You had a Rick once. He introduced you to the Citadel around the same time as most Morty's, with a petulant sigh and flask in hand. He had a penchant for mysteries and solving them, although most of them didn't take him very long. "Smartest man in the universe" and all that. He was killed for getting involved in whatever inter-political bullshit he was a part of -- killed by a Morty. And in moments -- whiplash as always comes when you live alongside Rick Sanchez -- you were alone.
"You're Meddlesome Rick's Morty," the counsellors said. "We could use that kind of expertise in our law enforcement. We've got an offer for you--"
"I'll take it."
They pause for a moment, exchanging glances. "Not to look a gift horse or whatever, but you didn't even hear the full offer."
"You want an insider look on your Morty problem?" You said. "You know me. I'm discerning and I can speak Morty. I'm reliable and now I've got a chip on my shoulder. When else are-are you gonna get a chance like this? My other options are to go home or-or-or get a new Rick? No thanks. I'm taking the job."
One of the Council Ricks laughs at his audacity. "He barely stuttered! Bloodthirsty little shit."
"A cold-blooded bastard in the making," said another. That one put his head down and signed a paper before passing it off to a clerk. "He's ours. Put him up in an apartment and get him into the first spare police academy desk you can find."
You spend a few hours snoozing in an office chair in the lobby before an assistant wakes you to give you a key, a phone, and a hundred shmeckles. "This is for your apartment," he hands over the key. "The address is in your phone. We've a-auuuh-lready arranged for a car to take you there. I'll warn you, it's probably a shithole."
You take the things and climb out of the chair that you've folded yourself into. When you glance up you see that the assistant Rick is looking at you passively, but you know Rick and you know what it means. It means pity .
"Hey, uhh…" he says. "You know if you need someone to talk to you should probably just bottle it up, or go home. You probably know how Ricks feel about therapy. Save your money."
"Oh gee, thanks, Rick!" You reply, with all the authenticity you can bear, stuffing your new things in your pockets and turning to go. "I-if you've got more advice, you ca-can save your breath and m-m-my time, and keep it to yourself."
Before you can get out of reach, Rick grabs the fleshy meat of your arm over your elbow and spins you to face him. His face is ugly with anger and you're so numb that you don't need to try to feign indifference.
"Listen here, Morty…" he starts.
"I'm not your Morty ," you hiss back.
" I know you're not my Morty, do you think I'm a fucking idiot?" Rick shakes you. Tomorrow you'll have bruises on your arms. Right now it feels good to have something to focus on. "Listen to me, Morty. I know you and you're dealing with this like a Rick. I-is that what you want, Morty? You wanna be another Rick?"
You squint back at this Rick, a stranger with slicked back hair and a collared shirt.
"You're all emotional little sponges, Morty. You're a sponge and you're-you're gonna boil over if you're not careful. I don't know what you saw but I'll tell you what you should do." He leans in close and meets your eyes. His breath is putrid, but this one at least had the decency to try covering it up with tic-tacs. "I'll rip up that contract. I'll get you a portal. You can go home and hug your mom."
"A-a-a-and then what?" You ask him. "Grow up like-like some normal kid? Like nothing ever happened? Like I haven't seen the multiverse with my own two eyes?"
You pull away from the Rick's grip and his hands come loose. You walk to the doorway of the Council building, turning on the way to flip him off.
"You're not my Rick," you say. "So mind your own g-goddamn business."
You learn within hours that every Rick in law enforcement is genetically predispositioned to underestimate a Morty. They gaze at you as you enter the class, puzzled and surprised. They handle you with child gloves, and before long you've pinned each and every one of them in a choke hold on the training room floor. The Rick training you laughs at the expense of every other Rick in the room, but is also guilty of patting you on the back and calling you "champ".
At night you go home to your one-room apartment where Ricks lean out their doors to catch a look at you. Your skin crawls under their gaze. You flip through the TV channels and on each and every one is a different Rick, and sometimes, a Morty. They host Morty trivia shows and shock them when they get the answers wrong, laughing at the sounds they make when it hits them. It's better than the soap operas where Rick acts alongside himself, yelling that Rick slept with Rick, didn't he? "You can't lie to me, I'm the smartest man in the universe!"
One night after a course you end up at a bar with your whole class. You must have missed a note that it was a team-building night. When you turn to leave, they boo and reach their long-fingered hands out to touch you and take you back. They want you to try this beer or that drink and laugh at your disgusted faces. They want to make you blush and laugh at their jokes, and you do it all.
You remember their adoring eyes, and then you remember staggering down your apartment hallway with a hand on your shoulder, holding you steady. You don't know which Rick this is -- whose Rick this is -- but he appears to be sober and therefore, a stranger.
"Is it 1306?" He asks you, counting the numbers on the doors.
"Th-thirt-teen oh six, yeah," you say, burping and stuttering like both halves of you in one. You rally and try to line your key up to the hole in the doorknob, but it keeps moving further to the left. This Rick must know you well, because he stands there and does nothing. You wait for him to say something so you can bite his head off. You growl in frustration into the soft warm shape against you. When did he get there?
When you look up at Rick, he has the decency not to be looking at you. He's gazing down the hallway, like a german shepard on the lookout. He's giving you the space to do what you need, and you just fell into him. Maybe it wasn't for the first time.
"Hey," you call him, and rap on his ribcage. Rick looks down and you lift the keys up for him. You don't need anything more, he just reaches over and unlocks it.
For a few precious moments you have his arm across your shoulders. He looks exactly like your Rick. He's just as skinny, wiry, and with the same tacky sweat smell. You close your eyes and the world falls out from underneath you. You slip backwards in time to when you hadn't lost him, with your shoulder against his chest and the ebb and flow of his breath against your elbow.
"...Morty." this Rick says. He sounds the same, too.
He's weak for you, you know it already. They all are, in different ways, but they're still all fundamentally the same.
You could have him. You could invite him inside and curl up on his lap while he sits in your armchair. You could be there all night, with that familiar tacky sweat smell all around you, his breath against you. You could ask him to pat your head, to touch your face and he'd do it. You know he would, because he's weak for you, and for every Morty without a Rick, there's ten Ricks without a Morty.
" You're not my Rick ," you hiss. You fumble at the door and slip through into the darkness of your apartment, before slamming it into Rick's face. By the time you've pulled a chair over to look through the peep hole, you see Rick's shadow disappear down the stairs.
That night you cry into your pillow like a little kid. Your body tremors with sobs and wails that you have no control over. You have dreams where you're with your Rick and you're overflowing with joy to see him again, and he's more interested in finding the next interpersonal drama to stick his nose in.
In your dream you stay close to him. Each touch he gives you hits like a sugar rush, like static catching the hairs on your skin.
"I miss you, Rick."
In reply, he looks back at you, his face passive.
When you wake up and realize where you are, you've never felt so alone.
"As long as you're a Rick, your weakness is a Morty," a thousand pallid Rick faces go from amused to puzzled before you, on graduation day from the academy. You're valedictorian, because you're their kryptonite. "It's not your fault, it's just who you are," you tell them, "and it's going to get you killed.
"Not all Ricks love their Mortys, or even care about them. You-you pity them. You think they're cute . Every single one of you make the same mistake in different ways: you underestimate them . When you encounter a Morty on the street, as a Rick your guard is already down. I know this because it's me standing up here giving this speech, not one of you.
"If you want to survive, you should be as skeptical of them as you would be of any Rick. But you-you won't be. I know this already, because it's me up here giving this speech, and not one of you." You take a breath, arms crossed behind your back with a thousand Ricks before you. You could tell them your story about your Rick, but they would only use it to think of you. Poor, sad, lonely Morty. So you don't.
"Thank you," you say, and climb down from the stage. All of the Ricks in the audience applaud. You receive a few amicable pats on the back as you return to your seat, and glare at everyone who touches you. They haven't learned anything.
It's all worth it once you're on the street, and you put a bullet in the brain of a Morty whose pulled a knife on your partner. The crunch of his skull the and splattering brains and blood over Rick and the wall behind him is so satisfying that you sigh. Rick gasps and catches the corpse before it falls. He spins to look at you with surprise, but you feel like a puzzle piece as fallen into place to fill the hole of your heart.
"Morty--" Rick starts.
"You're a liability," you tell him. "Never trust a Morty."