This is a work of fanfiction by Butterfree/Dragonfree/antialiasis and is not to be reposted without permission. This story is in no way official or endorsed by Nintendo, GAME FREAK, Creatures Inc., or The Pokémon Company.

Morphic

For more information on this story and a full list of chapters and extras, click here. Please note that Morphic is rated R (M if you prefer Fiction Ratings) for strong language, violence and other sensitive subject matter.

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.”

-------

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 he 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.

Page last modified July 14 2017 at 16:44 GMT