the group, and she felt a hint of dark pride in herself. The oldest of them, a sixteen-year-old girl with square-rimmed glasses and long brown hair tied into a ponytail, was still there, however, and this year she had gathered a few new followers.

Mia said nothing as they came within a few feet of the bench.

“Still here?” the girl asked with contempt in her voice. Mia noticed a small blond-haired boy with large blue eyes standing in the group and looking at her with an expression almost of pity.

“Frank left because of you, you know,” the girl went on. “He didn’t want to come back. His mom put him into a different school. I hope you’re happy.”

Mia looked at the little boy, who looked back at her. He bit his lip, but didn’t show any other sign of being afraid.

She liked him.

“He was my friend.”

The little boy blinked his large blue eyes slowly, surveying her, his expression still a strange blend of interest and sad pity.

“What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you ever answer when people talk to you?”

Mia’s eyes darted up at her and her head slowly followed. She could see the muscles under the skin in the girl’s exposed neck tensing in anger, her posture stiffening slightly. The little boy glanced up at her and then back at Mia.

“You can talk!” the girl shouted. Her fingers curled into fists, her knuckles whitened. “Say something!”

“What?” Mia replied, her attention now focusing on the sinews in the girl’s neck shifting as she swallowed.

“I know you aren’t one of God’s creations,” the girl replied with a slight jerk of her head, her voice shaking slightly. Her ponytail swished around behind her for a second but quickly came to a stop. “But if you turn to him, he will accept you like any of his children. You can be good and you will be forgiven. How you were created doesn’t matter. Everybody is the same before God. I don’t know why you do the… things you do. Maybe you… you’ve got demons inside of you or… something.”

The way the girl’s gaze shifted as she said the last sentence betrayed undeniable scepticism. She didn’t really believe there were any demons. Mia could tell. That girl was confused and bitter, and had never gotten to Mia much, not even last year when she had been a lot more violent and actually punched her or the times when she had screamed about the eternal fires of Hell. It was the boy that bothered her more, that boy who wasn’t like the other cronies. The way he looked at her, sad, pitying.

“There is no God,” Mia just replied, watching both the girl and the boy. The girl flinched at the words, as if she had just been stung. The boy closed his eyes for a moment, ever-so-slightly shaking his head, knowingly, like it was Mia who was the one with the empty faith in imaginary friends in the sky. Something about it irritated her. Why was she to be pitied? She liked that boy. He wasn’t supposed to irritate her.

“Leave me alone,” she said, looking straight at him. He looked back at her and then stepped slowly forward. Mia’s arms automatically twitched into a defensive position, ready to slash, despite the wooden sheath bound around her forearms that covered her small blades from wrist to elbow and rendered them harmless. The boy didn’t blink. His eyes looked straight at hers, searched them, flicking now and then to the bony horns sticking out of her green hair and the sheathed blades on her arms.

“Get away from me,” she growled, her arm twitching. She would have hit him, except that she still liked him and didn’t want to.

“I feel sorry for you,” he told her, unblinking. Mia saw the brown-haired girl jerk her head down toward the boy, her bitter expression blending with surprise.

The boy took another step.

Mia jerked her arm towards him, but another girl from the group with the same blond hair and slightly smaller blue eyes, most likely his sister, pulled him back and jumped in front of him so that the sheath covering Mia’s scythe hit the side of her arm instead. There wasn’t much force in the blow and the girl wasn’t hurt, but she gave Mia just the expression that she had found most typical of the Nutjobs in her time dealing with them.

“Listen, you freak,” she said as she threw Mia’s arm away, standing so close to her that Mia could smell the blood rushing to her face, “I know you can’t hurt anyone with that on your scythes, but we’re going to get you out of this school, no matter what. You contaminate it with evil. You should be locked up somewhere away from real people where you can’t hurt them, and…”

Without thinking, Mia bared her teeth and snarled, a reaction that to her felt more natural than she knew it ought to. The girl recoiled slightly, clenching her jaws. “You can’t hurt us,” she repeated under her breath, more to herself than to Mia. “You can’t hurt us. They put that on your arms so you couldn’t.”

Mia knew it was a bad idea, but she growled, jerked her left hand up to the leather straps tying the sheath to her right hand and began to tear wildly at them. The Nutjobs took only a fraction of a second to realize what she was doing and immediately turned around to speed up to the school building. The blond-haired girl had to practically drag her brother with them.

She ripped the sheath fully off and felt the cool air around her exposed scythe. It felt good. The blade itched for something to cut, but the Nutjobs were already gone.

She looked around, straight into the eyes of the teacher currently on watch who was standing by the wall a few meters away, his face pale and sweaty as he picked up his cellphone and dialled what she knew to be Dave’s number.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes to calm down, shaking her head to clear it, but it was already too late.

-------

“Mr. Ambrose, surely you can understand that this is unacceptable.”

“I don’t see why this is any worse than what happened before.”

The principal’s office was not very big, and the crammed bookshelves that always threatened to collapse and the deathly still, heavy, red curtains in front of the firmly shut windows gave it a distinctly claustrophobic atmosphere that had made her despise the room the moment she had first set foot into it. She was sitting on one of the chairs in the corner with her bare, clawed feet up on the other, examining the blades that poked out through her skin just below her wrists while the men talked it over. She heard the principal sigh.

“Mr. Ambrose, this is the third time this has happened. The first time you assured us it was a one-time occurrence and would never happen again. The second, you told us that for safety we could put on that sheath which would protect any students from potential unconscious outbursts. But now this, too, has proven futile. We have multiple eyewitnesses who will readily swear that she simply took the sheaths off and all that saved her fellow students was that while she was doing so they had time to flee. Surely you cannot expect us to keep her at this school even after this. It is clearly only a matter of time before she murders someone. Frankly I’m afraid of her.” He lowered his voice, apparently having deluded himself into thinking her hearing wasn’t that much better than an ordinary human being’s. “I wouldn’t dare take her into this office if you weren’t here too, to be honest. The teachers are afraid of teaching her classes. More than one student has come in and expressed great concern or even wish to leave the school.” Not that it mattered that she heard it. She had noticed all of that already.

She poked the sharp corner of the scythe right at the elbow where it was widest, just before it sharply turned back into her arm and rejoined the bone. A trickle of crimson blood from her fingertip travelled down the blade and started to glide off her elbow. She wiped it carefully off with the finger it had come from and licked it off from there. She’d always enjoyed the heavy, metallic taste of it.

“You’re not getting it,” Dave’s irritated voice replied. “They provoked her. Nobody in their right mind would provoke a half-Scyther. It’s their own damned fault, if you ask me.”

“All the more reason not to allow half-Scyther into this school, don’t you think?”

“She has a right to education.”

“Of course she does, but if she can’t function among other students, her education may have to be carried out in her private home where she can be kept under control.”

A fly buzzed close to her and landed on the wall. Mia’s eyes automatically followed it as it crawled upwards in vain hopes of finding open air. She raised her arm slowly.

WHAM.

Dave and the principal jerked their heads around in surprise, abruptly ceasing their conversation. She pulled the short blade out of the wall it had sunk slightly into, letting the two halves of the fly fall down on either side of the resulting crack as a subconscious smile flickered across her face.

It took only a moment for her mind to snap back into human manners, her eyes flicking back to the crack and then to the elderly man in the blue suit standing pale-faced behind the desk. “I didn’t like it,” she just said.

Dave looked at her for an awkward second and then turned quickly back to the principal. “Eh.”

“We are not going to have her at this school anymore, Mr. Ambrose,” Mr. Rogers said, watching Mia. He had always been a man who had contained his fear relatively well. He may have been gripping the edge of the desk so tightly that his knuckles whitened, and a bead of sweat was trickling down the side of his forehead, perhaps or perhaps not just because the room was awfully hot for at least her liking, but his voice remained steady and his expression determined. “Please leave. This decision is final. She cannot function at a public school, and you know it as well as I do, Mr. Ambrose.”

Dave licked his lips nervously for a second, his gaze travelling a few times from her to the principal and back to her.

“Let’s just go,” he finally said, offering his hand to Mia. She had always liked it, the way he offered his hand. He did it sincerely and fearlessly, the muscles in his fingers occasionally twitching in protest but his mind inevitably successful in forcing them under control and maintaining the gesture. There was something intrinsically trustworthy in it, more so than in most other people, whose revulsion at the idea of touching her was generally far more obvious. She took his hand and stood up, letting him lead her out of the office and slam the door stubbornly at their backs.

Oh, yes, she liked Dave.

They walked out of the school building to his shiny white car and he walked over to the driver’s seat while she silently opened the door on the passenger side and got in.

“Watch the seat, Mia, watch the seat…” Dave muttered as he closed the door on his side.

She looked on either side of her elbows, where the sharp points at the end of her scythes had created a pattern of small holes and tears in the leather through the years, making sure the blades didn’t touch it as she buckled the seat belt.

Dave started the engine and drove off the sidewalk where he had carelessly parked the car. He sighed, looking briefly at her with his blue eyes.

“It was the Nutjobs again,” she said.

Dave snorted. “It’s always them, isn’t it? ******* ********, constantly shoving their religion down people’s throats. I’ve known too many people like that in my life. Complete retards, all of them.”

Mia nodded dully.

“So what was their latest theory about your origins? Have they done demonic possession yet?”

She didn’t answer. He looked at her again.

“There was a boy,” she said. “I liked him.”

Dave raised his eyebrows. “What, did he think you were just a lesser imp and not Satan himself?”

She shook her head absent-mindedly. Dave was peering through the windshield as he turned round a corner and didn’t notice.

“Don’t listen to them. I’ve told you, they’re batshit insane. You’d get more sense out of Babelfishing a Kadabra on crack. Just don’t even try.”

She didn’t understand them. Religious faith just didn’t make any sense. She couldn’t feel angry at them, like Dave did. Just baffled at their existence. Why they would want to believe in something they had no evidence for. It was just something she couldn’t wrap her head around.

“******* kids,” Dave swore under his breath as a group of children scattered from the street in front of them.

“I don’t get it,” she muttered.

“What?”

“Religion.”

“That’s because unlike those nutsos you’ve got some sense in your head.”

“My parents believe in God too.”

Dave pretended not to have heard her for a few seconds. She watched a fly sit down on the back of his neck. If she slashed at it she could accidentally cut his head off. Haha. Oops.

But she liked him, so she didn’t actually do it. And even if she hadn’t liked him, there would have been complications. Too obvious who did it. No good Pokémorph sympathizers left to defend her in court. Somebody would point out her mental age of sixteen and say she was responsible for her actions. Everybody else would agree because they wanted to get rid of her. ‘That fly was getting on my nerves’ had never worked well for her. Jail. Tiny cell with stale air. Nothing decent to eat. It just wouldn’t pay.

He turned back to her. The fly took off and instead settled on the car window on his side. “Well, at least your parents don’t take it so damned seriously.”

She nodded and looked out the window.

“Hey, uh, want a hotdog?”

She shrugged.

“Great,” Dave replied and turned round the next corner.

-------

Howard Kerrigan was doing the dishes when he got the feeling that Lucy was standing behind him. She had a wonderful knack for being quiet and sneaking up on people, but she hadn’t yet tamed her abilities enough to stop a faint psychic signal from pushing gently at those she approached, alerting them of her presence.

He turned around, glanced at her and smiled. “Something bothering you?”

She looked up at him with wide, innocent eyes.

“Daddy, am I an abomination?”

He turned around and stared at her, pushing away the trace of hypnotic power in her eyes. “What? No. Who told you that?”

She pointed at the window above the kitchen sink. “There’s a guy with a sign outside in front of the door.”

Howard looked back at the window, and indeed, there was a man standing on the sidewalk outside the front door holding a sign that said simply ‘VISIONS 21.5’.

He ripped off his rubber gloves and ran to the front door. “Hey!” he shouted heatedly as he opened it, running towards the man. “Don’t you dare stand here giving my daughter ideas! Get away from my house right now!”

The protestor looked at him. It was a young man with pale skin and dark hair that would have been handsome if not for the icy coldness in his light blue eyes. Howard fleetingly recognized him as one of the scariest fundamentalists from church, somebody Daniels. He shivered.

“Get away from my house,” he repeated sternly. “You are not welcome here.”

“Realize what you have done and repent,” Daniels said in a quiet, cold voice. “The Pokémorphs are abominations before the Lord. He will make you pay for their creation, sooner or later. You will regret that He ever let you be born.”

“Get off my property now.”

A crazy glint appeared in the man’s piercing eyes. “He has already chosen His instruments. Those of true faith have received their calling. You will be punished.”

“I told you to leave.”

A smiled flickered across Daniels’ features. “The rabbit who refuses to hear of the fox,” he said, “will regret it only when she wanders into his lair.”

Howard returned his icy stare for a second. He felt cold.

“Very well, Howard,” Daniels said quietly. “I see you cannot be persuaded.”

“Not by you. Go away.”

Daniels opened his mouth, but then flicked his eyes to the side. Howard looked to see Dave’s white car pull into their driveway. Both doors opened, and Dave and Mia stepped out. Mia glanced dully at Daniels while Dave pointed at the door to indicate that they needed to talk inside.

“Excuse me,” Howard said coldly to Daniels and walked to the door to meet them.

He took a last glance over his shoulder as he turned the key. Daniels looked at Dave with the creepiest grin Howard had ever seen, and then turned slowly around to walk down the street, still holding the daunting sign above his head.
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  #17  
Old 08-14-2007, 02:23 AM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

-pokes you 'cause you deserve reviews so don't be surprised :P -

We really see how Mia thinks and acts in this chapter. Also, how the kids of the church goers are so much like thier parents. ><

Awesome chapter, Dragonfree, I'll be waiting for more!

(Cause you can't get rid of me ;) )
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Old 08-23-2007, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Wow... It makes we wonder why I hadn't wandered onto this before. Excellent. As usual, Dragonfree, you're writing is great. The plot is definitely the freshest one as far as pokemorphs are concerned... kudos.

It just seems to lack an 'oomph' to me, but that might be me.
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:59 AM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Hi again. Been a while. Anyway, I finished chapter six.



Chapter 6

“So who was that creep?” Dave asked as Howard closed the door behind them. Howard invited Dave and Mia to sit down at the kitchen table and collapsed into his own chair. Lucy the Misdreavus morph waved to Dave from a few meters away and he waved absent-mindedly back to her.

“It’s somebody from church,” Howard sighed. “Something Daniels. His beliefs are rather… extreme, from what I’ve seen of them.”

“So in other words, he’s a nut,” Dave said cheerfully. “What did he want?”

“He was trying to scare Lucy, apparently,” Howard replied with contempt. “Calling her an abomination. When I came out, he started making threats about the Wrath of God.” He shuddered. “I’m not sure whether to take him seriously.”

“Don’t,” Dave just said. “They feed on fear. Don’t give them the pleasure of seeing you get worried. What do you think is going to happen, anyway? Is he going to sit somewhere and pray for a meteor to strike you or what? Newsflash: it won’t work. Even if God existed, do you think he’d listen to a guy like that?”

“I don’t know. He scares me sometimes. He likes to make speeches about how he will rejoice in Heaven at the thought of the infidels burning forever in Hell…”

Dave snorted.

“…but I suppose it would be stupid to worry about him too much,” Howard finished with a sigh. “So. What did she do this time?”

“She got kicked out,” Dave replied in a tired voice, rubbing his forehead. “For good. She took off the sheaths and they went ballistic. And then chopped up a fly in the principal’s office. I think that took the cake.”

“Oh, Mia,” Howard sighed, looking wearily at his older daughter. “Why do you always get yourself into trouble like that?”

“It was a stupid fly,” she answered defensively. “It was too dumb to get out of the way. It deserved it.”

“What are we going to do with you now?” her father asked in frustration. “You can’t keep doing that all the time, Mia! You need to start learning how to function among normal people, or I’m going to go crazy. I mean it. How are you going to get schooling now? I have three other children to take care of and Cheryl is always…”

“I’ll just teach her at home, okay?” Dave interrupted. “There’s no need to make a big deal about it and start blaming her. Uh, Mia, why don’t you go play with Lucy or something?”

The Pokémorph stood up wordlessly, glanced at the smaller girl and went through a door on the other side of the hall and shut it behind her. Her sister walked after her, disappearing through the closed door as if nothing were more natural.

“Look,” Dave said after making sure they were gone, looking back at Howard. “We’ve been through this. She’s basically a biologically defined sociopath. Telling her she needs to learn how to function will at most just irritate her and make her hurt somebody. Please don’t push her limits.”

“It can get pretty frustrating,” Howard answered quietly, glancing back at the door to the girls’ room, through which faint giggles could now be heard. “When you have children, you want them to be able to understand how you feel. Think in approximately the same terms… She’s so different from the other morphs. Lucy actually feels like a human being, but Mia is just so painfully nonhuman in the way she talks, thinks, acts…” He rubbed his eyes briefly and then blinked a few times. “I mean, I love her. I really do. But… God…” He shook his head. “Somehow I can’t give up the idea that I can change her. She looks like she’s supposed to be able to function like a human being. My brain likes to think that means she can.”

“Well, she can’t, and you’ll have to live with that,” Dave responded and looked around the house. “Is Cheryl around?”

Howard shook his head. “She’s out by the town hall protesting the lack of formal action against increased carbon emissions from the city’s cars.”

Dave rolled his eyes briefly. “Well, I’ll get in touch about the homeschooling thing, I suppose. Have to get going now so I’ll be in time to get Jean from school.”

Howard nodded and stood up, shaking Dave’s hand. “Thanks for visiting. And driving her. You know, you do so much for those kids, it’s unbelievable.”

Dave smiled slightly. “I made them. Least I could do. I’ll see you around.”

“Goodbye.”

And with that, Dave left the house and closed the door behind him. Howard saw him through the window straightening his jacket as he walked back over to his car. “You made them. Right,” he muttered to himself.

He sighed and knocked on the door to the girls’ room. He waited for a couple of seconds as the laughter quieted before opening it carefully.

Mia, her unsheathed scythe raised, had seemingly stopped mid-motion when he knocked; she stood deathly still, only her eyes pointed towards him. Her sister was standing below her, still grinning childishly.

The father shuddered at the sight. “Dave is gone. He’s going to be homeschooling you from now on, Mia.”

She didn’t answer, but he had grown to expect it. He looked between the two for a second and then said, “You know I don’t like this game at all.”

With a careless, sweeping motion, without looking away from her father, Mia swung her raised scythe straight through her sister’s currently insubstantial forehead. Howard felt his paternal instinct twitch in horror, but Lucy only continued to giggle, grinning happily at her father as if having a blade repeatedly driven through one’s head was every sane person’s idea of fun.

“I’ll leave you to it, I suppose,” Howard said, shaking his head. “Lucy, you remember to always stay insubstantial while she’s there with you, all right? And the moment you get the least bit tired, you stop before you become unable to keep it up. Is that clear? Let me see you go invisible.”

“Yes, Daddy,” the small girl answered, her pitch-black form briefly fading to a smoky sort of transparent and then becoming entirely invisible. Invisibility was more taxing for her than insubstantiality; if she could still make herself entirely invisible, it meant she had plenty enough energy to keep up her insubstantial form, and they had agreed on using it as a test. He nodded as she came back into view.

“Please be careful,” he said quietly before closing the door to the room again. He heard a high-pitched shriek that made him jump but quickly dissolved into another fit of giggles.

While Mia was generally not very social, she had always been a little closer to her sister than to anyone else, and they got along surprisingly well. Nonetheless, Howard didn’t doubt that she could easily end up hurting Lucy in the heat of the moment, and their typical games were just far too violent for comfort: Mia chasing Lucy and trying to slash her; Lucy covering something worthless and easily destructible in the folds of the thin, dress-like extra skin that covered most of her body and running around while Mia would try to slash the object apart; Lucy charging up a primitive Shadow Ball that Mia would slash away before it got to her…

It was all pretty creepy, and while nothing very serious had happened yet, there had been accidents. One time Lucy had gotten hurt when slashed in a semisubstantial state; she had been unable to feel her arm properly for a few days. Another time Mia had slashed her when she hadn’t been ready, but thankfully realized it and managed to stop her scythe before it made more than a shallow cut. Mia had lost her balance in mid-slash and hit her head on the floor or walls numerous times. Howard would have forbidden them to do it long ago, but Dave had convinced him that if Mia couldn’t let out her hunting instinct (he shuddered to think of it) in some relatively harmless way, she would practically be a ticking bomb, and it would be a good way for the sisters to bond a little more, and for Mia to feel freer and have an easier time forming relationships in general, to let them play these dangerous games together.

Howard couldn’t deny that Mia’s self-control and Lucy’s Misdreavus powers had greatly improved since this had been given the green light, but he still didn’t like it. Cheryl took it more lightly, usually brushing it off with some vague kids-can-kill-each-other-in-all-sorts-of-ways-if-they-aren’t-careful-but-the-girls-can-handle-this-responsibly-Howard-and-we-should-listen-to-Dave.

“Yeah, you made them, Dave,” he muttered to himself as he turned back towards the kitchen sink. “All the way until it’s getting inconvenient. Then it’s all Brian’s fault.”

-------
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Old 04-12-2008, 01:00 AM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Incidentally, Brian was also doing the dishes and was currently picking up the last plate from beside the sink. He quickly scrubbed the remains of yesterday’s spaghetti off the surface and turned the plate a few times over under the faucet just as he heard the front door open and slam shut again. He put the wet plate down to dry, turned the knob to reduce the stream of water to a trickle and eventually nothing, and pulled the pink rubber gloves off his fingers to lay them down on the edge of the sink. “Gabriel?”

“Hi, Dad,” came the weary reply.

“How was school?”

“Decent.” Brian heard Gabriel sigh from the entrance as the boy took off his shoes. “Kids are still staring.”

“They’ll get used to it in a week or two,” Brian said as he walked out of the kitchen to meet his son in the doorway. “Oh, your hair…”

Gabriel reached blindly to the top of his head to extinguish the small flame that had gotten into a loose strand of hair. “Gone.”

“Yes, gone.” Brian looked the boy up and down and sighed with parental pride. “I’m really proud of you, Gabriel,” he said for the umpteenth time. Gabriel rolled his eyes, but not without the corners of his mouth curling into a small smile. “When you’d just been made we didn’t really think you’d survive, but you’ve just done so well and been so strong and grown into such a wonderful person.” He beamed down at the short boy and was overwhelmed, as so often, by the strange feeling of knowing he’d been raising that kid for the past ten years. It didn’t feel like that long, and all the headaches and complications of keeping him alive for the first few years had blurred into a hazy dark period in his memory. He’d been very stressed out then and several times begged Dave to make somebody else raise the Slugma.

Now he was infinitely glad that Dave had steadfastly refused.

“You’re the greatest kid in the world, Gabriel.”

“You’ve told me already, Dad,” Gabriel said with a weary smile.

“Pizza and a good movie?” Brian asked him with a grin.

“Sounds good,” the Pokémorph replied smugly, “but I think my skin is starting to harden, so if you’ll excuse me.”

Brian smiled and stepped out of the doorway. Gabriel walked into his room and closed the door.

The kid was still high-maintenance, of course. Being what he was, his gooey skin hardened slowly over the day and to counter this he had to massage some heat into the entirety of it at least once a day. When he stood still for too long and wasn’t thinking about rubbing his hands together every now and then, they would leave little orange globs of slime where he was standing, such as now in the doorway from the entrance hall (Brian was getting a mop to clean it up now), and he had to wear specifically made clothes that were coated with plastic on the inside. But one got used to it.

Brian still felt sorry for what Gabriel had to endure. He’d been bullied at school for being chubby with glasses himself; although Gabriel didn’t like to talk about it much and the teachers tended to try their best to make the parent-teacher meetings as short and sparse as possible, he could only imagine how much staring and snickering he’d face every weekday, not to mention general disgust. It had taken Brian himself years to get fully used to the idea that his son had slimy skin that left puddles in his bed every morning. Out of all eight Pokémorph children, Gabriel was the one that looked the most like, well, a freak. But he had an entirely human personality, which was more than could be said about someone like Mia Kerrigan.

In a way, Brian felt that in the end was the luckiest of them all.

-------

“Will?”

William McKenzie looked up at his father. Joe McKenzie was a dark-haired, brown-eyed man with glasses and an invariably friendly expression on his face, the kind of man it was impossible not to feel predisposed to like at the sight of him, and knowing him didn't disappoint. Both he and his wife Pamela had always been wonderful parents to Will. And still he couldn’t help partially hating them, in as much as he was capable of it, not for what they did but for what they didn’t do. And the other part of him hated himself for having that part which hated them, because he had no right to hate them and they hadn’t done anything wrong beyond loving all their kids.

“I’m going to shop for a bit. Your mom is still at work, but I’ve told James to watch you, all right? I won’t be long.”

“Okay,” Will said, although he felt everything but okay at the news. His father smiled, closed the door to his room while pulling on the last sleeve of his jacket, and seconds later the front door slammed.

Without really thinking about it, Will raised his hand to his mouth and began to bite his nails and slowly lick the fingertips in between. His parents had told him to stop it. He didn’t really care. It calmed him down. He stroked his fingers across his cheek, feeling the saliva cool his skin, ran them through his brown hair to find the soft, furred back of his triangular ear, and crumpled its floppy shape together with his fingers, scratching it, before releasing it, sliding his hand forward to his forehead as the ear returned to its natural perked shape, and finally returning the hand down to his mouth. He repeated the motion, a little faster this time. There was some intrinsic, satisfying perfection in it. Cleansing. Comfortable. Something reassuring about the way the ear invariably returned to its former shape no matter how he crumpled it. He did it a few more times, first with one hand and then the other. It was almost ritualistic. Trance-like. And, he reminded himself grimly, extremely strange. Freaky. Nobody else did it. People stared at him. So he just did it in his room. It was never as comforting to attempt to achieve the same effect in public, anyway. There would be sounds distracting him, things moving that his eyes would automatically follow, besides of course the uncomfortable stares and his siblings looking at him with disgust. He’d given that up years ago.

Remembering that his siblings were still in the house and could walk in on him, he stopped, stood up, locked his door and sat back down on his bed, licking his fingers briefly again. Then he guiltily dried them on his jeans. He couldn’t continue for too long, or the wetness in his hair would give away that he was still doing it.

Will felt very much like a freak, but also a little like an addict. He felt a bit stupid about not having grown out of it, but it was too nice to give it up. There was no harm in it, after all, unlike all the pills and stuff that they taught you to avoid at school. The normal people around him had just decided it was freaky and gross, so they shouldn’t have to see it, but there was nothing wrong with doing it, per se.

He wasn’t quite sure whether he really felt the same way about the fact that he still loved to play with yarn. He was honestly making an effort to grow out of that. As for the shiny things… well, his parents had more or less gotten him to stop that.

Aw, what the heck. The room was locked.

Will reached under his bed, took out a white ball of yarn that he’d nicked from his grandmother’s knitting set a while ago, put it on his floor and spent a few minutes batting it around the room with his hands and catching it. It had no right to be this fun.

He wrapped the yarn back together as well as he could, feeling slightly embarrassed as always, replaced it under his bed, and decided to get something to eat.

Nicky was in the kitchen, eating a bowl of cornflakes while reading ‘Sarah Hooter and the Ultimate Fire Stone’. She gave him a dull glare before returning firmly to the book. When he attempted to tell his parents that his siblings hated him, they always spoke of sibling rivalry, of how the two-year-old Nicky and to a lesser extent her brother James had just gotten jealous when he was suddenly brought into the family and received all the attention, and how it was just the same as when James was two and Nicky had been born, and how they didn’t really mean anything by it. Of course, what they never really seemed to want to think about was that James and Nicky had, at least as far back as Will could remember, abandoned all of their own rivalry once they’d found a common enemy in him. Their parents had of course told the older siblings to be nice to Will, and that it wasn’t his fault he was different, and that he’d soon stop behaving like a cat, and that he was a kid just like them and shouldn’t be treated any differently, but that just meant James and Nicky kept their hatred towards him mostly to themselves and to the way they looked at him and to the way they reacted to most everything he did. And somehow, that little part of Will felt like his parents ought to be able to just magically make them stop thinking he was a freak, but of course that didn't make any sense and he had to stop thinking about it.

Will got himself a bowl and a spoon, reached for the cornflakes and milk, and poured himself some. Nicky glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. She was a pretty girl with wavy dark hair and fairly popular at school, but she never invited any of her friends to their house. Will knew exactly why.

He silently ate his cornflakes. Sarah Hooter, strikingly similar to Will’s one and only friend, winked at him from the cover of the book as if deliberately to irritate him, remind him that if only he were a fictional character everyone would probably love him.

Then again, not all the morphs had it as bad as he did. Jean herself, despite of course being viewed as a freak by most, was admired and envied at the same time because everyone loved those books and, as she never tired of reminding everyone, she was due to star in the movies when they came out. And somehow she just did it. She was open and confident, and she even had some normal friends. Will had no idea how she’d managed so well. Nobody ever wanted to talk to him.

He ate the last few spoonfuls and sighed. Nicky followed him with her eyes as he dumped his bowl and spoon into the sink. “Where’s James?” he asked her.

“Upstairs,” his sister replied shortly.

“Didn’t Dad tell him to watch out for us?”

Nicky gave him her signature exasperated glare. “You were in your room.”

Will shrugged. “Well, I’ll go back there, then,” he muttered and walked back to his bedroom door. It was better to stay in his room where he wouldn’t get in their way.

-------

Jack looked briefly over the school cafeteria. A number of people glanced up as he entered; he could tell which ones were freshmen just by seeing how freaked out they looked. He smiled to himself, eyed his friends at a table by the window, waved, and pushed himself through the crowd to meet them. He wasn’t very hungry.

An unfamiliar face looked up at him from the table and stared. Ah, so they’ve taken in a new guy, Jack thought. He waved again at the kid – it was a short boy with messy brown hair and large glasses – and sat down.

“Hey, Jack,” said Sid, a chubby, dark-haired guy with a severe addiction to MMORPGs. “Where have you been?”

“Sick,” Jack replied, glancing at the new guy, who was still staring at them. “Who’s that kid?”

The boy flinched, and Jack smiled. “I don’t bite.”

The kid laughed nervously.

“That’s Ben,” Vincent explained. “He plays Magic.”

“Really? Want a game? I’ve got a deck with me, if you…”

Jack feigned being stopped short in surprise. Ben was not staring at him anymore, but it was altogether too evident that that was only because he was trying not to.

“Come on. Look at me.”

Ben did. The kid had large, brown eyes, or maybe they were just magnified by the glasses.

“Welcome to the tour of me,” Jack said. “I’m Jack, I’m blue, and I’m half a Chinchou; glad you noticed. These things,” he went on, dangling at the glowing end of one of the antennae that hung down above his face, “are hella useful for reading in the dark, but can be annoying when you’re trying to sleep. Don’t shake my hand too firmly, since my fingers could crack. They’re webbed too, by the way. Get used to this stuff, and you’ll be fine. Okay?”

Ben nodded quickly. Jack knew that at this moment the kid was probably seriously considering trying to find another table, but from the sound of it he was enough of a geek to end up with them either way. And experience had taught him they were generally quicker to get used to him than they thought.

It was only to be a couple of weeks before Ben was happily playing Magic with Jack during breaks.
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Old 04-27-2008, 07:46 PM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

It's so weird to meet the person with a website that I go to on a forum with regular people. Good story!
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Old 04-28-2008, 05:59 AM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Wow! This is really good!
All the descriptions, backgrounds, personalities, it's all there.
I gotta question though. I realize that this is focusing on the Pokemorphs and the people around them, but is there gonna be any contact with or association with regular Pokemon by the morphs?
If not, it's cool, cause this story is going really well without it.
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Old 04-30-2008, 11:09 PM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Quote:
Originally Posted by k_pop View Post
Wow! This is really good!
All the descriptions, backgrounds, personalities, it's all there.
I gotta question though. I realize that this is focusing on the Pokemorphs and the people around them, but is there gonna be any contact with or association with regular Pokemon by the morphs?
If not, it's cool, cause this story is going really well without it.
There won't be a lot of regular Pokémon in this fic as far as I've planned it, but some.
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Old 05-14-2008, 12:01 AM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Well, am I ever on a writing spree.

This is very easily the most eventful chapter so far, putting an end to all those seemingly endless character introductions of the past six chapters. It is also easily my favorite chapter so far. I hope you enjoy it.



Chapter 7

“…and I’m gonna be in the movie!”

Will smiled awkwardly at Jean. “I know. You’ve told me before.”

“Yeah, but they’ve sent us a contract now! And I’m getting Dad to sign it. He doesn’t want me to be in the movie, but I want to.”

“Yeah,” Will muttered, wondering as he did occasionally whether Jean really was that much better than no company at all. He scratched his whiskers and said nothing more, although he cringed and pulled the hood of his sweatshirt further over his head as the pair of them approached Jean’s human friends. He wasn’t sure why he did that; after all, it wasn’t as if they hadn’t seen him before and weren’t aware that he was a Pokémorph, and definitely not as if it made them any less likely to ignore him completely (in fact, the opposite was probably true). But he liked to keep his Meowth features concealed anyway. It made him feel less self-conscious.

“You know what? They’ve sent us a contract! I’m gonna be in the Sarah Hooter movie!”

Her friends didn’t look overly impressed. “We don’t care, Jean!” moaned a girl with dark, curly hair. “Stop rubbing it in!”

Jean’s friends didn’t really appear to like her that much, Will had observed. They put up with her and didn’t mind talking to her occasionally, but the moment anything reminded them that she wasn’t like them, they’d reject her and make it obvious she didn’t really belong with human beings. Will wasn’t sure whether she ignored it or was just that oblivious.

This time Jean looked at the girls’ harsh faces in dumbfounded astonishment and then, abruptly, bared her teeth in a very surprisingly frightening manner and let out an intimidating, uncomfortably bestial snarl.

Will recoiled. Jean’s friends jumped and then, after a tense moment, just bolted towards the school building.

Jean’s face had returned to normal, her expression confused as if she wasn’t entirely sure where the snarl had come from either. She stared after the girls, and Will noted awkwardly that there were tears forming at the corners of her eyes. He backed away a little, not wanting to be the target of a tantrum while also not wanting to look like he was abandoning her as well. He’d never been good with cheering people up.

Jean closed her eyes and shook her head for a second; Will saw the ends of her six red tails curling up a bit more than they already were. Finally she reached for her pocket, grabbed her cellphone from it and opened it, punching in a number with great precision.

Jean’s cellphone was really loud. He could hear the slow beeps before her father picked it up even from where he was standing.

“What is it, sweetheart? I’m driving, so make it quick,” said Dave’s voice.

“My friends all got mad at me,” Jean sniffed. “And then I – I like growled at them.”

“Really?” her father answered on the other end. “Did you do it voluntarily or just sort of impulsively? What kind of growl was it?”

“I don’t know,” Jean replied and paused for a second. “They all stared at me and ran away and were all mean.”

“Well, honey, when your fire sac is active, you’re going to roast ‘em all if they’re mean to you, understand?”

The thought seemed to cheer Jean up considerably. “Yeah!” she shouted happily into the phone while punching the air.

“But hey, you can tell me all about it when I come to get you home, okay? And when I’m done driving you, I’ll have to go back to work. Brian and I have to finish some stuff for Gabriel.”

“But what about the contract?” Jean whined. (Will scolded himself for mentally calling it that, but it really was the most appropriate word.)

Dave let out a long sigh. “That’ll have to wait until I get back tonight, sweetheart. We won’t be able to mail it to them until tomorrow, anywa…” There was a sudden screech of tires. “Oh, ****!” Then, “Look, I love you, honey, but can you not call me while I’m driving? I think I nearly ran over a Meowth or something here. Bye, sweetie.”

“Bye,” Jean said, but from the sound of it Dave had already hung up. Will was meanwhile shivering at the thought of a Meowth being run over by a car. Especially Dave’s car. Even though he’d have loved to be an ordinary human being, he couldn’t help identifying slightly with the species he was spliced with. Sometimes he felt stupid about it. At other times he just wondered whether the other morphs felt the same way. It seemed awkward to ask them.

“Okay, so what do you want to do?” Jean asked. The human friends were apparently forgotten. Probably a good thing, since Will couldn’t help feeling that if he were them that snarl would have disturbed the hell out of him and there was little hope they would ever think of her the same way again. But Jean always got herself new groups who were semi-willing to hang out with her for a while, for as long as she did not go on about her awaiting acting career too much.

She would get over it before he could say ‘That’s not friendship’.

“Tag,” he said, touching her shoulder before bounding off in a random direction. “You’re it.”

-------

Night had fallen by the time Dave and Brian stepped out of the main building of Heywood Labs.

“Jean’ll be worried,” Dave was saying. “I promised I’d be back home by nine o’clock. I just left her some lasagne, but I don’t know if she’ll have gotten into bed.”

“Well, Gabriel knows how to take care of himself,” Brian said as Dave motioned to open the door of his car. “I’d call it a good day’s wo …”

He was cut off by a gunshot. It took a while for Dave to register all the blood.

“****,” he swore while his brain numbly attempted to start itself. His eyes refused to look for the wound, instead fixing themselves on the steadily spreading pool of red around Brian’s unmoving body as it lay awkwardly on the sidewalk. “Oh, ****, Brian.”

It wasn’t until the second gunshot, which chipped some concrete from the wall of the building behind him, that he realized who the gunman had actually meant to shoot.

His brain bolted awake with a sudden rush of adrenaline and before he really realized it, he had ducked behind the car.

“****. ****. Goddamnit.” Where the hell was his cellphone? While his hand dug through his pockets, another bullet hit the windshield of the car, and Dave somehow found the time to evaluate the yelp the sound squeezed out of him as extremely stupid-sounding before he bolted up and started towards the next car, Brian’s, parked a few dozen meters away along the same sidewalk. He finally manoeuvred the phone out of his pocket, opened it and attempted to punch in 911, but the actual outcome on the screen looked more like 986121, either because he was still running or because his hands were trembling too much. He didn’t really care which.

Dave threw himself onto the sidewalk behind Brian’s car just as a third bullet tore through the air behind him and landed on the wall of a side building of the lab.

He pushed himself into a crouching position, hammered the cancel button on his cellphone and retyped the number. He hit the call button as quickly as he could and jerked the phone up to his ear, surprising himself by how broken his voice sounded.

“Emergency? I think some crazed **** just shot my coworker – yes, still here and still trying to shoot me now, so if you don’t mind – just outside Heywood Labs, Grace City – the **** should I know? – Look, can you just send some cops and an ambulance already…? You did? Right. Okay. Thank you. I’ll get back to cowering behind this– ****!” Shards of glass suddenly exploded out from the car window just above him as a bullet shattered the pane. Dave tried to cover his head as the rain of broken glass bombarded his back; he felt a couple of pieces pierce the back of his neck before it subsided. He looked quickly at his phone; it was dead. He stuffed it clumsily back into his pocket. The car alarm had gone off with a blaring siren noise.

Dave leapt back to his feet after a moment of thought, racing for the next car which was in front of the next building. “I’ve called the police!” he screamed on the way, hoping to scare the attacker off even though an increasingly large part of him was sure he had probably given up the wrong information in that phone call or something. “They’re on their way!”

He heard another gunshot and felt something strike the side of his forehead, a kind of oddly powerful sting, and warm blood began to leak down the side of his cheek as he attempted to keep running.

****, he thought to himself in disbelief as the power left his legs and he crumpled to the ground. I'm dead. ****** shot me in the head. I'm dead. ****.

While he fell he was hazily surprised at how long it seemed to be taking his brain to shut down, but then his head hit the concrete sidewalk and his vision faded away.

-------

Dave blinked. This was strange, because people had made up the notion of an afterlife in a bout of wishful thinking and that was not supposed to make it exist.

“You’re awake?” said a voice. He blinked again and realized that there was a short man in a white coat standing over him. The side of his head throbbed with dull pain.

“Wow,” he muttered as his frontal lobes began to process the situation logically. “I didn’t think doctors could cure that.”

The man gave him a curt smile. “The bullet only grazed your forehead, Mr. Ambrose. You were very lucky.”

“What?” Dave tried to sit angrily up, but the attempt drowned in all the pillows in the hospital bed. “No way in hell that just grazed me. I felt how I died, for ****’s sake.”

The doctor gave him another one of those irritating smiles of his, something reminiscent of the way people smiled to a child talking about an imaginary friend. “The psychological shock made you fall, and you were knocked out when you hit your head on the sidewalk. A security guard in one of the nearby buildings came to inspect the noise and stopped the bleeding until the ambulance arrived.”

“What?” he asked again, unable to think of anything else to say.

“I assure you you did not die at any point this evening. I’m sorry if this upsets you.”

“Stop being a wiseass,” Dave said, trying to pull his thoughts back into something coherent. “Where’s Brian?”

“I’m afraid there was nothing that could be done for your friend when we got there. The bullet went through his heart. I’m sorry.”

Dave blinked yet again a few times. He rubbed his forehead and turned away, trying to convince himself that he just had dust in his eye.

“Well, ****.” Brian. How could Brian be dead? That was goddamned messed up. Brian wasn’t supposed to be murdered. That was just not the way things happened. “****,” he repeated to fill the silence. It didn’t help very much.

There were a few more seconds of awkward silence.

“Well, there is a policeman here who would like to speak with you, but if this is a bad time…”

“No,” Dave said, making some vague gesture with his hand without looking at the doctor. Partly it was just to get rid of him, really. “It’s fine. Send him in.”

He looked back up now that the doctor was walking out of the room and took a few deep breaths. All this was so ****** up. Why couldn’t there be a time machine to just rewind everything by… how long had it been, anyway? He looked around and found a clock on the wall above the door. It was a quarter to two AM. He reached carefully up to his head; it had been wrapped in some bandages. The pain still throbbed there vaguely as background noise. There were blue curtains hanging by the sides of his bed, presumably concealing other patients.

A comfortably overweight, uniformed police officer with round glasses stepped into the room, walked over to Dave’s bed and sat down on a chair beside it. “Good evening, Mr. Ambrose,” the man said. “I just have a couple of questions for the time being. First off, I’m sorry about your friend.”

“He wasn’t really a friend,” Dave mumbled. “Just a coworker.”

“Well, sorry about your coworker, then,” the policeman corrected himself, flipping briefly through a notebook. “Can you think of anyone who would have a motive to want him dead?”

Dave snorted. “Brian? ****, no. He’s the least offensive person you’ve ever met.”

The policeman raised his eyebrows and scribbled something into his notebook, but said nothing. “So you have no idea who might have been behind this?”

“Truth to be told, I think the guy was just trying to shoot me and got him instead.”

The cop wrote some more. “So you think they had a motive to attack you?” he asked without looking up.

“Oh, sure,” Dave replied. “There are all sorts of nuts I’ve upset in some way or another.” And as he said it, he came to the unsettling realization that seeing as whoever it was had clearly not been caught, the psycho was still after him. “He’ll try to kill me again,” he muttered aloud. “****.”

The policeman nodded, pencil still furiously scratching the notebook. “It’s possible. I’d be careful if I were you. You should try to stay in your apartment for a while once you get out of here, at least until the guy is caught or we find out more. We’ll get a couple of guys to hang around nearby just in case he tries to get you at home.”

“Thanks,” Dave mumbled, not quite sure what he was thanking the man for as he hadn’t really been listening.

“Did you see the attacker?”

“Not a hair.”

The cop finished writing, looked up at him and smiled. “Well, that will be all for now. We’ll contact you later as the investigation continues.”

“All right.”

The policeman left. Dave was starting to get a severe headache and wanted to sleep, but the irritating doctor stepped in again. “You also have some visitors. Should I show them in?”

“Sure,” he replied, waving the doctor off. He wasn’t even sure who the visitors were and wasn’t at all sure he would like to meet them, but he said it anyway. As it turned out, the visitors were Howard and Mia, which partly cheered him up and partly didn’t; after all, it could have been somebody like his mother (or worse, Jane), but at the same time he was dully disappointed that they were the only people who cared enough to visit him.

Howard hurried over to the bed and attempted to give him a hug, not succeeding very well as he was standing by the side of the bed.

“Brian… oh, God, I can’t believe it. I’m glad you got out okay. I’m not sure what the morphs would do without you. But… God…”

Howard actually did have tears in his eyes, which made Dave feel awkward. He looked over at Mia, who stood by the other side of the bed and looked at him with an empty expression. There was no better person to trust not to be sentimental.

“Cheryl stayed home to watch out for Lucy. Joe is on the way and he was going to pick Jean up. Everybody over in Taillow Springs has been contacted. They’re all in shock about this. I think your mother…”

“Christ, don’t bring her here,” Dave muttered, rubbing his head. The headache was getting worse.

“Well,” Howard continued after a second’s pause, “what I’m saying is everybody is kind of scared now. I mean, there’s somebody targeting us, obviously, and from what I heard the killer ran for it the moment the security guard announced he had a gun and he didn’t see anything. I think the cops found some bullets, though, and are working on trying to trace down the owner of the gun they came from… oh, God, Dave, he killed Brian. He killed Brian.”

“I kind of noticed,” Dave mumbled and wished Howard would at least attempt to hide the fact he was crying. “I think he’s after me more than you guys. I mean, I’m the main guy behind the Pokémorphs and all.”

“You think it has to do with them?” Howard sighed and started trying to wipe his face with his sleeve. “I guess it makes sense, I suppose, but…”

“What else? Most ******* controversial thing we’ve ever done. Didn’t you get some fundamentalist nut waving a sign in front of your house the other day?”

“You think it was him?”

“Probably not. He seemed more the sort to just wait for God to strike me with lightning.” Dave rubbed his forehead again, wishing he could go to sleep. “I see you brought Mia,” he said to change the subject.

“She wanted to come.”

Dave turned to the girl, who was still standing in the same spot beside the bed as before, unmoved. “Well, that was nice of you.”

Mia just looked at him in silence, her eyes flicking between the bandages on his head and his neck.

“It just grazed you,” she observed.

“Apparently. Didn’t feel that way.”

“They took us to the morgue,” she went on. “Brian was there. There was a lot of blood. It smelled nice. I think I wanted to eat him.”

Howard gave her a very disturbed look which Dave took to mean she had not mentioned this to him.

“Well, you’re not going to eat him, Mia,” he said, trying to sound as conversational as he could while pushing the image of the half-Scyther tearing Brian’s throat out with her teeth firmly out of his head.

“I know. But I don’t want to eat you because you’ve got bandages on.”

“That’s nice.”

“Mia, you should probably wait outside,” Howard said, his voice brokenly high-pitched and pathetic. The girl obeyed, walking casually back out the door.

“Why the **** did you take Mia to a morgue of all places?”

“We were the first people to arrive and they wanted us to identify him before the autopsy,” Howard said miserably. “I didn’t really think before bringing her along.”

Howard sighed and looked down. “God,” he muttered suddenly. “Who’s going to tell Gabriel?”

Dave groaned. “Gabriel. Right.” He rubbed his eyes, trying to think. “I’ll do it. I was there. You got a phone?”

Howard fished a cellphone out of his pocket and handed it silently to Dave. He found Brian’s name in the contact list and pressed the green button, holding the phone to his ear.

He waited for a while, the calm beeps of the phone searing through his ear and magnifying his headache. He was about to hang up when a sleepy voice answered, “Hello?”

“Hey, Gabriel.”

“Dave? What… why are you calling in the middle of the night?” Gabriel sounded only sleepy and irritated and had clearly not noticed that Brian hadn’t come home yet. That made it worse.

“Your father, he, uh…”

“He what?”

“He died.” Dave paused and then decided that was too short and abrupt. “Some psycho shot him when we were coming out of the lab. I think he was trying to shoot me, but I moved and he was behind me, and… he died.” Then he realized that was absolutely not the right way to approach this and tried again. “I mean, there was that gunman, and he shot him, and then he tried to get me too but I called an ambulance and then the bullet just grazed me. I’m in the hospital right now. They didn’t catch the guy.”

That didn’t really sound good enough either, as evidenced by the complete lack of a response on the other end of the phone.

“Gabriel?” Dave asked carefully. There was a short silence and then the sound of hanging up.

Dave rubbed his forehead again. Goddamned headache. “****.”

Howard made no comment, staring at the curtain on the other side of the bed. “What did he say?” he asked at length.

“Nothing. Absolutely ******* nothing.”

“I should call one of the others in Taillow Springs and get them to go over to him. See if he’s okay.”

Dave gave him back the phone without words. Howard began to dial a number.

“Any word from Jane?” Dave asked him suddenly. Howard looked up.

“What? No. Why would there be? It’s been ten years since you were involved.”

Dave shrugged. “Just wondering.”

He lay back in his bed and heard vaguely as Howard talked to Bill Ray and asked him to check on Gabriel. He didn’t really notice it happening, but by the time Howard hung up, he was fast asleep, dreaming of Mia eating Brian and bullets shattering windshields.
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Old 05-14-2008, 04:03 AM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Aww, why'd you have to go and kill Brian?
Poor Gabe, it seemed like he had been raised the best.
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:14 AM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Why does the blob of lava have to lose his dad? Now you need a nickname for him, like Marvin the paranoid android.
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Old 08-24-2008, 01:31 AM
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Originally Posted by camerupt View Post
Why does the blob of lava have to lose his dad? Now you need a nickname for him, like Marvin the paranoid android.
Heh, poor Gabriel. I really do pile crap on him, don't I?

Chapter eight. Nothing of much significance happening, but it introduces the last morph and shows some reactions.

I'm not sure how much I like the writing here; it has a few very long sentences (which I deduced to be understandable anyway) and I'm not sure how well the emotion gets across, but I kind of like it anyway. On the other hand, the end of the chapter doesn't feel like it has a lot of closure. (So no, don't think there should be more when you get to the end; there isn't.)


Chapter 8

Peter didn’t notice anything odd when he woke up. Aside from the singing of the bird Pokémon outside, everything was silent. He ran his eyes up towards the wooden ceiling and then to the bright daylight flooding in through the window; he had forgotten to draw the thick green curtains last night.

He sat up stiffly, yawning as he scratched the small, deformed wings on his back, and reached for the large blue T-shirt at the foot of his bed. He pulled it on absent-mindedly while his eyes searched the room for other hastily discarded articles of clothing; he didn’t need to look for his blue-and-yellow baseball cap, which was always lying on the stool by the side of his bed where he could reach for it without even thinking about it. He pulled it on, turned it backwards and adjusted it before he stood up, walked to a pair of jeans lying beside his wardrobe in the corner of the room, and put them on as well.

He was beginning to notice in the back of his mind that things were a little more quiet than they were supposed to be.

“Kathy?” he called and got no answer. He opened his bedroom door and looked at the identical wooden door straight across; it was open and he could tell without really checking that his sister wasn’t there.

He turned towards the staircase on the left and began to walk carefully down. “Kathy, are you there?”

“Pete?”

Her voice was squeaky and quiet, and he could tell she was in tears even before he came down the stairs and found her sitting at the kitchen table with her face buried in the petals of her roselike hands. He had that strange feeling of being out of place, like the world had been turned upside-down when he slept and he was the only one still this way up.

“Sis, what’s wrong?”

She looked up at him, her arms flopping uselessly down at her sides. “They killed Brian,” she whispered. “And Dave was nearly killed, too.”

He stared. He wasn’t used to seeing his big sister like that. “What?”

“Some man tried to kill them both,” she said helplessly, and he walked over to her in a bit of a trance to let her hug him, just to confirm she was still physically there.

“Where are Mom and Dad?”

“They went to visit Dave at the hospital. They told me to tell you.”

“So is Brian…”

“He’s gone,” she sniffed. “The… the murderer shot him through the heart.”

As she said it, she didn’t sound like she really believed it. Peter felt increasingly like the world around him was some sort of an alien place, not the one in which he had gone to sleep last night. The thought that it was a dream crossed his mind, but more because that was how he knew people were supposed to feel in situations like this than because he actually believed it could be. He felt like he ought to cry, but he didn’t really feel sad. It was too surreal to be sad.

“It’s… it’s okay, Kathy,” he said numbly. His sister sobbed into his shoulder and he wondered if the Taillow part of him had made him emotionally disturbed to some degree, unable to mourn. Then he thought of Gabriel, and somehow, maybe because they went to the same school and had played a lot together when they were a bit younger or just because they were both Pokémorphs, that was when he felt a little sting in his heart, the world melted abruptly back into the real world and he found himself hugging Katherine back and letting his own tears stain her shoulder.


“Is Sarah still asleep?” he murmured.

“Yeah.”

He glanced at the third bedroom door between the stairs and the cheery, bright red wooden letters spelling out his technically older sister’s name. There was not a sound to be heard from the room. It was not surprising; he had always woken up earlier than Sarah when they were left to their own devices. But to know that she was asleep, that she didn’t even know, made the world begin to feel alien again, and he turned around and buried his face in Katherine’s shoulder and wished everything could just be normal again.

-------

“Daddy, Daddy!”

Dave groaned. He had no sooner woken up than his headache returned. He blinked a few times and forced himself to sit up. “What is it, honey?”

Jean nearly jumped into the hospital bed, stopped more by the height of it than by any respect towards the sick. “I’ve got the contract, Daddy! They sent it!”

Dave stared at her in dazed disbelief. “What?”

“The acting contract! For Sarah Hooter!”

He wasn’t quite sure how to even begin to reply. “I was nearly shot to death last night. The contract isn’t really a… top priority right now.”

She showed him her cute puppy eyes, and he pretended she was really sad about him. Or Brian. Not the contract.

“But Daddy…”

Not the ******* contract.

She clamped onto his arm, closed her eyes and started sobbing. “But Mr. McKenzie said you were asleep, and he said it was okay, and then he talked to the doctors and they said you can come home today and now he said I could wake you up.”

There. Now he felt a bit more like a father. “I’m fine, sweetie,” he said and hugged her back as well as his current position allowed him. He wondered briefly whether Joe had told her about Brian or not but didn’t have the heart to ask.

“So are you going to sign it now?” she asked brightly, looking expectantly back up at him and putting a few sheets of paper on the bed along with a pen.

He didn’t really want to do it, but she was too cute and he had too much of a headache to argue. Afterwards, she went bouncing off into the hall to show it off, and he rubbed his forehead and sighed. It was first now that he noticed that the television in the room was on; he wouldn’t have thought much of that either if he hadn’t caught a glimpse of a pretty, redheaded news reporter in quite a lovely scarlet dress.

“…of the famous Heywood Labs perished and another was hurt when an unknown attacker with a firearm ambushed them last night. The research institute was the center of controversy a decade ago when its employees were the first to successfully splice the genomes of humans and Pokémon, resulting in eight living so-called Pokémorphs. Police have been unable to locate the attacker as of yet but have stated that the shootings are likely to be connected to the Pokémorph incident.”

“Bitch,” Dave muttered to himself. “Won’t even say my name.”

They moved on to sports and then to silly news about Meowth kittens and the whole while she was sitting happily beside that smug anchorman she was screwing (or had been a few months ago, at least, not that she hadn’t probably given everyone at the studio several blowjobs to get where she was now) as if she had no more than a passing knowledge of Heywood Labs and the Pokémorphs. Most of the people watching it, he realized with irritation, had no idea she had had a nervous breakdown and tried to throw a baby out of a window and just thought of her as one of those successful career women. And she was making more money than he was, damn it.

“…but not as cute as you, though.”

“Haha, good one, Jane.”

It was a good thing he was not holding the remote, because he might have thrown it at the TV and then he would have had to pay for it.

-------

Gabriel stared at the back of whoever was in front of him.

He could see the blurry blob he knew was Dave in his peripheral vision, walking up to the altar – he could just picture the man scowling at the fact they were in a church, which had been at his grandmother’s insistence – but wanted anything but to look at him. Him, who had been there when his father had died.

“Brian was a nice guy. He was always a nice guy. It was difficult not to like him.”

Him, who was lying through his teeth, because Gabriel had noticed – who hadn’t, really? – the way that Dave liked to blame Brian for his own mistakes just because he was so easy to pin things on, just because he never fought back. Just because he was too nice to stand up for himself.

“He always tried to do what was best for his son and his effort to try to make things as easy and comfortable for Gabriel as possible was truly admirable.”

Him, who had helped, but left most of the work to Brian; him, who had raised his daughter as a spoiled brat and still dared to comment on the parenting skills of others.

“His creative input when we were creating the Pokémorphs was also something amazing.”

Him, who had always taken the full credit for their creation unless that was inconvenient and would continue to do so after the funeral.

“And, well, without him, they wouldn’t even exist today.”

By which he meant screwing up the television debate that he had forced Brian to go to and had blamed him for for years.

“He even took on the most challenging morph to raise, which is quite something, and handled it admirably, resulting in, well, our Gabriel.”

Meaning him, the Slugma boy that no one had wanted but he had forced on Brian as punishment for the debate and Brian had learned to love only later.

“He was a truly great man and will be sorely missed among his coworkers.”

Because you must say that at a funeral, even if you won’t miss him, or at most miss the fact he would deal with the burden of his disgusting, slimy freak son and thus you would not have to.

“When he was taken from us so suddenly…”

And how dare he, how dare the man who the murderer had been going for stand there and say that about the one who took the bullet for him?

Gabriel felt sick.

He stood quietly up and began to walk out at the side, knowing that everyone was looking at him, even being aware of Dave’s gaze on his back while he tried to continue that horrible speech. Gabriel was glad to find a side door, threw up into the grass by the church wall and then sat down on the other side and shook, staring at the graveyard and the open grave that waited, ready to swallow what was left of his father and mark it with a meaningless cross as a symbol for a nonexistent god. He could still hear the faint echo of Dave’s words through the door.

He would never forgive him, ever. How could he forgive the one who should have died instead of his father? At least Dave was a jerk. Gabriel didn’t like to say anyone deserved to die, but no one could deny that there would have been some semblance of karma in it. His father had never done anything wrong.

It wasn’t fair.

He wasn’t sure how long he sat there. When they carried the coffin out, many people gave him a glance from afar and he considered joining the procession, but he figured he would just ruin the ceremony for everybody there who wasn’t used to seeing him (he had noticed several aunts and uncles he had only seen once or twice who seemed a little horrified by the sight of him) and the thought of watching the coffin sink into the ground while knowing what it contained was a bit sickening.

His father. He’d been a living, breathing, thinking human being only a few days ago. They’d ordered pizza last Friday and watched a cheesy romantic comedy. He had been in the middle of reading an acclaimed mystery novel and would never know who did it.

Pathetic as it was, that was the thought that made him finally curl up, bury his head between his knees and cry.

He was too far away to distinguish words, but he could make out the faint drawl of the priest’s voice from the churchyard. There was something soothing about it being so far away, the silence otherwise only broken by the occasional noise of the radio from the stationary police car that had been assigned to watch the funeral to deter or capture the criminal if he showed up to finish the job and the chirping of a flock of Pidgey near the other side of the church. It was just outside Taillow Springs, where the sound of cars from the town could not really be heard anymore. The Harrisons didn’t live too far away; they had a Pokémon breeding ranch a short drive from town.

“Hey, Gabriel,” said a voice, and Gabriel looked up to see Jack’s blue face and the accompanying antennae bobbing up and down in front of it. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” he replied dully, took off one of his black gloves and rubbed some life into his face. Down by the grave, he could see the coffin being lowered in, cringed and looked away.

“Here,” said Jack and held forward an ordinary red and white Pokéball. “From all of us.”

Gabriel stared at it for a second, took it in his gloved hand and then dropped it on the ground. A jagged shape of white light burst out of the ball and formed into a cute young Growlithe puppy. It tilted its head before attempting to lick his face; it cringed at the taste, let out a quiet whine and then lay down by his side.

He looked up at Jack.

“It’s one of Talia’s pups, you know, the Harrisons’ Arcanine,” the Chinchou boy explained. “They said she was the most playful and good-tempered of the bunch. Her name’s Felicia. We just thought… even while you’re living with us, it would be nice for you to have somebody who’ll always love you and be there for you.” He smiled awkwardly. “Something like that. It was Dave’s idea, actually.”

Gabriel had a sudden urge to throw the Pokéball in Jack’s face as hard as he could and tell him to leave him alone, but Jack hadn’t done anything wrong and the puppy really was kind of cute. He just gave the other boy a weak smile and scratched the Growlithe’s ear.

“Well, I hope you like her,” Jack said at last. “We were planning it yesterday, so we got food for her and such. It will be ready when we get home. Are you coming over to the…” He trailed off, his tone questioning. Gabriel shook his head, still scratching the puppy’s thick fur, and Jack turned around and walked back to the group.

Gabriel looked at the dog Pokémon by his side, half of him already attached to the creature and half feeling hurt at the suggestion that a Pokémon could even begin to act as a replacement for his father.

She looked up at him with adorable dark brown eyes and he figured she didn’t really need to be a replacement for anything.

“Felicia,” he muttered. “Good girl.”

“Growl,” she responded and tilted her head towards him. He smiled but hated himself for being able to smile now, now when he just wanted to mourn and punch a pillow and cry, and after a moment of thought he recalled her back into the ball, stared at the police car and just waited.

Brian would never find out who did it.

Gabriel felt his eyes begin to water again, and he silently resolved to himself that he would read that book and find out for him.
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Old 08-24-2008, 02:08 AM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Hooray for updates! ^^
And you posted it twice.
I don't think this was a bad chapter. Guess it's just the author's point of view. I've written things I thought were awful.
Anyway, nobody likes a funeral. I felt so bad for Gabe. Poor kid, couldn't have any worse huh? What's more awful than losing the only father you ever knew?
And I can't believe how that spoiled little Vulpix could run in a hospital room and get upset cause Dave wasn't excited about her movie contract.
Shows something of how she was raised I guess.
Good job! I'll still be looking for new updates. ^^
*patiently waits for more*
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Old 08-28-2008, 09:21 PM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

that was a really good chapter and it was sad..

チックタックして息をどのような他のフレッシュミントこれだけの単なるチックタックミントです。その、チッ クタック!
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Old 11-15-2008, 12:05 AM
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Default Re: Morphic (PG-13, possibly offensive to some)

Thanks for reading (though I'd appreciate more detailed comments, ElectrikeLover1996).

Okay, chapter nine is here. While my personal NaNo-esque aspirations to write 50,000 total words of Morphic and TQftL were clearly far too optimistic, I at least finished this chapter. Before you ask, it should be proofread to just the same degree as my chapters normally are; I'm not about to make 50,000 anyway, so I had nothing to lose spending a bit of time on proofing.

Thanks go to opaltiger for giving a couple of opinions.



Chapter 9

The geneticist who had lost his daughter at the beginning of the book was the murderer, and at the end he shot himself.

Gabriel sniffed as he closed the book. He remembered his father describing what it was about and how he felt for that character when he had only just started reading; once Gabriel had started, he’d quickly also concluded that the geneticist was the most sympathetic character in the whole book. And then… Gabriel felt tears welling up in his eyes again and blinked them resentfully away. Why did he have to be such a wreck over this, of all things? A stupid book. Pathetic.

He looked dully at Felicia, sleeping on the other end of the couch, and reached over to pet her. He half-wanted to vent about it aloud, but didn’t really trust his voice for the moment, so he kept his mouth shut.

Jack came out of the kitchen, holding a platter with two slices of toast with marmalade, and turned towards Gabriel. The luminous ends of his antennae swished back and forth; Gabriel didn’t think it would ever stop being slightly comical. He smiled dryly as Jack made his way towards him, laid the platter down on the glass table and then threw himself down beside Felicia, scratching her ear slightly. “Want some?” he asked, indicating the bread. Gabriel shook his head.

Jack shrugged and took a large bite out of one slice for himself, eying the book that still lay shut in Gabriel’s hands. “Finished it?” he asked through the bread. Gabriel just nodded.

“How was it?”

“Good,” Gabriel replied emptily. “Really good.”

Jack looked at him out of the corner of his eye as he stuffed more bread into his mouth. “You’ve got…” he said, crumbs flying out over the table as he pointed to his hair. Gabriel extinguished the growing flame blindly with his hand, only remembering that he was still wearing his gloves after he began to smell singed leather.

“Crap.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Jack said quickly. “You can’t really see it.”

Gabriel looked dully at the black glove; while he couldn’t really tell where it had started to burn, that didn’t change that it was now smeared with his skin on the outside, quite undermining the purpose of wearing the gloves to begin with. He sighed, pulled them off and laid them down on the table with the dirty one on top of the clean one.

“So, uh…” Jack’s gaze shifted between Gabriel and the gloves on the table. “Magic?”

Gabriel looked at him, not really in the mood. “I’m no good at that game.”

“You can always learn more, right?” Jack looked at him hopefully. “Or, hey, we can watch Pokérus. I borrowed season four from Ben the other day.” He paused. “It’s not something you used to watch with your dad, is it?”

Gabriel shook his head. He had never been very fond of that show (even he could tell that the biology was markedly off in some episodes), but at least it was an excuse to spend a few hours killing time without actually doing anything. “Sure.”

Jack sprang up from the couch. “I’ll put them in the laundry basket,” he said, picking up the gloves. “Be right back.”

Gabriel was left alone with Felicia, unable to stroke her without getting the stupid slime all over her fur. He sighed and looked longingly at the slice of toast remaining on the platter; on second thought he was kind of hungry and would have liked to be able to belatedly take Jack’s offer and eat it. But without his gloves, the idea of eating something while holding it in his hands was less than appetizing.

He sighed, stood up and went to the kitchen look for a knife and fork. He heard Jack returning, the footsteps suddenly stopping, and then the inevitable, “Gabriel, where’d you go?”

“Kitchen,” he called back, picking the cutleries carefully up before closing the drawer with his elbow and walking back out to the living room. “Do you mind if I eat the other piece of toast?”

“Oh,” Jack replied, sounding somewhat taken aback. “Sure.” He inserted the DVD into the player and then sat down at the other end of the couch, leaving the seat by the platter for Gabriel. As he sank into the red leather of the couch, Felicia looked up with an expression that begged for petting, but he could only shake his head and focus on his bread, which he finished within a few bites. He still felt hungry, but somehow unmotivated to try to get himself more food. He had barely noticed the beginning of the episode on the screen, but they were all kind of the same anyway.

He laid down the knife and fork, sat back and sighed. Jack gave him a brief, anxious glance.

“You don’t need to try so hard, you know,” Gabriel muttered.

“Huh?”

“Keeping me occupied.”

“Oh, it’s…” Jack began immediately, but trailed off and stared at the TV for a second; the fake nothing-is-wrong expression faded from his face. “Well, I just… I kinda worry about you, you know? I figured you needed something to keep your mind off things.”

Gabriel smiled wearily. “Thanks, but you do that better by just being you.”

Jack looked at him and then back at the screen, contemplating it; then he turned suddenly back to Gabriel and asked, “Do you mind if I ask my friends over to play DnD?”

As it turned out, this was the first evening since the incident that Gabriel could really enjoy himself; it was very relaxing to spend it as the wizard Gringalot on a quest to defeat Giratina as part of an unlikely team of travellers with an oddly modern sense of humour.

-------

Peter took a shower that morning. It was always a bit of a tedious affair for him to take a shower, since his wings, with their rather messed-up feathers, liked to collect a lot of dirt, and it was always a bit difficult to reach around to clean them.

When he was created, his parents had explained, a large part of the challenge was to see if they could modify a human to have six limbs, and because of this he had been one of the key morphs of the experiment – he liked to think he’d been the very most important one. To achieve this, they had introduced a gene recurring with minor differences in various six-limbed Pokémon species, such as Machamp and Charizard, that when disabled in them would prevent the growth of the third set of limbs. Naturally, he had also had the Taillow genes coding for wing structure, and they had made sure that they would be active in the right set of limbs. But they had missed something in the complex interactions of all those genes, because while the bone structure had accommodated the third pair of limbs reasonably, the wings themselves had ended up tiny and shrivelled and he had never been able to move them at all.

In other words, he was a failed experiment.

His parents had told him not to let that fact upset him; he wasn’t sure why it ought to and just found it kind of cool. They had also offered to let him have his wings surgically removed, but even if they were hard to clean, they were still cool, and they didn’t really get in his way since they were so small.

So Peter liked his wings, even if they were tiny and useless. When he was wearing a reasonably big T-shirt, people couldn’t even tell they were there, and while he was wearing his baseball cap, they couldn’t tell that he had feathers instead of hair on his head, either. He thought that was why he’d never had it as bad as some of the others – people could forget he was weird. He thought that was nice, too. Not that they couldn’t figure it out when he moved weirdly when he wasn’t concentrating, or in the showers in gym class, but they weren’t thinking about it all the time, like they were with Kathy or Gabriel. And that was why Peter had normal friends and they didn’t really. He was lucky. His sister was nice and deserved to have friends, but her rose-hands freaked people out, and whenever she started getting to know someone she grew up much faster than them.

He turned off the shower, stepped out of it and dried himself. A stripe of golden sunlight stretched across the floor from between the curtains, a hint that autumn hadn’t quite set into the weather yet. He quickly pulled on his clothes and opened the curtains, looking out at the countryside landscape of fields and trees; it only took a few notes of birdsong to draw him down the stairs and out the front door.

Peter had never liked being confined to closed rooms, after all.

He ran out to the Ponyta herd grazing in the north field, feeling energized just to know of all the wide space around him; he laughed when the startled Pokémon closest to him turned around, their manes flaring, and galloped to the other side of the field. “Lily!” he shouted. “Come over here!”

His Rapidash, who had been his starter Pokémon at the beginning of his journey that summer, looked up, her ears perked up, before trotting over to him. She was still the most powerful and his favourite of his Pokémon, even though his parents had told him he shouldn’t really have favourites because he ought to love them all equally for who they were. He had known her since her birth, after all, knowing she would be his starter Pokémon; the ones he had caught in the wild during the summer just weren’t the same.

Lily let him pet her for a moment, but then abruptly snatched the cap from his head and took off in a light run along the fence, neighing mischievously towards him. He broke into a sprint after her, laughing; he loved little more than running after her when she was teasing him, and she knew that well.

The wind rushed past his ears, comfortably cool but somehow numbing, and he felt the dew-coated grass blades stroke his ankles in an odd, blurry sort of sensation; something felt different, though he couldn’t put his finger on it. He was closing in on Lily and saw her turn her head slightly to see him before speeding up. And that was when it struck him that he was really, really fast. The realization made him laugh in exhilaration as he looked around and saw the trees whirring past – he hadn’t even been this fast in a car! – and turning at the corner of the fence seemed strangely easy and automatic. He felt himself gaining speed without really realizing how he did it, the Rapidash struggling to keep ahead of him, and then he miraculously caught up to her side; he flung himself into her without really knowing why, and the sheer momentum sent both of them tumbling into the grass. It was lucky it was soft.

He was still letting out short bursts of laughter when he stood up, intoxicated by the sheer amazement of what he had just achieved; his heart pounded in his chest and he was breathing in rapid gulps of air. He would end up with some bruises from this, he was sure, and his clothes were soaking wet from the landing in the grass. Lily was pushing herself to her feet; she shook her head, tiny droplets of water flying in every direction as her mane flared up indignantly. Peter picked his cap up from the grass beside them; it was too wet to put on.

The Pokémon looked at him with a questioning gaze.

“Lily,” he said after a moment, “I’m not sure, but I think I just used a Quick Attack.”

He grinned at her, and she tilted her head towards him with an unimpressed snort. He made sure she wasn’t seriously injured after the roll, gave her a pat on the neck and then walked back towards the house to tell someone.

-------

Cheryl waved to the police officer in the car parked a short distance away as she crossed the street. He raised a hand back at her, which told her he had gotten the message that she would be coming. That was good, she thought; she’d have hated to have to deal with convincing a policeman that she was not there to murder David Ambrose.

The only reason she’d come at all, really, was how horribly broken he had sounded on the phone begging for company. They couldn’t leave Mia and Lucy home alone at night – not at a time like this – so Howard was left with the girls, and she had gone alone. Now that she was actually stepping into the apartment building, she was having second thoughts; the drive there had felt a lot more unsettling than it sounded in theory, and despite good intentions, the presence of the lone police car outside did little to make her feel safer from lurking murderers.

But Dave was a friend, and Cheryl couldn’t turn her back on a friend, even if he was in all likelihood drinking and nighttime travel a bit dangerous.

The staircases were unlit and empty, the windows giving clear view out to the streets; the bright light from the streetlamps outside cast harsh shadows on the stairs. She could not help finding the large windows a little unnerving: too easy to see and shoot someone through, she thought as she hurried up the last flight of stairs. She knocked on the door of Dave’s apartment, throwing another glance at the window and the empty street outside as she did.

“It’s not locked,” she heard a muffled voice call from inside. Cheryl turned the doorknob and pushed the door open.

“Oh, God, Dave,” she muttered as she closed it hesitantly. Of course she knew Dave too well to have expected him to be sober, but the sheer number of empty cans and bottles standing on and around the table that Dave was sitting at still startled her; again she was struck with the feeling she shouldn’t have come. But pity quickly took over: she couldn’t just leave him like this.

Dave looked up. “Sorry I’m such a mess,” he said, his voice slightly slurred and full of self-contempt. “Thanks for coming.”

He pushed the chair opposite him away from the table with his foot; Cheryl walked slowly over to it and sat down. She wasn’t sure what to say; he looked at her, and she looked at him, wondering just when he’d last shaved, just how much he’d been drinking recently, just how little he’d slept in the past week. Again she felt sorry for him.

“I can’t ******* live like this,” he said at last. “Locking myself in to hide from some crazy ****, not going anywhere without police watching over my shoulder. I’m going to go insane before they catch him, damn it.”

Cheryl looked away and nodded absent-mindedly. Dave, having been concluded to have been the primary intended target of the attack that had killed Brian, had the most extreme protective measures around him, but they all knew the feeling to some extent. The sudden lack of freedom was bad enough; the paranoia that automatically enforced it was even worse.

“Are you alone?” she asked quietly. “Where’s Jean?”

“Been staying with the McKenzies for a couple of days,” Dave answered. “Can’t ******* blame her, can I?”

A few seconds of silence. Then, “She’s going to be in that ******* Sarah Hooter movie. Why did I sign the ******* thing?”

Cheryl shook her head. “It’s her choice, Dave,” she said. “They’re not the best books around, I know, but in the end it’s her life and her own decis…”

“Her decision, my ass,” Dave interjected with an angry motion of his hand that knocked a few empty cans off the table. “There’ll be thousands of ******* furries and pedos jacking off to her picture every night; how could she ever make an informed decision about that? More publicity’s the absolute worst ******* thing that could be done to her, and I signed a ******* contract to make her a kid star. Jesus Christ.”

Cheryl wished she had something reassuring to say to this, but she couldn’t really think of anything. Dave rested his head on his hands, fingers buried in his hair. “****,” he muttered.

She looked at him in silence.

Dave looked up after a few seconds, took a sip from the bottle in his hand and said suddenly, “I haven’t gotten laid in ******* ages.”

Cheryl took a deep breath. “Dave,” she said gently, “you’re drunk.”

“I still like you, you know,” he went on, pleading entering into his voice as he ignored her reply.

“Yes,” she said shortly and wondered fleetingly if he honestly thought she hadn’t noticed. “I know.”

“Howard would never have to find ou…”

“Dave,” she interrupted, jerking her head back towards him, “that’s over. There’s a reason I married him instead of running off with you back then.”

Dave looked at her for a moment and then rested his his head on his arms again, looking down. “Right,” he muttered. “Yes, I’m drunk. Sorry. I didn’t mean it. It’s just… I ******* hate this.”

Cheryl took another deep breath. “I should probably leave,” she said.

“Yes,” Dave replied, shaking his head. “I’m sorry. Christ, I’m going to snap if they don’t find the ****** soon.”

She couldn’t help still pitying him as she walked out the door, plagued with guilty memories.

-------

A/N: The plot of Gabriel’s book is that of an Icelandic mystery novel (Tainted Blood or Jar City in the English translation), although the order of events described here is as they unfold in the film of the book. Mostly just a reference put in for my own amusement, but I’d rather give credit where it’s due before people start to tell me “You should really write that book!”
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Last edited by Dragonfree; 11-15-2008 at 12:13 AM.
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