It was a bookshop he knew well. He had chosen it specifically for his presentations and meet and greet. It wasn't because it was particularly beautiful or large, in fact, it was quite simple. Basically he had chosen it because it was the closest to home. A comfortable choice.
It had been a long time since he had made choices just for the pleasure of making them. Even writing... Lately he wondered how much of what he took out his pen was what he wanted or what his readers, or the publisher, wanted. Since writing had become a job, it was all different.
A sharp cough distracted him from his thoughts. Rick had his legs stretched out on a small table, his face resting on one hand, a pile of his new book beside him waiting to be signed. Across the table, a very long, endless row of yellow T-shirts, shouting like a herd of crazy chicks, excited to be able to exchange opinions on his new novel and to finally meet him. Not even a Rick in the middle: it would have been humiliating for a Rick to ask another Rick for an autograph, but the writer knew well that half of those Mortys were there to get a copy also for their elderly counterpart.
Rick concentrated on the Morty in front of him: nothing special, the same as any other, therefore cute, tender and with giant eyes. He was looking at him with the book tight against his chest, happy as a child at Christmas, waiting for Rick to notice him. The man rolled his eyes, before offering a hand to take the book. With an enthusiastic cry, the boy gave him the novel. The writer removed the cap from the pen, bored, without looking at it rolling on the edges of the table.
"To whom do I dedicate it?"
"You don’t say..." he commented sarcastically, in a low voice; "Any particular dimension?"
"Ke-Kei-0083#, thank you!"
The writer flew the pen on the sheet, in the elegant handwriting of all the Ricks, which recorded the information. Even too scrupulously. Morty frowned, reading.
"N-no, it wasn't Ke-Kei, it was only K, can I-"
"Next" Rick snapped his fingers, waving goodbye to that Morty with the hand and a fake smile.
That Morty left with his head down. It was probably the last time he bought his book. Or maybe not. After all, they were used to the fact that the Ricks were assholes.
Another Morty, identical to the first, arrived with his copy ready to be signed. Rick had written an essay on how repeated actions were basically toxic, but if done by people identical to all the others, it was even worse. Ricks had gone mad because of it.
"Mo-Morty, size V-IW711, S-Sir!"
At least this one seemed smarter. Name, dimension and thanks, bye bye. Rick mechanically signed the book, sliding it back to him.
"Ca-can I ask you something, sir?"
Rick put his hand on his forehead, barely massaging the skin, in a surrendered sigh.
"I'm afraid you can".
“I-I ask it from t-the whole community. D-do you think we can see more detailed and i-intimate scenes between the protagonists next time?”
Rick remained silent, looking at the boy in front of him, who smiled at him unaware. He was fucking tired to see every forum full of Morty who, rather than making theories and criticisms of his work, simply asked for more detailed and numerous sex scenes. Put something weird between the characters and the fans will NEVER stop asking you about the fanservice.
Rick stood up, with a falsely kind smile. His editor had gone to piss or fuck some Morty into the bathroom, so he had the sacrosanct right to do whatever the fuck he wanted.
He cleared his throat, turning to the whole crowd of yellow chicks, who turned to look at him in adoration, with wide eyes.
"If you want more porn and less plot..."
Silence fell in the cue, in a breath of hope, held back by curiosity. They hung from his lips, hoping to finally know the truth.
Rick took the life-size hardcover of himself, which was positioned next to him, lifting it over his head.
"GO READ SOME FANFICTION OR MASTURBATE ON RICKTTER, INSTEAD OF BREAKING MY FUCKING BALLS".
The hardcover flew over the heads of the Mortys, between those who ran away and those who tried to grab it as if they were at a concert.
"THE EVENT IS OVER".
Rick turned, starting to put his pens and folders back into his bag. Did he have to leave before the publisher returned, or he would lecture him for hours. It was the third bookstore he sent into chaos and the fifth event canceled.
Rick stopped, his hand on his new novel, thoughtful, with his anger boiling and leaving room for fear: was he wrong to do so? Would it have been remembered because he sucked or forgotten because he drove anyone away? It was his favorite dilemma.
“Co-could I ask you for an autograph?"
Rick sighed, without turning to his next fan: he only reached back to take the book. Maybe it would have been worth millions, perhaps it would have been his last autograph: he had a mounting desire to commit suicide. It hadn't been in a while.
He grabbed the book, taking the pen he always carried behind his ear, ready to sign.
Rick began to write mechanically, before stopping, widening his eyes.
That was the name of his greatest online critic, author of a very competent blog that analyzed not only his novels, but also the denunciation and political subplot of his works, which took direct inspiration from the reality in which they lived at the time: the presidency of the first Morty in power.
Nobody besides him had gone to dig so deeply to understand the plot webs that tied each chapter, each novel, focusing on that more than on the erections described in the pages.
Nobody had ever understood so deeply the complex and convoluted world that he poured on those sheets, continuously. Or at least, no one who had ever had the face to tell him, also making constructive criticism.
Rick turned around, ready to meet his peer, the blogger Rick, his greatest critic, a...
The light in Rick's eyes dimmed noticeably as one corner of his mouth lifted, annoyed. What the hell was it, a joke? A catfish? Or had that Rick sent a Morty to get the novel?
The enthusiasm was beginning to drop steeply.
"Ricksigner97, huh? Incredible, you are the first Rick who doesn't look the same as the others..."
The writer crossed his arms, still holding the book, raising a sarcastic eyebrow. The boy in front of him didn't even look like a classic Morty, though: big nerdy glasses with thick frames, a stupid hat on his head that looked like a Morty with an eye patch and a shirt with a doubtful interpretation. He was sure that this was not the first time he had seen him, but... on the contrary, perhaps he was one of the Mortys always present at his events. Despite this, however, he was definitely not who he expected to face.
“Does he send you here? Didn't he feel like moving his ass? "
"Oh, n-no ... He-he ... I-I mean, I-I..."
Rick rolled his eyes, opening the book again to scribble his signature and interrupt that umpteenth stammer.
Rick raised an eyebrow, looking back at him. Well, that was a plot twist. He could take a cue.
"Yes, and I'm c137".
"N-no, really i-it's me... let-me explain."
Rick closed the book with a thump, crossing his arms again and leaning against the wall. At best it would have been creative material to think about.
"I actually work as a Designer, b-but I'm also a fa-fan of our President and..." Morty lowered his face slightly and Rick would have sworn to see a little blush on those cheeks "... and of a-all your works. I have read them d-dozens of times and analyzed them one b-by one. "
The boy raised his face again, his eyes shining, just getting closer to Rick, who shrugged and began to lose that detachment and that security he had had up to now. Hell, was it really him? How was it possible that a Morty could be so smart, sharp and talented?
"This last b-book is pe-perfect too, it’s brilliant and I came to use my real name, f-finally. It’s the first e-event in which I have the courage to d-do it. I-I'm sorry, I-I didn't want to t-tease you... "
Rick was starting to feel his head spinning: if there was one thing he was never satisfied with, it was compliments. More than Writer Rick, they should have called him Egoic Rick. He was so hungry for acknowledgments, confirmations and plaudits, that as soon as he heard them he began to want more and more, hungry. They were never enough. And if it was that little boy who made them, with those giant eyes, which shone with enthusiasm, huge...
“Yo-you’re also very handsom in p-person… T-this always frightened me, m-maybe that's why I never had the courage to d-do it before. Your book is wo-wonderful. I really hope you never s-stop writing. "
Morty smiled, a simple, genuine smile, the kind Rick hadn't known for a long time. There were many things he could no longer do, such as those candid but decidedly embarrassing compliments: the word handsome rang in his head, throbbing. The pause served as a reminder to Rick why the boy was standing in front of him, waiting. Without saying a word, he opened the first page of the book, in a mechanical autograph, dedicated to Ricksigner97. The moment he handed it to him he repented, aware that he could have written something better.
"Thank you v-very much, you really don't know how l-long I've been waiting for t-this moment."
Okay, now Rick could be sure: Morty was blushing and while holding that book in his chest as if it were the most precious thing in the world he was even more... disarming. Also because Rick himself had been waiting for so long to meet his greatest admirer.
"W-well, I better go now, the e-event is over and you will b-be busy... Thank you a-again!" Morty said before giving him one last smile and turning to leave. He didn't look like someone who already wanted to end the meeting, but the most surprising thing was that Rick didn't want either. Except that he was better at hiding it.
"Wait," he said, barely pulling away from the wall, but immediately disguising interest as Morty turned. He cleared his throat, trying to appear annoyed: "Are you telling me that Ricksigner97 is actually a designer and also a Morty?".
The boy bowed his head again, mortified, nodding.
“I-I'm so ashamed of having d-done it and pretending to be a Rick, but I w-was sure that you w-would never have noticed me otherwise. I-I wanted to get your attention... but being a Morty I would never have m-made it. "
Rick weighed his words, unable to answer. He had always been better at writing than speaking, but this time it would also have been difficult to answer in writing. Had that little boy created a real character under a pseudonym only to be able to attract his attention?
"... I-it would not have made sense for the God of writing to take r-reviews of a Morty for good."
At that moment, Rick went haywire.
Perfect. Brilliant. Beautiful. Wonderful. God of writing.
In this, Rick was no different from all his other dimensional alternatives: he was convinced he was a God and the mere fact that someone confirmed it to him was music for his ears. That boy literally made him have an erection in record time. Fortunately, he always wore black, a color that could mask everything.
He absolutely couldn’t stay away from it. At that moment he found himself chock full of ideas, inspiration, plots and descriptions that screamed to get out of his head, victims like him of that adoration. He could no longer give it up. He could not help but wake up with those words that reminded him every day that he was unique, sensational, very good and unrepeatable.
He had to have him with him.
"Come work with me."
Those words came automatically from his mouth, without being able to stop them or think about it much. Morty widened his eyes, shocked as if he had revealed the end of his new book to him. Rick cleared his throat, correcting himself.
"For me, I mean."
"M-me? W-work f-for you? " the boy was about to have a heart attack, it was obvious. Only the fact that he didn't believe those words saved him.
“You’re a designer, aren't you? My publishing house is terribly vintage in the way of layout and editing of the graphics of my manuscripts. I would like to upgrade the s-system, perhaps with a fresher, y-younger mind. Who knows how to draw and critically analyze what he reads, before working on it ".
Morty's mouth was wide open and he was having difficulty breathing. He was clutching that book to his chest as if it were a matter of life or death.
"I-I... Y-yeah, i m-mean, I-I'd love to-"
Rick raised a hand, curbing his enthusiasm: “Obviously it will be a free internship. I have to see how you work before I hire you. And then, you will have to contribute to the expenses. "
Morty frowned, confused, "T-to the expenses?"
"Sure. You will come and stay with me, of course "Rick went on, even if he seemed to hear an emotional swearing under the kid’s breath," We will work every day, wake up at eight in the morning, end of work at seven in the evening, unless we are near to a deadline. In that case, we could go on all night. "
From how Morty swallowed, it was clear that they were both thinking about the night in a slightly different way.
"Well? It’s ok, for you?"
Morty nodded vigorously with his head, so strong that his hat nearly fell to the ground.
"A-absolutely yes, I-I can't wait to start, I promise that I won't let you d-down."
Rick leaned towards him, bending his torso with an evil smile: “It will be better. Another trick like the fake nickname and you’ll pay for it, babe ... "
Morty continued to nod, this time more intimidated, but serious. He didn’t want to disappoint him and couldn’t know that in reality he had not done it.
Rick overtook him, giving him one last, sharp look before leaving the autograph table.
"Oh, since you're here... Wait for my editor, explain to him what happened and that I hired you. He'll definitely be fucking some of those kids in the row, somewhere... "
Shit, that kid sure knew how to make him hard instantly.
Rick turned, again with a grin on his face, but his eyes that remained serious.
"Oh, one last thing ..."
The designer stared at him, clearly still displaced by all those unexpected news.
"... unfortunately, I only have one bed at home."
The writer shrugged, twisting his mouth as if looking sorry, before leaving the library, with an erection and inspiration that both prayed to be satisfied.