Disclaimer: I don't own "Rick and Morty".
Author's Note: After one of the worst cases of Flu I've ever had in my life, I was inspired to write this second chapter. This is a special request fulfilled for my good friend & Fanfic author Romeocitychicag. Enjoy,everybody!
"Morty?" Beth Smith watched her son with concern. He was sitting at the kitchen table, barely touching the eggs she'd just made. She'd even cooked them his favorite way: sunny-side up. Instead of digging in, he just sat there, staring dully down at them with a sullen, blank expression on his face. "What's the matter, honey?" Beth prompted again, "do you not like your breakfast? I-I made them special just how you like them." Beth was trying to put on a brave face, but she was really worried; her son looked unusually pale, and there were dark circles under his eyes.
"Oh n-nothing Mom...just...my stomach kinda hurts this morning." Morty, still not stirring, didn't look up from his plate.
Jerry, overhearing, glanced worriedly sideways at Morty before dropping his silverware angrily, as he narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Rick, who was busy noisily enjoying his breakfast. "Did you keep up him late again, Rick? After we explicitly said not to-"
"Way to be deflective, Jerry," Rick cut him off sharply as he scooped up some egg, "lecturing me on the do's and dont's of parenthood, when you're obviously such a model father-"
"Hey!" Jerry's face turned a shade of nearly crimson-purple from a combination of anger and embarrassment.
"Besides," Rick added nonchalantly, "guess you were so wrapped up in your busy schedule this week that you didn't notice I was sick with the flu for several days. So that would be a big fat 'NO', Jerry."
"You just had the flu," Jerry noted disbelievingly, "and you're eating eggs?"
Rick snorted and shoved in a mouthful. "Thanks for the update, 'Captain Obvious'."
Meanwhile, Morty listened to the conversation with his eyes closed, trying not to think about eggs. His stomach didn't just hurt, it felt like a bunch of knots all twisted and gnarled together. He wasn't sure he could even stomach one piece of toast, let alone eggs.
"Morty...let me feel your forhead," his mother said, shifting over quickly and alighting her palm to her son's face. "Oh my gosh Morty!" Immediately she retracted her hand; his forehead was hot to the touch. "You've got a fever," Beth said with urgency, "you've got to get back into bed honey. No school today. You're staying home."
"Hey no fair!" Summer whined, pouting with a petulant scowl. "He gets to stay home and miss exams?"
"You don't want what he's got honey," Beth said as she helped a silently sullen and shivering Morty out of his seat. "He's probably cought the Flu."
"Way to go Rick," Jerry snapped. "That's just what Morty needs-missing more of school. Just don't give it to me next."
"Because you've got tons of work to miss, right?" Rick snickered. "Wouldn't want to ruin your next playdate with destiny."
"Shush you two!" Beth snapped over her shoulder, "Morty's sick. The last thing he needs is to listen to the two of you fighting!"
"C-can I h-h-have a g-g-g-glass of w-w-w-water?" Morty chattered, his teeth were clicking together he was so cold.
"Yes, honey," Beth said, "as soon as we get you into bed, I'll get you a glass of water. Don't talk now, you need to save your energy." She turned back towards the two men and added, "Jerry, you're going to take care of him right? I've got a famous show dog coming in for surgery today and I have no replacement."
"Well in that case," Jerry muttered with a roll of his eyes, before glaring back at Rick.
"Hey! Don't look at me," Rick held his hands up in mock retreat, "you decided to marry a vet surgeon."
"Who's your daughter!" Jerry balked.
"Yeah, thanks for the reminder. Clearly the mother's genes that decided to marry you."
Their voices faded as Morty let his mother guide him to his bedroom. By now he was so tired he could barely get into bed. His stomach ached and his throat felt dry, and he was wheezing pitifully. His head was aching. Shouldn't have kept Rick company last night, he thought miserably as he settled into bed, his mother pulling the sheet up to his chin, and gently carressing his forhead. He'd meant to comfort Rick, who'd been ravished with fever dreams. He'd even gone so far as to sleep right next to his grandfather (surprisingly Rick had been too sick or exhausted to protest). And of course, he'd paid a price for his selfless act of kindness; he hadn't felt this sick in what felt like a million years.
If I can just get through the next few hours without throwing up my insides, Morty thought as he finally drifted off into a restless sleep, I'll be fine.
Rick spent the rest of that morning working in the garage and staying out of Jerry's way. The two typically tried to avoid each other like the plague, so Rick was surprised when Jerry wound up knocking on his door a few hours later.
"Not now Jerry. I'm in the middle of something really game-changing here."
"I, uh, gotta go to the store and run a few other errands." Jerry shifted uncomfortably in the doorway. "I need you to check in on Morty while I'm gone."
"Do I have to define 'game-changing' for you Jerry?" Rick twisted around in his seat with a glare, "or do I have to find you a dictionary?" (He wasn't working on anything special of course. Just a cure for the alien version of testicular cancer; he owed a friend in the Freedom Corp; had owed him for years.) "Besides," Rick added with a grunt, "he's almost fifteen. Kid can handle himself. He's been through much worse than this and survived."
"He...has?" Jerry's tone was one filled with a satisfying amount of surprise and dissapointment.
"Yeah, so, don't worry about him, he'll be fine. Go do what you're best at and worry about yourself okay? I've got limited resources and a limited amount of time to play with, so I can't be dealing with any pissants right now."
Rick was pleasantly surprised when the door quietly shut and he heard the retreat of footsteps without a rebuttle. He worked for the majority of the day without interruption, only stopping when his stomach signaled he was in need of renourishment.
He was on his way to the kitchen when an all-too familiar sound halted him in his tracks. The horrific noises could only mean one thing: Morty was currently throwing up in the bathroom. Oh, great. This was just what he needed: a really sick kid on his hands. However, Rick also knew he would never hear the end of it if he didn't at least make sure Morty was back in bed by the time Jerry got home. Against his better desires, Rick forced himself over to the bathroom, where the doorway was partially ajar. Upon opening it all the way, Rick was dismayed to find his grandson curled up in a ball on the floor, hugging his stomach, his shirt partially stained in vomit.
Rick cringed with disgust, recoiling at the horrible stench in the air. Meanwhile, Morty didn't even seem aware of his presence, as he was rolling back and forth on the floor, groaning and shivering. His eyes were only partially open as he looked up at Rick, though Rick couldn't be sure Morty was actually seeing him. The kid's hair was matted with sweat, his eyes glassy and unfocused. An unfamiliar pang of sympathy sent an overwhelming wave of concern through Rick that was impossible to ignore, as he bent down towards his grandson.
"Hey, hey there, Morty?" Rick said in as urgent, and gentle, a voice as possible, "It, it's Rick, okay? I'm right here, Morty."
"R...Rick?" Morty whimpered, raising his hands upwards, reaching weakly out towards his grandfather. "I...I c-c-c-can't…" Morty couldn't continue the sentence without delving into a fit of coughing.
"Quiet, kid," Rick ordered simply as he bent down further. "I'm, I'm gonna pick you up. Just, just hold onto me, okay?" He quickly lifted Morty off the floor. He wasn't expecting Morty's legs to clamp immediately around his waste, nearly knocking the breath out of him; nor did he expect Morty's wrists to nearly choke him to death as he clung to his neck. "MoUGHrty! Can't-breath!" Rick strangled out desperately, as he tried to shift Morty's weight as well as his limbs to a less dangerous position. Thankfully, he managed to do so, as well as continue to carry Morty swiftly out of the room.
"I-I'm s-s-s-sorry Rick," Morty was whimpering into his shirt, his voice barely audible as it was muffled by the fabric. "I-I couldn't h-h-help it."
"That's okay there Morty." Rick put the kid in his bed and ran for a towel, which he quickly ran under a faucet and dampened with some lukewarm water. He returned at once to Morty's bedside and placed the damp towel on his grandson's forhead. With his other free hand, he snatched a tissue from the nightstand and began wiping what remained of the vomit that remained on Morty's face. He then grabbed a fresh shirt from the rack in Morty's closet. "Here put this on," Rick ordered as he tossed the shirt to Morty.
Morty didn't move or answer. He was still wheezing and he simply lay on the bed, breathing hard with his eyes closed.
"Morty! Put that shirt on." Rick was beginning to get irritated. "You can't just lie there with vomit on your shirt." As Morty continued to lie in the same position and wheeze, Rick kneeled by the bed and, putting his hand gently behind Morty's head, urged him to sit up in bed. "Sit up Morty."
Morty's eyes popped open with horror upon Rick's moving him, and, before Rick could respond, Morty leaned over and suddenly Rick's shoes were covered with vomit. "EEK!" Rick shouted, jumping back with disgust, "Are you kidding me, Morty!? These shoes are super expensive, they, they're made out of ultra rare shalka skin-you, you can't just get them anywhere!" He kicked the shoes off angrily, holding the bridge of his nose with frustration as Morty proceeded to vomit again, and then he did it again. "Okay," Rick said as he tried to calm his frayed nerves, placing a hand on Morty's back as he continued to vomit uncontrollably, "okay...easy does it. Eaaasy does it, kid." Rick had never seen anyone vomit so much in his life. Kid must really be sick.
"I'm….sorry," Morty wheezed as he finally finished his vomiting, leaning back against the bed with exhaution.
Rick stared down at his grandson, who was shivering and pale, and felt a stab of guilt come over him. "That's okay Morty, don't worry about it," he heard himself saying in spite of himself. (Since when was he okay with a ruined pare of shoes?)
Rick was turning to go when Morty's voice stopped him in the doorway. "C-c-c-can you….please...stay with me awhile?" His grandson asked in a whisper.
Normally he would have said, Give me a break kid. Do I look like a daycare? But looking at Morty right then, so pale and shivering and small, he remembered another time, a long time ago, when he should have helped, and it was too late. That same pained whisper, the same need, the same look: it was all too familiar, and it hurt to turn away.
"Sure, kid," said Rick.
He sat on the bed with Morty then. He stayed by Morty's side while his grandson slept, until the evening when Jerry came home and went about starting to cook dinner, without looking in on them. He stayed until Beth came home and peeked in the doorway, her eyes filling with tears at the sight of her father having fallen asleep on the bed next to Morty, who was sleeping, it seemed, much more peacefully than when she had left. He was no longer wheezing, and he must have been having a dream, she realized. A good dream no less, giving him much needed relief from the pain. It had to be a good dream, she knew, because otherwise, he wouldn't be smiling.
Beth closed the door behind her, knowing that her son was in good hands.