Path of Least Resistance
0 - Preface
This work has been censored in order to comply with FFN's policies regarding depictions of sexual and violent content. You can find the uncensored version on fanfiction website "Archive Of Our Own"; a link to which can be found on my FFN Author's Page.
1 - Confrontation
Pounding. Not knocking. Way harder than necessary. That's unusual for him. He's supposed to be the smooth, subtle one between the two of us.
I got up and let him in.
As soon as we came face-to-face, he broke into his usual smug grin. It's hard to stare him in the eye. No, it's not any crap like he can stare into your soul or whatever. It's just a gaze of a guy who's full of himself.
I glanced up to him for a moment, then resumed my 1000-yard stare into his shoelaces.
"How're you doing? Holding up?"
"Ooo! Nice firepower!" He gestured eagerly to the gun laying on the counter. "What is it? Armsman? Strelnazbran?"
"Folgen," I said.
"Oh, cool. What's the cal?"
"Mmm." He nodded, impressed, or giving off the impression he was impressed.
"Looks nice. Folgen's a pretty high-end brand, they make quality stuff I've heard. Can I take a look?"
I hesitated. He took advantage of that, stepping inside and making a move for the gun.
"Okay," I gave him belated, half-hearted permission. He heard me. In an instant the weapon was in his hands and being torn to pieces. The magazine was ejected, followed by the chambered bullet. The slide was dislodged and the barrel came apart. The safety was locked in. It was maybe seven seconds before he was hurling the ammunition out the door and into the bushes. Too fast for me to react.
Morty began shaking all over.
"What. The. Fuck."
He tossed the disassembled remnants of the gun back onto the counter, like it was some dead, rotted critter.
"What the fuck," he repeated.
I kept staring right on through him.
"Come here," he ordered.
I didn't budge.
"Come here." There's anger in his voice. He grabbed me by the shoulder, clawing into my skin. I was dragged, against my will, to the couch and thrown into the cushions. Morty began pacing back and forth in front of me.
"Fuck. Fuck Volkner. Arceus sakes. What the fuck were you thinking?!"
"Nothing. Everything," I replied.
"Don't give me that."
He squatted down right in front of me, staring me down. I still couldn't look him in the eye.
"Just get the fuck out," I snapped, but without the hostility in my voice to actually intimidate him into obeying. Instead, I just incensed him. He smacked me. Hard.
"Cut the crap. What is wrong with you?"
"Nothing is wrong. It's my business. You've done enough."
"Volkner you piece of shit!" He grabbed me by the hair and yanked my head, physically forcing me into a stare-down. You can't tell someone's soul from their eyes. But you can tell their emotion. Morty was pissed off. More so than I've ever seen in our two years of knowing each other. Can't blame him.
"Let me go," I muttered.
"I am never letting you go." He jerked me around and then threw me back into the couch cushion, letting me go in the process- but I knew I wasn't off the hook.
"What do you want? Attention? Pity? Do you want to hurt me? Hurt your friends? Your family? Is that it?"
"None of that," I shook my head.
"What is it then? Huh? A desperate cry for help? For attention?"
Again I shook my head in the negative.
"It wasn't a fake-out. I was really going to go through with it," I said.
"So why the fuck am I here? Why did you call me?" he demanded to know.
I managed a glance to the coffee table. The cordless phone was still there, right where had I left it after two hours of conversation.
"I don't know."
Shit, you do know, you're just not man enough to actually tell him.
"Cut the crap. What's going on?"
I didn't answer. That ticked him off even more. He rolled up his sleeve, lurched back, and swung his fist full-force into my face.
It didn't hurt me, just sort of sent me into a blackout. I couldn't see anything but flashes for a good few seconds. My mind blanked. Morty's voice was remote, muffled-sounding. I could make out curses. When I came to he was nursing his bleeding knuckles, but still staring at me dead-on. His expression was wrath- which in itself was scary, because I've never seen him truly angry before. I didn't think this lackadaisical comedian had it in him. I was wrong.
Better tell him something, before I get slugged again.
"I called you because I thought you'd understand. Because of…"
"No, I don't understand at all," he cut me off, vehemently refuting me. "I've never looked down that road, never even imagined it. You don't get me. But I'm glad you made that mistake, since now I'm here. Now what's wrong? Where did this come from?"
Yeah, even now, he's an annoying contrarian. He doesn't understand.
"How the hell do you not get it? Everyone you've lost, you're telling me you can't understand where I'm at?" I argued.
He drew his arm back, like he was getting ready to clock me again, but this time settled for a knuckle on the forehead.
"Yeah, you don't get me," he affirmed. "Everything I've been through, everyone who's been taken from me- yes, it hurts, and yes, it made me wander into dark places. But it never made me want to follow them. It's the other way. It's made me want to keep living, no matter what. It's made me want to hold everything and everyone I still have even tighter. Including you."
He seated himself on the coffee table. His chest was heaving, his hands were still nursing the bruised knuckles. He looked to the ceiling in prayer, then the ground, then me. Exhaustion was setting in for both of us.
"What's the matter? It's not the usual, is it?"
"Sure it is," I said.
"Ha ha, no. Don't tell me you got this way because of boredom."
"I put a barrel of badges outside the gym," I explained with a smirk. "Anyone who wants can take one. Freebie."
"They could fire you for that," Morty warned.
"So? It wouldn't have mattered to me, would it?"
"Damn it." He muttered to himself. "I can fix your work record for you. I can't fix you. Especially if you keep lying to me."
I shrugged my shoulders.
Let him believe what he wants. I'm bored, Pokemon battles don't excite me anymore. Ditto for my tech hobby. I've run out of reasons to keep going. That's my story.
Unfortunately, that kind of stuff doesn't fly past a guy as perceptive as Morty. Add in his absurd "gift", and, well…
"A letter," he said to himself.
He began searching around, frantically. It took him a minute, until he realized he had been sitting on it. He snapped the note up. I didn't want him to read it, but didn't have the fortitude to stop him. He held it up, but then lowered it before reading it.
"This isn't your handwriting," he noted.
I shook my head.
"Who sent it?"
"It wasn't sent."
"Whose is it? How'd you get it?"
"I…" I clamped up.
It was in a box full of personal belongings they had given me. I hadn't bothered to check it for a year, leaving it unopened, untouched, until the spiral of darkness sent me scampering for any last refuge of sanity. What I found there wasn't a refuge. More like a window to hell. A cold, bitter hell.
Morty saw my reticence and turned to read the letter. Immediately he looked up again.
"Who is Gill?"