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 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 fucking 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 chirping of a flock of Pidgey near the other side of the church and 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. 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.

Page last modified July 14 2017 at 16:44 GMT